Kenny Smith's 1929 Ford
1929 Ford Model A Roadster owned and built by Kenny Smith of San Gabriel, California. According to a featured story in Hot Rod Magazine August 1950 the car was primarily built for cruising the streets, but Kenny had also outfitted it with a tarp and belly pan for competition use. Three years of spare time, and approximately $1000 went into the build when Kenny first built it.
Kenny did practically all of the work on the roadster himself. The body was channeled over the frame, before the entire body, including doors, cowl, fender wells, and rear deck were filled and smoothed into a sleek one-piece unit. It ran an aluminum hood that featured a detachable one-piece top section. The front end was then dressed up with a reworked Pontiac grille.
The rear of the car was lowered by raising the crossmember above the frame with steel plates. The rear axle was a Model A with 3.78 gears. Brakes mounted on all four wheels were late model Ford hydraulics equipped with truck cylinders. The engine came from a 1936 Ford and had a stock stroke and Mercury bore. The manifold was Evans, and the headers were Meyer. The engine was also hopped up with a full race Winfield cam.
Maroon and Ivory
According to the Hot Rod Magazine August 1950 article, Kenny gave the car a Maroon paint job once the bodywork was completed. Walter Wyss shot a color photo of the car around 1950-1951, by then the car had been painted green, and Eric Seltzer, son of later owned Ed Seltzer, believes the information about the maroon color being an error in the story. The interior was upholstered in pleated ivory plastic leather. The dashboard was blended into the cowl, and fitted with a Stewart-Warner boat instrument panel. The steering wheel came from a Crosley Hot Shot. The car was also equipped with a dash-mounted emergency brake handle from a 1949 Mercury. The seatback was removable for easy access to the rear deck compartment.
In January of 1952 the car made an appearance in Best Hot Rods Number 1. A paperback book by the editors of Mechanix Illustrated that was published in January of 1952. According to the article, the car had made about 128 mph at El Mirage.
Sold to Bill Welch
In 1953 Kenny's roadster was featured in the October issue of Hot Rod Magazine. By then the car had been sold to Bill Welch, a 17-year-old kid from Playa Del Ray. According to the story, Bill and his dad had come across the car in Kenny's San Gabriel garage. "The car had been brought to a very advanced stage by the original builder, Kenny Smith, but was still lacking in many respects," the story stated. Bill's father was an ex-race driver and a mechanic, and he helped his son fix the carburetion, overheating problems, and a torn down rear end. The body was gone over by Bohman and Son, who also added a removable windshield and fenders. Anson Brothers garage of Los Angeles breathed life back into the ported and relieved 59-A Mercury engine that had a .060-over bore, 4 1/4 inch stroke, and a 9 to 1 compression ratio. It was also hopped up with an Iskenderian "404" camshaft, Weiand heads, Evans intake manifold, dual carbs, aluminum racing pistons, and a Harman-Collins ignition, a combination that supposedly was good for 245 horsepower at 4700 rpm, and a speed of 133.60 mph at El Mirage. Painted olive green, the total cost back then was reportedly over $4000, and the story mentions that Bill is looking to sell the car, asking $2000 for it.
Sold to Ed Seltzer
Ed Seltzer of Tarzana, California bought the roadster around 1954. In June of 2021 Eric Seltzer told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that his dad reworked the hot rod in 1954. "My dad was not a builder of hot rods except in this one case. He always owned unusual cars, in 1949 he bought a 1939 Citroen Traction Avant for example." Ed bought the hot rod, which had been featured in Hot Rod Magazine. It was dark green back then, and it featured a cut-down grille shell, motorcycle-type fenders, and nerf bars.
After owning the roadster for a year or so, Ed wrecked it badly one night, and he had to completely rebuild it. "He removed the body, straightened the frame, added full fenders, cut down the sides for easier entry and exit, added a spare tire mount in back, added an oil cooler, replaced the plexiglass windshield with a safety glass windshield, and painted the car white." The old nerf bars were replaced with a pair of simpler nerf bars upfront. It was also dressed up with 1950 Pontiac taillights. The car was powered by a Ford Flathead V8 that ran twin carburetors and a 3-speed manual transmission with floor shift. A scoop in the hood provided air to the carbs. Eric can't remember his dad belonging to any car clubs. "He just liked foreign cars and sports cars, and we went to sports car races all over Southern California throughout the 1950s."
Where is it Now?
Eric is currently trying to locate his dad's old hot rod. "We moved to Van Nuys in 1960," Eric told Kustomrama. "He sold the car around 1964." At the time it ran California license plates MDF 647. Ed died in 1970 at the young age of 57, of brain cancer. Please get in touch with Kustomrama at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any info to share about the lost Seltzer Roadster.
Magazine Features and Appearances
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