Santa Ana Hunters

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A photo of Lon LeMahn with his 1937 Chevrolet Coupe taken in Texas in 1959. Lon was a founding member of the club and he found the coupe on a farm in rural Amarillo. It had been abandoned and used as a chicken shed on the farm. "After cleaning all the chicken shit out of and upon it, I completely restored it to the point of becoming “Rod of the Week” at Santa Ana High School." Photo courtesy of Lon LeMahn.
A Hunters member with his club shirt. Photo taken in March 1967. Photo from the HAMB.[1]
The car above. Photo from the HAMB.

The Hunters was a car club from Santa Ana, California. In June of 2021 Lon LeMahn told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that he and several friends got together and formed the Hunters in 1958-59. "At the time, racial gangs were making life tough on everyone so, I got the idea to bring a core of car guys together that I played football with from each gang, and form a group to create channels of communication so as to maintain peace and solve disputes. I'm pleased to say that it worked. We all could attend any gang socials with a form of "diplomatic immunity," and were always treated with respect when our car plaques were seen cruising or wearing our coats, which I designed."[2]

Early Members

Lon believes the club consisted of about 10-15 members when they first started it. According to Lon, Bill Bruns was the first President of the Hunters. "Bill's father owned the brake shop near Santa Ana High School and allowed us to hold our weekly meeting there and also putz on our cars. I was Vice-Pres that year advocating Bill as Pres since his father was so generous. The next year, I was President until we all graduated in 60." The original core members were Johnny Cummings who had a 1950 Oldsmobile Fastback, Joe Pierce who had a 1946 Ford Coupe, Pinky Henson who had a 1948 Plymouth Coupe, Bill Bruns who had a 1949 Fod Coupe, Vern DeVore who had a 1949 Ford Coupe and Bob Metzger who had a 1957 Chevrolet, "all lowered in the front as was the custom then. Carl Lopez the unstoppable halfback who broke my thumb on his knee when I was tackling him and subsequently became my friend, had a 50 Chevy coupe low rider. He was my partner in forming the peace agreement with The Dominos."[2]


"Cruising Main St. every night was the core of our social life along with all the Santa Ana students who made Friday and Saturday nights the main events," Lon told Kustomrama. "Orange and Tustin High students were also active cruisers. The turnaround spot and main hang out was the original "In & Out" drive-in. Bill Medley, of The Righteous Bros, worked there and later made it a national chain."[2]

According to Allan Zale, the club was started as a community service car club and racing team in 1961. Before that, it was a Santa Ana High Social Club. Allan Zale was the President for a time; "Our jackets were grey with black lettering. The shirts were white with an altered iron cross that was offered up by Member Mike's grandfather who received it in World War One with the American army. The club had an average of 50 plus members. Most all had cool cars."[3]

The Hunters race cars were a 1934 Ford 5-window coupe, the "7-11" car, a nitromethane fuel dragster, and a Magwinder sidewinder dragster. The 1934 Ford 5-Window red-orange coupe had an experimental 477 cubic inch Mickey Thompson motor. The rear engine flathead nitro methane dragster, and the rear engine Magwinder dragster was a chain-driven Sidewinder.[3]


Allan Zale
Bill Bruns
Bob Metzger
Carl Lopez
Emil Hunter
Jerry Garcia
Jim Hoover
Joe Pierce
Johnny Cummings
Lon LeMahn
Pinky Henson
Vern DeVore

Club Cars

Lon LeMahn's 1937 Chevrolet Coupe
Joe Pierce's 1946 Ford Coupe
Pinky Henson's 1948 Plymouth Coupe
Bill Bruns' 1949 Ford Coupe
Vern DeVore's 1949 Ford Coupe
Carl Lopez's 1950 Chevrolet Coupe
Johnny Cummings' 1950 Oldsmobile Fastback
Bob Metzger's 1957 Chevrolet



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