I am going absolutely bonkers. No, it’s not from being cooped up at home for the past 4-plus months. Anna and I are doing very well in that regard, thankfully. Plus I got one car finished in the garage, another to build, and I even finally got some time in the model room, with good results. Plus I’ll also report that the ’33 sedan runs great and everything works fine. We’ve taken it on a couple of good cruises so far, which is a great way to get out of the house, enjoy your hot rod or custom, and maybe explore some new territory–while staying perfectly safe as long as you don’t stop anywhere.
What’s driving me nuts is my photo archive. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. First, as I was looking for something else last week, I happened to find a manila folder with “George Montgomery, ’34 Cad coupe, ’56 B&W” written on the tab. Of course I pulled it out to see what was inside, and that’s exactly what you’re seeing here. This is the good part. The thing is, it’s the only folder like this that I have, and I’ve already forgotten where it was filed, possibly under ’50s Drags, or Miscellaneous Something-Or-Other. And of course I’ve totally forgotten where or how I got it. Inside were 1-1/2 proof sheets of 2-1/4″ film (12 photos per 8 x 10 sheet), two 8 x 10 prints (engine and interior), and two other prints mounted on cardboard, with the car outlined in white poster paint. I’ll show you.
There was also a label, clipped from the original file envelope, stating that the photos were taken at the Kansas City Drags on 10-19-56, that the rating of the feature was “Good,” and that it was originally slated for Car Craft (“CC”) magazine. However, written in pencil later was “Big Stuff” and “April ’57.” And two of the prints with black grease pencil crop marks had “APR HRM” written on the bottom. So I looked in my Apr. ’57 Hot Rod, and there it was on pg. 34: a 1-page feature with the title “Big Stuff,” a subtitle “Fine Ohio drag coupe packs a king-size Cad powerplant,” and the four photos I had in my folder, with both the front and rear “overalls” floating on the page. No body copy, just four captions.
Here’s one of the “dropped out” photos. Later the layout artists cut “ruby-lith” screens with an X-Acto knife to outline photos (to drop out the background), but earlier they had to carefully paint around the subject with a brush dipped in white paint. The typical ’50s caption for this photo in the feature read: “Hot coupe inspires lots of chatter. Here George is no doubt giving out with how he lowered rod–a 3-inch dropped front axle, reversed spring eyes at the rear. Note 7.10×15 slicks.” The lady was otherwise unidentified, as was the writer. As a Hot Rod magazine feature, it wasn’t much. I didn’t remember it. The one I remembered was the little Feb. ’60 issue of Rod & Custom that had this car next to George’s new ’33 Willys, both in ’53 Cad Pastoral Blue, side-by-side. More on that in a minute.
But I did remember that The Rodder’s Journal did a cover feature on the restored, SOHC Ford-powered Willys Gasser in issue No. 20, with copy by Greg Sharp, and including some photos and info on this ’34 Ford. Greg states that George paid $25 for a 5-window ’34 coupe as a 17-yr. old, built a hot flathead for it, stripped the fenders off, then took it to Bonneville in ’52 where it ran 116.73 mph. With a good job at Delco in his home of Dayton, OH, he then bought a new ’53 Cadillac which he started drag racing with success. Next he found a decent 3-window body for his ’34 in a field, swapped it onto his chassis with full fenders, then bought a 331-inch Cad V8 in a junkyard to replace the flathead, plus a ’37 Cad-LaSalle trans. Greg states that, painted and upholstered, this car first appeared in the Jan. ’57 Rod & Custom in a feature by Lynn Wineland spotlighting Cad-powered cars. I don’t have that R&C, so I can’t comment. Greg doesn’t mention the HRM feature, which apparently had the same info and may have used the same photos.
Rather than cropping or deleting this background, I’m figuring you might want to peruse what else was in the pits at the Kansas City drags in 1956. Since this is blown up from a 2-1/4″ square image, you’ll have to forgive some dust and lack of sharpness. Note the chrome wheelcovers, which we called “full moons.”
The best part of my folder is that it also contains a single-page (both sides) tech sheet filled out by a 23 yr. old Montgomery. The “Big Stuff” of the HRM title is this 4-carb Cad which had been bored 1/8″ and stroked 1/4″ for a then-whopping 414 cu. inches. This was 1956 when Chevys were still 265s. George states he did all work on the car himself, including body and paint. And in this photo you can already see his attention to detail and neatness. But what’s inside the engine was even more important. This was a new ’56 Cad, with 11:1 Forgetrue pistons, a Howard F-5 cam with mushroom lifters, and “highly” ported and polished heads. The carbs with SP tops sit on an Edelbrock manifold, and you can see the Roto-Faze dual-coil ignition. George made his own straight headers.
Given that he had a new Cadillac to drive, the fully upholstered and detailed interior seems excessive, but wonderful, for a serious race car. He gives credit to “Jamison of Dayton” for the blue and white tuck and roll, plus headliner and carpet. Note the ’49 Ford door handles and dome lights, plus chrome window frames. The dash has eight gauges, including a Sun tach. And a ’40 steering wheel mounts on a chrome column.
Under “Accomplishments” at the bottom of the tech sheet, George wrote: “At this writing this car has won 53 1st Place trophies and turned a top time of 115.383 at Lawrenceville, Ill., ATAA meet 8-25-56.”
We clearly see the dropped axle and tube shocks, as yet unchromed, in this photo. One thing I never cared for on either of George’s cars was the cut-away front fenders. The amazing part is that it is never mentioned in any of the magazine features. In fact the ’60 R&C feature goes so far as to praise the “fine lines of perfectly stock Ford, nothing on the outer shell has been changed, all handles, hood ornament, and locks have been retained.” A statement that is neither grammatically, nor physically, correct.
Nobody ever mentions whether George ever drove this car on the street. But, other than the slicks, from this angle it looks like a very nice street rod. Not only does it have what appears to be a “personalized” Ohio license, but it even has a radio antenna. The taillights are ’47 Chevy, turned vertically.
I’m including this mainly to show the cars in (the same) color. By the time of this early 1960 R&C, the two cars rated a 6-page feature including 17 photos. Both cars were wearing Dean Moon’s new spun-aluminum wheelcovers, and the ’34’s now-undropped front axle was liberally chromed and drilled. The big Cad was replaced with a ’58 358-incher, but George added a reworked McCulloch supercharger pressurizing the four Strombergs in a hand-made box/manifold that pushed the ’34 to 126.4 mph at the ’58 ATAA World Series.
However, he debuted the new, lighter, much faster ’33 Willys at the ’59 NHRA Nats in Detroit. With a 6-71 blown, Hilborn injected 390 Cad punched to 432 inches, the exquisitely detailed and engineered new A/Gasser won class, upped the NHRA record, won Little Eliminator, and took a big trophy for Best Competition Car at the adjoining NHRA Nats car show. And it continued its winning ways through the Gasser Wars of the ’60s.
So what’s driving me bonkers? Well, it’s a semi-long story that I’m not going to be able to tell here because I can’t find any of the photos that I know are in my files…somewhere. Trouble is, they could be filed under any number of headings, most of which I’ve searched. The deal is I met Ohio George one time, purely by accident. I think I was working for Hot Rod magazine in the ’80s. But I was in Dayton, Ohio, to do some story. As I was driving on the outskirts of town, I passed a small Ford dealership and noticed in the showroom what looked like a blue Mustang Funny Car, body tilted up, with some intricate dual-turbo engine. I hung a U in the rental car, went in, and asked what it was. There was another similar engine–I think a SOHC Ford with turbos–in a glass case nearby. They said they were Ohio George’s. Wow, I hadn’t even connected George Montgomery with Dayton, Ohio. They said the car was there because his shop was nearby. Of course I asked for directions, and ended up driving down a small country road for a few miles until I came to a fairly small, low, cement-block building. The door had a small sign that said George’s Speed Shop. I went in, met George, told him who I was, and he couldn’t have been more accommodating. So he took me into the adjoining “engine room” where I was amazed to see not one, but two complete sets of Ardun V8-60 heads, in pieces, on the workbench, along with little flatheads to bolt them on. George said they belonged to one customer. On engine stands nearby were two near-complete, stock-looking Cad V8s. George said these were for two different Cad-Allards for vintage sports-car racing, so they had to look stock on the outside, but inside was a different story.
The next room over I couldn’t go in, because his son was in there assembling Buick V6 engines for the then-popular Indy Lights series, for which they had the lucrative contract to build all the identical engines, and they were on deadline. So he took me to the back of the shop, where I was astounded to see the complete, immaculate, fiberglass, red metalflake Mr. Gasket Mustang Gasser that had replaced the little blue Willys at Ford’s insistence. In another corner was the small, white, still-lettered Ranchero pickup he won as Middle Eliminator at the ’60 NHRA Nats. There’s more. Thankfully I had my camera. One of the pictures I wanted to show you was a grinning George showing me one of the endplates from the magnesium 6-71 blower cases he made in partners with Pete Robinson. But I can’t find them. Maybe later. That’s the only time I ever met George.
It was obvious that he had a propensity for keeping vehicles, immaculately. We know from TRJ that, after selling the ’33 Willys, he got it back in ’92 and completely restored it. The red and the blue Mustangs have been accounted for. But one question I never thought to ask, until now, is whatever became of this beautiful, fast, swept-wing, Pastoral Blue ’34 3-window coupe? George never said what he did with it. But it’s got to be around somewhere. Same as my photos.