This is not only a story about the famous, rare, and sometimes misrepresented Duke Hallock V-windshields for Model A roadsters, but it is also a graphic story of hot rod evolution. And I will apologize right here for showing a few more fuzzy and grainy photographs, but you have to understand that many of these photos were taken in the depths of the mid-’30s Depression, when hot rodding as we know it began, and when few of these “roadster boys” could afford new tires, let alone decent cameras.
Second, I will mention that this column was partially instigated by a reader’s letter questioning my knowledge of this subject. This seems to happen nearly every time I mention Hallock windshields, or the early Fullerton-area roadster clubs, starting with the Knight Riders. I won’t get into that because (a) he was wrong and (b) the progression of Hallock windshields is hard enough to follow as it is. He was ticked about something in a column I posted on 4/5/21 called One Old Proof Sheet which showed many photos from the Frank Currie collection (including a couple shown here), so if you like this stuff, check out that column again. But I will mention that my sources for both the Hallock history and most of the photos here start with Duke Hallock himself, Currie (maker of Currie 9-inch rearends), Dick Kraft, Dick Courtney, and others who were there. I related much of this story in an article I did in the Oct. ’90 issue of Rod & Custom titled “Flying V’s” which opened with this photo, given to me by Duke Hallock.
On the original photo Duke wrote: “Muroc Races, May 16 1937, 118.42 mph” and “The other two windshields.” Duke’s car wears No. 1 because he was points champ for some Muroc association (SCTA wasn’t founded until a year later), and his windshield is removed for racing. The other two cars seen here belonged to Dick Stuelky and Johnny Collins, said Hallock, roadster buddies from the La Habra-Fullerton area, who wanted windshields like Duke’s. Note that all three 4-banger cars sit high on Model A frames, with wire wheels and Model A grilles. Because of this photo and its caption, I thought that Hallock only made three windshields himself, but he must have meant three more, because his brother Jud also had one on a similar Model A, and the four of them comprised the Derelicts club, pre-SCTA. But let’s back up for the full story.
The photo’s fuzzy, but I got it from Hallock and it’s never been published. According to him, he bought this roadster new in 1928, and by 1930 had stripped the fenders off, engine-turned and chromed the hood, firewall, and dash, and installed a Cragar OHV head on the original engine. This was one of the first-ever “strip jobs” and it’s seen here further stripped of headlights and windshield for racing. Also in 1930, impressed by the new Auburn Boattails, he designed a V-windshield to fit the ’28 cowl, and “had it patterned and cast in bronze in Los Angeles.” He only made one to start. This photo is from ’32 or ’33 when he started racing at speed trials sponsored by Gilmore Oil at Muroc dry lake.
Although this unseen Hallock photo has the ’37 date and speed on it (and no I.D. on the three guys), I assume from the car number that this is ’36 when he was racking up points. That’s the year he made three more windshields and formed the Derelicts. His Cragar appears to have two carbs here, but not on the curvier Hallock manifold he also designed and cast for Model A’s. Later he added one of the first turbochargers, leading to his career as design chief for Garret AiResearch.
According to my 1990 article, Duke gave his patterns to Ed Adams of Whittier in 1939. Ed was an early SCTA president, and happened to run a foundry. He made about 8 more windshields, primarily for members of the Knight Riders from the Fullerton area.
This Knight Riders car, seen in 1939, belonged to John Bean, who sold it to Jack Tobin in 1942. Note that his club “plate” is hand-painted on steel, and wider than the later cast-aluminum club plaques. I assume the ugly muffler was designed to be quickly removed for racing.
The bald tires denote pre-War Depression era. Likewise the undropped axle, mechanical brakes, and big headlights. Besides the V-windshield, the filled ’32 shell is a nice streamline addition, but you’ll note this is the “commercial” version, without the center dip at the top of the grille.
As you undoubtedly know, the Model A cowl was the top of the gas tank, with the fill cap in the middle. This had to be eliminated to add the V-windshield (with a tank moved to the trunk). If the rest of the tank was cut out, this eliminated the A dash and windshield header. I was told this is a ’36 Oldsmobile dash that Bean smoothly grafted in place. I was further told that several Knight Riders’ cars used similar components, though I don’t have photos to confirm it. I’m lucky to have these, most of which I’ve not shown before. Note the timing tag on the dash’s left.
I added this photo because I’m sure you’ve never seen it, showing John Bean relaxing in his simple, unpleated interior. It gives a good look at the windshield’s swept-back profile, but it also appears to show that this one is painted, not chromed.
The Hallock windshield would only fit ’28-’29 Models A’s, the ’30-’31’s cowl being wider and flatter (similar to the ’32). Kenny Vorce was a Fullerton High buddy of Hallock’s, who had this ’31 A. Wanting a similar V-windshield, around 1945 he made his own patterns and “had it cast in bronze” (I wasn’t told where). Reportedly he made three, one going on a ’32 roadster. None survive today. Although these photos are from 1946, his car still exhibits the pre-war style, sitting high on the stock frame, with wire wheels, mechanical brakes (chromed rods), a Deuce grille, and a nicely detailed A four with a Cragar head, twin carbs, and a magneto.
Per my R&C article: Many people mistakenly think the Hallock windshields were made at Fullerton high school, partly because Hallock, Adams, and most other rodders who had the windshields went there, and partly because Fullerton was one of the few schools that had a working foundry for its shop classes. In 1946, however, two later Fullerton High students, Dick Courtney and Frank Currie, cast one windshield in the school foundry. They borrowed the frame from Jack Tobin’s car to make a sand mold. They melted bronze bearings from scrap WW II Liberty engines to cast it. This windshield went on Courtney’s ’29 roadster.
I really wish I had a photo of Courtney’s car when he added the windshield in 1946, but picture it looking much like the Bean/Tobin car. So here’s the big hot rod history lesson, and the killer photo (which you’ve probably seen, but still love). In 1950 Courtney mounted his black ’29 body on a ’32 frame in now-classic hiboy style, complete with warmed flathead V8 power, and well lowered with a chromed dropped axle, rear kick-up, and big-n-little tires on light-colored steel wheels with caps-n-rings. It has ’40-’48 Ford hydraulic brakes (chromed in front), small headlights on a lowered bar, shortened front frame horns, and either ’39 Ford or ’41 Chevy taillights (I forget which). The filled and slightly dropped ’32 shell fronts an even smoother solid 3-piece hood with no visible latches. And it’s trimmed in plush pleated and rolled tan upholstery. This was the new ’50s hot rod look, and it was very, very good.
We don’t know what became of this car and its windshield, but it was so good Courtney duplicated it twice. The first, in 1980, used an Adams-Hallock that was fortunately removed from Earl Haskins’ ’29 when he wrecked it circle track racing in 1946. Courtney said he got the windshield sometime after that and stored it under his workbench for years. Incidentally, Haskins then built a ’27 T track car with a Wayne 12-port Chevy six, which I acquired from his widow Evi in the ’80s, and which was the basis for my current Spalding track roadster project.
Courtney and Currie only made one Hallock-copy windshield in ’46 because Currie didn’t have a ’29 roadster. Instead, he acquired Ken Vorce’s ’31 with its unique windshield and this is how it looked when Frank Currie got it in 1950.
Please excuse the fuzzy photos, but they were the best Currie had. Upon getting the ’31, he and Courtney immediately mounted it on a ’32 frame, hiboy-style, with a V8, dropped axle, juice brakes, low headlights, and nice rolled upholstery. Although he retained the wire wheels, he added newer big-n-little tires. It already had the filled Deuce grille, but you’ll notice the top of his solid, handmade 3-piece hood extends farther down to shorter sides, partly because it didn’t have to match the cowl separation line common to ’28-’29’s. Also note lack of visible fasteners. These two photos give a decent look at the similar, but different, Vorce V-windshield. According to my R&C article (per Frank Currie), as of 1990 “Frank sold it in ’55. It has disappeared, as have Hallock’s and Courtney’s.”
This is a whole ‘nuther story in itself, and I thought I had more photos of it, but these are the only two I could find. It’s 1974 and I was a young cub reporter for Street Rodder magazine, which then had offices in one end of the McMullen AEE Choppers complex in Placentia, CA. From my window, across a broad empty field, I could see a small, old, red house, with a similar red barn behind, on Orangethorpe Ave. One day I see a red, ramp-style ’56 Ford race car hauler pull in the dirt driveway with this dusty, decrepit, flat-tired Model A hot rod roadster on the back. Needless to say, I dropped whatever I was doing, grabbed my old twin-lens B&W camera, and ran over there. This was the day I met Dave Williams, long-time Anaheim-area hot rod builder, one-time Stan Betz employee, and future Low Buck Tools manufacturer. And still one of my best friends.
This is the same Bean/Tobin car you see above. But it had also been updated in the late ’40s, again with Dick Courtney’s assistance, with a Deuce frame, V8 engine, dropped axle, hairpin radius rods, 3-piece hood with louvers in the top and lunchbox latches, and steel wheels with chromed outer rims, small caps, and slicks in the rear. Inside we see the Olds dash that had been slightly altered and chromed, a Banjo wheel, and still-nice pleated upholstery. You’ll also notice the distinctive truck grille, and of course the Hallock V-windshield which was in excellent condition. Although Dave pumped them up, you can see it had been sitting on flat tires for a long time (the left rear slick had cord hanging out).
It turns out Dave had just opened his own rod-building shop in the well-equipped red barn, and this was one of his first customers, a guy from Anaheim who recently acquired this car from an aging Jack Tobin (or his widow, I forget), and brought it to Dave for “updating.” Talk about your Lost Hot Rods finds! But this was 1974 and hardly anybody (other than Jim Jacobs and a handful of TRODA pals) had any idea about restoring an old rod like this. Except me. I took one look, and could quickly see that all it needed was a good cleaning, polishing, a set of tires, a fresh flathead V8, and maybe a little rechroming. It would look just as good as that photo of Dick Courtney’s car. But the resurgent ’70s Street Rod crowd was much more into wide tires, chrome wire wheels, CB radios, A/C, and cowl lights, greyhounds, and luggage racks. Right? At least this customer was more of the smallblock Chevy, 4-speed, GMC blower-through-the-hood persuasion, and that’s what it ultimately got. Better, but still sad.
Turned out this customer was so hard to deal with that Dave didn’t finish it. But not before one of his pals had a couple of new frames cast off that perfect windshield, one of which ended up on Dick Courtney’s second duplicate roadster. Just deserts.
So, according to the people who were there, Hallock made four windshields for Derelicts members, and Adams made another “7 or 8, primarily for members of the Knight Riders club from the Fullerton area. We don’t know what happened to the original patterns after that. As far as we can tell, less than a dozen Hallock windshields were made from them.” This is from my 1990 article.
So why do we still see Hallock-style V-windshields on several other hot rod roadsters, even today? The first answer, with which I concluded my R&C article, was that an early hot rod parts manufacturer named Lee Gray, working out of his garage in Whittier, CA, besides other small sand-cast aluminum parts like headlight stands and radius rod brackets, obviously copied a Hallock to make a somewhat cruder, cast aluminum frame in two pieces that bolted together in the middle. I recently showed the above photo in my Instagram, stating that I had no I.D. on the car, but it appeared to be spectating at Muroc in the early ’40s. This might have been a Knight Riders car. But given what we’ve seen here, it’s a somewhat strange combination of the old and newer roadster styles. It sits on a Deuce frame with V8 power, but it retains big headlights, wire wheels, and even mechanical brakes. It has an undropped Deuce axle, but sits low because the spring has been moved behind, with bobbed front frame horns. That might be a Hallock/Adams windshield, but given what appears to me to be a gap between the windshield and the cowl on the passenger side, my guess is that this is a Lee Gray copy. Supposedly he made and sold as many as 200 of these. Where did they all go? We don’t know, but apparently all over. Not to mention an unknown quantity that have been recast from existing originals by enterprising rodders over the past 80 years.
But the biggest remaining question, for me, is where did all these Derelicts and Knight Riders roadsters go? As of 1990, and as of now, I can only account for two: Earl Haskins’ that got creamed on a circle track, and the Bean/Tobin car seen here. That leaves a whole lot of Lost Hot Rods. It’s a topic I love. But it’s a sad ending to this story.