- The SoCal Coupe. Photo Courtesy of: canepa.com

The SoCal Coupe

From dry lakes and drag strips to advertising this iconic coupe has seen it all.

Photo Courtesy of: canepa.com

Photo Courtesy of: canepa.com

In 1950 Jim Gray and Russell Lanthorne built a 1934 Ford coupe that was inspired by the Peterson Brothers coupe. They were able to run 153.061 MPH at the 1950 Bonneville meet. The GMC 6 cylinder engine took fourth place that year.

Alex Xydias, owner of the famous So-Cal Speed Shop in Burbank, CA was looking for a way to advertise his business. He bought the coupe from Jim and Russell in 1951.

Alex installed a 258 cubic inch (4.2L) Mercury Flathead V8, with a GMC 4-71 blower. They were able to break the Class C record in 1953 with a run of 172.749 MPH. They ran the car until an exploding clutch killed Xydias' brother.-in-law. The car was retired and SoCal never raced it again.

The coupe changed hands over the years and was purchased in 1996 by Don Orosco. He would set about returning it to it's 1954 appearance and equipment.

The car is a snapshot of what top speed race cars were like in the early 1950s.

Spartan is the best word to describe the cockpit. A fire extinguisher and aircraft style safety belt are the only safety equipment to be seen.

Cars like this were the cutting edge for a very short period of time. By the end of the 1950s purpose built, full roll cage cars would start setting the new fastest speeds at Bonneville.

Cars like the SoCal Coupe are reminders of a bygone era of Motorsports. They also can serve as fuel for the imagination of modern Hot Rod builders.

Photo Courtesy of: canepa.com

Photo Courtesy of: canepa.com

The SoCal Coupe is one of the more striking Salt Flat Speedster of the era. After the restoration of the Coupe was completed in 2001 the car was shown, along with the Peterson Brothers Coupe at the Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance. The SoCal Speedster took best in class over its inspiration, the Peterson Coupe.

Alex Xydias in the Coupe. Photo Courtesy of: canepa.com

Alex Xydias in the Coupe. Photo Courtesy of: canepa.com

Race cars as Art?

It is definitely a good thing old race cars like the SoCal Coupe have been found, restored and exists for all of us to stare at. They can serve as inspiration to start a project or give us ideas for finishing current ones. What do you all think about Race Cars in Museums? Are they being preserved for the future or are they wasting away? Driven or Saved? What side are you on? I think you might know what I think! Keep on Cruisin'!

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