In 1971, Wes Rawlins was a 17-year-old kid working at a tire shop, driving “a clunker Mustang” with a 289 and “a never-ending supply of burnout rubber, cherry-picked from customers buying new tires.” Winning a trophy at Dover Drag Strip in Wingdale, New York, in the E/ Modified Production Class was an early taste of automotive success. Forty-five years later he got another taste. Wes was in Pomona, California, at the Grand National Roadster Show as a contender for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, showing off his meticulously handbuilt ’32 Ford roadster pickup with a highly hot-rodded Kaase Boss Nine engine, beautifully engineered suspension, stunning race-inspired interior, perfect oxblood red paint—and brand-new burnout rubber.
Wes knew that he wanted the car built by Troy Ladd at Hollywood Hot Rods (HHR), despite the fact that the shop in Burbank, California, is an entire continent away from his home in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“The key to our success was all about how well we communicated,” Wes explains. “Troy knows his stuff, so I took the approach of ‘Tie, Troy wins,’ meaning that if we came to an impasse on a tough choice that had to be made, I acquiesced to Troy.” HHR’s well-known motto is “Respect Tradition,” which Wes says fit with his vision for his roadster pickup. As with virtually all of HHR’s creations, the roadster pickup was started with concept illustrations from designer Eric Black.
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A GREAT DEAL OF HISTORY WAS ON VIEW FOR ALL TO SEE … AND REFLECT