Bill Daniels' 1950 Oldsmobile
1950 Oldsmobile owned by Agitators of Fullerton car club member Bill Daniels of La Habra, California. Bill sold a 1932 Ford coupe to fund the Olds. He was constantly challenged by a group of Mopar fans in High School, so he decided to build something to keep up with them.
Bill had a buddy, Jack Coughran, who helped out with the build. "He was an old time master mechanic and craftsman," Bill told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. "He did most of the build on the 50 Olds with me looking over his shoulder and trying to help!" Bill and Jack lowered the front of the car, giving it a forward rake. He then had Jack dress it up with louvers. "My friend ran a business called Coughran Louvers. He had a back yard homemade louver press and punched louvers on my Olds in any area available, 200 in hood, 100 on deck lid and on all interior garnish moldings," Daniels recalled. The original color on the Olds was cream. After restyling it, he had Bill's Body Shop in Fullerton paint it yellow.
Bill drove the Olds during his High School senior year, and in 1956 he had Von Dutch pinstripe it. "Von Dutch said anyone crazy enough to have louvers on the trunk deserves flames which he airbrushed. He also individually striped each louver, and there were hundreds. He didn't want anyone watching, said to go home, come back in 8 hours and guaranteed, you will be happy," Bill recalled. "When I first made the appointment, he said to be sure and bring a half-gallon of red wine along with the car."
"As it was used for street racing, the engine had to look as stock as possible," Bill told Kustomrama. "But in reality, it was built, bored and stroked, ported and polished heads, cam, ignition, headers with cutouts. Backed with a 1937 LaSalle floor shift transmission. It was very fast," according to Bill. The Olds was a factory stick shift, making it easier to install the LaSalle transmission. Bill had read an article in a Hot Rod Magazine on how to hook one up to an Olds or Caddy, so he went to every junkyard in Southern California in search of the transmission. With the Olds, Bill was finally able to outrun the Mopar group. "After building the Olds we went from town to town, drive-in to drive-in in 1956 Southern California calling out fast cars to race like Harrison Ford in the American Grafitti movie. Even with the crash in the end," Bill added.
Unfortunately, Bill's Oldsmobile was wrecked in a street race later on in 1956. According to the local newspaper, the Police and witnesses estimated that the car was traveling at approximately 95 miles an hour when it suddenly skidded near the Laguna Road intersection; "Jumping the curb at the southwest corner, the car continued across an open field until it struck a tree and embankment along a dirt road. Police reported the car left the ground and was completely in the air for 45 feet. It bounced end-over-end in a dirt field for another 45 feet, finally stopping upside-down." As the car went end-over-end the floor shift stuck into Bill's chest, "puncturing both lungs and ending up-side-down with the shaft still in and the shift knob broken inside. Also going end-over-en," Bill added, "the dome light scraped through my face. I had over 200 stitches on both my face and chest." When officers arrived, Daniels was found pinned inside the wreckage, while Dittberner, who had been driving the car, was walking around the car in a dazed condition. The condition for Daniels was "very critical" after the high-speed crash, and he was sent to St. Joseph Hospital for operations. "One surgeon worked on my face and the other on my chest," Bill recalled.
Don't street race kids
After the wreck, Bill's dad had the Oldsmobile towed to their house, "he put it in the yard to show everyone wha could happen when street racing." Bill was scheduled to be in the hospital for six months, but with good care and determination, he was able to walk out in six weeks. "I couldn't get hot rodding out of my mind, so my dad and I found a 1940 Ford for the Olds drivetrain, that was basically unhurt. With Jack's help we put another car together, but this time for the dragstrip, no street racing!"
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