Paul Schiefer's 1925 Ford

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Paul's roadster with a 1925 Ford roadster body at a SCTA Lakes meet in 1947. Photo courtesy of Dan O'Regan. [1]
Photo from the Jack Calori Collection.[2]. Photo courtesy of The American Hot Rod Foundation.
Paul with (from left to right) Ed "Axle" Stewart, Bobby Willis, and unidentified gearhead in San Diego.
Paul's Roadster at an SCTA El Mirage meet in 1948. Photos Courtesy of Jill Durkee-Burgoyne.[3]
Paul's roadster at El Mirage in 1948. Photo from the Louis Senter Collection. Photo courtesy of The American Hot Rod Foundation[4]
Paul's roadster at a SCTA Lakes meet in 1948. Photo courtesy of Dan O'Regan.[1]
paul's roadster in an Harman & Collins ad from Hot Rod Magazine November 1948.
Paul's roadster in 1948. Photo from the Mario Baffico Collection. Photo courtesy of The American Hot Rod Foundation. [4]
Photo of Paul's roadster from the August 22-27, 1949 Bonneville program showing the frame upside down as Paul is busy putting a more streamlined 1927 Ford roadster body on the car .
Paul's roadster at a SCTA Lakes meet in 1949 after he had fit the car with a 1927 Ford Model T roadster body. Photo courtesy of John Ryan.[1]
Paul's roadster at Bonneville in 1949. Photo courtesy of Tim Timmerman.[1]
Fred Lobello in Paul's Lake Racer at Bonneville. Photo courtesy of Dan Waldrup of the Bean Bandits. [5]
Paul's roadster at the 1950 Motorama show in Los Angeles. Photo from the Mario Baffico Collection. Photo courtesy of The American Hot Rod Foundation.[4]
Another photo from the 1950 Motorama show. Photo from the Mario Baffico Collection. Photo courtesy of The American Hot Rod Foundation.[4]
Paul ran his Merc powered Class C Modified Roadster 150.753 mph for 8th in class at Bonneville in 1951. Photo from the Joe Henning Mystery Collection. Photo courtesy of The American Hot Rod Foundation. [4]
The Bean Bandits borrowed the roadster from Paul for a while. This photo is taken sometime after that.
The Schiefer Automotive-Bean Bandits no. 676 Class C Modified Roadster at Bonneville in 1953. Joaquin Arnett of the Bean Bandits turned the car in to a rear engined roadster. Photo from the Dick Kraft Collection. Photo courtesy of The American Hot Rod Foundation. [7]
A color photo of the "Henslee & Wright" version of the roadster. The photo is a screenshot from the movie The Hot Rod Story Drag Racing. Notice the Jerauld's Speed Shop ad on the nose.
A close up of the Mercury engine that Henslee and Wright ran at the time.
The Roadster in 1955 while Bob Henslee owned it. Bob partnered with Holly Hedrich, who is standing next to the car in the photo.[8]
The remains of Henslee's roadster after George Barcout T-boned a spectator that unknowingly drove his Chevrolet sedan across the Paradise Mesa Drag Strip in 1957. Barcout survived the crash. The roadster did not. This photo was published in Hot Rod Deluxe March 2016. Photo by Wally Parks, courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine.
A photo of the Chevrolet that Barcout T-boned at Paradise Mesa. Photo by Wally Parks, courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine.

1925 Ford Model T Roadster owned by San Diego Roadster Club member Paul Schiefer. The Schiefer roadster is one of the few cars campaigned on the lakes and the strips that, within a decade, saw its first-year top speeds on the dry lakes exceeded by its later 1/4-mile E.T.'s.

The Early Days

According to Paul's friend Jack Osborne, the car was built in Paul's garage. It was built on a tube frame fabricated from the wing struts of a PBY-5A Catalina flying boat, and the roadster body was channeled about 4 inches. Everything else was fairly standard.[9] The wheels were typically 16-inch and/or 18-inch Ford wires with 1934 Ford V8 hubcaps; at the front-end was a Chrysler tube axle with Ford spindles and Ford steering arms/links. A gear mounted at the right front wheel spun a Stewart speedometer positioned next to a Stewart tach in the middle of the dash; to the left side was a smaller temperature gauge, and on the right was an equally small oil pressure gauge[10]; the rear end was from a Model 'A' and had a home built quick change gear in front of the rear axle. The quick change was built by Bob Bubenik in Paul's garage. At the time the car was powered by a 286 engine that made 235 hp on the dyno in Paul's shop. The engine ran straight alcohol. The headers were also built in the shop.[11][12]. The transmission was a 1935-1939 Ford three speed, and the steering gear assembly may have been built by Gordon Schroeder. In 1947 the car was powered by a 286 cid 1947 Mercury engine with Edelbrock heads and manifold, Harman & Collins cam, and Pounden ignition. In 1948 the Pounden Ignition was replaced by Eddie Meyer Ignition.[4] When Paul's roadster appeared at the last SCTA meet in 1947 it was judged the Best Appearing Car. The flywheel exploded at that meet.[13]

Schiefer Manufacturing Company

At the SCTA July 18, 1948 meet, Paul's roadster with Butch Ludwig behind the steering wheel was the fastest C-Class roadster at 148.02 mph. This was also Paul's best run in 1948. Paul used his roadster as a test vehicle for development of an aluminum flywheel which became the first major product of the Schiefer Manufacturing Company.[1] Paul used a Ford truck grille on his roadster. It was dark blue and rode on a custom tube chassis using a custom tube front axle with 5x16 grooved tires in the front. The body featured a full belly pan and a three piece custom louvered hood.

Body Swap

Paul ran his roadster at the 1947 Lakes meet as no. 10. In 1948 he ran it as no. 315 and at the first meets in 1949 as no. 7[4]. After seeing the record speed Don Waite's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster accomplished in 1949 he changed the body to a more streamlined 1927 Ford Model T roadster. The rear tires were originally made for an Indy race car. Painted red, this body was channeled about six inches over the frame. The nose was fabricated in Paul's garage, and it featured a grille that may have been made by Eddie Kuzma[14]. After swapping bodies, the class C Lakester stopped the clocks at an excellent 156.74 mph. The records were set using the same 286" Mercury engine with Edelbrock and Harman equipment.[1]

Bean Bandits and Rear Engine Conversion

By 1951 the car was repainted medium blue and sported Halibrand magnesium disc knockoff rims in the rear, and motorcycle wires up front. Paul ran his Class C Modified Roadster at 150.753 mph for the 8th in class at Bonneville. Later he loaned his roadster to the Bean Bandits Racing Team, and Joaquin Arnett raced the car for a while. Joaquin was the one who made it in to a rear engine roadster. A photo from the Dick Kraft Collection displayed at the AHRF website shows the roadster on Bonneville in 1953. As no. 676 in Class C, powered by a 274" '49 Merc flattie, the car finished third in class with a speed of 180.36 mph.[7] The car was returned to Paul Schiefer after the Bean Bandits had raced it. [5] Red Henslee picked up the car, motivating it with a 392 Hemi backed by a Ford two-speed manual gearbox. At first Henslee partnered with Holly Hedrich, and then Emory Cook. In 1956 it became the most famous roadster of the 1950s when it set the 1/4 mile World's drag racing record at 157.15 mph. [1].

Cook and Henslee

In his book, Tales from the Drag Strip, Don Garlits told about what was, most likely, the pitiful but glorious end of this fine car; "Emory Cook was the first driver to develop the high-gear-only concept back in the 1950s. He and Red Henslee were running their roadster at Santa Ana one day, and the two-speed Ford transmission they were using broke. When it got time for Top Eliminator, Cook said he didn't want to give up a shot at the trophy, plus a possible $25 for winnning. He told Henslee, 'Let's just go up there and run it in high gear, and maybe the other guy will leave too soon or break or who knows what.' Cook got up to the line, revved it up, and spun the tires, and sonavabitch, if he didn't set top speed of the meet and win! So they knew then that just running in high gear could work. The crowd was going crazy, and down at the far end, Henslee was so excited that he told Cook he wanted to be behind the wheel of the car as it was pushed back down the return road. But something goofy happened as they were coming back. They must have accidentally started it, and Henslee crashed. Cook was so mad when Henslee crashed their roadster that the partnership was over for good." [15]

The End? Wrecked at Paradise Mesa Drag Strip in 1957

According to an article published in Hot Rod Deluxe March 2016, George Barcout was racing Red Henslee's roadster down the 1/4 mile at Paradise Mesa Drag Strip in 1957 when a spectator unknowingly drove his Chevrolet sedan across the strip. Barcout T-boned the errant spectator, shattering the roadster into pieces all over the place. This was George's first ride in the car. "I was in the tower," Dick Lechien, the announcer, told Hot Rod Deluxe Magazine. "I had to run the quarter-mile to get down there. I jumped into the ambulance and went to the hospital with him. He had so many broken bones, I didn’t think he would make it, but he did."[16]

Magazine Features and Appearances

Hot Rod Deluxe March 2016


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