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Upcoming Events Short List !
May 5 Freddy Castro remembrance
June 9 Early Times picnic
San Diego Prowlers making Hot Rod History - The 1940's
In the spring of 1947 several young San Diego area hot rodders got together and decided to build cars they could take to the dry lake beds east of Los Angeles and run for speed tests. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work.
This desire to build cars and help each other with their project cars, was the reason that the Prowlers formed as a club. In those days the only organization for this kind of speed running was the Southern California Timing Association. This was the start of hot rodding. Later toward the '50s, the Prowlers would join with others and form the Russetta Timing Association so they could run coupes and sedans in the speed trials. This is an original program from 1948 for the El Mirage races. This has been kept it excellent condition by our club historian Andy Bekech. This program looks like it was bought yesterday. There are 3 of the Charter Member Prowlers listed in this program. Bill Carpenter, Rich Sawyer #2 and the late Frank Wilkinson #7. Where would you get a program like this today for 25 cents? Below will be the pages in this program.
Quite a keepsake wouldn't you say?
Some were running 4-bangers that came with the cars. But soon we decided to start using more powerful engines. The V-8 was becoming the "rage" and they soon made their way into our cars. Of course, we had to hand fabricate all of the brackets, adapters, and mounting hardware. But it was worth it. A 4-banger is nothing compared to the sound and feel of THE V-8.
L-R Gene Nichols, Hoot Gibson, Ed and Bob Stewart, Harold Speltz and Norm Urban. When we weren't running at the dry lakes, we got together and drove the cars all over San Diego county. Driving together was more fun. It was also a good idea to go with a buddy who carried tools, just in case. We began to call these trips together "cruises". Here we are in front of the store at Palomar Mountain. We made this trip so often that some called it our first clubhouse.
Dick Wilson (member #1), started it all at the Prowlers. Although not very active today, he still has his original Prowlers Car Club Jacket. Photo taken in 1947. See news section under Prowler run to Pine Valley, 4/9/05. Yes, Dick is working on another hot rod and soon, we hope he will become an active Prowler once again.
Charter Member, Chuck "Hoot" Gibson's '27 "T" roadster at the dry lakes, circa 1948. "Hoot" was the first of 4 Prowler members to own this roadster. The 2nd was Carl Burnett and the 3rd was Bob Smith. This is the same car that was on the cover of the 1958 March issue of Hot Rod Magazine when Bob got through with it. Take a moment and look at our "Prowlers on magazine covers" in the history section. It's interesting to see the change from racer to show car. The 4th Prowler to own this historic roadster is John LaBarre. John is almost finished with a complete rebuild - can't wait, John!
The following shots are a history of Charter Member #16 John Brown. These are some truly great and priceless pictures showing just how hot rodding began and that the Prowler members were definitely some of the "Rod Fathers Of Hot Rodding".
By 1949, John was building a 1932 Ford sedan. The yard in these pictures tell a lot! John tells us the final look of this sedan was a 4" chopped top painted metallic midnight blue. This sedan was sold immediately on completion and he never got any finished pictures. Man, that's gotta be a heart breaker. John says he felt this was his best one. I don't know John - they all looked like show winners to me!
John found the club was still going in 2003 and is now a regular at the Prowler annual picnic.
Thanks for the great walk through time John. Still kinda wondering what your next rides gonna be? Thanks also goes to Andy our historian for getting these great shots to us for the web site.
Ed's son, Bob "Lil Axle" Stewart, still owns his Dads famous '32 Ford roadster, as of 2005. This picture was taken in June of '02. Bob has painstakingly restored the car to the way it looks today. Ed and Bob were both members of the Prowlers Club. We want to say thanks to Bob Stewart for all the family pictures he gave the club.
Thanks goes out to Frank Lurry for the following shots.
Here is a fun cartoon we think originated very early as part of a birthday card for #28. The highest member number is #36, Don Purdy which places it in 1947 or 48. A close look reveals member numbers on each of the carefully individualized characters. Their obvious love of hot rodding shows as they excitedly inspect #28's latest ride!
ps: It isn't clear in our records exactly who was #28. Call us if you know!