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Summer 2016 4

We totally understand this.

Many present owners of perfectly-

restored Cobras and Shelbys find it

inconceivable that fifty years ago

someone who purchased one of

these cars actually used it as a it

daily driver. Parked in the lot of a

movie theater while he went inside

to catch a film. Drove it in the rain

or snow. Parked it in the driveway

or out in the street at night. Treat-

ing it



Imagine finding a Cobra or

Shelby today, with 100k miles on it,

which had not been abused but nei-

ther was it showered with gobs of

TLC. Imagine driving it like it had

been driven during the first year or

two of its life – long before it appre-

ciated and became a revered auto-

motive icon. Imagine experiencing

the essence of the car without hav-

ing to worry about any downside

from driving it. It would be like

stepping into a time machine and

traveling back to 1965.

It was a feeling that was totally

foreign to a good number of other

collectors whose commitment to

their hobby and to the cars that

captured their interest was more

historical than anything else. Their

goal was the pursuit of perfection

in restoring the car flawlessly and

then trying to maintain it in that

condition for perpetuity. They were

incapable of seeing Seinfeld’s

Speedster the same way he saw it.

In fact, later in that same issue



, classic car collector Miles

Collier took to his keyboard to au-

thor a counterpoint article, essen-

tially stating that conserving an

original car was sometimes prefer-

able to totally restoring it. He ac-

cepted the fact that Seinfeld’s

Speedster could certainly be used

as it had been intended to be used

based on the desire of the owner,

but he saw the car as a time cap-

sule that would be better saved

from further deterioration. He also

thought it had been purchased for

more than it was really worth.

Now, to the nut of this column

(which you were probably wonder-

ing where it was heading and when



Hot rodders are known for their cars being continual works-in-progress. The

longer they keep them, the more they continue to modify them. In some cases

they are never “finished.” Take this ‘32 Ford roadster, for example. It was

Bernie Kretzschmar’s ride in the early 1960s. It was originally powered by a

Ford flathead but a Chevy V8 replaced it when he was active with the famous

L.A. Roadsters hot rod club. The car was featured on the cover of

Rod and Cus-


and when the surfing and beach blanket movies became popular and movie

producers needed hot rods to be in their films, they contacted the L.A. Road-

sters who were only too happy to supply members’ cars. Kretzschmar drove

this car to Shelby American in Venice when he applied for a job in 1964. When

he went inside to find someone in personnel, most of the fabricators and me-

chanics went outside to have a look at his car. They gave it the “thumbs up”

and he got the job, not necessarily in that order. The Deuce was his daily driver,

powered by a Chevy V8 so he always kept the hood closed up. One day Shelby

saw the car and its Firestone tires. He told Kretzschmar to get some Goodyears

on it. Within a couple of days the car was wearing Goodyears – Cobra take-offs

up front and a pair of large race tires in the rear that came from an R-Model.

Kretzschmar has kept the car all these years, despite some healthy offers from

collectors interested in historical street rods. He recently completed a retro

move, swapping the Chev V8 for a flathead and changing the chrome reversed-

rim wheels back to the wire wheels that he originally had on the car. The sixty-

year-old black paint remains, polished and buffed and looking as good as ever.

Conventions seem to be an endless round of “Show and Tell.” We can’t recall

who showed us an original (still in the box) Cobra wallet with a gold Cobra

logo. Shelby gave these away around 1963-64. This one was never used.