Three Famous Coupes Headed North for West Coast Nationals

Three famous hot rod coupes are on their way to the 23rd West Coast Nationals. The original “California Kid”, Jake’s ’34 and the Super Bell Coupe will be on hand at this year’s event. Better yet – they’re being DRIVEN to the event by the Slover family and Frank Morawski – owner of the Super Bell coupe.

Next year is the 35th anniversary of Pete & Jake’s and the So-Cal to Pleasanton boogie will help jump start the celebration. The three cars will be photographed on their journey by Steve Coonan and the Rodder’s Journal crew.

The coupes of Pete Chapouris and Jim Jacobson first gained national prominence when they appeared together on the cover of the November 1973 Rod & Custom magazine. Many remember it as the “Chicken Coupe” cover. The story goes that a Hollywood producer was on vacation with his family when he saw that issue and had to have Pete’s flamed coupe as the featured vehicle in his movie “The California Kid.” Chapouris was contacted and the car (driven by Martin Sheen in the movie) became forever known as the “California Kid.”  The coupe’s world famous flames were applied by Manuel Reyes. The Cal Kid featured a small block Ford, mag Halibrand’s on the rear and American Standards up front as well as a quick change. Making the car even more famous was the late Gray Baskerville, who followed the build of the coupe for Rod & Custom. The car was also the catalyst for the launch of Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts.

Jake’s Coupe was built while he was on staff at Rod & Custom Magazine. The lakes style ‘34 was bright yellow and had a perfectly chopped top (chops were rare back in those days). A narrowed truck grille, nail head Buick, no fenders and the chopped top really enhanced the cars lakes influence. It was a trendsetter for that era for sure.

The bright orange Super Bell Coupe, built by the late Jim Ewing towards the end of the 1970s was a groundbreaking chopped and channeled coupe that featured a track roadster nose over an extended front end. What was unusual about this car was that it was powered by a trio of engines including a big block Chevy, small block Chevy, V-6 – all Ewing trademarks as he loved to change things up.

Coonan is salivating at the chance to photograph all three original cars. “The cool thing about all three of those cars is that they returned the scene back top traditional hot rodding and away from the resto rod thing that was going on in the early 70s. They really practiced what they preached too. Those cars were regularly driven across country to hot rod shows. They were pioneers and road warriors,” said Coonan.

The plan for the West Coast Nationals road trip is to leave the NHRA Museum on Friday morning August 21st then roll into Pleasanton later on that evening. The photos from the road trip will appear in issue #47 of the Rodder’s Journal which goes on sale Thanksgiving week.

Look for the coupes in a special display on “Windmill Hill” in the center of the Pleasanton Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday August 22 & 23.


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