SR Vol. 1, No. 5: Dwain Rogers of Houston in the red Deuce highboy he sold to buy this one
Two things: First, Dwain Rogers appeared on the fifth cover of this magazine in September 1972, sitting in a bright red '32 highboy roadster. The photo was taken by current STREET RODDER Editor Brian Brennan at the Southwestern Rod Run in Texas. Brennan did have a bylined editorial column inside describing his experience covering a distant event as a budding street rod reporter/photographer. Second, I joined the staff of this magazine through luck and happenstance in late 1973 as a clueless beginner. I didn't know magazines, but I did know hot rods and some of their history. So when I was introduced to Tom McMullen as the publisher of this fairly new rod magazine, and was told, "He's the guy who had that blown, flamed '32 roadster on the cover of Hot Rod," I certainly knew the car. And my first question to him was, "Where is it now?" Thus began my career as a journalist and as a hot rod archeologist. I eventually found McMullen's roadster, in pieces, in a storage garage, and showed it in the magazine. Other hot rod "finds" (such as "TV Tommy" Ivo's T in similar condition) and "biographies" followed.
I love this sort of hot rod sleuthing—not just finding vintage tin or old barn cars, but tracking down former cover cars, show winners, or race heroes simply to answer the question, "Whatever became of ...?" I've been doing it for years in various publications, and you readers seem to dig it as much as I do. So it's only natural that this eventually developed into a book, Lost Hot Rods, which appeared a couple of years ago. And you liked that one enough that it prompted a sequel, Lost Hot Rods II, which debuted recently.
So Brennan asked if I would select one of the "lost rods" from the new book to present here as a taste (there are 80 such cars in the book altogether). And as I rummaged through the contents, I quickly honed in on this one, because it all comes back to STREET RODDER magazine in several ways.
Back in 1972, this is what Rogers found under a tarp in a garage in Monterey Park, still d
So he hitched it to the back of his friend's Nova and towed it 1,200 miles back to Texas.
Doing all his own work, Rogers had the Deuce looking like this in a couple of months. Runn
No, this isn't the same highboy that appeared on the Sept. '72 SR cover. Rogers said that one—though nice—had been salvaged from a channeled, floorless hulk. So he sold it that summer, and with the hot cash in his pocket and a friend with a new lace-painted Nova eager to visit the L.A. Roadsters Show, they set off on a 1,200-mile adventure that ultimately netted not one, but two Deuces to bring back to Texas (the friend drove home the Olds-powered sedan he bought at the swap meet).
I can't tell you the whole story here, because that's at least half the fun of every lost rod find, but Rogers did find this roadster, in complete and near-original condition, sitting under a tarp in an "old rodder's" garage in an L.A. suburb. He paid what he considered big money for it at the time ($2,500). But get this. Not only did he fire it up and drive it out of the garage, but he rented a tow bar, hooked it to the Nova, and flat-towed it all the way back to Houston—no problem.
The day after he got it home he had the fenders, bumpers, lights, and spare tire off, and soon the cherry body was sprayed shiny black. Then Rogers spent hours studying, taping, and spraying the flames to match those on the famous McMullen car. He even taught himself to pinstripe to outline them. Other influences from McMullen's roadster include the drilled axle and split radius rods, the lights, the chopped windshield, and the real American five-spoke mags. The main difference, at first, was building a mild, twin-carb, 8BA Flathead to power it. In this form it won Best Homebuilt Paint and Best Nostalgia trophies at the '73 NSRA Nats in Tulsa. Two years later he added a Moon tank to the front and a 265 Chevy under the hood in further emulation of the McMullen car, and it got on a couple of magazine covers.
By 1980, however, Rogers needed cash to start a business, sold the roadster, and "dropped out of the rod scene" for many years. He knew the car later sold at the big Pate Swap Meet, and went back to California, but he lost track after that.
The tan upholstery is the only component that belies the car's '70s heritage, but even it
To quote the book: "Then, in 2001, Rogers picked up a copy of STREET RODDER magazine and happened to be reading a six-page article on ..." OK, I won't give it all away. But we're back to SR again, aren't we? Rogers spotted the recognizable flames of his old roadster in the background of one photo of someone's car collection. It was far from California, and someone else was listed as the car's former owner, but Rogers knew it was his. And he knew he'd like it back. It appeared to be just the way he built it. The problem was the collector didn't want to sell.
Obviously Rogers did finally get his roadster back. It took five years of persistence and pestering (and an undisclosed amount of cash), but he's quite happy to have it in his driveway once again. He decided to leave the Flathead some unknown owner installed. Otherwise all he did was add a gennie set of early American mags with appropriate rubber, a Bell steering wheel, and a couple other little things. But the paint, the flames, and the pinstripes Rogers applied in 1972 are all still the same, as is the upholstery and chrome. To get the whole story, and many more like it, pick up Lost Hot Rods II at your bookstore, on the web, or directly from www.cartechbooks.com or (800) 551-4754.
When he finally got the car back, it had this 250-inch Flattie with an Isky cam, Offy head
This is how the roadster looks today, back in Rogers' Texas driveway—same paint, same flam
It still has the chrome 8-inch rear on a buggy spring with '36 radius rods, and a Muncie f