the life story of my Hiboy...

   

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When you buy a running hotrod, you know it didn't come out of some mass producing, sterile, boring dealership. You know that there is a guy out there (or possibly, several guys) who sweat blood and tears to build the machine. Heck if you look closely you can probably find a little piece of that hotrodder's heart, trapped somewhere between the crank shaft and the intake manifold LOL. As I drove my hiboy for the first time, I couldn't help but wonder... Where did you come from? How old are you? Who built you? What were you built with? Mysteries untold, many stories waiting to unfold... And I was just the woman to get the job done! So I put my Sherlock Holmes cap on, grabbed my magnifying glass and went down memory lane, my hiboy's memories, that is. My quest? To track down and personally talk to each and every person who ever owned and contributed to building this hotrod. Not quite the search for the Holy Grail, but pretty close ;). It took a lot of patience, persistence and work but finally, after a couple months of hard labor, my quest was completed.

I hope you enjoy reading about the three states, seven hotrodders and thirty years it took to complete this roadster. Please note that I added my own touch to the story to make it more fun to read, but know that for the most part, this is really what happened.

Special thanks to all the people who helped me fill in the blanks, especially the owners themselves; Thank you for your patience and for sending me your Hiboy photos! Last but not least, thank you for each contributing to building this awesome roadster! You know he is loved and appreciated - as he deserves to be!

1932 through 1975....

Hiboy was born in 1932 at the Henry Ford factory. I am not exactly sure what he looked like at the time and when he was first sold, but I can tell you that much: He was no roadster back then.

               Actually he was a humble two door Sedan, with humble beginnings, a common family car that probably never turned a single head. There were no cameras, no mansions, no trophies, no cosy garage, no rich owner and probably not a whole lot of love either. Hiboy probably labored for many many years and had a pretty hard life, since it was recession back then. He worked and worked and worked until he could take no more and broke down. He then was abandoned by everyone and left to rot by the side of a Minnesota home. Year after year, season after season, rain fell on him, sun beat on him, hail pounded on him... He sat there, helpless and waited... Would someone come and save him? Or would it be the crusher soon? His body rusted and his lovely interior fell apart. It seemed that Hiboy's life was ALL OVER. Or was it?

         

1975 through 1988...

When Dick Zappa joined the Roadster Twin City Club, he knew he would have to build a roadster. The idea tickled him just in the right spot and he started to catch himself really looking forward to the challenge. As every hotrodder knows, every hotrod starts with a frame. So Dick went on a bit of frame hunting. For a while now, he had noticed Hiboy sitting there. When he heard the owner was selling the 32 Sedan, he also heard opportunity knocking. "Knock Knock!" "Who's there?" "Hiboy! That's who!" :)). Dick went to take a closer look at the shipwreck of a Sedan. Although the body was really rotten, he was amazed to find that the frame was immaculate! And so it was that at least part of Hiboy was saved from the crusher and taken home to be pampered, buffed, repaired and in short, something that Hiboy had not experienced in many many years: LOVED. Once the frame was cleaned up, Dick set out to start building the roadster.  He put a Superbell dropped down axle on it, drove down to Iowa to buy a fiberglass body (but can't remember the name of manufacturer), put a nice flathead engine and a 39 ford transmission in. He also purchased one of the very first windshield posts Dan Fink ever made :) - which incidentally, are still on Hiboy to this date. He put chrome wheels on, a quick change rear end and boobed the rear end.
 

  After this initial boost of energy, Dick find himself losing momentum. Life got in the way and the project came to a stand still. Unfinished, not running, Hiboy lingered in Dick's garage for many years... But  he wasn't complaining. Heck, it sure was better than rotting away by the side of that horrible house, waiting for the crusher to come down on him at any minute! He started catching himself dreaming of hearing his engine start for the first time... Dreaming of driving down a sunny road again... Dreaming of warm, human hands wrapping around his -lack of - steering wheel... And it is dreams like that, that kept him hanging on...

Right - A flathead engine, maybe similar to what Hiboy had under his lack of hood back then... And maybe similar to what I'll put in him again one day.


1989 ...

When Dale Johnson (of DJ's Machine shop in St James city, Minnesota) heard that there was a 32 roadster with flat head engine for sale he just couldn't pass it up. After all, had he not bought and sold every 32 roadster known to man in the last God knows how many years? He could almost change his name to: Mr. 32 :)! Although always dealing all original steel cars, he decided that Hiboy was worthy of his money and so he flat bedded him back to his shop. There, Hiboy underwent a third transformation. Thanks to Dale's organizational skills, I was able to get some photos from him, showing Hiboy, in his infancy. Click on a thumbnail below to see the full image.

 click on photo to see
full size image

Meanwhile, Hiboy also made many new friends and socialized with many cool original hotrod roadsters. It is at that time that he learned the secrets to becoming a hot roadster. He heard their stories of racing, crowds, trophies and glory... And he kept dreaming, and his dreams became more and more focused: Yes, he would run again one day and become a HEAD TURNER somewhere were it never snows, somewhere where the sun always shine... And he would show them ALL! Meanwhile Dale grabbed the wrench and got started on him. His task? To add as many original parts as he could and make Hiboy as complete as he could. I am not sure whether the original 32 radiator, gas tank, axle came from Dale, but that would not surprise me. Dale was also very fond of 283 Chevy engines, so out came the flathead (OH NOOOOOOOO - Boohooohoooo) and in went a used 283 engine. He replaced the modern chrome wheels with nostalgic, original  40's steelies and 41 original hubcaps with 49 beauty rings. He also added a bare spring 32 stock seat. Well now, you are ready to find a new home little guy! No... wait... I just bought a bunch of parts from this guy up North and guess what? He has a nice 4 piece hood! That's just what you need. It's not the right color but it will do for now.

And so it was that, after undergoing these additional transformation, Hiboy was put up for sale (again). What he did not know at the time is that he was up for a little change in scenery ;).

1989 through 2001...

As Jeff Waickowski drove back from Minnesota to Big bend, Wisconsin, he felt pretty good about the new toy he had just acquired and was hauling back home. This was going to be a sweet little ride when he was done with it! He carefully unloaded the hotrod into his garage and parked it there, planning to get started on it the very next day... Twelve years later, Hiboy was still sitting in the same spot, untouched. Although Jeff did not, per say, contribute in the building of this roadster, he did do two very important contributions: he a)- brought it to Wisconsin where it would first be driven as a hotrod and b)- allowed the roadster to age like a nice bottle of fine wine, carefully stashed away in a cellar. Untouched, undisturbed, undamaged in any way, Hiboy lived through these 12 years as though they had never gone by. During his looooong sleep, he kept having this wonderful, recurring dream... In the dream he could see a smiling face hovering all over him.. And those kind, deep brown eyes... He felt a warm, gentle kiss on his nose... The dream invariably left him in a state of ecstasy... Was it only a dream? Or a premonition? He prayed the hotrod Gods that one day he would in deed get to meet his brown eyed angel... Little did he know: They were listening... (What? I am pushing it too far you say? Ok, so maybe I am no angel per say, but it makes for good reading, so humor me and let's keep going if you don't mind, I still have a lot to cover! LOL).

One month in 2001...

He was rudely awakened by the feeling of being pushed out of his garage. ???? What? What's happening? Where are you taking me? Jeff was there, along with another man who loaded Hiboy onto a flatbed and took him for a short drive across town. There, still a bit puzzled, Hiboy was unloaded into yet another garage and once again the lights were turned off and he was left in the dark, pondering what was to become of him... Dave Hanaran, his new owner, figured a roadster could be fun... But then again so would a Harley! So when Eric Koceja offered to trade a Harley and some cash for the unfinished hotrod, he simply couldn't say NO. And so it was that he would own Hiboy for merely one month and would let him slip through his fingers (his loss, my gain hehehehe).

2001 through 2002...

The Kocejas were no strangers to hotrods. Dave Koceja as well as his two sons were devoted hotrodders. Hiboy was in good hands. Eric, the elder, swore that he would get that roadster to run. And he would not wait 12 years to do so. He thought, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, he might even have it finished in time to drive it to the 2002 NSRA Nationals? Well, there was a lot to do and no time to waste so he rolled up his sleeves and dove right in. He took out the temperamental quick change rear end and replaced it with a S-10 Chevy version. He removed the 39 Ford transmission and installed a 350 Chevy. Well now, Hiboy was Chevy all the way! He had to redo all the crossmembers as well and while he had the welder in hand he decided to give Hiboy his butt back! No more shall the roadster have a bobbed rear end. An old 32 gas tank was mounted, just where it should be, in the rear bumper.

He found a very nice, cool oversize 53 Chevy steering wheel and fabricated a steering column to fit it. To add his own touch, he added a ford cap to the steering wheel horn ring. He chromed the Dan Finked windshield posts and drilled the body to install them, and bolted the windshield frame to them. Now now... Hiboy was starting to look the part! Some wiring and few more turn of the screwdriver later, it was time to fire the Deuce up!


And for the first time, Hiboy was empowered. He felt an incredible jolt of energy run through his vein and he roared so loud he almost startled his own self. Afterall, he had never heard his voice like this before! Despite the lack of interior, Eric decided to hop in and take Hiboy for a first spin... Hiboy leaped forward, elated... Never had he felt so alive and so free! LIFE AT LAST! And just in time for the nationals!! Eric added some nice old Guide 682-C headlights to the roadster and all in all felt he was ready to hit the road. He did have some reservations with the engine though... Would he make it all the way to the show? Both the little roadster and the young hotrodders had a lot of heart and courage so they drove off that morning, determined to get there, one way or another. Would lady luck smile upon them? I will let hotrod magazine pick up that cool story from here:

  As published in Street Rodder Magazine:

"Now, for what we consider to be the story of all stories from the 2002 NSRA Street Rod Nationals. After you read this you'll have to admit that this is what the tradition of rodding is based upon. It's an experience many of us can relate to or have experienced.

It turns out that 24-year-old Eric Koceja (#10699) entered his Ford highboy roadster along with his 17-year-old brother Mike Koceja and his pickup for the Nationals. (Mike was also entered in the Under 21 competition.) As they left their home in Big Bend, Wisconsin, Eric knew the engine in his roadster was tired and would need some "attention" by the time they got to the Nats.

That proved to be an understatement, as the roadster never made it. Outside of Chicago the engine "gave up the ghost," so to speak, and that was the end. A friend of theirs, Jiggs Lindhorst, was also on the road to the Nats with his trailered roadster. As luck would have it, Jiggs pulled his roadster off of the trailer and drove it to Louisville. In the meantime, Eric loaded his left-for-dead roadster onto the trailer and continued to the Nats. First stop, after registration, was the Michigan Hot Rod Association Rod Repair Shop. Help! Rich Larrick of the Rod Repair Shop acted as the liaison and assisted with tools and what not while Eric, Mike, their dad, and a few friends jumped into the project at hand. Pulling out the old motor wasn't difficult. The fun part was watching the family remove the old engine via 2x4's and some chain. Ah, the good ol' days of the shade-tree mechanic. But where do you get a new engine delivered to you at the fairgrounds during the Nationals?
 

  When it came time to find the new engine all they had to do was turnaround and go into the exhibit building and stop by the very first booth--it was the Chevrolet Motor Division booth with Bob Hook Chevrolet of Louisville, Kentucky, on hand. They were able to purchase a brand-new Chevy crate engine and with the help of John Stroud, from the NSRA, and the fairground crew, the engine was delivered via a forklift right to the roadster. The crowd that gathered around must have been entertained because it kept growing and by 4:30 p.m. the highboy roadster was up and running. (Thanks to StreetScene Joe Mayall for helping us fill in the blanks.) This was by far the most interesting and fun story at this year's Nats--in our humble opinion!
 
When we hear of rodders who get their boxers in a bunch because the A/C isn't just right, or their trailer winch isn't working, or their car rides too rough, we just have to wonder.

This just goes to show that the rodding spirit is alive and all's good that end's well. That's our selection for the defining moment at the 2002 NSRA Street Rod Nationals and we believe it will keep the Nats legacy going strong for another 33 years. "


Well, thank you StreetRodder magazine for giving us the whole scoop on this cool story. I'll pick up from here, if you don't mind ;). OK... So where was I? Ah, yes:

2002 through 2003...

So Hiboy had now seen a few of his dreams come true: He had been at a show and had got a lot of attention, even from the press! OK, so he had to break down to get that attention, but heck, the end justifies the means ;). Now back home, Eric worked on Hiboy some more, adding an old school maroonish burgundy interior and finally getting that stock seat upholstered... Hiboy was starting to look a bit more "respectable" :). Eric loved his roadster but it was not his "dream car", so he knew that sooner or later he would have to let him go. That day came in 2003 when he finally found the hotrod he had always wanted. Hiboy's sale would help finance the new purchase. I am going to venture and say that Hiboy got pretty torn up about losing his home, because he really loved Eric a lot. After all, he owed him a lot! He hoped his new family would be good to him and with a rain drop in his headlights he puttered his final goodbyes to his favorite Dad, Eric.

2003 through February 2006...

Well it was almost like being home since he remained in the same Wisconsin area, but it just wasn't quite the same. Hiboy was driven a lot by his new owner, Michael Samarvja. Over the next few years the roadster started showing some serious wear and tear... Finally one morning he decided to give up on humans. He went into deep depression and just didn't want to budge. Now no longer running, Hiboy was once more put up for sale. And that was just fine by him, he just didn't care anymore. He had been bouncing from home to home for too many years. He simply had lost Faith... Little did he know he was about to FIND FAITH (literally!). :)

February 2006 through August 2006...

 
Buying a hotrod sight unseen is always a gamble. One that Lonnie Comstock's wife did not agree much with. But a hotrodder can rarely say no to a cool hotrod so Lonnie took the plunge anyway and purchased, from a great distance, Hiboy. When they came to pull the roadster out of his dark garage, Hiboy did not resist. As I said he no longer cared. He was prepared to face the crusher, why not, after all, had he not lived in fear of it for all these years? Whatever, he thought. They loaded him in an enclosed trailer ("Mmmm" he thought "that must be how old cars are slaughtered...") and the door was shut. So he decided to put his life in the hands of Lady Luck, to close his eyes and sleep his troubles away. When he woke up a few days later, he was in sunny Southern California!!! He just couldn't believe his eyes! Had he died and gone to heaven? He looked up, the sky was blue and the sun was shining!  A nice man with a warm smile walked up to him and loaded him up on a flat bad trailer. From that nice view point he could see the ocean as he was driven to Long Beach, where his new home awaited. Lonnie quickly realized that the roadster was in bad need of TLC. He cleaned the plugs, replaced the starter, rebuilt the carburetors, replaced gaskets and few wires, resealed the radiator, went over the brake system. Hiboy found himself hopeful again... Maybe he was the brown eyed angel of his dreams? As his spirits returns, so did his strength and courage. So he decided he would run for Lonnie and would try to show him as much of a good time as possible. Together, they rode around the pretty streets of L.A and even cruised with other cool hotrods on and off... Hiboy's engine was roaring again and his little tires never seemed to get tired of spinning! 
But once again Lady Luck rolled the dices. Lonnie now had to move to Northern California and sell his home. As he packed his belongings, he knew that his hotrod could not come with him. He had to sell Hiboy. He listed him in the Classic and Collector auto trader and when the phone rang Lonnie was surprised to hear a woman's voice on the other end of the line. "Is the car for your husband or boyfriend?' he asked..."NO said the voice: It's for ME". Lonnie was surprised to say the least, but the lady seemed to be a serious buyer, judging by the vast amounts of questions she drilled him with. She wanted to come by to look at the roadster, but it was in the shop getting its frame repainted. A few days later, she called again. "Is it done yet?". Well yes it was, so she instantly made an appointment to come see the roadster the very next day.
August 2006...

Lonnie had a last garage sale that day and so he parked Hiboy in front of the garage. He put a FOR SALE sign on Hiboy's windshield and right there and then, the roadster's heart sank. He just couldn't believe he would lose his home again and so soon! He was about to shed all the coolant drops he had in him when suddenly a truck stopped in front of the driveway. A silhouette came out... "Wait.. The sun is in my headlights... I CAN'T SEE!! Who is this? Could it be......"

 
 

As the silhouette approached it started to slowly come into focus... She walked right up to him and gracefully bent over him so he could take a better look at.... HER DEEP BROWN EYES ???????

"Hello handsome" she said... His heart instantly melted... He knew, he JUST knew she was the one... The angel of his dreams...

Two days later they ran away together. She sat behind his wheel and it was as though they were meant for each other... A perfect fit! And they drove into the majestic sunset... Both equally ecstatic, they crossed the valley from end to end, all the way to the top of a hill and into his new home, a cozy garage. His engine felt so warm and so did the soft kiss she left on his emblem that night...

"Welcome home Hiboy!"


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