|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
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
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.
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
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
full size image
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
"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 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!