Gunners Garage

A Very Cool Hot Rodder From Grant's Pass

If is were up to me, the award for the best exhibitor booth at the 2007 SEMA Show would go to Bob Drake’s Early Ford V-8 parts company out of Grant’s Pass, Oregon. The company’s booth had the look of a salvage yard that specialized in hot rod parts for “jalopy” Fords. A Ford 5-window coupe with the “unwashed” look was set on center stage and backdropped by a ramshackle-looking “shop” that appeared to be made of stray pieces of galvanized tin.

Naturally, the whole setup was intended to look old and worn, although it really was custom-designed for SEMA. After all, Bob Drake Reproductions, Inc., (www.bobdrake.com) has been a manufacturer of just-like-new 1932-1948 Ford parts for 34 years. The company’s product line includes die-cast chrome trim, rubber, sheet-metal, roll-formed steel and investment-cast stainless-steel products.

Over the past 29 years, I had seen Drake’s vending space many times at swap meets such as Hershey and I had always been impressed with the quality of the products he sells. But it wasn’t until I saw this fabulous “hot rod shop” diorama that I decided I had to stop, look the owner up and tell him how much I enjoyed his marketing creativity. And I was glad I did.

First, Bob told me that he was a Southern Wisconsin native. Then, he introduced me to two men I was very happy to meet . . . Hot Rodding legend “Speedway” Bill Smith, of Speedway Motors (www.speedwaymotors.com) in Lincoln, Nebraska (who I’d love to see write a book on V-8 Fords) and famed racing driver Jonny Rutherford.

Bob Drake gets my award for the coolest exhibit . . . as well as some of the coolest friends.

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