When thinking of 20th century American pop culture, the first few things that come to mind are Rock and Roll, fast food, motion pictures and of course Hot Rodding! The "Hot Rod" embodies teenage youth, freedom and speed and has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Really beginning early on with the Model T Ford and young men and women who had a need for speed but couldn't afford to purchase a big horsepower expensive race car or sports car. The Model T was the most accessible, reliable, bulletproof and affordable car out there and was the perfect starting point for a young guy to make a fast car. Many speed parts were produced to make your Ford faster than a Duesenberg! With this culture already forming, the introduction of the flathead V8 from Ford in 1932 really gave hot rodders big speed and style right out of the factory and as time went on speed parts companies produced many speed upgrades for your flathead engine to make it even more powerful than it already was. In the 1940's, the speed hungry teenagers used flathead Fords, like the Model T years before, and were the most accessible and most powerful and reliable cars that could be turned into a speed machine. Open top roadsters were most desirable and could be easily had from junkyards and elderly owners who only saw them as old jalopies, for very little money. These roadsters would be stripped down with bobbed fenders or no fenders, lowered, chopped channeled and customized with special paint jobs and lots of chrome and speed goodies on the engine to really give the car that fast look.
What many people today do not realize is that Hot Rodding was not just a popular thing on the west coast of the United States, but it was also just as popular at the same time on the East coast as well. In the 1950's "Autorama" shows popped up all over the country, with some of the most famous in Hartford, Connecticut as well as in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan as well as many other states. People from all over would travel to see these show cars with incredible displays and 10 coats of lacquer paint. Most hot rodders didn't have the money to actually finish their cars to the standards or levels of these Autorama show cars so it was really a sight to see. The dream of many hot rodders was to have their car featured in one of the many Hot Rod or custom car magazines, but few were able to achieve this dream. Today it is very rare to find a real period 1950's hot rod that has been preserved in its original state, but it is even more rare to find a real hot rod built in the 1950's that was one of the few cars to actually make it into multiple Autorama shows and hot rod magazines!
Offered here is an incredible original well documented hot rod from the golden age of hot rodding: "The Campus Chariot," a 1931 Chrysler CD8 roadster body channeled 8 inches over a customized chrome 1940 Ford frame that was built in the early 1950's in West Haven Connecticut by a Mr. Robert Yeomans. The engine is a "souped up" Mercury flathead V8 with finned aluminum Edmunds Special racing heads, aluminum Offenhauser dual carburetor intake manifold with two chrome Ford 97 carburetors and a Mallory racing two spark ignition making this car really fast. Besides being a very cool old hot rod, it is a very mysterious car with a fascinating history. First publicly shown a couple of years after completion at the 1957 Hartford Autorama where it was received very well by the public. It then was shown again in 1958 at the Westchester, New York Autorama. In 1960 the car would be sold to its next owner who would keep the car until his death this year, Mr. Robert "Bob" Ritchie of Stratford, Connecticut who was an Engineer by trade working at the U.S. Baird Company in Stratford, Connecticut and BIF Manufacturing in Rhode Island. He added his own mark on the car with the addition of a custom "Ritchie Engineering, NHRA Approved" tachometer on the steering column letting everyone know this car was his. He continued to show the roadster all over, including the 1962 Hartford, Connecticut Autorama, the 1962 Teaneck Autorama in New Jersey where it won 1st place as well as the 1963 Hot Rod and Custom Worlds Fair at Madison Square Garden in New York City where it competed against many of the best hot rods from all over the country where it won the prestigious "Award of Elegance." Both of these trophies are still with the car. During this time it also made its way into multiple hot rod and custom magazines including a full four page spread in "How to Hop Up Your Engine" magazine in 1963. It is also featured in more recent books such as "Hot Rods of the 1950's" by Andy Southard and "Cool Cars Square Rollbars" by Arnie Shurman. Mr. Ritchie continued to drive the car throughout the 1960's, even competing at the Connecticut dragway where he would often run the 1/4 and 1/8 mile competitions and was very competitive according to many surviving friends who also attended these events in the period. The car would finally be parked in the mid 1970's and was kept out of sight for the next 45 years. Bob never let anyone know where the car was during this time, secretly moving it from place to place. A car that was for years thought to be long gone until this year when the phone rang and a mutual friend was finally able to tell the secret of where the car was and that it was time for it to go to a new home.
So, here it is, the Ritchie Roadster, in completely original condition with its original 10 coats of deep blue lacquer paint and original blue and white candy stripe interior. It also retains its original removable carson top as well as its color matched racing helmet, candy stripe steering wheel cover, original trophies, original "Campus Chariot" show sign and its original Connecticut license plates “570-406.” This is one of the best original, well documented and significant east coast hot rods that exists today. Upon our acquisition we replaced the gas tank, restored the brake system with all new wheel cylinders, shoes and master cylinder. We also rebuilt the carburetors, flushed the coolant system and added new tires and a new battery. The car runs amazingly well with and without the exhaust cutouts open! It handles like a go-kart and is comfortable to drive. It has more power than is necessary. This is an amazing piece of hot rod history that has wonderful originality, looks and documentation. It’s the best. Contact us today to learn more about this car. Don't miss this opportunity to own this amazing roadster.