Ford A-V8 Hi-Boy Hot Rod
Bob DeBisschop bought this 1929 Ford, which already included a desirable 1929-vintage roadster body mounted atop a 1932 frame, in 1946. Construction progressed steadily while DeBisschop attended college in California and during the process, he was invited to display the car at the inaugural Oakland Roadster Show in 1950. Ben Hubbard, an auto parts store owner who was a friend of DeBisschop, agreed to cover the cost of the paint and upholstery work, while DeBisschop plated the entire front end and fabricated a smart three-piece louvered hood and side panels. Peter Paul painted the roadster with Ditzler black lacquer while Hall’s Top Shop in Oakland designed and fitted the contrasting blue upholstery.
For power, DeBisschop selected a 1948 Mercury flathead V8 engine, which was enlarged to 296 cubic inches and equipped with the best speed parts of the era, including finned Offenhauser cylinder heads, an Offenhauser intake manifold, dual carburetors, a full-race camshaft, converted Lincoln dual-coil ignition system and chromed exhaust headers. In January 1950, DeBisschop drove the finished roadster to Oakland for display at the big show.
According to DeBisschop, “Hubbard had arranged with Al Slonaker, the show promoter, for a booth where my roadster would be disassembled, then reassembled in time for the conclusion of the show on the last night.” Bill Niekamp’s ’29 roadster from Long Beach won the first America’s Most Beautiful Roadster Award and while DeBisschop’s car was certainly a contender, it was apart most of the time for the demonstration and really did not have a chance to win. It was nevertheless pictured with Miss California for a photo that was also published in Rod & Custom in 1989.
The following year, Bob ran his roadster at the Santa Ana quarter mile drags, reaching 108 mph on gasoline. At Lodi, he hit 112 mph on alcohol in the quarter-mile. At Winters, near Sacramento, running a blend of alcohol and nitromethane, the rapid roadster reached 125 mph. On a longer course at the dry lakes, he went even faster with a best speed of 132 mph!
DeBisschop was drafted into the Army in 1952 and parked the roadster in his mother’s garage until he was discharged. By the mid-1950s Bob was increasingly discouraged by California’s strictly enforced headlight and fender laws and reluctantly sold the Hi-Boy to Jim Ellison, the founder of American Racing Wheels. Ellison and his son owned the roadster for more than 30 years, installing a Chevy small-block V8 among a number of other mechanical changes they made over the years. The car then passed through four other owners, before the previous owner commissioned a full restoration, which was completed by Longley Restorations of Florida in 2004. Best of all, Bob DeBisschop provided copious advice and drawings, lending authenticity to the restoration effort.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Est. 225 hp flathead V8 engine, dual carburetors, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with single transverse leaf spring, live rear axle with single transverse leaf spring, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel