HEMI-Powered 1951 Henry J

On the south shore of Long Island, New York lies the village of West Islip. It was here that William Dzus invented the Dzus fastener in 1932. This unique fastener locks down with a quarter-turn, making it ideal for use in airplanes and hot rods.

William’s son Ted Dzus took the helm in 1964 and ran the company for 23 years before retiring. But Ted isn’t wasting his retirement on the golf course – he’s an active member of the hot rodding community. I had the chance to check out Ted’s insane 1951 Henry J at the 2013 SEMA Show.

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1951 Studebaker Woody by Hill’s Rod and Custom

When I think of the San Francisco Bay Area, I think of hippies, hilly streets, cable cars, cloudy days and sourdough bread. The last thing I think of is hot rodding, which I associate strongly with southern California.

But if you venture over to Pleasant Hill, California, a little town in the East Bay area, you’ll find Hill’s Rod and Custom and their amazing 1951 Studebaker woody project. I saw this car on display at the Dynamat booth at SEMA 2013.

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1955 DeSoto FireFlite Sportsman 2 Door Hardtop

One of the forgotten names of the American car business is DeSoto. First launched by Chrysler in 1928, DeSoto was an all-new brand that would compete with Buick and Studebaker in the mid-market segment.

Due to their affordable price, DeSotos were popular right from the start. The 1929 models set a first-year sales record that stood for 31 years! DeSoto hit the peak of their popularity in 1956, when they had grown to become the 11th largest US automaker.

One of the cars that propelled DeSoto up the sales charts was this 1955 DeSoto Fireflite. It caught my eye on a recent visit to the Martin Auto Museum in Phoenix.

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1955 Hudson Italia 2-Door Coupe

What is it that makes certain cars more collectible than others? Certainly the car’s condition, its documentation, and any unusual factory options can affect a car’s value. However, I think the most important factor is rarity. The less common a car is, the more valuable it becomes.

Sometimes car manufacturers deliberately make small runs of cars, ensuring that they will become instant collectibles. Take a look at some recently produced exotic cars and their prices:

Lexus LF-A Supercar – 500 units – $375,000 each
Aston Martin One-77 – 77 units – $1,000,000 each
Lamborghini Veneno – 3 units – $3,000,000 each

It boggles my mind that automakers can produce a run of $1 or $3 million dollars cars and have no trouble selling all of them. However, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when automakers had a hard time finding buyers for hyper-expensive cars. One of the first manufacturers to create a ridiculously high-priced supercar was none other than the Hudson Motor Company.

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1951 Kaiser Manhattan Custom ‘Dragn’

As an automotive journalist, I am constantly on the lookout for cool cars to write about. Most of the time I have to work hard to seek them out, but every once in a while the cars seem to find me. This particular car and I keep running into each other, so I knew it was time to write about it.

I first ran into this heavily customized 1951 Kaiser Manhattan at Cars and Coffee in Scottsdale. I saw it again at SEMA 2012 in Las Vegas. Then it popped up on my YouTube subscriptions for Jay Leno’s Garage and the Eastwood YouTube channel. It was just begging to be written about!

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Custom 1957 Buick Century Caballero Wagon

If you saw my previous post about Buick Century Caballero Wagons, you may remember that they are pretty rare cars. Because they were only produced for two years, they will fetch quite a premium whenever you do see one for sale. You can imagine my excitement when I saw this one at Barrett-Jackson 2013.

There’s more to this ’57 Century Caballero than just low production numbers. This is an award winning custom build by OZ Kustoms in Oroville, California. They have nicknamed the car “Dorothy” after the main character from “The Wizard of OZ.”

When you compare this car with the stock Century Caballero Wagon from the previous post, you will notice some significant changes in the body work.

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1957 and 1958 Buick Century Caballero Estate Wagon

One phrase that I often overhear at car shows is: “They sure don’t make ’em like that anymore.” In the case of the Buick Century Caballero Estate Wagon, they didn’t make ’em like that then, either!

The Caballero Estate Wagon was produced for two years only in 1957 and 1958. This ultra-rare car features a pillarless 4-door design and was GM’s only hardtop wagon. According to HowStuffWorks, Buick produced 10,186 Caballero Estate Wagons in 1957 and just 4,456 in 1958.

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