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Hot Rod History


The Cote Photographic Collection


One Man’s Memories
The Cote Photographic Collection
Photography: Courtesy of Louis Cote
We love old photos of real hot rods. When we detoured our Asphalt Ego-Rama ’01 trek through northern Nevada to tour Louis Cote’s collection of old Ford iron, we never expected him to lay these photos on us. He kept these original, near-mint photos safe in plastic sleeves and organized in a binder.
Louis grew up in Pasadena, California, and was active in Southern California hot rodding and lakes racing immediately after WWII. It turns out that some of the “neighborhood guys” were notable lakes racers with names you might recognize. We thought these were so cool, we just had to share them. Thanks, Mr. Cote. Enjoy.
This is the view from the front of the Cote home in Pasadena, California, circa 1946. From left, there’s Louis’ cousin Dick Westling’s ’32 roadster, George Kalem’s ’32 roadster, and an unknown Deuce roadster. Both hooded roadsters had Bob Lee tops and side curtains.

Here’s a much closer shot of Dick Westling’s Deuce, sans top. That’s him behind the wheel with his friend Bobby Blin riding shotgun. (c. 1946)

This is a cockpit view of Schinn’s roadster in Cote’s driveway. That’s a real bomber steering wheel with an aviation tach mounted above it. (c. 1946)

Here’s Don Nicholson’s roadster on the lake in 1947. That’s Patty MacNamera at the wheel, before she married Don. Note the sheetmetal between the nerf bar and grille shell—a simple solution to an aerodynamics problem.

Nicholson’s Jimmy-six was set back for better weight balance; you can also just see the suicide perch for the front spring.

No info was given on this track roadster, but it sure is bitchin’. Who’s gonna clone this one?

Don’s brother Bruce Blair perished when he crashed this roadster at El Mirage in the late ’40s. This photo was taken behind Blair’s shop shortly after the crash.

Check out the racing action in the late ’40s at Saugus Raceway in Saugus, California.

Don Blair’s Blair Special lines up to run at El Mirage in 1946 or 1947. Don was a local racing hero and also owned Blair’s Speed Shop in Pasadena—which still exists to this day. No info was given on the other car in photo.

These are the remains of Blair’s second track roadster after McClung rolled it and walked away.

1953 America's Most Beautiful Roadster
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