Being a teenager and building a hot rod in the late fifties and early sixties was a challenge. First you had limited funds, just basic tools and more than likely building your HOT ROD in your driveway. Speed Shops were few and far between and parts that were needed usually came after numerous visits to the local wrecking yards. With a small metal toolbox (hammer, vice grips, a chisel, an adjustable wrench) you could freely wander the yard in search of the part that would solve your problem. In most cases that junk yard part would have to be modified to make it work. The common purchases from speed shops were motor mounts, transmission adapters, shifters and an assortment of brackets.
Usually it was buddies getting together to talk cars, offer advice and help each other with their project. It did not take long before the conversations revolved around forming a car club. There was a group messing with cars in the Harmony road area of Oshawa and we decided to form a car club. And so, The Kontinentals Rod and Custom Club was formed in 1959. One of the first things on the agenda was club jackets. IF YOU BELONGED TO A CAR CLUB YOU HAD TO HAVE A JACKET.
While discussing the style and design of the jacket the members wanted a jacket just like the Hot Rodders were wearing in California ( large channel crest and letters on the back), the question was raised “how do we achieve this?” and not offend the general public and your girlfriend’s parents. We came up with a unique idea. Why not a reversible jacket, one side would have the crest and letters on the back with a small crest on the front, the reversible side with just a small crest on the front. So, we decided on a brown satin jacket with the crest and letters on the back and the reversible side would be white satin with a K on the left chest with nothing on the back. This way you felt comfortable wherever you went, and you didn’t offend anyone. I can remember numerous times when I picked my girlfriend wearing white satin and as soon as we were out of sight of her home, I changed to brown satin.
We also felt that another way to improve our Hot Rodders image was to obtain sponsorship. We met with the owners of Wilson Battery, Ray Ripley and Oshawa Auto Trim, Ernie White. They agreed to a sponsorship.
We met with the owners of Wilson Battery, Ray Ripley and Oshawa Auto Trim, Ernie White. They agreed to a sponsorship. There was no money involved; but they allowed us to use them as a reference and in return all they asked for us was to advertise them as sponsors when we were participating as a club in an automotive event. Also, if the members required battery or interior work on their cars, we would use them. Their sponsorship added credibility to the club and in the early years this was extremely important. There were numerous times when this credibility was important, and an example follows: In 1963, when the two car clubs Kontinentals Rod & Custom Club and the Igniters Rod & Custom Club, merged together to form MOTOR CITY CAR CLUB. The first thing on the agenda was to find a club house. The Igniters were located on Ritson Road in Oshawa and the Kontinentals on Main Street in Orono. A property was located on McCallum Street in Hampton. It was the bottom part of a barn; all the stalls had been removed and it was large enough to accommodate both clubs. The stumbling block was, there was no hydro (a necessity for a car club). Our first meeting with the Town of Bowmanville about getting hydro to the building but it wasn’t very encouraging when they basically said it wouldn’t happen.
We were informed that the use of the barn as a club did not comply with the zoning by law. The club hired a lawyer, Thomas Rundle and met with city council about getting hydro to the building. Letters from our sponsors Willson Battery, Oshawa Auto Trim, the Orono Chambers of Commerce and our landlord the Waddell family of Orono were part of the presentation. Council agreed after the review of the presentation that their concerns about rowdyism, cars tearing up the road and noise were unjustified. It was agreed that the club would underwrite all costs pertaining to getting hydro to the building and council approved our application.
Prior to the merge of the two clubs, the Kontinentals clubhouse was located on Main Street in the Village of Orono. To educate the residents of the village about Hot Rodders it was decided to support community events and hold an open house. The open house gave the people of Orono and surrounding area the opportunity to visit the club, meet the club members and see a Hot Rod up close. The open house was so successful that we decided to make it an annual affair.
This was a tradition that the club continued after we moved to Oshawa. Unfortunately, we had to stop because of break-ins. In addition to sponsors and open houses, the club had roadside assistance (courtesy cards), supported community events (Santa Claus Parade), fundraisers (Arena Building) etc. all to raise the image of the Hot Rodder and to be accepted.
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