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Nick Can't Say No!

17.2.06. If ever you’re cruising the overcrowded freeways of Los Angeles and tune into the radio, you can’t help but hear the ads for Nick “Can’t Say No” Alexander’s BMW dealership in the “wholesale district” of Los Angeles.  They‘re great ads that really grab your attention.  Nick’s daughter is doing them now and they remain distinctive and catchy, especially with the added innuendo that she can’t say no.

Once a year, usually in February, Nick hosts a show for early Ford aficionados and hot rodders alike.  Nick, however, is a purist and his passion is early Ford Woodys.  I don’t know how many he owns – more than 40, I believe – but the collection now fills an old dealership on the east side of Alameda Street, opposite Nick’s dealership.


Nick Alexander obviously "Can't Say No" to a good woody. He now owns
more than forty early Ford examples on display in this refurbished
dealership in the wholesale district of Los Angeles.


The focal point for the show used to be his dealership, but inevitably, it spread into the surrounding street.  When his neighbours complained about the traffic, Nick apparently responded by buying the whole block across the road, including the old dealership.  The restored building is stunning, and with huge blow-up photographs of woody factory assembly lines, takes you back to a time long gone when men, and not robots, built cars with care, passion and precision.


Some woodys need more work than others to command top dollar!


This year’s show celebrated the restoration of the building and attracted more than the usual Early Ford V8 Club members and their stockers.  Interestingly, members of the Early Ford V8 Club are getting up there in age and are sadly dying off, leaving a lot of widows with old Fords to sell.  Predictably enough, the hot rodders are in a feeding frenzy trying to snap up the best examples for the least money.  Mostly, the rodders are just lowering them, tweaking the brakes and tuning up the flathead motors – in short, making nice, traditional hot rods out of them.  Prices tend to be fairly strong, with almost any early Ford commanding $60K and upwards, with Roadsters, of course, and some Vickys, fetching the highest prices.  Rough, original Roadster bodies alone are now in the $20K range – good ones, more.


Woodys like this '51 Ford Country Squire now command prices above
$140,000. They have always been expensive but still regularly change hands.


Streets all around the building were blocked off and jammed with cars of every description.  Of course, there were plenty of woodys, with everything from a homemade Volkswagen Beetle woody to several ’51 Ford Country Squires for sale (offers around $140K were entertained).  Of course, Woodys command vast sums these days, sadly putting them out of reach of most of us.  Interestingly, many of them are now sporting logos painted on the doors.  I saw the names of camps, schools, hotels, farms, etc while perusing the assembled cars.  I’m sure some of them are genuine, but most must be fabricated.  Nevertheless, it’s a nice touch that adds interest to an already interesting vehicle.


SO-CAL employee Bob Goldsmith was set up in the street with his early
Ford flathead speed equipment. However, the buzz was surrounding the
new Stromberg 97s from Brits Eddie Wimble and Clive Prew

Nick hosted everybody to a free lunch – more than 1200 – and that went down well as the crowd wandered the streets looking at cars, checking out the swap meet items and trying to resist buying anything.  Our old friend and SO-CAL employee, Bob Goldsmith, was there with his flathead speed equipment, and I also bumped into Brit, Eddie Wimble, who was showing everybody his newly reproduced Stromberg 97 carb.  This, by the way, is a work of art.  Three years and several hundred thousand dollars worth of tooling in the making, this brand-new 97 has the industry a-buzz – watch out for a full feature in DRCReview.com shortly. 


My favorite car at the who was this replica 1933 Ford road racer built
by Don Small and Bill Vinther. Don now apparently owns the Bell Auto
Parts name

One of my favourite cars was a ’33 Roadster built by Don Small and Bill Vinther for Don in the style of an early Thirties Ford road racer.  Don now apparently owns the name Bell Auto Parts, and is developing some vintage products.  These stripped- down Roadsters had cool graphics, this one denoting Roy Richter’s Bell Auto Parts car, which was raced just three times – once at Elgin and twice in Los Angeles (at Mines Field, which is now LAX airport, and at Ascot Legion Speedway).  Sadly, the races were not hugely successful, as most people sneaked in without paying, and everybody went back to more orthodox racing.


Take your pick, the original '34 Fordor or the VW still in it's box.
No, sorry, it's a homemade woody. Different strokes...


With typical LA weather – not a cloud in the sky – the day turned out to be a pleasant outing with none of the stress of a typical, hi-profile car show.  No wonder Nick can’t say no!

Story & photos: Tony Thacker


Here's a strange one: a late-Eighties, early-Ninties T-Bird with '49
Ford front and rear ends.  It's a kit, though maybe not for everybody

 
 
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