Northern California was as much a hotbed of hot rod activity following World War II as were Los Angeles and the cities and towns surrounding it in the southern part of the state. The need for speed was (as it still is) universal, and the young guns of the Bay Area were deep into the scene from the earliest days. The first Oakland Roadster Show was held in 1950, and this car, built between 1946 and 1948, was there.
The young man who spent nearly three years of his spare time building the car was Bob DeBisschop, a student at Santa Rosa High School. Even with the limited budget of a high-school kid, he turned out a very credible hot rod. His buddy was Dick Hubbard, whose father owned an auto parts and speed equipment shop in Oakland. Not one to miss a good marketing opportunity, the elder Hubbard was early to sign up for a booth at that first Oakland Roadster Show, and asked Bob DeBisschop if he would showcase some of the newest and coolest speed parts on his car at the show. Bob, of course, said yes.
At the Roadster Show, the Hubbard booth with the DeBisschop car became a must-see stop for show goers. Not content to simply show the car, the Hubbard team decided they would take the car completely apart and rebuild it right in the booth, which they did. With every piece of the car laid bare, all the specialized speed equipment was on display and every hot rod builder from near and far got to see in person the parts they had lusted for in the hop-up magazine ads. Hubbard and Bob DeBisschop became household names in the Bay Area hot rod community.
Bob continued to drive the roadster every day, right through college at San Jose State and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He also drag raced it (108 mph on gas at Santa Ana, 125 mph on a nitro-mix at Sacramento) and took it to the dry lakes where he ran 132 mph in 1951. Bob’s career track took him into the world of big-time Indy Car racing, not as a driver but as a designer/engineer/builder for Frank Curtis and later for the Hulman family who owned the Indianapolis track. He was the racing engineer for two Indy 500 winners in the 1950s. Sometime during this period, Bob sold the car to Jim Ellison of American racing Wheels, who kept it for 30 years. In the ‘60s, Bob worked for Garrett AirResearch where he developed the turbo charger installation for the 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire.
The roadster changed hands a few times in the ensuing years, but its history was never lost, so when it came time to restore the car to its late-‘40s/early-‘50s configuration in 2003, it was done accurately and with great attention to detail by Longley Restorations of Deland, Florida. Now part of the 3DOG Garage collection, it may be 3,000 miles away from where it was created, but it is “home” nonetheless.