Volume II, Issue 10, Page 49

Words and photos by Jeff Burk
Illustration by Marissa Gaither
10/15/07

In the middle 1960’s many young gearheads saw movies like “Drag Strip Riot,” “Beach Blanket Bingo,” and a plethora of American-International grade B stuff that featured street roadsters, Vettes, and scenes from the drag strips around Hollywood. Later came the docu-dramas “Endless Summer” followed by ‘70s favs “Vanishing Point” and “American Graffiti,” but for the older generation, the pre-‘65 gearheads, there were really only a couple of films with hot rods that we all saw. One was the Robert Mitchum bootlegger potboiler “Thunder Road” and the iconic James Dean movie “Rebel Without A Cause.” 

It was Rebel that inspired Jim Oddy to build his current street rod. It’s a chopped, lowered, primered, bitchin’ 1947 Chevy modeled loosely on the ’47 Chevy coupe that James Dean sent over the cliff during a “chicken race” in that movie.

“I saw that movie, saw that George Barris had built the ‘47s that were used in the movie and decided that I would have one some day,” Oddy explained.
It has taken him almost 50 years but he has finally realized his dream of having a car like the one James Dean drove.

“I started on this car about 12 years ago. I had a ‘32 Chevy street rod but I decided I was ready for something else. I was driving around the Buffalo area when I saw this ’47 coupe sitting on the lot at Mike the Tire Man.  I went in to buy it. The guy wanted $4,000. I offered $3,500 but he must have seen the gleam in my eye and knew I had to have the car. He wouldn’t budge off the $4,000…and I paid it.”

It turned out the car was drivable so Jim drove it around Buffalo for a couple of months before starting the build process. “I couldn’t believe how hard it was to drive. I really came to appreciate horsepower, power brakes, and power steering after two months of driving that car.”