Volume II, Issue 10, Page 49

Words and photos by Jeff Burk
Illustration by Marissa Gaither

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.”