Shifters So-Cal gathered at Boondocks Pub in Corona, California on June 30th to celebrate their 20th Anniversary as a car club. With over 100 cars and hot rods on display and 4 bands playing into the night, you’d think that Shifters So Cal was an extremely large club. Nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, the club is probably the most exclusive nationwide car club in the country.
At the invitation of Kevan Sledge, one of the clubs original members, we took a trip up the I-15 freeway to get a peek at the inner circle of the club. “We only have 10 members in the club,” said Sledge, “We’ve just had a new member join last year and he’s from Connecticut.
The guy had been flying out here helping with cars and coming to events. He paid his dues and we decided to let him join.”
Sledge’s wife Sally explained the club’s origins, “This was all started by a handful of close friends in Orange County, California. These guys just got together like the old car clubs of the fifties, they liked old cars and girls. They would help each other with their cars and go cruising for girls together. Over the years they’ve spread out from Orange County but remained close friends. More than close friends actually, it’s like an adopted family,” says Sally.
We noticed the attire, cars, hairstyles, attitudes and the whole ambiance of the car club’s event, which prompted us to ask if this was a weekend thing. “No. Not at all,” said Sally. This is our lifestyle and that’s why the club is so exclusive. That’s why these original founding members are still so close today. We love the fifties era furniture and have our houses decorated that way. The morals, ethics, personal pride, looks… everything, this is the way we live.”
“We are even careful about the women we date,” said one club member. “We’ll bring our dates to the club and see how they fit in with the people that have been here for a while. It wouldn’t be fair to bring someone into our extended family that was going to upset the balance of the club. We don’t want the drama and it’s not fair to the members of the club that have been here since the beginning,” he added.
Before you start thinking this is a tiny cult, Sledge explained, “We started the club like we felt the car clubs of the fifties were. Just a few guys that had the same interests. It worked out so well that we never wanted to lose sight of that and that is why we are still a very small but tight knit club.” It’s worked for twenty-years and shows no sign of changing anytime soon.
The Shifters So Cal participate in just about every event held on the West Coast. They share their extensive knowledge of old hot rods and parts with anyone that wants to get their project car moving.
If you attend a show in Southern California you’ve seen these guys out in force, and if you attend a show on the west coast, chances are you will see a Shifters So Cal shirt in the crowd.
Looking around at the cars that were parked in the Boondocks Pub parking lot, and those still arriving, we were amazed at the range of cars in attendance. Sally Sledge explained the eclectic nature of the cars, “If you gave the same car to all ten of these guys, each one will come up with a something different in the end.”
Kevan Sledge’s ’32 Ford Roadster is the perfect example of that. “Every panel on the car is from a different car, sorta like a traditional hot rod,” he said. Everything on the car is pre-1949, from the Cadillac rims and ’41 truck rearend to ’48 Caddy engine that was utilized in a military boat back in the day.
We found David Aguilar’s ’53 Green Pontiac outside the gate marking the way to the car show. Aguilar says that it has a one-of-a-kind paint job because it was “mixed and sprayed in the back yard” and he even “paid the painter in beer, just like they did in the old days.” He calls it an “egg shell paint finish” and explained that the car was an original convertible from the factory. He has added airbags to the front and rear but has tried to keep the suspension “classic stock.” The red interior is the original factory red.
And who doesn’t love a cool Gasser? We found Randy Sidebotham’s 1957 Chevy Gasser, which he has owned since the early 70s, sitting in a special area reserved for the straight axle strip cars. Randy told us that his beast was powered by a 390 Dart little M block with an 871 Littlefield twin screw blower with Holley Carbs.
“That’s the biggest blower that would fit on this small block,” said Randy. Claiming just under 1,000 horsepower at the flywheel, Randy’s Chevy sports a Be Cool radiator with Meziere electric water pump and custom wheel well headers, all on a stock frame. Sidebotham says the gasser runs in the low to mid 10-second range.
Before we left for the day, Don Coleman’s ’55 Studebaker President stopped us in our tracks and we had to go over and talk with him. Inheriting the car from his father, Coleman wants to finish the car back to stock-like condition in his father’s memory.
His father was the original owner of the stock 259 President. We hope that when we come back for the 30th anniversary of the Shifters So-Cal, Coleman has his car finished and we get to see it first hand.
Enjoy the rest of the cars that we shot at the show by checking out the photo gallery below. (Click on image to enlarge)