It was a song born out of the era of the hot rod written by Charlie Ryan and in 1955, but it went well beyond that. “Hot Rod Lincoln” inspired generations and captured what hot rodding is all about. It also told a story of the real Hot Rod Lincoln, a 1948 12-cylinder Lincoln chassis topped with a Ford Model A body that was owned by Ryan. Auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson in January, however, this unique hot rod now has a different mission, according to the Chargin Valley Times.
Constructed in response to the 1951 hit “Hot Rod Race” sung by Arkie Shibley and the Mountain Dew Boys, the song “Hot Rod Lincoln” tells the story of two cars, a Mercury and a late-model Ford, racing up Grapevine Hill in the Bakersfield, California area.
While neither car can seem to get an advantage over the other, a third car joins the race, a hopped-up Model A – the hot rod Lincoln, and overtakes the other two drivers to their astonishment.
Ryan’s song thus starts out with the line “You heard the story of the hot rod race that fatal day, when the Ford and Mercury went out to play. Well this is the inside story and I’m here to say, I’m the kid that was drivin’ that Model A.”
Recorded with several different artists over the years, including The Livingston Brothers, The Timberline Riders, Johnny Bond, who took the hit to the top for Republic Records, and Commander Cody, “Hot Rod Lincoln” lives on as an anthem of the hot rod community. But so to does the actual car it’s based on.
Ryan, who was a member of the Rockabily Hall of Fame, was known to tour with the car in his day, taking the unique song inspiration to shows and events. In 2008, Ryan died at the age of 92 and the car was given to a long-time friend, who in-turn fully restored the vehicle. Earlier this year, the car was auctioned off at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale event where a Chargin Fall, Ohio doctor by the name of David Demangone saw the hot rod and decided to bid on it.
After a bidding war that reached $97,000, Dr. Demangone walked away with the papers to the Hot Rod Lincoln. The historic car joins Demangone’s garage of other collector cars but takes the cake when it comes to vehicles with such a unique history.
After hosting a coming out party, where Demangone will display the car for friends and family, he plans to take the car to special events and sell merchandise based on the car with the proceeds going to charity.
Two particular charities are right on the top of Demangone’s list, the Shriner’s Hospital for Children and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, where the funds will go toward Demangone’s ultimate goal of helping children.
While Demangone and the restored Hot Rod Lincoln are certainly after a valiant goal, the car will continue to live on in hot rodders’ hearts as one of the many outstanding cars of an era. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the words “My pappy said, son, you’re going to drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln” written across the front of the car, a true tribute to the original “Hot Rod Lincoln.”