HomeNews and EventsGo to Nebraska to see this iconic California hot rod

Go to Nebraska to see this iconic California hot rod

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes


An iconic segment of the California hot rod culture is on display in a museum, but it’s a museum halfway across the country. The Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, but is showcasing the famed little black Model T hot rod built by a youngster named Ed Iskenderian, who soon would become famous for creating high-performance camshafts. “Isky” anticipates celebrating his 100th birthday on July 10.

If the Nebraska location for the famous hot rod seems strange, consider that the car is displayed with Ed Winfield’s cam grinder that Isky used as well as with the only other pair of Maxi cylinder heads known to exist. The car is owned by Isky and is in Nebraska on a long-term loan.

As the story goes, Isky — the nickname given by school teachers who couldn’t pronounce Iskenderian — and a buddy John Athan grew up in the same Los Angeles neighborhood and were fascinated by the cut-down and hopped-up Model Ts people were building. 

The cam grinder

Athan built a T-based hot rod and then one based on a Model A (in the 1950s the car appeared in the Elvis Presley movie, Loving You). Isky acquired a T-based car from Athan in the late 1930s, replacing the 4-cylinder engine with a flathead V8 equipped with Maxi overhead valve head, and adding an Edelbrock triple manifold and Vertex magneto.

He made many other changes — 1932 Ford front axle with 1937 wishbones, Plymouth hydraulic brakes, Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, modified 1933 Pontiac grille, gauge panel salvaged from an 8-cylinder Auburn, and a flying-skull hood ornament Isky created in a high school shop class. 

In an era when 100 mph was impressive, the car hit 120 on the El Mirage dry lake — and the timing tag is still attached to the dashboard.  In 1948, the car was featured on the cover of the sixth issue of Hot Rod Magazine.

“The Museum of American Speed exists to tell the stories of the people who have built the industry that we love into what it is today,” the museum reports. “Few people exemplify this principle more than Ed Iskenderian. Ed turns 100 this year. We’re beyond thrilled to call Ed our friend and feel privileged to work with him as we share his car and stories with our visitors.”

Noting that it was Iskenderian who donated the cam grinder to the its collection, the museum added, “It seems appropriate that the cam grinder that started it all for a young Ed sits within feet of the car that will always be known as the Isky Roadster.”

‘Isky’ honored as ‘car guy of the century’

‘Isky’ feted as car guy of century | Conejo Valley C&C photo

At the recent Conejo Valley Cars & Coffee cruise-in in Thousand Oaks, California, Iskenderian was honored as “Car Guy of the Century.” 

Since 1997, a Car Guy of the Year award has been presented by The Car Guy Show and has gone to the likes of auto company executive Bob Lutz, photographer Jesse Alexander, speed-record racer Don Vesco, car designer Tom Gale and others. But the Car guy of the Century is a one-time award, according to presenters Steve Ford and Roy Miller.

As for the Conejo Valley event, it recently celebrated its seventh anniversary of meeting from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. the first Saturday of each month at the Westlake Autoscape. 

Two more Porsche exhibits to visit

‘Rooted in Racing’ featured at Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta | Facility photo
1984 Porsche 911 SCRS
‘Rare Air’ includes this 1984 911 SCRS | Museum photo by James Lipman

A week ago, we featured Porsche exhibits at museums on opposite coasts of the country. Almost immediately, we heard from the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta and the Saratoga Automobile Museum in upstate New York. Both want you to know about their recently opened exhibits. 

In Atlanta, “Rooted in Racing” looks at the brand’s motorsports history and the link between Porsche race and road cars. Vehicles on display include a 1964 911, 2019 935-19, 2018 911 GT2 RS, 2015 918 Spyder, 2004 Carrera GT2016 919 Hybrid, 1957 356 Speedster, one of only 28 1968 911 L with the rally and sport kits, and 1970 914/6 GT and a 1971 914/6.

At Saratoga, “Rare Air” is an exhibition of 16 air-cooled Porsches from the Steven Harris Collection opened May 9 and runs through this fall. Included are a 1-of-20 1984 911 SCRS, and several cars that have won awards at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

‘Heroes of Horsepower’ event September 28

Two museums will cooperate September 28 for the “Heroes of Horsepower” event in Dearborn, Michigan. The event is being staged by the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona Beach, Florida, but will be held at The Henry Ford museum.

“Heroes” will be the middle of three events in Dearborn for the Hall of Fame, which inducts its Class of 2020 on September 27 and its Class of 2021 on September 29. Inductees from both years, as well as other motorsports stars, are expected to attend the “Heroes” event.

The evening is being sponsored by Ford Performance, with Edsel B. Ford II as special guest.

“We’re honored to be able to help present this truly unique gathering of some of the greatest names in auto racing history,” Rob Johnston, global marketing manager for Ford Performance, is quoted in the news release. “And to be able to do it in the ‘Driven to Win: Racing in America’ exhibit area makes it even more special. The exhibit features every major form of racing in America, but just as important to us, it features some of the greatest race cars in Ford history. It’s just a fantastic setting for this event.”

Tickets for the evening, which includes a “strolling dinner,” are $300 and can be reserved at the Hall of Fame website.

 It’s just a fantastic setting for this event.”

Past and future are electric in Canada

Thanks to a grant from Digital Museums Canada, the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, is developing a virtual exhibit on electric vehicles in Canada. The exhibit, noting the earliest appearance of EVs in Canada in the 1890s, is scheduled to open in July 2022.

Docent tours resume at Revs Institute

The Revs Institute (nee Collier Collection) in Naples, Florida, has resumed docent-led tours of the museum. Several times are available on days when the museum is open, but the 1:30 p.m. tour offers an additional tour of the facility’s workshop/restoration garage.

For details, visit the institute website.

Indy museum open, but with some changes

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum has announced that it will remain open during on-track activities in May, but with some changes. Those changes include off-site parking and arrival via Speedway shuttle buses, a requirement to have Speedway-access tickets, and the closing of the Turn 2 Viewing Mounds. 

The changes are in effect only on days when the is open for practice, qualifying or races.

Special events this weekend

The Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina, hosts a first-generation Mustang car show May 15.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana joins the 2021 Blue Star Museums initiative offering free admission to active US military personnel and their families from May 15 through September 6. 

Vintage travel trailers will gather for a special showcase May 15 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento hosts an outdoor Ford Thunderbird display from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 15 featuring the Sacramento Classic Thunderbird club and the 80 Thunderbirds group.

An exhibit of RUF Porsches co-created with the organizers of Luftgekühlt runs from May 15 to August 15 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The SoBo Porsche Club will be featured May 16 in a showcase at the Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island.

Mark your calendar

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon reopens May 17 with a new E-type Evolution exhibition celebrating the 60th anniversary of the British sports car. 

Also on May 17, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, reopens all of its facilities to visitors. 

The second-generation Tesla Roadster prototype begins a two-week “pop-up” exhibit display May 19 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibit, on the museum’s second floor, will include the first-gen Tesla Roadster prototype. 

The Canadian Automobile Museums Third Thursday Zoom presentation on May 20 at 7 p.m. covers “The Oshawa Worker at War,” with Jeremy Blowers of the Ontario Regiment Museum talking about the Oshawa auto workers’ contribution to the war efforts for WWI and WWII.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, opens three new exhibits on May 21 and on May 31 returns to full capacity for visitors, although they still will be required to wear face masks while in the facility.

The Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina, hosts a Ford and Mustang parts garage sale May 22.

The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum hosts a cars and coffee event from 8 a.m. until noon on May 22 at its restoration and storage facility in Macedonia, Ohio.

The Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island hosts a gathering of food trucks and craft beer from noon to 7 p.m. on May 22.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, opens a new exhibit, “A Recipe for Speed: Open-Wheel Racing,” on May 27. 

Michael Schumacher and Paul Page will be inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame on May 27.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, opens a special exhibit, “RADwood on Display,” staring May 27, featuring cars and motorcycles and fashions from the 1980s and ‘90s.

May 29 is the date for the Mustang pace car show from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon and the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu hosts annual half-term family activities week May 29 to June 6. The National Motor Museum notes that the toy cars that have been part of an exhibit have escaped and young visitors are encouraged to follow a family fun activity trail to see how many they can find.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles plans to host a virtual Japanese Car Cruise-In at 8 a.m. (Pacific) on May 30 on its YouTube channel.

The North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, launches its 2021 outdoor events schedule June 5 with a showcase by the New Hampshire Muscle Cars, with visitors offered a chance to sit inside a 1,400-horsepower funny car during start up.

The Museum of Bus Transportation at Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts its Spring Fling on June 5 to celebrate the “golden age” of bus and motorcoach transportation. Awards will be given for best of show 1950s and 1960s, oldest and traveled farthest to attend. For details, visit the museum website.

Strutter, billed as the nation’s premiere KISS tribute band, will perform on the Gilmore Car Museum campus in Hickory Corners, Michigan, at 8 p.m. (Eastern) on June 5.

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu hosts its Simply Porsche car show on June 6.

Hagerty and the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, launch a summer series of events with a series of displays in the museum and its parking lot on “the many styles of auto racing.”

June 12 is Motorbike Day at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The event will include a show featuring dirt, road, competition, scooters, mopeds and minibikes, a motorcycle-themed flea market and a ride through the Pennsylvania countryside.

The AMA Gypsy Tour charity motorcycle ride visits the North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, on June 13.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host a “Sizzlin’ Summer Cruise In” from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 19. Among the event features will be a visit by Jimmy Rosen, his book on vintage gas stations, Got Gas?, and his 1947 Plymouth, and a Studebaker and Tucker parade.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, unveils a new exhibition, “Corvette Powered,” during the Memorial Day weekend. The exhibit will showcase non-GM vehicles (cars, boats and motorcycles) powered by the Corvette’s small-block V8 engine, including a 1958 Scarab, 1966 Excalibur, 1967 Bizzarrini Strada, 1977 Avanti II and others.

There are more than cars to see in Beaulieu, England, home to the National Motor Museum. From June 19 to August 30, the Beaulieu Palace House will showcase more than 250 sculptures in its gardens and inside the Montagu family home. And June 19 is the date for the annual Simply VW show.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, hosts a Father’s Day car show on June 20.

The North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, hosts the Nor-Eastern Pontiac Club for an outdoor car show on June 26.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected]

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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