Hot Rod, you should know – true Hot Rod legend, iconic 1934 Ford Coupe “The California Kid”.
The California Kid was built by Pete Chapourious who is Pete from the famous Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts store. Pete bought 34 Ford 3 Window body and frame for $250 in the early 1970′s. The first thing Pete did drop in a Small Block Ford 302 engine in the car. The engine was one hundred percent in stock, with the exception of the Holley Four-Barrel sprayer.
The 302 Motor was hooked up to a Ford FMX transmission which was taken out of one of Pete’s older cars. The Ford transmission was hooked up to a quick change rear end which was also taken out of one of his older cars. The next thing that happened in the build was Pete gave the California Kid it’s iconic look. Pete had his friend Manuel Reyes paint the Ford black and gave it it’s famous full-body flames. The black paint and full-body flames would soon become an iconic symbol of American Hot Rods throughout the world.
Pete happened to be friends with famous Hot Rod Magazine writer Gray Baskerville, Gray was impressed with Pete’s 34 Ford project while it was being built. He was so impressed with the car that he called a friend of his who went by the name of Jim “Jake” Jacobs who worked for Rod & Custom magazine. Jake happened to be building a 34 Ford of his own at the time and Gray decided to introduce the two of them. After Pete and Jake met the famous friendship had begun.
The two of them worked on their Hot Rods for the rest of 1973. After both of their Ford Hot Rods were complete they were placed on the cover of Rod & Custom Magazine in 1973. After both of their 34, Ford hot rods were featured in Rod & Custom, Pete and Jake decided to go into business together and start the famous hot rod garage Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts.
In early 1973 the cover of Rod & Custom was seen by a Hollywood movie producer who happened to see the cover on a table at a relative’s house. After seeing the car he felt that it was the perfect car for the upcoming TV movie. He contacted right away Rod & Custom, who was able to get in touch with Pete.
In order for the 34 Ford to star in the movie, A few changes had to be made. The first of these changes was that the name The California Kid was painted on the door. The second change was the Mag wheels that were originally on the car were swapped for red Steelie wheels and side pipes were also added to the car to make it appear like it had more power.
After all of these changes were made, Pete’s 34 Ford was ready to star in The California Kid alongside his Co-Star. His Co-Star was a man who would go on to become a famous actor; Martin Sheen. The 34 Ford was really the star of the movie because it did all of the Stunts! Since the movie was a TV movie it didn’t have the budget for stunt cars, so the 34 Ford did all of the car chases and high-speed driving that is shown in the movie!
The California Kid would premiere in 1974 and it became a hit for a TV movie! The movie would make the older gearheads become re-interested in Hot Rodding and it would introduce Hot Rods to a new younger generation. It’s believed that the California Kid, along with George Lucas’ American Graffiti (released in 1973) helped spark a Hot Rod Revival in America in the 1970′s.
Thanks to the success of the movie Pete and Jake would use to the popularity of the car to help grow their shop, Pete & Jakes Hot Rods. Pete’s 34 Ford would be forever called by the name The California Kid and would forever be an icon in the Hot Rod World.