Noted automotive author and historian Greg Sharp takes a time out for a quick drive in his roadster pickup.Sharp was a member of the Early Times, and later the L.A. Roadsters, and today he's director of the NHRA Motorsport Museum.
Above all else, though, Sharp
is a car guy who loves hot rods.
I'm not sure who the main subject is for this month's Milestones, man or machine.The machine, of course, is this sparkling black '29 roadster pickup.The man happens to be the owner, Greg Sharp
.If the name is familiar to you, chances are you've read your share of car magazines during the past few decades, because Sharp
has penned more than just a handful of stories for many titles.In fact, he
journalistic start in this very magazine--STREET RODDER.Another in fact: his
by-line appeared for the very first time in SRM the same exact issue that I made my editorial debut on the street rod scene.
Like most of us, though, Sharp
may have changed over the years, but his
Model A roadster pickup remains pretty much the same today as when he
bought it in 1969.
By the way, the pickup cab and bed were pirated from the late Dick Mendonca's spare parts bin, or as Sharp
relates today, "My car was Dick's parts car."Well, yes and no.
subsequently replaced that combo with a single four-barrel; "One of my biggest regrets," he
says the real beauty in the truck is in the detail."Dave handmade all sorts of brackets for the car," reports Sharp
, "and the work is flawless."
One hot rod enthusiast who aspired for L.A. Roadsters membership was Greg Sharp
.As a young man in his
early 20s, Sharp
had just embarked on what would be a 28-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department
, but he
couldn't contain his
dark side during off-duty hours.He
was a diehard gearhead who earned his
cranial cogs as a youngster growing up in the coastal community of San Pedro.Hot rods were his
"I used to draw pictures of hot rods and race cars in school," confesses Sharp today."My first love was customs."His
first fling was a '56 Buick Special that he
customized."It was purple with a white top, nosed and decked, lowered, chromed engine, the works," said Sharp
But in this case the first love wasn't the last, and Sharp
developed a fondness for practically any car that could capably convert gasoline to horsepower and noise.Enter Marasco's '29 roadster pickup in 1969.
1929 Ford Model A sideYou'd never know that the body and splash aprons' black lacquer paint is nearly 40 years old!The hood, fenders, tailgate, and grille shell were repainted in 1979.
"I'd been wanting one (roadster pickup) for a long time," reports Sharp
, and while attending the annual Roadster Roundup in Visalia in 1969 he
learned that the Marasco truck was for sale.So he
ventured to Salinas, California, where the Model A was stored, for a peek-see.It was love at first sight, and officer Sharp put the cuffs on the roadster and booked on home with it. Sharp
says that the truck has undergone a few changes during the past 30 years, but for the most part what you see today resembles what he
drove home in '69."It had unpolished American five-spokes and no hood," he
points out, two things that he
changed within the first two years of ownership."I (always) loved Buick wires (Skylark wheels), so the first thing I did was put them on it," Sharp pointed out.The wheels haven't been changed since, although the A-bone pickup has undergone a few tire upgrades during the past three decades. Sharp
also added the hood, custom-made by ace bodyman Jack Hagemann.
That was in 1971, but only after Martinez stitched in new Beefeater Oxblood Red upholstery--wider pleats with a single row of buttons to replace the original tuck 'n' roll that Marasco had sewn in--and Sharp
made his debut at the fabled Grand National Roadster Show in Oakland.
"That had been a long-time dream of mine, to have a car in the Roadster Show," says Sharp
relates the story, the saga was not without drama.The year was 1971 and, only a day before Sharp
sharp roadster were to leave for the Bay Area show, Los Angeles experienced the major earthquake that became known as the Sylmar Quake, named after the town that sat atop the quake's 7.0 epicenter.The LAPD
needed all hands on duty, so Motor Officer Sharp spent the next 22-1/2 hours on the emergency/security team.By midnight the following evening he
was sent home where he
took a two-hour nap before heading north with his
rolled into Andy Brizio's shop in South San Francisco, red-eyed and dog-tired.Time was running out, so several of the Brizio bunch helped prep the car while Sharp
Of course, the new hood had to be dressed to match the rest of the truck, so Sharp
gave it a fresh coat of black lacquer.
...As a fledging member of the L.A. Roadsters, Sharp jumped feet first into the club's activities.
duties was that of events chairman, which included direct hands-on involvement with the annual Father's Day Show, at the time a single-day event at the Great Western Exposition Center
in Los Angeles.When Sharp
penned the introduction for the show's 1971 program, a couple of rather landmark magazine editors were impressed with the language and syntax contained in Sharp's
first magazine contribution appeared as SRM's June 1972 guest editorial, You Said It!, in which he
promoted the forthcoming Father's Day Roadster Show that, coincidentally, was sponsored by STREET RODDER
.Like I said earlier, things change, but they remain the same, and this year SRM was a major sponsor for the Father's Day Show.Although you can read about the 2000 coverage elsewhere in this issue, it's worth noting that Sharp
wrapped up his
editorial in '72 with these words: "There'll be well over a hundred of 'em (roadsters--Ed) and while you're picking your favorite you'll hopefully get a suntan, too."
It still is powered by the same Chevy 265 small-block--it's an early edition, with no oil filter!--that Marasco squeezed between the rails so long ago; the aluminum Powerglide automatic transbox is the same slip-and-slide unit that Marasco selected back in the '60s; and Sharp
hasn't found cause to replace the '50 Mercury rearend, either.
As you might guess, the Chevy V-8 has been rebuilt, resulting in a .060-inch overbore, new hydraulic 350 cam that replaced the Duntov stick, and gone is the tri-power in favor of a single four-barrel ("My biggest regret," confesses Sharp).
Moreover, the roadster has proven to be as dependable as a Wells Fargo stagecoach."In 30 years it's never left me stranded," boasts Sharp
proudly.That includes countless visits to the annual Father's Day bashes--Sharp remained an active member for about 15 years--and he returned to the Grand National Roadster Show with his black box to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary in 1999.
"That was something special," adds Sharp
, who has become somewhat of a hot rod historian.
passion for the hobby, coupled with an unsurpassed knowledge of its past (his memory for recalling old hot rodders' names and cars could challenge an IBM computer) has landed him the enviable job as the director for the NHRA Motorsport Museum
in Pomona, California.There he
reports every day to oversee one of the most coveted collections of hot rods and old race cars in the world.And among the old classics sits his
Model A roadster pickup, ready to roll at a moment's notice.