Speedster Hall of Fame – 2016



Model T Era Legends

Herbert and Albert Zwebell – Speedster Body Builders

Herbert and Albert Zwebell organized the Bub Body Corporation at 336 South Water St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1921 to build speedster bodies for the Ford.  Albert designed and patented an attractive speedster body.  The Bub speedster body had a rakish windshield and classy top, individual fenders, cast aluminum military step plates, a cast aluminum radiator cap, double discs for the wheels, and an additional spare disc wheel that flanked the hood.  The sloped seat cushions were 36 inches wide and upholstered in fine Fabrikoid (Naugahyde).  The radiator shell was nickel plated with a false front of honeycombed metal.  Any two body colors could be specified, and the body could be covered with Fabrikoid.

By the mid-twenties, Herbert and Albert had sold the Bub Body Corporation and other assets, and joined their brother Arthur who was in the real estate business in Southern California.  There, they established a radio cabinet factory in leased quarters at 1733 Cordova St., Los Angeles.

When the Los Angeles housing market collapsed in 1929, Arthur and his wife Nena went to work as movie set designers and interior decorators, and Herbert’s and Arthur’s Zwebell Bros.  Cabinet Factory was soon building period reproduction furniture for the Hollywood movie studios.  The Zwebell Brothers factory, now doing business as Silvestri California, is still providing period furniture and props to Hollywood-based television and film projects.  Their website outlines the firm’s long history.

Reuben Kuempel – Speedster Body Plans Maker

The first pattern available was for the Model 22 “Buddy”.  This was a typical early style speedster with a full cowl and bucket seats, and a bolster style gas tank and rectangular toolbox mounted behind the seat.  This pattern sold for $3.50.

Reuben Kuempel was born in 1890 in Guttenberg, Iowa.  He graduated from college with a mechanical engineering  degree.  In 1916, he founded the Kuempel Company to make clock kits that woodworkers could build into completed clocks.  In 1917, he introduced the “Red-i-Kut” system of full-size paper patterns and instruction sheets that were needed to build speedster bodies for the Model T Ford.  The body designs were simplified so that they could be built in the home workshop with common hand tools.

The next pattern was the Model 55 “Night Hawk” with a “V” shaped tail that formed a luggage area which could be accessed by a sliding door.  This pattern sold for $5.00.

The next pattern was the Model K-9 “Pal” with a torpedo style tail formed by a pressed steel bowl shaped part that was provided with the patterns. This pattern sold for $6.00.

Also available were patterns for a windshield and removable all-weather top with side curtains for any of the Kuempel bodies.

The Kuempel Company made body patterns through 1926.  As sales of body patterns declined, they began making patterns for furniture that could be made at home with common tools.  The company moved to St. Louis Park, MN during World War II and continued making clock kits and furniture patterns until 2008.


Modern Legends

Gary Hylton – Driver, Collector and Restorer

Gary Hylton lives in Prairie Village, Kansas.  He is a long time member of the Model T Ford Club of America and the Kansas City Chuggers regional chapter of the Model T Ford Club International (MTFCI).  He purchased his first Model T touring car in his early teens and immediately started driving it long distances.

Gary began collecting and installing speed equipment on his Model Ts so that he could climb the mountain roads of Colorado without using low gear.  Gary made several tours in Colorado in a boat tail speedster equipped with a RAJO BB cylinder head.  The body was a replica built with patterns from an original speedster body.  

Because of the speedster’s lack of storage space, Gary purchased a 1919 Model T with a rare Ames Touring body.  Gary also owns a 1911 Touring car.  Over the years, Gary has collected a number of very rare items like a Green Engineering flat cylinder head and a Hal overhead valve cylinder head. 

An expert at long distance touring, Gary has toured coast to coast several times and made long tours in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Yellowstone National Park, Death Valley, and numerous regional tours.  Twice Gary has shipped a car
to Europe, touring Italy and France.   

Gary organized the 1995 National Annual Meeting of the MTFCI in Kansas City.  This spectacular show featured Gary’s collection,
plus other Model T speed equipment collections, racing engines, and speedsters. 

Gary and his wife Carol wish to thank all the people that have been active in their Model T lives.

Jim Cullinane – Restorer, Collector, Writer

When Jim Cullinane agreed to be Howard Genrich’s navigator for the 200-mile Santa Clara Valley Model T Club Endurance Run over thirty years ago, little did he know it would be the start of a life-long passion for Model T’s.  After navigating for Howard for about six years, Jim was ready to build a speedster of his own.

Jim was a graduate engineer from Stanford, designing and documenting everything from rocket silos to a cookie factory for Nestle in Switzerland.  So as the speedster project progressed, he recorded all its construction steps.  He invited several of his friends to do the same and that gave birth to the “Lil’ HumJim Press.”

Using this material, Jim created several books that cover many topics on speedster construction. Shortly after completing his first speedster with his son Mike as his navigator, he built another speedster with his other son, David, implementing unique features he had been developing.  Jim also documented the second speedster project and used this experience to eventually author eleven books on speedster design, construction, and maintenance.  These books written using humorous language, explicit descriptions, and detailed explanations, are still available today.  Jim’s wealth of knowledge and his willingness to share it made him a tremendous Model T resource.  He was always ready to answer questions and help anyone with their Model T issues.

Before leukemia took him several years ago, Jim was instrumental in the Los Gatos High School Speedster construction project, donating an engine and spending countless hours advising and guiding the students building the car.

John Kent – Speedster and Racer -1917 #2 Ford Special

This 1917 #2 Ford Special was built by John Kent, Dan Erceg, and Ed Archer in 1993.  The engine features a Rajo Model B OHV cylinder head and a Zenith L-6 updraft carburetor on an aftermarket intake manifold. Ignition is by a German Bosch high-tension magneto.  The frame has a cut-off rear crossmember installed in place of the stock front crossmember. A 1909-1910 Buick tubular front axle is mounted to a Model T rear spring. A split adjustable front wishbone assembly and Hartford friction shocks complete the front suspension.

Custom-built external contracting rear wheel brakes are installed on the Ruckstell rear end. Very rare Pearlman demountable rim wood wheels are installed. An original Warford transmission completes the drive train. A Boyce skeletal (no glass) Motometer mounted on a dog bone radiator cap sits on an original racing radiator and shell.  A Stewart 100 MPH speedometer, a Stewart 3000 rpm tachometer, and a sight feed oil gauge are installed in the dash.  A hand-operated air pump for the auxiliary oil tank and another hand air pump for fuel pressure are mounted on the outside of the cowl.  The car’s steel body with offset seats was built from pictures of an original aftermarket speedster body. It features a wind deflector on the driver’s side of the cowl, and a large round fuel tank with original “armed” cap and pressure release valve.