Monday, June 29, 2015

Maybelline Family's, Car Guy Diaries

My dad, Bill Williams and his cousin, Bill Stroh,

 were born to be Car Guys.

The two little cousins were the children of Evelyn Williams, and her sister Verona Stroh.

The two Bills grew up together in Chicago, and loved anything that they could push, ride or burn rubber in.

Best of buddy's, The young Bill's lived together during some rough times in the 1920's, when Evelyn and Preston were working out their differences. 

The boy's were practically twins.  Born a few
 weeks apart, handsome little chaps with truck loads of enthusiasm for cars.

Even when Bill Williams moved away from Chicago,
 to California, Bill Stroh visited during the Summer months and their devotion for anything fast
 continued to grow.

Bill Williams in his first car.

Car Guy's Gone Wild.

Bill Williams and his cousin, Bill Stroh, continued their car crazy love, until the draft temporally stopped the obsession for a couple of years.

Bill Williams in his Army uniform, before being shipped to the Philippians, poses with Bill Stroh, who would soon enlist into the Navy.  However that didn't stop them from spending every available minute working on their cars.

Both Bill's learned how to rebuild an engine as teenagers, and could talk the talk with any mechanic, while their girl's sat patiently and waited.

Bill Stroh in the center with his cousin Bill Williams
 to his right, with the 
4-F Club Guys.

As Teenagers the cousin's formed a Car Club, called the 4-F Club and cruised for pretty girls.  It didn't take long before both guys had THE ONE.

Bill and Pauline Williams, with Baby Sharrie, sitting on the grass,
 and Mary and Bill Stroh.
After the War, the boy's returned home, married, had kids and built careers, however, when they reached their prime, the first thing they did was return to their first love.  Beautiful cars.

Car Guy's grow up!!!!

Bill Williams collected beautiful automobiles for the pleasure of being seen in them.  Bill Stroh raced fast cars for the pleasure of driving them. 

Ladies man, Bill Williams, became an avid car collector, in his late 40's, after the Maybelline Company sold in 1967. He bought Casa Guillermo, in Palm Springs in 1973, for it's 4 garages, and two acres of land, where stored several more cars.                                     

Man's manBill Stroh on the other hand, became a hands-on, race car driver for Porsche, in the 1960's, making quite a name for himself in Chicago's racing world.  

Mama drove a Hot Rod - Thanks to my cousin, race-car driver, Bill Stroh.

Bill Stroh's 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang GT 350, was the catalyst that inspired Bill Williams to build his car collection.

The 1965 GT350 had one purpose in life and that was to put the Ford Mustang in the winner’s circle in SCCA road racing.  Bill Stroh on the left, with his son and brother in law, raced this Cobra and I have to say, it made my dad, Bill Williams a little jealous.  In fact three years later my dad  trumped his cousin and bought a 1968 Ford Mustang
Shelby GT500 Convertible.

Here I am with Bill Strohs son, standing next to Bill's GT 350 Cobra.  It was the Summer of 1966, while I was in Chicago, getting to know my father's family.  I had no idea that five years later, I'd be the owner of a 1968 Shelby Mustang, GT 500 Cobra convertible when my father gave his car to me in 1971, for my 24th Birthday.

Here I am admiring Bill Stroh's racing Cobra.  I'm sure it was this car, that planted the seed in my father's mind, to begin his car collection, after the Maybelline Company sold, in December of 1967.  
1965–66 GT 350s were very successful racers, and had many production-class victories.

So I drove a Hot Rod with a baby seat, until I sold my Shelby GT 500 Mustang convertible in 1983. 

 My next Hot Rod, was a 1969 Completion Orange Camero, with white racing stripes, which I drove my daughter around in until she was 10 years old.  I have to give credit to Bill Stroh, for bringing racing stripes into our lives and spurring my dad on to collect 12 classic cars.  Today we still have his 1977 Clenet, Series 1, number 13. 

My dad's Shelby GT 500, crashed and was rebuilt, for my 24th Birthday. The front of the car actually lifted when I hit the gas and was the most fun car I ever drove.

Bill Stroh died unexpectedly from a heart attack in 1974.  He was only 50 years old.  Bill Williams lived to be 82 and grieved the loss of his cousin for 32 years.  It was like losing a brother. 

My Brother, William Preston Williams lll, remembers race car driver, Bill Stroh's 911 Porsche.

The 1969 Porsche 911E, was the car I loved the most, as boy's love fast cars, and this one was a rocket!!
I remember the day that big car hauler pulled through those big electric gates at Casa Guillermo.  It was 1976 and I was all of 16 and what do you know?  I had a license!!

The driver of the truck got out and came around to the end of the trailer to release the back door and attach the tracks that would allow the machine to roll down.  One of the two men hopped into the trailer and got into that sweet ride and started it up.  I never heard such an awesome sound.  It had a throaty roar, as he backed the car up and his partner guided him down the ramp. 

My Dad put his arm around me,  as he often did, and squeezed my bicep, "hey muskels."  (Dad always had such a fun way with words,)  "What do you think of this one!  This was my cousin Bill Stroh's car, I bought it from his wife, when he passed away.  You know he used to race cars, on the professional circuit.  The motor in this car is no ordinary motor." 

 I said, "really, why is that?"  and then he paused a moment as the car backed out, and the bright sunlight hit that burnt orange paint, with the cool racing stripe across the bottom, and the word PORSCHE in it and on the back hood, all in gold lettering and beneath it -Sportomatic, 911E.  

Gleaming in the sunshine it looked like a beautiful jewel, and Dad said, "isn't she beautiful!!"  

I said so what's up with the motor Pop?  Wanting to know every detail. 

"Bill had it specially built, by his Master Mechanics, all of the pistons and rings were forged by hand out of aluminum, as well as many other parts to be extra light weight, everything about this motor was designed for ultimate performance, this motor won him many races, when it was in his race car, so when Bill retired he had this motor put into his Wife's Porsche 911E, so you see this is no ordinary car" 

"Well Dad how is that possible? I mean a race engine?, that doesn't seem legal."

"Well Press,  it had to be tuned down a bit, to make it safe for the road, and as well the car has a specialized breaking system to support the high speeds, and they modified the suspension as well all to make it fast and safe, and best of all it looks original." 

"I said oh, you mean it doesn’t' have all of the fancy spoilers and air dams to make it look fast!!"

"Yep that's it, this is a serious machine!!." 

(You see my father liked style - not so much flash, he believed that a car should maintain the original look, the classic lines, as it was designed.)  With that my palms were itching, and you bet I could not wait to show this to my friends.

So once the moving men left and the car was placed in the car port, next to all of the other beautiful cars, we looked it over, and were so impressed with how clean it was.  It looked like new, Burnt Orange, with all black leather interior.  I knew this was going to be mine

Dad said, "what do you say we take her for a spin."

"Are you kidding?  You don’t' have to ask me twice," I said, and we hopped in.  Dad in the driver’s seat of course.  He turned the ignition on, and revved that throaty little beast!!  

The quick response was quite thrilling, the sportomatic transmission, was so unique, in that it had no clutch. You just let it idle, put it in 1st gear and go, and release the gas between gears, and I mean to tell you we went!! The response was amazing.   Dad just cruised at first, through the neighborhood, but he could not help himself wiping through the winding roads.   He said "she handles like a dream."   But I wanted one thing - to go fast !!!

"Hey Dad, let’s take her on to the Tram Way road."  This is a 10 mile road, with long stretches of straight ways, mixed with mountain terrain, it takes you to the base station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tram Way.  This was my favorite place to joy ride the cars and being the middle of summer in the desert, there would be no one around. 

So we made our way there, about a ten minute drive from the Casa.  Upon turning on to the tram road, off of Palm Canyon, Dad let it rip.  1st gear we hit 50 miles an hour, in what seemedlike 1.5 sec, it was like a rocket, I am telling you I have never felt G-Force ever, but that day I believe I understood the meaning, as I could barley, if at all, lean forward off of the seat, and then Dad hit second gear, and it pressed me back further into the seat and with in another second or two we were flying past 95, 3rd gear was over 120 in a second, and he shut her down, and we were blown away as this was a five speed transmission and the speedometer went from 0 to 160 and I am sure it would do all of that and more, but 120 was cool for now.

Dad did not let me drive that car for quite sometime, as he had already found out about some of my escapades, parties, and joy rides, and to think of that day, even amazes me that he was doing anything with me, because, during that period of my life, I seemed to be a loose cannon, but in any event that was a great day for us.

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