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The California Kid the Iconic 34 Ford |

The California Kid the Iconic 34 Ford


I have been wanting to do a post about the famous 34 Ford known as the California Kid for quite sometime now. I fell in love with the car when I saw it several places online, saw the car on Car Crazy and saw it in the Rodder’s Journal. You may be wondering, If I love the car so much what prevented me then why haven’t I written an article on it? Well the reason I have never written an article about the car was because I never saw the movie; The California Kid! (Before you old guys started asking How could I never have seen it. I am not from your Generation and it was an old TV movie so it is really hard to find). Luckily thanks to Youtube I was finally able to see the movie.

The California Kid was built by Pete Chapourious who is Pete of the famous Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts shop. Pete purchased a 34 Ford 3 Window body and frame for $250 in the early 1970′s. The first thing Pete did was drop in a Small Block Ford 302 engine in the car. The engine was 100 percent stock with the exception of a Holley Four-Barrel carburetor.

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 through out the world.

If you looked up the word Hot Rod in the Dictionary, the California Kid would pictured!

Pete happened to be friends with famous Hot Rod Magazine writer Gray Baskersville, 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.

The California Kid as it appeared in the movie.

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 relatives house. After seeing the car he felt that it was the prefect car for the up coming TV movie. He contacted right away Rod & Custom, who was able got in touch with Pete.

Inorder 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.

The California Kid’s stock Ford 302. When the engine was shown in the movie a shot of a Chevy 327 from Milner’s Coupe in American Graffiti was shown instead. This was done because the 327 had more performance mods done to it.

After all of these changes were made, Pete’s 34 Ford was ready to star in The California Kid along side 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!

A true Hot Rod Legend, the California Kid.

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 for ever be an icon in the Hot Rod World.

Martin Sheen driving the California Kid

4 comments on “The California Kid the Iconic 34 Ford

  1. Very classic. It reminds us of the olden days. This is a collectors item.

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