Make us your home page

My Favorite Car: '66 'Black Shadow,' home-built street rod, John Quicksall, 69, St. Petersburg

'66 'Black Shadow,' home-built street rod

The year was 1965. I was an "overaged" teenager. I loved cars and I loved working with machines and tools. Like any teenager I wanted to go fast. A couple of kids had souped-up Fords or Chevys and one actually had his own Corvette. The father of a friend of mine owned a welding shop and he taught me how to weld and operate lathes and shop machines. Then all it took was dozens of Hot Rod magazines, a sister whose boyfriend had access to his father's salvage yard and another friend whose mother had just totaled her 327 Chevy.

I acquired the engine and its manual transmission for next to nothing. A few trips to the salvage yard added the steering and front suspension from a 1946 Ford, the radiator from an old Nash and the rear axle from a 1954 Oldsmobile. The rear suspension was a coil spring design that I dreamed up myself. Then I copied the frame from photos I'd seen of California hot rods and, in the back of our house, I went to work.

I found the seats and gas tank in a JC Whitney catalog. Surplus aircraft seat belts came from Bill Jackson's when it was on Fourth Street S. The rear tires came from the pits at Sebring, and the wheels I split in a huge lathe before welding in 4 inches by 1/8 inch flat stock that I rolled into the correct radius. Finally, my best friend donated a tri-power manifold and three Rochester 97s. When I first tested the thing, two problems were immediately apparent. My homemade rear suspension didn't hold up to the torque that the 327-cubic-inch Chevy put on it. I had to go back to the salvage yard and get the trailing arms from the old Oldsmobile. Secondly, with no radiator fan, the engine quickly overheated. The solution was to add a second, much larger, radiator behind the seats. The two radiators were connected by 1 1/4-inch steel tubing and the hot water circulated between them by convection.

After it was all done, it got a lot of attention … mostly while sitting in local drive-ins like Triplett's and the Barrel on 16th Street. Needless to say, I crept around town as St. Pete's finest were always the first to notice when I pulled out onto the street.

I finally sold Black Shadow to a kid who took it to Jacksonville. In all, I built four of these, each a little different, but this was my favorite.

Then, from cars and machines I eventually moved on to the U.S. Navy, where I was introduced to airplanes. I retired a few years ago after nearly 40 years of flying, first in the Navy and then for a major airline. And I like to think it all started when I was an overaged kid who just liked things that were fun to drive and went fast.

My Favorite Car: '66 'Black Shadow,' home-built street rod, John Quicksall, 69, St. Petersburg 05/23/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 6:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The FHP trooper behind quota on speeding tickets will retire Sept. 5

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Highway Patrol official's call for troopers to meet ticket quotas has cost him his job.

    Major Mark D. Welch, Troop Commander of Troop H, wrote an email asking his employees that he wants them to write two citations each hour. "This is not a quota," he wrote. His resignation is effective Sept. 5. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband


    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  3. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}
  4. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location


    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower in early 2018. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International …

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  5. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.