Graham was a famous van customizer in the 1970s known for showstoppers like The Gladiator, Black Bandit, The Green Van and many others. Graham worked for the Barris brothers and Bill Hines, then went on to form Graham Enterprises. He also built custom fiberglass race boats under the name Oats’ Boats. During his retirement Graham took welding and autobody classes for fun at El Camino College in Torrance, CA, where he designed and started to build this vehicle not knowing it would be his last. Unfortunately Graham suffered a fatal heart attack in 2012 and did not finish this crazy kustom.
The car started out based on a 1929 Ford Model A frame and a LOT of flat sheet steel. The early-1960’s Big Daddy Roth inspiration is clearly evident. Graham fabricated the scoopy swoopy body with the intention of making a mold for a fiberglass body for the final version of the car. He also planned to put plastic slats in the scoops (a la Testarossa) with lights behind them to light up the plastic edges. The top was intended to be a fabric-covered Carson top with a small window in back. It flips open to allow the driver to get inside the car. There is not much leg room in there (Graham was not tall), there are no pedals, and the steering column is not currently connected. The boards that make up the existing ‘seat’ are marked for Graham’s signature button tufted upholstery. Graham’s fearless plan for the paint job involved painting the car root beer brown with true fire or yellow-to-burgundy metallic flames. The car was supposed to be named The Annie O, after his mother.
The engine is a 6-cylinder out of a Pontiac Fiero, and the transmission is out of a Chevy S-10 which bolts up to the engine perfectly. The sidepipes shown are out of a Ford Cobra, but they have since been stolen and are no longer included. The axles are of unknown origin and the suspension is custom-built by Graham. The rear wheels do not match but Graham liked the look of the larger one.The dual headlights were intended to pivot inside their housings when the front tires turned like the center headlight on a Tucker. There is a radiator present under the backwards flip-up ‘hood’. Bitchin’ bonus: Graham signed his name on the trunk lid with a grinder.
Also included with the car are a digital dash panel, assorted small parts, Graham’s notebook including plans for the car’s completion and paint scheme as well as other miscellaneous Graham Enterprises stationery and labels.
Location: Torrance, California, United States
See listing: 1929 Graham Oats custom (from February 26, 2018)