• 1952 Hot Rod magazine cover car • Clocked at 143.54 mph at El Mirage dry lake • Class winner at the Grand National Roadster Show • First in Class and Dean Batchelor Award at the 1999 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Dick Flint and a friend stop at a crosswalk, watching a voluptuous coed pass in front of them. Dick’s friend leaps out of the car as she haughtily turns away from the boys’ arresting red roadster. This was the iconic scene captured on the cover of the May 1952 issue of Hot Rod magazine. The magazine’s founder, the late Robert E. Petersen, remembered it as “the first issue where we sold over half a million copies.” The Dick Flint roadster is an icon, not just to car guys but to the legions of young men whose imaginations it set afire.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1929 Ford Dick Flint Roadster
Years Produced:1929 / 1950
Number Produced:One
Original List Price:N/A
SCM Valuation:$500,000–$700,000
Tune Up Cost:$300
Chassis Number Location:N/A
Engine Number Location:On bellhousing
Club Info:Goodguys, National Street Rod Association (NSRA), Early Ford V-8 Club of America
Alternatives:Most period-built Ford hot rods with both race history and magazine coverage — examples include the Tom McMullen ’32 roadster and the Jim Khougaz ’32 roadster
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 125, sold for $577,500, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions’ Art of the Automobile sale in New York City on November 21, 2013.

Provenance in the vintage hot rod world mostly depends on a car’s original builder, its looks, engineering, racing history, authenticity and major features in period publications. And when it comes to valuing these cars, all those factors are vital in bringing top-market prices.

There aren’t a lot of hot rods that tick all of those boxes, but the Dick Flint car is one of them.

The history

Dick Flint worked at Alex Xydias’ original So-Cal Speed Shop in Burbank. A member of the SCTA racing Glendale Sidewinders, he attended the first Bonneville meet in 1949, with the So-Cal Speed Shop team.

For this car, Flint salvaged the best parts of three Model A roadster bodies to make one. He then channeled the basic body shell over a considerably modified Model A frame, and commissioned a local man to weld the chassis. The Z-framing, done to further lower the car, was poorly finished, but with a limited budget, Flint went with what he had.

The car then went to Valley Custom in Burbank, CA, run by partners Neil Emory and Clay Jensen. They fabricated most of the body with advice from Dean Batchelor, a dry-lakes racer and noted author who later became the Editor of Road & Track. Besides a full belly pan, Valley Custom fabricated the sleek race-car-style nose and hood, complete with inverse louvers, and a generator-clearing side blister.

Flint bored and stroked the flathead to 286 cubic inches. He then installed a Winfield Super 1A camshaft. Internal mods included Johnson adjustable tappets, three-ring racing pistons, a full balance job, plus port, polish and relief work. The original engine finish wasn’t pretty, but it worked — on the dash is an SCTA timing tag attesting to an El Mirage run of 143.54 mph.

From spotlight to project

Flint ran his ’29 at the lakes in 1951 in both Russetta Timing Association and SCTA meets before disassembling it for plating and paint. The completed car was featured in the original pocket-sized Hop Up magazine in the November 1951 issue, and again as a cover car in Hop Up (now full-sized) in June 1953. It represented the NHRA at several events, and won awards at the Oakland Roadster Show and Petersen’s Third Los Angeles Motorama. Although some think the roadster depicted on the initial NHRA badge was the Bill Niekamp ’29, it’s generally believed to be Dick Flint’s roadster.

Dick Flint kept the car until 1961. Duane Kofoed, a member of the LA Roadsters, acquired it in the early 1960s. It was photographed and filmed at shows and rod runs. But the weak frame became weaker; Duane says the doors would spring open if the car traversed a steep curb. When Kofoed disassembled the ’29 to rebuild it, he was dismayed at the condition of the frame, and stymied by the extensive work required to make the roadster right. So it sat, in pieces, for years.

Making it new again

Thirty years later, Don Orosco, a vintage racer and hot-rodder, was on the hunt for a vintage ’32 hot rod. Former Rod & Custom Editor Neal East suggested there might be a significant ’29 roadster available for restoration. Orosco contacted Kofoed, and after several years of talks, he was finally able to buy the car.

Unfortunately, Kofoed had swapped the original flathead and the Ford driveline for a small-block Chevrolet and an Olds rear in the 1960s, and the original frame had bowed and sagged. It was unusable.

So Orosco had a new flathead and a new chassis built using construction techniques and materials that could have been available in 1950–51. “We looked at the work of a number of period guys, including Frank Kurtis,” Orosco recalls. “We wanted to encapsulate the construction methods of that era into something that could have been done back then, if the builder had the requisite skills.”

The new frame was strong and functional — and “legal” according to Pebble Beach restoration rules at the time the car was shown, which permitted some judicious re-engineering, if the work could have been done when the car was built. Orosco insists it would have been cheaper to build the car from scratch than restore it. Dick Flint confirmed, “It was the way I would have done it, if I could have done it over.”

Accolades and dollars

The Dick Flint ’29 was one of nine roadsters present for the historic hot rod class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1999. With Don Orosco and Dick Flint aboard, the slick roadster blasted up the ramp to receive First in Class, along with the Ford Motor Company-sponsored Dean Batchelor Memorial Trophy for the most significant hot rod present.

Iconic hot rods are just beginning to seriously appreciate, with a core group of buyers willing to pay solid prices for the right cars with the right histories. Among these cars is the ex-Tom McMullen ’32 Ford roadster, which sold at Mecum in Anaheim for $742,000 in November 2012 (ACC# 213966). For what it’s worth, that car had a replacement chassis as well.

RM’s lavish $62 million New York City sale last November presented a star-studded cast of cars and was the most successful Gotham sale ever. This ’29 was the perfect car to represent the historic-hot-rod genre alongside vintage Ferraris, Gullwing Mercedes, and other top-level collectibles. Pennsylvania-based collector Don Bernstein was the buyer. “I’ve always wanted a hot rod,” he said, “and the numbers seemed reasonable on this car.”

Kirk F. White, who has bought and sold historic hot rods for decades, noted, “The Dick Flint ’29, a car made legendary by that Hot Rod magazine cover, was sold right on the money for today’s market. Cars like this are entering solid collections, and few will return with any haste to the secondary market.”

Beautifully restored, with great history and provenance, the Dick Flint ’29 is one of the most influential hot rods ever built, and this sale was an unrepeatable opportunity. Call it a market price, but I’d also say it was very well bought, too.

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.

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