• 1951 Cadillac V8 engine with three carburetors
  • GM 700R4 automatic transmission
  • More than 60 years of documented history
  • 1955 Ford Rotunda Custom Show Sweepstakes winner
  • 1955, 1956 and 1957 Detroit Autorama award winner
  • Awarded 32 trophies in 21 shows beginning in 1955
  • 10 Best of Show Awards
  • Built by Oliver Hine; later owned by his son Jack Hine
  • Restored from 2008 to 2011
  • 2011 Detroit Autorama Preservation Award

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1933 Ford 5-Window Custom Coupe

This car, Lot 551, sold for $128,700, including buyer’s premium, at the Auctions America Fort Lauderdale auction in Florida on April 1, 2017.

A rod or a custom?

Although Oliver “Ollie” Hine’s ’33 Ford wasn’t called a custom rod when it appeared on the cover of Rodding & Re-styling in April 1959 or when it was featured in the 1959 Hot Rod Annual, it was heralded as one of the top builds of its era, back when a skilled mechanic and fabricator would combine parts of many cars to build a personal hot rod statement.

Hine was from Charlotte, MI, not California, so this car was all the more remarkable, because it was a Midwest-based effort. He began with a ’33 Ford coupe, then kicked up and extended the frame at both ends for a longer wheelbase. He fabricated a new X-member from Chevrolet rails, channeled the body four inches and fashioned side plating to replace the running boards.

The sleek and widened front and rear fenders were custom-built from ’38 Chevrolet components; the distinctive heart-shaped grille, from a rare Brewster-Ford, was sectioned to fit, and Hine fabricated the aluminum hood himself, adding ’38 Oldsmobile side grilles.

The molded Continental kit — with the gas filler in the center of the spare tire — was fashioned from ’40 Cadillac components, as was the steel top insert. The front marker lights are MG; the taillights melded ’36 Dodge and DeSoto components. Inside, nine Stewart-Warner gauges span the dash panel.

While the car had a custom appearance, it’s not so much a restyled Ford as it is a completely integrated concept, reportedly using parts from a total of 25 different cars. The original styling elements have been seamlessly blended and the result was, for its day, quite stunning.

When this car was initially built, the 331-ci ’51 Cadillac V8 had a ’55 Caddy camshaft and sported a McCulloch supercharger. Presently, the big Cad mill is fitted with a three-carburetor intake and Offenhauser finned valve covers. Similarly, the early GM Hydra-Matic has been replaced with a more-contemporary 700R4 overdrive automatic.

The rear axle, once a Columbia 2-speed, is now a beefy ’54 Oldsmobile unit. The chromed wire wheels, with decorative two-eared knockoffs, were rare and expensive Chrysler options. Hine built the vee-ed nerf bars (tubular bumpers) himself, as well as the chromed side exhausts.

Trophy hound

Ollie Hine hit the show circuit with his creation, and not surprisingly, he won awards every time the car was shown. In the fashion of the era, the car was headlined as Hine’s “25 Varieties,” and it starred at the Detroit Autorama, and at the 12-day show that Ford Motor Company held at its Rotunda in 1955 — when FoMoCo embraced the growing rod-and-custom culture, inviting just a handful of cars by the likes of George Barris, Gene Winfield, the Alexander Brothers and other custom celebrities. The company’s designers later borrowed many ideas from the hot rod community.

Hine, who was in his 50s when the car was campaigned, kept it all his life. After his death in 1985, his son Jack repainted the car in a Jade hue, then sold it to a man who promised to restore the car to the way it had appeared when Oliver Hine built it.

When this gentleman became the consignor at Auctions America, he offered the car with 60 years of documentation and magazine features. Vintage photos show the original color to be more gold than the present-day orange.

Fittingly, after the restoration was completed, the Hine ’33 won the coveted Preservation Award at the Detroit Autorama, decades after it first starred in the same show.

Now what?

The winning bidder was Grant Miller, a Pennsylvania car dealer who admits he’s not a hot-rodder, “but I fell in love with that car, and I just had to have it. It’s a piece of jewelry.”

Mr. Miller bought an historic car with irrefutable provenance and a remarkable record of accomplishment. But he also paid a handsome price, at the high end of Auctions America’s $110,000 to $130,000 estimate range.

That said, I think this was a fair deal for both the seller and the buyer considering this car’s quality and history. Miller plans to drive it in his town’s Memorial Day parade. He can proudly display this copper confection at major concours d’elegance, whenever historic rods and customs are invited. It’s reportedly a nice driver, and its lovely amalgam of multi-make styling cues will no doubt have observers wondering just what it is, which is exactly what happened when Oliver Hines displayed it in the ’50s.

(Introductory description courtesy of Auctions America.)

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