Oliver Hine's "25 Varieties" - 1955 Ford Rotunda Custom Show winner
Estimate: $110,000 - $130,000
- 1950 Cadillac V-8 engine with tri-power
- Automatic transmission
- Over 60 years of documented history
- 1955 Ford Rotunda Custom Show winner
- 1955, '56 & '57 Detroit Auto Rama winner
- 32 1st places & 21 Best of Show
- Obtained from son of original builder
- Built by Oliver Hine
- Restored in 2011
- 2011 Detroit Auto Rama Preservation Award winner
In 1954 J.G. Mullaly, Ford Motor Company’s special events manager forwarded the idea of giving special attention to the youth with a display of FoMoCo based custom cars and hot rods at their famed Rotunda. In its heyday the Rotunda was one of the most visited tourist destinations in the United States, on par with the magic of today’s Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
Ford Motor Company originally built the Rotunda, designed by Albert Kahn, for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, which opened in May of 1933 and ran for two years. Known as the Century of Progress Exposition, more than 40 million people visited. After the fair closed, Ford had the Rotunda disassembled and moved to Dearborn, Michigan, where it took 18 months to rebuild on a site directly across from Ford Motor Company's Central Office Building, Ford's headquarters of the time. Constructed of a steel framework, over which Indiana limestone was attached, the building resembled a stack of four gears, each decreasing in size toward the top.
The Rotunda was the equivalent height of a ten story building, measured 210 feet at the base, and featured a center courtyard with a diameter of 92 feet. Two additional wing buildings anchored the center section. The Rotunda was opened to the public in Dearborn on May 14, 1936, and immediately became a top attraction. Their annual Christmas Fantasy was the premier event every holiday season, but when a fire associated with roof repair on November 9, 1962 reached the highly combustible Christmas Fantasy display which was being set up, it was out of control. In less than an hour, the iconic structure was burned to the ground and never rebuilt. The bottom line is that in this period, there are few places in automotive lore that commands more than the Rotunda.
Mr. Carlisle Carver wrote in his “World on Wheels” column for the Lansing (MI) State Journal on March 10, 1955 that “Hot Rodders are helping the Ford Motor Company put on a custom car show in the Ford Rotunda, Dearborn, beginning March 15, and continuing through March 27. The show is being assembled around 13 custom conversions and five street roadsters.” It is offered that with the growing popularity of the GM overhead valve engines, Ford realized it needed to pay some extra attention to keep the focus on Ford products here. It is really wonderful that the FoMoCo realized the custom car and hot rod movements were really important. This car was displayed next to Ford’s FX-Atmos futuristic experimental car they debuted at the 1954 Chicago Auto Show, and was on display at the Rotunda at the time of the custom show.
What makes the 1933 Ford Five-Window Custom being offered so special is that, not only has this hot rod been documented for over 60 years, this machine was one of the 13 invited to participate in the famous Rotunda Custom Show in March 1955 and won the Sweepstakes Award at this esteemed event. The builder, Oliver Hine of Charlotte, Michigan utilized parts from no less than 25 different cars in the construction of this renowned hot rod and it gained the nickname “Hine’s 25 Varieties” as its reputation grew and subsequently would appear on the cover of the April 1959 issue of “Rodding and Re-Styling” magazine, as well as appearing in the 1959 “Hot Rod Annual.”
Mr. Hine built this machine over the period from 1951 into 1955 and was raced in 1951 and ’52 by Oliver Hine and although racecar was its intended original purpose, Mr. Hine rethought the project and decided to make it a show car instead. The main design element was the distinctive Brewster radiator shell and grille (shortened seven-inches) and he envisioned every other design element flowing seamlessly from there. Other components consisted of 1937 Chevrolet front fenders that were modified to properly fit the grille. Mr. Hine had to stretch the frame to accommodate the 1950 Cadillac V-8 engine, so he employed pieces from a reported five different cars to make the frame complete and configured to accept the additional workings.
The hood was custom fabricated from .065-thick aluminum to join the radiator shell and grille to the cowl. The chosen body is a 1933 Ford Five-Window Coupe channeled four-inches over the frame and extended to accommodate a full size spare tire on the back with the fuel filler coming out of the center. Mr. Hine was not sure he liked the car with Ford bumpers, so he made nerf bars for front and rear to fit lower and show off the grille and rear spare tire carrier.
Mr. Hine would go on to show this spectacular car many times, winning 32 first place awards and, impressively, 21 Best of Show awards from these 31 events. To further show the importance of this rare one-off, Mr. Hine and his 1933 Ford won the Best of Show award at the Detroit Auto Rama in 1955, 1956 and 1957. He would drive the car to Detroit for this important event. The Sweepstakes Award at the Ford Rotunda would also be won in 1955.
Mr. Oliver Hine would pass away in 1985 having never sold his special car. His wife wasn’t certain what she wanted to do with the Ford, so it sat around until her later years when she gave it to their son, Jack Hine. Unsure of what he was going to do with it, Jack Hine would have it repainted in a jade tone and the car was brought to the current owner (a longtime family friend) so he could execute some repairs on it. The current owner asked Jack Hine if he could purchase the car with the intention of restoring it back to the way it was when his father owned it.
With the friendship in mind, Jack Hine agreed that the current owner should be the one to get the car and restore it. So the deal came together in 2001 and in 2008 the teardown began to restore it back to the spectacular form as presented. In 2011 Mr. Hine’s 1933 Ford Five-Window Custom was completed and it was entered in the Detroit Auto Rama where they received the Preservation Award. The car would go on to be voted in the top 100 cars in the nation by Street Rodder magazine for 2015. Mr. Hine’s wonderful creation was also displayed for over a year in the Gilmore Museum in Kalmazoo, Michigan.
The car is described as being “a piece of art as a car to drive.” Along with the stunning good looks it features the 1950 Cadillac V-8 engine with tri-power carburetion, dual exhaust and Offenhauser valve covers on display in a meticulous detailed manner: a 700r4 GM automatic transmission and an Oldsmobile rear axle complete the running gear. The interior is also tastefully and painstakingly presented in and appropriate brightwork details that add all the more. A Continental-style rear spare, bullet-shaped headlights and taillights, chromed wire wheels, whitewall tires, Lakes-style pipes and great color make this a real head turner that comes with 60 years of documentation. Newspaper articles and many car magazines from over the years are part of all of the documentation that will be included with the sale of Mr. Hine’s “25 Varieties” 1933 Ford.
The hot rod culture in the 1950s grew. Hot rods, custom cars and street rods became very popular as young men with spare money and knowledge of mechanics turned cars into individualized stylish rides. By the mid-1950s hot rod and customized car competitions were extremely popular and the culture reached new heights. Appreciation of the original machines from this era has now reached its own new heights and Mr. Hine’s multi-show winning masterpiece is the perfect means to experience the history for yourself.