*sorry for the (small) size of the photos. I just had to feature this hero of the Hot Rod universe...

259 CI. 1949 Ford flathead V-8 (over-bored 0.100” and de-stroked 1/8”), 1932 Ford chassis, Edelbrock heads and three-carburetor intake, Harman and Collins camshaft, three-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel hydraulic brakes, solid front and rear axles, single transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear.


- Wheelbase: 106”

- The Famous Bill Likes “2B” RTA/SCTA/BONNEVILLE record-setting roadster
- 13 world land-speed records

''Before World War II, in the early days of organized hot rodding, Vic Edelbrock, Sr. operated a machine shop and service station in Los Angeles. On weekends, he drove his 1932 Ford roadster up to the dry lakes, where he competed under the auspices of the fledgling Southern California Timing Association (SCTA). Edelbrock began to create a line of speed equipment for Ford and Mercury flathead engines. After the war, his highly respected performance parts business grew exponentially. Edelbrock knew racing victories would help draw attention and spur sales. Besides running his roadster and a pair of midget racers, Vic Sr. encouraged his employees to compete as well.

Assisted by Bobby Meeks, Edelbrock’s talented engine builder, employees Bob and Dick Pierson, Don Waite, Francisco “Fran” Hernandez and Bill Likes became respected competitors. The Pierson Brothers’ chopped ’34 Ford coupe topped 143 mph in 1949 and appeared on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine. A member of the Russetta Timing Association (RTA) Coupes Club, Bill Likes owned a ’32 Ford highboy. Using different displacement flatheads, Likes and Hernandez competed in SCTA Classes B and C, for engines up to 260-cid and 305-cid.

Known as the “Edelbrock Special,” Bill Likes’ roadster could be considered the quintessential racing highboy of its era. Bill was the man to beat every time he appeared. Initially using a 1932 roadster body on a 1932 Ford frame painted dark blue, stripped of every nonessential part and packing a potent flathead, the clean, well- turned-out Likes highboy was a top points getter at SCTA and Russetta meets. It was photographed in Hot Rod magazine and Fawcett hot rod publications of the era. The machine shop manager at Edelbrock, Bill Likes always ran Edelbrock-built flatheads, fitted with his employer’s latest equipment and tuned to perfection by Bobby Meeks.

In the 1950 season, his rookie year for the Sidewinders Club, Bill received 1,290 competition points to earn the coveted number 2. His fastest one-way Class B speed was 138.67 mph. Vic Edelbrock talked Likes and the Pierson Brothers into swapping engines. The Piersons ran Bill’s potent flathead in their coupe as a “B” Modified and turned a world-class record of 146.365 mph. Running the Pierson’s “C” engine, Bill’s roadster turned 141.06 mph.

For 1951, Bill fitted a gutted-out ’29 Model A Roadster body to the ’32 chassis. The smaller Model A body had a slimmer profile than the Deuce, which helped reduce the effects of wind resistance. Bill often towed the ’29-bodied car to the meets with a full- fendered ’32 Ford roadster. He set a Russetta “A” Roadster record of 148.760 mph, and at Bonneville in ’51, Bill brought a de-stroked Class “B” flathead setup, and Vic Edelbrock, Sr. provided a bored-and-stroked “C” Class engine. Running on methanol, Likes set four world records on the salt, with a top speed of 153.583 mph in the B Roadster Class. The ’29 roadster was photographed at the starting line with Bill behind the wheel. In that event, the car ran as both a “B” and “C” Class competitor. Flex pipe headers ran beneath the frame rails, a Halibrand quick-change rear was visible under the car, and the license plate area was opened out to allow trapped air to escape from inside. A white tonneau cover helped streamline the body.

In 1952, Bill’s 4B ’29 NFR (non-fendered roadster) set a Bonneville SCTA B Roadster record of 146.365 mph that stood for two years. His one-way top speed that year was 148.760 mph. Speaking with Fawcett Publications How to Build Hot Rods editor Bill Czygan that year, Likes revealed a few of his speed secrets. “What I like to do in building an engine for competition,” he confided, “is de-stroke it…by grinding the crankpins off-center toward the inside, instead of toward the outside when stroking. This way you can use standard connecting rods and low crown pistons.” Bill’s short-stroke engines could turn over 5,600 rpm when stroked motors could barely touch 5,200 rpm.''

Words & pics Galpin Classics

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