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It Was Love At First Sight

Photos & Story by Ed Zimmerly   OverDrive Hot Rod News Feature Model, Elena LeBlanc…(This Month’s OverDrive Hot Rod News Feature Car Owner Norm Schmidt’s Girlfriend)

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Whenever this month’s OverDrive Hot Rod News feature car owner, Norm Schmidt, cruises in his ’27 Ford roaster, he gets a lot of attention. It’s usually because his girlfriend, Elena LeBlanc, is sitting right next to him. They’ve been a couple for about five years. Never one to do anything halfway, Elena is quite the fifties Fashion Queen. She is always styled to perfection. Needless to say, they (she) brighten up any car show they attend. I also suspect that’s one of the reasons why Norm gets as many trophies as he does….just my opinion.

Norm’s a retired trucker who grew up in San Diego. And as a teenager he got started early playing with cars.  The way he bought and sold cars back in the sixties easily qualifies him as one of the original flippers. Norm estimates that during his teenage years he bought and sold over 200 cars.  Yes, the number is staggering, but, let’s face it, the dollars involved were a lot less back then.  So much so, he remembers buying complete paint jobs for just twenty bucks. He also admits that some of his cars could’ve been considered collectable, but many weren’t.

As the years have gone by Norm’s changed the way he scratched that “need for speed” itch.  He may have started out with street rods, but he eventually got into the world of off-road racing. He and his brother Smitty were well known in the desert racing community. This dynamic duo won the Baja 1000 in 1980. In fact, he still has two of his vintage VW racecars. He may not race as much as before, but he and Elena never miss attending a few races during the off-road desert race season. In fact, a few months ago they attended the Annual Mint 400 Off-Road Race outside Las Vegas, Nevada. As local Off Road Racing Photog Legend, Ron Muller (and close friend to Norm), says this about Norm “Once a racer, always a racer, it’s in his blood”.


ABOUT THE CAR:  It’s a traditional looking hot rod from the word go. A fiberglass ’27 Ford roadster that many of us would love to hit the car show circuit in. Brilliantly covered in bright PPG Gold, it sports a cut down Deuce radiator shell and windshield. A 350 cubic inch Chevy powers Norm’s vintage ride down the road. It has the classic tri-power set up with three deuces mixing the combustibles. The customary 350 trans makes for smooth Friday night crusin’ on the interstate, as well as, anywhere else around town. Wildwood disc brakes, up front, drums at the rear. A nine-inch Ford rear-end completes the drivetrain. The simplified suspension design has leaf springs on the front end and coil-overs at the rear. A Corvair streering gearbox keeps everything on the straight & narrow. On the inside you see a clean and tasteful white pearl Tuck & Roll naugahyde seat along with pin striped wood dash panels that continue to reinforce the authentic fifties hot rod stylization. John Hurst and his son, Jason handled most of the custom pin striping adornments. Wide whites married to 1953 Oldsmobile hubcaps are just the right combo in keeping this rod period correct.

As I mentioned earlier, this roadster is a trophy winner. Norm took home the Speedway Traditional Homebuilt Award at the Goodguys National, here in San Diego in 2010. The following year at Goodguys Del Mar he was awarded The Real McCoy Award…finally in 2013 Good Guys awarded him the Best Wide Whites trophy.


If You Have To Ask......Are You Really A Car Guy?...RIP  Hines, Barris & Blackie

                                                                Photo by CustoMikes via Facebook