Bill Horton’s ”Jezebelle”
A Chrysler Powered 1940 Ford Coupe
Looking for Information
My Dad, Bill Horton, was a racer in his youth and has been through a lot in his life. He has overcome many ailments common to others his age, including a heart transplant and the loss of a child. Now, just before he turns 83 he has rebuilt his car…. Lord help us all !
His “ JezeBelle” a Chrysler Powered 1940 Ford Coupe, won World Comp “B” Gas in 1956 and it is still a screamer today. The car has been restored to the same condition it was in the last time it went down the strip in 1959.
Our research has led us to believe that the original motor was exchanged within a few months of purchase with a Cadillac motor. Why someone would want to take out a perfectly good motor and replace it with one twice the horsepower in the bootlegging Carolina Hills is beyond our understanding…. Sort of…
In 1959 Dad garaged the car only to pull it out for one washing in 1970. “Kids needed to eat more than I needed a toy” was his reason. The car is a historical beauty and along with a track record of races comes a photo and mention in the November 1956 issue of Hot Rod Magazine. Herman L. Davis raced the car from Northern New York to Florida and back to Fort Worth, Texas never losing a race. Shortly after this trip Mr. Davis painted “JezeBelle” on the car and sold it to my Dad who raced it for a few more years.
My Dad stayed away from dazzling pint and modern conveniences in his restoration and opted to stay with the full 1957 race ready look, complete with the original paint. 90% of the rust that is on the car is a paint effect done to match the spots of natural rust here and there. If “Rad Rods” had a Queen with tattered elegance…. JezeBelle is it !
The photos were taken at a local car show in Arlington Texas. Bobby and Ruth Langley came by to say Hello as did several of the pioneers of the day. My Dad and Bobby are in one photo standing in front of JezeBelle. Many stories were swapped of long hours and short money. Most of these racers are in their 80’s now but still held dear the memories of late nights working on a friends car who would be a competitor the next day. Their stories of patchworked motors and “southern” engineering made me wonder just how they made it to 80. But I now know that these early antics are why they are still kicking at 80+.
You should see him impish grin and gleam in his eyes when he starts it up and, well does just a bit more than “Chirps” the tires. It’s good to see an 82 year old look 17 again.
Our search has led us on a few dead ends and now we are tryinjg to locate family members of Herman L. Davis, old trophies and even older stories. We would appreciate any information that would put us in touch with people who could add to our story of JezeBelle…
Life and Times of
In presenting this the first edition of the story of the owner of Jezebelle, it is hope it will serve as a “fair warning” to all!
83 year old “farts” never grow up and never get too old to play with their toys! Some 57 years ago when the editor was still very young, she observed an “aged” white haired “child” climbed out of his Dragster (with a little help, you understand) and received his Trophy!
This is how it all began…. In the mid to late 50’s, a lifetime fascination for speed overtook Bill Horton. Having been married for more than 10 years, the father of daughters (Gwynne and Dana); Bill gave in to a desire to own a “Race Car”, after the family began attending the drags as a past time. Wasn’t long before “need for speed” (but not in the family auto) became so consuming, he now needed to fulfill his desire and dreams of OWNING A RACE CAR. Attending the “Drags” just wasn’t enough! As luck would have it the “Car of Cars” became the one to own! Herman L. Davis, well known on the North Side of Fort Worth, as well as Texas, Oklahoma and California, decided the buzz he received from racing was now a need for flying! In the fall 1956, after Herman won “World Champion” in the B Gas Class Competition at the ‘NHRA NATIONALS” in Kansas City, (along with good friends Johnny Lovelean and Earl Dorris, “A” Gas and “C” Gas World Champion of their class, respectively), the Jezebelle was “up for sale”! What a wonderful time to be living thought Bill and the transaction began!
The “World of Drag Racing” had just begun for the Horton family. Bill raced at the Guard Base, Richland Hills Drag Strip and Caddo Mills and his need for speed was now being satisfied, especially when receiving a trophy for the effort, which was realized quite often!
Friendship with the other race drivers became a prized possession. Drivers like Bobby Langley and his “SCORPION” dragster, Ed Mabry, “Outhouse Mouse”, Bruce Norman “Bald Eagle , Don Garlitz and his dragster “Swamp Rat” only to name a few, were a welcome sight each race day as they were all helpful to the new kid on the block. Many have since passed away but their memory lingers on in the Horton family. Drag racing was now a regular past time, although the Sunday races did not allow for attending church worship services. As time went on the guilt became worse. Now with a baby son, Kelly, and the excessive guilt of missing Sunday worship, not to mention blowing up an engine near his home, showering down to impress a friend, the Jezebelle was put to rest for a while…..
Or at least what he thought was a while….would you believe….50 plus years? That is a while, isn’t it?
Resting comfortably in the barn, Jezebelle was almost forgotten, what with the kids in school, football, baseball, girly activities, graduations, weddings, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a host of other activities. Traveling through our beautiful USA, Canada, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and even Europe, then a heart attack, followed soon after by a HEART TRANSPLANT! The children never forgot Jezebelle, constantly reminding Daddy that Jezebelle should be restored. “Daddy, put her back so the public could see and enjoy her, as well as our family. She just doesn’t belong in the barn!”
In 2006, as we lost our middle child, Dana, to ovarian cancer, we seemed to hear the echo of “Daddy put her back together”, especially since Dana was so verbal long prior to her death!
In the fall of 2009, Bill finally gave into the pressure and began “ratting” through the barn for all the parts and the procedure began taking shape.
In the summer of 2010, Jezebelle was shown at the neighborhood car show on the Albertson’s parking lot on Little Road near I20 and seemed to be a big hit. Then in September 2010, she was entered in the Good Guys Show at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Receiving many favorable comments at the September Good Guys show, Bill was encouraged to enter and show Jezebelle at the 37th Annual Motorama in Fort Worth, Texas where he won First Place in his class, the Competition trophy and Second Place in the PEOPLES CHOICE award.