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Lowell & Shirley Well’s Survivor Drag Coupe

Lowell & Shirley Well’s Survivor Drag Coupe
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I’m sure most of us have heard tales of hidden car collections and speed part stashes that would make you weak in the knees.  These types of hidden treasures are often spoke of, but seldom seen.  Well, my good buddy Keeth had been lucky enough to stumble across one such hidden gem right in his neighborhood, and was able to get me inside for a quick peek.  It was a day filled with one amazing piece after another, but one hidden relic stopped me dead in my tracks…a survivor 3 window Ford drag coupe.  I stood in front of the chopped 34 trying to take in every detail.  The roof line and stance were perfect, the Hilborn injected Desoto hemi was set back deep into the body, and the cracked and worn paint still shined proudly...man, what a ride.  This is the type of survivor car that dreams are made of, and Paul Smith of Eugene, Oregon knows he’s caring for something very special.  
 
The story of this coupe begins back in 1955 when Lowell and Shirley Wells decided it was time to go drag racing, and with the help of several Road Kings car club members they built the amazing car you see before you.  Paul Wellborn’s shop “Wellborn Automotive” in Eugene, Oregon was a hot rod hang out for most of the Road Kings back in the day.  Wellborn ran an Ardun powered dragster and helped the club members with their cars.  Other club members were there to help with the coupe as well, Larry Payne, Stan Auferoth, Tom King, and Mike Pruitt to name a few.  The first rendition of the coupe ran a flathead Merc and primer paint, but slowly the car became more refined, faster, and quicker.  A light blue paint job lasted a very short time when the Road Kings decided to paint all their race cars the same color, a Cadillac metallic green.  A very unique mural was painted on the deck lid of the coupe by Don Varner in about 1956.  Don was quite a famous Oregon/California painter and pinstriper who was featured in a Rod and Custom magazine (December of 1956) article as the “Northwest striping King”, and later went onto win the “American's Most Beautiful Roadster” title in 1980 with the "California Star."  
         
The North West Timing Association (N.W.T.A) consisted of 9 clubs including the Eugene Road Kings, when the National Hot Rod Association Safety Safari came to Portland Oregon’s Arora airport dragstrip.  Hot Rod magazine covered the event titled “Northwest regional Round Up” (October 1956) where Lowell and Shirley won A/comp coupe at the event.  In 1957 the Well’s coupe took the N.H.R.A Oregon State Championships in B/fuel coupe which was also covered in Hot Rod magazine (December 1957).  The coupe ran ET’s in the 14s averaging 114 mph most of the time with a 276cu in. Hemi Desoto mated to a side shift Cadillac/La Salle transmission and a Halibrand quick change rear end. After retiring the car from competition Lowell parked the 34 with the intention of eventually making a street car of it.  Paul Smith knew of the idle coupe and would attempt to buy it when ever he found himself with some extra funds, but the answer was always no...so, the old coupe sat for well over 30 years.
 
Sadly, when Lowell passed the question of the coupe's future needed to be addressed and Lowell's wife Shirley turned to Paul Smith.  Shirley, who had been very involved with the drags and the Road Kings car club was honored with an award for her participation at the NWTA banquet and trophy presentations in 1956.  When she and Paul would talk there was no mention of camshafts and injectors, but about the people in the club.  These conversations along with the knowledge that Paul would preserve the coupe and its history made him an easy choice to take over as care taker of the historic car.  Paul recalls that when he went to retrieve the coupe it appeared that the rear end was locked up, but in reality the slicks were stuck to the concrete from 3 decades of being idle.  Upon retrieval the coupe was just a roller with an early Ford rear end, its cylinder heads were up on a shelf, and the short block under a work bench.  Paul quickly began assembling all the parts to put things back as they were in the coupe’s finest moments.  Paul got a great deal of help from good friend Tom Walker in re-assembling the coupe, but Paul is no stranger to race cars himself having earned a pair of  Wallys drag racing in the early 70s.  
Paul is extremely proud to be the care taker of this survivor drag coupe, and plans to make sure it’s always be known as Lowell and Shirley Well's B/fuel coupe.