Star of the Starbird Show – Bill Weickert’s 1958 “Sledsel”

Alright, so you drive hundreds of miles to a big car show, in this case the 2013 Darryl Starbird Show in Tulsa, and when you get there you are surrounded by literally a thousand cool cars and trucks, motorcycles, vendors and the whole “dog and pony show.” All this is what I expect from a big indoor car show.

I also expect, in the case of the Starbird Show, that there will be 10 to 20 really over-the-top cars on display competing for the Top Cash Prize in Carshowdom… $20,000.00 for the winner of the “Fine Nine.”

And I was not disappointed. All the cars displayed “center stage” were the epitome of craftsmanship and detail. There were cars from top builders like Dakota Wentz of Star Kustom Shop, Keith Dean and Oz Welch just to name a few. All of them deserving the attention that was being lavished on them.

But then there were the other 981 cars and trucks that took up the vast majority of the space in the cavernous Quick Trip Center. There were entire clubs that brought out their Gassers that hey run at the Tulsa Strip as often as possible. There were the Lowriders that roam the streets of Tulsa, and the Muscle cars that line up down at one of several favorite street racing locations around town and in the burbs. There were Rods whose owners have spent countless hours blending together new and used parts  to create their visions…and on and on and on…

But as Jill and I roamed the Great Hall, we came upon one car…parked over in a dimly lit corner of the complex that caught our attention and spoke to us in a way that only certain very special cars will do…you know what I mean…you can’t just give it a glance and walk on. You have to get closer. You have to linger and take in all the details. Then, out comes the camera because you don’t want to forget what you’ve seen, or because there was some little almost imperceptible detail that you discovered and you want to catalog for the future. Whatever the case is, you are drawn to the car like a Hummingbird to Nectar.

So it was for us with Bill Weikert’s Kustom 1959 Edsel he christened “Sledsel.” As we were smiling and commenting about how cool it was that somebody had done a Kustom Edsel, (The Edsel being one of Jill’s favorite Cars…along with Turnpike Cruisers and any late 40′s-early 50′s Truck with a toothy grin) we looked over along the wall and noticed a group of people, three generations, riding their folding chairs and looking in our direction with deeply satisfied expressions. We asked them if “this” was their car and one gentleman literally “sprung” to his feet. Bill dashed across the twenty or so feet of concrete separating us and we shook hands. “Love the car,” I told him. And without hesitation he began to tell me all about it…How he had actually gone through 4 cars…to get all the letters he needed…(Picture Bill with a big grin on his face). “Letters?” I thought to myself…that was an odd thing to collect parts cars for, but I politely ignored the comment the way a person does when they don’t really understand but don’t want to expose their ignorance by asking for clarification. You see, what I had missed was the little detail of all the badges on the car that had been changed using original emblems to spell   “S-L-E-D-S-E-L” instead of Edsel.

Then Bill began to point out all of the Kustom Details of his creation. Pie sectioned center on the hood, Kustom Headlights, Bumper Setback, Center Grille mods and on and on. When he popped the hood the “Sledsel” theme continued with a Kustom Air Cleaner made from one of the extra grills he had gathered…also with the word “Sledsel” spelled out across the top. Then he pointed to the underside of the hood where sheets of shiny Stainless Steel with diamond patterns rolled into them filled the indentations of the under-hood structural supports. “Those came off of the door of a Semi Trailer,” he proudly exclaimed. They looked great, and I never would have guessed it.

The whole car was done in details so small, that they might escape the casual observer were they not pointed out. Things like the Bucket Seats and Custom Center Console with it’s hidden Automatic Transmission Shifter…that looked so natural I would have said they were original to the car…(Not an Edsel historian here…obviously.)

We spent more time with Bill and his family than we did with any other car or person at the show…and we came away from the encounter with the one thing that we wanted more than anything else when we came through the door…a feeling of satisfaction and contentment that the trip to the show and the time spent wandering around were worth it!

You can drop Bill an email at bpweickert@gmail.com and I am sure he would be delighted to hear from you. And be sure to ask about those headlights too! You’ll never guess where they came from.

et ita abscedit - Ron