The Saga of Zot

Shown here at an early Autorama from the Merchant Building in downtown Memphis is an old acquaintance of original Memphis Rodders member Marshall Robillio. It's a 1932 Ford roadster that Marshall once owned in the 1950's.

Here it is again in it's show days after racking up an impressive collection of trophies. The car first arrived in this area in 1948 when a sailor brought it to his duty station at the Naval Air Station in Millington. Marshall soon set about making it clear that he would like to acquire the roadster, and when the Navy gave orders to ship out, Marshall got his chance with the then black with red wheels, flathead powered hot rod. He gave it a complete redo as a sky blue show winner that did double duty as a drag racer.

The car made use of the venerable 48 Mercury flathead, and later a 354 Chrysler Hemi, before a small block Chevy became the power plant of choice at the Halls TN drags. Here it is at Halls with Marshall's younger cousin, the late John Robillio, on the drivers side fender of the push truck.

Here's another look that the car adopted in the late 50's after Marshall sold the car to Howard Hughes.

The copper paint, Moon wheel discs, and side exhausts are the most obvious changes to the car at this point.

Miraculously, this car still exists and hasn't strayed too far from home after gathering enough hot rodding history for several cars. Georgian Tim Payne currently owns the car and fills in the rest of the story... so far... Tim grew up in Memphis and his father traded his 55 Thunderbird for the roadster in 1960. Tim's dad and Stan Summerfield spent several years preparing the car for some serious drag racing. It eventually hit the strip with an injected big block Chevy and a colorful new paint job. It came to be known as 'Zot' during this time frame, as most self respecting drag cars of the era had to have a cool name, so this racer was named after a popular character in the B.C. comic strip. Here it's shown in full race trim in the pits at Lakeland Raceway.

Here's another shot of the car yanking the wheels off the pavement at Lakeland. By this time, It's got a new name and silver & lace paint job. Even though the car got a hip new name, 'Zot' was and still is affectionately used to identify this channeled 32. The photo looks like the early 70's to me, with the Coke bottles as dragsters painted on the crossover bridge, and the airfoil like starter stand both being signature fixtures at the track during those days.

But cut to the present day and dig this! 'Zot' is back on the road again as a hard driving nostalgic hot rod with a fresh flathead, a Mexican blanket, and a well worn patina to show off it's historic character.

Tim even brought the car back to Memphis for a Reunion with Marshall in recent weeks! Marshall looks like he's glad to see it after all these years, and had an opportunity to take it out for a spin while it was in town.

Of course, all this would probably just be memories for a few, if Tim had not recently returned the car to the road. His rebuild gave the car a new purpose as a nostalgic street runner complete with flathead power and remnants of it's last paint job still intact, and we can be glad that he did. He recently shared the cars history with an internet audience on the
HAMB message board over at the Jalopy Journal. It also appeared on Iowhawk's diverse Bolus blog. Now it's your turn to check it out and connect the dots with it's Memphis roots, but make sure you navigate to the aforementioned sites and see more photos and read Tim's own words about this cars storied existence. It's well worth the read.