It’s been 50 years since Gordon Metcalf laid a little scratch down on the drag strips of Southern California, but today he is once again behind the wheel, this time of two classic Fords. And although the cost of joyriding has jumped from a $100 junker to two $65,000 award-winning show cars, Metcalf is able to lay the scratch down on the street tops of the Rim Country.
Metcalf will display his 1940 and 1932 Fords at the 16th annual Beeline Cruise-In and Charity Auto Show Saturday, April 25, where more than 300 participants will highlight their cars in every make, model and color at Green Valley Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Like so many other car lovers, Metcalf started tooling around with automobiles at a young age.
Growing up in San Bernardino, Calif., Metcalf got into drag racing long before he should have, at age 15, but was able to stop long before he regretted it and hurt himself.
“Everyone else was doing it at the time, so I got into it,” he said. “We were not rich, I think the first car I had was a 1933 Ford with no floorboards, no roof and all the glass out, but it would get up and go pretty good.”
Metcalf’s father was a mechanic and his tool collection attracted all of the hot rod enthusiasts from throughout town.
Every weekend, seven or eight cars would roll up to Metcalf’s yard. He doled out the tools and parts were scattered everywhere.
“Everyone knew my dad’s rule, if you used a tool you had to put it back or you couldn’t use it again,” he said.
Another favorite pastime of Metcalf’s was watching NASCAR races at the Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, Calif. where Richard Petty raced.
But at 19, Metcalf met his soon-to-be wife, Eva Mae, and gave up racing.
“If I had not gotten married at 19, I don’t think I would have made it to 20,” he joked.
After marrying, Metcalf worked mostly in sales and marketing for a number of years. With three children to raise, he rarely had time for anything outside of work and home.
In 1983, he started Enduro Products, a waterproof coating company that became an industry leader. After managing the company for 20 years with his wife, in 2005 he finally sold the business and had time to focus on his hobbies. By this time, he had seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Before selling the business, Metcalf and his wife also owned multiple properties throughout the state.
“We started buying Arizona properties in 1989 and I remember we came through (Payson) by accident and my first impression was, ‘What a hick town. Who would want to live here?’” he said. “Then we came back and I got bit.”
The Metcalfs bought a home atop a hill overlooking the Mogollon Rim in 1994 and were ready for retirement, when Eva Mae passed away suddenly from cancer.
Now close to five decades after owning his great Ford for $100, Metcalf has acquired two others.
His first purchase was a red 1932 Ford coupe with a 454 Turbo Jet big block Chevy engine. He has already put close to $50,000 into the car, including replacing the interior, which was done by a local craftsman in white and red and took several months to complete.
Metcalf bought the car over the Internet in 2006 from a man in Wisconsin who replaced the original engine with the big block.
He said he was attracted to the car mainly because of the fire red exterior and engine.
“It is a thrill to drive,” he said. “I guess you have to be a little nuts and a gearhead.”
The coupe has won three trophies at several car shows.
Metcalf’s second purchase, a 1940 white Ford deluxe coupe with 300 horsepower, has been nicknamed the “money pit.”
Like the coupe, Metcalf bought the car over the Internet, but this time from a person in Indiana. He had the car inspected and was told it was in tiptop condition. So for $28,000, Metcalf thought he was getting the car of his dreams, similar to a 1939 Ford he owned many years prior.
“I wanted it because it is white and they are rarely, rarely white at car shows,” he said.
However, after getting the car, he realized it needed a lot of work, including new tires, front end and undercarriage. After 10 long months of renovations and another $28,000, the car is finally ready to hit the road — just as soon as he fixes a belt.
“This car is jinxed,” he joked. Besides major repairs, Metcalf had automatic steering added and subtle grey and blue flames to the front.
“Once you put that much money into it, you got to keep them,” he said.
Both cars were appraised for $65,000.
Besides tooling around in his garage, Metcalf is active throughout the community. He joined the Kiwanis Club when he moved to Payson after being a member of the club some 50 years ago. He regularly gives to local charities, has worked with the Mogollon Health Alliance, Humane Society, Historical Society and the former Jeep club.
“I like to work in the background and see things happen,” he said.
To see Metcalf and his Fords, head over to Green Valley Park Saturday for the Rim Country Classic Auto Club’s annual show.