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SO-CAL Speed Shop President, Pete Chapouris III













SO-CAL Speed Shop
Burbank, CA circa 1946

Unlike many tales, the story of the So-Cal Speed Shop is not one made up by some clever marketing types; it's a true story of friendship, hot rods and the need for speed.

Our story begins on March 22, 1922, in Los Angeles, California, with the birth of Alex Xydias. Although his father was a prominent producer of silent movies, Alex's childhood was fairly normal, and like most young boys, he naturally gravitated towards automobiles. His first hot rod, a '29 Ford roadster with a milled head and a chopped flywheel, which he drove to Fairfax High School, was paid for with part-time earnings. After graduating, Alex worked in a gas station and saved enough for a '34 three-window coupe which was followed by a beautifully customized '34 cabriolet-found in the lower basement garage at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1940, Alex joined The Wheelers, a Southern California Timing Association club located in Norwalk, California. However, his life, like that of so many young men, was about to change when, in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, serving as a B-17 engineer. According to Alex, "All we talked about during the war was cars, and once, when on furlough, a friend took me to a street race out in the San Fernando Valley. I was really surprised at how fast the cars ran, and I got the idea to open a speed shop." On the day of his discharge-March 3, 1946-using some borrowed money, Alex opened the first So-Cal Speed Shop on Olive Avenue in Burbank. "I really struggled to keep it going," says Alex. "Sometimes I made less than $100 a month, but the hard work paid off. When my one-year lease was up, I moved shop to 1104 South Victory Boulevard in Burbank where I placed a Sears Roebuck prefab two-car garage." The hot rods that bore the So-Cal logo ran in pretty fast company. For example, a V8-60-powered bellytank lakester clocked 136 mph in 1948 and appeared on the cover of the January 1949 issue of a fledgling Hot Rod magazine. This early success was quickly ratified when Alex teamed up with legendary auto enthusiast and author Dean Batchelor to develop a purpose-built streamliner. Powered by an Edelbrock-equipped Mercury V8, the liner ran 210 mph in 1950. The following year, Alex and some racing buddies formed the So-Cal Speed Shop Racing Team and built the first hot rods to go 160, 170, 180 and 190 mph. In 1952, Mechanix Illustrated magazine voted the So-Cal gang the Number One Racing Team.

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