A. V. Monopoli Celebrated 50 years in the Specialty Automotive Business September of 2014.
The Classic Car News is providing his recount with links to photos and information that will bring you back in time for your reading and viewing pleasure.You can see the B&T/Tony Monopoli Back in Time Slide Show Presentation by clicking on the previous underlined link. The Presentation was seen by attendees of the 50 year reunion which took place at the DEAD MANS CURVE 3rd Annual Wild Hot Rod Weekend in Mahwah NJ on August, 29th and 30th 2014.
The Reunion brought Family and Friends from Florida to Maine who are pictured above during the reunion in Mahwah NJ. Many attendees stopped by the tent through out the weekend to shake hands with old friends (no pun intended) and the young-ins who bumped fists. Everybody enjoyed walking back through the presentation that jarred memories and the stories that ensued.
Tory’s professional career in the specialty car business started when he opened the B&T Automotive Speed Shop doors at Ruff Ave in Palisades Park NJ, the September of 1964. The Shop officially started his profession but his career started prior to high school with a letter to Dean Moon asking to sell his products. Dean agreed and that started a lifetime of automotive history.
B&T was one of a few that opened in New Jersey in the 1960’s. The 1960’s was a time that was fashionable to “Cruise the Drags” and Drag Race on the street. Street racing was popular on the yet to be completed Interstate Rt 80, Rt. 46 and Rt.17 NJ State highways, along with the free ride in Paramus on the G S P.
Other popular places to race were Rt. 21 Clifton, Brooklyn’s Connecting highways and Sterling Forest in New York. To get a Race one would go to Main Street Hackensack, Stewart’s Root Beer in Paramus, Callahan’s Hot Dogs in Fort Lee. Ruts Hut and Buffs Ice Cream Parlor in Clifton, along with Jif-Jiffy Berger in Hasbrouck Heights, White Castle in the Bronx and Wetsons Drive Inn in Staten Island New York.
Street Racing was not well taken by the public as it should have been then and now. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was a sanctioning body that did its part to change that. The B&T Speed Shop was part of the inertia that helped make the change from street to strip happen by being a proponent of sanctioned drag racing and supporting events that took place at Englishtown Raceway Park,and other tracks. Englishtown was top dog as far as being sanctioned by NHRA and being the newest. Other race tracks were scattered throughout the NY Metropolitan area; including Island Dragway, Flemington, Atco Speedway, Old Bridge Stadium, NY National Speedway and Islip Raceway. The shortest track was (Old Bridge Stadium) It was a sixteenth of a mile. The starter had to hold your car back because it was on a banked oval. Flemington was an eighth mile and the others were a quarter mile. The race tracks that survived are E-Town, which opened in 1965. Atco Raceway and Island Dragway both opened in 1960. www.etownraceway.com www.atcoraceway.com :www.islanddragway.com.
The B&T store pictured is the East Columbia Ave. location. B&T brought a wide range of specialty products and services to the buying public. Brand names included American Racing, Cragar, Ansen, Mickey Thompson and Howard wheels, Bell Auto parts products, Moon Equipment, Elco products, Hilborn Injection units, Stewart Warner Gauges, Wieand Superchargers, along with Offenhauser and Edelbrock intakes, Venolia and Jahn’s pistons, MT aluminum rods, DA Speed & Sport, Valvoline, Kendall, and Castrol oils, Howard, Crane and Engle Cams, Hurst and Ansen shifters, Mr Gasket, Moroso and many more of the top brands that were demanded by the B&T patrons. “Check out the Bonanza mini motorcycle in the window.”
The original B&T Speed Shop Logo was a 1940 Willy’s Coupe which was a typical Race car of choice for that time. It was made popular by Stone, Woods and Cook’s Gasser. That logo wound up tattooed on the arm of Pete S who was a valued customer and friend. The shop mascot was a German Shepard named Duchess that sat on the counter watching the neighborhood cats and the Speed Shops patrons. She was in charge of complaint. There was a parade of the newest and hot-est cars of the day frequently seen on the street in front of B&T. They included a variety of Chevy’s, GTO’s, Corvettes, Mustangs and a variety of Mopar’s. The B&T patrons would often bring those cars by to let Tony take them for a spin. I recall the day the owner of a Cobra gave me a ride up the Rt. 46 hill which had a marked quarter mile. Cobra’s were scary fast with a young driver so I was reluctant to go, He said I better take his offer for a test ride because he would be losing his license that night in court for drag racing. He also was sending the Cobra to Motion Performance to turn it into an all out race car and it wouldn’t be possible get another ride.That car became pretty famous as King Cobra. You can see a photo of Clem Hoppe’s King Cobra when it was sold at a Russo and Steele auction in AZ. The Cobra was yet to be turned into a race car by Joel Rosen when Clem Hoppe brought it by the speed shop that day. King Cobra went on to take the NASCAR title, in their Sports Car Class when NASCAR sanctioned drag racing. King Cobra could also be remembered for the match races against Joel Rosen; Mr Motion’s own small block Cobra that was written about by Martyn L. Shore in the Motion Performance “tales of a Muscle Car Builder” book .
I have written about Carroll Shelby since 1994 and honored to say i interviewed Carroll Shelby in the 2006 during his introduction to the GT 350 H at the NY Auto Show. The interview actually took place in his latest Hertz Rental Shelby. You can read it by clicking on the previous underlined link. I got a chuckle out of him when I told him about a B&T customer who popped a parachute on the street in front of a NJ Police Car on Rt 46. “Oops”
The B&T Triangle sign that was hung above the shop about 1969 was attached too Tony own 1934 Ford and Displayed at the official Reunion tent. The sign mimicked the B&T decal that said it all (A dragster with a parachute in full bloom). The decal was as cool as the Racecars that displayed it. “The sign is a Piece of Americana. B&T evolved through those times from a small town Speed Shop to one of the earliest niche businesses that laid the foundation for things to come, The “B&T” automotive speed equipment lead the way to Street Rodding as we see it today. Tony printed his first B&T Street Rod City Catalog in the late 1960’s,
The cover of Hot Rod Magazine read “Speed is Dead” about 1970. They were referring to drag racing ” I guess they were Wrong”, Tony was interested in older cars and along with his own 1931 Ford Model A was instrumental in the decision to gear up to selling Restoration and Older Car products. Photo of B&T depicts the changing times and Cars .Patrons asked who owns the abandoned vehicle.
The US draft took many patrons off to Vietnam and the fact that insurance made owning Hi performance cars expensive for patrons brought the speed shop to the next step; B&T Street Rod City. Tony started many trends and new specialty products that you still see today. The Name “Street Rod City” was cutting edge.
The SRC Catalog provided mail order customers access to restoration parts, show car and street rod products, along with parts that were already chromed . The WSRA named Tony “Antonio-Chrome-a-Lione”.
Yes there was others like Cal Custom and Elco that offered their own engine dress up products that were polished or chromed, but Tony’ offered alternators, starters and suspension products that were never before offered. B & T parts had a factory fit because he used genuine OEM parts to accomplish it. His Street Rod components were already chromed avoiding the hassle of taking them to a local chrome shop to be plated. The B&T SRC catalog back cover was appropriately headlined “Chrome Makes It”. The page listed Chromed Timing Covers, Alternators, Trans Pans, Pulleys, Oil Pans, Water Pumps and Shocks. Check out the back page of the SRC Catalog on the right. “Tap on any photo to enlarge”
B&T reinvented the catalog as a stand alone chrome parts catalog appropriately titled “Chrome Makes It” The Chrome Makes It line was expanded to include “Fancy Bolts”. Fancy Bolts were fully polished stainless steel bolts that complimented the chrome parts. B&T provided supplements to the SRC and Chrome Makes It Catalogs that offered the V8 Jewelry line of 1932 to 1948 trim accessories. Glass Blue Dot Taillight lens, and an array of other components were a B & T SRC and CMI staple.. B&T introduced an alternative to using braided stainless hoses with AN ends at he the 1978 NSRA Street Rod Nationals. The hoses that were available until then were actually air craft surplus that were popular with racers. For a little history lesson, Earls was an aircraft surplus company. B&T provided the first alternative to using hoses with AN (Army Navy) fittings attached. Our braided stainless slipped over any hose and looked like the other for a fraction of the price. Both Fancy bolts and the braided stainless were at the forefront companies and products seen today that are a direct result of B&T and Tony Monopoli.
The Chrome Makes it Catalog offered more of the bright idea parts that were available for Chevrolet, Ford and Mopar. B&T offered the items mentioned above and provided custom chromed service through mail order to customers from coast to coast. The shop chromed, polished many multiple carburetor intake setups as those pictured.The polishing shop did every thing including magnesium wheels, engine blocks, aluminum heads and as they say a photo is worth a thousand words.
B&T built the six and two carburetor setups below. The Chrome lockers were used for a famous advertisement.
This is the Classic Car News part I Coverage of the Tony Monopoli’s 50 years in the Specialty Automotive Business. Part II will cover the years after B&T.