LAM – History

History of the London Auto Modifiers

(Canadian Autorama Shows)

1947: Approximately 10 car guys cruised Dundas Street, meeting in parking lot areas to talk cars. They called themselves the “Piston Pushers” and in order to get recognition from the authorities for safe automotive activities, The London Hot Rod Association was then formed.

1950: The club began having regular meetings at the home of Jerry Davie located somewhere in the South Adelaide Street, London Ontario area in his rec. room helping each other with their cars. The club annually assisted the Chamber of Commerce with bicycle rodeos, the Santa Claus Parade and other local charities.

1952: The club traveled Southern Ontario getting to know the other car clubs and helping them to get recognition by the Chamber of Commerce and the Police for sanctioned activities.

1953: The club joined the American Timing Association being active in assisting at the World Series of drag racing at Dayton Ohio which turned into an annual event.

1954: Clubs in Ontario were interested in legal drag racing so a survey was taken for a drag strip of various old world war two air strips; St Thomas, Fingal, Port Albert and Kohler . Kohler was chosen as it was privately owned by the Mehlenbacher family. The Mehlenbacher family purchased the 375 acres in 1948 from the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Ontario Timing Association was formed, a lease agreement was drawn up and the 1st race was scheduled! Clubs were from Chatham, London, Galt, Kitchener, and Brantford. The London Club purchased a London Pure Milk wagon for the timing equipment at the end of the ¼ mile and a platform scale to weight cars. With clocks from the Timing Association of America and a phone to call the results back to the starting line drag racing was now reality. Sanctioned insurance was also obtained and the signage was by Pepsi.

1955: The club rented a building in south west London [Manor Park] and held the first of the weekly meetings. During this time the club helped Stew Clutton build a dragster, powered by a ranger aircraft engine, 6 cylinders 440 cu.in. This car was built in a garage on Riverside Drive across from the boat club. The dragster was raced at Cayuga Dragway and Detroit Dragway. The name of the club was changed from the Piston Pushers to the London Auto Modifiers and was chartered a government non profit organization.

1956: The newly formed London Auto Modifiers purchased a 32 Ford Coupe, which was taken to Lloyd Lockes located in Komoka; there the car was built including the installation of the Olds Engine. This car was raced, and toured the Car Shows which include the International Show Car Association in Detroit and Toronto. In later years the Club Coupe was restored by club member Dave Cook and raced again at St Thomas dragway.

History of the London Auto Modifiers

(Canadian Autorama Shows)

1957: A new Clubhouse was built in London North off Huron street by the members on Fellner property. Thanks to Bob and Bill and Father Frank Fellner for the land. The first Canadian Autorama was held, Frank Fellner co-signed the lease with the Western Fair for the building rental. The 1st Autorama turned out to be a success and has continued to bring the hot rodding influence to London for the past 50 years. London Auto Modifiers have also been involved and continue to be active in Soap Box Derby ,Go carts, Cascar, Drag racing, and Street Rods .

1959: A 37 Packard hearse was purchased as a club vehicle, fixed up with trailer hitch to tow the newly built car trailer which was used to haul club cars to the drag strip and car shows.

1960: A new club truck was purchased to haul parts, club cars to the drag strip and car shows.  The truck was also used to promote “Autorama” on the ISCA car show tour that included Detroit, CNE, Hamilton Arena, and Buffalo.

1973/1974: A new club house was built at 95 Midpark Rd. south of the 401 between Wellington Rd. and Highbury Ave. on land purchased from City of London Industrial Park.

1982: Club House meeting room addition was built which increased the shop as well by two bays. The club continued to buy shop tools and equipment.

2004: The addition of a hoist and higher overhead doors were installed, making working on the club vehicles a far cry form the old days of floor jacks and jack stands.

2006: Machine shop area was completed, again giving more useable shop area.