Ardmore man combines love of Irish heritage, automobiles

Sunday, March 20th 2005, 5:54 pm

By: News On 6

ARDMORE, Okla. (AP) _ Bill Reynolds' life is steeped in two things -- a rich Irish heritage and a love of vintage automobiles. Twelve years ago, he found a way to combine the two. Reynolds discovered his latest obsession at a little sale shop in Ada -- a ``totally rusted'' 1927 Model T Ford -- and immediately brought it home to be refurbished.

``The only thing there was when I bought it was the frame and the body,'' Reynolds said. ``The doors were gone and there wasn't much of anything else.''

From that meager beginning, Reynolds started patching the Model T back together in a way that would make his grandfather proud.

``My grandfather and father used to be cleverly innovative in keeping things together in our family,'' Reynolds said. ``I found out everyone helped fix each other's cars on weekends. My grandfather owned a business called Joe's Inn. It was a gas station and repair shop until he lost it when the rubber and gasoline were being rationed. As I was going through my teens, we talked about cars and I remember him mentioning the old Model Ts.''

From that inspiration, Reynolds said he always wanted a streetrod and was ecstatic when he found his own Model T.

``It's nice to know the metal doesn't rust as much in Oklahoma,'' he said.

When he started the refurbishing process, Reynolds said he set upon an Irish theme in honor of his family's heritage. After all, Irish runs thick in his veins.

``There's the Reynolds side and the Cass side,'' he said. ``There's the New York Murphys, the McNalleys. We also have the O'Briens and the Doyles, so St. Patrick's Day used to be a fun day. So, I thought as people paint cars, they use a scheme, so I thought, why not green?''

And green it is. His Model T is painted a bright Chrysler green --the body, bed and even the inside of the chrome wheels. The seats are green leather surrounding a green-chile fabric, with green knobs on the green steering wheel. Even the windshield is tinted green.

``By the time its finished, it will probably have so many different tones of greens in the oddities on it that it will echo the different colors of green in Ireland,'' he said.

After all, Ardmore is named after a town in Ireland, so it was a logical place for Reynolds, who calls himself ``probably the only New York Irish that moved away and came to Oklahoma.''

Reynolds said his car is a patchwork of effort from several places. The bed was purchased here in town. Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Neb., is where most of the chrome came from. The original 1927 Model T headlights came from a swap meet.

``The drive train actually came out of a Mustang 2 and we made all the adapters to get the engine seeded to the original frame,'' he said. ``A guy in California built the wheels for us.

``I want to keep it all metal because it's very rare to see an all-metal car,'' Reynolds said. ``I would say a large amount of my wife's patience is involved in this, too.''

The old Model T, while it was rebuilt in an Irish theme, still hearkens back to the Dust Bowl days of Oklahoma.

``When my daughter was growing up, you start thinking about Oklahoma history, 'The Grapes of Wrath,' things like that,'' Reynolds said. ``To find something like this out there, it makes you wonder, where was it? Was it someone coming to Oklahoma or was it someone leaving here going somewhere else?

``I don't know if it will ever be finished, but it's been a lot of fun,'' he said.

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