By: Boyd Coddington Jr.
The Silver Bullet was built in our one-car garage in Cypress California in 1977. At the time, my dad worked the graveyard shift as a machinist at Disneyland. I was nine years old when my dad started the project, but I can remember each stage of the build from start to finish like it was yesterday.
I contribute a lot of that memory – to the fact that when the build gained momentum and really started going together, it was summer, and school was out. I was at the age where my dad dragged me everywhere he went. And I’d like to say that it was about the time my own street rod career began.
Of all the many hot rods to follow the Silver Bullet, I can’t remember another hot rod that my dad and I would just jump into and just cruise around. The days of growing up when the Silver Bullet was being built will remain as some of my fondest childhood memories.
The Silver Bullet is a true piece of Boyd Coddington history. This 1929 Ford Roadster is all steel and is a combination of traditional styling, contemporary rodding, and what was the beginning of the “Boyd Look” – and my Dad’s innovation, including the smooth body, and the hand-fabricated frame.
My dad’s good friend and master fabricator “Lil John” Buttera built the rails to fit the Roadster’s lines. All seams were filled and the fender wells were smoothed. Dad fabricated the cowl to be able to fit a one-piece windshield.
A 33 Chevy dash was used to fit digital gauges which went into a machined aluminum insert that was machined by my dad on his favorite Bridgeport mill at the time. Taillights are the markers from a Chevy pick-up.
The engine is a 350 in sync with a Power Glide transmission. Starting with a Corvette center section and J&J hub carriers, dad built his own independent rear, making the unique half-shafts himself. A traditional hot rod stagger is compliments of a six-inch drop axle with Super Bell discs front and rear. Helping the look are 15″ x 4″ Halibrand wheels in the front and 15″ x 8″s in the rear.
The color is custom silver and Long Beach upholster Jim Bialey stitched the burgundy upholstery. The steering wheel is a classic Nardi with probably the first aftermarket hot rod part with the “Boyd” name etched into it. Dad did all the wiring with help from Little John. An aluminum gas tank rides in the bottom of the trunk. Some of the other handcrafted parts from the Bridgeport include the hand- mirror bracket & headlamp mounts that help give the roadster more of the “Boyd Look”.
The Silver Bullet has been sold and traded hands several times over the years. I have continued to follow it and stay in touch with the owners as best I can, and as we try to do with every Boyd Built hot rod. In fact, around 2000, I started talking to my dad about building the Silver Bullet 2. I had the very talented Luis Tanahara draw me a several different concepts with a few updates and in different colors.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get started on that project yet, but I’ll keep it on my to-do list because I believe my dad would approve heartily approve a “Silver Bullet 2”. Not only that, I think it would make for a great tribute to his vision, talent and tireless work.
See you on the road . . .
Boyd Coddington Jr.