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Up Dated: Retired Texas Ranger Restyles Roadster

This Oklahoma newspaper photograph contains retired Texas Ranger Ben Preston of Dodge City, Kansas, with his custom roadster he “put together piece by piece to suit his own taste.” The September 11, 1938 press release with the image also states, “he never did like the way standard automobiles were built,” and this was his idea of how a car should appear.

We do not believe he built this car “piece by piece,” although it appears we have identified the maker of the late-1920s roadster he began with and will leave it up to our sharp-eyed readers to tell us all about the make-up of this machine.

Please share with us what you find of interest in this Oklahoma Publishing Company photograph courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Up Date: We believe that Ranger Ben Preston’s custom is a circa 1927 Pierce Arrow Model 80 Runabout. View an image of one which has survived in the second photo below. View more photos of this car which is in the Richard H. Driehaus Collection.

32 responses to “Up Dated: Retired Texas Ranger Restyles Roadster

  1. September 11, 1938 was a Sunday, so the circus posters dated Monday Sep. 12 & Tuesday Sep. 13 help verify the date of the photograph.

    • I wonder if afterwards they drove down to the Liberty to see Humphrey Bogart in Racket Busters? I imagine tho that he likely didn’t hold much with them Hollywood he-ro types.

  2. The inverted triangle on the front bumper may be a clue; could this be a Marmon? The grille looks like regular old fence wire mesh, and not a specific make’s grille.

  3. I’m thinking it’s a 1929-30 Buick with a Hudson front bumper, ’32 Ford radiator shell, E&J headlights and ’33-4 Chevrolet rear fenders. Hood side panels look like a custom louvering job.

  4. Except for the V-shaped front screen, the front end is making me think of a Studebaker Commander with the vertical vents, the slight vertical swell from hood to cabin but flat sides, the front fender shaping inside the wheels, and the double-bar front bumper.

  5. Hats off to The OLd Motor on this one.This Jeopardy game will see who really knows old iron.May the best man win.
    Something tells me he designed the hood ornament too.I think its an arrow.Whatever,hes an original-the real thing.

  6. Definitely a fast talking, high trouser lawman. What is in the window next to the poster? Almost looks like a Standard Oil gas crown.

    • Looks to me to be a fine standup gentleman that would have put is life on the line for any one of us. He deserves respect for that.

  7. The Dodge City Ks license plate topper/frame is fabulous! Talk about civic pride!
    Those headlights ar a lot like the woodlites often seen on L29 Cords.
    The emblem on the radiator shell reminds me of a Dodge.
    Cool car, cool customer.

  8. The front fenders and radiator emblems says Dodge Brothers, but nothing else does. I think the two piece windshield will be the giveaway. Probably in the 1930-31 range. Later had suicide doors.

  9. Chicken wire grille. Maybe an elk tooth on the watch chain. Maybe lift heels on his boots; too far back for a set of Texas longhorn horns on the radiator cap?

  10. David,

    The body & windshield do appear that they could be a circa 1927 PIERCE ARROW Model 80 Runabout. The roadster’s top and rear fender appear to be 5 or 6 year newer, make[s] unknown. The front fenders looks newer than a 1927 PIERCE ARROW and have no head lamps attached to them.


  11. Nash for ’29-31 had fenders with that arrow pressed in from the leading edge trailing up towards the top of the fender. Perhaps Dodge did too, as others have already suggested, but these front fenders look just what is on my ’29 Nash Special Six. The rear fenders look to be ’34 having the definition of a ’34 era wheel opening style.

  12. I didn’t want to be flip while the guessing game was going on, but when I read our host’s description of the vehicle, the first thing that came to mind was Johnny Cash’s “One Piece At A Time,” although this car is more visually coherent than the Psychobilly Cadillac.

  13. The car is a 1930 or 31 Buick , the wire wheels hubcaps and front fenders are all Buick. The windshield looks like 1927 or 28 Pierce Arrow. The front bumper is from a late 20′ s Hudson and the headlights are Edmonds & Jones model 20 lights, which were a two piece cast aluminum design. These lights were ofter used on Kissel and Marmons as a dress up items.

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