What is Billetproof?
Billetproof is about HOT RODS and CUSTOMS and is for those who appreciate the skill, ingenuity and creativity that went into building them during the early days of the hobby. A time when hot rods and customs were about what you could do in your garage rather than with your checkbook. A time when hotrodding was a little dirtier, less polished and still experimental. While there is nothing wrong with the high-dollar billet clad side of the hobby, we just find it more fulfilling to do it ourselves and to drive our creations rather than trailer around a piece of fine art. It’s not about having the best looking car, nor the ugliest. Billetproof is about DOING IT YOURSELF! Billetproof is NOT a revival of the fifties or rockabilly. It strives to be a unique event and state of mind. The show’s loyalists ages range from 16 to 80, with personal styles all across the spectrum. But they do all have one thing in common—a love for building and driving traditionally inspired hot rods and customs.
In 1997 the show’s founders, Kirk Jones and Jay Ward, had had enough of being looked down upon at all the car events they attended because their cars were considered unfinished. Their cars were never going to be “finished”. Primer and rust were just fine. All those $100,000 cars weren’t inspiring at all. In fact they were down right boring. It was time to do something. So they started their own show. It was obvious that there was a need to showcase the growing movement of rodders who were inspired by the era when hot rods were all business, dangerous, sharp and explosive. In short, FUN. The first show was in the parking lot of Albany Bowl in Albany, CA and was attended by 26 cars. While that seems small now, it was more than expected. Everyone there had a blast checking out the cars of the like-minded, winning the hand made trophies, and realizing that they weren’t alone in their passion for this brand of car building.
From that first effort the show and movement have grown like mad. Over the last six years the number of participants accelerated from 26 to 83 to 165, and soared to 779 cars and over 3000 people in 2004. The show managed to attract attendees from 12 states and as far away as Canada, England and Japan, all the while outgrowing every venue the show occupied. Bowling alleys, city parks and even a dusty rodeo grounds proved too small. 2004 was the shows second successful year at the Antioch Fairgrounds in Antioch, California, it’s biggest and best venue yet, with more cars, activities, vendors and trophies than ever. The goal now is to embrace the fact that the show has become successful and allow it to continue to grow while keeping it’s traditional roots and personality firmly in place. “Big and still cool” is the new credo. So don’t miss this year’s show!
Kirk Jones aka KIRK! began his obsession with cars and art when he was first able to hold a crayon. Northern Cal born (Concord) and So-Cal raised (Huntington Beach), KIRK!’s urge to see and draw rods & kustoms prompted his father to give him the nickname “hot rod”. At age fifteen and almost old enough to drive, KIRK! worked three jobs to buy two different cars, including his first running car, a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500XL convertible. His high school years were also filled with mini trucks, overpowered 4x4s, motorcycles and Friday night drags for money in low-buck street racers. After high school, KIRK! began a career as a graphic designer and art director for Ocean Pacific, Joe Boxer and his own company, Eleven Eleven Operations. (He also spent a minute or two as art director for Gearhead Magazine.) Meanwhile, he continued to build nostalgia rods and kustoms, only to see them stick out like sore thumbs at the greedy, billet-friendly car shows. After years of not feeling welcome sporting primer and open pipes, KIRK! sought out other like-minded rodders, most notably Billetproof co-founder Jay Ward. Out of necessity, from the minds of KIRK! and Jay, spat Billetproof.
KIRK! is currently building a chopped and slammed traditional style ’47 Ford coupe, working on his new clothing line Dirty Hero, and obsessing over how to make Billetproof the best automotive event and product line on Earth. Kirk sold the Billetproof car shows to Alan Galbraith in ealry 2007. He remains a consultant to Billetproof.
Jay Ward has motor oil in his blood, mostly handed down from his father who drag raced and built custom cars in the early 60’s in their hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. Once Jay was transplanted to the land of car culture in California in the early 70’s, his fate was sealed. At age 19, while attending the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland where he studied printmaking and illustration, Jay built a rigid Harley Shovelhead chopper from parts and pieces. Building a chopper was good experience, but a custom car was the next step. After owning a Buick Electra 225 convertible in the early 90’s, he knew he wanted something more along the lines of a Barris Kustom. He purchased a rusty but running heap of a ’49 Lincoln Cosmopolitan in ’94, and began transforming the “Stinkin’ Lincoln” into the sled it is today. Meeting Kirk in 1995 at a Lucky Devils party, the two had an immediate connection and similar thoughts about the attitude of the local megabuck car shows. By the following year they were planning the first Billetproof show.
Jay Ward retired from Billetproof after the 2002 show. He currently lives in the East Bay, where he can be found tearing up the streets in his dry lakes influenced ’29 Ford Roadster powered by a vintage Cadillac 331 engine.
Alan Galbraith his the current owner of the Billetproof cars shows. Alan got his love for all things motorized from his father, Art Galbraith, who was on the scene at the birth of hot rodding. Art went to high school with Kenny and Wally Parks, raced jalopies on the Southern California dirt tracks in the late 40’s, raced drag boats and rally cars in the late 60’s and went on to set motorcycle Land Speed Records when he was over 70 years old. Alan took up his fathers motorized legacy early on, racing go-karts at the age of 5 and helping build the long string of family hot rods and race cars and motorcycles from the time he could hold a wrench. A steady stream of hot rods and muscle cars passed through Alan’s garage as he attended college and went on to a career in the motion picture and music industries. Upon discovering the Billetproof car show many years ago, it was as if Alan had discovered his long lost tribe. He had been building and driving traditionally sytled rods his whole life. Years later when the opportunity to purchase the Billetproof shows opened as he became burned out with the film industry Alan jumped at the chance.
.Alan’s current projects include expanding the Billetproof brand nation and world wide, a heavily metal flaked 1963 Suburban that will be used to haul all of the Billetproof gear to shows, and a period perfect 1951 Mercury 2 door that he promised not to chop because its in such good shape.