The Speelman brothers have been messing around with cars since they were teenagers. More than 60 years later, they continue, and last year they came up with a plan: Try to get all three of their cars into the Dayton Concours d’Elegance at Carillon Park.
When presented the idea, Concours Director Mike Edgerton was cautious. Ralph’s 1965 Mustang has been shown previously; oldest brother Russ has a ’32 Ford roadster and Bob has a ’48 Anglia street rod, but Edgerton and his committee knew there had never been three brothers enter before, and they then agreed.
Then there was a bit of an issue.
“Bob was diagnosed with melanoma last November,” his wife Lynn explained. “It didn’t seem too bad, but earlier this year, things got worse, and we headed to Ohio State (University) for treatment. It got pretty aggressive, and we lost Bob in May,” she added.
However, Ralph and Russ wanted to press on.
“I wanted the car displayed as a tribute to Bob,” said Russ. “I helped him build that car, and this was a big deal for us, and Bob loved that Anglia. It’s going to work out, though – his son Nathan is going to bring it.”
“Our daughter, Nicole, drove the car to the funeral home for Bob’s visitation, but she’s not in town,” Lynn said, “but Russ is going to show our son how to drive it so it should be there.”
Russ, the eldest, was bitten by the gearhead bug as a teenager and built a ’32 Ford with a ’41 Ford engine. His attention later turned to drag racing, and he spent many years at Dahio and KilKare racing. He stopped drag racing and turned his attention to street rods in 1975.
Always the mechanic and fabricator, “I used to have to build parts and go to the junkyard and make stuff work,” he explained, “and then I helped Ralph when his car blew an engine going back and forth to college. We dropped a ’55 Chevy V8 into a ’51 Ford; that was something that no one had tried before. That got Ralph to working on cars, and one thing led to another.”
Russ has built five street rods and is finishing his sixth, a 1954 Ford F100 pickup. “This is the last one,” he said. “I’m 77 years old and I’m too old to keep doing this.”
For Ralph, he bought the 1965 Mustang brand-new, and used it as a daily driver until the kids got too big to ride in it.
“I parked it with about 70,000 miles on it, and it stayed parked for 20 or 25 years. Then in 2013, we decided to restore it and took it to Jim Craft of Classic Craft Mustangs in Xenia. Now it’s like brand-new: restored to as original condition.” Ralph has owned two other Mustangs, a ’66 fastback and a ’66 convertible.
“I don’t show this car very much, maybe two or three times a year. I just enjoy it,” he said.
The three brothers had very different careers. Russ was a toolmaker, Ralph was an engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Bob was a math teacher at Mad River Schools. Bob was also a talented wood worker, Ralph likes to work in the garage a bit and Russ is described by Ralph as the perfectionist.
“His attention to detail is remarkable; it’s not finished until it’s perfect,” Ralph said. “That’s why his cars are so cool. Heck, he did a ’34 Ford pickup years ago and made it into an extended cab, before the car manufacturers did that.”
For no reason other than happenstance, all the brothers ended up with Ford cars, the Anglia being an English Ford. All are members of AAA and each was an Eagle Scout.
While Bob won’t be on the show field for the Dayton Concours, his blue Anglia will be and you can bet he’ll be there in spirit.