Helena woman’s street rod her pride and joy

Published 3:37 pm Monday, January 17, 2011

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Outrageous dry-flaked metallic paint. Contrasting Dupont Hot Rod Black finish. Flaming pinstripes on a ’56 Ford Ranch Wagon.

Yes. This is a car with attitude! Meet Thumper, only child of Rebecca Quinn.

Let’s see – did we mention the air-ride shocks? The iPod radio? The gearshift knob that gleams like a mini gazing ball in the sunshine? The amazingly buffed new chrome steering wheel?

Quinn, a pharmacist at UAB Hospital for the past 11 years, acquired Thumper in March 2009 from her previous Indiana owner.

“I can’t take credit for her restoration, but we have enjoyed adding our own touches and upgrades,” said Quinn.

The steering wheel was a Christmas present from her significant other and ‘personal mechanic,’ who just happens to drive his own street rod.

While Quinn, as assistant apprentice, stands by to fetch misplaced tools and parts, he has upgraded the air ride shocks and brakes, corrected some steering and alignment issues, added a rear sway bar, and constructed a console from a piece of lab equipment.

Thumper, who is very roomy on road trips, has been driven to Bar Harbor, Maine, Dallas, Dayton, Ohio, and Panama City, Fla. This year, she will carry them to a car show in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

“My dad, Jim, and his twin (Uncle Mike), are responsible for my interest in cars. They each have street rods, too — ’34 Chevys. It becomes a family affair at the big event in Louisville each August, where there are 10,000 street rods.”

Thumper turns heads with her ‘signature voice,’ which is due to her somewhat radical cam and gear drive. She makes passing cars slow down for a look and sometimes is the subject for photographers leaning out their windows. Thumper remains modest, even while lowering herself on her air-ride technology.

Rebecca Quinn stands by her “only child,” a street rod she calls Thumper. (Contributed/Laura Brookhart)

Quinn’s other devotion is to running with her club, the RRs (Regular Runners).

“We run so we can eat (and drink)!

We have our own t-shirts and banner now and are always looking for new members to our group. My dad is one of the oldest, but we have 20-somethings, too,” Quinn said.

The RRs hold each other accountable for showing at 5 a.m. for their weekly Saturday run beginning at Brownell Travel Building on Lakeshore, through Homewood, a water stop at Joe Muggs in English Village, and on to Mountain Brook and Crestline Village, depending on the mileage for the day.

The RRs, currently 30 members strong, usually run in the Mercedes Marathon and Half Marathon held downtown Birmingham, which this 10th anniversary year, will be held Feb. 11-13. To join the RRs, just show up any Saturday.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e-mail at labro16@yahoo.com.