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Otis Schmidt's ‘33 Ford Coupe
Stories and Photos by Eric Justus
Check out more from Eric on his Instagram Account: @eric_jjj
Ergonomics is defined as "an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely." As we grow older ergonomics plays an important role in helping to maintain a healthy mind and body. Ergonomics has helped to evolve the automobile industry over the years to include luxuries such as lumbar support, ease of driving, eliminating blind spots, air conditioning and noise reduction. As a child, I remember riding in my Grandma's Cadillac which felt safer than hiding under my bed sheets from monsters and more comfortable than my parent’s waterbed (hey, it was the ’80’s). She would tell me that a car like this is what she not only deserved but had earned by her age and that one day I too would deserve to be riding in the lap of luxury. I would bet that most 75 year olds would not define ergonomics and luxury in an automobile as a heavily modified and hot rodded 1933 Ford coupe but Otis Schmidt would beg to differ as his opinion hasn't changed since day 1 in his 63 year hot rodding career.
Otis picked up a paper route at the age of 12 which led to his first hot rod at the age of 14: a ’55 Chevy. It was apparent that hot rodding was in his blood and it is no surprise that years later a chopped, louvered, aggressively built '33 Ford is what Otis would be driving. Reminiscent of the salt lakes race cars of the '50's, Otis’s coupe is all business with its menacing stance, hand painted door (race) numbers and lettering that reads “Salt Flats Racing” on the hood and “Bonneville Speedway” on the rear quarter panels which answers any questions in one's head as to what the purpose of the hot rod was built for. Louvers are one of the quintessential hot-rodding tricks and the ’33 has been stamped with 525 of them! Before you start to count the louvers on the outside it is the louvers on the inside of the coupe that really set it apart. Take a peek inside the cockpit and it is easy to see the gauges, switches, race lap belts and tastefully done leather seats but don’t you dare miss out on the “headliner.” At his age, Otis defines hardcore hot rodding by practically folding into his '33 which has been lowered and chopped and once behind the wheel of a 350 SBC engine happily scoots down the road via a Tremec 5-speed transmission and Winter’s quick change rear end and yet all of that is taken up a notch when he willingly sits right below the heavily louvered metal insert “headliner.” Defining hardcore gets taken up a notch when you ride with a cheese grater just over your head but damn it looks bitchin! Pictures don’t do it justice, trust me.
Otis's hot rod addiction has no signs of slowing down any time soon as he continues to enjoy driving the snot out of his cars all over the streets of Moore, Oklahoma and across the United States to numerous car shows. Otis can not drive all of his cars at the same time and just like all of us, he wants our hobby to continue for years on end. Upping the cool factor to his story, is that Otis has his grandson wrenching in the garage with him and driving alongside of him, making sure the stage is set for the torch to be passed. Keeping our hot rod traditions alive with today’s youth while keeping it all in the family is the physical definition of our hobby. In addition to all of this, Otis is a pleasure to talk to and has stories to entertain the ears for days. If you see Otis around, do yourself a favor and make a new friend.