Bill Jewell’s love of cars stems from an unlikely beginning: he got to smash them up. “I got involved in the mid-1960s,” he says. “My brother raced at a dirt track about three and a half miles from home in Peterborough, and I spent a lot of time at the dirt track with him. Once a month they’d have a demo derby and I’d get to drive the demo car. I was twelve.”
He got his first car – or at least part of it – when he turned 16 “and I convinced my dad to go halves with me on a car, because all we had was an old pickup truck, and you couldn’t go on a date with an old pickup truck that had been hauling feed. I couldn’t afford one of my own and he needed to have a car. He wasn’t impressed because he figured I’d bring home a nice little family car and I came home with a big-block 1967 Nova. I owned the front half, because it had the motor!”
Bill works as a superintendent at Anchor Shoring & Caissons; his mechanical skills were self-taught through a string of cars. That first Nova was replaced with a secondhand 1969 GTO and then, when the Pontiac was written off, Bill bought a brand-new 1979 Buick Regal Sport.
His first hot rod was a 1947 Ford Prefect that he bought in 1988. “I don’t know why I bought it,” he admits. “The price was right and it was different. I only owned it for a short while and then sold it, and in 1990 I bought my 1937 Buick. It was a California car and I was the third owner. I had it until 2002, and I traded it for a 1963 Corvette roadster. I sold that one too, but in the meantime, I bought my 1937 Ford sedan delivery, and then the 1938 Chevrolet sedan delivery that I’m driving now. I also bought a 1939 Chevrolet two-door sedan that I sold, and recently bought a 1987 Buick.” The two sedan deliveries and Buick Grand National are still in the family – which includes his wife Val and sons Josh, Mike and Kris.
Always keen to belong to a car club, he first joined Early Iron with his friend Patty Whalen. The club was very active at the time and Bill was involved in all of it, taking Val and their young sons to the dances and car shows; for five years he was the club’s president. Through his friend of Rick Murphy, he knew about Motor City Car Club and had been to Autofest. Early Iron’s activities were winding down and when the events stopped, he resigned. When he was invited to Motor City’s 40th anniversary event, he was hooked. “I would have joined a lot sooner but there wasn’t an opening,” Bill says. “I bugged Murphy every time I saw him. I wanted to join because this club does so much and that’s what I wanted.”
An opening finally did come up, and Bill did his probationary time and became a full member in November of 2002. “In winter I’m here every weekend; I sleep here,” he says. “I could probably work on my car at home, but it’s better here, because I can get more help. Mike Campbell’s helped me a lot with my car. There are other people working at the same time and it’s motivating.”
He throws himself whole-heartedly into club activities,
especially Autofest; he has numerous resources for sponsorship
and has been responsible for bringing several thousands of
dollars into the show, such as items for the silent auction and d
oor prizes. He’s also busy during the show weekend, putting up
all the signage and directions each year, as well as looking after
Still, his proudest moment was when the Street Rodder/PPG
Road Tour visited the clubhouse in 2007, the first time in the
event’s twelve-year history that it had travelled outside of the
United States. Some 25 cars came to the clubhouse, and Bill
arranged for all of them to travel on the 407 toll highway at no
charge. “Just to be able to host this, and have the Americans
come and see the facilities we have, have them brag about how
good it was and how much they enjoyed it – at the end of the
day, it made me proud,” he says.
His dream is to take a trip that follows the NSRA circuit.
“That’s probably fourteen shows from coast to coast,” he says.
“From California to Vermont, from as far north as Kalamazoo
to as far south as Tampa Florida, I just want to do that circuit
one time. Just to say I did it.”
Bill recently retired from his union and started up his own
company, 5th Line Supervisory Services and still does work for
Anchor Shoring & Caissons. His spare time lately has been hauling 8 soap box derby cars to races and coaching his four grandchildren down the track. It’s nice to spend time with the grandkids. Come December, Bill and his wife Val will head down to Florida for the winter, something they really look forward to.