Feature Article, Street Rods, Washington — May 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Pair of Kings (Issue 95)


By Steve Heeb

Keith “Pete” Peterson of Edgewood, Wash., joined the King’s Men Car Club just after he bought his ’55 Buick 16 years ago. The club itself has a history dating back more than a half century to 1959, and has been recognized by the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame.

The street rod club boasts 40 members from throughout the Northwest, including Tom Gilligan and Jim Olson, who are individual inductees to the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame.

When the King’s Men club rallies for a car show, Pete can usually be found with good friend Ken Bradford of Tacoma who drives his ’38 Plymouth coupe.

“I bought it in 1996 from my brother’s friend in Oregon,” Ken says.

Ken had been looking for sedan at the time and confesses he couldn’t picture exactly what a ’38 Plymouth looked like.

“I opened the garage door and said: that will work,” Ken smiles of seeing the car for the first time.

The Buick V-6 under the hood did not provide the power needed for the Plymouth.

“It didn’t have enough to keep with everyone when we were going up Blewitt Pass,” Ken says of an outing with the King’s Men. “I did a frame-off restoration and put in a 385-hp fast burn GM crate motor.”

A 700R4 transmission helped channel the muscle to the Art Morrison rear clip and a Ford 9-inch rear end.

That and a new set of wheels really heated things up, while the newly installed air conditioning helped keep things cool inside.

“I added a Coke trailer last year,” Ken says. “It was here at the Puyallup show years ago and at Pleasanton in 1996.”

The novelty trailer provides plenty of extra storage for Ken when he and Pete hit the road for a King’s Men event.

“I go to the same things ‘Petey’ goes to,” Ken laughs of traveling to events with Pete. “We went to Ocean Shores a while back. And we do the Puyallup Eagle’s show and the Sprinker show in Parkland.”

Pete recalls purchasing his ’55 Buick 16 years ago.

“A friend of mine had it but I talked him out of it,” Pete says. “I liked it, bought it, and started fiddling with it.”

Pete swapped out the original 265-cid  for a ’71 Buick 455 bolted to a TH400 transmission. He also installed a Lincoln Versailles rear end and disc brakes.

When he was done, the street rod sported air bag suspension, power brakes and power steering.

Pete says he pretty much stays within a 100-mile radius, but is always ready to venture farther.

 “We went to Redding three years ago,” Pete smiles recalling a trek to California. “We also go to Toledo for their Cheese Days and of course the Goodguys show.”

The annual hot rod gathering typically draws all of the King’s Men group to the Western Washington Fairgrounds for the Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals.

“It’s a cruiser,” he says of hitting the road in his Buick. “For the last 10 years we’ve gone to the Wenatchee Valley street rod show that benefits their hospital foundation.”

In fact, many of the King’s Men activities are philanthropic in nature.

“We have an invitation-only auction in January that can raise six to eight thousand dollars in a night,” Ken says. “We support the local food banks in Puyallup, Sumner, Orting, Roy and Gig Harbor.”

Ken and Pete estimate the club gives approximately $13,000 annually to various organizations.

Even more support comes from 15 sponsors who donate $500 each year.

On June 18 the group will host its annual King’s Men 500 Poker Run, a 21 year tradition in Orting, that includes a 50/50 and prize raffle at the Show-n-Shine.

You can bet that this year’s poker run will draw this pair of kings.

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