Philadelphia Modifiers Club History

The Philadelphia Modifiers, established in the spring of 1955, by a group of local rodders. Some were members of Hell’s Angels Car Club, a hard core group who’s only acceptable paint job was (PRIMER). There is a story told of a rodder with a 36 Ford that had a beautiful peach paint job who repainted it in “hotrod primer” (dark gray) to join. They met at Rose Auto Parts store at Rising Sun and Wyoming St. in Germantown from 1949 to 1954. The club was run informally in the beginning with the President often acting as secretary and treasurer. Club rules were you must be 18 yrs. old to join, your car must be at least 20 yrs old (which established our early iron format). The NSRA establishing the pre. 49 format which was then adopted by the club. The club elected officers a President, Vice- President, Secretary/Treasurer at first. Secretary and a treasurer along with a Public Relations officer which became the MASRA Representative in 1983.

The first president was Charlie Wise who with four or five others organized the club, (it is said he voted himself in). As an old member, Charlie, was the heart and soul of the Modifiers till his death at age 32 in 1964. A logo of a(red) flat head 27 Ford Roadster modeled after Charlie Wise ‘s car, with Philadelphia on top and Modifiers underneath shown in script letters. Club plaques were made up and presented to members if they had running cars (still presented today).

Rodder also raced their cars at local drag strips. Drag strip like the 1/8 mile in Hatfeild and Langhorne or at Convair Field in Allentown Pa. Later at the 1/4 mile of Vargo in eastern PA or Atco and Vineland NJ.. Most of the car were dual purpose. a few were race only.

Shortly after organizing we moved into a garage built in the 1920’s, in the Frankford section at 4249 1/2 Orchard Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124. It was only accessible through a narrow alley way thus the 1/2 in it’s address. The club paid ninety five dollars a month rent in 1975. This is where members constructed many Hot Rods (as they were known back then) as well as race cars. Cars like MY SIN, a 32 Ford powered by a 313 cu. in. blown flathead owned by (T.G.) Tony Tierno. A 34 Ford Coupe with a rear engine Olds or the competition coupe owned by Ray and George Bowers. It was powered by a 346 cu. in Olds fitted with a 671 blower which was crank driven. They established the class record in 1961 at Petersburg Va. drags turning a 10:56 at 155.6 mph. The record still stands because the class was later dropped. The “Bowers Boys” are still active members of the Modifiers.

In 1977 the garage burned down, several street rods and most of the clubs tools and equipment were destroyed in the fire.

In 1970 Joe Brunett and Marty Ritter with three other members asked permission to form the BUCKS COUNTY CHAPTER in Ft Washington, PA. Marty Ritter filed to incorporate on May 18, 1973 as the Philadelphia Modifiers Bucks County. In 1975 the incorporation was sold to the original club in Phila. The Bucks County Chapter later formed the Mod’tiques of Eastern Pa. (ties between the two clubs are still strong today).

In 1972 the club was one of the founders of the MID ATLANTIC STREET ROD ASSOCIATION. (MASRA). The association is made up of clubs from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. MASRA is our link to the NATIONAL STREET ROD ASSOCIATION (NSRA).

In 1986 Dave Rudan (Philadelphia Modifier Member) contacted Joe Sway and Bob Van Sciver proposed and old time drag event at Atco drag strip in Atco NJ. In 1987 we had our first event, a Yesteryear Drag, Rod Run and swap meet. In 1989 we went to a spring and fall format that we still use today.

In 1994 the club voted to change from street rod (pre-48) only club and allow cars (and trucks) up to 1959 in the club. It must be a running car (or truck) of show quality with some modification like engine, wheels, paint etc..

In 1997 the club incorporated as the Philadelphia Modifiers Street Rod Club.

The club believes in strong community involvement such as fund raising for MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION and many other good causes. We sponsor a Soap Box Derby car. We became an associate member of SEMA Specialty Equipment Market Association to help support them in the fight against government regulation like the “Clunker laws”. It also keeps us informed on laws and other changes.

Over the years many articles have been written about the club. Like the article in

Rodding & Restyling in 1962, Rod & Custom in 1973, The Philadelphia Bulletin on Feb.25 1997, Street Scene June ’85, American Rodder August ’92, Street Rodder Sept’94 – Russ Sift’s car and the club plaque in Streetscene August ’98….

March ’95. TV show Prime Time did a segment on the 30yr reunion.

December 1999 The Philadelphia Modifiers were on the world wide web.

*On Saturday June 17, 2000 Russell Sift past president and beloved friend died suddenly of a heart attack. Russ thought of the Modifiers as his family not just a car club. He was one of a kind and will sorely be missed. (Photo of Russ from earlier times)

December 2002 brought two noteworthy events, a photo of Butch Pletcher’s Rod was in Street Rod Builder Magazine, and Highway 61 made a diecast model of Jimmy Iver’s Studebaker.

2003 – One of our Life Long Members Tom Taylor passed away…He will be sorely missed.
……….. Butch Pletcher’s 1932 Ford Roadster had a big write up in Rodder’s Journal.
……….Ray & George Bowers received the Clubs Life Time Emeritus Award

2005-Club Celebrates thier 50th Year of Consecutive Years of Hot Rodding

Club Executives -2015

President- Dave McConnell

Vice President- Rich Kirk

Secretary- Barry Blyler

Treasurer- Joe Klein

MASRA Representative- Frank LaPolla

We are asking x members or anyone with historical info on the Modifiers to please contact us…Thank you