From the Mag: Alex Xydias Turns 100

At 100 years old you’re bound to have more than a few chapters in your book of life and Alex Xydias (rhymes with hideous), founder of So-Cal Speed Shop, is no exception.

His father was an early Hollywood silent movie producer, but due to illness he missed the shift to talkies and the family fell on hard times. At an early age, Alex (Born March 22, 1922) learned how cruel life could be—one minute you’re in a limo, the next your mom is taking in lodgers.

Meanwhile, Alex got into Hot Rods, but driving on an expired license earned him time in the pokey and before he knew it, he was in the Army Air Corps. His hot rod on blocks, he was sent to Luke Field in Phoenix, where he worked on AT-6s.

Next, it was off to Buffalo for P-40 training and then, finally, B-17 school in Las Vegas, where he became a flight engineer and gunner.

Following WWII, Alex was 23 and had married his childhood sweetheart, Betty. Like many young men at the time, he wondered what he should do to make a living.

His mother loaned him $100. Adding it to a few bucks of his own, he ventured over the Hollywood Hills and opened the So-Cal Speed Shop at 1806 N. Olvie Ave. in Burbank, California.

It was a tiny shop, and Alex soon moved to a Sear’s prefab building at the appropriately named 1104 Victory Blvd.

Although completely untrained, Alex had an instinct for marketing, understanding immediately that a win on Sunday meant a sale on Monday. With the help of many friends, his now-famous red and white race cars littered the dry lakes and drag strips of southern California. At Bonneville the group raced The World’s Fastest Hot Rod and took the HOT ROD trophy.

Unfortunately for Alex and many others, the flathead Ford V-8s he specialized in were being eclipsed by new-fangled over-head valve engines. Things would never be the same at the track, so Alex picked up a 16mm movie camera and followed a new route.

Click here to read the full article from Tony Thacker in the March issue of THE SHOP magazine.

Tony Thacker

Born in England, Tony Thacker is an accredited automotive journalist, author and book publisher, and served as marketing director at the famed SO-CAL Speed Shop. Read his column regularly in THE SHOP magazine.

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