Jay, Betsy Davenport are Alhambra’s car guys

Jay Davenport was fascinated by cars at a young age.

 Jay Davenport, who was recently featured in the magazine Highway Earth, was fascinated by cars at a young age. Used cars were inexpensive in those days. Over the years he has had many cars, including a 1930 Model A Ford; a 1947 Plymouth, which he used for drag racing; and his favorite car, and the one that got away, was a 1937 Cord.

Jay was born in Connecticut and raised in Tucson, Arizona. When he moved to Alhambra, he met and married a local girl Betsy, Alhambra High School class of 1965. In August of 2002, he found a 1961 Cadillac Sedan De Ville, six window version. The car had been in storage for 30 years. Although it had been protected from the elements, all of its seals, gaskets, and rubber parts were cracked and leaking, the interior needed work, and the entire drive train needed attention. Jay began a 10-year project of lovingly restoring the car to be show room ready with 95% factory content.

In researching the car, the couple learned it had originally been sold by Bewley Allen Cadillac on Main Street in Alhambra. That dealership served Alhambra for 74 years but closed in 2012. It was the second owner who had put the car in storage for unknown reasons. When the Davenports bought it, there were only 40,000 miles on the speedometer.

Once it was fixed up, the couple drove it all over the western United States. The car has been a part of the Highway Earth car show in Franklin Canyon/Beverly Hills every year and has been featured in the car show magazine.

Back at home, Jay and Betsy began the tradition of a monthly classic car exhibit at the Diner on Main at 201 W. Main St. But when more classic cars (60 – 65) showed up than there was room for in the parking lot, they moved the car show to Clearman’s Galley, called the Boat by locals, in Rosemead.

But one motor vehicle was not enough for Jay. He also custom built his own one-of-a-kind trike, a three wheeled vehicle. In 1976, not knowing what else to do, the DMV classified this unique vehicle as a motorcycle. Jay built the trike around its Ford 351 Cleveland engine, Ford C6 transmission, and a GMC diesel radiator. Jay used parts from all of the big three American car companies and specialty items from several more sources. The exhaust pipes are the same that are used on big rig trucks. The Pantera-made speedometer displays a whimsically optimistic top speed of 300 mph.

On long trips on the trike, Jay and Betsy tow an 18-foot travel trailer behind them because as Jay said, “Wifey doesn’t like to sleep on the ground.” They have logged more than 180,000 miles in this eye popping amalgamation of automotive inventiveness. Their destinations have included the world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota (three years) and Branson, Missouri.

The Davenports of Alhambra are always looking forward to their next road trip.


Jay Davenportcarsdrag racingBetsyHighway Earth

Apr 2019


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