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Classic Spotlight: The Billy Gibbons’ 1933 Ford “Eliminator”

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In the 1980s, Billy Gibbons, guitarist and lead vocalist of the band ZZ Top, helped bring hot rods back into the mainstream with his breathtaking 1933 Ford “Eliminator” coupe. With ZZ Top’s immense popularity and presence on MTV, the Eliminator quickly became a pop culture icon. But this eye-catching car was more than just style and rock flair — it boasted a powerful engine and was a true hot rod. 

This entry of Classic Spotlight unpacks the history of this famous hot rod as well as its specifications and impact. 

Construction of the 1933 Ford “Eliminator” Coupe

Although Billy Gibbons would eventually own one of the most iconic hot rods, generating new interest around these custom creations, you can trace the popularity of the vehicles all the way back to the late 1930s. Young car enthusiasts were eager to modify their Model T Fords to improve their speed and performance, often stripping cars down to their bare essentials, adding more powerful engines, and removing any unnecessary weight. 

Throughout the 20th century, many notable hot rods appeared in movies, television, and magazines. One such famous hot rod was a 1934 Ford three-window coupe that starred in the 1974 TV Movie The California Kid. The film’s iconic hot rod featured unforgettable flames across its sleek body. 

This mesmerizing vehicle caught the attention of Billy Gibbons, an adamant gearhead. In addition to his Ford “Eliminator,” Gibbons would eventually also own a 1948 Cadillac “CadZZilla” Series 62, a 1962 Chevrolet “Slampala” Impala, a 1958 Ford “Mexican Blackbird” Thunderbird, and other impressive custom classics, many of which were developed by Boyd Coddington. 

After seeing The California Kid, Gibbons decided he wanted a breathtaking Ford coupe hot rod. He enlisted the help of Don Thelan of Buffalo Motor Cars and Pete Chapouris, who constructed the hot rod from The California Kid. Thelan built the chopped 1933 Ford coupe with a custom chassis from Pete (Chapouris) and Jake (Jacobs)’s Hot Rod Parts. Because Thelan used genuine steel from a 1933 Ford rather than a fiberglass replica, the Ford “Eliminator” is considered a true hot rod as opposed to a street rod. 

To craft the custom vehicle, Thelan cut three inches out of the Ford, creating a nine-inch rear. Gibbons then brought in Steve David to create a three-piece hood with scooped side panels as well as Thom Taylor to design its interior. Finally, Kenny Youngblood created the custom “ZZ” graphics, tying together this iconic dream car. 

1933 Ford “Eliminator” Coupe Powertrain Specifications

The Eliminator boasted a show-stopping style, but it was more than just flash — it also delivered an impressive engine performance and noteworthy additions. 

Some of the iconic car’s features include a dropped tube axle, 1939 Ford teardrop taillights, a filled rear splash pan with a recessed license plate, 1934 Ford headlights, and a four-bar suspension in its front.

Underneath the hot rod’s hood is a Chevy 350 cu in V8 with a Camaro Z-28 hydraulic cam and an intake manifold with a single four-barrel carburetor. Billy Gibbons’ team mated this impressive engine to a Turbo 350 transmission. 

Legacy of the 1933 Ford “Eliminator” Coupe

Billy Gibbons had his dream hot rod constructed in the early 1980s, and it quickly became a pop culture icon and served as the impetus for younger demographics to discover the joys of hot rods. 

You can see the Ford “Eliminator” on the cover of ZZ Top’s Eliminator album as well as their follow-up album, Afterburner. The car was all over television screens because ZZ Top featured it in their music videos for the songs “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “Legs.” These music videos were featured heavily on the new channel MTV, showcasing Gibbons’ stunning ride to a new generation of motor enthusiasts. The company Monogram even came out with a model kit of the car in 1985, bringing even more attention to this already-famous vehicle. 

The “Eliminator” quickly became associated with ZZ Top, and Billy Gibbons even created a replica of the vehicle that he brought on tour with the band. Soon, others produced clones of the car as well, and some of these duplicates have appeared in classic car markets through the years. 

Today, you can see Billy Gibbons’ original Ford “Eliminator” coupe on display inside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Get the Best Insurance for Your Ford Hot Rod

With its powerful engine, iconic design, and presence in pop culture, the 1933 Ford “Eliminator” was a true icon of hot rod culture and remains a beloved classic to this day. Although it’s probably impossible that you’ll get your hands on Gibbons’ original beauty, you can still invest in a breathtaking hot rod that you can enjoy driving and showcasing at car events. 

If you have the pleasure of owning one of these custom pieces of motor history, don’t forget to get hot rod insurance through Classic Auto. We offer flexible and affordable policies designed to protect your stunning hot rod as well as unique benefits, such as agreed-upon value insurance, inflation guard, nationwide roadside assistance with flatbed towing, and more.

Click here to get an instant quote or call our hot rod insurance specialists at 888-901-1338. 


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