Ron Courtney, an auto shop employee in McMinnville, Oregon, built the X-51 during the mid-50s. Preferring to call his work “restyling” rather than “customizing”, he sectioned the body five inches, shaved the door handles and exterior trim, and modified the front fenders to accept 1956 Oldsmobile headlights. The most prominent modification was the vehicle’s extremely large fins and custom taillights.
When you look at this car remember this was built in the mid-1950s prior to the outrageous tail fins on Detroit’s new cars. The rumors of that time were that new car designers often got their inspiration for new designs from the customizers of the day. This X-15 creation may will have been the inspiration for a number of new 1959 tailfin equipped new cars.
The X-15 was powered by a 265-cubic inch Chevrolet equipped with a McCulloch supercharger. It received several awards at the 1967 Portland Roadster Show and appeared on the cover of Hot Rod magazine, which dubbed it the “Ford of the future.”