- Written by webmin
On the topic of early speed shops, we’ve already taken a look at the pre-war storefronts of Orr, Chapel, and Bell, but in a recent post on the Hemmings Forum, Barton Williamson pointed out another who should be considered in their ranks, Charles T. “Ted” Maedel, Jr., who in 1941 opened his first speed shop outside of Toledo, Ohio. Barton wrote of the World War II veteran who died in July 2009:
Born in 1925, Charles T. “Ted” Maedel grew up on a small farm near Toledo, Ohio. Living in the heart of America’s automotive industry, young Ted developed a love for cars, especially racecars. At the age of 16, with his father’s help, he converted a small building on the family property into a fabrication and speed shop. It was right on the highway leading into Toledo, and by 1943 Ted had built a racecar and was becoming known in the area for ‘hard-to-get’ performance parts, hands-on fabrication skills, and racing ability. His shop was ready to open for business but Ted was finally eligible to enlist, so he did. The war (WWII) was on and America needed its soldiers.
He was shipped out to Thorpe Abbotts, England as a Waist Gunner on a B-17 Bomber, a member of the 100th bomb group “The Bloody Hundredth”, 351st squadron. Then to Sterparone, Italy with the 483rd bomb group, 816th squadron, just 200 miles south of where Enzo Ferrari was building his first racecars. Companies like Packard, Lycoming, and Wright were building engines for warplanes based on the same supercharger technology being used in auto racing, and Ted’s knowledge proved useful. He could tell the pilot and navigator about their altitude, cloud density, and other information just from the sound of the engines, and helped the mechanics get the most out of them so they’d have ‘just a little bit more’ when the going got tough. Their squadron was known for having had many missions where planes made it back full of thousands of bullet holes, and still flying. After over 40 missions Ted returned home at the end of the war with several medals and citations, and having been wounded in action more than once, the Purple Heart.
Once home, he removed a few cobwebs from his shop and opened for business in May 1945. By the end of 1946 Ted’s shop had cataloged about every performance part available in the US and he stocked only the best of them. Some friends who happened to be management at DeVilbiss convinced him to relocate his shop to the storefront they owned, across the street from their plant entrance in the heart of Toledo. Maedel’s Sales and Service opened at its new location on Jan 1st 1947 and was officially licensed by the city that same year. The original Speed Shop sign at the end of the driveway of his first shop was mounted on the roof of his Toledo shop, shown in the picture below.
Recognition for his skills as a master craftsman soon followed and his reputation grew. In 1951 Auto Trend Magazine featured Ted and his 1940 chopped and channeled Ford convertible in their very first Trend Book (#101), and his 40 Ford was used as the model for the cover illustration.
Ted also loved to restore the old ones and was known for authentic restoration, something speed shops didn’t usually offer. In 1977, with over 3 decades of success in Toledo and influenced by a ski trip to Utah in 1969, he moved the business to a beautiful mountain setting near Park City, Utah where he could ski in his own back yard … almost.
He continued to grow his business, offering speed equipment, mods, restoration, and selected high-end
Barton included more in his post, including his reminiscences of working for Ted and some of Ted’s innovations that are standard practice in the rodding and restoration world today.
As for the shop in Toledo, Barton gave us an address of 3520 Lagrange Street. Combined with another vintage photo of the store at the Toledo library’s website, we see that the building still stands, though with a much altered storefront.