John (Lil' John) Buttera (1941-2008)
A true Hot Rodding Legend, JOHN BUTTERA, passed away after a long battle with cancer on March 2, 2008.
John Buttera was Kenosha, Wisconsin's gift to the World of Rods & Customs. John honed his skills there, became a partner in R&B Chassis there , gained much noteriety within the industry from that locale, and moved to California in 1969.
His skills as a builder, fabricator, and welder of some of the finest chassis in the business became legendary. His list of accomplishments from Funny Cars to Dragsters to Pro Stocks earned him a list of clients that included Mickey Thompson, Don (The Snake) Prudohmme, Tommy (The Mongoose) McEwan, and Shirley Muldowney.
John was arguably the first to manufacture his own wheels from machined aluminum...Billet Wheels. His friend, Boyd Coddington (who ironically, passed away just 4 days before John) took that "billet" idea and parlayed it into an industry.
Anything John built was of the highest quality, not just his dragsters, Funny Cars, and, Pro Stock Racers, but also his fantastic Street Rods that were put together ...and even a run at the Indy 500 ! He tried the Indy Cars 3 times, '82/'84/'87, his '82 car actually ran the race and finished in the 28th position ! He said seeing that car run "...brought tears to his eyes."
More eloquent Tributes to John may be found at the Hot Rod, Street Rodder, Rod & Custom, Car Craft, and NHRA WebSites, however I wanted to make sure that John was rememberd here as he was one of the very early Inductee's into The National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame.
Darryl, Donna, and the other members of the Hall have lost a friend and co-contributer to the Sport/Hobby...and we all have lost one of the true Pioneers of the Industry.
John is survived by his son, Chris, his daughter, Leigh, and two grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. JK
(Above left: John on the cover of Hot Rod, 1979; Center: Prudohmme's '72 Hot Wheels Buttera-built 'Cuda; Above right: John's '33 Ford in Model Kit form)