Volume IX, Issue 12, Page 25

Like so many budding, young gearheads, Jason Wood and his high-school pals often bandied about the idea of how cool it would be to build a truly outrageous, hot-rod hearse. For most, those early concept car plans fall by the wayside, forgotten as life inevitably marches on and more mundane forms of transport take precedence. But Wood never forgot; he never let go of the idea and now, more than 15 years later—behold—Golgotha!

Words and photos by Ian Tocher - 12/8/2007

Literally, Golgotha is a biblical term translating to “Place of the Skull” and represents the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. In Wood’s world, Golgotha is a show-stopping ‘59 Cadillac Hearse motivated by a supercharged 526 c.i. Hemi and a desire to stand out from the crowd.

“I wanted to have something that was totally different from everybody else, that I didn’t have to worry about anyone copying,” the 34-year-old proprietor of Wizard Race Cars says. “So I bought an original ’59 Cadillac because I just think it was the most wild-looking of all the hearses. Oddly enough, we found the car with an old man right around the corner from the shop. It was very hard to find, though, I didn’t realize how rare of a vehicle they actually are. But he had two of them. I didn’t know that when I went there to pick it up, but he told me there was a parts car to go with it and that’s actually where I got a lot of the trim and moldings that are on it now.”

I wanted to have something that was totally different from everybody else.

Working at night and on weekends in his spare time, it took Wood nearly six years to complete the car. It made its public debut in February, at the World of Wheels car show in Birmingham, AL, well before it was ready to hit the track.

“Of course it was a totally different atmosphere there because those are show-car people and I guess it’s a different group of spectators, too, but we got a really good response there,” Wood says. “One thing that really made me happy was that we were in there with three- and four-hundred-thousand dollar show cars and here we had our race car and we stole the show. I mean spectators surrounded it to where you couldn’t even see it without tripping over people.”

In its competition debut this fall at the Real World Street Nationals in Orlando, Golgotha sort of tripped over itself in qualifying and actually had a brief meeting with the wall that caused mostly cosmetic damage. Regardless, Wood says the response he received there was even better than what happened in Alabama a few months earlier. “That was really special because I got the same reaction from the racers that I did from the spectators,” Wood recalls. “The racers enjoyed seeing the car just as much as the fans and that meant a lot to me.”

In becoming a racer himself, Wood followed in the footsteps of his father, Scott, a longtime NHRA Super Gas/Super Comp and bracket competitor. His shop in Holden, LA, is just a few miles from where he grew up in Baton Rouge and he became a pioneer in the Outlaw Street movement of the mid-‘90s, racing a blown, alcohol-burning, small-block ’66 Chevy II. In fact, the little Chevy originally served as his high school ride and no doubt hosted some of those early meetings where the idea of Golgotha initially took shape.

Trained as a graphic artist, Wood quickly tired of being tied to a drawing table, so after building the ’66 Deuce he naturally gravitated toward building race cars for a living. He says that artistic eye still comes in handy, though, both cosmetically and mechanically when he’s putting together the next customer’s car. He also continues to design the graphics for many of his creations’ paint jobs and actually designed and painted everything on Golgotha, except the graveyard mural that graces its flanks.