Pete Condos & Frank Ferro ( Con-Ferr )

JohnnyC

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Pete Condos was an inovator in accessories for Land Cruisers.

If you have any literature or information about Pete Condos, Frank Ferro or Con-Ferr please post them up. There is alot of good information about Mr.Condos but not so much for Mr.Ferro.

I have been collecting some literature files and will post some up soon :)


Pete Condos is the man who coined the term Off-Road.

He was one of the major organizers behind National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA), International Desert Racing Association, the Off-Road Drivers and Owners Association and the Off-Road Equipment Association (OREA).
Born on May 8th, 1925, Condos grew up in the suburbs to the north of Chicago.

He spent many hours of his young years at a local speed shop learning the skills needed to customize cars making them into hot rods. At the garage he helped to hop up Model A’s and B’s. During this time he took additional classes and earned his certification as a welder which would further allow him to modify cars. His time spent at the garage came to a quick end with the beginning of World War II.

In 1942 he joined the United States Navy. He served in the Pacific on the U.S.S. Nevada as a seaman. After the war Condos returned to the Chicago area. He completed his high school education and resumed his interest in hot rods. On the GI bill he started attending classes for a degree in Commercial Arts; however his interests kept drawing him back to the vehicles. He began building and racing roadsters and coupes. His first Roadster being a 1934 Ford that he completed in 1948. He became a charter member of Andy Granitellis Hurricane Hot Rod Racing Association.” In 1948 Pete moved to Southern California.

He fell easily into the California car culture and joined “The Throttler Hot Rod Club” a dry lakes racing group. While Condos raced he has stated that he always found fabricating the race cars the more enjoyable of the two related activities. His building skills led him to an early career as a fabricator. In 1950 Earl “Madman” Muntz hired him to assist with the fabrication of the Muntz Road Jet car. Condos worked for Muntz building the high-end custom cars which were purchased by some of Hollywood’s elite.

(More about Muntz Muntz Car Company - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

With the Muntz company Condos made the move back to the suburbs of Chicago. There he met Carol Jean Wood and they married in 1952. The couple has one child, Victoria. With Muntz closing the doors on the car building business in 1954 the Condos family returned to Southern California.

Once back in California, Condos continued fabricating cars and working in a metal fabricating shop. In 1961 Condos purchased his first I.H. Scout a move which would eventually change the path of his career. He purchased the Scout so that his hunting trips to Nevada, Montana and Idaho would be easier. On the trips he realized the need for different accessories for the Scout. With his welding skills he began making accessories for the Scout. He worked with Frank Ferro and the two would discuss accessories that would be useful for both Jeeps and Scouts. The two men started their own company, Con-Ferr in 1961.

Con-Ferr made specialty off-road items for Scouts and with the 1962 arrival of the Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover; they began making accessories for those vehicles as well. The business grew quickly and by 1963 Con-Ferr had dived into the business of selling Land Cruisers in addition to accessories. Around this time Ferro bowed out of the business. With Con-Ferr already being an established and incorporated name, Condos kept the business name the same. Con-Ferr became one of the largest Toyota dealers in California. Condos operated the Burbank dealership with an accessory store for four wheel drive vehicles as well as a factory down the street where the accessories where made and custom fabrications took place. Both national and foreign manufactures of four wheel drive vehicles adopted many of the Condos’ original ideas as standard features.

Condos continued his interest in racing cars and making the necessary modifications to speed them up. In 1964 he joined a group of racers at the Riverside race organized by Southern Californian, Jeep dealer, Brian Chuchua (ORMHOF 1976 Inductee). Condos raced his “Convert Cougar” along the semi- dry riverbed. His driver, Bill Haddad took Condos’ vehicles to 18 victories in the 21 races he participated in.

In the early 1960’s Ed Pearlman came into Condos’ dealership and introduced himself. The two men formed a friendship based around their love of four-wheeling. Pearlman owned a Land Cruiser that needed some attention. They would take weekend runs in rural California. There was enough interest in the runs by other four wheelers that Pearlman and Condos formed a club called the “Stump Jumpers.”

In 1966, Pearlman, intrigued by the timed runs of motorcyclists through Baja talked a group of friends into a small race of their own in their four wheel vehicles. Condos sponsored one and prepared both of the Land Cruisers in the race. Claude Dozier and Ed Orr. Pearlman and Dick Cepek drove theToyota Land Cruisers with Chevy engines. Bruce Myers donated a Myers Maxx buggy for the press vehicle, driven by Drino Miller and John Lawlor a journalist. Pearlman and Condos came to the conclusion that there needed to be a more organized way of putting on four wheel races and standardized timing of the events.

Once back in Southern California Condos, Pearlman and friends got together and discussed the idea. For the first time “Off-Road” was used to describe what had
been previously been termed “four wheeling.” Condos felt that the term off-road captured the sport and found the term more all encompassing than four wheeling. The term would allow for the inclusion of dirt bikes and buggies. At the meeting Condos came up with the name, National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) and truly coined the term “Off-Road”. “Off-Road” is now apart of the American vocabulary.

Only Condos came up with the initial $500 to match Pearlman’s to start the organization and therefore became a fifty percent owner of NORRA. As a fifty-fifty owner Condos actively participated in the planning of the early Baja 1000.

In the beginning Condos and Pearlman worked together running NORRA. In 1969 they amicably went their separate ways and Condos sold his share of NORRA. Condos took on the organization of the Mint 500, sponsored by the Mint Casino in Las Vegas. The race remained popular for two decades with one of the biggest cash purses of any race.

While Condos actively ran his business Con-Ferr and worked as a race promoter, he still continued to fabricate race vehicles. He helped build cars for famous drivers such as Steve McQueen and James Gardner as well as his own Class One unlimited vehicles. He ran the “Brick Privy” named so for its solid construction in less genteel terms by McQueen.

Condos actively participated in the off-road racing scene until 1973. SEMA named him the “Off Road Man of the Year” for the 1979-1980, a career highlight for Condos. In 1998 Condos sold Con-Ferr and retired. He still maintains a small fabricating shop in which he continues to design and fabricate accessories and cars on a hobby basis..

Condos is partially responsible for the formation of the Off-Road Hall of Fame’s existence, in that he passed on the idea on to its creator Ed Pearlman. Condos stated that one of his favorite things is that he had the fortune to see the formation of off-roading from its inception to the sport which it has grown to today.

Sources:

Telephone Interview with Pete Condos, May 2006.

Notes from Pete Condos, July 2006

Fiolka, Marty. 2005. 1000 Miles to Glory, The History of the Baja 1000. Pheonix, AZ.: David Bull Publishing.

Reference: Welcome to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame - ORMHOF
Pete Condos.jpg
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JohnnyC

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If anybody has original con-ferr literature with fj25's or fj40's please post them up.

1) here is a shot of an early porthole conferr rack

2) an ad from 1966

3) and an ad from 1973
_DSC0003 con-ferr.jpg
1966 v8.jpg
1973 ad.jpg
 

JohnnyC

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con-ferr shackle sheet as well as the conferr site in early 2000's and the site closing page :frown: still makes me alil sad that there is no more con-ferr ...they made some great products
conferr web.jpg
conferr web closing.jpg
 

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JohnnyC

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here are some pics from their newer catalog...does anybody have the "Red" catalog and are willing to scan in and post?

I had one...but..lost in a house fire :rolleyes:

pgs 1, 2-3, 4-5
pg1.jpg
pg 2-3.jpg
pg 4-5.jpg
 
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Johnny, I've got a really old Con-Ferr catalog out in the garage that I'll scan for you. It's got all of the old FJ40 stuff in it. The original Con-Ferr location on 123 South Front Street was in my home town of Burbank, CA. I used to walk inside just to check out the latest stuff and talk for a while with the guys inside. Very nice guys. They used to send me out with a handful of stickers everytime. I was sorry to see Pete sell the original shop but heard he did really well on the sale. Sorry 'cause I knew another piece of Land Cruiser history was gone.
 
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Look what I found! I'll definitely scan and add content to this thread soon. There's even a history/biography of Pete Condos in it...
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And (though not Con-ferr) this was a cool find:
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Lastly, I found this today (see my linked thread above to see what else I discovered):
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I found this brand new spare tire cover still in a sealed plastic bag with tissue paper over the logo....I still need to peel the rest off. It is still soft, just like the day it was born!
 
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I found two old purchase orders from 1975 signed by Terry A. Condos. Anyone know who that is/was? Maybe that was Pete's son, shown with him in one of the pics above.....

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Copy of the warranty policy:

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Directions for proper bulldog clamp installation:

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This past weekend, I met with two brothers who came up to purchase a J**p soft top and doors I found in our facility (which, by the way, is still owned by the Condos family). Turns out, their dad was the founder of 4-Wheeler Magazine (Robert Aames). Robert and Pete were good friends and their families vacationed and wheeled together all the time. They were cool guys and we're planning to get together again sometime to keep talking about the history of the off-road community at that time (early 60's to 80's or so).

One of the sons, David, sent me these two pics of Pete Condos racing his FJ40....check out the sand rollbar! Thought I'd share.....

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I'm hoping this will be the first of many. I gave them a couple of the Con-ferr spare tire covers I have and they'll be sending me some Con-ferr stickers and stuff. They said they have tons of old pics and literature with Pete in them!
 
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