Happy Birthday To “The Camfather” Ed Iskenderian!

Happy Birthday To “The Camfather” Ed Iskenderian!

There are many iconic names at the roots of hot rodding and Ed Iskenderian is definitely in that group. Born on July 10, 1921, Ed helped create the automotive hobby that we all enjoy today. Author, Matt Stone documented Ed’s contributions to the hobby in his book, “Ed Iskenderian And The History of Hot Rodding”, available at Isky Racing Cams’ website.

His innovations and machining processes have improved many an engine’s performance and his business savvy has helped promote both the sport and his company, Isky Racing Cams. With all that Ed Iskenderian has done, we feel that his latest accomplishment is by far his greatest. Ed has just celebrated his 102nd circle around the sun!

Ed Iskenderian’s Early Years

Born in Tulare County, California, Ed’s dad initially had the idea to be a winemaker. When his vineyards faltered, the family moved to Los Angeles, California for a better life. Little did Sr. Iskenderian know how his move would affect the lives of thousands later on.

Ed Iskenderian and his Model T

Ed began working on this Model T in high school. He learned many machining and manufacturing skills while working on the car. He got into the cam-grinding business because he needed a special cam to work with the aftermarket heads on the engine.

Being at the very culmination of hot rodding, Ed began toying with his own hot rod in high school, a Model T roadster. This was Ed’s first foray into hot rodding and his upgrades were both ingenious and legendary. Unlike many enthusiasts, Ed amazingly still has his first hot rod to this day! We wish we had that kind of forethought!

 Building Isky Racing Cams

As with many enthusiasts during this time, his automotive hobby was placed on the back burner as the country entered World War II. Ed served the war effort in several capacities and in doing such, learned a lot about machining and tool and die making. He put that education to good use as he got back to upgrading his hot rod with special heads and a camshaft to suit. There were few cam manufacturers at the time so Ed committed to making his own camshaft. He bought a used conventional cylindrical grinder, and drawing on his tool-making experience, he converted it to a cam-grinding machine.

Some of Ed’s first orders came from NASCAR, and before long, word spread about the performance of his innovative cam designs. Cams that Ed designed were the first to produce 1 horsepower per cubic inch in postwar HEMIs and 1.3 horsepower in overhead valve Chevrolet V8s. Ed also entered into what is regarded as the first corporate sponsorship in racing when he joined forces with Don Garlits. It was around this time when Ed was given the nickname, “The Camfather”.

Ed Iskenderian Hot Rodder And Promoter Of The Hobby

Other innovations that helped promote hot rodding to the masses included the first coordinated cam and assembly kits that took the guesswork out of cam selection and ordering. Ed also offered the first “Ultra Rev Kits” for the small-block Chevy V8 roller cams and the first kit to eliminate cam-walk in Chevy’s V8 engine.

Ed collaborated with other automotive industry pioneers to create the “Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association”, which received a name change to “Specialty Equipment Market Association” (SEMA) somewhere along the way. Ed Iskenderian served as the association’s first president in 1963 and 1964. In 1985, Ed was inducted into Chevrolet’s “Legends of Performance”, an honorary group of men who have helped shape the automobile industry and elevated high-performance motorsports into what we enjoy today.

Most recently, Ed celebrated his 102nd birthday. A no-less notable accomplishment than any of his others. To celebrate, the Lions Automobilia Foundation will be hosting a celebration of Ed’s milestone this weekend at Isky’s 102nd Birthday Celebration Car Show on July 15, 2023.

While entries for the car show are sold out, guest tickets can still be purchased. All event proceeds will be donated to the Lions Automobilia Foundation Youth Engagement Program. If you’re available stop by and help celebrate one of the great ones in our automotive hobby. The Lions Automobilia Foundations is located at 2790 E. Del Amo Blvd., Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221. For more information, check out the foundation’s website or contact Crafty Kate at (760) 413-1559.

Article Sources

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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