DON HOLLAND 1941 FORD
Gil and Al Ayala created the Purple Pleasure Pursuit 1941 Ford for owner Don Holland around 1950. A stunning Custom we know very little about.
The first time I heard about this custom was when I found a copy of the first Custom Cars Annual published as Trend Book #101 in 1951. On page 88 of the booklet the car was featured with two large photo on a single page. The car was named “Purple Pleasure Pursuit”, but it is unknown if that was the name used by the owner Don Holland, or something the Motor Trend editor came up with. One this we know for sure is that the name must have been inspired by the Gil Ayala applied Purple paint.
According the Custom Cars Annual the top on Don’s 41 Ford was chopped no less than 5.5 inches. Not quite sure it it was that much, we all know how the early magazine writers loved to exaggerate, to make all the modifications sound more extreme. But the chop was more than the average 3 inches. Louis Chavez was credited for the nicely shaped padded top with straight shape at the B-post. Unusual for the Chavez top is how it wraps around all the way to the belt line on the rear quarters. Very much styled as if it was an 1940 Ford which has a deep cut out in the body there. Added effect for this style top is that the body looks slimmer, almost sectioned when viewed from the side.
The article also mentioned that the stock ’42 grille was modified slightly (cleaned up). Which makes me wonder if perhaps Don’s Ford started out as a ’42 Ford instead of an ’41 model. The article also mentioned that a set of 1948 Ford fenders is used, but it does not mention anything about the hood. The hood looks to come from an 1942 Ford, which is different from a ’41 Ford, but also different (lacking a center peak) from a 46-48 Ford hood. Another reason why this car might have started out as a ’42.
All fenders are molded to the body with a nice radius, something the Ayala’s were very familiar in doing. It gave the car that wonderful one pice molded look. The headlights at the front were frenched with the lights left in stock position, not tunnelled which would become a very popular technique popular about a year after the car was finished. At the rear the Ayala’s molded in hand shaped pods for the 42-48 Ford taillights. A style Gil Ayala used on his own personal 42-46 Ford Coupe, the Wally Welch ’41 Ford as well as what they created for the Jack Stewart ’41 Ford (which were later reshaped by George Barris). A set of long ’41 Ford/Mercury fender skirts was added to help with the flow of the car and make the rear look optically even lower and longer. The Custom Cars article mentioned that both front and rear fenders were mounted two inches higher on the body (personally I do not see that when I look at the photos).
Both front and rear have a splash pan molded to the fenders, the splash pan comes from the 42-48 Fords and makes the gap from the bumper to the body looks so much better than the hole that was stock on the ’41 Fords. A set of ’49 Plymouth ribbed bumpers was added. The belt line trim as well as the door handles were shaved, and the hood and trunk smoothed as well. The trunk corners were not rounded, indicating that the car was built and finished around 1949-50. The trim pieces on the fender and running boards was retained, this helped make the custom look even lower.
The car had a six inch clearance all around which was created using a 3 3/4 inch dropped axle and a 5 inch kicked up frame in the rear. A set of wide white wall tires was mounted all around and the front wheels were modified to accept a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. The Ayala’s added a set of Appleton Spotlights and a trendy at the time square rear view mirror was mounted on the drivers door. The electrical door openers were activated by hidden push buttons under the Appleton Spotlights. It is said that Gil Ayala painted the car with deep purple lacquer, hence the name “Purple Pleasure Pursuit” One of Gil Ayala’s favorite colors was deep purple, so it muct have been a real pleasure to paint Don Holland’s beautiful Ford that color. Louis Chaves was also responsible for the custom interior, but sadly we have not been able to locate any photos showing the interior of the car.
Don Holland’s Ford was again featured in the ’56 Custom Cars Annual. They used the ame two photos they had used in the 1951 edition of the booklet. The text was a bit different, with even less practical information about the car this time.
The Ayala’s created another ’41 Ford convertible around the same time as they did Don’s Ford. This was the Wally Welch 1941 Ford, the Ayala’s had been doing work on Wally’s care previously, but around 1949 Wally took the car to the shop for its “final”version. The stock ’41 Ford grille was replaced with an modified ’42 Ford grille, very similar to that used on Don’s Ford. All fenders were molded to the body and a similar set of taillights was created on both cars. The ’41 Ford front fenders are narrower than the 42-48 Ford unites, and that really shows on Wally’s Ford if you compare it to Don’s. Don’s car looks a lot lower and wider because of those fenders, which is helped a bit more with the use of the wider ’49 Plymouth bumpers. There are however a lot of details on both cars that are very different, but it would be interesting to know if both cars were done at the same time at the Ayala Shop.
This is the Wally Welch 1941 Ford, also restyled by the Ayala’s in a very similar was as the Ford for Don Holland. Wally’s windshield was chopped less, than Don’s, Wally also kept the ’41 Ford front fenders, while those on Don’s were replaced with later units. All modifications on Wally’s Ford attribute to a slimmer, taller looking car than Don’s which looked lower and wider. Both cars were photographed for the Custom Cars Trend Books No 101 book at the same location, most likely the same day.
The Don Holland and Wally Welch Ford side by side to compare. The biggest difference is that Don’s Ford looks low and wide, while Wally’s Ford looks tall, and slimmer, and perhaps slightly more elegant. Notice how the bottom section of the padded top on Don’s Ford goes all the way to the belt-line, while the one on Wally’s car is much shorter and ends perhaps an inch from the top of the body.
Ayala Shop Photos
Until around 2008 all I had been able to find on Don Holland’s Ford were the two pictures used in the Custom Cars Annuals. But then Pat Ganalh did an two part series on the Ayala’s in the Rodder’s Journal magazine (issue #39-40). In his first article Pat showed a wonderful color slide he had borrowed from the Ayala family that showed 6 Ayala cars parked in front of the Ayala shop photographed from the shop roof. A colorized version of a different photo from that photo shoot was used on the cover of the October 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. The photo used on the cover of this magazine is not really clear about it, but the one Pat used in his RJ article shows that the car Gil Ayala is leaning against on the top left corner of the photo, is Don Holland’s Ford.
On the cover of the ’51 Motor Trend magazine the car Gil Ayala is leaning against is colorized green, and some elements, like no belt line trim, molded fender and fender trim are the same as Don’s Car, at this point I had not been able to identify the car as Don’s Ford.
Similar color slide taken from the same roof top location, but at a slightly different time that the MT cover photo shows that the car has ’49 Plymouth bumpers and molded headlights. So most likely this is Don’s ford being used for this magazine cover photo shoot. Sadly the colors are pretty dark in the scan, and we cannot really see much op the purple color on the car.
Hopefully the photographer (Felix Zelenka) took many more photos of the Ayala Customs gathering this day, and hopefully several more color photos. And hopefully those photos will one day come in the hands of the right person who will share them with the world so that we Custom Car Enthusiast can enjoy them and some more mysteries around the Don Holland Ford can be solved. Can you imagine a series of full color photos of these cars from ground level!!!
Dons Ford at the Montebello Show
In 2010 The Rodder’s Journal once again shares some really interesting material when they did an article on an mysterious Tent Show held in Montebello California in 1951. One of the photos shows Don’s Ford parked outside of the tent, and two other photos taken inside show the car displayed inside the tent alongside Gil Ayala’s personal ’42-46 Ford.
The car looks really fantastic in this low angle photo. Notice that the car now has a front bumper mounted license plate which was missing on the Motor Trend photo-shoot. The reflection in the door looks to be a fender skirt less chopped 40’s coupe… Will we ever find out which car that was?
After studying the tent interior photos for a long time I think that Don’s Ford is parked next to Gil’s ’42-46 Ford that we can see in this picture from behind. Don’s car is in the lower left section of the photo showing only the front of the hood and top of the front fender. There is not much to see, but since we have so little of Don’s Ford I wanted to include this in this article anyway.
Not too long after this 1951 Montebello show Don Holland sold his Ayala restyled Ford and never saw the car again. We would really like to know what happened to this Ayala Custom, was it further customized over the years, was it used and ended it up being sold again and again until somebody forgot about it, like we have seen so many times. Or is it still hiding away in somebodies garage. If somebody out there knows anything more about this car, or perhaps has any more photos to share, please contact Rik Hoving here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to ad any new information about this historic Ayala Custom Car article for everybody to enjoy.
John A Williamson send us a message that he remembered Don from the 1970’s.
“I worked with Don Holland at Lockheed Burbank, he was transferred to to ASO in Philiadelphia as their Lockheed rep. He moved there and stayed there for the rest of his career. He showed me pictures of his car which was long gone by this time in 1975. He was proud to be a California car guy. I’m pretty sure it was the same Don Holland.”
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