Ina Mae Overman’s 1952 Lincoln Capri was customized by the famous Valley Custom Shop in Burbank, California. The car was customized, and finished in four different versions. This is the first article in a series about the Lincoln Capri, showing the first and possibly best known version of the car.
We have already shared some of the many amazing color photos from the Ina Mae Overman Collection in our “1954 Peterson Motorama” article. One of the photos in this article showed Ina’s own 1952 Lincoln Capri Custom, restyled by the famous Valley Custom Shop in Burbank California. The combination of the original designs provided by Ina May, and the restyling skills of the Valley Custom Shop lead to this well balanced Custom classic. This article tells about the history and several versions of the car.
In the early 1950’s Ina Mae Overman worked as a draftsman/designer for the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering. She had lost her husband in the Korean War. One way to deal with her loss was buying a 1952 Lincoln Capri, and using her draftsman skills to redesigned the car on paper to her own likings.
She ended up creating a set of scale drawings of her personalized Lincoln. Next thing to do was finding a way to have these plans transferred onto here Lincoln. It happened that one of Ina Mae’s co workers was the father of Dick Flint, who had his Hot Rod cover 1929 Ford Roadster designed, and built by the Valley Custom Shop. She was so impressed with the craftsmanship on that car, that she decided to have a meeting with Neil Emory to talk about the possibilities for her Lincoln based on here own designs. The meeting went very well, and ended up in a long lasting friendship with the shop. Eventually the Valley Custom Shop would redo the Lincoln several times for Ina Mae, and they would also built a 1955 T-Bird mild Custom for her later on.
The Valley Custom Shop is best known for their finely designed, and grafted Custom Cars that are like a crossover between regular custom cars, and factory design studies. Ina Mae delivered her pale yellow, and black top Lincoln at the shop. The first thing to do was removing all the exterior emblems, and fill in the holes left. Next up was reshaping the rear quarter panels. The stock vertical chrome strip was removed, and the panel reshaped.
A new more stylish lazy “S” shaped trip was created, and later chrome plated to form the new base of this fake scoop. Ina Mae wanted to have a Continental kit on the back, but did not want to make it look like an after thought, like most kits do. To make this work, the crew at the shop extended the rear fenders with 12 inches. A new splash-pan was created to house the spare tire cover. The stock rear bumper was narrowed almost 3 inches to fit the new longer rear fenders.
This was needed because the body tapers at the back (when viewed from above) and with the 12 inch extension the width of the rear of the car was narrowed over the stock measurement, and the stock rear bumper was simply to wide after the modification. The section between the bumper guards with the Lincoln letters was removed, and a new piece hand shaped. In the lower portion of the new much longer rear fenders, 8 holes were cut, 4 on each side. This would become the new exhaust outlets. 1952 Ford back up light bezels were reshaped to fit the body around these holes. The exhaust system had to be modified to end in all 8 holes.
At the front the lower portion of the chrome bumper was stripped of its chrome, cut and set back a few inches to form a roll pan. The wider portion of the original chrome bumper remained and a 1953 Kaiser bumper over rider was mounted on top of bumper where the dip in the center is. This way a new shaped opening was created and the Kaiser unit acted as semi floating grille bar inside the main grille opening. With all the body work completed the car was painted Mandarin red (Buick color) with gold (Nash color) top. The interior was left as it came from the factory, except for the dash which was painted mandarin red the same as the body color.
The Lincoln fresh from the shop at Ina Mae’s home. The Lincoln is different from most other custom cars from the day which were lowered to the max. Ina Mae opted for drive-ability, and style. The extended rear fenders with the four exhaust ports, and the reshaped rear quarter scoop ad elegance to the car which is very evident in this side view.
When the car was assembled, Ina Mae came up with the idea to replace the original three piece rear window with a 1953 Lincoln one piece unit. A very simple but effective touch. The 1951 Lincoln hubcaps were modified, using aluminum cooking pan lids to which 1953 Lincoln medallions were added. Again a simple but very clever, and good looking idea. In its day, the Lincoln won many trophies, was written up in several magazines, and was shown at the Petersen Motorama in 1953 and in its second version in 1954.
Ina Mae drove the car a lot. This photo was taken on many of the trips she made. The Valley Custom Shop made the extended rear fenders and narrowed rear bumper look like it came like this from the factory.
Ina Mae enjoyed the first version of the finished car for a little over a year. And during that time she already made a list of things she would like to change. Improvements to make the car look even better. When the time was right, she once again took her Lincoln to the Valley Custom Shop where Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen took her notes, and sketches. And they updated the car once more. More about that in the part two of this article, stay tuned….
Resources and more info
- Mary Ellen Marcy website
- Hop Up Magazine, November 1953
- Custom Rodder magazine, May 1959
- Gasoline magazine, February 2013