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Historical Customs at 2015 GNRS


The 2015 GNRS was filled with fine customs, amongst those were no less than three recently restored historical Custom Cars, lets take a closer look at those.

Historical Customs at 2015 GNRS. For some time we knew about at least two of these historical Custom Car being restored and planned to debut at the 2015 GNRS. The teams and owners shared some material of the restoration. But if the cars actually get finished in time is always the question. Fortunately both cars, the Ron Dunn 1950 Ford as well as the Bob Pierson 1936 Ford were finished in time. We also knew bout the third one, the Valley Customs Ray Vega 1938 Ford wanting to attend at the GNRS. However the car was put on the waiting list and about two weeks before the show the light for the car being displayed at the show went on green.
The Bob Pierson and the Ron Dunn Customs have been faithfully restored to one of their well known versions. And both cars are restored with a lot of respect to the original builders, and have been rebuild in a way they are probably nicer and cleaner than they have ever been before, but still with respect for how they looked back in the 1950’s. The Ray Vega Ford has been updated with some of the owners preferences. But done in a ways that in time the car can always be brought back to how it looked in its heydays. Lets take a closer look at these restored Historical Custom Cars on display at the 2015 GNRS.

The Rob Pierson 1936 Ford

Current caretaker Jim Bobowski bought the Bob Pierson 1936 Ford coupe as a street rod in late 2010. In late 2010 a big historic Custom Car event was planned to be part at the 2011 GNRS. The Customs Then & Now. Jim knew about this event, and knew it would become an amazing event and wanted to be part of this with the Bob Pierson Coupe. Jim took the Coupe to Jimmy White’s Circle City Hot Rods in Orange who had less than two month to turn the street rod back into a more suiting custom look for the show. The car was entered at the show still in bright red, but now wearing wide whites, proper wheels and hubcaps, DeSoto bumpers, Spotlights and a few other items that changed the cars appearance completely.

After the show the car was taken to Bill Ganahl’s South City Rod & Custom shop in Hayward, California for a complete restoration. The car was disassembled and stripped from its bright red paint. When most of the car was restored, it was put back together and prepared for one of the famous Rodder’s Journal Bare Metal Studio Photo-Shoots, for the Rodder’s Journal issue #63. After the photo-shoot the car was taken apart once again for more fine tuning and of course final paint and detail. Compani Color did all the paint work and Plante Interior did the upholstery.

The team finished the car just moments before the show doors were opened at set-up day. Owner Jim Bobowski was awarded with the Bruce Meyer preservation award.
If you want to see more on the restoration of the Bob Pierson Ford, check out the CCC-Forum post on the restoration.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-01-piersonBob’s Ford was not just for looking good…
CCC-bob-pierson-36-ford-resto-09This is the only very early color photo there is of the car (as far as we know) It was of course very helpful during the restoration. (photo courtesy of Robert Genat “the Birth of Hot Rodding” book)
CCC-bob-pierson-36-ford-resto-14This is how Jim bought the car. Quite a different look that we know from the 1940’s and early 1950’s.
CCCGNRSCustoms161DaveLindsayDave Lindsay snapped a few nice photos of the Ford during Set-Up day at the 2015 GNRS. The cars unusual off white color looks really beautiful and is now, and most likely was back then very refreshing from the mostly dark organic colored painted Customs.
CCC-GNRS-Customs193-RobRadcliffeRob Radcliffe took some photo of the car on Friday. These show not only the beauty of the car but also the nice work the team did on the display and the amount of information about the cars history they shared. 
CCC-GNRS-Customs194-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs188-RobRadcliffeChrome plated dash and chrome plated dash knobs and Appleton handles… (Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs189-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs190-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs195-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)

Ron Dunn Valley Custom Shop created 1950 Ford

Current owner of the Ron Dunn Ford, Steve Frisbie is also owner of Steve’s Auto Restorations, Inc. in Portland. Which is of course very convenient if you want to restore an historic Custom Car. The Ron Dunn 1950 Ford was originally built in the early 1950’s by the Valley Custom Shop. Ron Dunn drove the car regularly and showed it at many car shows in the early/mid 1950’s. The car was featured on the cover of Hop Up magazine and had full features in many magazines. In 1956 or ’57 the car suffered a side-swipe type accident resulting in a re-customizing by Valley Custom Shop.

In late 2005 Steve Frisbie rescued the car from open air storage in a fenced off driveway in Burbank, California where it sat out in the weather for many years under the ownership of Ron’s nephew. During that time the car was partially disassembled and left to the hazards of the elements, though being in Burbank for all those storage years the deterioration was at a minimum. Steve brought the car up to Portland, Oregon where it immediately went into heated dry secure storage awaiting the chance to be restored.

Steve Frisbie felt it would be sacrilegious to dispose of “Valley Custom Shop” sheet metal work of the second version of the car, or to hang it on the wall, only to then shape new S.A.R. sheet metal to mimic the first version. Thus Steve has decided to restore the car to the existing version (1957 version) that it is now. The team at SAR in Oregon has been working very hard in the last year or so restoring the car to its last Valley Custom Shop version and to be able to debut the car at the 2015 GNRS.

If you want to see more on the restoration of the Ron Dunn Ford, check out the CCC-Forum post on the restoration.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-01-ron-dunnRon Dunn with the Shoebox in the second version.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-02-ron-dunnAnother photo showing Ron with the car and some of the trophy’s he won with it. The trophies came with the car when Steve bought it.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-03-ron-dunnThe unrestored car was cleaned up and set on some new tires for a photo shoot.
CCC-ron-dunn-dave-lindsay-photoDave Lindsay took this photo of the Ford during Set-Up day at the 2015 GNRS. The team had just finished setting up the display with enlarged magazine features, original 1950’s photos and a lot of info about the car’s history.
CCC-GNRS-Customs169-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs168-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs-19-Chris Shelton(Chris Shelton photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs180-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs181-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs182-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)

Ray Vega Valley Custom Shop 1938 Ford

The Valley Custom Shop built 1938 Ford for Ray Vega has been completed for about a year or so. But this was the first time the car could be seen at the Grand National Roadster Show. Originally built in the early 1950’s based on an 1938 Ford phaeton with a 1940 Ford front end grafted on. The hood was sectioned and reshaped to fit the ’38 body. The car was originally painted a wonderful deep maroon with a white padded top. For and Valley Custom Shop creation the car was extremely low.

The car has been in the hands of the current owner Tony Handler since 1963, when he rescued the car from and impound lot. He later cut out the rear wheel openings, added slicks and raced it for some years. He has been working on the car to get it back in shape and ad a few of his own touches to it since the late 1990’s.  The car now has a black padded top, the hand tooled leather interior, one of the original versions high lights, is long gone and replaced with an all black tuck & roll upholstery. The bumpers have changed and so did the 1940 Ford headlights and the car is now running on tall white wall tires which raised it a bit more for better drivability.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-03-ray-vegaThe Ray Vega Ford made it in color on the May 1952 Hop Up Magazine cover.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-04-ray-vegaTo be able to make the 1940 Ford hood work with the rest of the body, the belt line was completely hammered out. Bumpers are 194t Ford units.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-02-ray-vegaThe side view shows the wonderful over all proportions and how low the car really was.
CCC-gnrs-historic-customs-01-ray-vegaPat Ganahl took these photos of the car in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. It shows the car with no top and the rear wheel openings cut out to fit the slicks.
CCC-GNRS-Customs-133-Jim Wray(Jim Wray photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs198-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs199-RobRadcliffeVery interesting was the original Car Show Sign, framed by the current caretaker of the car. (Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs200-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs201-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)
CCC-GNRS-Customs202-RobRadcliffe(Rob Radcliffe photo)

We at the Custom Car Chronicle hope that the large amount of Custom Cars attending the 2015 GNRS and especially the restored Historical cars on displayed is a new trend. And hopefully these bigger indoor shows will house more Custom Cars in the future. We know that these Historical Custom draw a huge crowd, and people are traveling from all over the world especially to see them on display. Lets hope the next GNRS will be ask good or even better on Customs as this year.

More photos of from DaveLindsay can be found on his website SocalCarCulture

(this article is sponsored by)


CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob





Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

3 thoughts on “Historical Customs at 2015 GNRS

  • Rik, you couldn’t have picked three better examples of early customs that inspired the spirit across America. In its original form, the Ray Vega car took us worlds beyond the stockers. The three-window ’36 was the hot rod-custom cross we all dreamed about one-day having. Then came Valley Custom, slimming lines, creating style in so many subtle ways. “Less is More”. And I hope Steve can find a way to create a clone of the earlier version of the Ron Dunn car: so elegant.

    Keep up the good work, Rik
    Larry Pointer

  • Nice post Rik! Three great cars although I think the Vega car would have ore pop had the owner gone with a white top instead of the black.

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