Jack Stewart Ford White Primer

 

JACK STEWART FORD WHITE PRIMER

 

In 1950 George Barris painted the Jack Stewart Ford in white primer after he had fine tuned the Ayala restyled coupe. In 2018, 68 years later, the car is back in white primer, and almost ready to hit the road.


On August 19, 2018, me and my 13 year old son were leaving the house early for our first real roadtrip together. We planned to visit my good friend Palle Johansen in Denmark, a good 6 hour trip, and visit the German city Hamburg on the way back the following day. Palle Johansen and I have been friends for many years, and the friendship intensified when Palle decided to become the new caretaker of the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford. An iconic Custom Car Restyled originally by Gil and Al Ayala in the late 1940’s and fine tuned and painted by Jack’s friend George Barris in 1950-1951.

It had been a few years since I had visited Palle, so I was looking very much to see him again, and Abe was really looking forward to meet him for the first time. Palle had been working on his ‘1947 Cadillac Custom Convertible mostly in the last couple of years, but the project was sort of halted due to some paint issues, and the Jack Stewart Ford had been on the backburner most of the time he worked on the Cadillac.

After our 6 plus hours drive up North, from the Netherlands to Denmark we had arrived in Palle’s home town and driving up to his block, when I was about to turn the last corner I told my son that he should look out for the white house at the end of the street… And when we did turn the corner, instead of seeing the white house we saw the light reflecting white paint of the Jack Stewart Ford parked in front of Palle’s white house… An HUGE smile grew instantly on our faces…. ( One that would last the entire visit )





We drove to the end of the street, and saw the white ghost Jack Stewart’s white primered ’41 Ford in all its glory…. I had not expected to see the car being parked on the road. I knew it had been painted white primer some time ago, but I had no idea Palle and his team had “secretly” put it back together again and made in road worthy. This was an amazing surprise for me, and of course for my son who, for the first time in his life, was looking at an original Custom Car from the 1950’s that had been created by the top shops of the time… And the car that had been the lead character in the book his father created a number of years ago… And which owner, builder an all other connected names had been mentioned frequently in the house, and where he had witnessed all the steps leading to the printed Jack Stewart Ford Book. And now he saw the car in the flesh.

The view we saw when driving up to Palle’s house… the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford in white primer, with temporary Danish License plates.
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White primer

When Jack Stewart had brought the completely Restyled, yet still unfinished ’41 Ford from the Ayala Shop in East Los Angeles to the Barris Shop in Lynwood in 1950 he asked George if he could try to get the car done for him in time for the annual Easter event at Balboa Island. A very popular event for young guys and girls, dancing and partying the long weekend. George worked hard, fine tuning the work the Ayala’s had done previously, rounding corners, reshaping fender lines, crafting taillights and pods for the to sit in etc.

But in the end George did not have enough time to actually paint the car, so he ended up painting the car in white primer, and that was how Jack took it to the Balboa Easter Weekend… And it looked really amazing in the bright white primer. Several photos of this version of the car were made back then, survived and were using in multiple publications since then. Quite possibly Jack owned and drove his Restyled Ford wearing white primer longer than when George Barris eventually painted the car in a copper bronze color.

Jack Stewart with his freshly white primer painted 1941 Ford in June 1950 at the Santa Ana Drags. This is how Jack drove it for a few month.
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It had always been Palle’s intention to go the same route when he was going to restore the car to how it originally looked. Do the complete restoration, and finish it in white primer, then drive it around for some time, before eventually pant it copper bronze. It was a common thing to do back the, have all the body work done on your car, add primer, and then drive it around for some time letting all the body work settle, and get all the bugs, if there where any come out and fix. At one time they, not sure who was first, really liked the idea of the white, or later color tinted primer. And by painting your car in primer first, have it on the road, and even in some shows you could later do the complete debut thrills all over when the car got completely painted. Double fun!

My son Abe shortly after he got out of the car and was ready to check out the Jack Stewart Ford in person.
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Smiling from ear to ear. There is still a lot to do, notice the cuts and uneven surface on the inside of the door jamb.
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The white primer on the car right now is however not yet the final primer. It was added to finally cover the bare metal, keeping it from rusting, and make it a bit easier to see what still needs to be done to the body to get it ready for final paint. And the white primer has made it very obvious that there is still a lot that needs to be done.

The plan for now is to get the car ready for the Danish version of the DMV inspection. Hence the grille opening and A-pillar mounted parking lights. Both will be removed again after the car has been approved for the road. Then when the car can be driven on the road legally the plan is to tackle all the issues still left, body work fine tuning as well as mechanical work. And while doing that, the car can still be driven around and enjoyed.

After checking out the car a bit, Palle said… “are you guys in for a short drive?”…. Oh yeah… we are. The car is not road legal, so we could only stay on the block he said. The Cadillac Flathead engine also needs some more work done to become reliable, and get a new air-cleaner than can be hooked up to the special carburetor allowing the air-cleaner to be mounted on the side, since there is no space for it on top with the channeled body and new low hood. But it runs, and the car can be driven.

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This was only the second time the Jack Stewart Ford was driven since the restoration got started. Man, what an experience.
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The white primer, chrome and the green tinted glass was the perfect mix. Notice the small turn signals that were added to the lower A-Pillars, where the Appleton Spotlights should be. This is needed to get the needed paper work to make the car road legal. With the papers in hand the Appleton’s will be replacing the lights later.
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When the car was originally Restyled the techniques used and demands for perfection were a bit different from today’s standards. The Custom Cars back then looked absolutely amazing, but most of them were r created to be looked underneath, inside behind panels, or shown with opened hood or trunk. Modifications as rounded corners looked perfect from the outside, but when you opened the trunk you would see that George Barris, in this case, used only sheet metal to fill in the body panel to create the new rounded corner, but there was no work done to make it looks factory finished on the inside, with a beautiful lip, like we are so used at today.

The idea is to keep most of the “flaws” on the car, make it look amazing from the outside, and in the cockpit, but retain the kind of rough around the edges standard quality custom work from the early 1950’s.

The flow of the fade away fenders and top are perfect… the white primer shows that off so much more than how I saw it last time.. in bare metal.
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The Stance still needs to be adjusted a bit… a little higher in the front, for that perfect speed-boat stance.
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The Bob Hirohata hand made taillights contrasted with the white primer. The white primer also revealed that the drivers side front fenders must have had some impact back in 1954 when the car hit a train. And it was never really fixed right, making the sides slightly out of shape. So some metal work will have to be done there to make the front fenders flow nice into the fade away door sections.
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Palle and I talked a lot about the car the day we arrived, he had driven it into his under the house garage / man-cave so we could check out all the details, while discussing the,details and remembering the good times we had when we were researching the car in the US in 2010. The next morning Palle had some appointments early in the morning, and would be back after a few hours. During that time I walked around the Ford, took pictures inside and out, took some measurements and most of all sat inside the car, behind the Mercury Monteray steering wheel and tried to visualize how it must have been for Jack and later Jim Skonzakes, to drive around in this car, driving around in the streets of Los Angeles, California, and Jim later i Dayton Ohio. Or ultimately how it must have been for Jim Skonzakes to buy the car from Jack, with the help from George Barris and then drive it in a couple of days from LA to Dayton. It was an amazing feeling sitting inside the car, knowing its history, siting on the same vinyl tuck & roll upholstered seats as Jack, Jim and later Bob Drake had done back in time.

After Palle had driven the car in the garage for the night it was my turn to sit in it… smiling… Good to be back “home” in the car. I would spend a lot of time just sitting there the net morning… day dreaming, and remembering Jack, and Jim…
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A view from the rear seat. The headliner and seats are still the originals from 1951.
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The vent windows now work perfectly with all new rubber.
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More rough work on the door jamb where some of the lead had to be removed to be able to get the doors aligned again. The dash and garnish panels were painted in 2013 by David Martinez / Billy Crewl in time to be shown at the 2013 GNRS. The interior panels are the original units from 1951, semi restored.
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The white primer makes all the rough body work stand out extra good. Some of it will stay, since it was like this when the car was originally finished. On the other hand, some will be smoothed, since multiple layers of primer and paint back then must have helped smooth out the body work in 1951.
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Parked in Palle’s garage… and getting the replica 1951 California License plate mounted. Really looking forward to the next phase on this project… registration, then slowly fixing the body and other things to get it on the road to enjoy.
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The Appleton S-522 Spotlights are patiently waiting to be remounted on the car again… soon I hope.
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Dreaming of going on another Road Trip with Palle Johansen… Now with the primer white Jack Stewart Ford. Reliving the times Jack Stewart, Jim Skonzakes and Bob Drake, all known previous owners had shared with us with huge smiles on their face.


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Gils Auto Butchers

 

GILS AUTO BUTCHERS

 

One of the most recognizable original Custom Car Club was, and is the Auto Butchers of East Los Angeles. Original founded by Gil Ayala in the later part of the 1940s.


In the mid 1940’s into the early 1950’s there were a couple of Custom Car clubs in the US that left a mark more than any other car clubs from that era. They left a mark, were recognized then, and still are today, because the members and their cars made it into the magazine, were winners of big awards at the first couple of Annual Car Shows, or perhaps. Because these cars survived, and are shown today with the car show plaques proudly displayed.

Two of these clubs were formed by the then leading Custom Car Shops, The Barris Kustom Shop, and Gil Ayala’s Auto Body Works. George Barris started Kustoms Los Angeles (original Kustoms Sacramento) for guys who had their cars restyled at the Barris Shop. The Kustoms Los Angeles club eventually grew out into the Kustoms Of America Car Club which we covered in this CCC-Article. Gil Ayala formed his Car Club, Gil’s Auto Butchers for the car owners that had their cars restyled by the Ayala shop. This article is about the early years of the Gil’s Auto Butchers Car Club. Today, 2018, the Auto Butchers ELA Car Club is still an active club.





Over the years I have been collecting all the info I could find about the Gil’s Auto Butchers, Auto Butchers and Auto Butchers E. LA car club. These are the three names this club went by, for as far as I have been able to find out. Info it rather rare, I talked to Jack Stewart, who was a member for a while, and a few other people who were there in the early 1950’s, but nobody could tell me much about the club. They all mentioned the brass cleaver plaque and how they proudly polished it for every weekend, and the “monster” shirts and jackets the owners used to wear.


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Bob Selva mentioned this about the Auto Butchers.

“They were from all around East Los Angeles & Montebello, Whittier, Ca. They used to hang out at a Drive in called the Hula Hut in Whittier Ca. A guy named “Booter”, who was later shot to death, was the one who drew the picture for the Auto Butchers plaque and the Butcher moster picture. They would also all hang at Gil’s Body shop. I don’t know how in the HELL the Ayala’s ever got any work done lol.”

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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksSo far this is the only photo I have come across of an Auto Butchers Jacket. And by the looks of it it was hand painted. If you look careful you can read that is says Gil’s Auto Butchers, and it has an simplified or early version of the monster head that would be used later. The photo is from the John Mackey Collection. According to John the guy in the photo is Auto Butchers member Bernie Mackey wearing the Gil’s Auto Butchers jacket. The photo was taken in the mid to late 1940’s, but no exact date is known.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksClose up showing the Gil’s Auto Butchers letters on Bernie Mackey jacket.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksThe photo from the John Mackey Collection shows this model A lake Roadster with a huge hand painted Auto Butchers with monster head painted on the trunk. Sadly we do not have any details on the owner.
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From George Barris’s Kustoms Los Angeles club we know the made many trips to special places, car shows, but also weekends and vacations away from the city, or to Balboa Beach for Easter. But so far I have not been able to find out anything like this for the Auto Butchers club members. From what I have heard is that they did travel to shows together, and as Bob Selva mentioned they hung out at the Hula Hut Drive in.

There are plenty of photos of famous and not so famous cars that had the Auto Butchers plaque mounted on the front bumper, or hanging from the rear bumper. These photos showed that these owners were proud members of the Auto Butchers club and liked to show that their cars were created by the Ayala’s.


Close up of the Auto Butcher Monster face painted on the pillar at Gil’s Auto Body Works Shop at 4074 Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. A guy named “Booter”¬† did the design on the Auto Butchers plaque, and also the designed and painted of the Butcher Monster head on the wall.
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A better look at how the Auto Butcher Monster head was situated on the shop wall.
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I have studied all the photos I have been able to find and from that I think that Gil Ayala started a club which he named Gil’s Auto Butchers. This was toward the end of the 1940’s. A guy named “Booter” created the design for the butcher cleaver with the Auto Butchers ELA text on it. These plaques were unequally shaped and were very recognizable. Gil also decided to have them cast in brass, or bronze. The cold color would nicely contrast with the chrome on the car and the deep colors he love to paint his creations with.

At this time “Booter” also created a logo of a guys head, the Butcher, monster style. This became part of the club logo, and can be seen used on possibly the first “Monster Shirts” as well on leather jackets, and also on the trunk of at least one lake Roadster. This Monster head was also painted on the outside of one of the buildings at Gil’s Work Shop. Gil’s Shop served as club headquarters.

The Auto Butchers plaque came in several versions with the text Butchers, Auto Butchers, Auto Butchers ELA, and Auto Butchers E.LA Why there are so many versions of this plaque remains a mystery so far. You would say that once a pattern for a plaque is created, that is what will be used for each new club members. But not so with the Auto Butchers ELA club.



Gil’s Auto Butchers Shirts.

In the late 1940’s, 1950’s belonging to a car club was a big thing. These car clubs had been around for a few year, and they played a big part in the growth of the Custom Car and Hot Rod scene. This was basically the era before the car magazines, and getting information about style and technique was still hard to get. Relying on your club members for this was very important, the club members each had their own skills and helped out each other with projects. Together they went on trips, to car shows, and the weekend dance to pick up girls. The club plaque was one way to identify you and your car as a club member, other ways were special embroidered club jacket and T-Shirts.

The car club T-Shirts in the early days, late 40’s and very early 1950’s are rare, or at least they do not appear much on the old photos. But in the late 1940’s early 1950’s Gil Ayala set out to create some shirt for the Gil’s Auto Butchers Club. This would certainly set apart his club from all the others, since the club shirts he created did not just have the club name on it, like on most club plaques, it also had a very wild illustration on the Auto Butcher Monster Head. These might be the very first Monster or “weirdo” Shirts in the automotive field ever done.

Photo taken around 1950-51 shows that by then they also had Gil’s Auto Butchers Monster shirts created. Looks like the image was used both on the front and rear of the shirt. Al Ayala is seen working on the cowl vent of his brothers 1940 Mercury.
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Another photo taken at the dry lakes with Gil’s 1940 Mercury and an unidentified guy with the Gil’s Auto Butchers T-Shirt.
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Close up of the shirt. show that the Gil’s and Auto letters are very thin, and a bit hard to read. It looks like there are a butchers cleaver and a torch in a cross below the monster head. I have only see these shirts done in white with black, or a very dark color print.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksThis photo of Gil’s 1940¬† Mercury with full fade away fenders was taken around 1951. Possibly the car was then already owned by Richard J. Stickley, the distinctive cleaver plaque was mounted on the front bumper. These are very few photos of Gil’s ’40 Mercury showing an Auto Butchers plaque.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksClose up shows that the letters of the “Butchers” part of the plaque look to be different from anything else we have seen. Looks like it is done in all capital letter. However, perhaps its just the lighting or reproduction quality.
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Wally Welch had the Ayala’s restyled his 1941 Ford Convertible twice. This photo from 1950 shows the car in the last version. Wally was a Auto Butchers member, and had the brass plaque mounted on the rear fender below the license plate.
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Close up of the 1950 photo shows that this version of the Auto Butchers ELA plaque had three holes, or indents in the handle part of the cleaver, as well as a large hole  on the top let corner.
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This photo taken around 1951 shows the Wally Welch Ford with a new plaque mounted below the bumper.
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A closer look at the 1951 Wally Welch Ford photo shows that the new, most likely polished brass plaque only has the word “Butchers” on it. The Auto and ELA are not on it.
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The Ayala’s restyled Don Holland’s 1941 Ford in a similar way as they did Wally Welch his car. Don’s Ford used ’49 Plymouth bumper and the Auto Butchers ELA plaque was hanging from that.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksAl Carcia’s 1948 Ford Convertible was partly restyled at the Ayalas and Al mounted the Auto Butchers ELA plaque on the 1949 Plymouth front bumper.
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Wally Welch’s next full custom was an 1950 Mercury. Responsible for the beautiful restyling were the Ayala’s. Gil Ayala painted the car lime gold, and it can be seen here at the 1951 Petersen Motorama show. It looks like the Auto butchers plaque was added just for the show, and tied down using some cord, or wire.
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Wally and the Ayala’s were awarded with the Best Customs Award at the 1951 Motorama show for the stunning 1950 Mercury. For the occasion Gil Ayala had put on a suit and can be seen in this picture with his well known big smile, proudly showing the ’50 Mercury his shop had created. The winning award was held by an unidentified Auto Butchers member wearing an Auto Butchers jacket.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksJohnny Rosier had his 1953 Mercury restyled at the Ayala’s and was a member of the Auto Butchers.
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Not the best photo quality, but I wanted to include these here anyway. It shows that to become an Auto Butchers member you did not had to have a full Hot rod or Customs. This 1939 Pontiac with some minor custom work done to it, has the Auto Butchers ELA plaque hanging from the rear bumper. From the Jon Mackey Collection.
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Memo Ortega Memories

“I remember that when I owned Gil’s 1942-46 Ford, the Auto Butchers plaque was under the front seat. When I redid and had it all nice and finished the car I took the Auto Butchers tag and hung it from the rear bumper. It was my tribute to my friend Gil Ayala. After a while somebody ripped it off when I had parked the car somewhere.¬† I found the chains hanging with nothing attached when I returned to the Ford. Haha I thought that was something to mention, somebody wanted it more than i did i guess.”

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Hot Rods

The Ayala’s were best known for there work on Custom Cars, being it full blown Custom Restyling, or just more simple stuff, like lowering, shaving, ore even just a new paint job. But they also did a fair share of work on Hot Rods. And the owners of these Ayala created Hot Rods could also become a member of the Auto Butchers. We have found two samples, and heard there were more, but so far have not been able to find any photos to share here.

Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksEddie Dye’s beautiful Roadster was restyled at the Ayala’s with beautiful body work and styling. The track style nose, hood and belly pan had been created by Whitey Clayton, but the rest is all Ayala’s, including a beautiful maroon/purple paint job. Eddie Dye was a Auto Butchers ELA club member and proudly mounted the brass plaque on the rear, just below the trunk centered between the Pontiac taillights. The car was beautifully restored in 2017-18.
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A polished original brass Auto Butchers ELA plaque is mounted back on the restored Eddie Dye Roadster that was finished just in time to be entered at the 2018 GNRS in Pomona.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksThis nicely chopped ’32 Ford Coupe appeared in the early 1950’s “Cool Hot Rod” movie and had an Auto Butchers ELA plaque on the rear spreader bar. The plaque looks to be silver colored, most likely polished aluminum with red detail paint. This coupe, which was probably chopped by the Ayala’s, was recently found and will be restored to how it appeared in this picture. (thanks to Jamie Barter)
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Hula Hut Hang out

The members of the Auto Butchers hung out a lot at Gil’s Auto Body Works on¬†4074 Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles, gathering at night and on Saturdays. Perhaps doing some maintenance on their cars and get it ready for a car show in the weekend. But they also hung out a lot at the Hula Hut Drive in on 9314 E. Whittier Blvd. This was a place very popular among other Hot Rodder’s and Custom Cars guys as well. I remember Jesse Lopez tell us about this place, and how he hung out there with his friends as well. The Hula Hut was around 7 miles from Gil’s shop.


The Whittier, Ca. Hula Hut Drive-In was the favorite hangout place for the Auto Butchers members. The Auto Butchers members would meet here at the Drive-In, or at Gil’s shop and then drive the 7 miles to the Hula Hut to hang out.
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Hula Hut menu and matches.
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Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body Works

Auto Butcher Cleaver Plaque


Gil Ayala Auto Butchers Autobutchers Gil's Auto Body WorksAs far as I know this is on original unpolished Auto Butchers ELA bronze/brass plaque.
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These are the variations I have been able to find of the Club plaques.¬† A) Cleaver with Auto Butchers ELA text and three holes in the handle, this one was used on the Wally Welch 1951 Ford in 1950.¬† B) cleaver with just Butchers on it, this one was used by Wally Welch on his 1941 Ford in 1951.¬† C) Not sure if this one actually says Auto Butchers, but it was used on Gil’s 1940 Mercury around 1950. If it says Butchers, then it looks like all the letter were caps.¬† D) Brass cleaver with Auto Butchers ELA with the ELA in a serif typeface, there are cross marks on the handle.¬† E) similar as D, only detail painted.¬† F) Auto Butchers E. LA with a dot between the “E” and “LA” (in a serif typeface) and a smooth handle cast in brass.¬† G) same as F, only cast in aluminum.¬†¬† H) Auto Butchers ELA with the ELA in a sanse font, cast in aluminum, and detail painted. A, B, C are original items photographed in the 1950’s, the others might be old or new casting.
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Auto Butchers Members

  • Al Ayala
  • Bernie Mackey Ford Model A
  • Eddie Dye Model A Track Nose Roadster
  • Unknow 1932 Ford Chopped Coupe
  • Unknown 1939 Pontiac
  • Gil Ayala 1940 Mercury
  • Don Holland 1941 Ford Convertible
  • Wally Welch 1941 Ford
  • Jack Stewart 1941 Ford
  • Gil Ayala 1942 Ford, GMC Shop Truck
  • Hank Griffith 1942 Ford Coupe
  • Al Garcia 1948 Ford
  • Wally Welch 1949 Mercury
  • Johnny Rosier 1953 Mercury
  • Gil Ayala 1955 Ford Thunderbird

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The Auto Butchers ELA club is still around today, and people still put the brass, highly polished Auto Butchers ELA cleaver tag on their car. They still wear their embroidered club jackets and new Weirdo shirt and cruise together to local car shows. The Auto Butchers plaque are together with the Kustom Los Angles highly sought after items. But since there were so many variations of the Auto Butchers plaques in the early years, it is very hard to find out what is an original and what is a newly cast unit.

There are still a lot of mystery’s around the early years of the Auto Butchers ELA Car Club. Basically there is very little we know about it. Simply because it was never documented well. Nobody thought, back then, that this would one day become historical important information. Nobody most likely thought about saving those original club shirts, or jackets. I hope that this article on the Custom Car Chronicle about the history of the Auto Butchers ELA will bring back some memories. And hopefully some more stories, or photos, or other information will come from it. If you know more about the early years of the Auto Butchers ELA Car Club, or know of any other cars.owners that belonged to this club, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to share your stories, or info to make this as complete as we can.

Special thanks to Memo Ortega, Jack Stewart and Bob Selva.







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Ayala 49 GMC Restoration Part 2

 

AYALA 51 GMC Restoration PART 2

 

In 2011 the Historic Ayala GMC Shop Truck changed hands once again. The new caretaker is in the process of a full historical correct restoration.
Progress Report Part 2.



A couple of weeks ago the new caretaker of the Gil’s Auto Body Works 1949 GMC Shop truck reported that the restoration on the Ayala Shop Truck had started. In out FIRST report we shared some details on the original interior and paint colors, the backdating of the frame and engine and a few more details. This historic Custom could not have been in better hands, since every little detail will be brought back to how it looked in the early 1950’s when it was first created by Gil and Al Ayala, and serve as their shop hauler, and doubled as rolling advertising for the Shop. A feature article on the Gil’s Auto Body Works GMC Shop Truck can be found here.



When Jim bought the truck a set of ’80’s dummy spotlights were installed.
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Jim send us a couple of photos of the latest update. All the body panels have in the meantime been completely blasted to bare metal. When Jim bought the truck it from Bruce Geisler, it had a set of 80’s dummy spots mounted on the A-Pillars. But fortunately included with the sale came a box with the original Appleton S-552 spotslights, that were installed by the Ayala’s. Well, they ditched the 80‚Äôs dummy spots and started to test fit the original Appleton S-552‚Äôs. “It‚Äôs so cool to see all of the original custom bent brackets align with the holes drilled by the Ayala shop.”

Body and dash were blasted to remove the multiple layers of paint. With the dash installed temporarily the team test fitted the Original Appleton S552 Spotlights that came in a box with the truck. The fit like a glove, every bend the Ayala’s made to them back in the early 1950’s, to clear the dash, still work.
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The Appleton Spotlights were installed on the belt-line on the A-pillar. All holes from the original installation are still there.
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Drivers side belt-line metal even had the metal dented from where the bracket had sit all those years.
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Passenger side inside, rod perfectly clears the dash. Some 66 years ago these exact parts were first installed by the Ayala’s!
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Mounting bracket on the inside, where the bent sections still fit the holes perfectly.
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Same on the drivers side.
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With the S-552 bucket installed on the passenger side.
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When the interior was removed prior to the blasting the team found out how the Ayala’s had lowered the seat in the truck. In one of the old magazine articles it was mentions that Gil lowered the seat 3 inches to compensate for the reduced headroom from the chop. Well here is how they did it. They cut Pie-shape channels into the floor and added new mounting bolts into this recess. It‚Äôs pretty smart as it lowers the seat while still retaining the adjust-ability of the seat slider. It sure is cool to see the original work of the Ayala‚Äôs.

After the blasting the Ayala work to lower the seat became better visible. The pie-cut shaped tunnel was welded into the floor, and two new mounting bolts were added a few inches below the original location.
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Same thing on the other side.
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Jim also send this never before seen photo of the inside of the truck when Geisler got it back in the late 80’s from the wrecking yard. At this point it is believed that most of what can be seen here is from the Ayala days as Bruce Geisler changed very little of the interior from the Ayala version. The only thing in this photo that was added when Bruce owned the truck, was the striping on the dash.
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While working on the Pick-Up Jim discovered that the GMC was actually an 1949 model and not the 1951 it is mostly revered to. Most likely Gil used 1951 doors, which include vent windows, or modified the ’49 doors to have vent door installed.

Special thanks to Jim Bobowski for the new update.










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Gil Ayala 49 GMC Restoration Started

 

AYALA 49 GMC RESTORATION STARTED

 

In 2011 the Historic Ayala GMC Shop Truck changed hands once again. The new caretaker is in the process of a full historical correct restoration.
Progress Report Part 1.


In the Summer of 2017 we did an Feature Article on the Gil’s Auto Body Works GMC shop truck. At the end of the article we mentioned the good news that the current owner of the truck, Jim Bobowski, was in the process of restoring the car back to how it originally was restyled by the Ayala’s in the early 1950’s. Jim recently send the Custom Car Chronicle some update photos of the cars restoration process. And we are very excited to be able to share it here with you.

Color photo of the Gil’s Auto Body Works from the early 1950’s. (faded colors)
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Jim and the team is doing a complete frame-off restoration, and all changes made to the car after Gil sold it, are going to be taken away, and everything is being brought back to the cars first restyled version. Painted metallic dark green with soft green flames. When Jim started to sand down the body, they discovered that most of the body was stripped down to metal at some point. But fortunately they came across all the previous colors used on the car between the body and the cab. Also behind the interior some of the original green has been found. So they will be able to perfectly match the Custom Mixed Color Gill created for the shop truck.

Taking the truck apart…
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The cabin is still in very good condition.
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The headliner that is in the car is still the original that Chavez did in the early 1950’s, only it has been dyed dark gray by Geisler in the 1980’s. Hopefully the dye will be able to be removed, or perhaps it has to be re-dyed back to how it used to be. Time will tell. The Frame had to be backdated using on original GMC front section. In the 1980’s Bruce Geisler had added a Nova front clip and a 6-71 blown small block Chevy, a TH350 transmission and a Ford 9-inch rear end. The engine is now replaced with an Jimmy straight 6 , a hot 270 CID with a Howards cam and 5 Strombergs. Everything will be exactly as it used to be on the original engine, when Gil created it.

Look careful and you will be able to see the original Custom mixed Ayala green paint topped by pink added by Bruce Geisler¬† in ’57. Followed by Candy red in the ’60‚Äôs, Geisler green primer ’80‚Äôs, then Geisler pink (primer) again in the ’90‚Äôs.
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The headliner is the original one done by Chavez in the early 1950’s, but was later dyed dark gray by Bruce Geisler.
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How the interior looked in the early 1950’s.
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The original dark green interior piping. This photo shows that the green has been fading over the years.
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Close up of the green piping, originally installed by Chavez.
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Frame ready to be backdated.
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Removal of the third brake light installed by Bruce Geisler in the 1990’s.
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Freshly painted dropped front axle.
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Rear axle in the paint booth getting a new coat of semi gloss black.
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Rear axle back on the frame. Notice the deep and large C-Cut the Ayala’s made into the frame, to clear the lowered rear axle.
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New GMC engine test fitted in the painted frame. Front suspension has been installed.
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Engine is now painted and aftermarket and chrome plated parts are being installed.
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Looking very good.
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More details added.
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Test fitting the carburetors on the intake.
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Picture of the original engine in the car.
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We will report back on more progress on the restoration as soon as we hear from Jim again… stay tuned.






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Johnny Rosier 53 Mercury

 

JOHNNY ROSIER 53 MERCURY

 

Johnny Rosier worked together with the Gil and Al Ayala to turn his 1953 Mercury Hard-Top into a Magazine featured Custom Car with an unique style.



Johnny Rosier from Norwalk California was a young body and fender man working out of the California Custom Shop in Gardena Ca. who had a dream of this wild, yet mild ’53 Mercury Custom in the mid 1950’s. The plan was to work on the car himself as much as he could, but for the design and major construction of the car he turned to his friend Gil Ayala, owner of Gil’s Auto Body Shop in East Los Angeles. Johnny was a member of Gil’s car club the Auto Butchers ELA.

Front 3/4 low angle photo makes the upward front section of the side trim even more pronounced. Not a very nice flowing line with the rest of the car, but the trim sure got a lot of attention for the car. Notice how low Johnny’s Mercury was.
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Together with Gil Ayala Johnny designed his dream Custom based on the ’53 Mercury Hard Top he had bought. The plan was to get it very low, which needed the frame to be C-ed in the rear to make sure the axle would not bump the frame all the time. The front of the car was heavily restyled with an home made grille created from expanded metal. The metal sheet was shaped in an “L” shape with the bottom and top folded over for a very nice “factory” look and fitted the grille opening. This unit was chrome plated before it was installed. The lower portion of the Mercury grille was de-chromed and later painted body color. The stock Mercury bumper was cut up and only the outside pieces were retained. These were combined with 1955 Buick (or Cadillac?) bumper bullets which were welded and smoothed for a beautiful one piece look. A third bullet was added to the center of the grille and decorated with three Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcap flipper blades.

Color photo from the July 1956 Rod & Custom Cover. Such an amazing photo.
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The front fenders were reshaped at the front with round rod and sheet metal, so that a set of modified 1956 Packard headlights could be installed. Below the headlights a new stainless steel panel was shaped to fit inside the new extended fenders and meet with the bumper and grille. A set of square 1947 Chevy parking lights was installed in this stainless panel, just below the Packard headlights.The hood was up next, the Ayala’s removed the non functional Mercury scoop and shaped a new piece of metal to make the hump of the scoop flow into the front of the hood with a nice smooth line. In the top of the hood¬† 6 small rows of each 5 louvers was added.

Close up of the ’56 Packard headlights in the heavily reshaped front fenders. Below it are the ’47 Chevy parking lights. Notice the pinstriping following the new body line created when smoothing the factory fake scoop.
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Buick bullet mounted in the center of the expanded metal grille. The Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcaps spinner blades are mounted to the Bullet. Auto Butchers ALA brass plaque mounted below it. Pinstriping by Von Dutch.
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All the door handles and other emblems were removed of the body, and everything was smoothed. The rear quarter panel non functional scoop was opened up and would later be detailed with a set of¬† chrome louvers from a 1955 T-Bird. The rear fenders were extended and a set of 1955 Lincoln taillights, including the stainless trim was installed. Below the taillights they installed a 1954-54 Cadillac bumper, that needed to be narrowed to fit the mercury rear fenders. The flow from the Cadillac bumper ended toward the Lincoln taillights works really well. A similar set up was used on Gil’s personal ’55 T-Bird.

For the side trim, which would be the base for the planned two tone paint-job, Gil and johnny used¬† ’55 Ford side trim for the horizontal sections on the door and rear quarter. The lower sections was made by slightly adjusting an 1955 DeSoto side trim. The most unique feature of the side trim was the upswept frontal section on the front fenders. The magazines from the mid 1950’s state that that piece of trim was pirated from an special chrome kit (aftermarket perhaps?) for the ’55 T-Bird. But so far I have not been able to positively ID that piece. If any of our readers knows where this up-swept section of the side trim originates from, please let us know.

Notice how the lines on the cars new body lines all complement each other. The angle of the front fender mimics the C-Pillar angle, the angle on the Lincoln taillights the windshield frame. The angle from the upward going front of the side trim mimics the shape of the back of the roof… perhaps.
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The rear of Johnny’s Mercury looks more impressive than the stock ’53 Mercury did, with its tall Cadillac bumper and reversed angle ’55 Lincoln taillights. The bumper taillight set-up reminds me of Gil Ayala’s ’55 T-bird.
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With all the body work done it was time for some paint. The first paint job was done in “black gold” a deep black with gold metallic added to it, with a lime gold on the top and inside the side trim. A really unique color combination which later helped get the car on the cover of the May 1956 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. The interior was also detailed with chrome plated speedo meter gauge, dashboard glove box door, speaker and window trim. The upholstery was done, according some of Trend Book Restyle your car from 1957 in black and yellow leather, which worked very nice with the exterior paint. Sadly we have not been able to locate any photos showing the interior of Johnny’s mercury.

The factory dummy scoop on the rear quarter panel was opened up to become functional, and was dressed up with the chrome louvers that normally are used on the front fenders of an 1955 T-Bird. (Who knows… perhaps these items came from Gil Ayala’s personal T-Bird, since they were shaved on his car!)
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Close up of the ’54-55 Cadillac rear bumper, ’55 Lincoln taillights and extended rear fenders. Very nice addition to the Mercury back.
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Johnny choose a set of ’53 Cadillac hubcaps to be used on his Custom Mercury, but to make them special he cut out the centers and replaced them with unknown centers. According the ’56 issue of R&C the center pieces were removed, gold plated and placed back in the hubcaps. But the photos of the car show that the centers are completely different than stock ’53 Cadillac centers… They looks a bit like ’54 Mercury hubcaps centers, but they are not… another mystery… Gil Ayala installed a set of Appleton Spotlights and Johnny’s Mercury was ready to cruise the street. The car as it was finished was featured inside and on the cover of the May 1956 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. According the R&C article the pinstriping on the car was added by non other than Von Dutch. Johnny added the polished brass Autobutcher ELA plaque on the front of the car.

Johnny’s ’53 Mercury was featured in color on the July 1956 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine, and had a three page feature in the magazine.
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Memo Ortega from La Verne Ca, used to hang out at Gils’ Auto Body shop during the weekends. He and his friends drove up to East LA to see what his friend Gil Ayala was up to. He saw Johnny and his stunning Mercury several times at the shop. This is how Memo remembers Johnny’s mercury. “When we used to go see Gil Ayala we always hoped Johnny would come by at the Ayala shop as well. Some times on Saturdays We saw Johnny with his Merc there. We got to meet him and talk cars with him. He sure was a kool guy with us. If I remember right, his car was black and gold at the time. Some times we would wait till Johnny was going to leave.¬† Just to see him and his merc go down Olympic blvd. His Merc looked so kool,. We never stayed long a the Ayala’s, we were teenagers then… just having fun so we had to keep on krusin all over with my ’37 Chevy.¬† Johnny always said ” You guys kruse all the way out here from La Verne? Man that’s far, but its kool! You guys are young”.



Second version

Not to long after Johnny’s Mercury was finished the paint on it was redone again. In the Trend Books Restyle Your Car published in 1957 two black and white photos appear of the car. It was mentioned that the car was now painted blue and gold. New scallops around the headlights and taillights can be clearly seen in the photos.

The March 1958 issue of Car Craft magazine gave us a look at the new paint job on Johnny’s ’53 Mercury. New Blue paint, scallops around the headlights (also around the taillights, not visible in this picture) and a gold, or perhaps copper plated grille insert.
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The March 1958 issue of Car Craft magazine had a beautiful color photo of the front section of Johnny’s Mercury on the cover. As promotion for an article on Custom grilles created from expanded metal. There was nothing on the Merc inside, but the cover photo showed the new paint-job in a green blue with gold inside the side trim and the roof. Possibly the gold remained the same from the first version. The newly added scallops were done in gold, and the expanded metal grille was now gold plated as well. The Autobutchers plaque was moved to below the rear bumper and a license plate was added just below the grille at the front. Other than that, no significant changes were made.

Johnny Rosier in his Mercury during a Car Craft photo shoot done by George Barris.
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The gold scallops around the taillights connect to the gold from the side trim section. Auto Butchers ELA is now below the rear bumper.
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Great close up photo of the Packard and Chevy headlight set up, as well as the bumperettes made up from the Mercury bumper, and the Buick bullet. The photo also gives us a good look at the customized hubcaps. Perhaps the bullet in the center is still ’53 Cadillac, and they added something around it?
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6 small rows of louvers are added to the hood. The hood was smoothed with the removal of the factory none functional hood scoop, and the raised section was extended forward and made to flow nicely into the front of the hood.
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Johnny’s Mercury was very low, just the way he loved it. According Memo Ortega the car looked amazing floating thru the streets of East LA. The extended fenders front and rear with new angles repeating the pillar angles of the top, works really well.
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The side view photo shows how the upward angle on the front section of the side trim points towards the peek of the extended front fender.
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Two page feature in the December 1957 issue of Car Craft Magazine.
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This 1957 and ’58 Car Craft photos are of the second and also the last version we have seen of Johnny’s Mercury. Nobody seams to know how long Johnny had the car after that, or what happened to his 1953 Mercury Magazine Cover Ayala Custom. If anybody knows what happened to the Johnny Rosier Mercury, please let us know.



Johnny Rosier Mercury Magazine Features…

  • Rod & Custom July 1956
  • Car Craft December 1957

 

Also shown in…

  • Trend Book 143 Restyle Your Car
  • Car Craft March 1958
  • Custom Cars March 1958
  • Motor Life July 1958 (selected for the 20 most outstanding Custom Cars readers vote that year)
  • Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual




Johnny Rosier was a welder and a ice man. His father owned an ice company in the 1940’s and early 1950’s, and Johnny used to drive his mildly customized ice truck around town making ice deliveries. But he loved welding so much he started to work on Custom Cars. Later in life Johnny Rosier was a welding Foreman for a steel company building sky risers. The higher the better, according to one of Johnny’s daughter’s he loved being up there. But he loved his cars to be low low low. According his daughter Johnny might have had one more Custom Car. She remembers he father showing here a magazine when she was a kid, with a car in rainbow Metalflake inside, or perhaps on the cover. But many decades later she can’t remember what it was.

Sadly all the private collection photos from Johnny’s Custom Car period are long lost. Johnny Rosier passed away in December 1997.



Johnny Rosier posing with his Restyled Ice Truck that he dressed up with Single bar flipper hubcaps, fener skirts, and Appleton Spotlights. Johnny gave this photo to Memo Ortega in the 1950’s.
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Remembering the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford

 

REMEMBERING the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford

 

In 1959 Memo Ortega buys the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford. Memo finished the car, paints it blue and enjoyed it for a few years. Here are some of his memories.


By Memo Ortega

The other day I was thinking about back in 1959, when I was the luckiest guy on the planet… It was on a Saturday afternoon when me and my friend krused over to the Ayala’s in East Los Angeles, to visit Gil’s Auto Body Works shop. I had been there many times before after I discovered the shop back in 1951. All these year I had driven my green kustom ’37 Chevy up to meet with Gil. This day was a special day, I remember we got there my friend said hi to Gil and was looking at some of the cars they were working at the time. I stayed there talking to Gil about Kustom Cars and how I really dug them, as well as all the work done by their kustom shop.

A few years back I spotted this kustom chopped ’42 Ford Coupe sitting next to the small building on the corner where the House of Chrome was. The car had been sitting there for about three years, if I remember correct. The House of Chrome was, just as Gil’s shop, also very popular. They sold all kinds of goodies for kustoms and hot rods, its where I got my first set of Appleton Spotlights.

Gil’s Ford parked at the Gil Ayala Auto Body Works shop in 1949. Not to far from where it was parked in this photo was where Gil left it sitting for some years until he sold it to Memo Ortega in 1959.
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Back to Gil…. when I had first seen this ’42 Ford Kustom I had asked Gil about the car and he told me he had started working on the dual head lites to give it a little different look, but he had not worked on it for a while, since they were always to busy at the shop. He just had no time to work on it. Back then I had asked him if he would sell me the car, Gil told me “If I sell the car, I will sell it to you. I know you will fix it to look good, like your ’37 Chevy… gimmie a little time to think about it”. Well this Saturday in ’59 turned out to be a Special Day… Gil told me he decided to sell me the car…. Talk about being happy!!! I was so excited. I asked him when can I pick it up. He told me when ever u want to, I will be here.

Well we left the shop, went krusin and I just could not get the Gil’s kustom out of my head. My friend was also very happy Gil was selling me the car, and he asked me when are you going to go get it? I told him it would maybe next Saturday. I was working at Matt Kolbert’s shop in Pomona at the time, so I my boss Matt for the day off. And I would have to find out if one of my friends had a trailer I could borrow. since I only had enough money to buy the car, not to rent a trailer on top of that. Well my buddy Johnny, who worked also at Kolbert’s had a friend (Big John) who had a big tractor trailer for hauling Orange Grove Tractors in the groves. He said we could use, and to come over next Saturday to pick it up. We also loaned Big John’s Chevy farm truck, a big two axle (not a semi though) and hooked the trailer on. We then went over to Gil’s Shop to pick the car up.


The only photo Memo has showing his friend Johnny, his boss Matt Kolbert and himself, back in 1953. Back then Memo already knew about Gil’s ’42 Ford, but had no idea he would end up with it some 6 years later.
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When we got at Gil’s shop and pulled into Gil’s parking lot, Gil noticed us and started laughing real hard. “Thats a big trailer you guys got there… but it’ll work!” We had to air up the tires on the ’42, they were near flat from sitting there for so long. We did the deal, I paid Gil, and they all helped us load the car on the trailer. And then we left. MAN was I happy! On our way back we got all kinds of looks from people staring at the car on the trailer, it took us a while to get back to Pomona, since we were real careful towing the car. We unloaded the car at Kolberts, and parked it next to the shop and left again to take the trailer back to Big John in Cucamonga at his Orange Grove. We thank him and left thinking what a GREAT day we had that day!

After having thought about Gil’s Ford the rest of the weekend I had to get up really early on Monday morning. I was real eager to see my new Kustom again. I was at the Kolbert shop before anybody arrived and stood there just starring at the car. I was thinking how mean it looked just sitting there. I then opened up the shop, by then my boss Kolbert came in, and so did mu buddy Johnny. They both gave the car once over look and they both liked it. My boss told me “looks like you’ll be busy working on it after work” I said “yep sure will… every time I get a chance

Gil Ayala’s old ’42 Ford with the quad headlights at an 1961 event at the Pomona Drag track.
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Gil had used Ford dual headlights in the ’42 Ford fenders. Memo Ortega finished the work and eventually repainted the whole car in Royal Blue.
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The Ford being driven at the parking lot back in 1961.
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First thing I did with Johnny’s help, was to try to get the car started. We jacked up the car and pulled the gas-tank plug off, got rid of the old jellowed gas (it looked like Jello). We had to pull off the gas-tank, clean it, and back it went. We poured new gas in and got a new battery for it. We also drained the old oil, got new oil and after a little while we got the engine going. It smoked heavy for a little while, then it got better and the engine sounded good. Then Johnny and I decided it sounded good enough to take it for a spin.¬† MAN that was good! The two 92’s were working good that was a big plus. It’s hard to remember every thing, since this was all such a long time ago.

Anyway, after getting the car drive-able, the first thing I wanted to do was get the headlites Gil Ayala had started finished. They turned out real good. I got the car all cleaned up, the interior was still the same as what Gil had in the car since the late 40’s. Tuck & roll, looked real cool. I started driving it and it was just so kool. The car had had lots of power, I really dug it. I kept driving it while I continued working on it. Me and some of my buddies were krusin with the car all over the place. The car ran fantastic and another big plus, the radio also worked. We took the car to Fairmont Park in Riverside at least twice, and we got some good looks as we krused around there. That was the place to go bumper to bumper krusin good memories from Gil’s kustom. Eventually I got the car all done, had the chrome re-plated and painted it a beautiful Royal Blue Bonito.

Illustration Memo created some years after he had sold the Ford.
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Thank you Gil Ayala for creating this mean kustom and allowing me to buy it from you. I have enjoyed it a lot during the few years I had it. May you rest in peace… The Ayala’s forever.



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Gil’s ’42 Ford still around?
We have recently heard some rumors that Gil’s ’42 Ford is still around today… stored in a warehouse for the last 15 years. Apparently it was saved from a junk Yard in California, then brought to the East Coast of the US by a previous owner, and sold to the current owner in early 2002. We hope to be able to bring you more news about this in the near future.

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Gils Auto Body Works GMC

 

GILS AUTO BODY WORKS GMC

 

In 1952 Gil and Al Ayala create a stunning looking 1949 GMC Pick Up to be used as the Gils Auto Body Works Shop Truck. The Pick Up is still around today.



Gil Ayala started building his 1949 GMC 3/4 ton pick up shop truck around 1952. In November ’52 most of the hard work was done. According to Joe Bailon interviewed for the Rodder’s Journal Ayala article by Pat Ganahl, He drove the GMC when it was already chopped but still with the glass missing while visiting Los Angeles for the Petersen Motorama Show at the Pan Pacific Motorame. In May 1953 the Shop Truck was was featured for the first time in the Hop Up magazine with a full spread article. This means that the car was finished somewhere between November’52 and February/March ’53. (at least one month was needed for the magazine to get published, so the photos would have been taken at least one month before the magazine hit the newsstands.)

Gil realized that the shop truck used by they guys at the Gil’s Auto Body Shop was picking up and dropping off parts all over town. These show trucks were driven a lot, so when it was time for a new Shop Truck, and the 1949 GMC 3/4 ton pick up was picked he decided that it might be a good idea to make it a really good looking truck that would be a rolling advertisement for the Gil’s Auto Body Works shop skills.

Nice low angle view shows how good the forward rake looks on Gil’s Shop Pick Up.
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Beautifully balanced custom work give Gil’s Shop Truck the perfect proportions. This photo shows the row of louvers down in the center of the hood, which was a lot of extra work.
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The car was first lowered to get the right stance. Now most of the customs created by the Ayala’s at this time would have a more tail dragging stance, ore sit level for the best looks. Not in the case of this GMC. For practical reasons the rear of the truck needed to sit high, so that there could be some load in the bed. It was after all a Shop Truck, and hauling parts etc was the cars main goal. The rear was still dropped 3.5 inches using lowering block. The front however was dropped considerably more using a dropped axle, resulting in a more Hot rod froward rake. The stance looks really great on the car, especially with keeping in mind that this truck was built to be used.

With the stance figured out the next step was to show off the body working skills of the Ayala shop. The top was chopped tree inches at the windshield, and one inch more at the back to get the perfect balance of the cab shape. In the process the drip rails were shaved for a cleaner look. All emblem and handles were removed and holes filled. Solenoid’s and door poppers were installed. The two piece hood was welded solid, and since Gil wanted to have the hood louvred with one of the louver strip in the center, Al Ayala had to graft in a new center section that allowed for the louvres to be punched in. A lot of work, but I guess it was a nice conversation piece for possible customers of the shop, showing the skills of the Ayala Shop. The tailgate was paneled over the get rid of the GMC script embossed in the stock unit.

1950 Mercury taillights mounted low on the rear fenders. The pick up tailgate was panneled over to remove the GMC embossed script before the hand made chrome plated metal Gil’s Auto Body Works sign was added.
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Interior was done in dark green and ivory by Chavez. The dash and garnish moldings look to be chrome plated.
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Chrome plated running boards as well as the filler panel from the trunk to the running boards.
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The headlights were frenched, and at the rear the stock pick up bed mounted taillights were removed and replaced with 1950 Mercury taillights mounted low on the rear fenders. The grille surround was smoothed, the GMC letters removed and the whole unit send out to be chrome plated. The complete running boards and filler panels on the truck were also completely chrome plated. Perhaps both were done to help promote the House of Chrome shop that was located in the small office Building at Gil’s shop. When all the work was done Gill painted the car in Emerald green and masked off a set of stylistic flames which were painted in Sarasota green. the flames were possibly inspired by those Gil had painted on the Evan’s Belly Tank Racer which Gil had painted a few years earlier.

Low mounted ’50 Mercury taillight makes the truck look more sophisticated.
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Al Ayala chopped the top on the GMC 3 inches in the front and 4 inches in the rear. This side view shows he nailed the proportions doing so.
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Close up of the hand made heavy metal cut sign used as grille.
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A set of Appleton Spotlight was added to the A-Pillars, the stock front bumper was dressed up with a set of Chevy pick Up  bumper guards, and all the window glass was cut to fit the new smaller openings. The rear quarter window glass could not be cut, so replacement units were shaped from Plexiglass. Gil mounted a set of wide white wall tires and added four Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps to give the car the just perfect custom look. For the grille opening and for the tailgate Gil decided that he wanted to have the shop name in heavy metal all polished to perfection and chrome plated. The ultimate piece for this rolling piece of Custom Shop advertising.

The interior of the car was upholstered in Dark green and Ivory by Chavez, who did a lot of upholstery work for Gil’s Auto Body Works. Possibly the complete dashboard in the truck was also chrome plated, but we have not been able to locate any photos confirming this. Being a designated “work car” Gil decided to keep the engine (straight 6) all stock and reliable, as we can see in the photos it had only one exhaust during the time it was the Gil’s Auto Body Works shop truck. The ’53 Hop Up article mentioned that if the truck had been built for a customer, they would have charged $500 for the chopped top, $ 65 for the freching and $200 for the paint job.

Smoothed hood with the center peak removed, added louvres, frenched headlights and smoothed and chrome plated grille surround. The addition of the Chevy bumper guards looks good, but as this one being a work truck as well, this was most likely also practical.
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We are very fortunate that at least two color photos of the truck have survaced. This one is the nicest, showing the truck from the rear quarters from a low angle. The forward rake was unusual for a Custom back in the early 1950’s, but makes total sense on this custom Shop Truck. The ’51 California License plate has a ’52 tag on is when this photo was taken.
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The Color

The ’53 Hop Up magazine article mentioned that the car was painted in Emerald green and the scallops in Sarasota Green. We asked Memo Ortega if he remembered anything about the color on Gil’s Shop Truck.¬† Memo remembered that when he visited Gil’s shop in 1951-52, at the time the chop truck was built he drove his ’37 Chevy four door sedan custom. Memo had the Kolbert body shop paint his Chevy in a pecial mixed paint based on 1951 Oldsmobile Palm Green metallic.¬† To the Oldsmobile base color Memo had Kolbert add more green toner and some bright silver powder. The color came out really beautiful with the extra sparkle from the silver powder it really stood out. Gil really loved the color and Gill and Memo talked about the color often when he visited Gil’s Shop. Memo had painted the fire wall on his chevy off white, and that combination really popped. Although it was never mentioned anywhere, Memo feels that the color on his Chevy might have inspired Gil to paint his Chop Truck a similar shade of green, and the flames in an off white Sarasota Green.

1951 Olds Palm Green was the base on Memo Ortega’s 1937 Chevy Four Door mild Custom. Possibly Gil used the same base color on his GMC Shop Truck.
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Al Ayala working on the extension of a rear fender on a ’53 Lincoln. In the back ground we can see a small portion of the GMC truck sitting in the parking lot of the shop. (Hot Rod Magazine May 1953).
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Gil’s Shop trunk shows in the background of a photo taken around 1954-55. I cropped out just the car and it looks like by now the flames are missing from the hood, possibly¬† the hood was in primer, perhaps it got damage being used for the past two years as shop truck.
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The May 1953 issue of Hop Up magazine was a big issue for the Ayala’s, The Al Glickman ’49 Mercury was in color on the cover, plus a full feature inside, and so was Gil’s Auto Body Works Shop Truck with a two page feature. On the right is the December 1957 issue of Hot Rod magazine which showed the fresh new Geisler version of the car.
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Bruce Geisler new owner

Gil and other shop employees used the pickup truck like this for a number of years. Somewhere in 1954, perhaps ’55, Gil sold the truck to Bruce Geisler. Bruce made a few changes to the pick up. He hopped up the Jimmy 6 engine adding a new manifold with 5 carburetors and many other speed goodies. While dressing up the engine Bruce also had a stet of pick up bed side flowing large diameter exhaust tubing’s made. The exhaust tubes were shaped in such a way they exited just below the front of the pick up bed, the the chrome plated filler panel. The follow the cab to the top of the pick up bed and then follow the pick up bed all the way to the rear of the car, on both sides.

Bruce also re-installed the stock GMC grille, most likely Gil kept the chrome plated custom made Gil’s Auto Body Works piece for the grille and trunk. By now the hood most likely had been replaced and a new one with GMC scripts was added again. Not sure why this was done, perhaps the original hood got damaged along the way, and a new hood had been added to the car, still with the original scripts on the hood sides. When all the work was done Bruce had the car painted in a soft pink color. We do not know which color, but a few years later when the car was owned by Dwayne Grotewold the car was repainted in 1956 Lincoln Amathist pink. (perhaps to match the pink Bruce added to the car?)

From a full page in the 1958 Custom Cars Annual. (The annual mentioned that the car was painted white!)
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A good look at the fully dressed up Jimmy 6 cylinder engine in the GMC while Bruce Geisler owned it.
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Bruce also had the logo of his company “Geisler Construction Co.” painted on both door sides of the car. Bruce replaced the Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps with ’53 Cadillac units and the Chevy bumper guards on the front bumper were replaced with a Chevy license plate guard overrider. And at the rear an unidentified, most likely home made two bar rear bumper was added. The car was featured like this in the May 1958 issue of Rod & Custom magazine as well as in the 1958 edition of the Custom Car annual.


Family cleaning of the truck for an outdoor car show in 1957.
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1957 photo taken at the Sears parking lot on Long Beach Boulevard in Compton is the earliest color photo showing the truck painted pink by Bruce Geisler.
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Later in 1958 Bruce sold the car to Dwayne Grotewold who owned Grotewold Motors in Le Mars, Iowa. At the time the car had a chrome dash and chrome garnish moldings. The car was now painted ’56 Lincoln Amathist paint and the Geisler logo’s on the doors were removed. After that the car changed hands a few times, was named a Chevy and the 6 cylinder enging was replaced by a¬† Chevy V8 engine. During this time the car was also advertised for Sale as a Car that was build by the Barris Shop!

Dwayne Grotewold had Gil’s Shop truck repainted in Lincoln Amethyst pink.
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¬†Hemmings Motor News For Sale Ad from the 1970’s – 80’s showing the car in what looks like dark gray primer. The ad mentioned that the pick up was built by Barris Kustoms. Not sure if this was done by mistake, or done to see if this could raise a bit more money. (Thanks Cory Vaughn)
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In the 1980’s, Bruce Geisler found his old truck “just happened to locate it” in a wrecking yard in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He bought the truck and took it home. In the early 1990’s he started to work on the truck restoring what needed to be restored and making a few changes along the way. He added a Nova front clip, new power seats, for more comfort, and a a 6-71 blown small block Chevy, a TH350 transmission and a Ford 9-inch rear end. To fit the blower and scoop it was needed to cut a hole in the welded hood! Once again Bruce painted the car pink, but this time a toned primer, since this car was a driver, not meant to be a show car this time. The chrome stock front bumper was replaced with a custom ordered ribbed aluminum Briz bumper. Bruce enjoyed the car for many years, traveling to many events.

Rod & Custom news item by Pat Ganahl on how Bruce found his old pick up back.
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The GMC in 2009 at the Art Chrismans Christmas Party show the hole in the hood for the scoop, the thin briz bumper up front, the stock grille surround.
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From the rear we can see that the large diameter exhaust tubing’s are still in place, the covers just above the running boards are now painted body color, and no longer chrome plated. Bruce added a aluminum Auto Butchers ELA plaque, and this photo shows the rear bumper well that Bruce added in the mid 1950’s.
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In 2010 some minor body repairs were done and here we can see the car with primer spots, awaiting for a matching coat of pink primer. The black wall tires change the look of the car completely.
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Now in New Jersey

In 2011 the car was sold once again and is now owned by Jim Bobowski in New Jersey. In 2012 the plan was still to restore it back to how it was originally built by Gil Ayala. In 2016 they were working on the suspension, backdating to how it used to be when Gil Ayala owned the car. The car can be seen at some local New Jersey shows from time to time. The original chrome grille surround is now replaced with a pink primer painted stock unit with GMC script, and the front bumper has been replaced with a smaller Briz unit. In July 2017 the car is getting redone in the original Gil’s Auto Body Works version, green with flames!. Very exiting to see it back together how it used to look.

The most recent photo of the pick up, now in New Jersey. The scoop on the engine is now gone, hood filled and the original Appleton Spotlights have been replace by Dummy Spots.
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The Signs

The all metal heavy metal cut signs used on Gil’s Shop truck must have been quite a bit of work. They must have been hand cut and smoothed before they could have been chrome plated. Most likely Al Ayala was responsible for this work, and since they were going to used on the Shop Truck aka driving advertising, they had to be as perfect as possible.
What ever happened with the two hand made metal cut and chrome plated Gil’s Auto Body Works signs that weer used on the GMC Shop Truck. Most likely there were removed by Gil before he sold the car to Bruce Geisler, perhaps they hung on the wall of Gil’s Shop, or stored at home? Is there anybody who ever saw these pieces again after they were removed from the car in the mid 1950’s?



The tailgate sign, where is it now?
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The Slippery Ayala Look

 

SLIPPERY AYALA LOOK

 

Gil and Al Ayala started creating Custom Cars in around 1945. One of their trademark restyling techniques would become the super smooth molded in everything look. The Slippery Ayala Look.



In 1945 Gil Ayala opened his Gil’s Auto Body Works shop on 4074 East Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. Together with his older brother Al Ayala an several part-time employees the shop would turn out truly unique and trend setting Custom Cars for several decades.

Each of the famous and well known body-shops from the 1940s and 1950’s had some sort of signature look, a look that you could easily recognize. When you saw a car created by one of these particular shops, you were able to identify it because of this signature look, often a combination of the shops specialities. The Valley Custom Shop from Burbank Ca, was known for their factory Custom look, and especially for their subtile sharp looking body work and sectioned bodies. The Barris shop in Lynwood was easily recognizable from their wonderful balanced restyled and chopped cars with the right amount of unique side trim- and grill designs, and mile-deep organic paint jobs (and from 1952 on¬†of course from the Barris Crest).

Al Ayala working on the cowl vent of the Ayala 1940 Mercury.
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The Ayala’s where best known for a few things, full fade-away fenders, very creative brilliant home mixed paint¬†and most important their ultra smooth, slippery one piece streamlined bodies with absence of most of the¬†body trim pieces. Both Al and Gil Ayala worked together when it came to the designing of the cars, but it was Al who loved to blend-in panels using hand shaped and pre-shaped panels, everything needed for that wonderful one piece molten-butter-streamline-look. Al was responsible for most of the body-work done in the shop. It takes great design skills to be able to pull this style off, Remove all the trim pieces that helped guide the eyes, and still make a car look very attractive and interesting. This super smooth body style was very popular in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. There are plenty of samples of similar molded in customs from back in the day or even recently created customs that have all the elements, but are still not working like those old Ayala Customs.

Even though the Slippery Smooth style was something typically Ayala, that did not mean that very car done by the Ayala’s had this look. I guess the majority of the cars they created did not have this special look. Mostly because it was very time consuming, and very costly, so it was up to what project came to the shop, and how much money the owner was willing to spend. Also several other shops around the 48-54 time frame used similar styling, the Barris Kustoms built Snooky Janich ’41 Ford business Coupe and the Hirohata Merc for instance are¬†good sample of a similar smooth look.

The brothers Gil and Al Ayala just had the eye for doing this style and with a few sample cars shown in this article. I will show what was important to make this style work so well.

  • Wally Welch 1941 Ford
  • Gil Ayala 1940 Mercury
  • Jack stewart 1941 Ford
  • Hank griffith 1942 Ford
  • Gil Ayala 1942 Ford
  • Louis Betancourt 1949 Mercury
  • Buddy Alcorn Mercury




Wally Welch 1941 Ford

I¬†like to start¬†with the Wally Welch ’41 Ford, not because it was the first one done, it was not, but just because at this moment it is the only car we have nice and clear in-progress photos of how the Ayala’s created this smooth look. These photos clearly show that the majority of the shaping, the smoothing of the body lines was done using pre-shaped metal panels, and only a limited amount of lead was used. There are also sampled were a larger amount of lead was used to fill in the smoothed panels. And even some other photos show that all of the smoothing was done done with lead, and no metal shaping was used. We are not sure why different techniques were used for this. Perhaps it was a time/money thing where the use of lead was easier, quicker, thus less expensive, but that is only a guess. The Wally Welch ’41 Ford is still using some exterior trim, so it might be seen as only a partial Slippery Ayala Look, but the progress photos sure help us understand how Gil and Al created their characteristic Custom Look.

1949 The Ayala’s mold the rear fenders on Wally Welch’s 1941 Ford convertible. The work is done by hand or pre-shaped metal strips that follow the contour of the fender, and have a nice radius to make the fender flow smoothly into the rest of the body. The work was most likely performed by Al Ayala who performed the majority of the body work at the shop.
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Cleaning the fresh metal work so that the lead will stick to it.
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Lead was carefully added for the ultimate smooth molded fender look.
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The headlights and front fenders also get the smooth¬†look.¬†Wally’s Ford still had some trim on the body left, it is not the the super smooth Ayala look, but these photos give us a good look how the Ayala’s created the Slippery Smooth Look.
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The California Metal Shaping Company supplied many pre-shaped metal panels to the Ayala’s. The CMS shop was equipped with far better machined that could create the shaped panels needed for the Ayala smooth streamline look much faster than Al Ayala could do in the Ayala shop. The shop was located at 1704 Hooper Ave in Los Angeles.
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Gil Ayala 1940 Mercury

Gil Ayala’s 1940 Mercury with ’48 Cadillac rear fenders is a perfect sample of the Slippery Ayala Look. Most of the exterior trim has been removed from the car, except the windshield and side window trim as well as the taillight trim and grille. All the handles were removed holes filled and everything was smoothed. But the major part of the Ayala look comes from the molded in Cadillac rear fenders and the full fade away front fenders with molded in headlights. The fade away fenders were welded to the body, and the line from the fenders to the body was molded with a nice flowing radius, very similar in look¬†and feel¬†as the round shapes found elsewhere on the car.

On factory stock cars with fade away fenders, like the 42-48 Buicks the fade away fenders are usually bold on parts, with a sharp edge from fender to body. The Ayala’s decided that that look would not fit their Customs, so the fender extensions, most likely shaped by the California Metal Shaping company were welded to the body, and flared with a large amount of lead, or perhaps with shaped metal panels.


The front 3/4 view shows the flowing radius on the molded in fade away fenders really well. It also shows that it was necessary to create a dip in the radius section at the front of the door, allowing the door to be opening inside the front portion of the fade away fenders.
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Slippery Smooth rear 3/4 view.
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Jack Stewart 1941 Ford

The Jack Stewart Ford is I think the second best sample¬†(following¬†the first versions of the Louis Bettancourt ’49 Mercury)¬†of the Ayala Slippery Smooth look. And second best is only because some of the details on the car were later restyled by George Barris, so this one is not 100% pure Ayala.

This Custom was started in 1948 by Jack Stewart and a friend, but in 1949 Jack took it to the Ayala’s to take it to the next level. Al and Gil Ayala re-chopped the top to make it flow much better, they created full fade-away fenders and a new hood. Then everything was molded into one piece, using shaped metal and blended together with lead.

Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford at Gil’s Auto Body Works around 1949. Most of the work on the car was done by then. Later George Barris would reshape the taillights and clean up the fender character lines. But the whole slippery smooth lines of the car originate at the Ayala shop.
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The Ayalas used the California Metal Shaping company pre-shaped panels that where created from Al’s instructions. This way the shop saved a lot of time creating the wonderful smooth molded look. One of the features of the Smoothed Ayala look is the lack of body chrome. On the Jack Stewart Ford only the bumpers, grille, windshield molding, Appleton Spots and vent window divider are chrome or stainless. Still Al was able to create a unique body shape that your eye would follow from the front all the way to the rear bumper. The Ayala’s where brilliant in finding just the right radius of molding in the parts. Combined with a flow of the top, and heavily reshaped window openings they were able to create very interesting flowing and streamlined lines on a one piece looking body. Of big help to this look are rounded corners on the hood, door corners and trunk. These corners were not just rounded, the right radius was carefully figured out comparing to other body elements and amount of flow needed.

The Jack Stewart Ford in 1951, shortly after Jim Skonzakes had bought it from Jack Stewart and drove it from Los Angeles to Dayton Ohio, where Jim lived. The rear quarter view shows that the only sharp edges on the car are from the opening or removable body panel, everything else has been molded and smoothed.
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An interesting detail is that¬†when the Ayala’s created the car around 1949 they used a molded taillight pod with 46-48 Ford taillights, similar to those used on the Wally Welch Ford, as well as Gil’s personal ’42 Ford. It was George Barris who reshaped those taillights to fit more with the Ayala Slippery body contours. And it makes me wonder if George Barris and his brother Sam perhaps got inspired by these melting butter smooth look and might have used it later on the Janich and Hirohata customs.

The best thing about the Jack Stewart Ford is that car has survived and is now owned by Palle Johansen from Denmark. During its restoration the car has been stripped to bare metal and we are now able to show in detail how the super smooth Ayala look was created.

During the restoration of the Jack Stewart Ford the door jam panel of the fade away fender section had to be¬†cut off to fix some rust, and be able to get a better fitting door. This allows us to see how the California Metal Shaping panel was created, and how the Ayala’s had molded it to the ’41 Ford doors. In contrast with the molded in fenders on the Wally Welch Mercury, this radius was done completely with lead.
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Rear 3/4 view of the Jack Stewart Ford in bare metal shows that the Ayala’s, and later George Barris smoothed reshaped the metal during the restyling and smoothed everything out with lead The moulded belt line is clearly visible in this photo.¬†The finishing touch was a set of hand made taillights created by Bob Hirohata.
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The side view shows the molded rear fenders, fade away fenders and the smoothed beltline.¬†Even with all this round molded body work, the Ayala’d were able to maintain an interesting looking car that flows from front to rear¬†seamingly in motion while standing still.¬†
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The rear quarter view makes the car look like it was carved from soft wax.
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Hank griffith 1942 Ford

Hank¬†Griffith‚Äės 1942 Ford is an interesting car in many ways, but especially when it comes to the Ayala Smooth Look. The car was actually only partly built at the Ayala shop, and the work they performed was done with the typical Ayala look, while the rest of the restyling was done in a more conventional style. When Hank took his Ford to the Ayala’s he already had his good friend¬†Ray Saconi chop the top on the coupe. A straightforward chop with the drip rails left in place,while those were about the first thing to go when the Ayala’s would chop a top. But since the chop was already done, it was left alone and the Ayala’s were asked to integrate a set of 1950 Cadillac rear fenders and doors¬†(for the fade aways)¬†as well as the grille into the ’42 Ford.

The stock Ford rear fenders were removed and the Caddy rear fenders modified to fit the Ford body. Especially at the front the fenders needed some work to work with the ’42 Ford body. The¬†fenders¬†were¬†welded in place and leaded smooth into the body. The front fenders were extended at the rear and the Cadillac doors used to create the fade away panels all the way to the back of the door where they meet the reshaped front section of the rear fenders. The new rear fenders ended at the rear door jamb. The headights rings were frenched into the front feders and the grille opening reshaped to fir the Cadillac grille. The new sides of the ’41 Ford have now been totally Ayala reshaped.¬†with a nice flowing and smooth feel, which is now actually a huge contrast with the bit square chopped top with sharp drip rails. Hank later had the car repainted in a deep root-beer color.

This low angle view of Hank Griffit’s ’42 Ford shows¬†the nice and smooth flowing work on the fenders and body sides, compared to the square chopped top.¬†It makes me wonder if the Ayala’s ever got tempted toe reshow the top with more flowing and smoother lines during the time the car was at their shop.
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Removing the drip rails

The removed drip-rails is one of the important features of this Ayala look. The Ayala’s were not the only shop to do that, but they sure were extremely good at it. Most of the cars they created with shaved drip rails had the side window openings and door tops reshaped to work better with the new smooth look. However the first time the shop decided to shave the drip-rails on a car, it was not done pure as a design element, it started out as a practical thing.

Custom car legend Memo Ortega, who owned Gil Ayala’s personal 1946 Ford in the late 1950 remembered that he asked Gil about the shaved drip rails in the early 1950’s. Gil mentioned that the first time they shaved the drip rails it was done to save time, and do the job cheaper for the client. The client loved the fully shaved look, as well as the lower bill. The shaved drip rail look was noticed by new clients and a trend was set. The Ayala’s were very¬†good in chopping tops this way.¬†Often extending the rear quarter windows a bit more than when the same chop was made with the drip rails still in place. Also the flow from the door opening to the rear quarter window had to be dealt with very carefully. The drip rail was a practical element, but it also helped the eye with the flow of the car. Without this extra line the flow of the door and side windows needed to be just right, and that was what the Ayala’s were capable of creating.



Gil Ayala 1942 Ford

Personal cars from a Custom Body Shop are more than just a project, they are the shops business card, a rolling advertisement for the skills available in the shop. Personal cars were created for fun, for sure, but also to draw the attention of new customers. So when Gil decided to built a new personal Custom based on his 1942 Ford Coupe, he knew it needed to be superb, and recognisable as an Ayala Custom.

The top was chopped in an almost fast back way with the rear of the top chopped considerably more than the front for the ultimate Ayala smooth look. The drip rails were of course shaved and the rear quarter windows were completely reshaped to fit the new roof profile. All four fenders were molded to the body and using shaped sheet metal and lead they were flared into the body. All the exterior trim, except the windshield and rear window frames was removed and holes filled and the body smoothed. Taillight pods were hand shaped and molded into the fender flowing with the line of the long fender skirt, and echoing the shape of the rear, molden in, slash pan. The running boards were removed and new covers created and molded to the lower part of the body for a much smoother lower half of the car. Once done, Gil did not even instal a set of Appleton Spotlights to break up the super smooth body. It is as if Gil¬†wanted to say “looks at all the smooth body work we did on my car. It is super straight, and flows from front to real and has no extra chrome trim or accessories to be pleasing to the eye.”

Side view shows how extreme the chopin Gil’s personal ’42 Ford Coupe is and how beautifully it flows into the trunk. The side trim was removed, but the belt-line was left sharp on this car, and not filled with lead like how it was done on Jack Stewart’s Ford and Louis Bettancourt’s 49 Mercury.
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The chopped roof looks even more extreme from the rear. Most likely Al used California Metal shaping to create the new sail paneles needed to make this chop work as good as id does. The moulded in rear fenders looks perfect in stye with the whole smooth appearance of the rear of the car.
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Profile view shows the incredible flow of the chopped top, and how the curves of the top have the same feel as the shape of the molded in fenders.
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Flow from the roof into the trunk, it does not get any smoother than this. This photo also shows the smooth curved shape of the molded fenders, and how the molded in running boards help with the overall smooth look of the car. Absence of side trim only works because of the careful designed flow of the body.
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Louis Bettancourt 1949 Mercury

Another great sample of the look is the 1949 Mercury the Ayala’s created for Louis Bettancourt. It belongs to one of the first 49-51 Mercury’s that were chopped and the lines on this custom are truly unique. Especially if you pay close attention to all the details Al added to this car. The car was stripped from all its trim, except the windshield and rear window trim. Even the side window trim was removed and to make it even smoother the body lines around the windows were leaded smooth.

The car was chopped with a wonderful flow and balance. The way the top flows into the trunk is enhanced by the unusual large radius added to the trunk corners. This new line helps the top flow much better into the trunk section. The drip rail was shaved and the door tops reshaped and rounded. One trick on this car that must have taken a lot of time to do, and which goes unnoticed a lot, is that the B-pillar on the door was narrowed to get in balance with the B-pillar on the rear quarter window. Just another major touch that helps with the balance and flow.

The rear view of the Louis Bettancourt Mercury shows the hand shaped taillights made to fit with the smoothed body. The top trunk corners were reshaped to make the roof flow nicer into the trunk. The fade away fenders flow from the headlights all the way to the rear portion of the rear fender where its shape was echoed by the custom made taillight lip.
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This side view of the Bettancourt Merc shows the modifications done to the B-pillar and how the side windows and belt line were completely smoothed.
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The first version of the Bettancourt Mercury shows the use of very little chrome. Simple but elegant 1951 Kaiser grille bar, bumpers, windshield surround and door mounted Appleton Spotlights is the only chrome. The rest of the body is molded and all corners rounded. Notice how the rear hood corner shape makes it easier to make the transition to the windshield.
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All fender panels were welded to the body and smoothed, the dog dip on the door was streamlined for a full fade away effect. The grille surround was molded in, and a second surround flipped and repeated on the bottom. The hood corners on the front were rounded with an radius that matched the grille opening. The rear corners of the hood also had a large radius added. which helped the eye with the flow of the front to the top. The molded in taillights have a molded in lip that has a similar smaller radius as used elsewhere on the car. The first version of this car was finished by the Ayala’s in a lime gold and the car only had chrome on the bumpers, grille, the spotlights, and the window trim front and rear.

The car must have looked stunning like this. But not too long after that it was restyled by the Barris Shop, and some more chrome details were added including a Cadillac side trim. But still after that the Ayala Streamline molded look was still very evident.

The Barris version of the Bettancourt Mercury shows a new grille, bumpers and side trim. But the main smoothed body theme still remains The dark maroon paint shows of the smoothed body lines even better.
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Close up of the B-Pillar work done by the Ayala’s. The door corners are rounded, and door line is now centred in the B-pillar. The window opening¬†edges¬†are leaded smooth and so is the belt-line. Flow.
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Buddy Alcorn 1950 Mercury

This 1950 Mercury was restyled mostly by the Ayala’s for an unknown owner in the early 1950’s. This photo of the unfinished car appeared in the 1952 edition of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling. Most likely the car was¬†finished in this version, but so far no photos of it have surfaced from this version. All we have are two set free from the background photos from the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling. What we can see in these photos is the super smooth flowing near fast back style chopped top with the drip rails removed and angled forward B-Pillard. Full fade away fenders with all body lines molded in and the use of early 1950’s Oldsmobile rear fenders and taillights.

In progress photos, most likely taken at the Ayala shop shows the beautiful flowing lines of the chopped top and the full fade away fender line.
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Later, in 1955 Buddy Alcorn bought the Mercury and took it to the Barris shop for an update. The Barris shop added the side trim with rear quarter panel scoop and reshaped the rear fenders to accept a set of 1955 Plymouth taillights. This photo shows how much the top trunk corners are rounded to flow with the super smooth chopped top. 
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Jim McClarens 1949 Ford

Jim-McClaren’s 1949 Ford coupe it perhaps a bit different from the other cars in this article because it does have chrome side trim and even chrome 1951 taillight wind-splits. But I wanted to include the car in this article to show how the Ayala’s chopped this very hard to chop coupe, and how all the detail lines on the top, including the belt line are molded in and smoothed. The rear quarter windows were heavily reshaped to work with the flow of the top, and to blend the doors into the rear quarter window the top corners where rounded with a nice large radius. All this created the unique Ayala look.

When Bruce Bartlett shared this picture he asked me if I had any idea who had built it for his friend Jim McClarens. Based on the incredible looking chopped top with its smooth look and feel I said. “This¬†must be an Ayala Custom!” Correct Bruce said.
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Gil Ayala painted Cars

 

GIL AYALA PAINTED CARS

 

Gil Ayala loved to mix Custom Paint Colors, he loved to experiment with toners, with different base coats, to create the ultimate Custom Paint finish.


In 1945 Gil and two year older brother Al Ayala opened Gil’s Auto Body Shop on Olympic Blvd in East Los Angeles. The team would soon start to turn out trend setting and stunning looking Custom Cars with an unique look The Ayala look. Two key elements for the shop were flawless body work by Al, and stunning colors and super glossy paintwork by Gil. Gil love to mix colors, experiment with toners, and metallic powders, to come up with new and exiting custom colors. He experimented a lot with the so called bleeding colors, that were rather transparent, and the more coats you added of these, the deeper the color became. The color base coat also influenced the hue, so more experimenting was needed to find the perfect mix.


Ayala Body Shop

From the early period, the first 5-7 years there have so far not been any color photos shared that show what Gil was doing. But there stories are there, the black and white magazine features are there, withe the color descriptions. and fortunately we have several magazine covers from the early-mid 1950’s that show the Gil Ayala Custom Colors. And even better, and for sure more accurate several great color photos showing Gil’s work have survived all these years and have been shared with the Custom Car enthusiasts. And hopefully the future will bring many more.

Gil was widely known for mixing Custom Colors, and painting cars.¬†People from all over SoCal came to Gil to have him mix special paints. $15 to $25 was all it took to have Gil mix you one or two gallon of special mixed paint. You could then take it home to spray yourself, or have another painted do it for you. Having Gil paint your car would of course cost you. He was after all one of the best. Especially later on, in the later part of the 1950’s up into the 1970’s Gil painted many cars, for customers who just wanted to have a special unique color on their car. Not necessarily a custom car or hot rod. He always extra promoted the Custom Painting on the ads he ran for his Gil’s Auto Body Shop as well as the business cards he had.




One of the most amazing color photos taken of Ayala Customs must be the one taken for the Cover of the Oct.¬†’51 Motor Trend magazine. It shows no less than four Gil Ayala painted custom cars in one picture. The cars are. Top ¬†left, Don Holland’s Dark purple painted 41 Ford convertible, Top right, Wally Welch’s Devil-Red metallic painted ’41 Ford convertible. Middle right, John Geraghty’s Glamour Green ’40 Ford convertible, and lower left is Gil’s personal ’42-46 Ford Coupe painted in his favorite bronze metallic color.
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Copper Bronze Hues

One of the first¬†full Custom Cars Gil Ayala created for himself is his ’42-46 Ford long door coupe with ultra slippery chopped top and smooth moulded fenders. He painted the car in his own mix of bronze, copper, gold. We don’t know if he named this color, and the only time we have found it listed in any of the period publications it was named Gold. But the color photos we have seen of the car show a more bronze than gold looking paint. Apparently Gil liked this color, or the copper hue very much, since he used it on at least two more car. Of course it could also be that the client had seen Gil’s Ford and decided they wanted their cars painted a similar color. Possibly Gil painted or mixed this color for the first time for Lynn Yakel’s 1936 Ford chopped coupe which was restyled at Gil’s Auto Body Works.

Ayala Lynn YakelLynn Yakel’s 1936 Ford was restyled by the Ayala’s It is unsure if Gil actually painted the car himself, or that a guy named Rudy who was working for Johnny’s Body & Fender shop located next door to the Ayala’s painted it. But the color used on Lynn’s Ford was the same color that was used on Gil’s personal ’42Ford. So at least Gil had custom mixed the color for Lynn’s Ford.
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We have only found one period publication that lists the color of Gil’s personal ’42 Ford… as Gold. We now know that is was a bronze metallic color custom mixed by Gil. Later the car was painted deep blue, but from version that we have sadly not been able to find any color photos. Who knows what the future will bring.
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Gil’s 42-46 Ford coupe, most likely owned by¬†Bob Gillum at the time this amazing color photo was taken.
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Unidentified 41 Ford chopped convertible at the Ayala shop is also painted in a bronze hue. Most likely painted by Gil. These bronze hue paints appear to have been¬†very popular on Custom Cars in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. We have found quite a few cars that were painted in this color range, and not only done by Gil Ayala.
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Devil Maroon Red

One of the early popular Gil Ayala colors was Devil-Red and Devil-Red Maroon. We know of several cars painted in a dark, deep red color that has been named Devil-Red Wally Welch had his ’41 Ford painted this color twice, and Gil also used this color when he repainted his own personal 1940 Mercury Coupe with full fade away fenders from yet black to Devil Red.


Early version of Wally Welsh’s ’41 Ford shows a deep dark red color. This version of the car also had the deep red, devil-red paint mixed and applied by Gil Ayala.
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The later version of the car was painted a similar hue as the first version. This paint color was described as Devil-Red Metallic Finish in the first Trend Books Custom Cars annual published in 1951. (The photo above was very badly faded, so the colors are digitally enhanced.)
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The Devil-Red Metallic¬†color of Wally’s ’41 Ford shows even better in the color slide that was made at the gathering of Ayala Restyled cars at the Gi’s Auto Body Works shop for the famous Motor Trend cover.
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The full fade away fender 1940 Mercury was created as Gil’s personal car, but was later sold to Richard J. Stickley. It was painted yet black at first, but when Richards owned it in 1951 Gil had repainted the car in Devil Maroon. No color photos have been surfaced of either version so far. But since Gil’s wife Lucille mentioned in one of her written notes that the car was painted Devil Maroon, I wanted to include it in this article on Gil’s Colors anyway.
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This is the note that Gil’s wife Lucille wrote ¬†on the back of the 1951 Oakland Roadster Show contender pin. There she mentioned that¬†Gil’s¬†’40 Mercury had one 1st place and that the car was (Devil Maroon).
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The Ayala’s mildy restyled Mel Gerrard’s ’50 Oldsmobile before Gil added the¬†beautiful custom mixed deep maroon lauqer paint to it. Stunning color photo from the Ayala Family.
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The paint Gil Ayala added to Mel Gerrard’s ’50 Oldsmobile “88” was beautifully described in the Trend book 1955 Custom Cars Annual.
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Al Glickman’s ’49 Mercury convertible was painted Devil-Red Maroon as well. Thanks to the May 1953 Hop Up magazine cover image we know a bit how this color looked on the Mercury. The printing techniques back in 1953 were not as great and accurate as we are used to now, so we have to keep in mind the colors might be¬†a bit off¬†from how they really looked.¬†
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Hop Up May 1953 feature article description of the paint on Al Glickman’s ’49 Mercury. Another Devil Red…
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Lime Gold Colors

One of the most popular typical Gil Ayala Custom Colors must be the lime gold used on the Wally Welch and Louis Bettancourt Mercury’s. Gil Ayala first painted Wally‚Äôs merc an brilliant lime green with gold powder added for extra sparkle.¬†The car looked absolutely stunning in this color and it must have sets Wally‚Äôs Mercury apart from most other customs back in the early 1950’s.¬†A lot of Custom Cars were¬†painted with dark organic paints, so the Lime Gold must have been very refreshing.¬†¬†And when Wally’s Mercury was at its debut show, the Petersen Motorama in 1951 it must have caused quite a stir with the public. And it might very well be possible that the judges were very impressed with Gil‚Äôs brilliant color and his bold choice of painting a large, almost brand new car, with such a ‚ÄúIn Your Face‚ÄĚ kind of color as well.¬†In any event Wally did win the Best Custom award at the 1951 Pan Pacific Petersen‚Äôs Autorama show.

Several people also mentioned¬†that the Ayala‚Äôs were trying to debut two Mercury‚Äôs at this 1951 Peterson Motorama¬†show, and both were to be painted a shade of lime gold. The Wally Welch Merc was finished in time for the show, but the other one, the 1949 Mercury the shop was creating for Louis Bettancourt, had a lot more body work going on, and could not be finished in time for the show. It must have been a stunning experience to see two of these amazing smooth Custom Cars both painted and brilliant lime gold sitting side by side. Sadly that never happened. Louis 1949 Mercury was eventually finished a year later and debuted at the 1952 Petersen Motorama Show. Both cars were later (not even to long after being finished) repainted at the Barris shop. Wally’s Merc became dark purple, and Louis Mercury was painted a deep Tingia Maroon by George Barris. For those who want to have more info on the Ayala lime Gold colors, ¬†there is a very informative and interesting discussion going on about this¬†color on the CCC-FORUM.


Wally Welch’s 1950 Mercury was painted Lime Gold by Gil when it was first done. It appeared like that in color on the cover of the April, 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. The bright color of the car made a huge impact on many readers. The large photo shows the original color slide with the magazine cover as inset. The slide has faded, and the cover colors might have been enhanced by the printing methods used.
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When Justin Mozart had the car restored they found the original paint applied by Gil Ayala in 1951-52 on the door jambs. It also showed that the Lime Gold was applied over a dark red base, so it must have been a very solid color. Later the car was repainted at the Barris Shop, deep purple over a dark gray primer base. It looks like another dark coat was added after that before the car was repainted by Joe Eddy with an off white and white base followed by dark purple.
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Trying to color match Gil’s original paint.
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Gil won the big price at the 1951 Peterson Motorama held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angles. One of the key factors in winning the award might have been Gil’s unique Lime Gold color.
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Louis Bettancourt Mercury was painted Scintillating Green Gold by Gil. So far no actual color photo of this version of Louis Mercury has surface, so we have to do with one I digitally colorized to what I feel the original color might have looked like.
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This is how Gil’s custom mixed color on Louis Bettancourt’s ’49 Mercury was described in the April 1953 issue of Popular Mechanics. The car was featured in that magazine as part of an article¬†titled Four Wheels Waiting for a Face Lifting.
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Other Colors

Gil Ayala mixed many custom colors and painted many cars in his long career at his Gil’s Auto Body Works. Later one or two other guys started to paint cars at the shop, but especially in the early years all the paint work was done by Gil. Memo Ortega remembered that Gil always talked about mixing colors and how much he loved it. When it came time to have his own 1953 Chevy, which was partly restyled at the Ayala shop, painted Memo asked Gil to custom mix him a color. Memo had plans to paint the car himself, together with Matt Kolbert, his boss at the body shop he worked at back then. But he wanted an unique color and knew Gil loved to mix paint. Gil mixed Memo one and a halve gallon of the¬†special honey¬†maroon color,¬†just the right color Memo wanted.

The House of Chrome shop truck was restyled by the Ayala’s and Gil Ayala painted it a kind of home made Candy Purple. Sadly we do not have a color photo of this truck to show, but we do have a picture of a painting that was done in 1951 by GM concept artist Robert A. Cadaret who was working with Gil Ayala at the time.
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Gil’s Auto Body Works shop truck in the early 1950’s was this chopped and lowered 1951 GMC. The truck was of course restyled by Gil and Al, and Gil painted it Emerald green with scallop/flames in off white, or Sarasota green. (According the Hop Up May 1953 feature article)
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Gil Ayala painted John Geragthy’s 1940 Ford¬†with¬†a brilliant irridecent green lacquer. Gil used about 30 coats of an emerald green lacquer over an silver base coat. He named it the color ‚ÄúGlamour Green‚ÄĚ.
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Johnny Rosier’s 53 Mercury was painted a deep Blue with Gold. which was described as Golden Metallic Black with green gold in the cars feature article in the May 1956 issue of Rod & Custom. This photo of the car appeared on the cover.
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On the cover of the Car Craft March 1958 issue Johnny’s Mercury appears to have been repainted in a aqua blue with copper/gold.
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Ayala Bob Lomax ChevyBob Lomax’s ’53 Chevy was painted in a custom mixed Matador red by Gil around 1956.
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Ayala Bob Lomax ChevyA few years later the car was redone in Candy Apple Red, most likely painted by Gil Ayala as well.
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We have heard from several sources that Gil did not only paint cars, but also bikes. The bikes of the kids from the neighbourhood, or kids that came over to the shop watching the guys at work, creating Custom Car Magic. When Gil had some paint left overs from a car paint-job he would do a bike, just for fun. Can you imagine if one of the Gil Ayala painted bikes would emerge from an East Los Angles home garage.


Chili Phil remembers ÔŅľ “I used to ride my bicycle to Ayala’s shop in ’56 or ’57. Al had a home made jig for bending forks to lower bikes. $3 or so… I got in trouble with my pops because I “messed” it up. Some lucky kids got to sweep up and help out there. Just neighborhood kids. They could fill and detail their bike frames and when there was a paint job going on, they’d spray the frame and fenders. Like I said, lucky kids. This was when Gil had a near new ’57 T Bird custom, with weird extruded metal fins in the showroom. The Ayalas deserve all the recognition they get and more.



Gil Ayala 1955 Thunderbird WILD BIRD

Very few original Ayala Customs have surfaced so far. But we have been very fortunate that Gil’s Personal 1955 Thunderbird the Wild Bird has been saved and was recently restored by¬†Yaril Quintana’s Florida based shop for Norwegian owner Bj√łrn Inge Jansson. During the full frame off restoration Yaril found a small spot that had never before ground down to bare metal and hold every coat of paint that was ever added to the car, including the original factory color, but of course much more important all the colors Gil Ayala sprayed on his own personal car.

1957 Motor Life magazine showed two color photos of Gil’s Wild Bird in the second custom color solid dark red.
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Inset License Plates

In the early 1960’s Gil redid the Wild Bird with new headlights, a new smoothed hood. For the new version Gil repainted the car in Candy Apple Red.
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During the 2017 restoration of the car Yaril Quintana found a spot on the base of the windshield frame that still had all the previous layers of paint on it. After careful sanding all the coats, including the original Torch Red from the factory. 
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Colors on Gil Ayala’s Wild Bird over the years.

  • A –¬†Original Torch Red factory color.
  • B –¬†black base coat or primer
  • C –¬†first Custom mixed color was Purple. It does look like there is a light colored coat between the black base coat (B) and the Purple (C)
  • D –¬†Second Custom mixed color was dark Red. This was the color the car had on the 1957 Motor Life magazine cover photo shown above. The color was painted over a dark gray primer/base coat.
  • E –¬†After the dark red came a first Candy red color that was sprayed over a black base followed by gold. This Candy red looks to be less bright as the later one. Perhaps Gil was experimenting with colors.
  • F – Later a new series of dark base followed by bright gold and a now much more brilliant Candy Red was applied by Gil.
  • G – It looks like after the bright Candy red another gold base followed by a Candy Red which looks to be darker than the previous was applied.
  • H – Shows several primer coats from previous owners preventing the body from deteriorating.


A very rare photo of Gil Ayala actually painting a car. In this Greg Sharp Collection photo we can see Gil painting Big John Mazmanian ’70 Cuda Funny Car in Candy Red, outside in front of what used to the the House of Chrome in the early 1950’s.¬†
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Gil Ayala, photo by Barry Mazza.
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The Custom painted cars in this article must be only the very top of the iceberg when it comes to Gil Ayala painted cars. We all have heard the stories of Gil painting so many cars, and there must be some more color photos out there. And hopefully some of those will surface sooner or later. It would be really great to add them to this article, or perhaps in part two to honour Gil’s passion for mixing Custom Colors, and painting custom cars, regular cars and bikes. So if any of our readers has any more info, or more photos showing the Custom Colors of Gil Ayala, please send Rik Hoving an email, so we can share it with the Custom Car World and all the Custom Car Chronicle readers.











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John Geraghty 1940 Ford

 

JOHN GERAGHTY 1940 FORD

 

John Geraghty had the Ayala brothers create this subtile brilliant irridescent green painted 1940 Ford convertible Custom in the late 1940s.


Brothers Gil and Al Ayala are usually known for their very slippery and super smooth Customs with a lot of body modifications all moulded-in to create truly one of a kind Custom Cars.¬†Custom Cars that were very recognisable as an Ayala Custom, Custom Cars that really made a mark in the history of the Custom Car. But not every car that came out of Gil’s Auto Body Works on Olympic Blvd¬†in East Los Angles was built conform these typical Ayala features. One such sample is John Geraghty’s 1940 Ford Convertible.

The Ayala’s customized Johnny’s 1940 Ford Convertible in two stages. The first version was a really wonderful traditional looking chopped – three inches – and Carson topped custom with the running boards removed. In the second stage the front fenders where raised up into the body and the hood¬†was sectioned¬†to match.


Ayala Body Shop

The First Version

For the first version built in the later part of the 1940’s,¬†Gil and Al¬†Ayala¬†chopped the windshield frame 3 inches, and they removed the same amount from the vent windows. The body was smoothed by removing all exterior handles, and trim. The two piece hood was welded solid and a very subtile peak was added to its center. The running boards were discarded, and the front and rear fenders were modified where the running boards used to mount to. A new panel was hand shaped to fit below the body, where the running boards used to be, to cover the frame. This resulted in a completely level lower body line, from the front fenders all the way to the rear fenders. It brought balance to the car.

First version of John Geraghty’s 1940 Ford shown together with a bone stock 1940 Ford convertible. Wally Welch took the photo, and most likely Wally and John were friends. There are several photos of John’s car in Wally’s photo album. Perhaps they belonged to the same car club, the Auto Butchers.
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For the first version built in the later part of the 1940’s,¬†Gil and Al¬†Ayala¬†chopped the windshield frame 3 inches, and they removed the same amount from the vent windows. The body was smoothed by removing all exterior handles, and trim. The two piece hood was welded solid and a very subtile peak was added to its center. The running boards were discarded, and the front and rear fenders were modified where the running boards used to mount to. A new panel was hand shaped to fit below the body, where the running boards used to be, to cover the frame. This resulted in a completely level lower body line, from the front fenders all the way to the rear fenders. It brought balance to the car.

The first version of the car had a more traditional look. Fender skirts, removed running boards trim and handles all shaved with 47-48 Ford bumpers and Sombrero hubcaps.
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The rear fenders were modified when the stock taillights made place for 1940 Buick units. TheBuick taillights are positioned low on the rear fenders so that it looks they emerge from the rear bumpers. The bumpers, front and rear were updated with 47-48 Ford units, with a license plate frame installed just behind the center of the rear bumper. A set of bubble teardrop skirts was installed. For this version of the car the rear was dropped with a kicked up rear portion of the frame and lowering block. The front axle was changed with a dropped unit. This version of the car was not as low as some other customs at the time.

We are not sure what color this first version of John’s Ford had, this version of the car never appeared in any magazines, and nobody we asked could remember any details about the car. But the gray hue’s in the black and white photos does look a bit similar to the later version black and white photos. So perhaps the car was already painted brilliant Iridescent Green Lacquer by Gil, the same color it had later on. The car was taken to the Carson Top Shop for a nicely balanced and shaped Carson padded top. The interior was later¬†handled by¬†L & L Upholstery Shop in Glendale. The Ayala’s installed wide white wall tires dressed up with Sombrero hubcaps.

Photo taken at the Santa Ana drag strip in 1950 shows John’s Ford getting ready to make another run. The Wally Welch 1941 Ford is sitting next to it on the left of the photo.
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John was a fanatic Hot rodder and drag racer, and he used his car for both on the street as well as on the drag strip. Something Gil Ayala most likely very much enjoyed. There are several photos of John’s 1940 Ford in the Wally Welch photo album, indicating that the two were friends, and possibly both members of Gil Ayala’s Autobutcher’s Car Club. Some of the photos show Wally with his ’41 Ford and John with his ’40 Ford (first version) at the Santa Ana Drag strip in 1950. Both cars were used to race.

More work done underneath John’s car at the drag strip. According the October 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine John’s Ford had a an hopped up Ford engine using Navarro 3 carb manifold, a winfield cam. The bore was 3-7/16 and the stroke was just under 4 inches, giving a total of 279 cu. in. John turned 93.90 at the Saugus Drag Strip with this set up on the quarter mile.
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John at full speed, interesting to see that he did not even removed the Sombrero hubcaps on the front wheels for the run.
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Second Version

The restyling on the second version of John’s ’40 Ford was also handles at Gil’s Auto Body Works with Al doing the body work. John wanted a new look for the car, not the heavy look of the first version with the teardrop skirts and high hood. He was more into a subtile European Sports Car look for his 1940 Ford. It was decided that the front fenders should be raised and the hood be sectioned so that the sides of the car look longer and slimmer. The hood was thinned three inches and the front fenders were moved up the same amount. The rear portion of the front fenders had to be extended down so that they would still be level with the bottom of the rest of the car.

Low angle shows that the car sits with a slight forward rake. The skirts are now gone, and the sectioned hood and raised front fenders give the car  a completely different look than the first version. Very elegant, almost with an European Sports Car vibe.
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According the 1952 Hop Up magazine article the car was channeled, but an interior photos of the car shows that the floor of the car is still in its stock position. According the Hop Up magazine the front axle was dropped, possibly more than 3 inches,¬†to get the right effect. The dropped axle in combination with the raised front fenders made sure the car could still steer without the tires hitting the front fenders like some very low cars did. John was an Hot Rodder and engineer and liked his cars to perform well. For this version of the car the skirts were removed and the sombrero hubcaps were replaced with very subtile single ripple disk aftermarket hubcaps. Everything else on the car remained the same, but the changed made so far already had changed to look completely. Gil Ayala painted the car with¬†a brilliant irridecent green lacquer. According the Ayala Article in the Rodder’s Journal #40, Gil used about 30 coats of an emerald green lacquer over an silver base coat. He named it “Glamour Green”.

Here we can see how well the 1940 Buick taillight units fit the Ford rear fenders. It also shows how the bottom of the fenders are level with the custom pan created the hide the frame. The new version uses aftermarket hubcaps that are a bit more subtile than the Sombrero’s from the first version. The Carson padded top flows right from all angles. The slight forward rake is evident in this photo even more.
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A very small section of John’s Ford can be seen in the famous Motor Trend cover photo taken at the Gil’s Auto Body Works. The color photo from which this small section is taken was used by Pat Ganahl in his two part story on the Ayala’s. The photo comes from the Wally Welch Collection. This is the only photo we are aware of that shows John’s Ford in the Gil Ayala applied¬†brilliant iridescent green lacquer paint job. (The photo/scan is a bit dark, so the real color might have been even more brilliant than this photo shows.) Wally Welch his maroon painted ’41 Ford is parked next to John’s Ford.
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This is a scan of the actual October 1951 Motor Trend cover showing a slightly¬†different¬†moment than the photo above. The photo for the magazine cover was hand colorized and John’s Ford was colorized in a lime-gold color.
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The Hop Up article also mentioned that the car did not have push button doors, one simply reached inside for the interior door handles to open the doors.¬†The trunk however was opened remotely from a pushbutton on the dash. John’s Ford was featured in a three page feature article in the October 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. The car was also on the cover of the 2001 Hop Up magazine with two more photos inside on an article about Dean Batchelor and his photo collection. All photos for this Hop Up article were taken by Ralph Poole.

This higher point of view shows how nicely shaped the sectioned hood fits the car.
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The interior was done by L & L Upholstery shop in Glendale Ca. Beautiful tuck & roll panels with white piping outlining the dark sections. This photo shows that the car was not channeled as the ’52 Hop Up magazine mentioned.
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Close up of the ’40 Buick taillights and 1947-48 Ford rear bumper. Notice that the fenders were not moulded to the body,¬†this helped give the car that very nice crisp look and feel. (colorized photo)
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Like with to many of the old Custom Cars, we have no idea what happened to John’s Ford. He sold the car, without the engine in 1953, but there is no trace of it after that. So far we have not been able to find anybody who knew where the car is today, or if it is even around.


John J. Geraghty, an automotive engineer who made his mark in hot rod design (John Geraghty Automotive) passed away on May 27, 2015 at his Glendale home. He was 85. John was an early mechanical wizard. One of John Geraghty’s first hot rods set a Bonneville speed record of 230 mph, when he was only 22 years old in 1952.










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