Inside a Barris Kustom

 

Inside a BARRIS KUSTOM

 

A look inside the 1941 Snooky Janich Ford Barris Customs body-work that normally is hidden behind upholstery and other panels.



We all have seen many photos of finished Custom Cars created by the Barris shop in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. And thanks to George Barris’s¬†amazing photo collection and Kustom Technique and other books, we also have seen a lot of photos of the guys in the Barris Shop creating these Barris Kustom¬†Cars. Most of those early progress photos were shot from the outside, seeing the finished outside work¬†done on the cars.¬†But it is still rather seldom we are able to see all the work done on those early Customs from the inside, the backside of all this beauty.¬†A look at work from the side that was always hidden behind the upholstery, interior panels, or underneath the car, was mostly left to those who had the fortune to own one of these classic customs, or had the pleasure to work on them.¬†George Mallory has been the owner of the Barris Kustoms Restyled 1941 Ford known as the Snooky Janish Ford. In the last couple of years he, and a select team of experts, have been restoring this late 1940’s created Custom. During the process George has taken many photos. Capturing the old Barris Work from a side not to many people have been¬†able to see.

CCC-snooky-janich-update014-05This is how the Snooky Janich Barris Restyled 1941 Ford Business Coupe looked in the mid 1950’s.
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While the body work done in the 1940’s and 1950’s most of the times looked very good on the outside, where it really mattered, it kind of lacked finesse and finishing on the inside, the side which did not really matter. Today we are perhaps a bit spoiled, seeing craftsman working hours and hours to get a body modification look as perfect from the outside as well as from the inside. With the huge amount of cars produced by the Barris Shop in the 1940’s and 1950’s this kind of perfection was not an option, neither wanted.

Most of these Customs were not created to last an eternity like a lot of the cars that are being created these days. They were created to last perhaps a few seasons, To enjoy the moment, before perhaps being further modified. Of course there were always exceptions and some shops spend far more time creating good and beautiful modifications, no matter from where you looked at it.  For instance the Valley Custom Shop was known for the exquisite work thru-out the cars. But overall the most attention was on the outside, and the inside was finished as practical as possible.

CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-01One of the customs modifications on the ’41 Ford¬†was removed running boards. To cover the gap, the doors were extended down, with a round shaped panel. This panel was “hold” in place with a series of brackets welded to the bottom of the door and this shaped panel. In this photo we can see the bottom of the doors have been badly rusted due to water trapped inside, and the brackets have all been bend badly.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-02This photo shows the badly rusted lower section of the door jambs, and the rolled panel on the lower section of the rear quarter panel. The photo shows the rolled lower panel and how a welded rod keeps it in place. It also shows that the open space is ideal for mud and moisture to find its way to corrode the surrounding metal. In the restoration it was decided to close these panels up to prevent future rust.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-04During the first round of restoration the rolled panel was repaired, and new rods welded in place. The big hole was added for the foot controlled push button to open the doors.
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CCC-Marcia-Campbell-42-Ford-13-WThis mid 1950’s photo of the Barris Restyled 1942 Ford for Marcia Campbell (owned by Anne DeVall when this photo was taken), shows a similar treatment on the bottom of the doors to eliminate the running boards.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-05Passenger side door panel shows how the inner structure has been partly cut way to allow the electric door openers, and hydraulic power window¬†unit¬†to be installed. The door openers are most likely installed in the late 1940’s while the power window¬†units¬†are most likely a later addition.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-06The power window unit is driven by an¬†hydraulic pump that sits in the enginebay. Most likely this unit originates from an early 1950’s Cadillac. (special thanks to Wolf Christiansson for the detailed info)
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-07Electrical lined are routed thru door jamb mounted round-wire-springs at the front of the doors.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-09The drivers side door panel shows the similar rough work done to make the added parts do their work. Remember once the interior panels were installed, non of this rough cut and weld work would be visible.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-08The solenoid for the door was placed inside an opening that was cut out in the inner door-panel, rough made brackets hold the unit in place.
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There have been a few more early¬†that have been restored in the past couple of years¬†that show similar working techniques.¬†One of them is the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford that was restyled by the Ayala’s and finished by George Barris. One of the things we have seen on both cars is the use of the tar kind material on the underside of the roof and other panels. And sometimes this tar is covered with a course fabric which was used as temperature and sound insulation.


CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-10The rear side window garnish molding are missing from the car, so they had to be recreated. It does give us a good look at the inside of the quarter window and what was done to get it in the shape needed. The piece of wood was added by the upholsterer. Notice that there once was a dual frenched antenna on this car, which has been welded shut later as well.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-11All the braces at the back were cut, shaped and welded in the right shaped to fit with the new chopped and reshaped roof skin. Most of the inside of the body was covered with a special brush on tar that was used for sound and temperature insulation. Some sections also had some kind of fabric glued in place.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-12A lot of cutting shaping and welding was done around the b-pilar and top of the door frame. All this was covered by the window garnish moldings on the finished car.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-13A lot of cutting and welding was done inside the trunk space as well. To make space for the lowered rear axle, move the gas-filler into the trunk and create a raised tunnel for the drive shaft. 
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-14The gas filler tube was repositioned inside the trunk. 
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-15Viewed from the passenger door opening towards the back we can see the work that had been done to raise the drive shaft tunnel and to make space for the rear axle. The brackets are used to support the catwalk.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-16This is how the trunk looked after the restoration work had been done.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-17The floor board after the restoration work. It appears that the drive shaft tunnel was raised, and then a portion was lowered an inch or so to make space for the front bench.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-18Originally the ’41 Ford had taillights mounted in the 1946 Ford bumper guards. But after the car had been in an accident damaging the rear it was decided to redo the taillights and 1939 Chevy units were molded into the rear quarter panels. Here the actual taillights have been removed, so we can look inside¬†the molded-in ’39 Chevy pods.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-19The restoration was going to be to the first bumper guard mounted tailights. So the molded-in Chevy taillights had to be cut off. Notice how trapped moisture in the molded taillight caused the rear fender to rust out over the years.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-20The cut of reshaped ’39 Chevy taillight pods that the Barris Shop installed on the Snooky Janich ’41 Ford¬†around¬†1953.
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CCC-inside-a-barris-kustom-21Inside a Barris Kustom… It was a real pleasure to meet George and Steve Mallory at the 2011 Customs Then & Now Exhibit. They brought the partly restored Snooky Janich ’41 Ford to be part of the Historic Custom Display. I took this snapshot while sitting in the car, dreaming about driving it on the streets of Los Angles in the early 1950’s…
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(this article is sponsored by)

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1950 Oakland Roadster show

 

1950 OAKLAND ROADSTER SHOW

In 1950 Al and Mary Slonaker organized the first Annual National Roadster Show. Mostly entered by Hot Rods, but the Custom entries in this show has always been legendary. Lets take a look at the Custom entries at this first Oakland Show.


There is something special about the Custom Cars being displayed to these early Hot Rod and Custom Car shows¬†from the very early 1950’s. The first couple of shows at the Oakland Exposition Building as well as the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles were Peterson held his Motorama show, as well as some early shows in Indianapolis. They all have a pure feeling, Custom Cars being displayed with the hoods and doors closed, just to be enjoyed for their exterior beauty, no distraction from out of this world displays, colored light for special effects. Pure about the cars, pure about the art of custom restyling.


CCC-1950-oakland-show-hot-rod-adHot Rod October 1949 issue announced the first Annual National Roadster Show. The full page ad only showed Hot Rods.
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In the late 1940’s the Hot Rod and Custom scene was blooming¬†like never before.¬†In¬†1948 the first Hot Rod shows had been organized which had a huge impact, and more an more smaller events were organized. During this time the Hot Rodder’s did not have a very good name with the general public. Driving too fast, drag racing on the streets and several heavy accidents had given them a bad name in the local news. A lot of car clubs as well as Hot Rod magazine were working hard to proof this bad reputation¬†was not based on the reality.

In 1949 Al and Mary Slonaker organized and International car exhibition at the Oakland Exposition building ¬†featuring¬†mostly Foreign¬†Sport Cars and exclusive automobiles. However not too long before the show date, the Slonaker’s were introduced into Hot Rodding. They really enjoyed the scene and saw how enthusiast the Hot Rod club members were.¬†They decided to include¬†a few Hot Rods and Custom Cars in one corner at this first car show organized in the Oakland Exposition building by them. Only around 10 Hot Rods and Customs were part of this 1949 show, but the crowd like these cars much better than the Sports Cars and exclusive Automobiles. So when the plan was developing for a¬†1950 show the Slonaker’s decided to build a show around just Hot Rods and Custom Cars, and ended up naming the event the NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW. One of the main reasons the show was named Roadster show, instead of Hot Rod show, was because there was still some negativity around the Hot Rod name from the common public. Posters and flyers were printed and handed out to as many hot rodder’s as the organizing team could find.

CCC-california-la-oakland-map-02The Kustoms of Los Angeles club had to drive around 500 miles from Los Angeles to Oakland. Back then Custom Cars were driven on a daily base so the guys drove their Custom Cars to the show, no trailers.
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Apparently at one point it started to look like there might only be Hot Rods and Race cars entering the show.¬†The Slonaker’s called George Barris to see if he would be interested in gathering a few of his Kustoms of Los Angeles club members to make the trip from Los Angles to Oakland. An around¬†500 mile trip for an 4 day event, which was clearly not doable for everybody. George Barris remembered how much good the 1948 Hot Rod Show in the LA Armory had been for him and his business. George¬†managed to get a few of the club members interested and they made the 500 mile trip. We know that Jesse Lopez and Ben Mario went with him from LA, and ¬†Joe Urritta brought his 1941 Ford, but unsure if he brought it straight from the Barris Shop in Bell, or from his home in Fresno, which is about half way from LA to Oakland. I have read that Barris brought six cars to the first Oakland Roadster Show, but so far I can only find evidence for three Barris Kustoms.

Some other Custom Car owners more local were contacted, so in the end there were some Customs at this very first Annual National Roadster Show, but by far the numbers the show would later attract. The first National Roadster show was held from Jan 19 till 22, 1950. I turned out to be a huge success. In the four days the show was open 27,624 spectators visited the Oakland Exposition building to see the 100 cars on display. This show did a lot of good things for Hot Rodding and Customizing. And the general public had now witnessed the high quality Hot Rods and Customs and placed these in a whole new perspective than the local news previously had done.

In the March 1950 issue of Hot Rod magazine there was a massive almost 5 page with a great number of photos feature article about the show. Sadly none of the photos were of the custom car entries at the show. The show would soon be named “Oakland” by a lot of people. Just because the National Roadster Show was just a too long name. Later in its life the show was renamed Grand National Roadster Show and is today best known¬†as GNRS.



The Location

The first National Roadster Show was held at the Oakland Exposition Building located across the street from the Oakland Auditorium, nearby beautiful Lake Merrit. The building address was:¬†Exposition Building, 918 Fallen Street Oakland 7, California. The Building was a nice size and could hold up to at least 100 cars. However I have heard from several people who attended the first couple of shows held at the Oakland Exposition Building that they revered to it¬†as the biggest little show. Pointing out that the building was soon to be considered to small for traveling from all over California, and further. But the quality of the cars was alway high, and the show was an magical event from the early days, and it would become to longest still running car show around. The Bay area had many Hot Rodder’s and Custom Car enthusiasts¬†with high quality cars, but the show always had a good number of cars from the Los Angles Area, and even from out of state from the beginning.

CCC-oakland-exposition-buildingThe outside of the Oakland Exposition Building. This photo it taken from the parking lot and was taken later in the 1950’s.¬†
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CCC-1950-oakland-aerial-viewAerial view shows the Oakland Exposition building in light blue with the large parking space out front. Lake Merrit is in the background, behind the white Oakland Auditorium.
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CCC-oakland-inside-sports-carsThis photo is NOT from the 1950 show, but rather from an Sport Car show from 1952. I have included it in this article because it really gives a great look at the inside of the Oakland Exhibition Building. 
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CCC-oakland-inside-hot-rodsThis is a photo that was taken at the 1950 National Roadster Show. There are no Customs showing at all, even though the photo shows a pretty large section of the building. Which says a lot about the amount of Customs versus Hot Rods show in 1950. I have included this Hot Rod filled photo to show how the building looked at the 1950 show, it gives a great overall impression.
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CCC-oakland-inside-crowdDuring the 4 day show a special team was building a Model A Roadster at the show. This photo shows the finished Hot Rod on Sunday, and how many people visited the show. Everybody was really impressed with the quality of the cars at the show. Something some might not have expected after all the negative news reports about the Hot Rodder’s.
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CCC-oakland-hubbard-booth-01Ben ¬†Hubbard’s Auto Parts had a team of four guys assemble the Model A Roadster at the show. I have included this photo here since it gives a nice feel for the back side of the building where the vendor booth were.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-photo-album-01Ron Brooks shared these rare a¬†snapshots from the 1950 Roadster Show. It shows Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford, (#204 – 414), Al Serpa’s 1947 Ford (#403) and Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick (#211 – 411). Ron received the photo’s from a friend who visited the show in 1950.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-program-tagThe 1950 National Roadster SHOW program with Miss California Jone Pedersen and race driver Freddie Agabashian next to the eight-foot trophy. Next to it the exhibition tag.
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In the last few month before the show the entries came in, some with photos, others not. A selection of cars was made to be included in the first annual show program From all the cars listed and shown in the program only 6 cars were Custom Car. From all these 6 cars, except the number 402 car, 1940 Chevy convertible from Bert Gericke we have been able to find some photos taken at the show. Possibly Bert could not make it to the show in the end, or his car was simply not photographed that much and photos of the car at the show have never surfaced so far.


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By the time the Show Program booklet was put together the organization had developed a kind of odd numbering system. If you look at the numbers the customs have assigned to it does not really make sense. Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford Coupe has a 200 number, which is for Street Roadsters. It appears that after the program was printed it was decided to give all the Custom Cars that entered the show would receive an 400 number. The 414 and 411 numbers on Jesse and Ben’s Barris Kustoms at the show¬†make me believe that is what happened.



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List of Custom Car entries at the 1950 National Roadster Show in Oakland (possibly incomplete list)

  • 204¬†– 414 Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford ‚Äď Jesse Lopez/Sam Barris
  • 206¬† Al Marx 1934 Ford
  • 209¬† Lon Hurley 1946 Cadillac
  • 211¬†– 411 Ben Mario 1947 Buick ‚Äď Barris Kustoms
  • 401 ¬†Vince Gardner 1947 Studebaker
  • 402 ¬†Bert Gericke 1940 Chevy
  • 403 ¬†Al Serpa 1947 Ford ‚Äď Gene Winfield
  • 404 ¬†1939 Ford Convertible ‚Äď unknown
  • 405¬† Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford ‚Äď Harry Westergard
  • # unknown¬† Joe Urritta¬†1941 Ford ‚ÄstBarris Kustoms

 

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50-oakland-program-jesse-lopez-41-ford50-oakland-program-al-marx-34-ford 50-oakland-program-lon-hurley-cadillac50-oakland-program-ben-mario-47-buick50-oakland-program-vince-gardener-studebaker50-oakland-program-bert-gericke-40-chevy

CCC-1950-oakland-show-barris-01George Barris posing with Miss California¬†Jone Pedersen on the right and aunt Edith on the left. Edith raised both George and Sam in Roseville Ca, after their birth mother had passed away when they were still young. The car behind them is Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick (#211 – 411) with a fresh chopped windshield and panoramic rear window Gaylord padded top. The padded toped car on the far right is Al Serpa’s Ford.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-gardner-studebaker-01Vince Gardner 1947 Studebaker (#401) with behind it a mystery custom entry with number 404. An unidentified 1939 Ford convertible. Non of the cars had any kind of display material used. Just parked on the floor with a rope around it. Notice the large amount of garbage on the floor. 
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-gardner-studebaker-02In 1950 the¬†Vince Gardner 1947 Studebaker most likely had the first ever plastic “bubble top” ever made. The car made a huge impact at the show.
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CCC-oakland-Ford-convertible-404The unidentified #404 1939 Ford Convertible sitting behind Vince Gardner’s 1947 Studebaker. If any of the readers knows anything about this car, please let us know.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-al-marx-34-fordAl Marx took his uniquely custom restyled 1934 Ford Roadster to the show #206. Al’s Ford used to belong to Wes Collins when it was painted black. The car was done as a full custom with a DuValle windshield, fender skirts, Lincoln bumpers an set in license plate. The interior photo shows the unique engine turned dash.
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50-oakland-show-lon-hurley-cadillac-01Lon Hurley created an uniquely styled Sports Custom based on an 1946 Cadillac with many 1948 Cadillac parts. He restyled it into a two seater with plastic wrap around windshield (#209).
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50-oakland-show-lon-hurley-cadillac-02The car looks very elegant and streamlined and Lon Hurley won the Most Spectacular Custom Roadster award with the car.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-al-Serpa-01Gene Winfield was from nearby Modesto Ca, and¬†made sure his latest custom, a 1947 Ford Convertible (#403) with Hall top for Alvin Serpa was displayed at the show. Al won the Most Spectacular Custom Convertible award with the car. On the right we can see the panoramic rear window in the Gaylord top of Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-Ben-Mario-02Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick (#211) was restyled by Barris and had just received a chopped windshield and new padded top by Bill Gaylord. Not sure why there are so many people in the car during the show. Behind the Buick on the far right of the photo we can see the Hall top of Alvin Serpa’s Winfield restyled 1947 Ford.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-00Joe Urritta from Fresno, Ca, had Sam Barris restyled his 1941 Ford Sedan at the Lynwood shop. It looks like the car was either still in primer, or freshly painted and waiting to be rubbed to a high gloss. We have not been able to find the 1950 show number for Joe’s Ford. The car next to Joe’s ’41 Ford appears to be a padded topped 33-34 Phaeton, not sure if it can be qualified as a Hot Rod or Custom, this is the only photo I have seen that shows it.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-bruce-glenn-39-fordIn 1950 Bruce Glenn owns the 1939 Ford convertible (# 405)¬†with metal lift off hard-top restyled by Harry Westergard. Westergard¬†originally restyled the Ford for¬†Mel Falconer¬†and used to have a padded top. Next to Bruce’s Ford we can see the front wheel, fender and top from Ben Mario’s Barris Buick.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-04

Jesse Lopez’s 1941 Ford (#204 – 414) had been finished two years prior to the 1950 Oakland Show, and had never before been in any other show. Jesse would not put it into another show after it either. But later owner Danny Lares loved to show it around.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-05Jesse’s Ford looking really great at the show. Behind the car we can see Joe Urritta’s Ford sitting against the wall.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-08It appears that Jesse’s 1941 Ford was moved around a bit during the show. Here¬†the car¬†was parked¬†with its back¬†agains the wall and a kind of ¬†ugly wall on the sides taking way fro the beauty of Jesse’s Ford. The car behind the show board on the right is the Barris Restyled Joe Urritta 1941 Ford.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-07Back in 1950 the cars at the shows were drivers. Jesse’s Ford had been on the road for two year, and the dirty door jambs show that it was not a common thing back then to open the doors at the shows.¬†
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-barris-signsJesse Lopez had Custom Car no 414 at the show, but was listed as 204 in the program. It looks like at the show it was decided that all the custom entries should have a 400 number. The show cards at the early shows were all hand painted, and in the first couple of years each year card had a different design. Jesse also had an hand painted sign made, or perhaps it was done by Barris. 
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-barris-displayThe display methods of George Barris were still rather crude at this 1950 Show. A sponsored StaLube sign, a custom sign for jesse’s Ford, and a board with a couple of Barris Customs from the pages of Motor Trend magazine to promote the Barris Kustom Shop. Interestingly Jesse’s Ford is being described as being Styled by BARRIS KUSTOM SHOP Sam … George Los Angeles & Sacramento!
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Awarded Custom Cars:

  • America’s Most Beautiful Roadster
    • Bill NieKamp’s 1929 Ford Model A Roadster
  • Greatest Contribution to Auto Industry
    • second place: Barris Kustom Shop
    • Third Place, Vince Gardener, South Bend, Indiana
    • Fith Place, Lon Hurley, Long Beach
  • Most Magnificent Custom Roadster
    • Vince Gardner, South Bend, Indiana
  • Most Spectacular Custom Roadster
    • Lon Hurley, Long Beach
  • Most Magnificent Custom Convertible
    • Barris Custom Shop, LA
  • Special Division First Place
    • Jesse Lopez, Bell

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CCC-1950-oakland-show-awardsAfter the award ceremony all the winners get together for a photo-shoot. George Barris is kneeling with his trophies on the far left of the podium.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-06Jesse Lopez won First Place Special Devision with his 1941 Ford. Here Jesse is posing with Miss California and the trophies.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-03George Barris posing with the awards Jesse had won, with Miss California inside the car.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-02Close up of George Barris with the Special Devision trophy and Jone Pedersen inside Jesse Ford.
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So far I have been able to find evidence for 10 Custom Cars at the First Annual Oakland Roadster Show. I’m not sure if this is the complete list or if there were more at the show. There have been shared a nice amount of photos taken at this 1950 show, but most of the photos were taken of Hot Rods, and how only other Hot Rods in the back ground. The people who we talked to about the show could not really remember much about the show. And how many Customs there were. If any of the CCC-Readers knows more, please let us know.


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Special thanks to Ron Brooks for helping me a lot with this article.



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Resources and more info

  • Hot Rod Magazine, March 1950
  • Rod & Custom, magazine June 1989
  • Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s, books
  • Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s, book
  • The Oakland Roadster Show, book
  • The American Custom Car, book
  • Hot Rod Gallery, book
  • Custom Car Chronicle, website

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Barris Bell Shop

 

BARRIS BELL SHOP

 

After establishing a name in the Custom world in the Barris Compton Ave shop in Los Angeles, the shop was relocated in Bell for a short period. Very little is known about this shop, lets take a look at what we know.


The Barris name had become famous in Los Angeles, California and even in the whole USA when the shop was located on Compton Ave in Los Angeles from 1946 to late 1948, perhaps early 1949. In this CCC-Article we have shared all the details about this famous and well known Barris shop. We know that getting well known in the business lead to a lot more customers for Barris in 1948, and how the shop needed to be expended. So a new larger location was much needed, and found at the East Florence Avenue in Bell, a suburb from Los Angeles. The new shop could house 4 cars easy in the main shop and there was another building that could house another two cars. And besides the larger shop space there was a huge parking lot that came with it. And with the perfect SoCal weather that was ideal since most of the heavy work on the cars was done outside.


CCC-barris-business-card-42-caddyGeorge Barris his personal 1942-47 Cadillac convertible was used on the E. Florance Ave Bell address business card. From the David E.Zivot collection. On the top the names Barris, Hector and John are listed in similar size fonts. The business name is KUSTOM AUTOMOBILES
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For George and Sam it was going back to Bell, since it all had started in Bell in 1944 when George Barris opened his first body shop on¬†Imperial Highway in Bell. So far we have not been able to find anything out about this first shop. No photos, not even the actual address. There is a lot of mystery around this first shop where George Started and Where Sam joined him in 1946. It is strange that the second shop in Bell where the Barris were located from late 1948 till 1950 also has a lot of mystery’s while there is a lot more known about the shop in between the two Bell shops, the one on Compton Ave. According to the Business Card from the Bell shop the official name for the shop was “KUSTOM AUTOMOBILES”. The business cars listed the Barris name only very small. The ads that were created during the Bell Shop period, showed the Barris name a little larger than how it was used on the business cards.

CCC-george-barris-42-cadillac-05Barris ran this ad in the November 1949 issue of Motor Trend. It was a joint ad with Gaylords. The car used in the ad is George’s his personal 42-47 Cadillac convertible with Gaylord padded top photographed at the Forence Ave Bell shop.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-ad-02Jesse Lopez’s 1941 Ford was used for another Bell shop ad. The same photo also had been used in an ad for the previous shop on Compton Ave. Both Bell address ads have the Hector and John name very prominent at the top. This ad comes from the October ’49 issue of Motor Trend magazine.
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Photo most likely taken at the 1950 Hot Rod Expposition Show in Los Angles. Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick was displayed at the show wit the Barris Kustom Shop Bell sign on the wall behind it.
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There are very few photos of the Florence Ave Bell Barris shop, most of the photos we have been able to find were taken outside next to the C.B. Mullins Meat Market in front of the shop. Apparently the Barris shop used most of this parking lot as their outdoor shop space. We know that during the period the Barris Shop was located here in Bell, a lot of cars were started, built and completed at this shop. Yet there is very little evidence ‚Äď as in actual photos ‚Äď of the work done at this shop. ¬†The Barris shop was located in the Bell Shop during the first portion of the “golden years” of customizing, and as far as we have been able to find out the shop was very productive in this shop.

Dick Carter 1941 Ford, Marcia Campbell 1942 Ford, Joe Urritta 1941 Ford, Ben Mario 1947 Buick, Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury, Vic Grace 1941 Buick, Dick Arkline 1941 Chevy, Paul Janich 1941 Ford, and most likely many more famous and not so famous Barris Customs were created partly or complete at the Florence Bell shop.

CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-larry-robbins-merc-00This is perhaps the most used E. Florance Ave Bell Barris shop photo. It shows the guys working on an 1948 Mercury, which most likely was one created for Larry Robbins. The people in the photo are: On the right George Barris with Goggles with Bill DeCarr (Ortega) behind him. And the left are Hector Savedra, Gene Simmons and Bob Ruble. The building behind the car and guys is the meat market. The actual shop was further to the back on the right of this photo.
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The shop sign

In all the photos I have been able to find from the E. Florence Bell Barris shop none show a Barris sign or the Barris name on a wall or anything. It does seam to be a bid odd that there was no sign stating the Barris name, especially since george had been so busy promoting the Barris name at the Compton Ave shop. However the Barris shop did run a couple of ads during the time the shop was located in Bell. And in the ads the Barris name was used. The only shop sign I have been able to find at this shop was an no name sign “Bell Body & Fender Shop, Free estimate and in large vertical letters GARAGE. A second sign on top of this sign was a General Auto-repairs sign. perhaps this was an old sign for another body shop that might have been located in the building before Barris

CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-larry-robbins-merc-02Another photo of the 48 Mercury coupe show the car now with the top completely removed. In the background we can see Don’s Cocktail bar on E. Florance street on the other side of the parking lot. Just above the nose we can see the Bell Body & Fender Shop sign.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-sign-01Here is a close up of the shop sign located at the entrance of the parking lot of the Barris Bell shop on E. Florance Ave. We are not 100% sure, but most likely this was the only shop sign at that location. For unknown reasons the Barris name was not listed. 
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The ads as well as the business card used for the Bell shop all have the names John and Hector, (John Manok and Hector Savedra) very prominently listed at the top.  From Jesse Lopez we have learned that both these guys were employees at the Barris shop, but we have not been able to find out why they were listed so prominent, and if it has any connection with the absence of the Barris name on the shop sign at the entrance of the shop on Florence Ave. Mysteries about the Bell Shopwe hopefully one day will be able to solve.

Perhaps the shop sign on Florence Ave was an old sign that was already there when the Barris shop moved there, and they never replaced it, or it was, but it was never actually photographed. Even Jesse Lopez could not remember a Barris shop sign. So perhaps there was never one…¬†which still is odd since George had spend much time putting out the Barris name.


CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-George-04More work was done on the 48 Mercury, outside in the parking lot in front of the shop and next to the meat market. Here George is working on the removed running boards and extending the doors down.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-George-03Raising the drive shaft tunnel on the ¬†1948 Mercury. The back ground most likely shows the back portion or building behind Don’s Cocktail bar.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-George-01Staged photo of George “leading” the rear fender on the 48 Mercury that has already been primered. In the background we can see Don’s Cocktail bar. The sign just above George shoulder is at the Florence Ave. side of the building.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-George-02Close up of the cocktail bar building.
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Jesse Lopez conversation

In April 2016¬†David E. Zivot¬†had an phone conversation with¬†Jesse Lopez¬†who owned a 1941 Ford Coupe back in the late 1940’s that he restyled together with Sam Barris at the Compton Ave shop. David asked Jesse about the East Florence Ave Bell Barris shop and what Jesse remembered about this shop. Below is the conversation that gives us some more insight about the Barris Bell shop.


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DZ- “Jesse said he was in walking distance from his home in Bell to this shop.¬†He chuckled when he related to me how he and Johnny Zaro¬†and a couple of the other guys went to a local Army surplus store¬†and purchased WWII foldable paratrooper bicycles¬†and rode them like madmen all around the bell shop.
In fact, as was usual for Johnny Zaro, he crashed on his bike and broke his hip.
Here in conversational style are the questions.
Keep in mind this over 65 years ago,¬†and Jesse told me everything he could remember about the Bell shop.”

(DZ = David E. Zivot   JL = Jesse Lopez)

DZ- “How long were the Barris’ at the E Florence location?¬†I understand it was for less than a year?”

JL- “No, it was more like a year and a half, two years.”

DZ- “Did you do any work or painting at that shop?”

JL- “No I was busy working at an auto parts store,¬†and didn’t spend much time at that shop.”

DZ- “The location on E Florence Av, can you describe it?”

JL- “Yeah, it was located on the corner of Florence Av & Otis St,¬†by a Shell gas station, and behind a meat market, where Gordo worked.¬†That’s why the address is 4120 1/2, because it was behind another building.”

DZ- “Was it physically larger or nicer than the Compton Av shop?”

JL- “Oh yeah, it was quite a bit larger, had nice parking, lots of room.¬†There was a roomy four-car stall, and another two-car stall as well.”

DZ- “What can you tell me about John and Hector?”

JL- “Well John was John Manok, who along with his brother Ralph, worked there.¬†Their work was just OK. And Hector Savedra did stuff around the shop. No great skills.¬†All of this is in Michelley’s articles. Gordo did work around the shop as well.”

DZ- “Was there a Barris Kustom sign anywhere outside the shop,¬†or was there an office in the building?”

JL- “I don’t remember any particular sign with their name,¬†and there was a small little makeshift office in one corner of the building.”

DZ- “What about some of the cars that were either started, completed, or worked on¬†at the E Florence Av location?”

JL- “I can’t remember exactly, but I know for sure¬†that a ’48 Mercury coupe that belonged to a fellow named¬†Zhakov was started and completed there. It was a pretty nice car.¬†I’m also pretty sure that Dick Carter’s ’41 Ford convertible was begun and finished there.¬†Bill Ortega may have had some work done on his car,¬†as well as Jack Stewart.
It’s hard for me to recall.¬†Because Dick Fowler lived in Bell he may have had his car¬†worked on and painted there as well.”

DZ- “Jesse, is there anything else you can recall from that shop¬†that sticks in your mind?”

JL- “No, not really, as I said I was working the counter of a parts and paint store¬†and had my hands full with that.”

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CCC-barris-bell-shop-02-41-chevy-01Dick Arkline’s 1941 Chevy mildy restyled custom was created and photographed at the Bell Shop. The car¬†was painted a deep organic purple.
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CCC-barris-bell-shop-02-41-chevy-02These two photos of¬†Dick Arkline’s Chevy appeared in the May 1950 issue of Motor Trend for the first time, one of them was¬†later also used in the first Custom Car annual published in 1951.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-DeCarr-mercury-01Bill DeCarr (Ortega) already worked with Barris at the Compton Ave shop, where he had build his 1941 Mercury business coupe with Fade Away fenders. Possibly the car was finished and painted at the Bell Shop, in any event this photo of the finished car was taken at the bell show with the Meat Market building in the background.
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Motor Trend April 1950

In the Motor Trend April 1950 issue there was an article by George Finneran named “What is Restyling?“. The George Finneran interviewed a couple of major Customizers from 1950 about their opinion on the subject. He interviewed George Barris at Barris Kustoms, Gil Ayala at Gil’s Auto Body Works and Jerry Moffatt at the Olive Hill Garage. The interview with George Barris took place at the E. Florence Ave. Bell Barris Shop, Thomas J. Medley was the photographer accompanying the interviewer who took several¬†photos at the Bell¬†during the visit at the Bell shop. Sadly there is noting written about the Bell shop in the article, but there are a few nice photos that have helped us identify a couple of things.


CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-larry-robbins-merc-01The 1948 Mercury that we have seen in several in progress photos at the Bell shop is identified as the Larry Robbins Mercury in the Motor Trend article. It now does make me wonder if this is the same car that Jesse Lopez mentioned, in his phone interview, belonging to a guy named Zhakov. Or if there were possibly two 48 Merc coupes done at the Bell shop in 1949.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-zaro-ford-01The John Vara / Johnny Zaro 1941 with a new grille at the Bell shop. Just behind the back of the car we can see the “Bell Body & Fender Shop” sign. Notice the¬†window divided in 16 small windows just above the steering wheel, we can also see that same window in the photo above of Larry Robbins 48 Merc. The four door chevy on the right is parked head on towards the meat market.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-motor-trend-04-1950-01We have no info on this Dodge photographed¬†at the Bell Shop. Notice the padded topped convertible in the back ground. Looks to be a Ford from the late 1930’s.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-motor-trend-04-1950-02Another Mercury that was done at the Bell shop was this unidentified ’47 convertible. In the background we can see Don’s Cocktail bar on the right.
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Barris 40 Ford chopped topThis heavily chopped 1940 Ford coupe was most likely also photographed at the Bell shop, but so far I have not been able to see this background in any of the other photos I have found. Most likely it was in the back of the lot.
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The Shop Building

So far the only photo(s) that possibly show something about the actual Barris Bell Shop building are these two photos (below) showing a stock 1941 Ford convertible. These photos were used to show the difference of the stock compared to a custom version with Dick Carter’s 1941 Ford that was created at the Bell shop in the 1951 Trend Books first annual Custom Cars #101 book.¬†The same photos, but then with the background removed¬†were also used to compare with the Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford in an Restyling article in Motor Trend magazine. We are not 100% sure these photos are taken at the Bell shop, but most likely they are, and are so far the only photos showing a portion of this “mystery” Barris shop. Hopefully the future will bring us some better photos showing this¬†shop.

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4120 1/2 East Florence Ave Bell address

The Barris shop was actually located behind the C.B. Mullins Meat Market which was located at 4120 East Florence Ave in Bell. There was a large parking area next to the Meat Market, and behind it, and at the far back the was a 4 car garage located. That was where the Barris Bell shop was located And that is why the address location was 4120 1/2. We have not been able to locate any clear photos of the actual shop building, not from ground level, nor from the skye. But we have been able to find an aerial photo from 1952 and 1980 that show the actual shop building. The actual shop building was later torn down, so its completely gone now. A new larger building was build at its place, and in 2016 a laundry company was located in this building.

  • A = Don’s Cocktail bar
  • B = Barris Kustoms, Bell shop
  • C = C.B. Mullins Meat Market
  • D = Building across the street visible in a few photos.

CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-aerial-viewThese aerial views shows the Barris shop “B” in the 1952 and 1980 photos, and how it was replaced by a larger building around 2010 and how it looks today in the bottom Google image.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-location-2015-01Street view taken from Florence Ave showing the former C.B. Mullins Meats building (C) on the left which is now Cliff’s Liquor store at 4120. The large building in the back is placed where the Barris¬†Bell Shop (B) used to be in the late 1940’s.
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-location-2015-02When turning to the right at the same location as the previous photo you can see the former Don’s Cocktail Bar (A). It is the¬†yellow building with red lower wall and roof behind the tree).
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-across-streetAcross the street from the Meat Market we can see another shop (D) 4127 E Florence Ave. In some of the photos taken in the late 1940’s. This building is still there in 2016. (this google screen shot was taken in 2010)
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CCC-barris-2nd-bell-shop-across-street-1949Building (D) across the street from the Meet Market on East Florence Ave can be seen in this late 1940’s photo.
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Moving to Lynnwood

The Barris shop most likely left the Bell shop and moved to the new Atlantic Blvd shop in Lynnwood at the end of March 1950. There is a business license dated for the period April 1, 1950 till January 1, 1951. The name on the Business License in now Barris Kustom Shop. We have not been able to find any business licenses or other official papers from the Bell period to see what the official name was back then.


CCC-barris-business-license-50-51Business license for the first period of the shop after the Bell shop, Atlantic Blvd in Lynwood. The business is listed as Body + Fender Shop. The license starts at April the first, 1950.
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The Barris shop Addresses

For everybody who has been able to visit the former Barris shops in Los Angeles and Lynwood they all know how the shops location relate to each other, but for those who have never been able to visit the former shops I have created this map to show where the shops are located.
The Barris Shop had 4 different addresses before it moved to its last North Hollywood location in 1961. From the first shop in Bell, Ca we have not been able to find an actual address. If anybody of our readers know the actual address of this first shop George Barris had in 1944, please let us know.



Barris Compton Ave

  • 1944 – 1946¬†‚ÄstGeorge Barris first shop in Bell (The shop was most likely named:¬†Barris Custom Shop in Bell, but we do not have an full address)
  • 1946 – 1949¬†‚ÄstBarris Customs 7674 Compton Avenue, Los Angeles.
  • 1949 – 1950¬†‚ÄstKustom Automobiles 4120 1/2 E. Florence Avenue, Bell.
  • 1950 – 1960¬†‚ÄstBarris Kustoms¬†11054 Atlantic Blvd, Lynwood

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I have tried to gather as much information about the Barris East Florence Ave shop location as I could found, and the research has clarified a few of the mysteries this shop has. But there are still a lot of things we do not know about this Barris Bell shop where Custom Car magic happened in a relatively short period during the golden years of Custom Restyling. Many of the Famous early Barris Custom creations have been created, started or finished in this shop, but there have been very few photo evidence about this. The connection of the names John and Hector and the lack of a Barris Shop sign are just a few of the mysteries we really would have loved to solve. Hopefully some of the CCC-Readers will have some more info about the Barris Bell Shop and would be willing to share their info with us. So if you know more about the Barris E. Florence Ave, then please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle, so that we can share it here with the CCC-Readers. Thank you.

Special thanks to David E. Zivot and Jesse Lopez for their help on this article.


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1952 Scintillating Custom Colors

 

SCINTILLATING CUSTOM COLORS

 

We have all read about the deep organic and scintillating Metallic Colors used by the customizers in the early 1950’s. But how did these colors really look like?


In late 2015 Thom Metz shared some great information and photos with us about the Sam Climo 1949 Ford first created in 1953. The Sam Climo Ford, still Climo family owned, was going to be displayed at the 2016 Detroit Autorama show in ¬†held in February. The car was going to be displayed with a wide selection¬†of ¬†memorabilia from when the car was build and showed in the 1950’s. ¬†Thom also mentioned that the car was originally painted¬†Moonglow Copper in 1953. And that this copper paint was bought from the Barris shop in late 1952, or early 1953. The car was repainted black in 1955, but the dash and the original fender skirts still remained the Barris Moonglow Copper paint. Sam never really cared much for the black paint and in¬†the mid 1960’s the car was repainted in a color closely matching the original copper color.

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One of the Memorabilia items Thom came across when he was searching for items to use for the Autorama display, was the original paint chip sample Sam Climo had from the Barris Shop. It was this paint chip card from 1952 that Sam used to choose the Barris/Nason paint color from. Totally amazing real lacquer colors, with names we have all seen in the black and white magazine features from the early 1950’s.

CCC-barris-color-chip-00The 1952 Nason Scintillating Metallic Color paint chop card has always been hidden for sunlight, so the colors are still very much the way there were when first applied in 1952.
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The text on the paint chip card reads:

The R. N. Nason & Co. has long been recognized as one of the most prominent manufadters of the finest and latest in Automotive Paints. Leaders in the fiels, Nason‚Äôs Synthetic Enamels, (Glyko) and Lacquer (Auto Nitro-Lac) are widely acclaimed for their beauty and exceptional duability. Shown above are the newest and most colorful array of automotive paints. ‚ÄúSCINTILLATING METALLIC COLORS‚ÄĚ The streamlined modern car of today, the result of man‚Äôs skill and progressive ingenuity, we feel is worthy of the finest in Automotive Paints. These ‚ÄúMiracles in Metallics‚ÄĚ have been tested in the field as well as in the laboratory and are proven for durability/ Standardize on the Twele Scintillating Metallic Colors for satisfied customers. Nason manufactores a wide range of Primer-Surfacers, Thinners and specialized car finishes to meet the Automotive Paint Shop‚Äôs requirements.

CCC-barris-color-dash-sam-climoThe dash in the Sam Climo 1949 Ford is still painted with the original Moonglow Copperpaint ordered from the barris shop in 1952-53.
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In late 1953 the Barris Shop started to sell products thru its new mail order business named Hollywood Kustom Accessories. In December 1953 the first ads appeared in which you could order the all new catalog. In a later version of this catalog there are 12 special mixed toners listed you could order. Most likely these colors were specially ordered by Barris after they had good success offering the Scintillating Metallic colors from Nason for a year or so.

CCC-barris-accessories-paint-pageThe Barris Hollywood Kustom Accessories catalog, first published in late 1953 lists similar custom colors. Although the color now have different names, and are possibly mixed according to Barris specifications.
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CCC-barris-painting-mercuryThere are not to many photos from the early 1950’s of the masters painting cars in the brilliant, deep organic colors. Here George Barris applied a dark red on the chopped 4-door 1950 Mercury of Jerry Reichman.¬†
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CCC-nason-paint-cans-1959Larry Watson also used Nason paints in the late 1950.
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(this article is sponsored by)

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Barris Compton Ave Shop

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BARRIS COMPTON SHOP

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George and Sam Barris worked out of this small shop on Compton Avenue in Los Angeles for 3 years. In those years, they created Custom Car Magic, and established themselves as the top Custom Restylers in the USA.

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The Barris Shop at Atlantic Blvd in Lynwood (used from 1950 to 1961) was the most famous and most prolific Barris Shops of them all. But the small shop at 7674 Compton Avenue in Los Angeles where the Barris Shop was located from 1946 to 1949 might have been the most important. It was at this shop that the what we now cal typical Barris style was developed. It was in this shop that George Barris created his live changing 1941 Buick convertible. It was in this shop that the first magazine featured cars were created that would put the Barris Customs name on the map all around the USA. Everything that happened at this shop made sure there would be a future for the Barris Custom Shop. A future in which the Barris name became synonym for anything Custom. Lets take a closer look at this small Los Angeles shop, that changed so much for us Custom Car enthusiasts

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A mildly updated¬†1941 Chevy is sitting in the drive way of the shop. Next to it sits¬†an in progress of getting chopped 1939 Mercury Coupe. The car is the¬†Jim Kierstead’s 1939 Mercury¬†possibly the first 39-40 Mercury coupes getting¬†chopped by Sam Barris. Notice the Pete and Carl names on the Brake shop sign next door. These two names only show in two¬†photos, in all other photos it appears the name Carl has been removed.

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Barris Compton Ave
Not the best quality photo, but it is interesting since is shows how the drive way was used to work on cars, with the top being removed of the car on the right. Notice the 1941 Cadillac bumper on the Ford Convertible on the far left.

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George Barris opened his first body shop in 1944. The small shop was located in Bell, California. In 1946, after his brother Sam Barris had joined George in shop, they found a new, a bit larger location on Compton Avenue, just a few blocks away from their old place in Bell. The new shop was located in a building with two garages. The owner of the building used half of it for his own Brake shop, and rented the other half to George Barris. The garage could house at least 4 cars, and the parking space in front and behind the shop allowed for a few more cars to be parked and worked on. We know that the majority of the work on the car was done on the car sitting outside the shop.Painting of the cars was however done inside, although there was no real spray booth. When a car was painted the floor would be watered down, to prevent the dust to fly into the wet paint during painting. Despite these poor painting conditions, it is know that George Barris was very picky about his paint jobs and these hand rubbed paint-jobs he did were looking really amazing.

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This photo of the shop was actually taken earlier that the one on top, the “Complete Custom Work” and list of the shops specialties had not been painted on the building section between the two doors. The car in the photo is Johnny Zaro’s 1940 Mercury getting worked on.¬†

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According the Motor Trend issue this primered and mildly restyled Buick belonged to Sam Barris.ÔĽŅ

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Clean 1940 Ford convertible with chopped windshield, padded top, lowered and skirts, later model Ford bumpers and closed center grille. Typical Custom for around 1947-48.

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The Compton Avenue shop was the building ground for many famous, trend setting and iconic Custom Cars. To name a few in no particular order:

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Brothers George and Sam were very productive at this shop, They were both very young and spend a lot of time at the shop. By the time George had finished his 1941 Buick the style for the shop was sort of set, and the customers started to come in to the shop for the Barris look. But at the same time there was still a lot of experimentation to find the right way of doing things and making each car look better. Judging from the surviving photos it seamed like every car that came out of the Compton Avenue shop looked fresh with new ideas, yet sill very recognizable as a Barris Kustom. It is truly remarkable that that such a great number of really great looking Custom cars have been created in such a small shop. Of course we have to keep in mind that due to the mostly great weather, the whole parking space around the shop was basically shop as well.

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In progress Mopar Custom Convertible with chopped padded top parked on Compton Ave in front of the shop. Two more project cars are parked in the drive way. I noticed that in most of the photos there seams not to be much business going on at Pete’s Brake shop.ÔĽŅ

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George Barris was sort of into Hot Rod Racing for a little while as well. Here we can see George and a few of his buddies with George’s flamed track-roadster in front of the shop.

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Sam Barris driving a ¬†lowered¬†1929 Model A Ford wit 32 Ford grille and late 30’s molded in v-windshield. The license plate on the sedan parked in the driveway on the left of the photo looks to be from 1946.ÔĽŅ

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George and Sam allowed the car owners to work on their own cars at the shop¬†during the whole process of Custom restyling as well. This way the owner could save some money if they did the¬†disassembling, sanding and other “easy” work themselves. For George and Sam this was convenient as well since they could then concentrate on the fun stuff or creating, and could handle more customer cars at the same time.

The shop was called Barris’s Custom Shop. What is really special about this is that the word Custom in the name is still spelled with a “C”. We know that George already started to write the word Custom with a “K” Kustom from the mid 1940’s.¬†But still the shop name would be Custom Shop for at least most of the time the shop stayed in¬†the Compton Ave. building. He would refer to the cars the shop created as Kustom Automobiles with a “K”, but the name Kustoms would not be officially connected to the name Barris as in the shop name until 1949, or 1950

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I really love this photo of a 1947 Ford convertible with padded top in front of the shop. Interesting to see how the white wall tires set it off against the black wall tires of the other cars in the photo. The car itself is not a Barris creation though, but was created by a guy who also worked for the Barris shop. Amazingly this beautiful custom survived and a full feature of the restored car can be seen in Kustoms Illustrated #46. 

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Possibly an in progress photo of Sam Barris’s 1940 Mercury personal Custom parked in front of the shop.

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1937-38 Ford with long Nash grille, chopped windshield, padded top and running boards removed. The black wall tires show that this must be early, 1946-47 most likely.

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The sign on the front of the building has quite a lot of writing on it. The main sign above the door reads: in bold letters BARRIS CUSTOM SHOP and on the left side of this the name SAM and on the right the name GEORGE. Below that in even bolder letters. BODY & FENDER WORKS. Below that in a bit smaller letters … AUTO PAINTING … The 7674 number is painted on the bottom far left side of the building, just above the door.

The section between the two doors has been added at a later date and reads.
COMPLETE CUSTOM WORK, below that in smaller letters; – CUSTOM PAINTING, PLATE-INSET, -CHOPPED TOPS, BODY MOLDING.
And diagonal; ROADSTERS CHANNELED on the top and PUSH BUTTON DOORS on the bottom.

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Beautiful 1938 Ford sedan with heavy chop, Packard Clipper grille and smoothed body. Another typical early Barris Custom shows once again that not only coupes and convertibles were used for the full custom treatment.

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Bob Creasman payed the shop a visit with his chopped 1940 Ford coupe. Notice the frame work next to the shop, most likely used to lift engines from the cars. 

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This is a really great photo of the Compton Avenue shop with a lot of Barris cars parked in front of the shop and all the guys posing for the photos. I¬†have never been able to find out the occasion for this photo. Perhaps they were gathering to go on a trip, or perhaps celebrating something. On the far left, we can see George Barris sitting on the front fender of his 1941 Buick, and parked next to it is Dick Fowler’s 1938 Ford Coupe.

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Sadly there is only one photo, that we are aware of, that was taken inside the Compton Ave shop. And it does not show much. We can see some custom hubcaps hanging from the wall.

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The backside of the shop

At the backside of the shop there was a large empty lot. In several photos we can see multiple project parked in that section. Possibly just waiting next in line to be brought closer to the shop to be worked on. Possibly the owners temporarily ran out out of money and the project were just parked there. On the backside there was also a drive way that allowed you to access the rear located parking and the rear door of the shop. The garage door that opened to the E77th street belonged to the Brake shop and was not used by the Barris shop

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Jesse Lopez on the Barris Compton Avenue Shop
The Compton Avenue shop was basically a two car garage, but longer, and if you really tried you could put four cars in it. But most of the time the work was performed outside, weather was always good. Sometimes they had up to ten cars in the “backyard of the shop. Projects they worked on and stalled projects of customers that ran out of cash. Nobody complaint about the amount of cars in the backyard and parked on the street. There was always a crowd. Next door to the shop was a brake shop. The guy who owned it owned the whole building George Barris rented the shop space from him.

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George Barris behind the word “Rod” on the white model A-Roadster. Often a lot of the guys hung out at the shop after work and in the weekends.¬†

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Al Andril’s 1940 Mercury during the construction. Friend Al Andril and Johnny Zaro wanted to have near identical Custom mercury Coupes. Al’s Coupe was done first. Noticed how messy the parking space behind the shop is. Notice the Rex Liquor Store on the other side of Compton Ave.

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This photo taken from East 77th street towards Compton Ave gives us a really good view of the shop from the back. On the right, behind the front end of John Vara/Johnny Zaro’s 1941 Ford convertible we can see the opened rear garage door of the shop. As far as we know the whole section on the left of the building was the brake shop and was not in use by Barris Shop. Parked on E. 77th street are a freshly finished Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford, Sam Barris’s 1940 Mercury convertible. Parked behind the shop is John Vara/Johnny Zaro’s 1941 Ford convertible, and a few in progress projects including a 1934-35¬†Terraplane or Hudson, a¬†very unusual car to customize.

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This photo was taken from behind the shop facing towards E. 77th street. On the right we can see the headlight of John Vara/Johnny Zaro’s 1941 Ford, parked in the street are Sam Barris his 1940 Mercury and in front of him Jesse Lopez his 1941 Ford. The car on the left is a heavily restyled 1936 Ford coupe.ÔĽŅ

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Wild restyled 1936 Ford coupe sitting on the lot behind the shop. Behind the Ford we can see what appears to be a 1941 Buick very similar to the one George had. However this cannot be George his Buick, since it does not have fade away fenders, and this photo was taken after Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford had been finished so this photo was taken in 1948 or later. George’s Buick had full fade away fenders since 1947.¬†The Rex¬†Liquor¬†Store on the other side of Compton Ave can be seen on the far left side of the photo.ÔĽŅ

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Advertising and business card

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Business card for the Compton Avenue Shop showed an image of George Barris his personal 1941 Buick.ÔĽŅ

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George used the same photo as he used on the Barris Business Card of his 1941 Buick for an 1948 magazine ad. Notice how he specifically mentions that the car was in a Hot Rod Show.

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Most likely this was the first ad George Barris used for the Compton Ave shop. No photo was used and the Shop name was written incorrect. The ad appeared in the very first issue of Hot Rod magazine in January 1948.

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Two photo ads for the the Compton Avenue shop as used in various Motor Trend magazines. Notice how the Kustom Automobiles on the top is written with a K, while the name is Barris’s Custom Shop. On the left John Vera/Johnny Zaro’s 1941 Ford was used, and on the right a photo of Jesse Lopez was used to advertise the Custom style of the Barris Shop.ÔĽŅ

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Check from August 19, 1949 with with the Barris Custom Shop address with a “C”.

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Barris’s Kustoms with a “K” ?

George Barris started to write the word Customs with a “K” Kustoms, in the early to mid 1940’s. The cars he created he¬†would call Kustom Automobiles. But on the shop wall of the Compton Avenue shop the name was Barris’s Custom Shop, and as we can see on the check from August 1949 we can see that the official address was also listed as Barris Custom Shop. There is one photo of the Compton Avenue Shop that shows the name with a “K”, but all I have is a small poor resolution scan of this photo, and on there it looks like either the “K” for Kustoms was written on the photo, or it was done rather quick on the show wall sign. In all other photos I have seen of the shop Customs is written with a C. The Barris Shop was officially renamed Barris Kustoms after the move to the new Atlantic Blvd shop

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The only photo that shows the Compton Ave shop with the work Kustom with a “K”. But the “K” looks a bit crooked, so it could be added to the photo by George later in the 1950’s. Or perhaps the “K” was painted on the shop wall by one of the guys and not an official sign writer, hence thee crooked look.ÔĽŅ

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The shop Address

For everybody who has been able to visit the former Barris shops in Los Angeles and Lynwood they all know how the shops location relate to each other, but for those who have never been able to visit the former shops I have created this map to show where the shops are located.
The Barris Shop had 4 different addresses before it moved to its last North Hollywood location in 1961. From the first shop in Bell, Ca we have not been able to find an actual address. If anybody of our readers know the actual address of this first shop George Barris had in 1944, please let us know.

  • 1944 – 1946 ‚Äď George Barris first shop in Bell (The shop was most likely named: Barris Custom Shop in Bell, but we do not have an address)
  • 1946 – 1949 ‚Äď Barris Customs 7674 Compton Avenue, Los Angeles.
  • 1949 – 1950 ‚Äď Kustom Automobiles 4120 1/2 E. Florence Avenue, Bell.
  • 1950 – 1960 ‚Äď Barris Kustoms 11054 Atlantic Blvd, Lynwood
  • 1960 – 1961 ‚Äď Barris Kustom City 11054 Atlantic Blvd, Lynwood

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The 6774 Compton Avenue shop building that Barris used from 1946 to 1949 is still standing in 2016. The overall shape of the building has not changed much, and even the sign pole on the corner of Compton and E 77th street is still standing. It looks like the building was expanded backwards were the Barris shop¬†used to be. (Google maps image)ÔĽŅ

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Luke Karosi (Kustoms Illustrated Magazine) took this photo of the former Barris Compton Ave shop building in 2013. ¬†The Compton Ave street has been widened since the 1940’s and the drive way of the shop has been consequentially narrowed.

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Luke Karosi also tried to capture the names that were written in the wet concrete side walk¬†on the side at the shop, but they are rather vague, and do not show up to well. The big letters read “Kustom” (below the water) and the inset photo shows Bill O (most likely Bill Ortega, who later changed his name to Bill DeCarr) and Sam Barris. It is¬†dated 1-27-48.ÔĽŅ

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George Barris’ 1941 Buick

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A CAR WORTH FIGHTING FOR

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When George Barris moved from Sacramento to Los Angeles he drove a 1936 Ford Cabriolet. A nice custom. But George soon understood that when he wanted a profitable Custom Body Shop he needed something more to advertise his workmanship.

(CCC-Article original published in 2013, revised article in Feb 24, 2016.)

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George’s life changing 1941 Buick

Around 1946 or early 1947 George found a 1941 Buick convertible that he wanted to turn into his dream custom. A Custom that would show the Barris Shop’s qualities as Custom Car designers and builders. George and Sam had been working in their own shop for perhaps a year or so and work was slowly increasing. He worked on the Buick after hours, so there was not always a lot of time to spend on the car. At the time it was George’s only car, so the work on it either needed to be wrapped up the same day, or he had to ask one of his friend or brother Sam for a ride home and to work the next day.

It is really amazing that there are so many photos of this very important early custom car icon. And not only from the finished car. There are several photos of the Buick show different stages. A few early photos from the Jim Kierstead Collection show the Buick as George acquired it. And a few from later when it was painted white primer at an early El Mirage dry lake events. There are also two photos known showing the Buick with the windshield frame chopped, but still without the full fade-away fenders

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Most likely somewhere in early 1947 George Barris finds a nice 1941 Buick convertible with some fender bender damage. The perfect new base for a new personal custom George has in mind. Notice that the car has a set of spotlights, but not the famous S-112 Appletons, and George had also installed a set of single bar flipper hubcaps and some unidentified beauty rings. (Jim Kierstead Collection)

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George’s Buick next to Jim Kierstead’s 1939 Mercury at Balch’s Garage Balch’s garage on Vermont street, Inglewood Ca. Jim’s Mercury was chopped by Sam and Jim, and is one of the first, perhaps the first 39-40 Mercury Coupes ever chopped. (Jim Kierstead Collection

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Most likely somewhere in early 1947 George Barris finds a nice 1941 Buick convertible with some fender bender damage. The perfect new base for a new personal custom George has in mind. Notice that the car has a set of spotlights, but not the famous S-112 Appletons, and George had also installed a set of single bar flipper hubcaps and some unidentified beauty rings. (Jim Kierstead Collection)

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George showing off in front of the camera, standing on his hands. Behind him the start of his 1941 Buick. The work on the fade-away fenders had just begun. 

In 1947 George finished the car as a full custom with chopped windshield, full fade-away molded-in fenders and a Carson Top Shop created padded top. The car was restyled just the way George loved it. The fade away fenders were created most likely using sheet metal, bend, cut and shaped to fit the 1941 Body. Some material was added to the top of the front wheel opening to flatten and lower it, making the car look lower and longer. The lower sections of the front fender and fade away section were rolled under with a nice radius, making it look like it had always been on the car like that. 

The headlights have been frenched into the molded front fenders and the heavy original chrome ornaments where removed. The stock grille was removed and replaced with a cut down 1942 Cadillac grille. The front sheet metal was reshaped to blend the grille in. The area below the hood was created from sheet metal and the hood character line was very nicely repeated into that and reshaped to end in a nice point just above the new grille. At the rear the fenders where molded to the body and flared nicely into the body with a gentle curve. George added a set of bulbous teardrop shaped fender skirts. The trunk was shaved and the external hinges were removed and replaced with internal units. That together with the molded in rear fenders created an extremely smooth rear portion of the car.

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White primer

Once the majority of the body work was done, Barris painted it white primer. He drove it around like this for a little while making sure everything worked properly. In the photos showing the Buick in white primer we can see that George still used the stock Buick front bumper. We have not been able to locate a photo of this version of the car showing the rear, so we do not know how that looked at this stage. After George had removed all handles on the car he place electric solenoids. The car had push-button controls for the doors, trunk, hood and antenna.

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ÔĽŅIn this photo we can see that George flattened the top of the front wheel openings and he rolled the bottom of the fenders inwards. Note the Kustoms Los Angeles plaque.

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The Buick in white primer at El Mirage. Note that the front bumper is still the stock 1941 Buick unit.

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A very happy George Barris behind the wheel of his primer white Buick, driving shotgun looks to be Bob Ruble and in the back a young Bill Ortega (DeCarr)

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Royal Metallic Maroon

Later in 1947 George started to prep the body for the final stages of the build. He replaces the stock rear bumper for a 1946 Oldmobile unit and mounted the taillights in the bumper guards. George painted his Buick in hand-rubbed Royal Metallic Maroon Lacquer. Possibly with the metallic part being Venus Martin gold or bronze powders which Barris used a lot in the early years.The upholstery is listed as red (dark?) and white “leather” in the Road & Track magazine. So far we have not been able to find a photo of the interior, other than one of the wrecked car showing a portion of the white with darker colored piping on the headliner. There is one photo of the Buick with the finished paint-job with the stock Buick bumper still in place. But later George replaced the bumper with a 1946 Oldsmobile units which had very nice wrap around sectioned which flow very nice with the fade away fenders.

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This is the earliest photo we have been able to find of George’s Buick completely paint. When this photo was taken, most likely in the later part of 1947 the car still had the original ’41 Buick front bumper. Typical for the era are the black wall tires which were later replaced with white wall tires.

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A little while later George replaced the ’41 Buick front bumper with a 1946 Oldsmobile unite which wrapped around the front fender very nice, giving the car more depth and speed, and flows nice with the fade away fenders. Note the curb feelers on the front fender.

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George also used his Buick for long distance drives. (most likely it was still his only car then) This photo was taken at the Elmer Howard’s Body -Fender & Top shop in Sacramento NorCal.

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After George had finished his new Custom he wanted to show it to his old Sacramento friends. Left to right Willis Schraeder, Jack Odberg, George Barris, Buddy Ohanesian, Bruce Glenn, Norm Milne and Mel Falconer. The friends were pretty impressed with George’s new Custom ride. The photo was taken in late 1947.

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George was invited to show the car at the very first Hot Rod Exposition in January of 1948 held in Los Angeles . The Buick was the only Custom Car at the show and was a huge crowd pleaser winning the top award. The show gained a lot of attention to the Barris’s Custom Shop and their Kustom creations. At this time the Barris shop was still named Customs Shop with a “C” but the cars they restyled were already called Kustoms with a “K”. In may 1948 the new all-round car magazine Road & Track showed a photo of George’s Buick in the magazine.

The photo of the Buick was absolutely perfect, showing the beauty of the car with its super low profile sitting on large white wall tires, wonderful fade-away fenders, the 1941 Cadillac grille, shaved door handles and low padded top. The Kustoms Los Angeles plaque, which George had created for his own club also showed prominent in the photo. In the same issue of Road & Track George ran a 1/4 page ad using the same photo promoting the Barris’s Custom Shop work. The ad, magazine article and showing the car at this important 1948 show really helped promote the Barris Shop name, and more and more customers were able to find the small shop on Compton Ave.

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The one photo that changed is all.

This photo of the George Barris 1941 Buick might be one of the most important photos in the history of Barris Kustoms. It was this photo that was used for the Road & Track May 1948 issue as well as the first ever ad the Barris Shop placed. However the photo was published for the first time in the Edgar Almquist  Speed + Mileage Manual with Hot Rod & Custom Car supplement copyrighted in 1947. This same photo would later also be used at other shows, to help promote the Barris Shop. The change to white wall tires for the car makes all the difference. The black walls from the earlier version make the car look almost sinister, but the new white walls add that wonderful classic look which elevated the car into its own league. The photo angle is absolutely perfect, and shows the car in all its beauty with a nice background. I have seen this location being used before, Johnny Zaro’s 1941 Ford was photographed with the same building in the back ground. I never did find out where the location was. I also have not been able to find out who the photographer was who took this for Barris Kustoms such an important photo.

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The photo that was published for the first time in the Edgar Almquist  Speed + Mileage Manual with Hot Rod & Custom Car supplement copyrighted in 1947, and was later used in the Road and Track May 1948 magazine.

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George his Buick was featured on a full page in the May 1948 Road and Track magazine. The Barris’s Custom Shop used the same photo for a quarter page ad in the same magazine. This publication changed it all for the Barris Shop.

The Barris shop sure set a new trend in custom restyling going for long, low and smooth lines from now on. George’s Buick had it all, perfect stance, perfect flowing lines with the chopped padded top and full fade away fenders. Twin Appleton spotlights, dark paint and white wall tires, with smooth large disk hubcaps.

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1947 color photo of George’s Buick taking in front of the Hollywood Park Turf Club building.

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The Buick parked on the street next to the the Barris Compton Avenue shop. The License plate is an 1947 tag plate.

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Front 3/4 view of the Buick parked next to the Barris Compton Avenue shop.

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George’s Buick was a huge hit among new customers, and the shop ended up creating several similar styled (but different in details) Buick’s requested by new customers. George’s 1941 Buick was the home run the shop needed. It made everything that would happen from now on possible. And not only the car was important, George now realized how important publicity was, he realized that with the right amount of advertising, showing cars at local shows, and having your cars featured in the new magazines would make all the difference.

Once George had finished his really well styled and proportioned Buick, he used it to promote his Barris Custom Shop. The car was also used on the shops Business Cards for some time.

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George used the same photo as he used on the Barris Business Card of his 1941 Buick for an 1948 magazine ad. Notice how he specifically mentions that the car was in a Hot Rod Show.

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The Buick with an award ribbon mounted on the antenna. Could this have been after the car won the award at the first Hot Rod show in January 1948?

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One of the nicest photos of George his Buick comes from the Johnny Zaro Collection. The car is parked next to the Compton Ave. shop and behind it we can see Sam’s 1940 Mercury. The photo is old and cracked, but man, what a  profile.

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Some time later, around late 1948 or perhaps early 1949, the car was wrecked. George and some friends were at the Lynwood Clock drive-in, and some jealous guys were kicking George’s Buick. Even putting in some dents. George got out of his car and a pretty hefty fight was started. Russ Lenarz, a friend of George was trying to get the car out of the way. He made an u-turn on the the drive-in. But ran into a telephone pole causing severe damage to the Buick. In the meantime the police had arrived and George and some of the other guys where arrested.

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Substantial damage after the crash.

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The Buick was damaged on the front and drivers side. The front fender and part of the fade away fender were badly damaged. George decided he could fix the car. And while he was at it, he decided to restyle it some more with a bit more modern components. For this new version George wanted to use some more modern parts and decided to use a cut down and rearranged 1947 Caddy grille for the car. He also added new tires now mounted with Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. And to make the fade-away fenders show off even better than before he changed the teardrop shaped fender skirts for a set of more square units that followed the line of the fade-away fenders all the way to the back of the car. George got the car in primer, but never got it painted again. He sold it in 1949, and he never saw or heard about it again.

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The Buick rebuilt after the accident, but still in primer. The new cut down and rearranged 1947 Cadillac grille looks great, and gives the front a less boxy feel. Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide whites are a perfect update as well.

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George’s 1941 Buick in primer. This was after the car had been in the accident and George had repaired the damage. And while at it he did some more restyling as well. This photo is interesting for many reasons, but especially because a similar styled full Fade-Away Custom can be spotted behind the Barris Compton Ave. shop on the far left side of the photo. The photo was taken in either 1948 or ’49. Note that George changed the teardrop shaped fender skirts for more square units that looks to flow really nice with the fade away fender line.

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George Barris did search for his old Buick. There had been rumors that it was still around. But none of these rumors ever resulted in finding anything that came even close. Not being able to find and restore the original, George did have plans at one point to recreate his old personal custom. He realizing how important this one car had been for his career. However this idea never came any further than the thinking about stage. And with George now gone we sure know the car will not be recreated by Barris anymore.

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This early Custom would be one really fine candidate for a recreation.
The George Barris 1941 Buick, one of the most important cars in the Custom Car history.

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(This article is made possible by)

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Joe Urritta 41 Ford

 

JOE URRITTA 41 FORD

 

Joe Urrittas 1941 Ford Sedan was restyled in 1949 by Sam Barris. No panel on the car was left untouched. The end result was a stunning looking Masterpiece.



The first time I heard about the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford was in the August 1991 issue of Street Rodder magazine. Harry Bradley had a wonderful article in that issue about the Tribute 1941 Ford. Mr Bradley’s contemporary interpretation of Joe Urritta;s famous Barris-built custom. The article was mostly about this really interesting design Mr Bradley had create, but it also showed one typical Harry Bradley illustration of the original Joe Urritta Ford showing the side profile, the front and the rear in one image. I love the new concepts in the article, but I fell in love with the illustration of the original Barris Custom. The text explained more about the original car, but there were no photos. I would have to wait a few more years after that before I was able to find a copy of the Trend book Customs Cars 101 in which two real photos of the car appeared. I was amazed that one of the photos had the two¬†Dachshund’s in front of them, just as in Mr Bradley’s Illustration. The two photos in the Trend book were amazing. This was such a wild custom car, with very interesting lines. I could not wait to find out more about it. (More about the Harry Bradley Tribute car can be found HERE.)

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-h-bradley-05The first time I saw something about the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford was in the August 1991 issue of Street Rodder magazine where Harry Bradley showed this illustration of the original car in his Tribute article.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-01This side profile, and one rear quarter view of the car appeared in the 1951 Trend Book Custom Cars. 
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The Joe Urritta Ford was created in 1949, and its amazing that the car was featured as much as it was. Making the cover of the July 1950 issue of Motor Trend must have been the highlight for the owner, as well as for Sam Barris who created the car.

According the stories that have been published about the car we fortunately do quite a bit about this car. Most publication state that the car was created in 1950, but it was actually built in 1949, and can be seen in primer, or unpolished paint at the 1950 National Roadster Show which was held in Oakland California from January 19 to 22.

Somewhere in 1949 Joe Urritta drove his 1941 Ford sedan from¬†Frensno, California to the Barris shop in Lynwood, around a 200 mile drive. Joe wanted to have his sedan converted to a convertible sedan with padded top, and it needed to be as low as it could get. At the Barris Shop it was decided that this would be Sam’s project and over the next couple of month he would create one of the wildest Customs the shop had ever created. The car has some styling cue’s from the Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford, as in raised fenders, heavily sectioned hood and fade away fenders.¬†Perhaps some ideas were “borrowed” on Joe’s Ford, but everything was¬†done so much different on Joe’s Ford.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-00Joe Urritta’s 1941 Ford was shown for the first time at the 1950 National Roadster Show held in¬†January that year.¬†We do not know for sure if the car was still in primer, or if the Barris shop ran out of time to polish the fresh paint. Perhaps the car was polished at the show after this photo was taken at set-up day?
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Sam started with cutting off the top completely. The doors were replaced with convertible door, and the top portion of the cowl was replaced with a convertible cowl so that the convertible windshield could be used along with the vent windows. The new belt line had to be reshaped to fit with the convertible doors, and to finish the rear section where the rear of the top used to be. The trunk was welded shut and the whole body was reenforced so that the body could be handled for the next step. Next up was channeling the body over the frame to get the car as low as possible. The floor was cut out, and the body was dropped over the frame until the perfect height was achieved. The rear of the body was dropped more than the front for the desired speed-boat look. New floor attachment point were welded in place at the new height and the floor was welded in the new much higher location. The running boards were removed and the bottom of the body was reshaped. The rear fenders were move up around 5 inches and rotated a bit to flow better with the design of the car. The top of the new fender location is about two inches below the top of the body.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-12A beautiful front 3/4 view of the Joe Urritta’s 1941 Ford appeared on the cover of the July 1950 issue of Motor Trend magazine. This must have been a great feeling for both the car owner Joe, as well as for Sam Barris who build it.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-11Explaining the Motor Trend cover photo on page five.
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With the main body and rear fenders roughly in position Sam decided the suspension needed to be lowered as well to get the car at the desired ride height. Sam reshaped the front spring added a dropped front axle, raised the rear crossmember, de-arched the rear spring and reversed the spring eyes. With the rear of the body in the right position Sam could move on to the front of the car. The front fenders where lowered from their stock position until the wheel opening fitted nice over the tire. The new location was much higher compared to the body than stock, this meant that the hood no longer would fit, and needed to be sectioned to fit the new fender location. The new much thinner hood now sits about two inches taller than the top of the front fenders. With the front fenders and hood all roughed in, it was time to create the new fade away fenders. Sam and joe had decided that the car would not have full fade away fenders, but rather shorter units fading into the rear portion of the doors. Sam most likely asked the California Metal Shaping company to create these new panels to save time.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-17The one page feature article on the car in the July 1950 issue of Motor Trend. The article credits Thomas J. Medley for the photos. However the bottom three were actually taken by Marcia Campbell.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-18Scan of an original photo proof from the Marcia Campbell Collection. This photo was used in the MT article, as well as in the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-10Cropped scan of the photo-proof. Sadly the photo proof is developed a bit lighter than the actual photo, washing out some of the details. The rear 3/4 view of the Joe Urritta Ford is my personal favorite. Notice the small bumper guard taillights and the Kustoms Los Angeles plaque hanging from the rear bumper. The rear window flap has been removed hence the large opening in the rear of the top.
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The new fading fenders were tacked in place and next up was the new front end. Sam had put a 1947 Oldmobile grille on top of the molded in front splash pan and reshaped the metal around it to flow with the cut down 1941 Ford front sheet metal. The headlight bezels were frenched to the body. The convertible windshield frame was cut down around 4 inches. With all the body wok roughed in place it was time to clean up things. All the fenders were molded to the body with shaped sheet metal and smoothed plenty of lead for that desirable one piece look. The character lines on all four fenders was welded solid and hammered smooth for an even more smooth look. Sam added a set of long 1941 Ford fender skirts and mounted 1948 Ford bumpers. The new body shape Sam had created looked nothing like the once two door sedan body anymore. The new low, long and sleek body looked amazing. The low hood and wonderful slight downwards point fade away fenders optically extended into the 1941 Ford fender skirts.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-13The 1947 Old grille looks right at place in the lower than stock front of the car. I’m not quite sure that is going on with the 1948 Ford front bumper. In most of the photos it appears the ends are slightly twisted down. This front 3/4 view also shows that the chopped windshield appears to be to upright for the overall design of the car. On the other hand, this does give the car a nice early feel.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-14I really like the addition of the 1948 Studebaker Commander dash and steering wheel to the car. Due to the raised floor, which is very evident in this photo, the seats had to be modified a lot. The upholstery was done in Antique white with green piping and dark green carpets created by Marian Cottles from Sacramento.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-15Side view photo by Marcia Campbell shows how long the chopped padded top is and how it flows nicely into the reshaped rear section of the body. The 1942-48 Ford gravel pan at the rear was mounted higher and the rear bumper was also raised a bit from its stock position. 
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-16Dan Post used 4 photos of the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford, taken by Marcia Campbell, in the 1951 and 1952 edition of his famous Blue Book of Custom Restyling.
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A few major things still needed to be done on the car. The overall shape was not complete until the planned padded top was in place. And also the interior had to be completely redone. Now with a lot less space inside, due to the channeling. Sam had to modify the stock seats and get them ready for a new interior. Sam removed the stock Ford dash and made a 1948 Studebaker Commander dash to fit the car. The stock steering wheel and column was also replaced by a 1948 Studebaker unit. Sam installed push buttons to open the doors, and cut the vent windows to size, and created new window channels for the doors and rear quarter windows. The 1948 Ford rear bumper guards were modified to accept red plexiglas taillights. Then the car was primered and send of to Sacramento where  would handle the top and interior. The interior was done in antique white with green piping and a dark green carpet. The long padded top was created around the window frames Sam had created and flows really nice with the reshaped rear of the car. With the top completed the new shape of the Urritta Ford was really complete. The Barris shop painted the car in dark green metallic and finished it off with a set of Appleton spotlights, smooth hubcaps, and two Kustoms Los Angles plaques. The whole restyling had cost Joe $3600.-

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-01The low angle side view photo of the Ford with the two Dashunds is the most famous photos of the car. It show how long, low and extreme the car is, especially considering it was created mostly in 1949. Also interesting to see is the similar profile of the dogs compared to the car… tail-dragging.
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When Joe got the car back home he started to show it at several shows and since the car was a little more than just 4 feet tall it was named the 4 Foot Kustom. The car was quite different from anything else around at the time. Especially the fact that it had such a long padded top made the car really unique and stand out from the rest. Joe enjoyed the car for some time, according the stories he used it quite frequently and in late 1952, early 1953 he took it back to the Barris Shop for a new paintjob. This time the car was painted in a deep metallic maroon.



The 1953 Rod & Custom article

Not along after the car had been repainted, Joe decided to let go of the car and offered it for sale on the D&B Auto Sale lot on Santa Monic Blvd in Holliwood, Ca. The asking price was $1595.-

When the car was featured well over three years after it had been finished in the August 1953 issue of Rod & Custom the car had been repainted by Barris in a dark maroon. It also appears that the steering wheel and column have been changed, the door garnish moldings have been wood grained and a dash mounted rear view mirror has been added. The grille was updated by the removal of the bottom bar, and the center vertical bar was recessed so it was less obvious. It also appears that the front bumper was mounted higher on the brackets., most likely to make the front end a little less heavy. Most interesting is that all the article photos were taken at the D&B Auto Sales lost on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood.


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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-09For Sale at the D&B Auto Sales on Santa Monica Blvd. in Holliwood. The lost was specialized in second hand Hot Rods and Custom Cars. Quite a few famous and not so famous Custom Cars ended up on this or similar lots at one point in their life.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-08Side view photo from the R&C article shows the wonderful flowing lines of the extended from fenders and the molded in rear fenders.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-07Front view shows how extensive the front end was reshaped to make all the components work together. The from gravel pan is, just as the one on the rear from a 1942-48 Ford, and molded into the front for the desired smooth look. Notice how thin the hood has become after the channeling of the body. In the later version of the car the bottom grille bar has been removed to lighten up the front, and the center bar looks to be set back, to make it stand out less than on the stock Oldsmobile grille.
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The Rod & Custom article states the car’s height has been reduced to 49 inches, or slightly over 4 feet high. Hence the name 4-feet Kustom. When Harry Bradley¬†reconstructed the car in his study about the original car and the design of his “Tribute” Ford in the early 1990’s he came to the conclusion the car must have been a bit taller, 54.20 inches. A stock 1941 Ford is listed as around 68 inches tall.

 

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-06The rear view photo shows the completely welded and smooth rear section of the car. Notice that the Kustoms Los Angeles plaques have been removed by now. The rear window flap has been installed again, and we can now see how small the rear window is.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-05The car has literally every body panel modified in some way making it one of the most extensive restyled cars in the early years. The keen eye of Sam and his brother George made sure that everything worked together well on this car as we can see in this photo. But I guess by 1953, this type of custom was unfortunately a bit outdated.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-03The interior photo from the R&C article shows the new steering wheel and column, dash mounted rear view mirror, and wood grained garnish moldings.
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It is unknown what exactly happened to the car after it was for sale on the D&B Auto Sale lot. At one point it has found a new owner, possibly more than one new owner, and suffered a hard life since then. Rod Powell mentioned that at one point he saw the car in very sad conditions at a used car lot / muffler shop in Freedom Ca. The car had been dismantled for mechanical work. Rod mentioned that he had heard that eventually the car was cut op, and its gone now. Such a sad end for such a great car.



Harry Bradley’s step-by-step analysis

Harry Bradely has been fascinated with the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford since he saw it for the first time as a teen ager in 1951. In 1990 he set out to design a “Tribute” version of the car. To fully understand the original custom he made 8 side view drawings, starting with an stock 1941 Ford sedan and ending with the side view of the Joe Urritta Ford. These step-by-step analysis drwawings¬†give us a fantastic look what Sam Barris needed to do in 1949 to turn Joe’s Sedan into his sensational full Custom. If you want to know more about the Tribute Ford Harry Bradley Designed, please check out the CCC-Forum Post I did about the booklet Harry Bradley created. And inspired version of the Tribute Ford was eventually created by Rod Powell and his team.


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Hopefully one day somebody will get inspired enough to recreate the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford, perhaps with a few improvements as a slightly raked windshield. It would be great if we could see some more 1930’s and 1940’s sedan based customs. The Joe Urritta 1941 Ford once again proofs that the sedans make great Customs.


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References and more info

  • Motor Trend¬†magazine, July 1950
  • Custom Cars¬†Trend Book No. 101, 1951
  • Rod & Custom magazine, August 1953

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KUSTOMS LA Display Cards

 

KUSTOMS LA DISPLAY CARDS

 

A selective group of Barris Kustom car owners was part of the Kustoms of Los Angeles car club. One of the items Barris created for this club was a cardboard plaque, three different once.



After George Barris had moved to Los Angles during WWII he started to work full time as Custom builder, creating cars for clients, and quickly making new friends in the car scene. In the mid 1940’s¬†‚Ästwe do not know the exact date for this event ‚Äď George Barris started the¬†Kustoms Los Angeles club. A small club for Barris Custom Car owners. George designed a square Kustoms Los Angeles plaque that was cast in brass and detail painted in a dark purple color. Later Club jackets were made as well as membership cards. A few years later George saw the potential for a larger club and how he could attract more customers for his Custom Car¬†restyling¬†and aftermarket products he started to¬†marketing, so he formed Kustoms of America. The small Barris Kustoms only Kustoms Los Angeles club remained and was renamed Kustoms of Los Angeles.


CCC-kustom-los-angeles-barrisAn early brass Kustoms Los Angeles plaque and an later, mid 1950’s Aluminum crown Kustoms Los Angeles plaque on the top row. The bottom row shows two different type of Kustoms Los Angeles jackets (notice the Kustom’s and Kustoms difference) and a club card.
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In late 1952, early 1953 the Kustoms Los Angeles plaque was redesigned with a new crown section on the top portion and a peak on the bottom, very much mimicking the design of the Barris crest which was designed at the same time. The new plaques now featured part of the Barris crest in the design and were cast in aluminum. Also around this time, 1953 we see for the first time that some of the Barris Cars at car shows and photo-shoots with paper or cardboard printed Kustoms of Los Angeles cards covering the cars license plates.

In my research I have found three different versions of these cardboard Kustoms of Los Angeles plaques. We found then on Barris Customs that were at in and outdoor car shows and on a series of photos that were taken by the Life Magazine photographer who took a lot of photos at the Barris Shop and on location. Lates take a closer look at these three different cardboard plaques.
At the end of this article you can download a full size version of all three of these cards for FREE.

The First Version

The first version of these cardboard plaques I have come across is shown on cars with a 1953 license plate tag, and they could have been taken in the later part of 1952 I guess. This is the only card of the three version that was actually printed. The design is a simple version (without the Barris Crest) of the club plaque. I’m not sure if this paper version of the plaque was done before the aluminum plaque or the way around. The card were possibly printed on 8 x 10 cardboard and the most of them I have found are cut out around the edges, but there are also a few photos that show versions that were not cut out and just taped over the license plate.

CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-crown-03A cut out version taped to the license plate of George Barris his personal Cadillac. This car was put on the car at a parking lot where the Life Magazine photographer photographed a couple of barris Customs in 1953.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-crown-01Another cut out one used on the Jack Nethercutt 1952 Oldsmobile restyled by Barris Kustoms.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-crown-02We have no idea why this cut out version is taped on the top right of the license plate on this Lincoln convertible mild custom.
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CCC-1954-san-jose-autorama-hocker-fordTom Hocker’s 1940 Ford coupe kustom in its first fuchsia color at an 1953-54 San Jose indoor car show. Several of the Barris Kustom car at the show had the Kustoms of Los Angeles cardboard plaques.
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CCC-1954-san-jose-autorama-dewitt-fordChuck Dewitt also had the cardboard plaque on his Shoebox convertible.
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CCC-hirohata-merc-radar-antenna-05This photo of the Hirohata Mercury with the model shows the full printed card how it must have come from the printer. The license plate tag is 1953 and the photo was taken at a local outdoor car shows. Several Barris Kustoms, and Kustoms of Los Angeles members cars were at this event.
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CCC-hirohata-merc-trunk-21This photo was taken at the same location as the Hirohata Merc photo shown above. All six cars in this photo at the outdoor car show have the cardboard Kustoms of Los Angeles car mounted over the license plate.
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The Second version

For the second version of the cardboard plaque a stencil template was cut with KUSTOM LOS ANGELES on it. The “S” from Kustoms and the “of” where not used anymore in the new version. ¬†The stencil was used to spray paint the cardboard plaques. This was a very cheap way to create these plaques, but they did look a lot rougher than the first version, which was printed.


CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-dragooThis is a cleaned up photo of the original Kustoms Los Angeles cardboard plaque as used on the Ronnie Dragoo 1954 Mercury.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-second-03Ronnie Drago’s Mercury with the actual cardboard plaque on the car. This photo was taken at an outdoor car show around 1955-56.¬†Several cars now used the cardboard plaqur taped below the license plate. And in this photo we can see that there are also two business cards taped to the plaque. We can see this on several cars photographed during the same time.
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CCC-Kustom-LA-Card-dragoo-02In an¬†older (1955 plates)¬†photo of Ronnie’s car we can see that Ronnie used a real aluminum crown Kustom Los Angles plaque mounted on the rear of the car.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-second-01A later version of Tom Hocker’s 1940 Ford with trend setting quad headlights used the newer stenciled version of the Kustom Los Angeles plaque taped on to the front bumper.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-second-02Chimbo’s Barris restyled 1954 Mercury with the stenciled plaque mounted over the front license plate with business cards taped to it.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-second-04Marcia Campbell’s old 1942 Ford now owned by Anne DeValle used the plaque taped below the license plate.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-KK02There are quite a few photos of the Barris Kopper Kart with this version of the Kustoms Los Angeles plaque. 
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-KK03Close up shows the cardboard plaque is just taped to the regular license plate at the top.
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The Third version

The third version, or at least what we think is the third version of the Kustoms L.A cardboard display card is the one that has been used the least. Or at least is photographed the least. We know of two cars that used this version of the card. Mandy Holder’s Barris restyled 1951 Mercury convertible and the Barris Kopper Kart shop truck. This Kustoms L.A card was made using a hand cut mask with more free style cut letters. Black spray painted on heavy cardboard.

CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-1957-mandyThis is the actual Kustoms L.A paper display card that was used by Mandy Holder on his Barris Restyled 1951 Mercury. Sadly we have not been able to find any¬†photos showing this Kustoms L.a¬†card¬†being used on Mandy’s Mercury.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-KK04The only other car we have been able to find using this same type cardboard display card is the Barris Kopper Kart. 
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-card-third-02Close up of the Kustoms L.a. card used on the Kopper Kart.
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CCC-kustom-los-angeles-radcliffe-01Rob Radcliffe snapped this picture of his Shoebox with the Kustoms Los Angeles cardboard plaque he printed from the CCC-Version, at the 2016 GNRS. It fits his period perfect car perfectly.
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Hirohata Merc Hawaiian Badge

 

HAWAIIAN BADGE

 

Since the Hirohata Mercury was restored it always had an oddly shaped and located brass badge with the name The Hawaiian on the door…¬†Lets find out the story behind the badge.


Howard Gribble¬†recently send me an email including¬†a photo of the Bob Hirohata Merc which he took at this recent¬†visit¬†(January, 2016)¬†to the new Petersen Museum. He noticed that the “Hawaiian” badge on the door, which had been part of the restored Hirohata Mercury for years, was missing. He¬†wondered when this badge was removed from the car, especially knowing this would have involved a paint touch up. Howards email¬†reminded me that I still wanted¬†to do an CCC-Article on this controversial Hawaiian Badge that was part of the restored 1951 Mercury, but as far as we could tell, it was never on the car when Bob Hirohata owned the car.

CCC-barris-hirohata-2016-petersenHoward took this photo of the Hirohata Mercury at the Petersen Museum in January 2016, no sign of the drivers door mounted Hawaiian badge.
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I took this photo of the Hirohata Mercury in 2011, and the Hawaiian badge is mounted on the drivers door, just below the vent window.
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CCC-barris-hirohata-hawaiian-badge-02The Hawaiian badge was made of a hand shaped and polished piece of sheet brass with the letters engraved and painted the sea-foam body color.
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The Hawaiian Badge was recently removed from the car, when the Mercury was cleaned, fine tuned, updated and made ready for the prestigious Mercury Gathering at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance. The car spend some quality time at Junior Conway’s House of Color Shop in Bell Gardens, Ca. for an full update. The restoration of the car was completed in 1998-99 and since then the car had traveled to many shows including all the way to Sweden. So it was time for some touch-ups etc to be in excellent condition for the Pebble Beach show. While the car was in Conway’s shop and body sections had to be touched up, it¬†was decided it was a good time to remove the Hawaiian badge as well. On a visit with Roger O’Dell to the Junior Conway shop John Denich took some photos of the Hirohata Mercury being fine tuned for the Pebble Beach event.

CCC-barris-hirohata-2015-update-03Apparently there were some fit problems on the rear window lower stainless trim. 
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CCC-barris-hirohata-2015-update-04The Hirohata Mercury was cleaned and detailed inside and out.
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CCC-barris-hirohata-2015-update-02John Denich took this photo which shows that the badge was now gone.
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CCC-barris-hirohata-2015-update-01The Hirohata Mercury at the Pebble Beach Concourse with painter Junior Conway on the left, owner Jim McNiel in the center, and Rob Radcliffe on the right.  
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The Hirohata Merc Hawaiian Badge

Lets take a step back and look at the history on this The Hawaiian badge on the Hirohata Mercury. Ever since the Mercury was restored by Jim McNiel the Hawaiian badge was part of the car. But none of the old photos I had seen on the car show this badge. At this time we are not 100% sure Bob ever named his Mercury “The Hawaiian“. Some people have referred to the car by that name, possibly even before Jim McNiel restored the car, but we do not have any proof for the name connected to Bob. We do know that Bob named his Mercury the “Mercillac” after he had installed brand new Cadillac engine for his cross country tip in 1953. And as far as we know there was never a badge or emblem with this name added on the out or inside of the car when Bob owned it. It might be possible that Bob renamed the car in the mid 1950’s when he was about to sell it, but agian there are no photos or info to proof this.


CCC-barris-hirohata-mercillacThe October 1953 issue of Rod & Custom magazine featured an article by Bob Hirohata on the cross country trip he made in his 1951 Mercury which he named “Mercillac”
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There are several photos of the Hirohata Mercury, after it was repainted by the Barris Kustom Shop in lime green, that show a side view mirror on the drivers door, mounted just below the vent window. This was on the same location as later the Hawaiian badge would be at. When I asked Jim McNiel about the Hawaiian badge and also about the side view mirror he mentioned that most likely Bob was stopped a lot by the cops, and perhaps even ticketed for having no side view mirrors. So in the end the mirror was added and screwed to the door. There are also stories that the mirror was added to the Mercury requested by the Movie company when the car was hired for the Running Wild movie. And judging all the photos of the Mercury after it was repainted, the later might actually be the real reason why there was a mirror on the Merc. After Bob Hirohata sold the car in 1955 the new owner installed a hitch and used the Mercury to pull his speed boat, for that the mirrors must have come in handy.

CCC-barris-hirohata-mamie-van-dorenMamie Van Doren poses with the Hirohata Mercury painted lime green at the Running Wild Movie set. The side view mirror can be clearly seen in this photo.
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CCC-barris-hirohata-mercillac-mazza This photo from the Barry Mazza Collection shows Bob Hirohata’s Mercury after it had been repainted Lime green (after the Running Wild Movie)¬†with some three bar flipper hubcaps. The photo was taken at an unidentified outdoor show, most likely in 1955. The most interesting about the photo is that the car has the mirror mounted, and a show card mounted on the front bumper with on the lower section Kustoms of Los Angeles, and on the top the “MERCILLAC” name. Unsure is if Bob Hirohata still owned the Mercury when this photo was taken, most likely it was.
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CCC-barris-hirohata-mirror-01Close up of the mirror which appears to have a teardrop shaped base.
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Jim¬†mentioned that is was one of the previous owners of the Hirohata Mercury, most likely¬†Dirty Doug Kinney, who removed the mirror in the late 1950’s. Most likely he did not want to fill the holes and repaint the doors,¬†¬†so he decided to create a badge that would cover the holes left from the side view mirror. He shaped the brass badge in a similar shape as the mirror base to cover up all evidence of the mirror. He then engraved the “The Hawaiian” name into the brass badge. When Jim bought the Hirohata Mercury for $500.- in late 1959, or early 1960 the Hawaiian badge was on the car.

CCC-barris-hirohata-hawaiian-missing-gold-02This photo from the Rodder’s Journal issue number 5 show that both The Hawaiian badge¬†and¬†the Barris crest are missing from the car at this point… ¬†Jim stored the originals¬†in the house, making sure they would not get lost. We can however see the holes drilled for the mirror an later the badge.
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CCC-barris-hirohata-hawaiian-missing-goldJim takes out the Hirohata Mercury for the last time before the restoration starts. 
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CCC-barris-hirohata-hawaiian-badge-01I took this photo of the badge at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama Mercury Gathering. Here I spoke with Jim about many details of the Hirohata Mercury, including the history of the Hawaiian badge.
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When Jim set out to restore the Hirohata mercury in the 1990’s he decided to take the car back to how it looked when Bob Hirohata owned the car in about 1953. But since the Hawwaiian badge had always been part of the car for as long as Jim owned it he decided the badge would be part of the restoration. The Badge has since then always been a great topic of conversation every time the car was displayed. The use of the badge was controversial to say the least. Most historic Custom Car enthusiasts, including myself always felt the badge should not have been used, and the holes should have been filled in to bring the car back to how Bob Hirohata had it in 1953.

Fortunately Jim McNiel decided that when it was time to fix up the Hirohata Mercury for the prestigious Pebble Beach Concourse 1949-1951 Mercury Kustom event, it was time to bring the car back to how Bob Hirohata drove it cross country and entered it in many car shows. The Hirohata Mercury has always been one of my most favorite Custom Cars, and seeing the restored car in person sure was a Custom Car highlight for me, but the¬†Hawaiian badge¬†always bugged me a little…¬†like a smudge you want to clean¬†off. With the badge removed we have Custom Car perfection.

CCC-barris-hirohata-pebble-beachJim McNiel drives the car up to the podium at the 2015 Pebble beach Concourse to receive his best Custom Award…. without the Hawaiian badge on the door!¬†
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CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob
 

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Sam Barris Buick Model

 

GOLDEN SAHARA MODEL

 

Japanese Yoshihiro Hobara is on a quest to build a series of his all time favorite famous Barris Kustoms Shop created Custom cars in scale 1/25. His latest finished model is the Sam Barris 1950 Buick.



Yoshihiro started the recreation of the Sam Barris 1950 Buick over ten year ago, and sadly he never took any photos of the initial progress on the model. After the initial body shapes were all created he put the project aside to start working on a few other projects first. Yoshihiro is a huge Barris Kustoms fan, and has been collecting every magazine and book he could find containing Barris created Cars. Fortunately for all us Custom Car enthusiast, and especially for Yoshihiro the Sam Barris 1950 Buick has been documented pretty good back in the early 1950’s when Sam Created it. Many photos have been published in the old magazines and later book. But even more important is that the real car has survived and has been completely restored. More on this can be found in a two part CCC-Article on the real Sam Barris 1950 Buick. And there have been a lot of magazine and book articles written about the Buick, so there was an overload of¬†research material on the Buick.
 

CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-01After the basic body line had been created it was time to add the details. The peak on the hood was created using a small metal wire, filler and a lot of careful sanding.
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After Yoshihiro had finished the 1/25 scale models of the Golden Sahara and the Modern Grecian, he took the Sam Barris 1950 Buick project back out of the box, and now it was time to finished the model.¬†The recreation of the Sam Barris 1950 Buick model was based on an AMT 1951 Chevy Fleetline kit. This was necessary since there never has been a 1/25 kit from the 1950 Buick. ¬†The Chevy has some similar lines than the Buick, but¬†to turn it into a much longer 1950 Buick¬†Yoshihiro needed to make a lot of changes. The front end needed to be stretched, hood reshaped with an added raised center section and new grille opening. The fenders needed to be heavily reshaped and extended both on the front and the rear. The roof of the chevy was chopped, and also completely reshaped to match the Buick’s lines.¬†All the window shapes had to be completely changed as well, which required a lot of shaped sheet styrene.
 

CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-02The photo on the left shows how much work had to be done to make the 1951 Chevy kit look like a 1950 Buick. On the right all the detail work has been added to model and it is almost ready for the last coats of primer.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-03Close up of the front details with the 1953 Buick headlights and scratch-build 1953 Pontiac Wagon taillights at the rear. Both fenders front and read were reshaped with kit parts, sheet plastic and filler.
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When it came to adding the details Yoshihiro relied to using strip and sheet styrene cut, filed and sanded to shape, as well as parts from the part box. Some parts had to be completely scratch build, while other parts, like the grille came from old kits and could be simply modified to for the Buick model.

CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-04All the body work has now been done, everything sanded smooth, time for the final primer coats.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-05In the paint-booth for the last primer and a few hours of light sanding and then the body is ready for the final paint color.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-06Final color in the paint-booth, and fresh out of the booth checking with the documentation how close it is… Job well done.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-07Yoshihiro took this photo of the 1951 Chevy Fleetline kit in the back ground and the 1950 Buick model based on this kit in the foreground to show how much needed to be modified to get the job done.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-08With the body painted it was time to work on the other details, the interior and all the exterior details as the bumpers, hubcaps etc. Fortunately¬†Yoshihiro has a huge collection of kit parts to work with, and what he does not have in his collection… he just creates.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-prog-09Working on the interior, using great resource material from the restored real car. Yoshihiro recreated the button tufted seats as accurate as he could. The real Sam Barris Buick used 1953 Cadillac hubcaps, and fortunately those were included in some 1960’s AMT kits and have been reproduced in resin in more resent years.
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The finished Model

After¬†Yoshihiro had painted the body it in the right color he concentrated on the detail work on the interior and all other exterior details like the bumpers wheels, tires and grille. Most of these parts had already been started in the earlier stage and when the car was in primer, but not everything needed to be fine tuned and finished with chrome paint, bare metal foil, or painted in the desired colors. A lot of time was spend on the interior to match the Bill Gaylord interior from the original Sam Barris Buick. The 1951 Chevy dash was modified to look more like the Buick unit and a more accurate steering wheel was found in the partsbox. The steering wheel needed, just like everything else some modifications to be good enough for¬†Yoshihiro. ¬†When the paint on the body had dried for some time¬†Yoshihiro detailed the chrome trim with bare metal foil and started to assemble the car. The finished Buick is yet another stunning Barris Kustoms 1/25 scale model created by¬†Yoshihiro Hobara. We wonder what his next Barris Kustoms Model will be…
 

CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-02Yoshihiro just finished model together with the February 1954 issue of Rod & Custom magazine that featured the Sam Barris Buick on the cover.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-01The side view shows how well Yoshihiro has succeeded in capturing the look of the Sam Barris 1950 Buick.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-04For the grille Yoshihiro relied on his spare parts but the grille surround and front bumper are all scratchbuild.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-03The 1951 Lincoln side trim was scratch built from strip styrene, and so are the taillights. The rear bumper was home made from sheet styrene and painted chrome with Alclad II paint.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-05All the window trim was also created from shaped strip and sheet styrene. Yoshihiro even created the heavy looking fender skirts that need to cover the lipped rear wheel opening on the real car.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-06Close up on the taillights and rear bumper.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-07The lip on the fender opening had to be scratch build since the 1951 Chevy never had one. The white wall tires and Cadillac hubcaps are resin aftermarket parts.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-09The dash is a modified 1951 Chevy unit and the steering wheel comes from the parts-box, but was modified to recreate the original wheel.
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CCC-sam-barris-buick-yoshihiro-08Another wonderful Barris Kustoms model recreated in 1/25 scale by¬†Yoshihiro Hobara… We are already looking forward to the next one.
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