Eldred Nelson 39 Ford

 

ELDRED NELSON 39 FORD

 

This unusual full size padded topped 1939 Ford Convertible was built by a young Campbell Ca student in 1949. He did all the work himself after school at his fathers shop. Eldred Nelson 39 Ford



Eldred Nelson built himself this very nicely done 1939 Ford convertible while he was at Campbell High in 1949 and 1950. The car is quite unusual because of its stock height padded top. We do not see to many of those on Custom Cars. The common practice was to have your windshield chopped a couple of inches, then the upholstery shop would tackle the lower padded top. But not for Eldred, he decided he like the top to be stock height, and enjoy the view from the windshield and side windows at full size.

Eldred’s father had a trucking company in Campbell California (Close to San Jose in Northern California). His father taught Eldred how to weld at age 13, and a few years later he bought himself a 1939 Ford convertible… and over a period of two years, 1949 and 1950, Eldred turned the Ford into his dream Custom.
He removed the running boards, added sections to the fenders both front and rear where the running boards used to mount to. Then he hand shaped a panel to fit under the main body that would cover the frame rails. The panel was flared into the both front and rear fenders. The two piece hood was welded solid, and all the trim and ornaments of the hood were shaved in the process. Only the hood belt line trim stayed in place, but was shortened about 50%.

ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-06Front photo shows the smoothed hood and use of 1940 Ford headlights and ’49 Plymouth bumpers.¬†
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At the back all the handles and emblems were also shaved, and a set of teardrop shape bubble skirts were mounted on the rear fenders. 2 1949 Plymouth front bumpers were used to replace the much thinner stock units. The new rubbed bumpers gave the car a nice long and low look. The stock headlights were replaced with 1940 Ford units, but at the rear the teardrop shaped taillights from the ’39 Ford remained. The suspension was modified to get the car a few inches lower to the ground. Eldred bought a set of Lyons aftermarket Custom¬†hubcaps and mounted them together with a set of black wall tires on the car.


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Eldred went kind of wild on the dashboard. He took out the complete center section and filled it with a smooth panel. He also welded the glove box door solid and smoothed out the complete dash, leaving only the two main gauges and the clock from the glove box door in place. Below the dash, in the center he created an extended panel that would house the controls he had removed when he smoothed the main dash. The whole dash unit looks now ultra smooth.¬†He did all the gas welding, filling and leading himself, after school at his fathers shop. Eldred¬†had¬†Quality Machine¬†in San Jose do¬†the all the engine work. He¬†mentioned¬†that¬†that was the lace¬†where all the local hot Rodder’s went for machine work.

With all the body work finished and everything smoothed Eldred painted the car in a nice light blue DuPont lacquer with the help of his father, and once finished he drove the car to C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland for a complete custom upholstery and padded top. Eldred remembered he had to pay about $400.- for the complete upholstery job.

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ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-07Eldred replaced the steering wheel with an 1948 Ford unit, and added a set of Spotlights.The C.A. Hall Auto Tops shop in Oakland California did the padded top and interior in very nice wide rolls.
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ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-03Eldred standing proud with his custom ’39 Ford Convertible. This photo gives a good look at the wide and soft rounded pleats on the door.
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ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-02The ’39 Ford dashboard was heavily customizing. The center console was removed and a smooth panel molded in place. The glove box door was also welded shut, and the whole unit was smoothed.
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Eldred met his future wife in the car and drove it to San Diego for their honeymoon in 1951, and in 2016 they are still together after 65 years. Eldred sold the car in 52 for $900. Then for $900 he bought an almost new 51 ford for his growing family. He remembers that the guy who bought it was from So Cal, but he was not sure where. He never saw the car again, and he has no idea what ever happened to it after that.


ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-ca-mapEldred built his 1939 Ford while he lived in Campbell California (blue pin), close to San Jose.
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Special thanks to Pat Lash for sharing the story and photos and Andrew Figueroa for the scans.





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C. A. Hall Tops

 

HALL TOPS

 

When you lived in Northern California, and wanted a custom upholstery job or padded top created for your car, then you most likely ended up having the work done at C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland.

 

When it comes to Custom upholstery and padded tops in California there are only a few shop names that pop¬†up. The most popular shop¬†was the Carson Top Shop on Vermont Ave. Los Angles. Shop employee Glen Houser developed a non folding padded top for an 1930 Ford in 1935. It was the birth of the Carson top, however it was named that until much later. Another big upholstery shop name was¬†Gaylord who started a little later in the 1940’s in Lynwood, not to far from the Barris Custom Shop.¬†In the early 1940’s the padded tops became very popular among the Hot Rod and Custom Car crowd, and not only in Southern California. In North California, the city of Oakland to be precise, there was a guy named Calvin A. Hall who had a auto top and upholstery business since 1925. When the Hot Rodders and Custom guys found out about the special tops and tuck & roll interiors done in So California they wanted to have those done more locally as well.


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The Hall Top Shop came to the rescue an Calvin quickly figured out how to do the padded tops and create the interiors the guys wanted. And business was booming for the shop. The C.A. Hall Tops shop was responsible for most the the padded tops created in the Nor California era. The Nor Cal builders like Harry Westergard, Dick Bertolucci, Gene Winfield and early one also the Barris Brothers who sill lived in Sacramento in the early 1940’s all took their Customs to the Hall shop for a¬†padded top or¬†custom upholstery. Hall never advertised as much as the Carson Top Shop, Gaylord, Runyan and others did. We have only found a ¬†few Hall ads in some early 1950’s Hot rod show programs, but not in any of the magazines. This most likely is one of the main reasons the Hall shop name never became¬†as popular in the rest of the country / world as¬†Carson or Gaylord.

This¬†and the fact that Oakland was to far away for the So Cal based magazines to do an article on the Hall Shop is the reason that there is rather little known about the Hall Top Shop. As far as we have been able to find out, nobody has ever really interviewed Calvin A. Hall about his Top Shop, so all his information is most likely lost. Since the Hall name was not as important, it might have been left out in many magazine Hot Rod and Custom Car features as well. The shop did turn out really great work, and customers often came back for an update, or with a new car in need of a padded top or custom upholstery. For this article we have collected a number of cars with Hall Tops shop padded tops and interiors. Special thanks goes out to Ron Brooks, who owns a 1940 Chevy custom created in the late 1940’s with a real and very rare Hall top. Ron has been collecting info and material on the Hall Top Shop ever since he owns his Chevy. Ron has been so kind sharing a lot of his info and photos with the Custom Car Chronicle.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-03When Ron found¬†his 1940’s restyled 1940 Chevy it still had the original Hall top on it including a very rare C.A. Hall Auto Tops interior tag.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-02Fred Creller created the 1940 Chevy¬†in the late 1940’s and had the interior and padded top done by Hall. This photo is from 1950. (Ron Brooks collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-01These photos showing the top a little better were taken in 1959. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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About the Hall Tops Shop.

Calvin A. Hall¬†was born on December 11, 1901 in Mink Creek, Idaho to Andrew G. and Martha Lavine (Olsen) Hall, his father was born in Denmark, his mother in Utah, USA. In the early 1900’s the family moved from Idoha to Oakland, California. Calvin graduated from high school in 1918 and after having had a few small jobs he started to learn the trade of creating auto tops at¬†Victory Auto Painting and Top Co., at 901 E. 14th st., Oakland, Calif.

In 1925 Calvin A. Hall started his own business C.A. Hall and was located at 72nd and E. 14th, Oakland. CA. creating car tops. The small shop moved in 1927 to 901 E. 14th St. Oakland, CA. (the same shop is currently in use by Earl Scheib Paint & Body shop).
During WWII the Hall shop relocated to 3208 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA. The shop would remain on this location till it closed somewhere in 1965. The building is still standing today. Calvin A. Hall was married and had three children, none of them took over the shop, so when Calvin retired for the upholstery business the shop was closed. Calvin A. Hall passed away on January 28, 1979 at the age of 77.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-01This photo of this amazing 1938 Lincoln Custom with Hall padded top was found on the walls of the former Hall shop on San Pablo Ave. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-02Close up on the really well shaped and proportioned Hall padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-03We are not sure if Hall also updated the interior in the 1938 Lincoln, but more than likely he did the cover on the rear.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-36-ford-max-ferrisThe weather in Nor Cal is not ¬†always as sunny and warm as in So Cal, so often Hall was instructed to create the chopped padded tops for roadsters, with side separate window curtains¬†to make sure the driver and passengers would stay as warm as possible. This top and window flaps/curtains was created for Max Ferris’s Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford roadster.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-01George Barris created this 1936 Ford convertible as his own personal driver when he was working at the Browns Body shop and Harry Westergard in Sacramento. The padded top on the car was done by Hall in Oakland in a dark material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-02Close up of the Hall padded top which has seen better days. After the car was finished and painted George Barris took his 36 Ford¬†to Hall’s shop who re-covered it with white material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-chevy-01Harry Westergard restyled Pittsburg Ca resident Sal Cacciola’s 1938 Chevy convertible in his typical nose up narrow grille style. Sal took the car to Hall for the padded top. Inset is one of the very few ads Hall’s Top Shop ever ran.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-mercuryThis is another photo that was found in the old Hall shop building. It is an unidentified 1940 Mercury with unique exhaust tips true the rear fenders. Hall was responsible for the padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-41-Buick-paul-01Pierre Paul was a Custom Car builder from Oakland Ca, and he had the interior and padded top of his own personal 1941 Buick created by Hall.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-al-serpa-46-ford-02Gene winfield had his shop in Modesto California, and also used the Hall Top Shop quite a bit for his customer cars. This 1946 Ford was restyled by Gene in 1949 for owner Al Serpa. The traditional styled padded top was done by Hall. This photo was taken in 1950.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-benny-furtado-48-ford-01Gene Winfield also restyled this 1948 Ford for owner Benny Furtado during the same period as he did Al Serpa’s 1946 Ford. However Hall created a different style padded top for Benny’s Ford with open rear¬†quarter windows. Creating a much more open and light feel inside the car.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-02Herb Cattani’s Custom 1942 Buick also received an Hall padded top with open rear quarter windows, creating a wonderful shape.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-01A rare look at one of the Hall interiors in¬†Herb Cattani’s 1942 Buick shows a lot of soft leather tuck and rolls creating a very luxurious feel.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-01Dick Bertolucci from Sacramento restyled this 1947 Cadillac convertible for Tony Sestito. When it was time for the padded top and new interior the car was driven to Oakland for the full Hall treatment in 1953-54.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-02The latest trend then was to add full width wrap around plexiglass rear windows to the padded top. So that is what Hall created for Tony’s 1947 Cadillac. Close up of the wrap around rear window courtesy of Rod & Custom magazine.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-02Hall created the padded top on Sil Moyano’s 1935 Ford Phaeton. This photo comes from a feature on the car in a 1973 Street Rodder magazine, and we have no idea when the padded top was created, but more than likely this one dated back into the 1940’s.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-01The interior was done with relatively narrow tuck & roll in black, and the white top was also upholstered in black on the inside.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-invoiceHall’s Auto Tops invoice from the 1950’s with another rare ad from an July 1951 issue of Motor sports World.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-ad-01This ad was used in one the Oakland Roadster Show programs and shows an panoramic rear window padded top Hall created for a stock bodied Buick.
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Warren Gonzales 1950 Ford Convertible

Possibly the best publicity the Hall Auto Tops shop had for their interior and top work was with Warren Gonzales’s 1950 Ford Convertible. The shop worked on two versions of the car. The first time in 1953-54 they did a complete interior, and traditional styled padded top. The second time a year later they added more to the interior, to keep up with the demand for winning show points, and they redid the padded top in the latest trend with cantilever (over-hanging) rear portion. The July 1956 issue of Car Craft magazine had two color photos of the car on the cover, and four pages for the feature inside. The feature showed many photos of both the top and the wild interior.


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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-ford-03Warren’s 1950 Ford convertible was first done in a more conservative way with a “regular” style padded top created by Hall Auto Tops. The photo on the left is from the 1954 Oakland Roadster Show, and the one on the right from the 1955 show. By then the car had been completely redone with a wild interior and complete new cantilever padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interior-02The color photo of the Hall Auto Tops created interior in Warren’s Shoebox must have had a lot of impact. The interior was done in three tone leatherette, dark green, white and soft green. The same soft green was also used on the second version top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interiorC.A. Hall created the interior for Warren’s Shoebox with the latest in luxury in mind. The create a custom made semi-circle rear seat, which is divided by a large Hi-Fi radio speaker. On both sides of the bench a refreshment bar has been incorporated. A console has been created on the floor to house a small upholstered TV set. The seats back are reshaped both front and rear and are upholstered in a bolt design with rolls and pleats. The dashboard has been made “crash proof’ by adding padding and upholstery on the whole unit. The center was cut out to make space for a 45 rpm record player. A radio and Hi-Fi speaker have been installed in a custom build center console underneath the dash extending the front bench. The carpets are dark blue green and outlined with white trim.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-collageA few more samples of car with C.A. Hall Auto Tops  padded tops and or interiors.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-building-2016This is how the former C.A. Hall Tops Shop building at 3208 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, California looks today in 2016. (Google maps image)
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As mentioned in this article the amount of information on the Hall Top’s is limited. We have tried to gather as much information as possible and added as many photos that would mattered the most for this article. As always we would love to hear from you if you have any additional information about the Hall Auto Tops shop, or any cars that had the interior or tops created by this shop. If you have more info, please let us know, email Rik. We would love to add more info to this article and share it with Custom Car enthusiast from all over the globe. Thank you.

 

Resources

  • Ron Brooks
  • Coachbuilt.com,¬†Mark Theobald
  • Barris Kustoms Technique books.







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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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