Westergard classic 36 Ford

CLASSIC WESTERGARD FORD

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One of the finest Harry Westergard build early style custom cars is Jack Odbert’s 1936 Ford convertible.

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Original article from 2013, updated with Color Photo in July, 2020.

When I was about 20 years, I first saw a photo of Jack Odbert 1936 Ford convertible in the Best Hot Rods booklet (published by Facett Books in 1952). I totally fell in love with this one photo, that was shown in the chapter: “Album of Best Hot Rods”. The car reminded me of the bright yellow and white 1936 Ford, that Possies Hot Rod shop had built in the early 1980’s. The Best Hot Rods booklet listed Jack Odbert from Sacramento, California as¬†the owner. But the name of the builder was not mentioned.

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1952 photo of Jack’s 1936, shows the wonderful speedboat stance of the car. It also shows how all the custom elements on the front of the car work together to create an unique classic look.

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Many years later I found a copy of the 1957 Trend Books Custom Cars annual, and in this there was a small article called: “Remember when”. In this article, two more photos of this stunning 1936 Ford convertible were shown. The car had been build by the Granddaddy of Early Customizing: Harry Westergard. Something I had already assumed, but now it was confirmed. This 1957 Annual showed a dead on front and rear photo. Both new photos showed this was a very well designed, and grafted 1936 Ford Custom Car.

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The 1941 Oldsmobile bumpers have a lot more body than the original Ford bumpers. These new bumpers fit close to the body, and the stock cut out at the center fits the LaSalle grille perfectly. The long over-riders give the front extra height.

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The Oldsmobile rear bumpers are perfect for the back as well where the heavy end sections flow well with the Fords fenders. The chrome surround on the set in license plate help with the classic feel of the car.

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Recently, perhaps a year or so ago, I came across a copy of the July 1984 issue of Classic & Custom magazine. This magazine has a two page article on Harry Westergard, and shows a few photos of the custom cars he created. And two of the photos show Jack’s 1936 Ford indoors. One nice front 3/4 view, and one partly shot from high up, inside a car dealer showroom in Sacramento, where a small Hot Rod and Custom Car show was held.

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Overview photo of the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer showroom. In 1950 there was a small Custom car and Hot Rod show, and in this photo we can already see 4 or 5 padded topped customs. At least three of them can be identified as Westergard Customs.

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As far as we have found out, there has never been a real proper feature done on Jack Odbert’s ’36 Ford, not back in the day, and not recently. In fact I have never even seen any other photos of the car, other than the ones shown here in this article. We have not been able to get in contact with anybody who knows what ever happened with the car, or knew Jack Odbert or his car. To me Jack’s Ford is one of the best ever Harry Westergard customs. The classic thin, high nose, padded topped convertible, looks so much more classic, and expensive than the original Ford it was based on, ever looked.

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Bryan Rusk shared this snapshot of the ’36 Ford Cabriolet from the Donovan Welch Collection. 

We also do not know exactly when the car was built. Some of the looks indicate the car might have been just after WWII. The earliest photo we have seen of it is however from 1950, when it was photographed at a local Chevrolet dealer showroom car show in Sacramento. The newest parts we can find on the car, are from 1947.

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This photo was also taken at the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer. It shows the car with 1950 black letters on yellow plates. It also appears that the skirts have been decorated with 1941 Buick trim pieces. Note that the small diameter spotlights are pointing forward.

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Garry Odbert shared this wonderful color slide of the Jack Odbert 1936 Ford. The photo was taken at the Sacramento Autorama. Possibly in the 1954, or 1955. Look at the color!

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Lets take a closer look at the customizing Harry Westergard performed on this car.
Larry chopped the windshield frame, and had a padded top made for it. Most likely done by the Hall Top Shop. Harry removed the stock grille, reshaped the opening to accept a 1937 LaSalle grille. The grille looks like it was made for the car. Even the bull nose, and chrome trim on top of the hood looks so perfect with the grille. Harry added some unidentified – longer than stock – headlights, and modeled them half way into the front fenders. This in combination with the tall, and narrow LaSalle rille, gave the illusion that the hood is now much higher than it originally was.

New smooth hood sides replace the original louvered units. The former small grilles on the horn openings in the front fender were reshaped to accept 1947 Ford parking lights. The stock bumpers were replaced by 1941 Oldsmobile units. These bumpers have a wonderful Art Deco look, and the thick end sections fit the Ford fenders perfectly. Harry kept the tall bumper guards which fit perfectly with the LaSalle grille up front.

At the back, the stock taillights were removed, and replaced with what appear to be low mounted 1946-48 Ford units, or perhaps 1940 Chevy units. The rear panels below the trunk were modified to accept a set in license plate, which was detailed with a chrome plated surround. This surround echoes the shape of the mail slot window in the padded top. The suspension was lowered bit for the perfect ride height, and set of black wall tires were detailed with Sombrero look alike, after market hubcaps.
Harry added spotlights, but smaller than the regular Appleton S-122 or S-522’s. He also shaved all the handles from the body, and most likely installed electric door openings.

We now know that the color of the car was an ultra brilliant gold metallic. Hopefully this article will generate some more talks about this car, and hopefully some of the older enthusiasts know more about it. If we do find out more, we will add it to this article.

Resources and more info
Best Hot Rods, Facett Books 1952
Custom Cars annual 1957, Trend Books
Classic & Custom magazine, July 1984

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Gerald Fassett Photo Collection

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Special Thanks to Gerald Fassett, David E. Zivot and Michelle M. Yiatras

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Gerald Fassett, an avid Custom Car enthusiast from Sacramento, California was very active in the local car scene from 1942 til the mid 1950’s. He owned two custom cars, of which one was restyled by Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci, both local Sacramento Custom Car builders. During this time Gerald took and collected photos of the Sacramento Custom Cars. The sad part is that Gerald mentioned the fact that a good many of the photos that he personally took, as well as some others that he had gathered during that period were lost or misplaced during a move he made many years ago.

But those photos that have survived from this collection are of extreme importance for the Custom Car History. Color photos and early versions of well known Custom Cars give us a look back in time we might have heard and read about. But because of this collection we can now also see.

The Gerald Fassett photo collection is now part of the David E. Zivot Collection and is shared together with stories told by Mr. Fassett to David E. Zivot with the Custom Car Chronicle.

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Part of the Gerald Fassett Collection. Such an historic document.

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Gerald Fassett 1934 Ford

Gerald’s first Custom Car was a 1934 Ford 5-window coupe. The car had the running boards removed, which was the big trend in the early to mid 1940’s. The fenders front and rear were modified where the running boards used to be mounted for a nice finished look. The frame was hidden with a special made cover. Modified tear drop skirts were added to the rear fenders and the suspension dropped a little. The hood sides were replaced with smooth units and the car was painted light green. Not visible in the photo shown below are an inset license plate in the trunk, filled cowl, and the dressed up flathead engine. This is the car Gerald drove when George Barris visited Sacramento in his 1941 Buick inlate 1947.

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What a great picture of Gerald’s 1934 Ford 5-window Coupe parked in the drive way of his home on Marysville Blvd, in Sacramento around 1947.

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Zoomed in on the car to be able to see some more details on the car.

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Don Clifford’s 1936 Ford 5-W Coupe mild Custom photographed in the early/mid 1940’s.

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Gerald Fassett 1947 Chevy Convertible

Gerald’s second Custom Car was a 1947 Chevy Convertible which was restyled by Harry Westergard. Gerald had seen an ad for the Jimmy Summers “Fender Extensions” kit in the 1948 Hot Rod magazine, and really liked the look on those. That along with a chopped padded top would create his dream custom. Harry Westergard mail-ordered a set of the Jimmy Summers fade away fenders. The fade away fenders were fine tuned by Harry and bolted to the doors and rear quarters. and aftermarket stainless steel rock shield was cut down so they would fit the rear fender and clear the fade away sections.

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1948 magazine ad for the Jimmy Summers Fender Extension.

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Westergard chopped the windshield frame, nosed and decked the car and added primer to all the fresh body work. Then Gerald drove it to have the padded topped made by Chavez interior and Top shop. The interior was done by a fellow named Marion Cottle right there in Sacramento. Marion Cottle did a lot of the restyled cars in the local Sacramento area.

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Beautiful higher point of view shows the Summers fade away fenders in primer. The photo was taken at Harry Westergard’s property. At the back of this photo Gerald write the padded top was done by Chavez.

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Gerald’s Chevy in front of Westergard‚Äôs shop on Watt Avenue. Notice the rather high stance, the single bar flipper hubcaps and the door handles still in place.

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In 1949 Gerald takes his Chevy to Dick Bertolucci who shaved the door handles, molded in the headlights, and did a final clean up of the whole body, before painting the car with a brilliant maroon lacquer paint job. Dick also removed the fog lights from the earlier version, and added brand new ’49 Chevy license plate frames to the ’47 bumpers. The Chevy was equipped with dual carbs, split exhaust manifold and custom mufflers, which he swapped with the owner of an green mild customized 1941 Chevy. Gerald also added a white Ford Crestline steering wheel to make the interior look absolutely perfect.

The color photo of Gerald’s Chevy, taken in 1949, was taken at 5671 Stockton Blvd. in Sacramento. The Mid-Century style building was created for a home improvement/lumber company. The classy style reminded Gerald of some of the buildings George Barris used as backdrop for the photos he had seen taken by George. He really liked how the buildings complemented the cars, and wanted to try the same thing. Mission succeed!

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Mid 1950’s color photo of Gerald Fassett’s 1947 Chevy beautifully painted by Dick Bertolucci. The car now has been lowered, the headlights frenched, the door handles removed, spotlight added and new ’55 Buick hubcaps added. What a beautiful Custom.

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The 1941 Chevy Gerald traded engines with.

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The back side of the photo of the 1940 Chevy.

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Harold Ohanesian 1940 Mercury

Harold ‚ÄúBuddy‚ÄĚ Ohanesian was from Sacramento and had his 1940 Mercury Convertible 4-door Sedan restyled around 1946-47 by Harry Westergard and Les Crane. The windshield on the Merc was chopped, rear fenders molded to the body, the hood smoothed and reshaped together with the grille opening and front fenders to make place for the 1946 Chevy grille.

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Photo taken around 1947 shows the car all complete, but still in primer. Notice that the 1940 Mercury taillights were mounted horizontal, and how the rear of the car had been reshaped with rounded corners on the shortened trunk.

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At the front a splash pan was added for the Chevy grille to sit on. The door handles and side trim were removed and body smoothed. At the back of the car some work had to be done to get the right look Harold was after. On the stock ‚Äô40 Mercury sedan convertibles the trunk area is rather tall and upright, sticking out over the top of the door line on the sides. To make that work with the padded top that was planned for the car the trunk was sectioned, and the top of the body line ‚Äúflattened‚ÄĚ out at the back creating a much nicer body shape. The trunk was also shaved and a set in license plate behind glass created.

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Photographed at the same locations around 1948 the car was now painted and already looked stunning.

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The stock bumpers were replaced with ’37 DeSoto units, teardrop skirts were added, the suspension was lowered, Appleton Spotlights were mounted and single bar flipper hubcaps added. We do not know which of the two builders did what on the car. The long padded top was created by the C.A. Hall Top Shop in Oakland, an 80+ mile drive from Sacramento. Harold drove the car around with all the body work done in primer before the car in this version was painted. At this moment we are not sure who painted the car in this early padded topped version. As far as we know the color was also maroon on this version.

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Zoomed in to see all the details.

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Later, around 1949 Harold wanted a new more updated look for his Mercury and took it to a young Dick Bertolucci who had just opened his body shop. Together they came up with several updating ideas including creating a lift off metal top for the car. They set out to a local junk yard to look for suitable tops to use. Since none of the tops they were able to find had the right shape they were looking for they took home the top of an 1946 Chrysler, which was a good start, but the back section did not work, so they found an 1941 Buick Fastback which gave up the back portion of the top. They also found an 1946 Oldsmobile rear window that would be a perfect fit for the new top.

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Wonderful rear quarter view color photo shows how tight the fit of metal lift off top is with an even gap all around. The early Bertolucci version of the car has small motor cycle taillights added to the ’46 Chevy bumpers.

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A lot of work went into combining all parts to work together. The windshield posts had to be adapted to make the metal top curve around the corners and have the right feel and dimensions on the sides. The rear of the top needed to flow perfect with the trunk section. All the work was done with nearly no lead, only in sections around the back of the top and towards the side window profile some lead was used, simply because the reinforcement metal did not allow for hammer welding. (The fact that the metal top fits as perfect today as it did back in 1949, shows the great craftsmanship of the young Dick Bertolucci back in 1949.)

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Ultra rare Color photo from around 1950-51 shows the stock chrome plated headlights on the car. It is truly amazing to see the original color on this car for the first time.

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Dick also added a molded in splash pan to the rear to fit the new ’46 Chevy bumpers, and the pan at the front was reshaped and fine tuned. The Mercury taillights were removed from the rear fenders, and small motor cycle taillights mounted on the bumper. Dick Bertolucci painted the car in wonderful maroon mixed from a Chevy color toned darker and gold powder (Venus Martin No. 9) added to it. The early version which can be seen in the two color photos from the Gerald Fassett Collection shows that the car still had the original chrome headlights. Later Dick would first paint those headlights body color, and then some time later mold them to the fenders. At that time he also changed the taillights with 1948 Ford taillights on custom made pods molded into the rear fenders. One of the most fantastic Custom Cars ever created and thanks to Gerald Fassett and David E. Zivot we can now see the car in its original 1951 color as well as pre metal top version. Such an amazing asset for the Custom Car History.

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Close up of the Mercury shows this stunning custom in all its glory.

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Bud Welch 1938 Chevy Convertible

Gerald has two photos of Bud Welch’s 1938 Chevy convertible in his collection. The car was one of the few known Customs that was restyled by Sacramento customizer Les Crane. Les Crane’s name has appeared many times in association with cars restyled by Harry Westergard. Like the Ohanesian Merc and the Budler Rugard 1940 Mercury, where Les Crane performed some of the work. But not too many cars are credited to just Les Crane.

Bud Welch’s 1938 Chevy was done completely at Les’ shop (as far as we have been able to find out) with the exception of the padded top which had been done by the Hall Top Shop in Oakland. Les chopped the windshield, filled the stock grille opening, and created a custom oval grille opening which was filled with what looks like a custom tubular horizontal bar grille. The headlights were sunk halfway into the molded in front fenders.

Bud Welch’s 1938 Chevy Convertible restyled by Les Crane on the Sacramento streets around 1948.

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The hood sides were filled in, or perhaps replaced with aftermarket smooth units. The body was cleaned up and with smoothed hood and deck lid and a set in license plate in the trunk. The rear fenders were smoothed, and a gas filler door added to the passenger rear fender, and 1940 Chevy taillights mounted low on the fenders, just above the ’37 DeSoto bumpers. The car had wide white walls and ripple disk hubcaps. Les Crane painted the car metallic green.

Gerald also had a photo of the car from a little later, possibly late 40’s, perhaps the early 1950’s. By then the car had changed a little. The ripple disk hubcaps were replaced by Sombrero hubcaps. The fender skirts were removed and a set of Spotlights had been added. (Although the photo Gerald took shows the car with the spotlights removed, but the holes still in the A-pillar)

Bud’s ’38 Chevy seen here with a big dent in the passenger side front fender, with the hood sides and the skirts removed and with Sombrero hubcaps. Perhaps the photo was taken at a local drag race, hence the removal of the extra parts.

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Leroy Semas 1938 Chevy

Gerald had one very nice clear picture of another Harry Westergard Masterpiece. The Leroy Semas 1938 Chevy Coupe. The photo Gerald took is very interesting because the stance of the car is a lot higher than any other photo I have seen on the car. Perhaps the suspension was altered for the race event, it does give the car a completely different look.

Leroy Semas’ 1938 Chevy restyled by Harry Westergard photographed at a local drag strip the CHP set up for them near Woodland. Check out the CCC article on Leroy’s Chevy for a full write up on this stunning Westergard Custom. (Also notice the cars in the background.)

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Do you have any historic Custom Car related photos you would like to share with the world. Photo’s that shed more light on the history of a certain Custom Car, or Custom Builder. Or just photos that have a special place in your heart, that come with a story, and you like to share that story. Then contact us here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to share the historic photos for you, and make an impact on the history of the Custom Car as we know it. Email Rik at the Custom Car Chronicle.

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Leroy Semas 37 Chevy

 

LEROY SEMAS 37 CHEVY

 

In the late 1940’s Harry Westergard creates what appears to be a mildly restyled 1937 Chevy. But on closer inspection it turns out there is a lot more going on on Leroy Semas his 1937 Chevy Coupe.



In one of the Don Montgomery books there are a couple of photos of an extremely low 1937 Chevy un-chopped 3-window coupe with beautifully integrated Packard grille. When I first spotted those photos in the book I was hooked immediately. I soon learned that none other than Harry Westergard had restyled the car for Thunderbolts member Leroy Semas. The car had that typical Westergard look with small high nose, and low in the back. Many years later I found out that at one point, in the early 1950’s the Chevy had been chopped by Riley Collins of Riley’s Custom Shop in Chico, California.



Restyled by Harry Westergard

Harry Westergard restyled Leroy’s ’37 Chevy 5-window coupe by filling in the rear quarter windows for a sleeker look. Harry then went to work at the body sides completely removing the factory molded in character line and belt-line for an ultra smooth body. The character line on the lower edge of the hood was also modified to fit the new smooth body sides. He also removed the running boards and created filler panels to cover the frame and molded those into the body The filler panel Harry created almost looks like a belly pan with the lower parts rolled under, a very nice touch. The front and rear fenders were molded to the body and extended down where the running boards had been and nicely rolled under.

Original version with the rear quarter windows filled, the belt line and character lines at the belt line completely removed. A typical Harry Westergard Custom. This photo shows the wonderful reshaped lower edge of the front fenders really well.
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The new much lower and further from the grille location of the headlights looks very good on the Chevy. It shows that Harry Westergard was not only a gifted craftsman but an excellent designer as well.
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The looks of the Chevy changed dramatically, for the better in my eyes with the removal of the running boards and reshaping of the front fenders.
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The rear fenders were also molded to the body, enhancing the new super smooth look. And at the leading edge of the rear fenders Harry added a a stainless or chrome plated guard to protected the paint. A set of Buick teardrop fender skirts was adapted to fit the Chevy

Harry modified the front sheet metal to accept an 1939-40 Packard grille, the stock hood sides were replaced with smooth units and the center strip of the hood was removed. Teardrop shape headlights were sunken into the front fenders at a much lower than stock location. The headlights now flow really nice with the cowl and door¬† character line. A very nice design detail. At the back Harry created a set in license plate mounted low in the trunk, just about the ’37 DeSoto bumper. All the handles were removed and a set of Appleton Spotlights were installed.

Interior with the Chevy Butterfly steering wheel and chrome plated glove box door. The upholstery looks very nicely done, sadly we do not know who was responsible for it at this moment.
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Harry Westergard Style at its best. Notice the beautiful stance of the car with nose high up. The ’37 DeSoto bumpers have ’49 Chevy license plate frames added.
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Wide white wall tires with Cadillac Sombrero’s were installed and the car was lowered a lot. Most likely the rear of the frame had to be z-ed and the drive shaft tunnel raised to get the car this low. The interior photos show that the car was not channeled. Most likely the car was painted a deep maroon, but we are not 100% sure about the exact color. The interior was upholstered in two tone tuck & roll, the steering wheel replaced with a 1950 Chevy Butterfly unit and the dash was detailed with a chrome plated glove box door.

From what we know Leroy drove the car a lot, possibly it was his only car, It might not have been easy with a car this low on the late 1940’s early 1950’s roads. Leroy went to the Bonneville races with the car in 1949 and 1950. He also entered his car at several shows including the first Sacramento Autorama (Held at Capitol Chevrolet, before it was named Autorama) where he was awarded with the Best Custom award. At one point in 1950 Harry Westergard modified the hood side with a single row of louvers, most likely the engine ran a little too hot.

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Beautiful rear angle photo shows how super smooth the ’37 Chevy is with the belt-line and character-lines removed and the rear fenders molded in. The taillights could be 1940 Chevy units.
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Lawrence Brocchini (Lawrence Fears’ uncle) owned this ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails. This photo from 1950 shows it hitched to Leroy Semas’ Chevy custom, possibly in preparation for their trip to Bonneville. (Rodders Journal info)
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A good look at the molded in and rolled under pan Harry Westergard made to cover the frames after the running boards had been removed. (stillrunners)
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The stock steering wheel was replaced by with an 1950 Chevrolet Butterfly Steering Wheel. This picture gives us a good look at the nice tuck & roll upholstery. (stillrunners)
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Leroy’s Chevy appeared in one of the snapshot taken at one of the club rod runs around 1950. (stillrunners)
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Photo taken a Thunderbolts Auto Show at the Capitol Chevrolet Company showroom. (This was basically the first Sacramento Autorama) Most likely the engine got a little too hot with the solid hood sides, so a single row of Louvers had been added before the show.
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Chopped by Riley Collins

In the early 1950’s Leroy took the Chevy over to Riley Collins in Chico, California to have him chop the top on his car. The young Riley Collins handled the job beautifully, he took few inches out of the top and got it all back in place with the perfect balance. The chop was performed at Ray Orput’s home, where Riley Collins learned how to do body work from Ray. He added the primer to the top and the car went back to Leroy. At some point the straight six engine was replaced with an Oldmobile V8 with hydro, a job done by Leroys friend Lawrence Brocchini. In the mid 1950’s Lawrence Brocchini bought the Chevy, which was still partly in primer from Leroy and he owned the car till around 1958. Around 1955 Dick bertolucci re-painted the car in his signature deep maroon. And according the rumors the car is still around today, last seen painted green. Anybody recognized it and knows more about Leroy’s ’37 Chevy current whereabouts? Please let us know.

Special thanks to Kent Collins, Riley Collins son, who recently found and shared three photos of his father chopping the top on the Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy.

Riley Collins on the Left with Ray Orput standing next to him with Leroy’s Chevy with the chop in progress.
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Ray Orput in the car and Kent Collins was not sure who the guy on the barrel is. Perhaps the car owner Leroy Semas, anybody recognized the guy on the right?
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Ray Orput is sitting in the Chevy while Riley Collins sits on the barrel besides the car. (Kent Collins info)
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The chop all finished, but still in primer and new smooth aftermarket hubcaps replace the Sombrero hubcaps Westergard had originally installed. (stillrunners)
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Leroy Semas posing with his ’37 Westergard Chevy around 1952 after Riley Collins had chopped the top.
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Close up showing the curved filler panel below the body that covered the frame rails after the running boards had been removed. Notice the primer spots from the Riley Collins performed chop, and overall the car looks to be in need of a new paint-job.
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Lawrence Brocchini owned the Chevy Coupe when it was photographed here at an mid 1950’s Sacramento Autorama. Notice that the Appleton Spotlights are missing for the car. After a fender bender the front end had to be rebuild and a set of ’40 Chevy headlights was installed. Dick Bertolucci repainted the car his signature maroon after it was chopped.
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Close up of the sign showing that Bertolucci painted this version of the Chevy.
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Jim Roten, who was close friend with Riley Collins remembers the Leroy Semas ’37 Chevy very well. This is his story he shared with the Custom Car Chronicle after looking at the in progress photos of Riley Collins chopping the top on the car.

“This car made a huge impression on me at age 14 as it was the very first custom that I actually saw in person. The time was 1949-51. It was often seen parked on weekends at the Shell gasoline station within the old triangle at Main Street and Broadway in Chico, California. I knew nothing of its history. Always assumed that it was one of Westergard’s cars.

These are youthful images of Riley Collins and Ray Orput as late teenagers or in their early ’20s. I didn’t even meet Riley until two or three years later. Ray was a skilled body and fender man at Volpato’s Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Chico. Riley worked as a lineman for the electrical utility company and during off hours learned bodywork from Ray. The location for the photos appears to the small wooden garage behind Ray Orput’s home. A lot of significant work emerged from there including Ron Zimmerman’s ’54 Ford Skyliner and the rear of Ray Cress’ ’56 Mercury before the owner had the car completed by Collins. A friendly but fierce rivalry emerged out of the Collins/Orput relationship which ultimately produced an amazing number of highly recognized Northern California custom cars. It was prolific.

And don’t forget, those were the days of acetylene torches, hammer welding and lead… no MIG, TIG or Bondo!”

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Special thanks to Kent Collins and Lawrence Fears




(This article is made possible by)

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Customs at Milnes Richfield Station

 

NORM MILNES RICHFIELD Station

 

In the mid 1940’s The Thunderbolts Car Club of Sacramento used the Norm Milnes Richfield Station as their hangout. Some historical important Custom Cars were photographed at this location.



The birth of Custom Restyling took place in California, in Southern California to be more precise. Exact dates for when this happened, or even what city this took place have never been documented. And we will most likely never be able to pin-point down, other than it happened in Southern California, possibly even at different locations at similar moments around Los Angeles. The form of Custom Restyling, as we discuss it here on the Custom Car Chronicle, started in the early 1930’s and developed over the years. It also migrated soon after that, first mostly in California, the Bay Area around San Fransisco as well as around Sacramento soon became hot beds of Custom restyling, later followed by other States as well.





Sacramento, Northern California was particular important for the Custom Restyling as we know it. Metal genius and early Customizer Harry Westergard was from Sacramento, Duck Bertolucci and also Sam and George Barris lived there. Les Crane, another early Custom Restyler was from that area so there must have been something good in the Sacramento area water.

After WWII, in late 1945, several Sacramento area Hot Rodders and Custom Car guys including Harry Westergard, Norm Milne and Butler Rugard formed a new car club The Capotol Auto Club, nicke named Thunderbolts. They held meetings at Harry Westergards place, and later the Richfield Gas Station of member Norm Milne (and his brother) would be the clubs headquarters, and hangout. The gas Station was located at Broadway and 25th in Sacramento, not to far from where Harry Westergard then worked from. Norm Milne personal Custom was a 1938 Ford Convertible Sedan Custom that was restyled by Harry Westergard in the early 1940’s. Norm was one of the very few guys who had a camera, and took some pictures of the club-members cars from time to time. Without his photo nearly none of this important part of the Custom History might never have been documented, at least not photographic.

Norm Milne 1938 Ford on the right and Gene Garrett’s 1940 Ford on the left at the Richfield Gas Station that was owned by Norm Milne and his brother.
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Norm Milne 1938 Ford

Norm Milne’s 1936 Ford was a very early Custom, started in 1940, when Norm drove it to Los Angeles to have a chopped Carson Top installed. The Carson top Shop handled it all, including the chop of the windshield and the cutting and refitting of all side windows. Most likely the metal work was done by the Jarret Metal Works next door to the Carson Top Shop.

Some time after returning to Sacramento Norm had his friend Harry Westergard do the rest of the restyling. Harry reshaped the front of the hood and grille surround to make the 1940 La Salle grille fit the Ford. The Hood-sides louvres were filled and the sides are now completely smooth. The hood ornament shaved and the stock headlights rings were replaced with chrome plated aftermarket sealed beam headlights. At the back Harry set in the license plate behind glass, a very popular technique at the time. The car was lowered and a set of teardrop fender skirts added. The door handles remained on the car, and so where the running boards. Harry installed a set of bumpers, possibly from a Graham with custom bumper guards to make the Ford looks a bit more robust. The only two photos we know that exist of the car show it with the front sheet metal still in primer.

Norm Milne’s 1938 Ford Sedan Convertible with the front body work done by Harry Westergard still in primer. Parked in front of his Richfield station. This photo, as well as most others in this article was taken in 1947. Notice how the front bumper had three bumper guards? That is Gene Garrett’s ’40 Ford in the background on the left. Both cars had black wall tires.
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Cropped section of the leading photo shows Norm’s Ford parked inside the gas station. It is a very small photo, but as far as we know there are only two photos of this Harry Westergard Custom ever published.
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Gene Garrett 1940 Ford

We know Gene Garrett best of the ’36 Ford Convertible Custom Harry Westergard did for him around 1942-43. But Gene owned at least one more Custom later on. In 1947 he drove a 1940 Ford Convertible with chopped padded top. According the stories Gene, did just as his friend Norm, drive his car to Los Angeles where he took it the Carson Top Shop to have then chop the windshield and add the white padded top. We only have very limited photo material of this car, but as far as we can see in the photos the running boards were removed, the hood was shaved, made one piece and smoothed. The side trim was removed and at the back the trunk was shaved and a set in license plate was added to the lower end of the trunk. De Soto Bumpers were installed and the car had black wall tires in 1947.

Parked at the Richfield Gas Station looking good with is nicely shaped chopped padded top. I wonder which convertible or roadster sedan car is parked behind Gene’s Ford. It does not show up in any of the other photos taken at the Gas Station.
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The rear end of Gene’s 40 Ford shows in the photo of Norm Milne. This enlarged section shows the ’37 DeStoto bumpers as well as the set in plate in the trunk. It also gives us a good look at the odd three bumper guards on Norm’s ’38 Ford. I have no idea why that was done, and why it had two different units placed close on the passenger side, and only one on the drivers side?¬†
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Since photos of the Gene Gerrett 1940 Ford are so rare I have also included this snapshot of Gene racing the dray lakes. (Photo comes from the Don Montomery books Leroy Semas Collection)
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Mel Falconer 1939 Ford

We are fortunate that we have several Harry Westergard created Custom Cars still among us. At least 6 of them are still around, some completely restored, others in the process of it, or at least in good hands. One of them is the Mel Falconer’s 1939 Ford , that was later owned by Bruce Glenn when it became more popular in the 1950’s. There is one photo of the Westergard Restyled ’39 Ford taken at the Richfield Gas Station in 1947 that shows the car with its original chopped padded top. Later Harry would create a lift off metal top based on a ’38 Ford top which is still with the car today.

Originally restyled in the early 1940’s to what we see in the photo here, wonderful metal work on the nose of the car to be able to use the 1940 Packard grille that was chopped to get the right height. The headlights were replaced by painted ’40 Ford units, the bumpers replaced by ’37 DeSoto units and at the back Harry had set in the license plate behind glass, and later he would mold in the trunk completely. Mel’s ’39 Ford Custom is the only Custom in this series of photos, taken around 1947, that has white wall tires installed. Around 1947 the tires manufacturers were starting to produce white wall tires again. Its production had been stopped completely during WWII when the rubber was needed for the war. During the previous years only black wall tires were available, and during the war those were rationed as well.

Mel Falkoner’s Harry Westergard ’39 Ford looked stunning at the Richfield Gas Station. To bad the hubcaps was missing when this photo was taken.
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When I zoomed in on the back of the car I noticed a damaged teardrop shape skirt on Mel’s 39 Ford, and peaking just behind it is Gene Garrett’s ’40 Ford.
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George Barris 1941 Buick

Around 1947 George Barris was starting to establish a name as Custom Car builder in Los Angeles. He had moved from Sacramento to Los Angeles in 1943, and he still had many of his car-friends back in Sacramento. When he had finished his personal 1941 Buick Custom with full fade-away fenders he was very eager to show his Nor-Cal friends how far he has gotten as a Custom Car builder. He drove his Buick from LA to Sacramento to meet up with his friends at Norm’s Richfield Gas Station. We are not sure if George was able to show his personal Custom Buick to his master Harry Westergard during this trip. There are some photos of George with his Buick and some of his friends, but Harry Westergard is not in any of those photos.

George also used his Buick for long distance drives. This photo was taken in front of the Elmer Howard‚Äôs Body – Fender & Top Shop in Sacramento. The building on the right is Norm Milne’s Richfield station.
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This photo of George his Buick was taken facing away from the Richfield Station, to the right, just outside this photo is Elmer Howard’s Body Shop.
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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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Another one of the friends, this time a little closer. Jack Odberg kneeling, George Barris standing, Buddy Ohanesian kneeling, Bruce Glenn standing, Norm Milne and Mel Falconer both kneeling.
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Norm Milne in the center with his trusty camera, which he always had with him according the stories. On the left of the photo is Butler Rugard and on the right the master himself. Harry Westergard.
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Location of Norm Milne’s Richfield Gas Station at the corner of 25th and Broadway in Sacramento, California.
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Harry Westergard is always credited for creating the typical Westergard style Custom in the 1940’s. Basically a ’36 Ford-ish Roadster with a speed boat stance, chopped windshield white padded top smooth hood sides, De Soto Bumpers and a 1940 LaSalle grille. This image might not have been based on an actual car Harry Westergard has actually created, but more likely on an painting by Artist Robert Williams. Norm Milne‘s 1938 Ford is, as far as we know the only Custom Harry Westergard created that actually used the LaSalle Grille, as can be seen in this article. Harry more frequently used the Packard Clipper grilles.

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Westergard Ford Memories

 

WESTERGARD FORD MEMORIES

 

Anthony from Sacramento Ca. remembers how he worked on Vern Simons Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford Roadster in the 1940s.



In 2010 I was in contact with Tim Cunha about the Max Ferris / Vern Simon’s 1936 Ford restyled by Harry Westergard, about having the car being part of the Customs Then & Now exhibit at the 2011 GNRS. Tim discussed the possibilities with Vern of brining the car over to Pomona for the exhibit. The car was still in as found condition, and was in need of at least some restoration work. Fortunately Vern agreed and the car was part of the early Customs section at the¬†GNRS¬†exhibit. More about this 1936 and its full history can be found in the CCC-Article about the car.


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Some time before all this Vern’s 1936 Ford roadster was featured in the Rodder’s Journal issue #19, but the full story and if this in fact was an original Harry Westergard Custom was not known at the time the article was published. Later in issue #47 of the Rodder’s Journal, their 15 year anniversary issue, one photo of Vern’s Ford Roadster was shown again on page 122 as part of the TRJ favorite Customs section. Anthony from Sacramento happened to see the photo of Vern’s 1936 Ford Roadster and recognized it from his childhood times he spend working with Harry Westergard. So he wrote a letter to the Rodder’s Journal for Vern Simon’s.

CCC-westergard-ford-memories-rj-photoThe photo caption in the Rodder’s Journal issue 47 (the one Anthony saw) read; ¬†We were there the day Vern Simons pulled his ’36 roadster out for the first time since 1961. He purchased it off a Northern California car lot in 1949, raced it at Bonneville in ’52 and pulled the flasmotor in ’56 and it hasn’t run since. Vern is now putting it back on the street. The nearly 60-year-old black lacquer will be retained with all of its patina. The best part is that it is most likely an original Westergard Custom.
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Vern eventually got Anthony’s letter, and the two got in contact to talk about the Roadster. Tim Cunha was able to scan the original letter Anthony wrote for Vern, in which he explained about Harry Westergard working on his roadster and a few other historic events from back when Anthony was a kid helping out Harry Westergard. Anthony was 82 years old when he wrote the letter, and we know now that some of the dates mentioned are a bit off, but the rest is just very interesting. How often does it happen you get to know somebody who worked with Harry Westergard back in the 1940’s!




CCC-westergard-ford-memories-letter2The letter Anthony wrote to Vern Simons about his Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford Roadster.
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Transcript from the copied letter

California 6/23/2010

Let me intro introduce myself. I am 82 years old & not seeking anything except to impart information relative to Vern Simons 36 Ford Roadster depicted on page 122 marked TRJ #47. The comment on that caption “That the car is most likely a Harry Westergard Custom” is exactly correct & (Factual).¬†I think Vern Simon might like to know what I know about that car & Harry Westergard.

I was born in 1928 and lived and was raised at 2317-16 st. Sacramento Ca. In 1945 Harry Westergard moved into a downstairs flat at 1530 X¬†st. and began working on cars in a one car garage at eh back of that property which was¬†adjacent¬†to Corffees Laundry. Located on the corner of 16th and X st. S.W. Our property was on the N.E. corner. It came to pass that I would go across the street and as a kid hang out with the guys who would come and have Harry do his magic on their pre WWII cars. Among them Mel Falkner, US Airforce pilot with a Westergard 1927 T Roadster with Cragar O.V. head and exhaust¬†down one side. Honest Joe Miller flathead Ford in 1936 French “Citro√ęn”, and many others.

Harry just got out of the SU Navy and his prices were minimal. I remember George Barris and Dick Bertolucci and Hunter Wardlous (sp) also discussing things with Harry and solving problems. All these young men were street rod orientated and loved cars and spend most of their disposable income on their cars. I believe I accompanied Harry to a wrecking yard in west Sacramento to help him remove the Packard Clipper Grille from a roll-over. And I watched him cut trim and fit same into a 1936 Ford Roadster and shorten the windshield. By that time I was working after school cleaning Harry’s shop and sanding primer for his¬†“in the Garage” paint jobs.

I remember that car well, I bolted the De Soto bumpers to the brackets harry made while he held them for alignment and level. There is lots more I could tell him, but yes that is a real Harry Westergard Ford Custom.
I’m still rodding in a 1950 Allard¬†powered by a modular 4.6 D.O.C. whipple Supercharged Cobra special. Spectacular car.

Respectfully Anthony.

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CCC-westergard-ford-early-pictureAn early 1940’s photo of the Harry Westergard Roadster.
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CCC-westergard-ford-memories-restorationVern’s Roadster being taken¬†apart for the restoration.
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CCC-westergard-ford-memories-gnrs-2011Vern on the right  looks how a friend drives the freshly restored original Harry Westergard roadster into the Customs Then & Now exhibit building at the 2011 GNRS.
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Many thanks to Anthony, Vern Simons and Tim Cunha for sharing the info.


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Ohanesian Merc – details

 

OHANESIAN MERC DETAILS

 

One of my personal all time favorite custom cars, The Harry Westergard/Less Crane/Dick Bertolucci-built 1940 Mercury Convertible Sedan. Lets take a look at the details that make this car so special.


[dropcap]Harold[/dropcap] “Buddy” Ohanesian from Sacramento, California bought a rare 1940 Mercury Sedan Convertible in 1945, shortly after he returned from service. Not long after that he took the car to Harry Westergard for some Custom Restyling. Harry worked together with Less Crane on reshaping the front end of the Mercury to adapt and 1946 Chevy grille. They also chopped the windshield frame¬†and added 1937 DeSoto bumpers.¬†A little later Hall of Oakland created a padded top for the car. In 1949 Harold took the car to Dick Bertolucci who was by then just 19 years old, but already very well known in the area for his excellent body work. Harold wanted Dick to create a lift off metal top to replace the worn out padded top. This resulted in one of the most stylish Custom Cars of all time. In the next few years a few more changes would be made and eventually the car put in storage and restored back to its former glory in the early 1970’s. In the 1990’s the car found a new owner in the late Ed Hagerty who had the car completely restored. It was this version I saw at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama Mercury Gathering. And it was at this show I talked to Dick Bertolucci about the details on the Harold “Buddy” Ohanesian Mercury.



CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-earlyA small photo of Ed Ohanesian’s 1940 Mercury appeared in the August 148 issue of¬†Hot Rod Magazine. This is the first version that we know of. Harry Westergard and Less Crane worked on this version with the ’46 Chevy grille, chopped windshield, molded fenders and 1937 DeSoto bumpers.
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CCC-1940-mercury-brochure-sedan-conIllustrations of the Mercury Convertible Sedan from the 1940 sales brochure. 
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-dick-02An photo of the later version shows the car with the metal top at Dick Bertolucci’s shop. This¬†version shows bumper mounted taillights and no bumper exhaust tips yet.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-colorizedColorized photo shows the car in 1951, still with the bumper mounted taillights. This side view shows the absolutely wonderful shape of the top and how well balanced the whole car is with the perfect stance and overall flow. 
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-70sThe Ohanesian Mercury was restored in the 1970’s when the car was owned by¬†Louie Martin and Dennis Nash.
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Being part of the organization of the Mercury Gathering at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama I was able to walk the buildings during the two set up days. During on of these days I met Dick Bertolucci. When we put to gather¬†the list of Mercury’s that would be part of the Gathering, there were a few that stood out for me a little more than the rest of the invited cars. Cars like the Sam Barris mercury, the Hirohata Mercury, the Ralph Test Mercury, and the Harold “Buddy” Ohanesian Mercury. I was actually walking towards the building when the Mercury arrived, I was super thrilled to see this car for the very first time in person, and not only that, but also hear and see it drive by. What a sight!



CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-16The Ohanesian Mercury when it arrived at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama Mercury gathering. The first time I saw this car in person…¬†
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After the car had been parked inside the building I checked it out from top to bottom for at least an hour. I took photos, stood back and looked at the car from all angles. I was lucky that the car was one of the first arrivals for that part of the show floor. So now I was able to walk around it and view it undisturbed from a distance. I had studied photos of the car for a long time, but that sure does not compare to looking at the car in person and being able to walk around it. The next day I was again walking around the Ohanesian mercury, when I spotted an older man in an electrical cart surround by some family members or friends. The man got out of his cart and walked over to the Ohanesian Merc. Stepped over the cord that had been put up by now, so I knew the guy must be familiar with the car and I thought he must be Dick Bertolucci.

When¬†I walked over and asked if he was mr Bertolucci. He sure was and shacked my hand. “Wow you have nice warm hands, please hold my hands, since I have these ice cold hands” was Dick’s response. And he really had¬†very cold hands.¬†We bonded right away.¬†I told him who I was and that I had just done the colorized Cover of the Rodders Journal, which he really liked.¬†That was the perfect opening for a conversation about the Mercury. And Dick was very enthusiastic to tell everything about the car, like it was the first time he ever told the story, but I knew he must have told it a hundred times or more before.



CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-12Dick Bertolucci posing with the Buddy Ohanesian 1940 Mercury at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama Mercury Gathering.
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He explained to me that Harry Westergard and Less Crane worked on the car before he did. Larry and Less had created the new grille opening, extended the hood and reshaped the front of the front fenders, and installed the 46 Chevy grille including the molded in splash pan and installed 1937 DeSoto bumpers. They also chopped the windshield and reworked the rear of the car where he had cut of the top portion of the very high from the factory Phaeton back end. To be able to do this they had to shortened the trunk. Dick mentioned that the first version of the car had no top, but that Harold, the car owner drove the car to Oakland to have Hall create a padded top for the car. I wish we could show you a photo of this version of the car with padded top, but so far we have not been able to locate on. Hopefully in the future we will be able to add one to this article.



CCC-1940-mercury-sedan-convertible-02The photo above and below show the huge difference the Dick Bertolucci created top made on the overall appearance of the 1940 Mercury sedan convertible.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-13To make the new metal top work well with the rest of the body, Dick removed a large section of the rear of the body. This way the belt-line could be continued all the way to the rear of the car, where it slightly moved down, following the curvature of the body. An 1946 Oldsmobile rear window was used.
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Dick continued that Harrold brought the mercury to his Dick Bertolucci Body and fender shop in 1949. The padded top had seen better days and was really worn out. So Harold wanted a lift of metal top, and asked if Dick could create it. Dicke metnioned that he was only 19 years old then, but had been doing a lot of body work already and people came especially to him for good quality and stylish custom work. Dick found a 1946 Chrysler four door wrecked car with a perfect top, which he thought would be the perfect shape for the Mercury. After he had cut off the top and placed it on the Mercury he found it to be to long. The front end needed to be shortened and the rear needed some reshaping for which he used the rear of the top from a 1941 Buick. For the front of the top he made many cuts and reshaped the metal to fit the windshield frame. While doing this he realized he needed to do something different on the A-Pillars since installing the top on top of the windshield would not work well with the side profile on the car.

He took a good look at how the padded top had been created and noticed how the sides of the top actually fold over the ends of the A-Pillars and thus allow for a heavier side profile of the top. To be able to do this on the metal top, Dick cut a round section from the top of the A-Pillars, this allowed him to fold the metal top over on the sides and make it flow nice with the A-pillars, in a similar what as the padded top had done. Now he was able to heave the nice heavy, but in balance top for the Mercury. Most of this work was done by hammer welding. Not something Dick was very used to at the time, but he had noticed all the other work done on the car by Harry and Less was hammer welded as well, so he thought he should just continue the technique for the top where possible.



CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-01The rear of the body was angled forward slightly to match the new lines of the top, the trunk was shortened from the top to fit the new lowered rear of the body. The way Dick handles the continuing belt-line, compared to the new trunk line is so wonderful, it makes it look like it came from the factory (but then better) this way.
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At the back Dick needed to modify the body work previously done by Harry and Less. The work done was fine for the padded top, but for the metal top the lines just needed to be a bit more straight and in line with the rest of the car. Dick wanted the top and how it was mounted on the body to look like something that could have come from the factory that way. So a lot of time was spend on the back. Making pie-cuts to reshape the rear and make it flow perfectly with the new shape of the top. The lower edge of the new top was made ridged with a welded in frame work to ensure the best possible fit. The only problem was that these sections could later not be metal finished due to the frame work. So that was the only section Dick had to use lead for fine tuning. Dick found that a rear window from a 1946 Oldsmobile was a perfect fit for the top. It flows really nice with the rest of the lines of the car. Another tricky section was how the top needed to be smaller at the top to fit flush with the side window frame and line up with the windshield frame, but go wider all the way at the bottom on the back to fit flush with the wider section of the belt line. Dick spend a lot of time shaping the edges of the top to make everything look factory finished.



CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-08Another look at how Dick Bertolucci handles the panel lines on the top and the trunk. Work of Art.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-02A detail that is often overlooked at the Ohanesian Mercury is the way Dick Bertolucci reshaped the top corners of the A-Pillars. Below is a photo showing the stock A-Pillars and how the top ends flat with the top of the windshield. But on the Ohanesian Ford to top section is cut of with a radius. This allowed Dick to have more height at the top when viewed from the side, and the side windows could be made smaller in height, which enhanced the low profile of the car. 
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CCC-1940-mercury-sedan-convertible-03Stock A-Pillar shows flat top corner.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-03This photo gives us a nice view of the interior upholstery and headliner. But it also shows how Dick gently widened the top towards the rear and towards the belt-line. This was needed to make sure the rear of the top fitted flush with the main body. (see also photo below)
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-06The flowing lines from the lower edge of the trunk to the center of the top is absolutely perfect. It also flows so nice with the molded rear fenders and Buick Skirts. This side view also shows the matching shapes and lines on the molded splash-pan and taillight pods.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-10The original dip behind the doors for the convertible top was extended towards the rear of the body to optically follow the belt-line all around the car. This photo shows all the work that was needed to make sure the top would match the chopped side window frames as well as fit to the main body. It also shows the molded fenders.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-07Close up of the later 1946 Ford taillights that were set on hand made pods. The pods echo the shape of the splash pan. The molded in fenders and splash pan create very smooth body lines. Notice the exhaust tips in the Chevy rear bumper. Dick mentioned that he had not done those, if he had, he would have modified the tops to follow the shape of the bumper.
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Dick was also responsible for the set in the license plate, and the addition of 1946 Chevy bumper to replace the 1937 DeSoto units. To make the Chevy bumpers fit, he had to reshape the molded in splash pans Harry and Less had created earlier. The interior was updated with a 1941 Cadillac dashboard and steering wheel. The headlights were dechromed and primered to be painted body color. Dick painted the car in wonderful maroon mixed from Chevy color toned darker and gold powder (Venus Martin No. 9). Buddy drove the car around like this until 1952. Then Dick got the car back in his shop for a repaint and while at it he changed the motor cycle bumper mounted taillights for 1946 Ford taillights in home made pods molded onto the fenders. These new pods were shaped to fit the Ford taillights, but also to look similar to the side view of the rear molded in splash pan. At this time it was also decided to mold in the previously painted stock headlights.

Dick mentioned that he did not remember who did the bumper exhaust tips.¬†But he assured me that it was not him who had done those.¬†Since he would have re-contoured the tips to follow the bumper shape, which would have looked much nicer he said. Dick mentioned that he was still very proud at how well balanced the removable to came out on Harold’s mercury and how he was able to balance the whole car so well, with the perfect ride height and window size, top shape and height combination.



CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-04Dick also created the set in license plate at the lower part of the trunk. The license plate sits behind glass and is installed from underneath the trunk lid.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-05The dashboard is still the 1941 Cadillac dash that was installed into the car when it was customized in the late 1940’s. But the steering wheel has been replaced with a 1947 Cadillac unit at a later date. The interior was upholstered by¬†Ron Lago in the 1970’s.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-09Another update from the 1970’s restoration is the chrome plated removable B-Pillars. Those were painted body color on the original version of the car.
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It was amazing to be able to walk around the Mercury with the creator of this fantastic Custom Car and see him point out all the details. And the really amazing thing is that in 2009, 60 years after the majority of the custom work was done, the whole car looked still absolutely stunning. And the fit and finish of the metal top was top quality with an even gap all around.



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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-15The two photos above show the difference in A-pillars very well. If the A-pillars would have remained the stock shape then the side windows would have been one to two inches taller. and the roof very thin. Now everything is nicely balanced and in good proportions. Notice the work that needed to be done for the grille to fit and how more finished the front looks with the molded in splash pan.
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CCC-bertolucci-ohanesian-merc-details-14Close up of the front shows the work that was needed to make the 1946 Chevy grille fit the 1940 Mercury front fenders and hood. Both front fenders and hood had to be extended forward and reshaped. A later edition of the car had molded in stock Mercury headlights. 
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There is a lot more to tell about the Ohanesian Mercury, and we probably will do… in another future CCC-Article, but for this article I wanted to high-light all the body details that make this Custom Car Icon so special. Take a look at the photos in this article of the Harold “Buddy” Ohanesian Mercury, see how well balanced the car it, how a perfect ride height works wonders and how good a four door sedan body can make just the perfect custom.

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Westergard Custom Found

 

WESTERGARD CUSTOM FOUND

 

Rick Atterberg posted three photos of a 1939 Ford custom convertible on his facebook. Rick Amado possible id-ed the car as an original Westergard Custom.



Close to midnight on October 28, I was just going to shut down the computer when I spotted three photos of an very interesting late 1940’s looking 1939 Ford Custom Convertible on Facebook. Rick Atterberg posted these on this Facebook page for his friend and Car owner Larry with the following message;


[box_light]”Would anyone have any information on the original builder and owner of this 1939 ford convertable? It has been chopped 3 ” with a gaylord top it has a 1940 dash with a maroon and white rolled and pleated interior with a black exterior. It left Sacramento California in 1953 to Burlington Iowa I think it was built in 48-49 after finding a Sacramento paper in the inside passenger rear quarter panel. Any information or pictures would be great.”[/box_light]


CCC-westergard-39-ford-found-01The 1939 Ford as it sits in 2014. It looks like the body is in really great shape. The hood that is now on the car is an original Ford hood. The Harry Westergard modified hood is being worked on at the moment.
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I got very excited, but right then I could not find it in my memory database. So I figured that if I would show them on my own Facebook it would be seen by many more Custom Car enthusiast, and could possibly, or at least hopefully be identified during the night. Rick Amado found a small black and white photo on the Custom Car Photo Archive showing an 1939 Ford Convertible built by Harry Westergard in the late 1940’s. A Custom that has a similar style grille opening, the same headlight treatment, chopped windshield with padded top, same bumpers. And even the location, Sacramento sounds right. Looks like the Custom Car Photo Archive has helped identifying another early Custom Car again. Great!


CCC-westergard-39-ford-found-04Al Garcia’s 1939 Ford Convertible build by Harry Westergard in the late 1940’s. The Garage magazine mentioned this photo was taken in 1948. But according to Dick Bertolucci the photo was taken at the 1952 Autorama show.
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Sadly at this point this grainy photo showed only very small in the Garage Magazine Harry Westergard article is all we have of the car when it was just finished and owned by Al Garcia.¬†The photo caption reads Al Garcia’s ’39 Ford seen in 1948. The only thing I cannot see in the black and white photo from the late 1940’s is the rather wide rear window in the padded top. The rear window in that photo looks to have the more regular proportions, while the top as it is on the car in 2014 has an exceptional wide rear window. But that, could of course have been changed over time to help improve visibility.

Well, I have in the meantime spoken with the owner of the car, Larry May. And he confirmed that the wider rear window was done by a previous owner, but that he still has the original smaller rear window… as well as all the other parts we cannot see in the photos Rick shared first.¬†The original grille was create from brass tubing and Larry already has re-plated it for the restored car.
Larry also mentioned that he has two old photos from the early 1950’s showing a little more on the car. Hopefully we can share those two with you here shortly. Larry also knew the owners name was Al Garcia, but never was able to link Harry Westergard to the car. Well the Garage magazine article conformed all this.

Rick Atterberg spoke to Dick Bertolucci in early November 2014. Dick mentioned that that the car in all the old photos shown and the car that Larry now owns are indeed the same car and that besides Harry Westergard, Les Crane and Dick Bertolucci himself also worked on Little Al Garcia’s 1939 Ford. Dick mentioned that he did the taillights, molded in 1939 Chevy units on the car, and ended up painting it black. Little Al and Dick were good friends and Al really wanted Dick to build the car for him. But Dick had several people in line, before Al to have their car build for him. Al Garcia did not wanted to wait, so he ended up having the car done by Harry Westergard and Less Crane, but did find Dick willing to spend his spare time putting the taillights on and have him do the paint work on the car.

I’m trying¬†to get in touch with Sully Hake, who wrote the great story on Harry Westergard in Garage magazine back in 2004. This article shows the 1948 photo of Al Garcia which I have added to this article. The current owner of the car would really love to have a better copy of that old photo to help him with the restoration of the car. Or anybody else who knows about this photo, or perhaps other old photos of Al Garcia’s 1939 Ford. Please let me know by sending an email to:¬†Rik Hoving

If there is anybody who knows more about Al Garcia or this 1939 Ford, please let us know.


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Larry mentioned that he knew about this car since 1958, and he has been trying to buy it from the then owner in Iowa ever since. In 1990, he was finally able to acquire it, and has been working slowly on the restoration. From time to time Larry was asking around to find out more information on his car, but nobody really knew. He even asked Custom Car Collector and Historian Jack Walker, he also had no idea¬†who originally build it. ¬†But he sure tried to buy the car from Larry…. Larry always said, No, its not for sale. I have been waiting to drive this car since 1958, and nobody is going to take that away from me. Together with Rick Atterberg they are now working a little harder on the car. And with this last piece of information… a real harry Westergard Custom, my guess is they really want to get this one out on the road as soon as possible.


CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-12The Harry Westergard 1939 Ford current owner Larry May with the car.
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Larry send these digital photos made of the photocopied photos he got when he bought the car. Its all he has, and will help a lot with the restoration. These photos were taken in Iowa 1954, and Al Garcia had already sold the car by then. Some changed have been made, like the hubcaps which now appear to be 1953 Studebaker units. These photos show that the car has 1949 Chevy bumpers front and back. So perhaps these bumpers have been added to the car at a later date, since it was mentioned that the car was build in the 1946-48 period. We have seen that happen before on another Harry Westergard Custom.

Early photo of Al Garcia’s ’39 Ford with the chopped windshield and padded top, but without the grille work. Photo taken around 1949-50, thanks to stillrunners.
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Early photo of Al’s ’39 at a local rod run. (stillrunners)
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Al’s ’39 Ford all the way on the right at the Car show held at Capitol Chevrolet in Sacrament on November 4-5, 1950.
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-07The hand made grille looks really good in the car, giving it some more width, and making the front looks a bit aggressive.
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-11This side view shows the 1953 Studebaker hubcaps on the wide white wall tires. It looks like the teardrop skirt is in primer, perhaps a mishap, or the original went missing and had to be replaced.
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-09The photo from the rear shows the original smaller rear window still in place in 1954.
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-06Ford Crestliner steering wheel. To bad we cannot see more of the interior, and it looks like the glove box door is missing. 
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-15The previous owner of the car had trouble looking out the back of the padded top, so he widened the rear window. Larry still has the original trim piece for it, which will be used on the restored version.
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-14With the rear bumpers held in place.
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-13The grille is hand-made from brass tubing by Harry Westergard. Larry already restored it and had it re-plated. Its just sitting inside the hand made opening just for the photo.
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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-05The interior was done in black and white as the headliner in the padded top shows. The inside of the top is still in remarkable shape after all these years.
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Butler Rugard Westergard Merc

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BUTLER RUGARD WESTERGARD MERCURY

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A very early Westergard customized 1940 Mercury survives several re-stylings over the years, gets restored to 1950’s specs and ends up in Europe.

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A little while ago we ran a short story on the Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury restyled by Harry Westergard. The story was about the car being for sale at a large auction in Greece. At the time the car did not find a new buyer. Recently the Greece owner contacted us to share some more photos of the car taken in Greece and to let us know the car is still For Sale. So we thought its time to do a full article on this unique early Westergard Custom, and perhaps find a new owner for the car who might even take it back to how it original looked when harry Westergard restyled it in the early 1950’s. The last restoration on the Butler Rugard Westergard Mercury, done by Jack Walker and team. The car was restored to a generic mid to late 1950’s version.

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This is how the Mercury looks now, photographed in sunny Greece in 2015.

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Lets go back in time first… to when Butler Rugard’s bought this 1940 Mercury Convertible brand new from the dealer.
Most likely being inspired by the GM design studies of the early 1940’s Butler started to have his brand new 1940 Mercury Customized right away. One of the people who he knew could handle the changes he had in mind was Harry Westergard. Butler took the Mercury to Harry to have him create full fade away fenders.

The story goes that the complete restyling was done over a period of time. Dick Bertolucci mentioned that some of the early work on this Mercury was done by Les Crane, who worked with Harry Westergard on a few projects. Each time Butler took the car back to Harry to have some more changes done to it. But as far as we know the fade-away fenders was the first restyling done by Harry.

There are different stories going around about the padded top on the car. One story is that Westergard chopped the windshield, and created a frame for a padded top, another story is that it was the padded top that was done by one of the famous shops very early on in the process. Westergard is credited for replacing the stock grille with the Buick unit. The hood has also been modified to fit the flatter Buick grille, but the typical Mercury side bulges on the hood are still on the hood sides in this version.

In the later version the bulge was removed and the body crease on the hood sides extended and wrapped around to the front of the hood. The car has 1937 DeSoto bumpers, and the stock 1940 Mercury headlights are still in place. This version used black wall tires and single bar flipper hubcaps. Jack Walker provided the Custom Car Chronicle with a very rare photo of this early version of Butler’s 1940 Mercury. De photo did not come with a dat, but this must have been in the very early 1940’s.

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Jack Walker provided this amazing photo. It shows the car in an early version when the hood sides and headlights were still stock. The car was then also fitted with 1937 DeSoto bumpers.

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He reshape the front of the front fenders and added Packard headlights to them. The team wanted to use a 1942 Buick grille, but since that unit is a lot thinner than the v-shaped Mercury grille the hood needed to be reworked considerably to make this all work. Harry reshaped the front of the hood, he tucked the lower section inward, to meet the new 1942 Buick grille. this all resulting in a dolphin like hood shape, a similar shape we can also see in some coach-built roadsters from those days. Although we are not sure if Harry might have been influenced by those, or if this is just a coincidence.

At the rear Harry installed 1940 Chevrolet taillights, vertical on slightly extended moldings and a set of tear drop fender skirts. The car was lowered with long shackles and a de-arched spring at the back. The car was dressed up with Lyons hubcaps on wide whites, 1941 Packard bumpers and a set of spotlights. The original flathead Mercury V-8 was kept in the car, but was dressed up with some early Hop Up speed parts as a triple-carb Offenhauser intake manifold with matching Offenhauser finned heads. We are unsure when Harry completed the car in this what we cal final version. But we do know that the car was shown like this at a Sacramento Car dealer show in 1950.

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Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury at the Sacramento Car dealer show in 1950.

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August issue of Custom Cars magazine showed the car in the letter section. Dark paint, no skirts and long lake pipes.

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It appears that Butler hung on to the mercury long enough to hand it over to his daughter Marie somewhere in the 1950’s. In the August 1960 issue of Custom Cars magazine, there is a small write up on the car in the “Mail Call” section. According this article the car was painted black then, had leopard fur upholstery on the inside of the padded top, a chrome plated dash, and leather upholstery. The photo showed full length lake pipes and no skirts on the rear fenders. It also appears that at least the rear bumper was replaced with a more wrap around unit.

Steve Bateman bought this 1940 Merc Conv. in 1973 in Isleton, Calif. from the Fernandez family (Butler’s daughter), he kept it for two years and then sold it to Ron Marquardt

The next update we were able to find, comes from the early 1980’s. The car is a dark color, but has now an new horizontal grille opening added. The padded top is re-upholstered in dark material. The lake pipes are gone and so is the front bumper. Black wall tires replace the classic white wall units from the previous versions.

According a small write up, the car had been in storage and had been restored when the photo was taken in 1982. Ron kept the car for the next 25 years and they cruised every summer. Most likely during this period the car was in an accident damaging the front and rear end of the car. The car was repaired with tunneled headlights and set-in, turned upside down, 1939 Ford taillights in the back.

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Dark paint, dark top, black wall tires and a new grille opening.

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The the car was painted white, the padded top was covered with white material, and a 1949 plymouth rear bumper was added on the back. The horizontal grille opening was filled with 1951-53 DeSoto grille teeth, and no bumper was used on the front. The original Spotlight have now been replaced with Dummy units. Chip Chipman photographed the car like this in August 2000.

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This photo and those below , (of the white version) were taken by Chip Chipman in 2000. The car was now painted white with a white covered top and a set of DeSoto grille teeth in the new grille opening.

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In the 1990’s, Ron advertised the car for sale in the Hemmings Motor News. Jack Walker, custom car enthusiast and collector of Belton, Missouri, spots the ad. Before he decides to buy it he is doing some research to find out if it is the real deal as the advertisement claims. Jack even asks George Barris, who recalls the car from the time he was learning the trade at Harry Westergards shop. So he advised Jack to buy the car sight unseen. Jack decides to buy the car and asks his friend Ed Guffey to team up with him on the restoration.

Dave Dolman in Verdon, Nebraska, was hired to do the bodywork restored. The body was n rather bad shape and needed a lot of work getting straight again.Once the body work was done Jack and Ed decided to paint the car Candy Apple Red. Not really the right color for this 1940’s custom. But the team decided to see it as a mid 1950’s redone version of the car. The modern engine was replaced with a flathead engine and the interior that came with the car was good enough to be restored. Bob Sipes redid the padded top.

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The Butler Rugard, Harry Westergard-built 1940 Mercury was invited to the prestigious Taildraggers on the grass exhibit at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concourse.

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At some point not too long after the Pebble Beach event Jack Walker and Ed decided to let go of the Historic Mercury and Ralph Whitworth’s aquired it for his Museum. Sadly the Museum plans came to an halt in 2009 and most of the collection ended up being auctioned. The Butler Rugard, Westergard Mercury ended up in the hands a new owner from Greece.

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When the car was part of Ralph Whitworth’s Museum the car was invited to the Mercury Gathering at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama. A historic event with the best and most historical Custom Mercury’s from all over the US.

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To Greece

Not long after the Sacramento show the Museum was closed and most cars in the collection auctioned at the special Icons of Speed & Style RM Auction. The car was sold for $75,000.- plus 10% auction fees. Far below the estimate. The new owner of the Butler Rugard 1940 Mercury takes it to his home in Greece after that.

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The Harry Westergard Butler Rugard 1940 Mercury as advertised for the Icons of Speed & Style RM Auction. Estimated to sell for $125,000 – 175,000 it eventually went for $75,000.- plus 10% auction fees.

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The Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury after it has been shipped to the new owner in Greece.

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In June 15, 2013 the car ends up at an COYS auction in Greece. However the car did not meet its reserve, it was estimated to bring: ‚ā¨80,000 ‚Äď ‚ā¨100,000 ($124,208.00 ‚Äď $155,260.00) and was not sold and went back to the owner who had bought it at the US Auction.

The Mercury at the 2013 COYS Auction.

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This photo, and the four below shows the car as it was in 2015, photographed by the then owner in Greece. The owner had contacted us to advertise the car for Sale on the CCC. Eventually around 2019 he is able to find a new owner for the car.

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The car today is still in the same condition as the Jack Walker team restored the car in. Odd, far from period perfect Candy apple red with red wheels and Packard baby moon hubcaps. A nice set of Lyons hubcaps, wide whites and a dark maroon or black paint job would do wonders for this car.

GOOD NEWS!
September 2019. The really great news is that the new owner has great plans for the car. The new owner, and his friends are very dedicated. First plan is to get it technically all in order so that the car can actually been driven, and driven safely. The next plan is that the car will most likely be shipped to the US at the end of the summer in 2020, possibly to attend some shows there. The new owner lives half of the year in Greece, and half of the year in the US. Then the later part of the plan is, and this is the most exciting part of it…. to have the car brought back to early 1940’s specs. Black paint, DeSoto Bumpers, just as how the car was initially created for Butler Rugard.

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We soon will be updating this article with more info, and current photos of the car.



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Harry Westergard Headlight Style

EARLY WESTERGARD HEADLIGHT STYLE

Before Harry finalized his “Westergard look” he created headlights molded on top of the fenders on the Gene Garrett 1936 Ford. Where did this styling inspiration come from?

In the Early 1940’s Harry Westergard was already busy restyling cars for his clients. One of his earlier efforts was the 1936 Ford for Gene Garrett. We did an full article on this car some times ago. One of the restyled elements on this car are the on top of the fender mounted headlights. In later restyling efforts on other 1936 Fords Harry would mold the headlights in the valley between the top of the fender and the frill sides. A much more attractive modifications.

We know that the early customizers were inspired by what the coach-builders and high-end car manufactories were doing. How these more exclusive cars looked like, what kind of parts they used, and how everything was restyled. The customizers would then copy styling cues of these more exclusive cars and incorporate these into their cheepers Ford’s, chevy’s and other brand of cars. All based on the parts available to them from the local junk yard.

The headlight design Harry came up with, for Gene Gerrett’s Ford was most likely copied from the luxury 1936 Pierce-Arrow. Most likely Harry Westergard was the first customizer to incorporate this style of headlight on a 35-36 Ford. But he was not the only one. There are several more early styled custom cars that have similar styled headlights. Perhaps some of the others were created by Harry, or possebly other builders were inspired by Harry’s early effort, or perhaps by another Pierce-Arrow.

Perhaps not the most attractive headlight design, but its interesting to know where the inspiration for Harry’s restyling came from.

CCC-westergard-headlight-01-WGene Garrett’ 1936 Ford convertible.

 

CCC-westergard-headlight-04-WThe Pierce-Arrow used the on top of the fender molded in headlight design in 1936.

 

CCC-westergard-headlight-02-WA closer look at Harry Westergards version.

 

CCC-westergard-headlight-03-WAnd a closer look at the original Pierce-Arrow version. (Could this be the first quad headlight use on a car?, the smaller units actually mounts on the grille sides)

 

CCC-westergard-headlight-05-WA different model of the Pierce-Arrow used only a single unit mounted on the fender

 

CCC-westergard-headlight-07-WThis 1936 Ford is listed as a George Barris creation in the first Dan Post Blue book of Custom Restyling. We know that George Barris worked with Harry Westergard in the early 1940’s

 

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CCC-westergard-headlight-06-WThis very nicely styled 1935 Ford phaeton also has front fender top mounted headlights. We have no info on who built this car, nor who owned it.

 

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One photo from the Jack Calori Collection shows a 1936 Ford four door sedan with the same headlight treatment in the background.
 

Harry Westergard would later refine his front end design and create the what we still call “Westergard look” today. Long narrow grille, and long teardrop shaped headlights molded into the valley between the fender tops and grille sides.

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Max Ferris – Westergard 1936 Ford

 

MAX FERRIS WESTERGARD 1936 FORD

 

Restyling this car in the 1940 would have an impact on the custom car scene forever. The term “Harry Westergard style” came from the looks Harry achieved for this 1936 Ford.


CCC-max-ferris-westergard-18-WGene Winfield took this photo of the 1936 Ford in the parking lot of a NorCal circle track. Interesting to see the side window curtains installed. Most likely because it was winter time when Gene took the photo. Ed Jensen was most likely already the owner of the car when this photo was taken.
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[box_light]Most of the photos in this article come from the Ed Jenson Collection. They were shared by Tim Cunha and scanned by Curtis Leipold. More amazing photos from Ed Jensons 1940’s photo collection can be seen in the Ed Jensons Custom Car Chronicle section.[/box_light]


CCC-max-ferris-westergard-01-WThe Ford parked in front of Ed Jensen’s house.
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[dropcap]H[/dropcap]arry Westergard customized this 1936 Ford Roadster for Max Ferris in the early 1940’s. Harry Westergard was the best in reshaping an ‚Äúordinary‚ÄĚ Ford into an exclusive automobile. The Packard grille was one way, and, combining it with the long 1939 Buick headlights molded into the front fenders made it an instant winner. The Packard grille was found on a roll-over car at a local wrecking yard and was installed in a hand-shaped panel filling the stock grille opening. The front fenders were welded to the grille surround making the front piece one single unit. For the first version, the hood sides remained stock, but later on a set of smooth hood sides were installed, to clean it up even more. Harry chopped the windshield post and a padded top was constructed. To clean up the car and add some more class to the Ford, Harry filled in the complete belt line from the cowl all the way to the back, creating one smooth body.

All of the handles were shaved and the holes filled. The taillight stands were removed, the holes filled and 1939 Ford ‚Äúteardrop‚ÄĚ shaped taillights installed. A small rectangular hole with round corners just big enough to show the license plate numbers was cut into the panel below the trunk. The plate was installed from inside the car and sat behind a glass plate. These set-in license plates were a big trend in the 1940‚Äôs. Harry installed a set of 1937 DeSoto bumpers. It is interesting to see that Harry used a front and rear bumper on the car, while most customs only use the much flatter front bumper on both sides. The much rounder rear unit actually looks very good on Max‚Äôs car. Most likely the car was painted a maroon at first and later being repainted forest green.

CCC-max-ferris-westergard-02-WPackard Clipper grille and lowed headlights really improve the looks of a 1936 Ford.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-14-WThe Ferris Ford used a chrome plated dash with a 1941 Mercury gauge cluster and upside down Lincoln steering wheel.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-07-WThis and a few of the other photos show that these cars were daily users, and small mishaps happened. Notice the round 1937 DeSoto rear bumper.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-19-WA good look how Harry installed the Packard Clipper grille and Buick headlights.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-09-WFantastic early 1940’s photo from the Ed Jensons Collection showing the¬†roadster on the far right. But the main focus from the photographer in this photo was the Hot Rod. The Hot Rod is Jack Davis/Calori roadster, not long after Jack Davis sold it to Jack Calori.¬†A 1929 Model A Roadster on a 32 Ford frame with the cut down 32 Ford grille and with the home made V-style windshield and a hopped up engine with two carb intake is a really great sample of early 1940’s Hot Rods.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-10-WEnlarged section of the photo shown above shows Ed’s Roadster a bit more up close.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-05-WThe stock hood sides are now replaced with a set of smooth units. The shape of the padded top is perfectly proportioned. Here we can see Ed and a friend packing some stuff for one of their many road-trips in the car.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-08-WIn this photo we get a good look at the ’39 Ford taillights and set in license plate.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-04-WOn one of the many trip something must have broken down.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-12-WThe photo above and the one below are also taken by Gene Winfield. The roadster was used as rolling advertising for the Roadster races at the Oakland Stadium. Ed knew the promotor of the show and had offered to help promote the event for him.
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Max sold the car to Ed Jensen¬†who¬†owned the ’36 Ford for quite some time. Ed¬†later sold the car¬†to a guy who lived on the other side of the bay and the ¬†ended up over there. When Ed talked to Tim Cunha about the 36, he was not sure about the name of the guy he sold the car to, but possibly this¬†was Larry Chubbick, but it could have been somebody before Larry as well. when¬†Larry Chubbick owned the car he removed the skirts, and changed the suspension,¬†to give the car a slight forward rake. Larry also added a lot of speed parts and a Colombia 2-spped rear axle. Larry used the car as his daily driver and as some of the photos show it started to show signs of being well used. At one point Larry respainted the car in Cinnabar Red. In 1949 Vern Simons bought the car at a used car dealership. By then the rear fenders had been smoothed and a set of ¬†1941 Chevy taillights mounted on the DeSoto bumpers. In 1949 the ’36 Ford had seen a lot of road use and needed a full restoration. Vern hired Lyle Barteles from San Francisco to do the lead work on the car.¬†Vern painted the car in black and had Hall of Oakland redo the padded top.¬†In 1952 Vern took his 1936 Ford to Bonneville to race it. The team struggled a lot but eventually Verne managed to get a speed of 119.52 on his tag.

CCC-max-ferris-westergard-20-WThe reworked engine, Vern took a snapshot moments before it was reinstalled in the car from the trip to Bonneville in 1952.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-13-WThis photo of Vern’s Ford at Bonneville was listed on eBay some time ago. The 1951 date written on it should be 1952.
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When Vern Simons bought the car of the car lot he had no idea where it came from, or who built it. When the¬†Rodder’s Journal did an article on Vern’s unrestored Roadster in¬†issue No. 19¬†Vern found out much more on the history of the car. But one of the missing links, Ed Jenson, came into the picture after Tim Cunha recognized the roadster in the RJ article from the amazing photos in his friends Ed Jenson’s collection. So Tim made sure Ed and Vern met each other and were able to share many memories about the car.¬†Vern still owns this early Westergard custom.¬†After the car had been in storage and photographed for the Rodder’s Journal article, Vern decided it was time to start restoring the car. He choose the Foley bros. Custom Works shop in Redwood City to start the restoration around 2009. In 2011¬†Vern Simons was invited to show his 1936 Ford Roadster built by Harry Westergard at the GNRS Customs Then & Now show. The car arrived at the show in a slightly street rodded version. But after spending the weekend at the show, surrounded by nothing but Custom Cars, Vern came to the conclusion the car needs to get back to the full Custom style as it was intended by Harry Westergard in the early 1940’s.


CCC-max-ferris-westergard-16-WVern’s Ford parked in front of the¬†Foley bros. Custom Works shop during the start of the partial restoration.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-22-WThis photo shows the smoothed rear fenders and 1941 Chevy taillights mounted on the DeSoto bumper. This is how Vern Simons got the car.
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Vern’s Ford how it looks while it was shown at the 2011 GNRS Customs Then & Now exhibit.
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More info and resources

  • The Rodder’s Journal, Issue #19
  • Gene Winfield book
  • The American Custom Car, Pat Ganahl book
  • Kustoms Illustrated, Issue #35



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