Bob Fairman 36 Ford Restoration

 

BOB FAIRMAN FORD RESTORATION

 

After sitting in a field left to the elements for year. The iconic Bob Fairman Jimmy Summers chopped 1936 Ford with fade away fenders is finally getting restored.


In the Spring of 2009 some photos of the Jimmy Summers / Bob Fairman 1936 Ford Custom sitting all rusted away in a field in Ohio, were shared on the internet. It was big news at the time that another early Jimmy Summers created Custom Car had survived. Even thought it seemed to be in a very poor state, left over to the elements for years, it was still amazing to see. And we all wondered how this once trend setting Custom could have been in such a state all the way on the other side of the US, from where it was created.

How the Jimmy Summers Ford sat in a field in Ohio in 2009.
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In the full Story on the Bob Fairman Ford on the Custom Car Chronicle we did in December of 2016, we have gathered as much information as we were able to find. And it was quite an amazing story. The best part of the story was that the car was eventually pulled from the field and that it was destined to be restored. Good New! But then years of silence about the Fairman Ford, some people said that the restoration had started, others mentioned it was just sitting, but inside, not deteriorating any further. Then in October 2016, the rusted remains of the Ford plus a few gathered parts were offered for sale here on the CCC. Due to legal issues the then owner had to stop the sale, and the car “disappeared” from the radar again. Legal issues sometimes mean, we will never see it again.

This is how the Bob Fairman ’36 Ford originally looked like back in the early 1940’s.
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On October 19th 2017 we received an email from Jim, that he had some great Custom Car News he wanted to share with us. Very excited, we had to wait another day to find out what this Great Custom Car News was. The News was that the Bob Fairman 1936 Ford restyled by Bob and Jimmy summers in the late 1930’s or very early 1940’s has a new owner, and that the restoration of this iconic Custom has started..




We let Jim tell the story.
“So after trying to buy this car for years, I was finally able to close the deal and acquire it. It is rough for sure but very much restorable. One of the coolest things about it is that the car is way more complete than anyone thought.
Included with the car were the original bumpers, front fenders, hood tops and sides, nicely preserved original chrome garnish moldings (apparently stored indoors), and the original fender skirts.

Upon finally getting it in our possession we were able to discover some of the coolness, like the fact that Jimmy removed and smoothed out the body bead that surrounds the rear bustle of the car around the trunk And the way he fabricated the original door poppers which are still amazingly intact. The amazing craftsmanship of Summers work is absolutely outstanding.”

This is how the Bob Fairman/Jimmy Summers 1936 Ford sits in October 2017. All the parts that came with the car put back together for the first time in many years. A set of new wheels and white wall tires mounted give a good feel for how it once looked.  As Jim mentioned there is a lot of rust, and a lot of metal is gone, which will take time to restore. But its not impossible, and the good thing is it is far more complete than he had thought.
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The ’41 Ford bumpers have the chrome plating completely stripped from being in the field for so long. This photo shows how the fade away panels are separate units bolted to the body panels, just like the original fenders, and not welded and molded in like most customs had.
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Close up shows the restyled work from Jimmy Summers and Bob Fairman on the character lines, and how the rear license plate was set it. The plate most likely sat in a small box mounted behind the opening.
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It feels so amazing to see the car back on its feet again, and knowing that the restoration team will do its magic to make it look just like it did when the car was freshly restyled  75+ years ago.
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Close up shows the reworked front fenders and ’37 – ’38 Ford headlights that were added. The front section of the drivers side hood has been completely rotten away, and will need to be replaced.
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This photo of the car that Jim send gave me goose bump all over… It is so good to see the car back again. Most of the lower sections of the fade away fender panels are gone as well, but it can and will all be fixed according to Jim.
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Lots of rust on the drivers side door fade away panel. The lower sections were sitting in the dirt for a number of years. The restoration team will try to keep as much from the original car as possible during the restoration.
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This is such amazing news, to see new photos of the Bob Fairman – Jimmy Summers 1936 Ford now owned by Jim who will completely restore the car to how it looked in the early 1940’s. See the car sitting of four wheels, with all of the remaining parts put back on the car again.¬† We cannot wait to see more progress on this Iconic Jimmy Summers Custom. Jim also mentioned that they found some of the original paint left on the inside of the car… So wild!

Thank you Jim for saving this historic Custom Car for future generations to enjoy, and to share it here on the Custom Car Chronicle.




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Bob Fairman 1936 Ford Coupe

 

BOB FAIRMAN 1936 FORD

 

Around 1941 Jimmy Summers and Bob Fairman create this full Custom 1936 Ford Coupe with fade away fenders. A trend setting Custom Car Icon.



The first time I saw a picture of this wild looking ’36 Ford chopped Coupe with full fade-away fenders was in the Hot Rod Memory book published by Don Montgomery in 1991. The photo he shared was from the Mel Paisley collection. The photo caption did not provide much information, it did not mention the builder, or the owner. Id did mention that that particular photo was taken in 1945, so I already knew the car was an very early full custom job. ¬†Later I came across one or two more published photos in the Dan Post books that I had bought from online auctions. A friend of mine in the US mentioned that the car was built by Jimmy Summers. Which made sense because of the very early fade-away fenders. But no other info was found at the time.

More information about the car was gathered when Carlos started a thread named¬†ANY OLD CALIFORNIA GUYS KNOW THIS CAR ? on the HAMB on May 12, 2009. Carlos had taken a series of photos of an very rusted chopped top ’36 Ford coupe with full fade away fenders in a field in Ohio. At the time my Custom Car Photo Archive already had all the photos I had found on the car listed under the Jimmy Summers section. So it was not long before the link to the Jimmy Summers section was added to the HAMB thread. Carlos happened to be a friend of the guy who stored the car for the then owner of the car. The car was not supposed to be stored outside, but it was, and it it destroyed much of the car. Carlos posted the photos to try to find out more about the history of the car. At the time it was known that the car came from California, the name Summer had been mentioned as the builder, but he had no other information, nor old photos of it.

When I found the thread on the HAMB I really could not believe that A, the car had survived and B somebody who made sure the car had survived would leave it sit outside rusting in a field. But I was thrilled and hoped somebody would be able to buy the remains and get it completely restored. This was an very early full Custom Car, created by Jimmy Summers, Custom Car pioneer. And not much of his work is still with us, so this car really needed to be saved.

I was able to get in touch with Eddie Montgomery who lived close to where the car was located, and he knew the owner of the car and was able to tell me more about how the car got in the field in such bad shape, and also how this California built Custom ended up in this field in Ohio.

On this thread it was also mentioned that in the Art of Hot Rod book by Ken Gross, the foreword written by Alex Xydias mentioned the car and the owner. The owner of the ’36 Ford was, according to Alex Xydias, Bob Fairman aka “Barbells” a guy who worked for Jimmy Summers at his Melrose Ave., Ca. shop in the early 1940’s. The foreword mentioned the year 1946, but I later found out that the car was actually built several years before that. It was really great to have a name with the car now.

Alex Xydias, founder of the So-Cal Speed Shop, remembered the name of the guy working with Jimmy Summers in the early 1940’s who owned the ’36 Ford with full fade-away fenders. Bob Fairman aka “Barbells”.
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About the Ford

Over the years I have collected very photo I was able to find of the Bob Fairman 1936 Ford, and fortunately more and more show up. It really is amazing that so many photos have been taken of this car, yet so little is known about it. There also never was a proper magazine feature on the car. Most likely because the car was done so early, and the magazines to feature it did not come out 7 or so year after it had been finished.

Published photo appears to have a 1941 License plate, and is the oldest known photo of the Bob Fairman ’36 Ford. Not only are the full fade away fenders very unusual for 1941, so are the shaved door handles. Most custom cars still had door handles around this time.
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The body of the car was channeled over the frame to get it low, the running boards were removed. The grille was sectioned and due to the channeling of the body the fenders are now higher mounted on the body. The top was chopped and now has really nice proportions and flows really nice. The canvas roof panel was filled in with a shaped metal section. The front fenders were reshaped completely, it is unsure if Jimmy Summers used the stock ’36 Ford front fenders, or perhaps a bit newer 39 Ford fenders, or perhaps completely hand made the units.

Jimmy created the full fade away panels before there were any production cars that had these. (The first factory created full fade away fenders were on the 1942 Buick’s). The panels had to be completely hand made. Not sure if Jimmy did the shaping on these, or if perhaps California Metal Shaping, or a similar company pre-shaped these panels based on Jimmy’s instructions. All four fenders were not ‚Äď like we are so used to from other customs from the later part of the 1940’s ‚Äď molded to the body, instead they are still bolt ons, which require some nice fitting, especially of the rear fenders. The full fade away panels on the doors and quarter panels are also bolt on units.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-03Photo taken in the early 1940’s show the rather bulbous full Fade-Away fenders on Bob Fairman’s 1936 Ford. The new fender lines looks a lot like the fenders used on the Jaguar XK120, but those did not come out until 1948.
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The license plate on Bob Fairman had the 06 Q 511 number¬†which was given to the car in 1941. (1940 plates were yellow with black letters) This photo shows how a pressed metal 1941 top has been added over the 1941 Plate. California license plated had aluminum stamped corners with a red “V” in 1943 and 1944. By 1945 the plates changed completely again. Now black with white numbers, and Cal 45 in a narrow white box on the top.
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Jimmy hand made new hood sides to fit the lower hood and the fade away fenders. The headlight were replaced with fender mounted ’37-38 Ford units. At the rear a set of ’38-39 Ford teardrop taillights were added to the body, next to the fenders. Rather unusual for the time, Jimmy removed all door handles on the car and created foot controlled buttons underneath the fender. Could this possibly the first installment of push button doors?

The stock ’36 Ford bumpers were replaced by bolder 1941 Ford units with bumper guards, over rider and accessory corner pieces. Not sure if the suspension was modified in any way. The car sits, just like most of the Custom Cars built in the early 1940’s rather high. Jimmy installed wide white wall tires and added small diameter single bar flipper hubcaps with beauty rings. The very early single bar flipper hubcaps had a much smaller smooth section than the later units that became more popular. A set of teardrop shaped fender skirts was mounted on the rear fenders.


This and the next photo have just recently been shared by Denver Dan. it is always great if some new photos of this early custom showing up. especially if they show the car really good as these do. 
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In this photo we can see that the it was taken when the car had the 1942 plates on it. Both photos show that the single bar flipper hubcaps that were used are a lot smaller in diameter of the plain section that those we know best from the mid 40’s and up. These photos also show that the car was painted a light color, but that the white wall tires are a lot whiter. It really makes me wonder about the hue of the paint on the car.
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The car was painted in a light color, sometimes it is referred to as white, but I think it was not white, but rather light shade of a color. The difference between the body color and the white wall tires is to big for the paint to be white. Eddie Montgomery remembers that the car was a dove gray when he first saw it. And that it was later painted a bronze maroon metallic.

The oldest photo I have been able to locate of the car shows it with 1941 License plates on it. So far I have not been able to find out when the car was built, but since the car is using 1941 Ford bumpers ‚Äď which look to be the newest parts on the car ‚Äď the car was most likely built in late 1940 or early 1941.


From the National Hot Rod Foundation Collection comes this photo taken at a parking lot, possibly for some sort of event. We do not know when this photo was taken. This photo is the only one I have seen that shows the car with a vent window installed, and judging the reflection, with the door window in the op position. Notice the super straight reflection.
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Bad scan of a bit fuzzy photo shows the car at possibly another shop. The photo comes from the Bob Sorrel Collection and it looks like a ’46 license plate tag is used on the ’45 plate.
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This was actually the first photo I ever saw of the Bob Fairman Jimmy Summers built 1936 Ford. Mel Paisley mentioned in the Don Montgomery books that the photo was taken in 1945. By now the rear white wall tire has been replaced by a black wall unit. An cowl mounted antenna was added, and the bumper end accessory pieces are removed.
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Judging the photos it appears that the car was on a For Sale car lot around 1945-46. One unidentified lot that we can only see a partial lot name “Al H…”¬† with other sings showing “Cash for Cars“. Two other photos (taken by Strother MacMinn) show the car at the Smith Car Co. Hot Rod and Custom Cars for sale lot next to The Spot restaurant in 1946. We do not know what happened to the car after it had been photographed on these Car Lots…. but we do know that the car was bought in the early 1950’s and was driven to Ohio by the new owner.

Gary Emory¬†shared this photo of the Fairman Ford with us. It shows the car parked what looks to be a car dealer or so. The plates are ’45 units with possibly a 46 tag. Notice the¬†Curb-feelers mounted on the rear fender, just below the end of the fender skirt and at the front fender in front of the door. The photo gives us a nice look at the set in license plate, with glass cover.
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Two more photos from the Gary Emory Collection.
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These photos appear to have been taken at the same place. It looks like a second hand car dealer “Al H…” Cash for Cars. Perhaps the car was parked in front of the dealer building to attract customers. These screen shots come from an eBay offering from some time ago.
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Then due to the rubber shortage during and after WWII the car now had all black wall tires mounted, front and rear.
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Around 1946 the car was for sale at the Smith Car Co. lot. The car had black wall tires. Obviously the photographer was more interested in Hot Rods than Custom Cars. (Strother MacMinn photo)
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The ’32 Ford Roadster parked next to the ’36 Ford has a ’46 registration sticker on the ’45 license plate. Most likely the car was for sale at the Smith Car Co. lot around 1946, and perhaps these are the last known photos of the car before it went to the east coats around 1953. (Strother MacMinn photo)
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The first time Bob’s ’36 Ford was used in a publication, as far as I know, was in two Dan Post publications, both published in 1947. The California Custom Car Photo album on the left, and the Master Custom-Restyling Manual on the right. Two different photos were used, one with white walls, the other with black walls and the cowl mounted antenna.¬†
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Jimmy summer photographed in 1946 and one of his ads from an 1948 Hot Rod magazine.
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The Ford goes to Ohio

Thanks to Eddie Montgomery and Don Kretzer we do know a bit more about the car and what happened to it from the early 1950’s until now. In the early 1950’s somewhere between 1951 and 53, (several different stories tell different years for this event) a Ohio based young guy named Joe Johnson got back from serving the marine or Army during the Korean War. He was discharged in California and before he returned home to Ohio, he found this chopped and fade-away fendered 1936 Ford Custom on a used car lot in Los Angeles.¬† The story does not tell which car lot he found the car at.

When Joe found the car was already painted bronze / maroon metallic. Joe bought the car and drove it across the country to his hometown of Sparguarsville (sp), Ohio. Joe then he used the car as his daily driver for a few years. During this time the car was usually parked in front of Joe’s home, and it was there where a very young Don Kretzer saw the car, and fell in love with it. John Eddington from Greenfield bought the car from Joe and not long after that the engine blew. John fixed the engine and used it up to 1957. By then the car was primer gray, but it is unsure if Joe or John primered the car. John parked the car at his house, first inside, later outside. Sadly we have not been able to find any photos of the car when it was painted metallic Bronze.

After the car had been stored inside for some time it was moved outside and left unprotected to the elements – 2009.
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The hood and grille had already been stolen then, but otherwise the car is complete, the front fenders are supposed to be stored inside the car, but I have not seen any photos of those so far. The outside storage has left its marks on the car, the body is rusted and body panels are dented. But the experts say it is still possible the bring it back to life. (2009 photos)
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In 1972 the owner of the car took the ’36 Ford to a local body shop for an estimate on a total repair. They said it could not be done and laughed at him. The owner then decided to take the car to the crusher, but Don Kretzer was able to talk him out of that and offered to store the car at his place. The car sat inside his barn for many years, until the roof collapsed and the car was moved outside again where it was left in the elements and the condition of the car quickly became worse. During this time the front fenders, hood and grille were stolen of the car, the current wear about of those parts are unknown. Most likely lost for ever.

In May 2009 Carlos, a friend of Don posted the photos on the HAMB, trying to find out more information. Many phone calls were made from people all around the US to try and buy the remains of the Jimmy Summers ’36 Ford, but the eccentric owner of the car had no interest in selling. Some time later the owner of the car was in a bad car crash and the control of his estate was left to his family. In 2010 the car became available and was sold to Steve. On April 3, 2010 Eddie Montgomery helped Steve in recovering the car from the field it had been stored in for many years.¬† The plan was to get the car fully restored.

In April 2010, after the owner of the car had a major car accident the car is finally sold and is here being prepared to be pulled out of the field to be stored in better conditions.
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The drivers side door fade away section is stored inside the car, and sticking out of the rear window.
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The car on the truck ready to be taken home to the new owner in 2010.
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The plan is to do a full restoration on the car and bring it back how it was originally built in the early 1940’s. Parts are collected and some of the work is started.¬†
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Timeframe on the Bob Fairman Jimmy Summers 36 Ford.

  • 1941 (approx.) Created by Jimmy Summers and Bob Fairman at the Summers Melrose Ave. shop in Los Angeles Ca.
  • 1945 (approx.) The rear white wall tires are replaced by black wall tires.
  • 1945-46 (approx.) The car is For Sale on at least two car lots.
  • 1946 (approx.) Addition of the cowl mounted antenna and removal of the Accessory bumper ends.
  • 1951-53 (approx.) Joe Johnson from Sparguarsville (sp), Ohio buys the car from an Los Angeles Car Lot after coming back from the Korean War. He drives the car cross country to his home in Ohio. Joe is using the car as his daily driver for some time, and has it repainted bronze / maroon metallic.
  • 1951-53 (approx.) Joe Johnson sells the cat to John Eddington of Greenfield, Ohio. Not long after that the engine but John fixes the engine and drives the car until 1957.
  • 1957 John Eddington parks the car at his home in Greenfield, first inside, later outside.
  • 1972 The owner of the car takes the ’36 Ford to a local body shop for an estimate on a total repair.
  • 1972 After the owner wants to crush the car, Don Kretzer offers to store it at his place, which he does. The car was stored in his barn, at some point the roof collapsed and the car was pushed outside.
  • 2009 Photos of of the heavily rusted remains appear on the HAMB, people try to buy the remains but the owner declines all offers.
  • 2010 After the owner has been in a serious car accident the car gets sold.
  • 2016 October 22nd The car is offered For Sale again on the Custom Car Chronicle.
  • 2016 October 29th Due to some legal issues the For Sale ad is suspended. The car is not for sale anymore.

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News on the car December 2016

On October 22nd, 2016 ¬†I heard from the current owner Steve that the Ford was up for sale now. Since 2010, after he had pulled the car from the field, he had been gathering material for the restoration, a new frame, front fenders, a flathead engine and other parts and pieces. But he never really got around to get the whole project started. So it was time to look for a new owner who would be able to tackle the difficult job to bring the Bob Fairman, Jimmy Summers ’36 Ford coupe back to life again.

A for Sale add was created here on the Custom Car Chronicle and several people contacted Steve about the car. On October 29th Steve asked me to pull the ad from the CCC. Apparently there where some legal issues about ownership of the cars remains, and sadly the quest to find a good new home for the car, to see a possible full restoration was stopped.

The car is now once again sitting, fortunately now in much better conditions than around 2009. But it does make me sad the car is not undergoing full restoration again. I sure hope the legal matters will be solved soon, so that it will go to a new home and undergo full restoration. The Bob Fairman, Jimmy Summers 1936 Ford coupe with full fade-away fenders is a very important historic Custom and it deserves to be restored and enjoyed again.

The Jimmy Summers Ford might not be the best ever looking custom with its bold bulbous fade-away fenders. But for sure it was trend setting and the inspiration for many others. It might be the first custom with Full fade-away fenders, as well as the first use of some sort of push button controlled doors.

News on the car October 2017

In October 2017we got the wonderful news that the Bob Fairman Jimmy Summers 1936 Ford Coupe has been bought by a new owner. And that the car is now being worked on to get completely restored. The new owner mentioned the car was far more complete than was thought at first. It is party in very poor condition, but very much restorable. The remain have been put together and set on a set of wheels so for the first time in many years looks again as a car. More on this wonderful news in THIS CCC-Article.


Special thanks to Eddie Montgomery for sharing a lot of information and the photos from the 2009 till 2016 condition of the car.


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We are still looking for more information on the Jimmy Summers, Bob Fairman 1936 Ford Coupe Custom. We would love to know the original color of the car, and how long Bob owned the car before it ended up on the Cars For Sale Lot. We would love to know who had the car repainted metallic bronze, and we of course would love to see some photos of this version o the car. If you have any more information about this car, please email Rik at the Custom Car Chronicle so that we can complete the story on this Jimmy Summers Trend Setting Custom Car icon.

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SoCalif Plating Truck

 

SOCALIF PLATING TRUCK

 

George DuVall designed the 1935 Ford for the So California Plating Company and it turned out to be one of the most outstanding early Custom Cars.



The first time I saw a photo of the So Calif. Plating Co. truck was in the Flying V’s article by Dean Batchelor and Pat Ganahl in the August 1990 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. The article showed three black and white photos of this amazing car/truck. One with the midget on the trailer behind it, from a bit higher point of view was shown in a nice size, and two others rather small. And there was quite a bit of written info about it as well. I thought that 1935 Ford was one of the most beautiful Customs¬†I had ever seen. With its wonderful slanted DuVall windshield and long and low padded¬†Top, large white wall tires with chrome hubcaps and that amazing hand made grille. Stunning.

I could not believe no more 35-38 Fords were styled like this one, it was so beautiful, in my eyes everything was right about this car. Later I started to collect every bit of info and photos from this car I could find.

In en email conversation in 2006 ,¬†Pat mentioned he was working on article about the SoCalif Plating Co. truck for the Rodder’s Journal, and how he had found some new images and some very interesting info on the car. In the summer of 2007 that article was published in the Rodder’s Journal #36. And it is an incredible article with a load of new information on this car the enthusiast had been waiting for for a long time. If you have not read it, and love custom car history, you better get a back issue for your collection.


CCC-socalif-plating-truck-rodders-journal-36Pat Ganahl wrote an excellent article in the Rodder’s Journal issue 36. Several never before seen photos as well as some really great information about the car was shared in this article. (openings spread of the RJ-article)
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-american-rodderThe American Rodder published an article about George DuVall in 1997 which featured another nice never before seen photo of the SoCalif Plating truck.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-sketchThe American Rodder article also shared this amazing sketch George DuVall created for the SoCalif Plating truck he designed for Leonard DeBell’s 1935 Ford. The overall shape is all there, but the details as the grille, and bumpers are different from what was actually build.
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CCC-1935-ford-phaetonA 1935 Ford Phaeton from the Ford Sales Brochure. A car like this was the base for the SoCalif Plating Co. Truck.
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The 1935 SoCali. Plating Co. Truck has always been a great inspiration for me. When I looked at the photos of the Custom, especially the one with the midget behind it, and the old cars in the background I could not stop wondering how much impact this car must have had back in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. It must have looked like it came from outer space to some. The car was so far ahead styling wise. As Pat Ganahl mentioned in his RJ article it is really a wonder that there are no old magazine or news paper articles about this car. The only thing I can imagine is that everybody who saw the Custom during the day trips to deliver fresh chrome, or in the weekends at the race track, was to much in awe to even take pictures, let alone think about doing something about it for an early magazine or newspaper. As far as I have been able to find out it was not until 1955 before the first photos of the Custom appeared in a magazine.

In the 1930’s and early 1940’s the Custom Cars where created for other reasons than during the golden years of Custom Cars (late 1940, to late 1950’s). There where no cars show to enter your Custom in, no reason to modify something to gain extra points. These Early Customs were designed to improve over the original designs of the cars they are based on. They were designed to look more exclusive, more expensive, and perhaps more powerful. And in this case the car was designed as a working truck. A full Custom Car with a exceptional amount of work done knowing the end product would be used on the road 7 days a week!



Creating the So Calif. Plating Co. Truck

Because the Custom has been built so long ago a lot of real facts about the car have been forgotten, and the people who might have remembered are no longer with us to ask about it. But with the several articles on the car, and memories shared by the people involved in the creation of the car over the years, a lot of history about how it was created has fortunately been documented.

The car was commissioned by Leonard K. DeBell, owner of the So Calif Plating Co. who had bought a brand new 1935 Ford phaeton. His plan was to use it as a very classy delivery truck. But to be able to do that the car had to be lengthened 12 inches to assure freshly chromed bumpers could be stalled behind the front seat cargo section. George DuVall had been employed by DeBell since 1933. He was hired to design and develop new chrome plated aftermarket parts for the company, and as part of this he had already designed and build several company pick up trucks.

It is unsure who all worked on this truck, and who did what, but from the archived documents we know that George was of course responsible for the design.¬†We do not know who actually added the 12 inches to the frame, and welded the rear doors before extending them with 12 inches. Some people say it was the George DuVall – Frank Kurtis team who did this, others say Jimmy Summers might have done some of the body work.¬†George and his¬†friend Frank Kurtis created the grille from brass sheets, bend to shape. It has been described as a lazy “Z” shaped sections that form the actual grille bars. One bend and shaped all the separate unit where chrome plated and installed. George did an absolutely fantastic job integrating the new grille with the 36 Ford body work.


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George also created the V-Windshield that would later be his most popular product. The typical V-shaped windshield with the thin posts and wonderful lines which would later be used on many Hot Rods and Custom cars was specifically designed for this 1935 Ford. We also know that the rear door, which hinged at the top, was created by¬†Chad Schultz¬†of¬†Joe Newell’s¬†body shop. The door could also be removed easily when larger parts needed to be transported. The rear door gave access to a flat floor that started just behind the front seats. So there was actually quite a lot of space for product. But it might perhaps not have been as handy as an actual pick up truck like the previous So Calif. Plating Co. trucks were. However DeBell liked the idea to promote his business, and knew that the good looks of this truck would help him sell more product.

After the frame and body had been extended 12 inches DeBell bought a set of fenders, hood sides and radiator shell from the brand new 1936 Ford directly from the dealer. He liked the shape of them better than from the 1935 Ford. It looks like the new 12 inch longer running boards are made out of stainless steel, and that the four step on strips on them are actually integrated, pressed in the units, rather than using separate strips. At least the new high res photos give us the impression they are.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-06Another photo taken at the same location from the Revs Institute Collection gives us a good view at the rear of the car. My guess is that the tubular rear bumper might not have been finished when these photos were taken.
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DuVall added a 1936 Cadillac bumper to the front and created small teardrop shaped headlights, more like paring lights. At the rear a four bar bend chrome tubular bumper with cone shaped ends was created. A single taillight was mounted below the lower pan mounted license plate. I have not been able to fin a gas filler car on the photos I have seen on the car. Possibly this was moved into the cargo section?

With all the body work done the car was painted in the So Calif. Plating Co. Sea Foam Green color by Charlie Remidi. A very unusual color for a car back then. The color is sometimes described as a gray green color, others have mentioned it had a sort of olive tint to it. George Du Valle created a set of ribbed wheel covers to cover the wire wheels, and they were dressed up with some fake knock-offs. Unsure is if the hubcaps were designed for the truck, or if they were already in production by the company. The wire wheels were fitted with large Vogue white wall tires Vogue. It took them a total of three month to create this Custom Car mater-piece.

The long and wonderful padded top was create by the¬†George Thomas Top Shop¬†in Hollywood. He created a top that fitted the DuVall windshield perfectly and the teardrop shaped side window openings give the car instant speed. We are not sure why there was never an rear window created in the top. Driving the long car with blind rear must not have been easy. But on the other hand this was late 1930’s and the roads were of course not as crowded as they are now.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-05Rear 3/4 view shows the amazing lines of this car. Everything about it is just right. This photo shows the unfinished rear bumper, and the hitch sitting in front of the bumper coming from underneath the rear pan. It appears that the rear fenders and lower rear panel have been extended, possibly to make space for a lower position of the gas-tank, so that the cargo floor could be flat, and lower.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-08The photographer might have been more interested in the Midget than the truck, hence the cut off front fender.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-07This photo of the midget does give us a good look at the unique Vogue white wall tires and the Chrome disk with “knock-offs” covering the wire wheels.¬†
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The Details

The Revs Institute scans allowed me to see details on the car that I had never saw before. The car was built really well.. and even more designed exceptionally well. The close ups of the windshield and top show all excellent designs and craftsmanship. Photos like these make it even harder to believe why there have not been more cars build inspired on this one. (special thanks to Jamie Barter for the link to the Revs Institute collection photos of the So Calif. Plating Co. delivery truck.)

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-detail-01Notice the small peak at the center of the top visually extending the windshield center. The fit of the windshield to cowl, and the top to the windshield is really flawless. The DuVall windshield is made up from 5 separate brass casted parts.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-detail-05Before these photos became available all we had were the photos that appeared to have been copied form the original photo, and were rather dark. I always thought the extended running boards were a slightly different color, or shade than the rest of the car, and for sure not covered with rummer. But these high res photos make it look like the running boards were actually made from shaped stainless steel with the four step on ribs pressed in them, rather than them being separate strips. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-detail-04George DuVall really did an amazing job on the design of this car. The V-windshield is absolutely gorgeous, but how about the grille bars extending to the hood sides, and even a little bit on the cowl. Look how they are beautifully rounded at the end, and the way to overlap on the cowl, make the hood look longer than it actually is. Another detail I had never notice before is the side trim t the top of the hood side, below the hood. The 1935-36 Fords never had side trim, but if you look at the image below you will see it makes total sense for it to be placed there.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-detail-02

A close up on the front of the car shows the very small headlights intergrated in the front fenders, the 1936 Cadillac bumper, the oval shaped license plate frame and of course the beautiful shaped and created grille. This photo also shows where the top side trim seen in the previous photo comes from. The original 1936 Ford nose/grille piece was used, and the trim is actually in place of the original 1936 Ford grille surround. The oval shaped license plate cover might have been another DuVall- So Calif. Plating Co. product. The plate is from 1936.
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ccc-socalif-plating-truck-23-wheel-tireThe beautiful patter on the Vogue white wall tires is clearly visible in this photo. It appear that the custom hubcap covering the (most likely) wire wheels is made up of at least two separate pieces, possibly even three, or four if the “Knock off” comes off.
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By looking good at all the photos it appears to me that the photos taken with the midget on the trailer and similar once at the same location where taken in early 1936 when the car was freshly done, and not yet 100% finished. The rear bumper is still unfinished in thos photos, and there are no side view mirrors mounted.


CCC-socalif-plating-truck-10Here the ’35 truck can be seen parked with an older So-California Plating Co. truck, which was based on an 1934 Ford pick up truck, dressed up with DuVall designed chrome hardware.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-16This photo from the rear, and the next one show the finished tubular bumper really well. The bumper guards are the same as from the front bumper, 1936 Cadillac. And it appears that there is just one singe taillights mounted behind the bumper, below the license plate. Most likelely the hitch used for the weekend midget trailer was a removable one. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-15By now the trunk has been decorated with a Modern Plating Service logo. And the top sides have the S0 Calif. Plating Co. teardrop sign added. All the photos taken after the midget trailer photo session show the car with hinge mounted side view mirrors, but left and right. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-14This front angle photo shows the teardrop shaped very small headlights. They are rumored to be Woodlite headlights. But the shape of those does not really matches these units. The low angle gives the car a wonderful aggressive look. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-11A wonderful low angle photo shows the wonderful Art-Doco styling on the car, which goes perfect with the building in the background.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-04 CCC-socalif-plating-truck-03May 1955 issue of Motor Life magazine most likely is the first time the SoCalif. Plating Company truck was ever published. It appears that the photos are taken in 1936. The rear quarter photo clearly shows the 1936 California license plates. It also apears that the car did not yet have the hinge mounted mirrors added when these photos were taken.
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Snapshot taken at a midget race in 1937 at an unknown stadium. Very interesting photo shows the chrome plated hand made hinges for the custom made deck lid. 
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Enlarged section from photo above shows a little bit of the car’s dash, and the deck lid hinges again.
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Updated headlights

Somewhere in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s the car was updated with a set of low mounted, or perhaps molded in headlights. Most likely done by Jimmy Summers. Apparently there have been a few, perhaps as many as three SoCalif Plating Co. trucks with a similar design during the late 1930’s. There is more information about this in the Pat Ganahl Rodder’s Journal article. The article also covers what might have happened to to car, that it might have been in use up to the mid 1950’s and that if might have been seen as late as the mid 1960’s sitting in a shop on Melrose. And that the car¬†might possibly still be around today. I really hope so, and I really hope it will be “found” and shared with the public again.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-12A rather fuzzy photo, actually only a small portion of it, enlarged, shows the truck with the new headlights. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-21The Revs Institute for automotive research has another very interesting photo in their collection showing the front of the 1935 SoCalif Plating truck. This time with the new headlights added. We can see clearly that the original headlights are still in place and the new headlights are not molded into the front fenders. Sadly the photo is not dated. Note that the trunk lid is open in this photo.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-22This is the complete photo taken by Ted Wilson with the SoCalif truck on far right. Judging the other tow cars and race cars on the¬†Atlantic Speedway, South Gate, California,¬†track it looks like this photo is taken in the late 1930’s.
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So Cal Plating 35Parked on the inside of the track with the trunk door open.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-last-photoThis is supposedly the last known photo of the car, taken by Spencer Murray in March 1944 at 5229 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles. It appears that the hubcaps might have been changed, and the white wall tires look to be less tall. And it also looks like the padded top has been recovered with a lighter material. Although the last might only look that way due to a light overexposure. In this photo we can also see the added headlight, which were done by Jimmy Summers. But there still is no real evidence of the rear lights. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-colorized-2At one point I set out to do a colorized photo of the SoCalif. Plating Co. truck. But at the time all I had was a rather poor scan of a to dark copy of the photo. So I did get it started, but never really finished it with any details. Still nice to see some color on the car. It still makes me wonder how spectacular this one must have looked like in color with all the bright chrome.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-02I really love the 1936 photo of the car taken from a bit higher point of view, but always wondered how it would have looked without the trailer behind it. So when I came across the Revs Institute scan of the original photo I had to do some photo shop work to set the car alone, all by itself.. and I think it looks absolutely amazing.
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CCC-duvall-windshield-adJulian Doty took over the patterns and rights to cast the DuVall V-Windshield in 1946. Here is an late 1940’s ad he ran. The windshield was one of the most popular items DuVall designed, and it all started with the SoCalif. Plating Co. truck.
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CCC-36-ford-joseph-hockerOne of the cars most likely inspired by the SoCalif Plating truck was this 1936 Ford owned by Joseph Hocker. DuVall windshield and white padded top. Although the top is not as nicely shaped as the one on the original one. 
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CCC-36-ford-phaeton-otherAnother one based on a 1936 Ford also shows a lot of similarities with the DuVall designed Custom. This version has the running boards removed.
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Over the years several projects have been started recreating, semi recreating or inspired by the So Calif Plating Co. truck have been started. But so far none of them have been finished as far as I know. Back in the 1940’s there were a few 1936 Fords inspired by the SoCalif Plating Co. truck. At least two of them are documented. Hopefully new creations inspired by it will be created, or finished in the near future. This 1935 Ford designed by George DuVall has played a huge roll in the history of the Custom Car. And I think we all have to be very happy that there are so many photos of it taken back in the 1930’s, and that so many have survived and are being shared.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-20Here is an interesting photo showing another So-Cal-Plating “truck” Based on a late 1936 Ford¬†Convertible¬†Sedan. Pat Ganahl’s Rodder’s Journal article showed a rear angle of this car, and the Revs Collection gives us a bit of an front view. There is no top on the car when this photo was taken, and the grille bars look to be a taller and less in number than on the original 1935 based car. The front bumper is also quite different. According the Revs site the guys in the photo are:¬†Dominic Distarce, Sam Hanks and Karl Young.
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Reference and more info

  • Motor Life magazine May 1955
  • Rod & Custom Magazine August 1990
  • American Rodder¬†Magazine 1997
  • Rodder’s Journal Magazine, issue #36
  • Earlier So California Plating Company trucks CCC-Article.

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Fadeaway fenders

 

FADEAWAY FENDERS

 

One of the more extensive ways to Custom Restyle you car is to reshape the front fenders into full Fade-Away units. Creating a more elegant and exclusive looking car.



In our stories on the Custom Car Restyling History I would like to highlight one of the Restyling Techniques that drastically change the appearance of a whole car. A technique not easily adapted, and therefor also not used as often as other techniques. But when it was used, it was most of the time creating a unique improved look for that particular car. The technique is know as the Full Fade-Away fenders, or fadeaways. A restyling technique that was mostly performed in the early days of Custom Restyling up to the early 1950’s. It is also as style we fortunately still see being created on some Custom Cars today. For this article we will focus on the vintage Customs with Fade-Away fenders, but perhaps we will create another one using the more recently created samples. This article is also focused on the early style cars, with separate fenders. From 1948 and up the cars came from the factory with the fenders as part of the main body, and most cars already had a sort of Fade-Away fender line stock from the factory. Others, like the 1949-51 Mercury had a dip in this line, which was made into a Fade-Away line on some customs. This will also not be part of this article…

Several years before the Fade-Away fenders would become part of the Custom Car scene, car designers were already experimenting with the long sweeping lines of front fenders moving back all the way to the rear fenders. This created a much different look and feel than the cars people were used to see back then. Cars with separate front and rear fenders, functional units to cover the tires and keep the body clean. These new long fender lines make a car look much longer and lower, more elegant.  We do not really know who was the first to create these designs for the full fade away fender line, most likely this happened around 1934 for the first time, and became more used from 1936 and up.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-art-ross-34Art Ross created many amazing designs for cars in the 1930’s, 40’s and later. In 1934 he created this full Fade-Away fendered Duesenberg design proposal. (Images from The Art Of Art Ross)
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-alexis-de-Sakhnoffsky-36Alexis de Sakhnoffsky created this wild design in 1936 for a boat tailed v-windshield roadster with flowing Fade-Away fenders.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-bill-mitchell-38Bill Mitchell designed this stunning looking speedster with long, full fade-away fenders in 1938.
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The one-of-a-kind BMW 328 Mille Miglia ‚ÄėBuegelfalte‚Äô was originally built in May 1937 as a standard-bodied car for Rudolf Schleicher¬īs Experimental Department at BMW. In autumn 1939, the car was dismantled at the BMW factory‚Äôs racing division and extensively re-engineered and used as the basis for even more streamlined bodywork in preparation for the 1940 season and the Mille Miglia in particular. To that end, BMW built both an aerodynamic coup√© and this lightweight open roadster. Included in the new body work are wonderful full Fade-Away fenders. More info on this BMW can be found here. (thank you Bert Gustafsson for the tip)

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-bmw1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia ‚ÄėBuegelfalte‚Äô was re-bodied in 1939 and recieved a wonderful streamlined body which included full Fade-Away fenders and fender skirts.
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ccc-fade-away-fenders-1940-alfa-pininfarinaPinninfarina created this stunning Alfa Romeo in 1940 with full fade-away fender and teardrop shaped bubble skirts.
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Another early produced car with the use of full Fade-Away fendered was the 1940 prototype created for the Chrysler Corporation by LeBaron. They named the dual cowl smooth full Fade-Away fendered car the Chrysler Newport. Coachbuilders from Europe where starting to designing and building cars with fade-away fenders as well. Around the same time the first Custom Car builders started to experiment with the fade away fenders also. Harry Westergard, Less Crane and Jimmy Summer were Custom Car pioneers who all get credit from being among the first to create the full Fade-Away fenders on a custom car.




1940 Chrysler Newport by LeBaron

1940 Chrysler Newport dual cowl phaeton, designed by Ralph Roberts from LeBaron and Alex Tremulis and created by LeBaron. It had breakthrough flowing lines with smooth, fluid fenders foreshadow the full envelope styles that would develop years later. Its beautiful, organic shape was subtly accented by¬† the elimination of the visible body seams necessary for all other cars with their bolted-on fenders. The Newport’s hood, deck, doors and fenders were completely smoothed, with no design-interrupting ornamentation. LeBaron’s devotion to a smooth, uninterrupted flow of the body panels extended to integrated rear fender skirts executed in the teardrop shape of the fenders, a flush cover for the top and even recessing the license plate into the deck-lid and covering it with glass. All touches that would later become the standard for many Custom Cars.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-chrysler-011940 Chrysler Newport dual cowl phaeton with full fade-away fenders.
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Documentation

In the early days, when some of the cars were restyled used in this article there where no magazines or books devoted to Customizing. But in 1944 and later the first publications appeared, and in these the Fade-Away fenders restyling technique was mentioned. Dan Post named it “Tack On” fenders, and with his books he most likely has inspired several customizers to add fade away fenders to their car or their customers cars.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-dan-post-bluebookThe Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling showed several Custom Cars with the fade-away fenders, and explained in the text how this was done. The image above shows a spread from the 1951 edition of the Dan Post book, and the technique is called Tack-On Fenders.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-02Another page in the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling showed two photos of an unidentified Convertible with an oddly styled grille and full Fade Away fenders. This car can be seen in all of the Dan Post books. The page also shows a nice side view of the Bob Fairman 36 Ford coupe with Jimmy Summers created fade away fenders. The photo on the right comes from my personal collection. I still have not been able to identify this car from the Dan Post books, no name, not even the brand car used. If anybody knows more, please let me know.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-hop-up-jan-53The Hop Up magazine from January 1953 devoted an three page article on the Fade-Away fenders. Photos and diagrams where used to explain how they could be created. The in progress photos show the 1941 Ford of Frank Monteleon getting full Fade-Away fenders installed at the Barris shop.
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1941 Cadillac ‚ÄúThe Duchess‚ÄĚ

Edward the Eighth, King of Great Britain, abdicated his throne in 1936 to marry the American, Wallis Simpson. The couple was henceforth known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. In 1938, England appointed Edward governor of the Bahamas. Close to the United States, Nassau proved a quick trip to New York City, where the pair kept a suite at the elegant Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue.

During their first stay in late 1941 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where the couple kept a suite, the Windsors received a car, based on a 1941 Cadillac, from one of their society friends, Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the chairman and CEO of General Motors. Delivered in the waning days of old coachbuilding and the Classic Era, ‚ÄúThe Duchess,‚ÄĚ as it became known, was one of the final, truly one-off, coachbuilt Cadillacs, as well as one of the most famous Cadillacs ever produced.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-duchessBeautiful lines of the coachbuilt 1941 Cadillac for the Windsors. The car could be seen in several news paper and magazine articles in the early 1940’s. Perhaps influencing some custom builders?
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Not a single body panel on the Windsors’ car matched any other 1941 Cadillac. The hood, trunk, fenders, fender skirts, roof, and doors were all crafted by hand, and all interior appointments were hand-fitted. The fenders were, and remain, the car’s outstanding feature. Beginning with a crest over the wheels, they extend and fade through the back of the body, forecasting Hooper’s future coachwork on Rolls-Royce. The streamlined appearance was so sufficiently striking that Buick would borrow the basic style of the design for its 1942 production models.

The car‚Äôs custom roofline, which dips between the windows to form a wide center post, would appear on the production 1942 Cadillac Series 60 Special. Other unique exterior features included the Windsors‚Äô ‚ÄúW.E.‚ÄĚ monogram and crown to the rear doors, unique stainless steel rocker moldings and drip rails, blacked out headlight and fog light trim rings, and the deletion of most chrome and excess emblems. On this car, Cadillac‚Äôs iconic Goddess hood ornament was plated in gold.




Info from: MorganMurphy

The Early Customs with Fade-Away fenders

One of the first known custom Fade-Away fender jobs is the 1940 Mercury owned by Butler Rugard. The Mercury was restyled by Harry Westergard when the car was brand new in 1940, It was restyled over a period of time, but we where told that the Fade-Away fenders was one of the first restyling that was done on the car. We do not know where Harry or perhaps Butler got the idea for the Fade-Away fenders from, perhaps they had seen it on some design sketches in a magazine, or perhaps they were just thinking along the same line as these designers, and just thought about ways to make the body on the 1940 Mercury look more streamlined.

The early cars, from the mid to late 1930’s that were used for the first Fade-Away fenders all have very round bulbous fenders. Fenders that perhaps do not really lend themselves to well the full fade away fender line. All of the early attempts show fading fender lines which have a very large radius, caused by the radius of the fender. Most of the early attempts also show that the width of the fade away section remains the same, and the end of the fender sits flush with the rear fender. Later we can see that the customizers started to experiment with slimmer fender extension, that were made narrower towards the rear, leaving the original rear fender line in place. The units that Jimmy Summer offered were of this type and created very elegant lines on the cars they were used. Sometimes the slimmer units were used in combination with chrome or stainless rock shields on the rear fenders. Personally I think that the later, 1941 to ’48 slightly more square fenders lend themselves to even more elegant Fade-Away fenders. The fade-away sections could be made to look a bit more crisp and slim and really made the car look a lot longer.

Another type of Fade-Away fender style we will not go into to deep here is the half fade away. Several early Custom Cars and cars created by the Coachbuilders extended the front fenders but made the panels in such a way that the fender line would fade away in the doors.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-westergard-02Butler Rugards 1940 Mercury is one of the first custom cars we know about with full Fade-Away fenders. Created by Harry Westergard and Les Crane most likely in 1940. More about this Mercury can be read in this CCC-Article.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-37-buick-01Another early Custom using the full Fade Away fender design was this 1938 Buick created for Richard Meade – who attended the fine arts college seen in the background of the photo. This Custom was created between late 1940 and early 1942 in the Los Angeles area. Besides having full Fade-Away fenders the car also has a raked windshield padded top, ’41 Buick taillights, ’42 Buick bumpers, custom hubcaps and teardrop skirts. Richard remembers the car being built by both Jimmy Summers and Coachcraft. The car appears in the earliest edition (1944) of the Custom and Restyle book by Dan Post.
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Jimmy Summers and Fade-Away fenders

Jimmy Summers and Fade-Away fenders have always belonged together. Jimmy was possibly the only Custom builder that ever offered an aftermarket kit for Fade-Away fenders. At least in our research we have not been able to found any other source for these. Jimmy’s product was called Fender Extensions and were specifically made to fit the 1942 to 1948 Chevy bodies. Two types were offered, one for the Aero Sedan and on for the convertible, coupe and sedan body styles. But more than likely these panels ended up on several other brand cars as well.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-01The Popular Mechanics article called They Tailor their own cars from May 1947 showed two very interesting photos of Jimmy Summers working on one of these Fender Extension kits.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-04Jimmy Summers Fender Extensions ad in a 1949 Hot Rod Magazine.
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Jimmy Summers ran this ad for the Fender Extension in the Hot Rod Exposition program book from 1949.
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1936 Ford coupe Bob Fairman – Jimmy Summers
Another very early Custom that had a set of full Fade-Away fenders was a 1936 Ford Coupe owned by Bob Fairman. Bob worked with Jimmy Summers and most likely the two worked together on this car. The top was chopped, the body dropped over the frame and the front and rear fenders raised. The front fenders where reshaped completely to accept 1937 Ford headlights and flow into hand made Fade-Away panel. The Fade-Away panels on this car are separate units that bold on to the main body, just like the kit Jimmy Summers would later sell. We do not have a date when this car was built, but the photo below appears to have 1942 license plates, and the newest parts used are the 1941 Ford bumpers. The Ford is still around today, although in very bad shape, it has been rusted in a yard since 1972. Bob’s 1936 Ford has been published quite a bit in the early publications, and most likely played on important role in the popularity of the style.


CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-03Photo taken in the early 1940’s show the rather bulbous full Fade-Away fenders on Bob Fairman’s 1936 Ford. The new fender lines looks a lot like the fenders used on the Jaguar XK120, but those did not come out until 1948.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-05These photos are from Bob’s 1936 Ford taken in 2009 and 2010. The car had been sitting in a field for almost 30 years. It is even amazing that is has survived this long. The last info we have on it is that the present owner is doing all he can to save it. The Front fenders, not shown in the photo are supposedly stored inside the car. Although its heart braking to see these photos of the car in such a state, it also gives us a great look at how the fender extensions were used.
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1942 Buick first production car with Fade-Away fenders

The 1942 and postwar Buick Roadmaster was longer, lower, wider, and roomier than before, thanks in part to a three-inch-longer wheelbase. The Buicks for 1942 sported a complete restyling, which was highly unusual at a time, when most of Buick’s competitors offered only modest face-lifts of their 1941 designs for 1942.
New restyling included a new vertical-bar grille that would be carried over in modified form through 1954 and, on some two-door models, including both Roadmasters, and the “Airfoil”, front fenders that swept back all the way to the rear fenders. The 1942 Buick Roadmaster was the first production car to feature production Fade-Away fenders. Most other cars from that time could still be considered fat fendered with separate bulbous front and rear fenders. while the new Buick lines included a continuous sloping line of the fade-away from the front to the back of the car added a graceful, flowing appearance. Seeing these new 1942 Buick’s on the roads must have inspired many Custom Car builders during and shortly after WWII.


CCC-fadeaway-fenders-1942-buick

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-06Bob Creasman chopped the top and channeled the body over the frame 4 inches of his 1940 Ford Coupe. In 1948 Creasman fitted his coupe with the full Fade-Away fenders. Notice that the sides of the Fade-Away panels sits flush with the rear fenders, making the fender sections look rather wide, especially when compared with the 1942 Buick pictured above.
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Ayala and Fade-Away fenders

Even though several more shops where known for doing great work on full Fade-Away fenders on Custom Cars, it was Gil Ayala’s shop that was recognized by it for the style, back then, and even today. While the fade away fender extensions created by Jimmy Summers where mostly bolt on units, it was the Ayala’s that were known for the wonderfully smooth fully molded-in version of the fade-away fenders. We do not know when the Ayala’s created the first Fade-Away fenders on their Custom Cars, we do know that Gil added them on his own personal 1940 Mercury in 1949. The shop did at least two more cars with full Fade-Away fenders, but more than likely there were more than that.

CCC-gil-ayala-1940-mercury-05Gil Ayala’s personal 1940 Mercury with full Fade-Away fenders, most likely created using panels from California Metal Shaping to make the work easier. The fenders extensions are blended in with the rest of the body and 1949 Cadillac rear fenders for an ultimate smooth and streamlined look. (1950 photo)
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-ayala-02The Ayala’s also created the fade away fenders on the Jack Stewart Ford, this was done in 1950 and the California Metal Shaping company was called in for help on shaping the panels. (1951 photo)
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CCC_Hank-Griffith-1942_Ford_01Hank Griffith’s 1942 Ford had a set of full Fade-Away fenders created by the Ayala shop. The Ayala’s used a set of 1950 Cadillac rear fenders and two front doors to create the Fade-Away fenders on this car. The new fenders made the car look much more modern, and streamlined. More about this car can be seen in the CCC-Article.
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Barris Kustoms and Fade-Away fenders

The Barris shop has created quite a few custom cars with full Fade-Away fenders. It all started with George Barris his own 1941 Buick Convertible which he bought after his 1936 Ford Over a period of time George restyled the Buick in one of the most amazing looking custom cars of the time. We have not been able to put an excact time on when the car was built, but most likely the fade away fenders were done around 1946-47. The car was completely finished in 1948. We also do not know if George used perhaps the fade away panels of the Buick, which could have been bought from the dealer, or perhaps at the junk yard, or if he hand fabricated the Fade Away panels by himself, or perhaps with the help of the Calfornia Metal Shaping shop. We do know that the car was a huge success, and Georg has mentioned he did several with similar fenders for a few customers.


CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-05Early version of George Barris his 1941 Buick with black wall tires, and cut down 1942 Cadillac grille.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-barris-02This is an very interesting photo of George his 1941 Buick in primer, after he had an accident with the car and after the repaint and some more restyling had been performed. This photo is interesting for many reasons, but especially because a similar styled full Fade-Away Custom can be spotted behind the Barris Compton Ave. shop on the far left side of the photo. This photo was taken in either 1948 or ’49.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-barris-01Another early Barris creation with full Fade-Away fenders was this 1941 Buick coupe done for Var Martin. This side view photo gives us a good look at the shape of the fade aways, which are slightly narrower at the back. The shape of the front fender basically dictated how much dip there would be at the end. Gorgeous lines on this one, who knows what happened to it?
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-decarr-01Bill deCarr build his own personal 1941 Mercury with a set of Full Fade-Away fenders creating one of the most beautiful full Fade-Away customs ever. Bill can be seen her with his freshly primered Mercury at the back of the Compton Ave Barris Shop. Notice how the fade away fender lines looks much slimmer than on the 1930’s models, and how high the rear of the fender extension sits on the body. Almost creating car model lines from cars that would come out the next year.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-04 The Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford had its front fenders raised before the fender extension was created. This rear 3/4 view is perhaps the most attractive for this car.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-westergard-01Harry Westergard created this stunning 1941 Cadillac with full Fade-Away fenderline and 1948 Cadillac rear fenders. The flowing fade away fenders are nice and crisp even though they have been molded to the rest of the body. There is a clear line between the fade-away sections and the rear fender, which create very interesting lines on the car. One of the very best Fade-Away fendered Customs ever done. The car is now owned by Custom Car Collector Kurt McCormic.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-photosSome more samples of Custom Cars with full Fade-Away fenders.Interesting to see is that not only coupes and convertibles recieved the full Fade-Away fender treatment.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-01Not everybody had the talent or money to create full Fade-Away fenders on their Custom Car. So the owner of this mildly customized 1941 Chevy Convertible created the fade-away fender line with paint. (Rik Hoving Collection)
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A close up look at the Fade-Away fenders

One of the reasons why we do not see a whole lot of Custom cars with Fade-Away fenders, from back in the early days, or currently built, is because they are quite complicated to create. The cars to which the fade away fenders are being added, have door hinges never designed to be used with fade-away sections. Creating the fade away section in itself is perhaps not really all that complicated for a body man, but making the door open and close with the new panels added is a different story. The section of the fade away fender located at the front of the door will need to move inboard on the fender section when the door is opened. Therefor this section needs to sit slightly lower than the fender section, or at least the edge needs to fit inside. We have chosen two samples cars to show this section up close. The first one, in bare metal is the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford created by the Ayala’s. While the photo are being made of the unfinished car it gives us a good look of what is needed to make this all work. The second one, the Harry Westergard’s created 1941 Cadillac uses a slightly different, perhaps more elegant way to make the doors open and close. For both and others we have to keep in mind that these are close up photos and the flow of the Fade-Away fenders will look much more natural from a normal distance.


CCC-fadeaway-fenders-ayala-03The fender extensions on the Jack Stewart Ford are created by the California Metal Shaping company and custom fitted by the Ayala shop. Looking up close we can see quite a gap at the line where the front fender ends, and the door extension starts, especially where both meet the rest of the body. Also noticeable is the way the door extension section is folded in a bit to make sure it will fit inside the fender section when the door opens. Keep in mind that a lot of fine tuning still needs to be done on this body.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-westergard-03The door line on the Westergard Cadillac is flowing differently than on the Jack Stewart Ford. The lines look much more factory here. Perhaps the fade away panels from a Buick were used, or perhaps the Jimmy Summers units were custom ordered. The restoration of this car did not reveal any of the secrets on how the panels were created.
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Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury part I

 

THE DICK PAGE STORIES

 

One of my all time favorite custom cars is the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury convertible. A car Jimmy built for himself as a daily drive in 1946. Jimmy drove his Mercury all over the place. Together with his good friend Doane Spencer, who drove his well known 1932 Ford Roadster, with modified DuVall windshield, Jimmy had done the body work on. These two cars must have turn many heads while driving together.



Jimmy Summers was a very talented body man. Besides that he had a great eye for flowing lines, and details as well; a rare combination. Jimmy did most of his custom work in the 1940’s, before the major magazines where around. Because of that, most of his cars were never “properly” published in the magazines back then. Dan Post did use photos of some of his cars, including this 1940 Mercury in his Californian Custom Cars, and his Blue book of Custom Restyling books. But we can clearly state that Jimmy never got the recognition he deserved back then.


CCC_Jimmy_Summers_Merc_Red_01This photo from the Summers family albums was taken in 1946, with Jimmy and his first wife standing in front of the Mercury. This great color photo shows the deep maroon color, and tan Carson Padded Top. It also shows that Jimmy used only white wall tires on the front. They were still rare, shortly after WWII. Hubcaps on this first version of the car are baby moons with trim rings.
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Fortunately for us, Summer’s amazing simple, and stylish 1940 Mercury is still among us. The car was believed to have disappear in South America, and only very few knew it still existed. The Rodder’s Journal did a one page article on the “discovery” of the car in an unknown US location with photos and text by Donn Lowe. Don was, at the time, working on the Harry Bradley designed 1940 Mercury “Afterglow”, that was inspired by Jimmy’s Mercury. Don had done a lot of research on Jimmy’s Merc, got in contact with his family, which ultimately led him to find out the car was still around. And best of all, not even too far from his Oregon home. Now we all know the car is in the safe hands of Dick Page.

Another great thing is that there are quite a few photos of the car, when it was first built – painted maroon, then later in metallic green. Some have been shown before in some publications, others have rarely been published, but will be shown here – and in the next two articles based around Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.


This series of articles is created together with the car owner Dick Page.
Dick Page was good fiends with the second owner of the car Tex Roberts. And Dick is sharing some of his amazing stories Tex shared with him about the car.



The Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury tales.

as told by Dick Page

USAF Col. J, F. “Tex” Roberts bought the 40 mercury from Jimmy Summers in 1950. Many years later Tex retired to Lakewood Washington bringing the famous Mercury with him, and that’s where I first met him.
The year was 1964, he walked into my custom body & paint shop and proceeded to tell me what I was doing wrong…! I liked him right away. Some will say he was a loud mouth bragger… and that’s true. He would denied it of course saying: “It ain’t bragg’n if it’s fact”. There were a lot of facts in his tool box.


CCC_Jimmy_Summers_Merc_Tex_01Tex Roberts with the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury somewhere in South America. This photo shows the Lyon aftermarket hubcaps on wide white wall tires all around. By now the car has been repainted 1947 Buick Green.
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Ever heard of a panhard rod to control side sway? They used to be called Roberts bars, after Tex developed them for early sprint cars. Tex was the smartest man I ever met, and the biggest character by far… He built the fastest drag race and stockcar motors in the area, and made sure everybody with ears knew it. He knew everybody, He called Stu Hilborne at home, and had him dig out the wood patterns from under a bench, and cast me a set of streetable injectors for my Ardun…see what I mean?
The first time I went to Tex’s home shop at the Lakewood country club, sitting next to a white primerd XK 120 Jag roadster (which I could care less about) I was shocked to find the Jimmy Summers, immediately recognizable, 1940 Mercury convertible, parked outside. Covered by a canvas tarp that was past its prime. Tex was just as shocked to find, that a twenty-two year old from Tacoma knew of the car, and some of its history.


CCC_Jimmy_Summers_Merc_Tex_02Another photo taken at the same location shows the wonderful shaped rear of the Mercury. All four fenders were raised when the body was dropped over the frame. Especially the way Jimmy remounted the rear fenders to follow the belt-line and trunk shows what a gifted craftsman and designer Jimmy was.
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The car had been changed some over the years. The headlights were frenched, the door handles removed, and all four fenders where molded to the body. Tex re-upholstered the car in black & white (himself) but that handmade grill was a dead giveaway. It was (’41 GM) ruby maroon for the second time. I was unaware that it had been (’47 Buick) Sherwood green when Tex bought it from Jimmy.
After buying the car, the USAF shipped it around the world, which led to rumors that the car was lost in So. America.
Tex told me that while in south America, he encountered a washed out section of dirt ‘road’.
He was able to obtain help from local men, who cut down small trees, made polls, and carried the car over the breach….wow!


CCC_Jimmy_Summers_Merc_Tex_03Another rear angle view shows the perfect fit and finish of this Mercury. Also interesting, is to see the car with the custom made side windows/frames in the up position.
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I think the later modifications on the car were done by Jimmy and Tex in late ’53, after he returned to California. Tex’s wife, who was a wonderful and supportive lady, told me of spending many hours at Jimmy’s shop, while Tex and Jimmy worked on the car, sometimes she would sit outside and knit baby clothes.

It always bothered me that this wonderful and historic car was sitting under a tarp, so when I was having a shop building put up at my home, and when it began to snow I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I called my friend Sonny Barrett, and asked him to meet me at Tex’s with his race car trailer, and we we told Tex the Merc was coming in from the cold! We placed the car in the center of the slab, and the shop was built around it.
I did some repairs on it where the tarp pitted the trunk lid. Tex installed a Columbia two speed rear end, and we did some other minor work. When Tex wanted me to trim away the lower edge of the body to install chrome side pipes from a van, I refused to alter the car and Tex took it home. We remained good friends. Tex was having some health problems, and I was going to his shop and doing some rough-out for his finish work on port & polish heads.
Tex stripped the car to bare metal avoiding the few leaded areas. He added the hooded mount on the trunk for his SCTA club plaque (the road runners I think). He also added the quad exhaust pipes in the rear pan.

CCC_Jimmy_Summers_Merc_Tex_05This photo was probably taken from the garage roof top and gives a nice view on the plain interior. It also shows the custom made dash inserts. The dash panels were made from light oak wood to go with the color of the rest of the interior.
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Then …Tex died…. Not wanting to act like a vulture, I waited awhile before asking to buy the Merc. When I went to visit his family the car was gone! sold!!
I was crushed. It took me years to find it. The owner was Jerry Jacobs in nearby Puyallup Wa. probably the nicest man on the planet. I traded a ’32 ford tub project (I had 31k in) straight across car for car. Jerry wanted me to work on the ’32, but I had major back problems off and on for ten years. (I had back surgery in 2010)
Jerry moved to Arizona, and I lost track of him for a few years. He came to see me in 2010, and wanted to undo the trade and take the Merc back with him to Arizona.
He wanted to have a Chevy motor./auto trans. installed, and a bright red paint job to make a nice cruzer for him and his wife to enjoy… I wanted to help him get a car to enjoy. I knew my good friend Larry Andren was taking his ’40 Ford to hot august nights the next day to sell.
I suggested Jerry should check out the ’40, and if he liked it, I would buy it for him and take back the ’32 tub project.
Thats what we did… Later Larry bought the ’32 from me.
Jerry Jacobs later sent me wonderful old 1947 to ’53 vintage 8×10 photos of the car, including one with my friend Tex. Those all came with the Mercury when he bought it after Tex had passed away. Some of these can be seen in this article, other will follow in part two which will go more about the car and how it was built.

Go to part two of the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.
Go to part three of the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.

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The Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury part III

 

SUMMERS MERC CURRENT CONDITION

 

This is the third and last part of the series on the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury. In this last article we will show you how the car looked when Dick Page acquired it, and how it looks today, October, 2013.
With special thanks to Dick Page for all his help on these three articles.


By Dick Page


CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-12This photo of the black primered Mercury, sitting on jack stands, was taken in Jerry’s warehouse on the day Dick Page bought it, and took it home. This photo shows the fiberglass 1940 fender skirts that were put on the car by Jerry. The original Buick units were missing. If you look carefully, you can see the double exhausts exiting from the bottom of the roll pan.
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In part one of this series, we told you about a 22 year old Dick Page seeing the Jimmy Summers Mercury for the first time in his live, at Tex Roberts house in 1964. Dick Page was shocked. Such an important car, sitting outside under a tarp, instead of safely sitting in a warm garage, not affected by the elements. Right there Dick decided to transport the Mercury to his brand new garage, thus making sure the car would be saved for the future.

When Dick Page first saw that Mercury it appeared to have the same look as he knew from several publications. But upon close inspection he noticed all the extra work that was done by Jimmy Summers in 1953 and in later years by Tex Roberts. The changes from the version we are familiar with, included molded fenders, molded in headlights. Molded in and smoothed hood peak, trunk mounted club plaque surround which was molded in, shaved door handles, and a few other changes. All this work was done with excellent craftsmanship in metal and lead, and can be considered as just mild updates from the original 1946 version. But for the restoration Dick decided that the car should go back to this 1946 version. So these extra elements will have to go.

Dick Page took the Jimmy Summers Mercury home in 1970. At the time he was building his new home shop, and the car was parked in it to ensure it was save, dry, and well protected. During the mid 1970’s, Tex Roberts came and picked up the Mercury several times. He would work on the car in his own race car shop. Each time he was done with the car, he brought it back to Dick Page. Until the car left the car for the very last time.¬†Tex wanted to add the Columbia two speed rear, and add all new brake lines. But Tex passed away while the car was in his shop. ¬†And once again the Mercury was left in his shop. It was still in black primer guide coat when it was bought by Jerry Jacobs. As far as Dick can tell Jerry never worked on the car, or had work done on it by somebody else.


CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-13Over the years, several custom car fans have searched for the Jimmy Summers Mercury, hoping they would find a lead that will end up in finding this custom car icon. This half page article, trying to generate leads that would lead to find the car, was ran in an early 1980’s rod magazine. Dick Page saw the ad, but never told the people looking for it, the car was sitting in his basement in relatively perfect condition.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-RC-PosterIn August 1990 Rod & Custom magazine listed their Top 20 all-time Rods & Customs in a large centerfold poster. The list was conducted by Pat Ganahl, and the number one custom car on the list was…. the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury. On the poster Jimmy’s Mercury was positioned below the Doane Spencer 1932 Ford… Close together like the real cars were a lot in the 1940’s.
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The whereabouts of the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury, have always been a kind of ‘Worlds Best Held Secret’, for many decades. Few insiders knew the car was still around, and in relatively good condition. Even less people knew who owned the car, or in which state it was. But the insiders were asked not to talk about it, until the time was right.

The time was right in 2005, when the Rodder’s Journal did a one page article on the Jimmy Summers Mercury in issue #28. The article included photos that Donn Lowe had taken at Dick Pages basement, while researching the Summers Mercury for a project he was working on. Pat Ganahl was responsible for the story. This was the first time the public could read about the car, and how it had survived. It however did not tell the current owners name.

CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-TRJThe one page article in the Rodder’s Journals #28.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-11Another photo taken in Jerry’s warehouse the day Dick picked it up.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-01 The Mercury was temporary stored at Dick’s friend¬†Denny Halls place when this photo was taken. The Carson top structure is all there, but the original padding is long gone. This photo shows the reshaped rear wheel openings.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-N-04This photo shows the molded in front and rear fenders, as well as the shaved door handles.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-N-02The two photos above give us a better look at the original top bows and wire mesh created by the Carson Top Shop.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-N-05The photo above shows the raised floor, the reshaped inner fender panels that made sure there was enough travel room for the rear wheels and the inboard gas filler. The photo also gives us a nice look at the front of the top.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-07The molded in club plaque surround, and two holes drilled into the trunk for mounting the plaque.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-10Here we can see the amount the body was dropped over the frame.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-03The black primer was removed from the front fenders/headlight section to take a closer look at how the headlights were molded in back in 1953.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-04Inside the headlight Dick found some old paint. The dark blue paint is actual black primer, on top of that several coats of the second time the car was painted ruby maroon.  When Dick saw the car the first time the car was in white primer which can also be seen here.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-05Dick had some help removing the molded in headlights.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-06The back side reveals a round shaped tube and hand shaped sheet metal to fill the large hole on the original fender opening.
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CCC-J-Summers-40Merc-P3-N-03Work in progress. Removing the lead from the molded headlights, as well as the molded in and smoothed hood peak to get all this to 1946 specs. Notice how nice the hand made grille opening is finished. And if you look good you can see the high position of the frame rails on the right of the grille opening. This photo also shows that the bumper mounts on the frame needed to be lowered to make them line up with the holes in the fenders.
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Different paint colors on the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury

  • 1946 Jimmy Summers build the car and paints it 1941 GM Ruby Maroon
  • 1947 Jimmy repainted the car in Sherwood Green a 1947 Buick color
  • 1953 Jimmy updated the car for Tex Roberts. Most likely he repainted it in Ruby Maroon again that time
  • We know the car was maroon for a secant time, but the exact year it was repainted is unsure.
  • Tex Roberts stripped the car back to bare metal and added white primer to protect the body metal from the elements. Not sure when this was done, but by 1964, when Dick saw it for the first time the car was in primer.
  • Early 1970’s Dick paints the car in black primer, which is still on the car today.

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Go to part one of the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.
Go to part two of the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.


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Sources and more info:

  • Dan Post Blue book of Custom Restyling
  • Popular Mechanics, May 1947
  • Rod & Custom magazine, August 1990
  • The Rodder’s Journal, Issue #28

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The Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury part II

 

THE SUMMERS MERC IN DETAIL

 

This is the second part of the three part series on the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury. In this article we will focus on the car a little more. Dick Page has owned the Summers Mercury for many years now, he knows the car probably better than anybody else. In this series of articles he is sharing as much material as he could find or remember.


By Dick Page


CCC-Summers-Merc-Color-KW-01-WThis unique color slide of the first version of the Jimmy Summers Mercury is part of the Kevin Wright Collection. This photo was taken in 1946, and shows the first moon disk hubcaps on painted steel wheels.
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The Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury Convertible is one of the most beautiful custom cars ever designed, and constructed. The car is so simple in its appearance, yet there is a lot of little body work done to enable this car to look so good. The proportions of the chopped windshield, the sectioned hood, and raised fenders are all in perfect balanced. All these elements give the car that much desired Long and Low look, the car designers of the 1930’s and 40’s where after. The removal of the running boards and the addition of the stainless rock shield on the rear fenders, give this car the look and feel of the coach built, or European sports cars from the late 1930’s and mid 1940’s.

The body was channeled six inches over the frame, and the rear inner wheel tubs were widened to prevent tire rub on rough roads. All four fenders were raised on the body. The top of the rear fenders were raised up to the lower edge of the trunk lid, resulting into a nice flow into the belt line. The front fenders were raised 2 3/4 inches, so the bottom of the fenders are now at the same level as the bottom of the rest of the body. The front fender wheel openings were enlarged 1 1/2 inches for tire clearance on sharp turns. All four wheel openings were edged inside with 3/4 inch tubing. In the front this tubing extended to the other side fender, crossing under the grill. This stiffens and adds support to the front fenders which were leaded to the re-shaped cowl.

The fender skirts are ’41 Buick not “tear drop”. The Buick skirt followed the shape of the Mercury fenders perfectly. Under the skirts the rear wheel openings were slightly enlarged to ease tire changes.

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The hood was trimmed (but not sectioned) taking 3 inches off the bottom edge. The lower edge was then folded over with hammer ‘n dolly, for a finished edge. All the work here was metal finished, no lead was used here.

Jimmy decided to remove the stainless side trim, since it would not fit in its stock location over the rear fenders, after those were raised. He would have to shorten the side trim to make them work on the reshaped body, and that would not have improved the long and low look at all. However Jimmy kept the art deco styled Mercury handles, and locks on the doors. These give the car just the right amount of chrome to keep the sites interesting for the eye.


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Brackets with offset holes allowed the ’41 Lincoln bumper to mount in the stock holes in the front fenders. The rear bumper is also a 1941 Lincoln unit, but with a custom made center that contains the license plate, flanked by ’41 Ford tail lights.
The grill is roughly shaped after a 1940 Buick grille, all done by hand, and made of 1 inch wide, 1/4 inch thick steel strap. Once the grille was all welded, the welds were ground filed, and sanded smooth before the whole units was chrome plated.
The windshield is chopped 2 1/2 inches and the Carson Top Shop created the Padded Top which they covered it tan, That specific colour harmonized much better with the maroon paint job.


CCC-Summers-Merc-BW-DP-07-WSadly, we only have this one, rather poor, photo showing the interior of Jimmy’s 1940 Mercury. It does show the door upholstery pattern, as well as the very heavy stuffed front section of the seat bottom.
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The interior of this beautiful car was as special as the rest of the car. The top covered in tan Hartz fine grain canvas, had a dark brown broadcloth headliner to match the dark brown carpet trimmed in light brown edging. The late Doane Spencer told Dick Page about the leather interior. It was done by a Russian craftsman they called “laddie” (short for Vladimir, Dick thinks) Doane said they would go to his place, were the sinks would be filled with skins soaking for a project.

Laddie was located in Hollywood,and according to Doane Spencer, he did the finest leather work on the best cars in the ’40’s . Laddie upholstered cars for movie stars, coach-, custom- and hot rod builders of those day. The pleats on the hand-made plywood seat bases, were liberally stuffed for comfort, an extra-large roll under the knees, and at the neck, insured pleasure for all. Even for the six foot Jimmy Summers. The setback of the seats provided good leg room for driver, and front seat passenger. The thin front seat backs, also made from plywood, gave extra leg and knee room for the rear seat passengers.

As you would expect, the door panels were very different from stock also. The top portion was flat leather, normal for those days, but the center panel was stitched in un-padded pleats in a curving design, that started above the window crank handle, and dropped away to about 6 inches above the lower carpeted kick panel that fits to, and makes a seal against the carpeted panel, that covers the frame sides, and reduces road noise and drafts.

The dash had light oak wood panels on the glove box door, center and far left dash end. All door and window garnish-mouldings were chrome plated.

CCC-Summers-Merc-BW-DP-03-WCCC-Summers-Merc-BW-DP-04-WJimmy showing the rear bumper center, which he hand made to fit the 1941 Lincoln bumper ends. The shaped round bar follows the shape of the license plate, and next to the plate we can see the 1941 Ford taillights. Also very interesting in this photo, is that apparently Jimmy Summers had a name tag that he added to this, and possibly other cars he built. If you look carefully on the bottom of the trunk on the right side, behind the right bumper guard, you can read the letters “MMERS” in a fancy Art Deco font. This name tag can be seen in a few other photos as well, but none of the others show it this well.
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When Jimmy Summers built this car he had an every day driver in mind. Powered by a strong running Mercury V8, it was no sled, and certainly not a lead sled, as very little lead was used in its construction. Absolutely nothing was done to reduce ride, handling or drivability. Ground clearance of the car is rather good, as the running gear is still at factory height from the road.
Doane Spencer and Jimmy used to take long distance trips in this car, frequently joined by Spencer’s 1932 Ford Roadster. They would stop at Ford dealerships when money got low, Jimmy would do body work and Doane mechanical work for a week to raise some money, and then the went on the road again.

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Over the years, the car has undergone many small changes, which helps identify when various photos were taken. The first hubcaps were the true “baby moons”, they were more pointed than today’s. The second set of hubcaps were a set of much flatter 1940 Ford hubcaps with the Ford letters removed, and flipper bars added. The third set of hubcaps where Lyon’s aftermarket caps. These Lyon’s were put on the car after Jimmy painted it green

The radio antenna also made its appearance in ’47, when the car was painted ’47 Buick Sherwood Green.
The car under went more changes in ’53 – including frenched headlights, set in license plate at the rear and molded hood center piece – All work done by Jimmy Summers. The car was then painted Ruby Maroon for the second time.


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Dick Page tells: “in the late 50’s, Tex Roberts had Jimmy remove the interior door handles, and install those Hugh 6 volt GM starter solenoids. Tex had also installed a new black and white interior, and did not retain inside door handles. One fine day Tex, and his wife Herta on their way to dinner, dressed in their Sunday best in the parking lot of the officers club when… you guessed it, the relays or something went on strike… Well, Tex could never fit through the chopped side windows, Herta could …but not in a dress. So the rear zip-out back window flap of the Carson top was pressed into service. First Tex squeezed out, then caught Herta as she slid down the trunk lid. She made sure he installed emergency pull- cables for door latches starting the very next day.”


Sadly the Tex Roberts scrap book which hold a tremendous treasure of photos, and information on the car is lost.

CCC-Summers-Merc-BW-DP-09-WThis nice photo from 1947 shows Jimmy’s Mercury sitting next to a stock 1940 Mercury Convertible. What a huge difference.
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Go to part one of the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.
Go to part three of the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.

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