Overman Lincoln to be Restored

 

OVERMAN LINCOLN to be RESTORED

 

The Valley Custom Shop restyled Ina Mae Overman 1952 Lincoln surfaced around 2006. In April 2018 the Custom was shipped to Manns Restorations for a full Restoration.


In early April 2018 we received an email from Larry Gesiakowski, that the Ina Mae Overman, Valley Custom Shop restyled 1952 had found a new home, and was set out to be restored by Manns Restorations in St Louis. We know it must have been very hard for Larry to part with the Valley Custom Shop Lincoln, since he had looked forward to do a complete restoration on the car himself in his own WGM Auto shop in Chicago, Illinois. Larry had the plan to do the restoration ever since he bought the car back in 2008, but sometimes life just gets in the way, and plans have to be adjusted along the way. The car had been in very good hands with Larry, and it was stored indoors, and well taken care off. But Larry also knew that it really needed to be restored. So for some time the car had been offered for sale.

The new owner plans to do a full restoration to the final gold version created by the Valley Custom Shop. This is the most logic version to restore the car back to,since all the modifications done to the car as it sits now was done by the Valley Custom Shop crew, and it would be a shame to take off some of that work to turn it back to the earliest version. The new owner selected Manns Restorations to do the restoration work. Manns has recently done an absolutely beautiful job restoring the Sam Barris 1950 Buick for Kurt McCormick, and at the moment they are working on the Dick Fowler, Barris Custom Shop created 1938 Ford Coupe, and they also have the Barris Jim Seaton 1955 Chevy for an overhaul in the shop.

We will be following the restoration process at the Manns Restoration Shop on the Custom Car Chronicle Forum, and update with photos and news as often as we can. For more information and photos of the history of the Ina Mae Overman 1952 Lincoln, check out the Three Part Story we did on the car a few years ago.

Loading the Lincoln into the Manns Restorations trailer at Larry Gesiakowski’s shop.
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The three versions of the Overman Lincoln, the last version, painted gold, is how the car will be restored to again.
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Arrived safely at the Manns Restoration Shop in Saint Louis.
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Original photos of how the restored car will look again.









Follow the restoration process on the CCC-Forum









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Ray Vega 1938 Ford

 

RAY VEGA 1938 FORD

 

Especially because of the 1952 Hop Up Magazine cover, the Ray Vega 1938 Ford sedan Convertible is one of the best known Valley Custom Shop created Custom Cars.



The Ray Vega 1938 Ford was created in 1951-52 by the Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen at their Valley Custom Shop. The car was based on an older style car for the time, and over a period of time restyled into a wonderful Classic Custom. A full Custom that retained a lot of the sharp details and chrome details in a time that shaving and molding were the trend of the day. The perfect blend of ’38, ’40 and ’47 Ford parts show the creativity and sense of style the Valley Custom Shop became known for at its very best. A Classic Custom was born, and the beautiful full color photo on the May 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine made is one of the all time favorite and best known Valley Custom Shop created Customs. Fortunately the car has survived, and has been restored with some personal touches by Tony Handler who has owned the car since the early 1960’s.




Before the team at the Valley Custom Shop would create a masterpiece of this 1938 Ford 4-door convertible it was first restyled by Art Williams of Burbank, California. Art sold the unfinished project to another Burbank resident, Ray Vega before he moved out of Burbank. Ray had heard many good things about the Valley Custom Shop in Burbank, so he took it to this shop to see if they could finish the work on the ’38, and create his dream Custom for him.


The Ray Vega 1938 Ford on the cover of the May 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine… a work of art. Both the car and the cover design.
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Ray bought the ’38 Ford partially finished as a basically stock bodied custom in 1951. The majority of the work done to the car was performed at the Valley Custom Shop. The body of the ’38 Ford was channeled a full 5 inches over the ’38 Ford frame, allowing the body to sit nice and low, but still have all the body handling of an original car. The front fenders, hood and hood sides were removed and replaced with the front of an 1940 Ford Deluxe. Including part of the cowl. To make the ’40 Ford front fenders work with the older body, as well as with the 5 inch channel the fenders were raised 5 inches and the hood was sectioned the same amount.

Carson Top Shop Ray VegaMy personal favorite angle on the Ray Vega Ford is this rear quarter view. Everything flows so wonderfully together, and has been designed like it should have come from the factory this way. The heavier ’47 Ford bumpers suit the car very well, and despite they are mounted 5 inches higher compared to the lower body line, they still look perfectly in line with everything else.
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The hood was welded together (stock 1940 hoods are made of two separate half’s which are bolted together in the middle and the seam is hidden by a stainless strip.) to become a single unit. The center trim piece was removed and a nice subtle peak was added. The belt-line on the sides of the ’40 Ford hood did not match the cowl of the ’38 Ford, so it was completely hammered out, for a much smoother look. With the front fenders now raised up into the their new location, the lower rear section of the front fender had to be extended with 5 inches, to compensate for the fenders new height, compared to the running boards. They used a second set of front fenders to add this extra 5 inch and then they replaced the stock ’38 running boards with a set of ’40 Ford running boards to perfectly blend the ’38 and ’40 ford parts together.
The ’38 Ford rear fenders remained in the stock position. And were later outfitted with FoMoCo aftermarket teardrop fender skirts. The stock taillights were replaced with low mounted 1941 Studebaker units.

This Hop Up magazine photo shows how nice the chrome beading looks around the rear fenders, enhancing the shape of the fender, the fender skirt and the side trim. the ’41 Studebaker taillight were mounted low of the rear fenders, just above the ’47 Ford bumpers. The reshaped to fit ’49 Chevy license plate cover makes it all look like it belonged that way.
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Close up of the rear of the car with the FoMoCo teardrop skirts, just the right amount of white wall tire showing underneath it, the beautifully shaped Carson padded top. It also shows that the rear bumper is sitting higher than the lower edge of the rear fender.
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Beautiful look at the modified 1940 Ford hood. How it was sectioned to fit the higher position of the ’40 Ford front fenders, hoe it was made into one piece with the peak added to the center, which matches the windshield divider perfectly. Not the special tarp that was made to cover the rear portion of the interior.
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To make sure the lowered car could still be driven as a daily driver with only a little more effort than a regular car, the Valley Custom Shop crew decided to keep the bumper mounts in the stock position compared to the frame, which was 5 inches higher compared to the bottom of the body due to the channeling.¬† Doing this had 3 advantages; 1 it allowed the car to enter much steeper drive ways due to more space in front and behind the fenders. 2 It protected the body much better from other cars with regular height bumpers. 3 the car looked less low than it was, making sure the cops did not pick it out that easy to ticket it for being too low. The stock bumpers were replaced with more modern and bulbous 1947 Ford unit, including their bumper guards. At the rear a ’49 Chevy license plate surround was modified to fit the Ford bumper.

The ’38 Ford windshield was chopped 3 inches, and the side window frames were treated the same way. All exterior door handles as well as the one on the trunk were removed for the desired smooth look. On the inside the ’38 Ford dash was replaced with a ’40 Ford Dash, the steering column, which was chrome plated, and wheel from the ’40 were also used. The finished body work was primed and the team at Valley Custom Shop painted the car in a deep Ruby Maroon paint, including the dash

Ray Vega showing the car to a lady friend.
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So far this has been the only photo we have been able to find of the Ray Vega Ford exhibited at an indoor show. this photo taken by a Life magazine photographer was taken at the 5th Hot Rod Show, held in the Los Angeles National Guard Armory on April 24-27, 1952. Interesting to see is that the doors of the car were opened, to show off the beautiful leather interior.
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Ray Vega was also invited in one of the Valley Custom Shop created car gatherings. Notice that both cars in the front had similar aftermarket hubcaps… one of the Valley Custom Shop trademarks.
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Parked behind the sectioned Ron Dunn 1950 Ford Coupe.
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A closer look at the front shows the place 5 inch higher ’40 Ford front fender. The rear of the front fender was extended down 5 inches to fill the gap to the Running board. The running boards were replaced with 1940 Ford units to nicely integrate the ’38 and ’40 components. The cowl and hood sides were modified with the belt line removed for an more modern look.
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Then the car was taken to the Carson Top Shop for the white padded top, custom made to fit the 3 inch chopped windshield which gave the car a beautiful low, and elegant classic look. For when Ray wanted to drive the car with the top off, they fabricated a canvas tarp in matching material to cover and protect the rear seat. After the body had been channeled over the frame 5 inches the seat tops were now higher than the belt-line, so the base of the seat was cut down three inches to solve this problem. The door garnish moldings were chrome plated. Ray’s mother hand-tooled natural brown oak tanned Mexican leather sections to be used on the seat tops to give the car a very luxurious feel. The interior was then completely upholstered in the same natural brown leather in wide tuck & roll pattern at the L & L Upholstery shop in Glendale, Ca. A shop the Valley Custom Shop used frequently on their car. The end result was an really spectacular interior, and very different from anything else created at the time.

Finishing touches on the car were added, including wide white wall tires with after market ribbed hubcaps fitted to 16″ wheels. Those hubcaps are a Valley Custom trademark, and they were used on many of the cars coming out of this shop. In contrast to a lot of the full custom cars created at the time, Ray’s ’38 Ford did not have fully molded fenders, instead they used chrome beading to finish the fender to body gap. Another touch that made Ray’s Ford look very elegant, and Classic.

The stunning photo from the Hop Up Cover showing the hand tooled leather interior and how its color wonderfully contrasted with the Ruby Maroon paint.
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From the Hop Up magazine article comes this photo showing the beautifully created interior with the hand tooled seat tops created by Ray’s mother. It also shows the chrome plated garnish moldings, and chrome plated ’40 Ford steering column.
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Close up of the hand tooled natural brown oak tanned Mexican leather.
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L & L stitched the hand tooled leather together with the rest to create the beautiful and classic interior in Ray’s Ford.
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Ray owned the car for some time after it was finished and entered it in a few show, where it did very well. The highlight for Ray, as well as for the Valley Custom Shop concerning this ’38 Ford was it was on the cover of the May 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine in full color, and inside with a 3 page feature in beautiful sepia. Personally I feel that this May 1952 cover of Hop Up Magazine is one of the most stunning Custom Car cover ever done. I really wish that the original color slide taken by Jerry Chesebrough would surface again, and be used in a modern publication or online so that we can see the cars real color.

Ray’s Ford was pretty low, as this side view shows, but the fact that the bumpers were still in the stock position on the frame, and not dropped 5 inches to match the channeling made the car appear much higher from the front and rear. Take a good look at the beautiful shape of the Carson Top.
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This front 3/4 view shows the effect of the bumper left in stock position on the frame, but 5 inches higher compared to the body (due to the channeling). It makes the car look sectioned from this angle. The ’47 Ford bumpers look so good with the car. And the peak on the hood adds just enough sharpness to the smoothed hood.
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New owners

After some time Ray sold the car but it was kept like it was by the new owner. At some point after 1957 some sailors were driving the car in Palmdale, California and wrecked it pretty bad on the front left. It was so badly damages that the car ended up in a wrecking yard in Pearblossom (Hwy 138) near Elmo. Tony Handler found the Ray Vega ’38 Ford in the same wrecking yard in the mid 60‚Äôs. The car was mostly there, even some of the tooled leather interior was still there. The rear fenders had been modified to accept large and wider rear tires, indicating the car was used at the drags at one point.

Pat Ganahl took this photo of the Vaga Ford when Tony Handler owned it in the early 1970’s. A lot of work had already been done on the car, but it would taken to around 2014 before the car was completed.
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In 1970 the car still had the cut out rear fenders, and was even running the tall slick rear tires. The bumpers are missing, and the license plate was mounted on the trunk.
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The damage that was done to the front left side of the car in the later part of the 1950’s was completely fixed by the time John Williamson took this photo in 1970.
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Restored

Tony Handler worked on the car at his shop over the years, planning to do a full restoration. And make some personal updates at the same time. From the beginning he planned on doing the car in all black. In the late 1970’s Tony had the car back on the road, in primer, still with the cut out rear fenders, no rear bumper and a set of nerf bar bumpers on the front, wire wheel and black wall tires. It would take Tony several more decades to get the car all completed, and in 2014 he took it to the Grand National Roadster Show when it was nearly completed. The Padded top was still missing, but the next year he would return, and now the car was all completed.

Tony had updated the car with a few personal touches, or perhaps we should say backdated. The tan hand tooled interior was to far gone to be restored, so he had to replace it. At one point he decided that the car would become all black, so the interior was also redone in black. And so was the padded top, once white, now completely redone in black giving the car a completely different look. Tony also added a set in license plate in the trunk, replaced the ’40 Ford headlights with thinner ’39 Ford bezels. And¬† replaced the ’47 Ford bumpers with thinner ’40 Lincoln units. The completely restored body was painted a super deep high gloss black.

It appears to me that Tony had backdated the car, because that is what I feel with the version Tony has created with this car. Almost like an earlier version of the car created in the early 1940’s, with the thinner Lincoln bumpers, and the set in license plate. It almost looks like the car, the way it looks now, is a pre Ray Vega version… a version that never excited.

I was extremely excited when Jeff Neppl send me some photos from the 2014 GNRS set up day showing the almost finished Ray Vega  1938 Ford at the show. I had heard the car would be at the show, painted black, and it looked superb. Although I still had hoped a little bit that the car would have been restored back to how we all know it best, from the 1952 Hop Up Magazine cover. Still it is amazing the car survived and has been restored and reworked, perhaps to an earlier version of the Ray Vega Ford.
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New for this version of the car are the set in license plate in the trunk, the modified 1940 Lincoln bumpers, the flush fender skirts, ’39 Ford headlight bezels, all black paint and new interior.
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The 1940 Ford steering wheel was replaced with an ’39 Ford Banjo steering wheel with matching black painted column. The new all black interior does have a nice vintage feel.
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Later the padded top was finished and added to the car. The padded top was, just as the rest of the car done all in black.
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The next year GNRS the all black padded top was finished and the car was now completed.
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Tony added flush skirts to the new version of the ray Vega Ford.
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New black interior and black headliner in the padded top.
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Original show card for the Ray Vega ’38 Ford.
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The John Williamson Stories

John Williamson has been a huge fan of the Ray Vega 1938 Ford since 1954 when he was around 12 years old. He has been trying to acquire the original car for many years, and when this failed he decided to build a semi clone of it, which is currently underway. Lets take a look at a few stories John shared with us about the Ray Vega Ford.

“When I was 12 or 13 two guys brought the car to my Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga California. It was in perfect shape like the color shot on the May 1952 Hop Up cover. The guys were older Seniors sitting real low and both had Rayban sun glasses on; Mike Burgman and Mike Fitsgerold, for me it was the COOLEST THING I ever saw! Those guys that car at that time when cars were the most important thing to kids it was around 1954. Mike Burgman and some others would cruise the school parking lot in it, which is where I got hooked on it. The School was Verdugo Hills High School (VHHS) in Tujunga Ca. It was pretty notorious, some kids in the OWLS Car Club once stole the Hirohata Merc from the Oasadena car lot and took it to school. They got caught and the car was returned to the car lot owner where the current owner bought it. The guy who took it was Merrell Morland an OWL.”

“After that the car sat in Mike Bergmans front lawn for a long time maybe a couple of months and it was near the school on the street I had to walk to get to school so I’d stop and hang on the fence and look at it almost every morning dreaming of how cool it’d be to own it drive it and get in the back seat with my girl and make out. I didn’t even have a girl yet I was so young, it was just something to dream about. About 1956 or 57 I was with a friend Tom Hutton and we went out to his Dads house in Reseda to visit and the car was sitting there under a tree out in the weather being stored. Toms dad was a policeman in Hollywood and we were going to see him to ask him to help us get out of a scrape we were in so I wasn’t so focused on the car but I knew that was it.”

“20 Years later I went to the first or second Throttlers Picnic at Val Halla Park in Burbank and there was the car running and driving but looking bad. I tried to buy it but Tony was not interested in selling it, he told me that he bought it for $7 from a junk yard in Palmdale California. Later I was talking to someone who was a friend of Tony’s and that guy gave me Tony’s phone no. and I’d call and try to buy it every couple of years.”

“Years later in the 80’s I worked with Clay Jensen one of the two Valley Custom Shop guys who built the car originally and he was so nice to share all his pictures with me in a 3 ring binder he had. The Hop Up black and white photos were in there along with all the others of cars he and Neil Emory built.”

The first time in many years John saw the Ray Vega Ford again was in 1970 at the Throttlers Picnic at Val Halla Park in Burbank. The car looked pretty rough, but most of it was still there.
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“I got into 36 and 37 Cords and bought a truck load of Cord stuff from two old retired ladies in Pasadena. Several engines, transmissions, front drives, fenders and a hood for $400. It took me 2 or 3 trips in my 50 Chevy Pickup to bring all the stuff home. I had bought a burned Cord and a second Cord with no running gear and was working to put those cars together when I found a nice Cord for a steal price and bought it so I had a good Cord Custom Beverly that I was driving and I decided to advertise my extra Cord stuff in the Recycler news paper. Tony called me to ask about the Cord stuff because he was fixing one up for his girlfriend Margot. When they got to my house I recognized him and tried to trade him all my Cords for the tub and again he said no, he was going to keep it. That was very dumb of me but I was just nuts for the tub.”

“About 2010 I went to see Ray Vega at one of his restaurants we made an appointment to see him and my friend Tony Velloza and I went and took Ray a copy of Pat Ganhal’s The American Custom Car book, so he could see how important his car was. Ray was a very big guy in Nevada politics and was real nice to visit that day. He told us that his ’38 tub was the only Custom car or Hot rod he ever owned and that his Mom who had a restaurant a on Olvera St in L.A. had hand carved the seat backs and bottoms in a traditional pattern that was used on Mexican purses. They are still being sold there as traditional Mexican purses today.”

“I got an estimate from a lady who does that leather carving now and she told me to do 2 seat tops it would be $1500, that was about 10 years ago. The next time I saw the car Tony had finished it. I had been telling Tony that I was working on a new tub that would be like his Original Ray Vega car but he had more resources and by now he has finished Ray’s car…. I’m still working on mine and am happy to be able to drive it after about 5 years of working to build it from parts and pieces. I have the Ruby Maroon Paint to paint it with.”

John Williamson’s 1939 Ford based project that will be a tribute to the Ray Vega 1938 Ford.
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Special thanks to John Williamson and Gary Emory.


(This article is made possible by)

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Joe Brenner 41 Merc

 

JOE BRENNER 41 MERC

 

The Valley Custom Shop restyles the perfect mild custom 1941 Mercury 4-door Sedan for Joe Brenner.



This article was originally created in November, 2015, and more material was added in May, 2017 after we got in contact with Joe Brenner who supplied the Custom Car Chronicle with some very interesting never before seen photos and information about the history of the car.

The Valley Custom Shop restyled 1941 Mercury four door sedan for Joe Brenner has been one of my all time favorite mildly Customized four door sedans. This mildly restyled Mercury appeared in the February 1958 issue of Rod & Custom magazine, which happend to be among the first 10 copies of old R&C magazines I ever found. Those 10 magazines was all I had as far as old magazines and books for several years back in the late 1980’s. So every car inside those magazines is really special to me. But this 1941 Mercury would have most likely been very special to me no matter what. I just really like the wonderful simple lines of the stock 1941 Mercury, any¬†body style, and especially after the Valley Custom Shop was finished with enhancing the beauty of it.


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Everything about Joe’s Mercury is subtile, yet very stylish. Enhancing the already beautiful lines of the 1941 Mercury the Valley Custom Shop started with.
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For a long time¬†this R&C article was the only thing I had ever found out about the car, as well as Joe Brenner. I had never seen any other photos of the car, not at any car shows, or in any private collections. While browsing the¬†Getty Images¬†The Enthusiast Network¬†stock photo¬†site¬†I came across a series of photos of Joe’s Mercury I had never seen before. They clearly come from the R&C photo-shoot, taken at the same location, but they were never used in the final article. I have added them to this article. And some time after I added the photos Joe Brenner contacted us, and share some more info about the Mercury and the history on it.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-00-rcThe February 1958 issue of Rod & Custom had a two page article on Joe’s Mercury. Apparently the car with a very 1940’s look and feel was still considered magazine material in 1958 when Customizing had become way more wild than we can see on Joe’s car.
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1941 Mercury 4 door sedan

by Joe Brenner

I was always an extremely visual person. No matter if it was a car, a woman, or a banana, I always chose the best-looking one, the one most pleasing to my eyes, and then hoped all of their other traits and qualities equaled their appearance.

One day, a highschool chum and I were walking along a Burbank street looking at the passing cars. He asked which kind of car I liked. I confessed that none of them really turned me on. Just then a ’41 Merc sedan drove by. I was immediately struck by the look of its long pointy hood rising majestically between two symmetrical grills. (If I am not mistaken, ’41 Merc hoods are nine inches longer than ’41 Ford hoods). I loved the rounded look of the car’s back. And to my mind, those bumpers were the best looking bumpers ever made. Not too fat. Not too thin. They had a simplicity to them that was pure genius. As I was later to learn they were the last Ford car to have spring steel bumpers. And all of a Merc’s trim was made of stainless steel. I resolved then and there to get one.

I found a fairly bedraggled Merc in Santa Monica. It needed lots of work, anyhow I purchased it. Nothing special about it. Rag barrel interior. My parents approved as now, every day, I could take my siblings to school seven miles away.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-01-rcThe R&C showed a small snapshot of the Mercury Joe had found in the used car lot. He paid $345.- for the car in 1951.
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The Merc in the early stages with trim eliminated from the top of the hood and nose, and hood side strips in the process of being shortened.
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“White primer was once all the rage and here is a sample of that idiocy.”
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Then for a time, the Merc was covered in red oxide primer. Some other shop made a modest peak to the hood which flattened out as the peak ran aft. Also little peak, if any, on the nose piece.
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Truck was shaved,door handles removed and long skirts added.
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Several years later, I wanted to build a hot flathead Merc engine. In the process of taking the heads off a junkyard engine, I managed to break 24 (Yes 24) studs off flush with the block. The busted off studs were so rusted in, an easyout couldn’t budge them. So having infinite patience, I drilled the largest hole I could into the center of each of the studs. Then with a tiny grindstone in an electric drill, I ground away all of the rest of the stud until I could see a fine black coiled line, the back side of the threads. Then using a pointed tool, the rest of the threads could be broken off piece by piece and the result was that i had a perfectly clean undamaged block once I ran the correct tap through it to clean up the threads.


I then sent the block out to C & T Automotive (Don Clark and Clem Tebow) in North Hollywood to have it bored out and a new crank and pistons installed. They bored the cylinders 30 thousanths of an inch over 3 3/8th inches and that coupled with a 4 1/8″ throw crank, made a 300 cubic inch flathead. (The original Merc engine was 239 cu in). Then with Edelbrock heads and manifold, three stromberg “48” carbs, and an Iskenderian camshaft, that engine was a screamer. Later on, after the Rod and Custom photoshoot, an overheat cracked the block and that was the end of that.

Body work done and painted in ’54 Buick Titian red lacquer by Valley Custom. The longer front door molding strip was made possible by using the left remnant of the cut off hood strip. Where the original front door handle was, a small lockable glovebox door button protruded slightly to electrically open the door. Some of the Colgan black and white naugahyde interior is visible. I had removed the fender skirts by then.
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Taken in Tujunga CA during a rare snow shower, the snow piled up behind the rear bumper shows that the ’46 though ’48 Ford splash pan had already been added.
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Finished, just waiting for fun.
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The Merc was painted Titian Red, a ’54 Buick color. But Titian Red was a bleeder. It showed what was underneath. Buick primed their cars with red oxide primer which gave the finished car a root beer brown appearance. But my Merc was first painted with black lacquer, and the Titian Red put over it. It resulted in a most beautiful cherry maroon. It looked like later day Candy Apple red. And the Titian Red paint was very long lasting even sitting for years outside in the sun.

Soon after the Rod and Custom article, I installed a 283 Chevy Duntov engine in it with 12 to one compression, dual afb carbs, 4.44 gears in the differential. A stick shift 39 ford trans with Zepher gears.

Much to my temporary sorrow, I had to sell the Merc to pay for flying lessons. But, that eventually paid off handsomely, as I became a piiot for the Flying Tigers. During the last of my 30 year career. I was for 5 years a Boeing 747 captain. Flying around the world many times and to 50 countries, I have had more adventures than anyone should have. These adventures are recorded in my book THE MIGHTY TIGER.


Joe saved the club plaque from the Alley Cat Burbank car club he was a member of . The plaque was hanging from rear bumper in the early years he had the Mercury.
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The Restyling on the Mercury

The car was pretty rough when Joe¬†found the car in 1951, but as we can read in Joe’s story, he¬†loved the over all shape of the car. A plan was made for the restyling and he ended up choosing the Valley Custom Shop in Burbank, California to perform the restyling, since he had a job at the shop at the time.¬† The restyling planned was very subtile, and would enhance the already very nice body lines. The frame was modified in the rear and a Valley Custom lowering kit was used to drop the body with a slight speed-boat stance.

The door handles were removed and the side trim modified since the door handles are part of the side trim on the 1941 Mercury models. The trim on the hood was shortened and the center hood trim removed all together. The two hood sides were welded to a single unit and a wonderful peak was added to replace the trim. The lower hood trim and the piece between the two grille halves was shaved and smoothed. Then a set of 1952-54 Mercury headlights was molded into the front fender. The parking light were obviously also shaved which all resulted in a very smooth front end.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-10-gettyLow angle photo shows the nice stance of the Mercury. This is one of the images that made it into the R&C article. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-09-getty(Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-08-gettyAnother photo that made it in the R&C article (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-07-gettyThis low angle photo gives us a good look at the nice subtile peak on the hood. It also shows the slight Speed-Boat stance of the car. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-06-gettyHere we can see the stance even better and we can see the 1946-48 rear splash pan that was added. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-05-getty(Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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At the rear the trunk was completely shaved and an 1946-48 splash pan added. On all four fenders the trim pieces were shaved, but the running board trim stayed. The team also choose to ad a accessory chrome trim piece for the drip rail accentuating the shape of the roof. But the wider stainless trim around the windows was removed and all holes filled and smoothed. With all the body work done the car was painted, only we do not know what color this was. The R&C article does not mention anything about the color, so all we know is that it was a super glossy dark color. A set of whitewalls was mounted and the wheels were dressed up with a set of ribbed moon aftermarket hubcaps. These hubcaps can be seen on quite a few Customs rolling out of the Valley Custom Shop.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-03-rcThe interior was done very nicely in a late 1940’s style, nice rounded shapes with full tuck & roll panels in black and white Naugahyde upholstery which was done by Colgan’s Auto Upholstery on Magnolia, in Burbank. ¬†(from the R&C article)
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The engine was updated with several speed components and the interior was done in a wonderful two tone tuck & roll¬†with light colored piping matching headliner in the light color with dark piping. The whole interior is done in a very nice 1940’s style, which¬†fit the car very good, but which also is perhaps a bit outdated in 1958 when the car was “finished”. This, and many other things on the car show that Joe Brenner wanted to restyle his 1941 Mercury to make it look better, not to score points at the Custom Car shows. All the modifications done on the mercury are to enhance the shape of the car, and the team has really succeeded in this.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-01-gettyThe Merc‚Äôs 300 cu in flathead with three Stromberg ‚Äú48‚ÄĚ carbs, and a dual coil Lincoln V-12 distributor. Note the rare Filcoolater A-4 finned accessory oil filter/cooler mounted on the firewall.¬†“Around that time one of fads young drivers used to show off the prowess of their cars was to zoom up Fargo Street in Los Angeles. Fargo Street had a 32% grade making one of the steepest streets in the nation. From a sanding start, I sped up that street and reached the top at 30mph (helped by the Merc‚Äôs 4.44 rear end gears), and immediately slammed on the brakes, as just over the top was a cross road and if you didn‚Äôt slow enough to turn left or right, straight ahead was a precipitous drop. Today Fargo Street has been bisected by a cross road a quarter of the way up, so Fargo is no longer the source of bragging rights it once was.” (Photo by¬†Fred Beindorff¬†courtesy of Getty Images / ¬†The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-04-gettyA better shot showing the improved hood and nose peak redone by Valley Custom. The peak now ran all the way back to the windshield and was also all the way down the nose. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-03-gettyBirds-eye point of view shows the hood peak really well. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-02-getty1952-54 Mercury headlights were nicely molded into the front fenders.  (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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Joe’s 1941 Mercury shows that 4-door models can be used very well as a base for a Custom Cars. With the right amount of restyling these cars can become really beautiful Customs. The same also goes for the 1941 Mercury¬†in general. Not to many Customs have been based on this years Mercury, even though a few, including Joe’s car show how absolutely wonderful they can look with the right amount of restyling.


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The Mighty Tiger


Joe Brennen later wrote a boot about his 5 years as a Boeing 747 captain. Flying around the world many times and to 50 countries. He had had more adventures than anyone should have. These adventures are recorded in his book The Mighty Tiger (published 2003) And included in the book are some stories about the Mercury and related material.
Below are some excerpts from the book.


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“About the only usable asset I seemed to have was that I have always loved machinery. I especially loved cars from my earliest days, as they were the one form of machinery most accessible to me. So, as I grew up, I had my share of hot rods and custom cars with high performance engines. And, as I also had some talent for improving cars, both operationally and esthetically, I leaned toward being an automobile designer.

“However, that bubble burst while taking a high school drafting class when it dawned on me that I‚Äôd have to forsake the beaches and bathing beauties of sunny Southern California and instead live in sooty, snowbound Detroit with its darlings bundled up from head to foot against the deathly cold. Besides, it‚Äôd be just my luck not to be among the exalted few who got to design sleek, high-powered sports cars. More likely, I‚Äôd be assigned routine tasks like engineering the back side of glove compartment doors for frumpy station wagons. Luckily, my aspirations for a life as a Detroit auto designer died a natural death before I wasted time finding out that wasn‚Äôt what I really wanted in the long run.

“My interest then tilted toward the auto customizing business, which was prevalent especially in Southern California at the time. Fresh out of high school, I was employed in 1952 by two of the best customizing artisans in the business, Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen, at their Valley Custom shop in Burbank. But, there, too, in the customizing field, were warning signs on the horizon for those who had their eyes open. More and more, Detroit offered consumers cars that rivaled the best work of any custom shop, and often for less money. I mean (using the 1953 Mercury for example), you could buy right off the showroom floor a chopped and channeled stock car with tuck-and-roll naugahyde upholstery. A year later, the Mercury had an overhead valve engine.

“As the months passed, I came to think that, except for a few diehards, the auto customizing business faced a downward spiraling future, at least for the foreseeable future. Emory and Jensen shared the same opinion and folded shop to enter the collision repair business because insurance companies had more money, plus they paid on time.

(However, our vision was terribly shortsighted. The car modification industry endured a slump of only a dozen years or so. But when the current generation of baby boomers matured, they emerged far richer than their parents were thirty years before. Their abundant discretionary wealth gave rise to a tremendous resurgence of interest in the motor vehicle. As a consequence, the motoring world became extremely lucrative as money was lavished on all sorts of custom cars, hot rods, motorcycles, restorations, monster trucks, etc.)

“I was still hooked on cars, but not into restoration. For in restoring cars, a car is either restored authentically or it is nothing. But, if a car is restored accurately, there is no room for self-expression; you are merely refurbishing someone else‚Äôs design. It was the ability to express my own tastes and individuality through departure from the slavish constraints of established designs that I valued more than the mere work of shaping and painting metal or the revamping of things mechanical.

“This ability for design enhancement surfaced in my hobby of building dozens of model cars. One of my creations was an especially good-looking futuristic model pickup truck which I dreamed up at the last minute. I thought it good enough to enter in a national contest whose deadline for entries was mere days away. I worked on it feverishly every waking moment and had it about done as the entry deadline approached, when my wife started to raise a ruckus about my being up late and working on another of those ‚Äústupid little cars.‚ÄĚ Finally, to end her shouting (which was surely keeping our apartment house neighbors awake), I put my tools and paints away, and went to bed. As a consequence, I entered my model in the contest the next day without having added anything to its interior.

“Well, I took second place and received a huge trophy. One of the national contest judges told me afterwards that the car that won, which he described as exhibiting ‚Äúgood craftsmanship, but uninspired design,‚ÄĚ won first prize, not for meritorious design, but by dint of points alone. And, it had beaten my entry out by only one point‚ÄĒone lousy point! The judge told me that had I even put a steering wheel or a seat in my truck, it would have taken first prize. That ‚Äústupid little car‚ÄĚ would have earned me a thousand-dollar first prize, plus a college scholarship.‚ÄĚ

“Another consequence of that national contest was that the leading manufacturer of model car kits saw my extraordinary little truck in the contest and thought enough of it to offer me a job designing model cars for their firm. I decided, however, that it was time to quit playing with toys, so I declined their generous offer. By now I knew that what I really wanted was to be associated with the real thing. I loved to operate machinery. I loved big. And, the bigger, the more powerful the machinery, the better.” . . .

So, I became a pilot.‚ÄĒ Eventually, toward the end of my thirty-year career, for five years I flew as captain of the 820,000 lb. Boeing 747 to fifty countries all around the world.

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Joe also send us¬†a picture and a cool story of another car he owned. A ’67 Corvette, not really a Custom Car, but the story is too good not to tell

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Joe Brenner ’67 Corvette

Here is another car I owned, a ’67 350hp, 327 cu. in. Corvette, that is exceptional for two reasons:

It was ordered new without emblems.
It took top eliminator in both the small block and big block classes on the same day at Lions Long beach CA drag strip. (note the 2 foot tall trophy standing on the back of the hood.)

Having worked at Valley Custom, I especially disliked the chrome warts that disfigured, and took away from, the beauty of a car‚Äôs design. So, it said on my original purchase order from Baher Chevrolet ‚ÄúNo emblems.‚ÄĚ That‚Äôs the way I ordered it. That‚Äôs the way I received it.

With the intention of owning a true sports cars, I ordered my Corvette without power steering or air conditioning.

When I picked up the car, it had a terrible stance. It stood at least two inches higher in front than in the back. It looked like a motor boat, so I had one size smaller tires put on the front, and larger wider tires put on the back. The result was the car now sat level.

‚Äô67 Corvettes originally had tires with a measly 6‚ÄĚ wide tread. But with those wider tires, even with its Muncie trans and positraction, the car now wouldn‚Äôt lay rubber. But oh man, if it got a grip on the pavement, it would launch with neck snapping ferocity.

The picture taken at the drags shows the car mid-customizing, true knockoffs, a 427 hood, and a ’65 grille, and rocker panels. Inside, all the plastic dash knobs had been replaced with earlier Corvette all metal chrome knobs.

When I first got my Corvette, I was really disappointed by its performance. In the first month I owned it, I had it in three different Chevrolet agencies trying to get its lack luster performance increased, also its poor 15mpg fuel consumption improved.

One thing that really peeved me was the dash pot put on the carb to prevent you from quickly closing the throttle plates in the carb. If you let your foot suddenly off the gas pedal, that dash pot sped the engine up and brought it slowly back to a lower rpm. My favorite thing was come racing up to a stop sign, with the trans jammed in a lower gear, let my foot off the gas pedal, and slow down on compression.

Finally, the last Chevy tech said ‚ÄúSon, it‚Äôs an engineering booboo. The engineers have installed a smog device on a performance engine that wasn‚Äôt designed for it. Your engine is right on spec. You‚Äôll just have to live with it.‚ÄĚ

But when a friend showed me his ’67 Vette first registered in CA, (by some fluke,) had only a positive crankcase hose, I took all the smog devices off my car and threw them into a cardboard box. Then I installed a set of Hooker headers, but because headers make an engine run lean, I had to go two sizes richer on the main jets.

Next, I took the car over to Doug at Doug’s Corvettes, in North Hollywood. And, could Doug ever super-tune a car! He changed the ignition advance, and also the total timing.

Man, now that car screamed! Plus the gas mileage jumped up to a consistent 20mpg. So much for the benefits of CA smog.

When the last of the 100 octane leaded gas was coming down the pipeline, I took my Corvette to the Lions drag strip in Long Beach. When I pulled up to the starting line, I told the starter that all I wanted to do was make a couple of runs by myself so I could get a timing slip.

‚ÄúHaven‚Äôt got time to fool with you. We‚Äôre running a race here. You‚Äôll have to run off against the small block next to you. Whoever wins the heat gets the timing slip.‚ÄĚ

So, I got on it pretty hard. Beat that guy, and kept going back perfecting my technique, beating one car after another. And don’t you know out of a field of over 30 small blocks, I took top eliminator!

Going over to the winner‚Äôs circle to get my trophy, the official told me, ‚ÄúYeah, you won your class all right, but we‚Äôre short of trophies today so we‚Äôre giving the trophy to the big block winner, because he‚Äôs the winner out of 12 big block Corvettes, and going 10 mph faster than you.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúLike hell,‚ÄĚ I exclaimed. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôll have to race me for that trophy.‚ÄĚ

So, they got us up to the starting line, and when the light turned green, I was off like a shot. I never saw the big block beside me during whole the quarter mile run, but only as I approached the finish line, I saw him coming up fast, but I beat him across the line by 10 feet. Were the strip 50 feet longer, he would have thundered past me, but I got there first.

Was that big block driver ever mad! I went home with the trophy. Top eliminator in both the small block and big block classes. Same day! How many people do you know that can make that claim?

I originally paid $4,335 for the Vette, and later sold it for $20,000. I think it went to somewhere in Texas to a county that doesn’t have smog checks. If so, that new owner is a happy camper.

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Neil Emory 1937 Dodge

 

Neil Emory 1937 Dodge

 

In the late 1930s early 1940s a young Neil Emory created a stunning Custom out of a 1937 Dodge Convertible Coupe. It was¬†his very first Custom, many more great Customs would follow…



As a young teenager Neil Emory created all kinds of jobs to make some extra money. One of these jobs was detailing cars at the Warner Brothers studio. Neil got permission to get in the special VIP parking places and ask the owners of these fine automobiles if he could clean detail and gas up their cars. The business went really well for Neil, so well he had to ask a friend to help him out.

CCC-stock-1937-dodge-01A stock 1937 Dodge Convertible Coupe similar to what Neil Emory started with in 1939. Its not an ugly car to start with, but with Neil’s eye for style an balance he was able to create a stunning Custom out of it.
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CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-03Lowered headlights, smoothed hood and hood sides, ripple disk hubcaps on wide white wall tires, teardrop fender skirts and a beautifully shaped Padded Top.
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Neil Emory’s first Custom

One of the cars he was detailing was a 1937 Dodge Convertible Coupe. The car belonged to a Director at Warner Brothers, Lloyd Bacon’s daughter. The car was a gift for here 21th birthday. Around 6 moth later the daughter got married and Neil was able to buy the car for $600. Neil was just 15 years old when she got married this was 1938, perhaps early 1939 the exact dates are unsure. It was Neil’s first car.


CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-01I really love this rear 3/4 photo of Neil’s Dodge. It shows the wonderful shapes of the car and gives us a great feel of how it must have been driving such a great looking car on the Californian streets in the early 1940’s.
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Not long after that Neil Emory started another business, lowering cars. He started to produce shackles of different lengths and he would make appointments with customers to be at a service station where Neil would take his tools with his 1937 Dodge and lower the customers car on the spot. Of course he had lowered his own Dodge with his own shackles as well, which was good for rolling advertisement. He also installed some aftermarket ripple disk hubcaps with beauty-rings on a set of wide white wall tires. Around this time Neil Emory and a couple of buddies also ran a gas station where he started to tinkered with cars for his friends and teachers.

Neil was able to do more work on his Dodge in shop class during high school, here he was able to use the much better school tools than what he had himself. Here he shaved the trunk and added the double set-in license plates behind glass. The right one for a Throttle Stompers club plaque and the one on the left for the license plate.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-02Close up of the smoothed rear of the car with the double set-in glass covered license plates, the 1938 Ford teardrop taillights and the Buick teardrop shaped fender skirt that could be mounted becuase Neil had removed the bead around the Dodge rear fender wheel opening.
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Neil removed the lip around the rear fender wheel opening so that he could mount the Buick skirts. He also removed the stock taillights and replaced them with teardrop shaped 1938 Ford units.  The bumpers both front and rear are stock with an accessory center bumper guard added. The headlight stances were removed from the grille sides, and new once created to fit on the fenders. This allowed Neil to drop the headlights nice and low, which made the car look lower, and he grille taller. He created smooth hood sides and removed the hood ornament and trim for a much smoother look.

Neil had Burbank Auto Body chop the windshield and then drove the car to the Carson Top Shop to have a perfectly shaped Padded Top created for the Dodge. The shape of the top is really fantastic and folows the shape of the rear of the body really well. The side window opening that the Carson Top Shop created is also very nice with a wonderful flow on the rear top corners, but more flowing than most of the tops we have seen from the Carson Shop. Neil also created a set of roll down side windows in a frame, to fit the new padded top for the car. He ended up painting the car a solid supper glossy black lacquer. Neil married in 1942, and before their son Gary Emory was born he sold the Dodge and replaced it with an 1936 Ford 3-window coupe in late 1942. They never saw the Dodge again after that, and nobody seams to remember what ever happened to the car.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-04Side view shows the really nice profile of the Carson Top, and especially the window shape. This side view photo shows the side window with frame in the rolled down position.
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CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-05This photo really shows the beauty of this car very well. It also shows the side windows with the frames in the¬†rolled up position. The stance and the fact the door handles are still in place are all styling elements from the early 1940’s.
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Dean Batchelor

It was Neil Emory’s first Custom Car that he created. Later in 1948 Neil¬†and Clayton Jensen would open the Valley Custom Shop in Burbank and would write history with their finely designed and crafted Custom Cars. Neil’s 1937 Dodge already showed his great sense for style and balance very early on. Fortunately some nice photos have survived of the car. Neil’s good friend Dean Batchelor always had his camera handy and shot every car he liked, and also took several photos of Neil’s Dodge in the early 1940’s. As far as we know only four¬†photos remain of Neil’s¬†Dodge and all these photos were¬†taken by¬†Dean¬†Batchelor.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-RC-01In the very first issue of Rod and¬†Customs magazine, May 1953 Dean Batchelor did a three page article on Pre-War Customs, he used two of the photos he had taken of his friends Neil Emory’s 1937 Dodge.
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Dean used four of the photos he took of Neil’s Dodge in several publications, starting with the premier issue of Rod and Custom magazine, May 1953. This very first issue was named Rod and Customs, the second issue the title was renamed Rod and Custom. Dean would create several articles on Pre-War Customs and liked to use Neil’s Dodge as a good sample of the early style Customs. Most likely another good reason to use this car as a sample was to show that not every early custom was based on a FoMoCo or GM based car. Only four of Dean’s photos show the dodge, but Gary Emory hopes to one day find some more photos of his fathers first custom. Ron Kellogg now owns the Dean Batchelor enormous photo collection… time will tell if more photos of this historic custom will surface… we sure hope so.


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Dave Peters 1949 Ford

 

DAVE PETERS 1949 FORD

 

Dave Peters 1949 Ford Sedan. The Valley Custom Shop study in restrained Custom Restyling.



Most of the Custom Shops have developed a style of their own. A certain look for the cars that are created in these shops, or perhaps just some details that will tell which shop was responsible for particular Custom. Especially in the early days there were a couple of Custom Shops that were responsible for the styles, the trends, the looks. The Valley Custom Shop, run by Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen was known for their fine restrained, almost factory Custom look. This shop was able to make cars looks amazing with subtle restyling. Restyling elements that are all very balanced, and chosen to enhance the looks of the car.


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Dave Peters ’49 Ford Sedan is a perfect example for the Valley Custom Shop looks and feel. The work done on the car can be considered mild custom work, but the overall effect is a lot more than that, and perhaps is best represented with “the way the factory should have done it”.

Dave’s 1949 Ford Sedan was featured in a two page article in the September 1954 issue of Car Craft, but was in fact already done quite some time before it was published. Most of the photos we have seen of the car show a license plated with 1951 dates on the car. The title of the Car Craft feature was THE CLEAN ONE. And that the car sure was after the Valley Custom Shop was done with it.



1950 photos

Robert E Canaan took several photos of Dave Peters 1949 Ford around 1950. These photos have been shared by the Revs Institute. These photos show the car with 1950 California plates and the only main difference we can see with photos taken in 1951, and later are the fender skirts and the Valley Custom Glendale car club plaque hanging from the rear bumper.

ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-05It looks like photographer Robert E. Canaan accidentally found Dave Peters Ford parked along side the road. These photos were not staged. The Valley Custom Shop did a great job in cleaning up and making the Ford Sedan look much more attractive.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-02The use of the Mercury grille, or perhaps it was an Canadian Ford grille and Mercury grille surround with extended down hood looks really fantastic on the car. It makes you wonder why we have not seen this done more often. Notice the frenched headlights, this was done pre the lipped 1952-54 Ford / Mercury headlights with recessed rings that later became so popular. The smooth look of the headlights fits the overall styling excellent.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-04The early version used smooth fender skirts. Possibly modified 1949-50 Mercury units. The later version had cut down lipped 1951 Mercury skirts.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-01Zoomed in for a better look at the great front end restyling done by the Valley Custom Shop.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-06Valley Customs Glendale car club plaque. The plaque fits the Valley Custom Shop Burbank care perfectly.
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CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-06Two of these Robert E. Canaan photos were used¬†to point out the¬†grille in Dave’s Ford as good sample.
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An interesting detail is the smooth fender skirts on the car when these photos were taken in 1950. Fender skirts were available as factory option, or from the aftermarket, but as fas as I know, none looked like these. The shape of them remind me of those created by Sam Barris on his personal ’49 Mercury, as well as on Jerry Quesnell’s Mercury. Perhaps the Valley Custom Shop also converted a taller than the Ford, ’49 Mercury skirt to fit to Dave’s Sedan.
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Detail look at the custom skirts from the rear. 
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1951 photos 

CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-01The front view shows how nice the grille, grille surround and hood modifications work together.
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A 1949 Mercury grille surround was narrowed a bit to fit the 1949 Ford, the Mercury grille was also reduced in with to fit the adjusted grille shell. The top portion of the Mercury grille surround was cut off and welded to the bottom of the Ford hood. This created a wonderful rolling shape from the top of the hood all the way to the back side of the grille and then the grille rolled from its back to the chrome strip that was left from the original 1949 Ford grille sitting on the molded in front splash-pan. The hood was cleaned up the emblems, but the center strip remained, and the hood ornament was replaced with an aftermarket bull nose piece for the perfect look. The headlight rings were molded to the front fenders making them look just a bit longer.



CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-02Shaved emblems and handles, reshaped side trim, lipped and cut down ’51 Mercury skirts now replace the smooth units used in 1950. All this and a super smooth body make Dave’s 1949 For an very elegant ride.
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CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-05Dual exhaust, Chevy license plate surround chrome strips on the rear fenders and an smooth trunk including shaved external hinges made it absolutely perfect. Makes you really wonder how great this car must have looked in color.
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The door handles were shaved and the front section of the side-trim was simplified. A set of 1951 Mercury fender skirts was cut at the top and its top corners were reshaped and the whole units adjusted to fit the Ford body. The trunk was shaved of its emblems, and the exterior hinges were replace with some internal units for an ultimate clean look. The top of the fender line received a chrome welting strip from the drip rails all the way back to the rear splash pan.

A set of Appleton Spotlights was installed, and both the front and rear bumpers received a Chevy license plate frame. The car was lowered mildly both front and rear and a set of wide white wall tires was added with custom moon shaped with one ring aftermarket hubcaps were installed. These hubcaps were a favorite items for the guys at the Valley Custom Show since the used them on a lot of their creations. These hubcaps are so simple, yet so elegant, and they fit this Valley Custom, as well as all the others so perfectly.



CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-03This closer-up photo shows the smooth extended down hood as well as the chrome strip at the base of the Mercury grille opening which comes from the original 1949 Ford grille. Details like this make the Valley Custom Shop built cars so special.
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Once the work on the car was finished the whole body was sanded smooth and coated in many layers of dark midnight blue lacquer paint by Johnny Hagen. The interior, in a matching simple but elegant white and blue tuck & roll, was done by Floyd Tipton, who worked with the Valley Custom on several other cars as well. The engine was rebuilt and dressed up with a set of finned Navaro heads and a three carb intake manifold with three Stromberg carburetors.

CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-04Floyd Tipton was responsible for the very elegant two tone interior in dark blue and white.
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CCC-floyd-tipton-upholstery-01Floyd Tipton at work in another Valley Custom creations, the Ron Dunn 1950 Ford.
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CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-07The clean One two page feature article in the September 1954 issue of Car Craft Magazine.
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The finished Ford is an very elegant restyled Custom which could be used for daily transportation with ease, and that most likely is how Dave used it.¬†The car has the looks and level of details that the Ford Designers most likely had in mind when they first designed the car, but from which had to be stepped back a bit due to production methods and costs. The Canadian 1949 Ford meteor has a similar grille as the one used in Dave’s 1949 Ford, inspired on the 1949 Mercury unit. The car was used in several magazines for its clean restyling as well as the wonderful and creative grille design.

We have no information about¬†what happened to this great Custom by the Valley Custom Shop. Perhaps it is still around, and changed over the decades into a more restyled custom car. Or perhaps it is still hiding in somebody’s garage… or perhaps its long gone. If you know more about Dave Peters’ 1949 Ford restyled by the Valley Custom Shop, please let us know,¬†email us at the CCC.

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In the Works – Gary Emory 1939 Ford

 

GARY EMORY 1939 FORD

 

Gary Emory, son of the legendary Custom Car builder and co-founder of the Valley Custom Shop, Neil Emory, is working on his tribute to the Valley Custom Shop Custom 1939 Ford convertible.

Having been always very impressed by the cars that have come out of the Valley Custom Shop in the 1940’s and 1950’s it was now time to Gary emory to have his own real Valley Custom Shop inspired Custom. The car is being built by Gary’s brother Don Emory and is coming along really nice.
 
CCC-itw-gary-emory-eric-black-01Eric Black created this wonderful Artist impression of how Gary’s 1939 Ford Convertible Valley Custom Tribute will look like finished.
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Automotive designer and Illustrator Eric Black just finished the artist impression for Gary. Gary has his own ideas about the custom, invluenced by the creations created by his father, but also his brother Don had a few things to say about the design. So the 1941 Buick skirts Gary had planned to use have been tossed advised by Don, and Don also “hates” white wall tires, so despite the Eric Black illustration with white wall Gary will also prepare a set of black wall fitted wheels to keep everybody happy.
Speaking of wheels. Gary is still looking for a full set of Single Bar flipper hubcaps. So if you know about a set, similar to the once in the photo below, let us know and we will pass it on to Gary.
 
How it all started back in 1957
The front half of the car was done in 1957 by Gary’s father Neil Emory and his uncle Clayton Jensen. It was part of a Rod and Custom how to channel series in the December 1957 Issue of Rod & Custom magazine.
The body has been channeled over the frame, with the fenders left in stock position. The cowl and hood are sectioned and the rear quarter panels cut to allow the body to be dropped.
 
CCC-itw-gary-emory-39-ford-rc-01The four page R&C article from 1957 shows the steps needed to channel a 1940 Ford. This was one of the specialties of the Valley Custom Shop.
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CCC-valley-custom-shop-channel-01A the 5-inch strip has been removed from the firewall and cowl, and the body has been repositioned. The gap is in the process of being seam-welded. Lotsa bodywork lies ahead.
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CCC-valley-custom-shop-channel-02Since the ’40 was to be dropped 5 inches, a 5-inch panel of metal was welded to the stock flooring, following the outline of the frame. The floor was then cut out along the inside edge of this panel and rewelded to the top. In the ’50s it was not uncommon to see the body welded to the frame after channeling, but devising rubber or leather body isolators is preferred.
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CCC-valley-custom-shop-channel-03In order to retain the stock height of the rear fenders, an arc was cut in the body from the bottom of the wheel opening to the deck opening.
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CCC-valley-custom-shop-channel-04Once the body was dropped inside of the lower arch, the overlapping metal was cut away, and the pieces were seam-welded. A load of metalwork? Yup, but leaving the fenders at stock height looks better and emphasizes the lowered look.
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CCC-valley-custom-shop-channel-05Once the reinstalled body was welded to the fabricated 5-inch step, the floor was welded atop the step. Here, Valley Custom’s Neil Emory does some final body welding.
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The work done on the car as of the end of May 2015
Gary and Don have joined the ’40 standard coupe customized in 1957 with parts of an ’39 DeLuxe Convertible, to create a phantom 1939 Ford DeLuxe Convertible. The car will have no running boards, similar to the Glen Hooker 1939 Mercury the Valley Custom Shop built. Further inspiration for the car comes from the Ralph Jilek sectioned 1940 Ford and also from the 1937 Dodge convertible, Gary’s father built in the 1940’s, before Gary was born. We will keep you posted on the progress on Gary’s 1939 Ford here on the Custom Car Chronicle. Stay tuned….
 
CCC-itw-gary-emory-39-ford-02The back of Gary’s¬†’39 will have 2 set in plates, just like his¬†fathers 1937¬†Dodge. One for the license plate, and one for Throttle Stompers Burbank¬†club plaque.
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CCC-itw-gary-emory-39-ford-01Chopped windshield and top of the cowl from the 39 Ford convertible has been added to the 1940 lower cowl section.
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CCC-itw-gary-emory-39-ford-03Gary is still looking for a full set of these single bar ripple disk hubcaps for his Valley Custom Shop tribute project.
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CCC-itw-gary-emory-39-ford-primer-01Updated on June 25, 2015. The car is now in primer, and nearly ready for the black paint.
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Emory-1939-Ford-05-wUpdate from August 17, 2015. The car has now been painted.
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CCC-valley-custom-shop-ralph-jilek-01One of the cars Gary was inspired by to create his 1939 Ford was the perfectly proportioned sectiond 1940 Ford convertible the Valley Custom Shop created for Ralf Jilek.
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CCC-niel-emory-1937-dodge-01Gary’s father’s 1937 Dodge Convertible which Neil built in the early 1940’s was the inspiration for the the double set in license plate set-up.
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CCC-itw-gary-emory-eric-black-02Amazing style and details in Eric Black’s illustration.
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Glen Hooker 1939 Mercury

 

THE CARIBBEAN

 

One of the most beautiful Customs created by the Valley Custom Shop is this 1939 Mercury convertible restyled¬†for Glen Hooker of Burbank, California,¬†in the early 1950’s.



Special thanks to Gordy Brown for the help on this article.

The Valley Custom Shop is known for their fine Custom Car designs and finely crafted creations. The car in this CCC-Article, the Glen Hooker 1939 Mercury convertible is no exception. The end-result is a very well balanced sporty looking Custom Car created on a budget. Lets take a look at how this stunning looking and well published custom was styled and built by the team at the Valley Custom Shop in Burbank, California.


CCC-valley-custom-11-glen-hooker-mercFaded color photo shows the wonderful thin profile of the restyled Mercury. This photo also shows an earlier paint version with a small black graphic element on the door, above the belt line. 
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Glen Hooker was 15 years old and already day dreaming of¬†have a cool looking convertible custom for the time when he would be old enough to drive. He even knew who could do the custom work for his dream car. The guys that married two of Glen’s older sisters, Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen co-owners of the Valley Custom Shop. Glen worked at the shop in his spare time sweeping the floors, sanding the cars and all other jobs he could do. This way he hoped¬†that his uncles would one day perhaps help create his dream custom.

Glen’s grandfather also knew about his custom convertible dreams, and had been on the lookout for an affordable older model. When he came across an slightly damaged 1939 Mercury convertible for a very good price, he bought it as a gift for Glen. The car was taken to the Valley Custom Shop and plans for the restyling were discussed.

Neil and Clayton had already created some very elegant Customs, before they started on Glen’s Mercury. One of them was the sectioned 1940 Ford convertible for Ralph Jilek. A well proportioned convertible with opened op wheel openings, for a more elegant look. For Glen’s Mercury the team wanted to try to get something similar in looks, but without the very time consuming task of actually sectioning the body. Glen’s had to be build on a budget. They succeeded very well, and quite a few people actually believe the body was sectioned to get the desired look. But this is not the case.

The plan was simple, remove the running-boards, drop the body over the frame and reduce the height of the fenders. Chop the windshield and add a low profile padded top to give the car a much more sporty feel. The execution however was still a little more complicated than that. The car the team started with had some front end damage, which was fixed by installing a set of front fender, a hood and the grille of a 1940 Mercury. 1940 parts where chosen since they looked more streamlined, than the stock 39 components and these would fit better with the rest of the planned restyling. The Mercury, like many other Valley Custom Shop created Custom Cars would not get the so popular on Customs from this type tear drop fender skirts.


CCC-valley-custom-05-glen-hooker-mercMost likely this old shop photo shows the Glen Hooker Mercury in its early stages with Neil Emory working on the A-Pillars. Clayton Jensen can be seen with his hat on working on the front fender of another car on the far right in the photo. 
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The team decided the car should be channeled 3 inches. This way the lower points of the body would still be protected by the frame rails. The floor was cut out and the frame attachment points removed. A 3 inch section was removed from the firewall, so that the body could be dropped over the frame. The floor and frame attachment point were welded back into the body, and the fire wall reconnected. The rear of the car was still not low enough so the rear of the frame was z-ed around 5 inches, enough for the drop, and create more travel space for the rear axle. At the front a 2.5 inch dropped axle was installed. The car now had the desired ride height and it then was time to get started on reshaping the fenders which was needed after the channeling and removal of the running boards.


CCC-valley-custom-10-glen-hooker-mercThis early version of the car also did not have the chrome plated rock shield installed. Possibly some rocks had damaged the paint and the car was partly repainted.
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Version one

On previous chaneling jobs the Valley Custom Shop team had often raised the fenders to compensate for the body over the frame drop. But this time the team wanted a more sleaker look for the convertible. They decided to leave the fenders in the stock location, but cut of the botom of the fenders in such a way that the bottom of the fenders was now level with the lower edge of the main body. The new profile now looked very nice and streamlined, but now the tires were all the way up into the fenders, which looked not very attractive on the streamlined car, plus the front could not steer no more.

The wheel openings were radiused and raised up into the fenders to match the tire shape. The new opening was cut slightly less large, and the last about half inch was folded in and hammer finished to give the new opening a factory finished looking a typical Valley Custom Shop way. All four fenders received the same treatment. The cut off bottom and the enlared wheel openings had resulted in a set of wonderful stylish teardrop shaped ellegant looking fenders.


CCC-valley-custom-20-glen-hooker-mercClayton Jensen at work finishing the new rear fender wheel opening.
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By now the car had taken on a complety different feel than the heavy looking stock Mercury the team started with. The whole process of chaneling the body over the frame z-ing the frame and reshaping the wheel openings was covered in two 7 page how to articles in the Jan and Feb issue of Car Craft magazine in 1954.


CCC-valley-custom-18-glen-hooker-mercThe January 1954 issue of Car Craft Magazine used no less than 7 pages for the first part of the two part how-to article on channeling the frame. 
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CCC-valley-custom-19-glen-hooker-mercA month later, in the February issue the magazine spend another 7 pages for part two of the Here’s How article. Great publicity for the Valley Custom Shop.¬†
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Glen was able to locate an used Carson Padded Top which could be reused for his Mercury. They used the padded top to¬†mark the amount taken from the windshield height, which turned out to be about¬†2.5 inches. Even though Glen wanted to drive the car with an open top most of the time it was a wise decision to include the chopped¬†padded top¬†in the whole package as well. With the top up, the car’s looks changes completely.

The 1940 Mercury hood was restyled with a peaked front, which made it necessary to create an inboard latch to open the hood. The two trim pieces on the lower edges of the hood matching the grille were removed and the hood bottom edge was flared out to meet the hood and front fenders. To further enhace the more elegant look of the convertible, a 1946 Chevy bumper was added front and rear. At the rear 1941 Studebaker tear-drop shaped taillight were mounted turned 90 degrees from original. they were mounted very low on the rear fenders, just above the Chevy bumper. The fenders were not molded in to the body, like most of this type of custom cars had back in the day. The fenders were left separate and would later be detailed by adding chrome fender welting. Which gave it a very classic look.


CCC-valley-custom-03-glen-hooker-mercAnother photo showing the small graphic element on the door only creating the optical “Darrin” dip. This high point-of-view shows of the elegant appearance of the restyled mercury really well.¬†
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CCC-valley-custom-22-glen-hooker-merc1954 photograph from the Los Angeles Public Library photo shows;¬†left to right are “Burbank’s Tsuki-Teru Car Club president Dick Lewis and vice president Glen Hooker with Glen’s Mercury. It looks like there is no graphic below the side trim in this photo, so this must be the early version of the car.
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The body was releived of all the handles and most of the trim except the belt-line trim, which was left on, but shortened in the front. Then it was time for the paint. A titian maroon (1953 Buick) color was chosen. And what makes this color even more special is the way it was used. The color was mixed in such a way that it was highly transparent, almost like a candy paint, and each layer added created more depth in the paint. There are a few photos showing the car with a small graphic element in black with white outline on the doors, to create an optical “Darrin” dip in the doors. This was later changed to a similar style graphic element below the side trim to create more optical swoop towards the rear of the car.¬†Later the¬†lower edge of the rear fenders are protected by a hand formed and chrome plated rock shield.


CCC-valley-custom-23-glen-hooker-mercThe March 1954 two page article in Car Craft magazine shows the first finished version of the car. “Darrin” dip graphic on the door, and no rock shields on the rear fenders.
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On the inside, the art-deco styled 1939 Mercury dash was replaced with a 1940 Mercury unit dash, that has much more streamlined looks to fit the rest of the restyled body much better. The interior was upholstered in maroon¬†and¬†black Naugahyde by Bill Colgran’s Auto Upholstery shop. A¬†set of wide white wall tires was fitted with a set of simple but elegant aftermarket hubcaps. These hubcaps have been used on several of the Valley Custom Shop created customs. And I have to say that on this car as well as on all other cars¬†they used them on, it shows how perfectly shaped these hubcaps are. The perfect elegant detail for the new elegant look of Glen’s Mercury.



Version two

When the car was finished, Glen was still 15 years old and too young to drive.¬†Gordy Brown, good friends with Glen, told us that¬†Glen’s father¬†had to drive the Mercury¬†to the first car show it was¬†entered. Glen’s mercury was featured in several magazines back in the day. The double¬†Car Craft¬†How-To feature, as mentioned earlier in this article, as well as a two page feature in the March 1954 issue of¬†Car Craft¬†magazine (with the first graphic and no rock shields on the rear fenders) and later after a few changes on the car for the second version, a¬†full four page write up in the July 1955 issue of¬†Rod & Custom, with the new belt-line graphics and chrome rock shields.


CCC-valley-custom-14-glen-hooker-mercIna Mae Overman took this great color slide at the 1954 Petersen Motorama show. It shows the new black graphics below the side trim.
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CCC-valley-custom-15-glen-hooker-mercClose up of the photo shows the low mounted ’41 Studebaker lights, the chrome fender welting, the chrome plated rock shield on the front of the rear fender, and also that the black graphic was not yet outlined in white like it is on most of the photos of the car.
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CCC-valley-custom-02-glen-hooker-mercGlen with his Mercury in front of his parents house. By now the black graphic had been outlined in white. What a stunning car for a young guy to drive to school. Glen must have felt King of the road.
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CCC-valley-custom-21-glen-hooker-mercFour page article in the July 1955 issue of Rod & Custom magazine shows the car with the belt-line graphics and with the cars name The Caribbean.
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After Glen sold the car to Bobby Daren in 1956 the Mercury was used in the movie A Strange Adventure. The car can be seen quite a bit in the movie, especially in the first part of it. The movie is about a trio of thieves make their getaway by kidnapping a young hot-rodder, and take over a mountain cabin for a hideout after overpowering its occupants. Director: William Witney, Writer: Houston Branch, Staring: Joan Evans, Ben Cooper, Marla English.


CCC-valley-custom-17-glen-hooker-mercMovie poster and promotional photo from A Strange Adventure.
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CCC-valley-custom-16-glen-hooker-mercA few movie captures shows that Glen’s mercury was being driven pretty hard in the movie.
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CCC-valley-custom-06-glen-hooker-mercProfile photo with Glen in the driver seat, show how low, long and elegant the car looks. Thanks to the perfect proportions after the Valley Custom Shop restyling.
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CCC-valley-custom-07-glen-hooker-mercThis photo gives us a good look at the peaked and reshaped lower edge of the hood.
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CCC-valley-custom-08-glen-hooker-mercA tonneau was created to cover the section behind the front seat.
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CCC-valley-custom-09-glen-hooker-mercThe window garnish moldings were chrome plated and the 1940 Mercury dash was enhanced with an Cadillac steering wheel. The clock in the glove box door was replaced with a custom made brass The Caribbean name plaque.
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After Glen had sold the car in 1956 the car had a rough life. Gary Emory remembers that someone had told him the hood was badly damaged on the car when somebody dropped a bowling ball on the hood (which might explain the green hood when the car was found). Gary also remembers that by 1961 the car was painted white when it showed up at his high school. It looked very sad and it looked like someone drove a herd of cattle through the Interior!

In December 2017 the American Hot Rod Foundation posted this photo of the Glen Hooker ’39 Mercury on their Facebook page. The photo comes from the Howard Hudson Collection and shows the car in the late 1950’s, but before 1961. The car in the background, is a 1958 Mercury. Notice how the car now has big and little white wall tires, a forward rake and its grille front bumper and hubcaps are missing.
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The current state of the Mercury

What happened with the Mercury after the 1956 movie is a little vague. We know that the car was in the the¬†Pacoima or San Fernando area in 1959.¬†The then owner wanted to trade it for an hoped up 1952 Chevy owned by a¬†17 year old¬†kid¬†from North Hollywood.¬†¬†The kid’s father did not let his son trade the Chevy for an 13¬†year older model car. Something the kid still regrets today.¬†Later the¬†Mercury¬†was painted white and somehow ended up ¬†wrecking yard in the California desert. In the late 1980’s the car was found by a car trader who bought it to make money on. He recognized the car as the Glen Hooker Mercury, contacted Glen to verify his find. Glen sure recognized his old love but could not afford the high price the seller wanted for the car. So it ended up for sale in Hemmings. No buyers, since the asking price was very high. And after a while the seller contacted Glen again and offered the car for a much reduce price. The new price was still up there, but Glen decided to buy it anyway. By then the car was located in Arizona where the car dealer was located. Glen asked his long time friend Gordy Brown to help him pick up the car and bring it to his home in Washington.


CCC-valley-custom-25-glen-hooker-mercOn the way from Arizona to Washington. Gordy Brown’s pick up truck with Glen’s Mercury on the trailer.¬†
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CCC-valley-custom-24-glen-hooker-mercThe car was not in perfect shape when Glen took here home, but there was nearly no rust. The hood got lost over time, probably used on another custom or hot rod and replaced by a stock unit. An early 1950’s Cadillac Engine is sitting on a pallet inside the car. (not visible in this photo)
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On the way from Arizona to Glen’s home in Washington Gordy and Glen stopped at Gordy’s home in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gordy wanted to compare the original Caribbean with the inspired version on which he was working on the time. (You can read about this inspired version in the Second Mercury side bar). Glen and Gordy compared the two, took measurements and then put the original Mercury back on the trailer and took the car to Glen’s home.

CCC-valley-custom-27-glen-hooker-mercGlen Hooker comparing chops between the Caribbean ’39 Merc on the left and Gordy Brown’s¬†’40 Merc on the Right. (The ’40 Merc on the right has a ’39 grille, while the Caribean is a ’39 Merc with ’40 grille, to make it all rather confusing.)
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CCC-valley-custom-26-glen-hooker-mercGordy put the ’46 Chevy bumpers in place with jacks to get an feeling how it would look. To bad the original restyled hood is missing.¬†
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After the guys got the Mercury home, Glen and Gordy spend about a week to strip the car, prep is and spray on some black primer. This would be the best base for the rest of the work Glen was planning. Then Glen consulted with Neil Emory to let him know he now owned his old car again. And to talk about possible restylings that could be done on the car. Neil said that the he always felt the hood was a little fuller than he would have liked it. And advised Glen the hood should be sectioned an inch, perhaps and inch and a half, to make the car flow and balance better. Glen accomplished this by lowering the cowl panel and sectioning the hood a little. At the same time Glen lowered the windshield opening down a little. When Glen had bought the car from the car dealer there was an complete early Cadillac engine and trans sitting on a pallet inside the car to replace the Flathead motor and trans. It was part of the deal. So this engine went in the car and Glen decided to use a Lincoln Versailles rear end with disc brakes and a aftermarket Mustang ll front crossmember with disc brakes to replace the old dropped axel. Glen was also going to use Air Ride suspension, but never got around to install that.

You have to remember that Glen was redoing this car to use as a driver not a restoration and wanted what he considered the very best at the time. He was redoing the car just as when the car was done originally with the best at that time and Neil agreed with him. When someone acquires an old Custom they are somewhat limited by what the car was, out of respect for the original builder and design. In this case Glen was the original owner and was conferring with the original builder to bring the car into the current time frame.

Due to some unfortunate events¬†Glen had to leave Washington state in the late 1990’s and decided to sell the Caribbean. He first called his friend Gordy Brown and offered it to him. Gordy always loved the car, as well as wanting to help his old friend, so he bought the Mercury and picked it up to bring it to his Salt Lake City home. The car still looks pretty much the way it left Glen’s home in the late 1990’s. It is sitting in Gordy’s shop waiting to be completely restore one day.


CCC-valley-custom-13-glen-hooker-mercThis is now the car currently sits in Gordy Brown’s shop. The Padded top frame is all there, but the padding and upholstery on the top are long gone.
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The Second Mercury

At one point, before Glen had heard about his old Mercury survived he was really missing the Caribbean. He began to look for a similar car to build another one as an kind of a replacement. He did not set out to build a clone of his old car though. He bought an started project 1940 Mercury convertible with 1939 Mercury front end from John Williams, who actually had found the body (an old custom) behind Korkey’s (Dick Korkes) house in East L.A. Glen worked on that car for some time, then sold it. This 1940 Mercury changed hands several times. And at one point the car was even ¬†offered for ale as the original Valley Custom Shop built Glen Hooker Mercury, which it obviously was not. And eventually ended in the hands of Gordy Brown. Gordy has been working on this car for quite some time and he continued with the plans Glen had for the car originally. Not a clone of the Carabbean, but one inspired by it. We will not go in depth about this car, perhaps in another CCC-Article. However it was worth mentioning this second car in this story, since there are photos of both the original Caribbean and this second Mercury at Gordy Browns home.


CCC-valley-custom-28-gordy-brown-mercGordy Brown with the second Mercury in his shop. A 1940 convertible with 1939 front end.
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 Reference and more info
  • Car Craft, magazine January 1954
  • Car Craft, magazine February 1954
  • Car Craft, magazine March 1954
  • Rod & Custom, magazine July 1955
  • Trend Book 116, Custom Cars 1955 Annual





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Ron Dunn Finished paint

RON DUNN FINISHED PAINT

November 26, 2014, The Team at Steve’s Auto Restoration in Oregon¬†have completely finished the paint work on the Valley Custom Shop-built Ron Dunn Ford. Next up is final assembly.

 
Over the last couple of weeks the Ron Dunn Ford has been painted, the paint left to rest for a while and then it was time for countless of hours of wet sanding. The Sierra Gold paint was carefully sanded to a perfect smooth surface before SAR employees Jay and Duke went ahead with the cut & buff stage to get the paint till absolute perfection.¬†The body is not looking absolutely gorgeous with super paint and the team is very eager to get started on the final assembly. Goal is to have the car displayed at the 2015 Grand National Roadster Show which is held in Pomona California from January 23-35, 2015. As these photos show, there is still a LOT to do to get the car ready…
 
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CCC-valley-customs-ron-dunn-paint-f2-02Jay and Duke doing what they do best to get the paint finish into the best condition possible.
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CCC-valley-customs-ron-dunn-paint-f2-04The paint job is all finished now, and the team has started to remove the taped sections to have a first good look.
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CCC-valley-customs-ron-dunn-paint-f2-05First steps of putting the car back together were to install the front inner fenders which where painted gloss black.
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CCC-valley-customs-ron-dunn-paint-f2-07Looking forward to see all the panels back in place and the white wall tires to set off the paint… soon.
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Dick Colarossi 1940 Ford

 

DICK COLAROSSI 1940 FORD

 

In the early 1950’s the Valley Custom Shop restyled this 1940 Ford for Dick Colarossi. He last saw it in 1966 in the San Fernando Valley, who knows what happened to it?



A little while ago the Custom Car Chronicle was contacted by¬†Vicky Carabini, with the question if we could spread the word that her father,¬†Dick Colarossi, was looking for a Valley Custom Shop created 1940 Ford he had in the early/mid 1950’s. The 1940 Ford was started by Dick, who handled most of the mechanical work, but when it came time for the body restyling he took the car to the Valley Custom Shop. The car was featured twice in Rod & Custom Magazine, once in an how-to article on how to build Nerf-Bar bumpers, and one feature article, both articles had¬†4 full pages.

Dick sold his¬†coupe in 1957¬†to a¬†new owner. All Dick remembers about him was that he was a pilot for United Airlines, sadly he could not recall his name. After that Dick spotted his old coupe one more time. This was in 1966 when he saw the car race at a drag strip in San Fernando Valley. The original flathead engine had been replaced with a hot Pontiac engine. This was the last time Dick saw his car. He has been searching for his Ford for several years, with no luck so far. So with the help of his daughter Vicky he is not spreading the word on the internet, in the hope somebody will recognize his old car, and he will be able to find out where it is today, or what happened to¬†the “Monk-Wagon“, as Dick nick-named his 1940 Ford. There are a couple of very¬†distinctive¬†features on this car, that hopefully somebody will recognize.
Please contact us¬†if you have any info on this 1940 Ford’s whereabouts, or know what happened to it after 1966.

Many thanks to Vicky Carabini, Dick Colarossi’s daughter for sharing the family photo’s of the “Monk-Wagon”, and Kustoms Illustrated editor Luke Karosi for scanning these photos.


CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-01Vicky Carabini shared the 12 photos here father Dick Colarossi still has of his old 1940 Ford. Above are 6 of the mostly badly faded photos. We tried to do all we could to restore them as good as possible. But most of the photos have been faded to a dark yellow, leaving nearly no color at all. However a few of them, mostly the interior photos contained a bit more color.
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The Monk Wagon, 1940 Ford

Dick Colarossi from Glendale, California, started working on his 1940 Ford in 1950, he had just turned 17, and was learning to do mechanical work while practicing on his own Ford. He knew what he wanted for this 1940 Ford, and also knew he could do some of the work, the mechanical stuff, himself, but would have to rely on somebody else for doing the cosmetic part. it would take him nearly 5 years before the car would be finished as we can see it in the 1955 Rod & Custom Magazine feature.

The car was lowered in the front using a 2.5 inch dropped axle, and the rear of the frame was stepped a full 5 inches. This resulted in a wonderful slight speed boat stance. The engine was replaced with a 59A block which was fully detailed and hopped up with three Stromber 48’s and an Edelbrock manifold. Dick created a special exhaust system that would exit thru the inner fenders and run underneath the running boards and exit at the end of the running boards with nice oval shaped chrome plated tips. The firewall was cleaned up as were the inner fenders. The whole engine bay was exceptional clean. Dick also filled the gas filler on the rear fender and relocated it inside the trunk.


CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-02The Rod & Custom feature mentioned that the headlights were protected by chrome mesh screens over the bulbs. Since it does not show on any of the photos I asume this was installed behind the glass. Photo developed in the week of July 26, 1954. (Courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-09Dick took a photo of his wife Justina sitting in the Coupe in its early unfinished stage. We can see how much the stock rear fender covers the white wall tires in this first version. Photo developed in the week of July 26, 1954. (courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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Next Dick took his coupe to the¬†Valley Custom Shop¬†who would do their magic on the car. The hood was shaved, welded into one solid piece and peaked at the front. The door handles removed and electrical openers installed with micro buttons hidden in the side trim. The trunk was completely shaved and a new inboard lucking system installed that could be activated from the dash. Speaking about the dash, that is another thing that the Valley Custom Shop modified this first round. The stock gauge cluster of the 1940 Ford dash was filled and a much larger tunneled panel was created to house 6 round¬†Stewart Warner¬†gauges.¬†The center section was also smoothed and fitted with a chrome 1954 Ford radio face. All the dash knobs were relocated in a section below the main dash panel for an ultra clean look. All window garnish moldings were polished smooth and send out to be chrome plated. The interior was updated with a full width rear bench and then uphostered in maroon and¬†eggshell Naugahyde by¬†Floyd Tipton’s Upholstery shop¬†from Burbanks. Floyd Tipton handled¬†a lot¬†of the Valley Custom Shop created Custom interior.


CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-07Floyd Tipton did the eggshell and maroon upholstery in Dick’s 1940 Ford. The Valley Custom Shop restyled dash was painted gloss black. Photo developed in the week of July 26, 1954.¬†(Courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-04Wonderful detailed engine bay was the work of Dick himself. Photo developed in the week of July 26, 1954. (Courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-15Rod & Custom Magazine used progress photos taken at the Valley Custom Shop during the production of the Nerf Bars for Dick’s coupe in their March 1955 article on how to “Nerfing Bars”. The article shows the whole process, step by step with clear photos and¬†explaining text to show the readers how to do this at home.
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Valley Custom Shop reshaped the back of the car, where they shortened and rounded the bottom of the¬†tail panel below the trunk as well as the lower edges of the rear fenders behind the wheel openings. Taillights were replaced with the popular torpedo shaped 1941 Studebaker units. The Valley Custom Shop¬†was also responsible for the nicely shaped Nerf-Bar bumpers on Dick’s car. And how to article in the March 1955 issue of¬†Rod & Custom¬†magazine showed the readers how they were created, and setting a new trend. The louvered side grilles of the 1940 Ford were send out to be chrome plated giving the front a much wider look.¬†The car was painted a wonderful deep Oxford Maroon by the Valley Custom Shop. This first version of the car also included a set of fender skirts, although some of the photos Dick took in 1954 show the car with out the hood and fender skirts. But that was just because he was still working on detailing the car during that period.


CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-10According the back of this Kodacolor print it was developed in the week of Dec 6, 1954.  It shows the reshaped panel below the trunk, the simple but very elegant Nerf-Bars, the 1941 Studebaker taillights and the fender skirts.(Courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-03This much faded photo gives us a better look at the reshaped rear panel and lower rear edge of the rear fender and how nice everything works together. Photo developed in the week of Dec 6, 1954. (Courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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Dick won first price award in his class at the¬†1954¬†International Motor Revue. The car was displayed with fender skirts and aftermarket single rib moon hubcaps,¬†the way Dick loved it during this time. But shortly after the show he decided he wanted a bit more sporty look for the car. The fender skirts had to go, and since he did not care much for the fender over hang on the wide white wall tires, he took the car back to the Valley Custom Shop to have them raise and reshaped the wheel openings. The new reshaped openings with reshaped and enlarged corners gave the car a completely different look. From a “heavy” tail-dragging look in 1954 it now had become a sleek streamlined sporty looking car what looked like it was going a 100 miles just standing still. This was the real look Dick had been after when he started his 1940 Ford in 1950.
In the September 1955 Rod & Custom magazine feature we can see that Dick still used the typical Valley Custom Shop aftermarket single rib hubcaps on the wide white wall tires. But later Dick would remove them to give the car en bit more aggressive look.


CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-08Dick proudly showing the award he won at the 1954 International Motor Revue. Dick’s 1940 Ford took¬†1st place in its class. This is one of the few photos of the car showing the fender skirts in place. Later Dick removed them, for a more sporty look. Photo developed in the week of Dec 6, 1954.¬†(Courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-06The R&C feature article showed the car with a stock 1940 Ford steering wheel, but his January 17, 1955 shows the steering wheel had been replace by an 1951 Lincoln unit, after the R&C feature photos were taken. (Courtesy of Vicky Carabini)
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-05Enlarged section of the interior photo gives us a good look at the modified 1940 Ford dash. The Valley Custom Shop did the restyling work. The window cranks were replaced with Chrysler units for a more exclusive look.
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-13Ina Mae Overman took this great picture of Dick’s Coupe in either late 1954, or early 1955. This photo shows the great style Dick had created for his car. Elegant and sporty. (thanks to Mary Ellen Marcy for scanning this photo)
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-12Color slide taken by¬†¬†Tad Hirai which was¬†shared by¬†the¬†Valley Custom Shop Facebook page.¬†On the left we can see¬†Dick’s Ford, in the middle is¬†Tad Hirai’s 1950 Ford and Glen Hooker’s 1939 Merc convertible sitting in the shadow on the right.
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-11Enlarged section of the Tad Hirai¬†photo shows how low Dick’a mercury was. The nerf bar bumpers, the white walls and black wheels on this version made up for an interesting Custom/Hot Rod/Race Car look.¬†
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CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-16The September issue of Rod &¬†Custom showed the finished version of Dick’s Ford including the radiused wheel openings. The interior photo shows the stock 1940 Ford steering wheel.
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In 1955, when the Rod & Custom Magazine article Monk’s Machine appeared, dick was serving in the Army. The article mentioned that Dick still had the car at the time and that he had future plans for it for after he would leave the US Army. The article did not mention that these plan were, but most likely Dick had been inspired by other cars and wanted to update his own version to make it even more perfect. But it never came to that. Dick sold the car in 1957, just as you can see it in this CCC-Article.

One June 2nd, 2017 we received a picture and some info that 46to64 had shared on his Instagram. Another piece of the puzzle.
“June 26 1961 Valley Times Newspaper. My friend Hoodhistorian562 has been digging through old so cal newspapers and we’ve been keeping in touch with each other with the content we find, today he showed me this picture of a beautiful 40′ ford custom, the first car that came to mind when I saw this was the famous Valley Custom Dick Colarossi 40′, this is the same car, the Nerf bar is exactly the same except in this newspaper shot its bent, the front wheel openings look the same and the hood/trim line up, it has shaved handles, and the ride height is correct and the dead giveaway is underneath the hood look at the scoops the oil catch and everything is exactly in place as when Dick owned it. And the best part about this is when Dick sold his car in 1957 It was said to be in the San Fernando Valley at this time. So many things are the same it has to be the same car in 61′! Sadly there is no name of the person next to the ford in the newspaper.”

This photo was posted in the June 26 1961 Valley Times Newspaper, it shows the Calarossi 40 Ford with new hubcaps, and a modified (bend?) nerve bar up front. Sadly the article did not mention the name of the then owner, most likely the guy posing in front of it.
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The Most distinctive features on this 1940 Ford that might help locate the car today are:

  • Reshaped, raised wheel openings, with softened corners.
  • Running board exhaust tips
  • Shortened rear splash apron, reshaped lower edge on rear fenders.
  • Shaved door and trunk handles, with gas filler moved to inside the trunk.
  • Heavily reshaped dash with 6¬†Stewart Warner gauges.
  • 5 Inch stepped frame in the rear.

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I had never seen the photos from the car with the aftermarket hubcaps, and fender skirts installed, as it can be seen in the much faded color photo from the 1954 International Motor Revue. These faded photos are the only photos that show the car with this set up. So I decided I wanted to have a better look at this set-up and used¬†the Ina Mae Overman¬†photo for a¬†Digital Restyling version. I added the right hubcaps, and added some material to the rear fenders, where the Valley Custom shop had opened up the wheel opening, and fender skirts to see how the car must have looked back in 1954… pretty neat, I like it. I gives the car a whole different feel.


CCC-dick-colarossi-valley-custom-17Digital restyled version shows the car as it looked in 1954, with full hubcaps and fender skirts. 
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Ron Dunn Ford in paint

RON DUNN FORD IN PAINT

The Team at Steve’s Auto Restoration in Oregon are keeping up the pace on the Valley Custom Shop-built Ron Dunn Ford. At the end of October 2014 the body was painted Sierra Gold.

 
[dropcap]The[/dropcap] last time we reported on the Ron Dunn Restoration the car was at the Rodder’s Journal Studio in San Francisco for a famous Geoff Miles and Steve Coonan Bare Metal Photoshoot. In the meantime the feature has been published in the Rodder’s Journal #64, showing all the wonderful work the Valley Custom Shop team had done on the car in the early 1950’s. And the restoration team at Steve’s Auto Restoration in 2014.

CCC-valley-custom-ron-dunn-lead-11-WOpenings spread of the Rodder’s Journal with the Ron Dunn bare metal article written¬†by Curt Iseli.
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After the Rodder’s Journal photo-shoot the was was taken apart again and it was time to freshen up the lead-work on the car. Most of the lead-work was done expertly by the in hours body and lead guy Bryan Bidema assisted by Steve. We are very fortunate that the team at SAR are documenting every step of the process, and even better are sharing it with the world. Thank you very much for that. It is a pleasure to see all this amazing work being done on this Milestone Custom.
 
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CCC-valley-custom-ron-dunn-lead-05-WSAR’s Bryan Bidema at work applying lead around the taillights of the Ford.
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CCC-valley-custom-ron-dunn-lead-06-WAfter the lead-work the body was prepped for primer.
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CCC-valley-custom-ron-dunn-lead-07-WFresh coats of primer which was followed by black sanding until the body was absolutely perfect.
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When the Ronn Dunn Ford¬†was redone in 1957, the team at the Valley Custom Shop had used a custom mixed color based off of Chevrolet’s ’57 Sierra Gold. During the restoration samples of this color were found inside the car, and the perfect match for the color was mixed from those samples. At the end of OCtober 2014 the Ron Dunn Ford was finally repainted again in the same color as it was in 1957. SAR’s Jay Spencer did the color matching on the paint as well as the painting of the car. And wow.. the color looks so good. I cannot wait to see the car getting back together over the next period. Stay tuned for more updates on the Valley Custom Shop, Ron Dunn Sectioned Shoebox restoration project.
 
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