Westergard classic 36 Ford

CLASSIC WESTERGARD FORD

.

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

.

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

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

.

CCC-Westergard-Jack-Odbert-36-05
1952 photo of Jack’s 1936, shows the wonderful speedboat stance of the car. It also shows how all the custom elements on the front of the car work together to create an unique classic look.

.

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

.

CCC-Westergard-Jack-Odbert-36-01
The 1941 Oldsmobile bumpers have a lot more body than the original Ford bumpers. These new bumpers fit close to the body, and the stock cut out at the center fits the LaSalle grille perfectly. The long over-riders give the front extra height.

.

CCC-Westergard-Jack-Odbert-36-02
The Oldsmobile rear bumpers are perfect for the back as well where the heavy end sections flow well with the Fords fenders. The chrome surround on the set in license plate help with the classic feel of the car.

.

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

.

CCC-Westergard-Jack-Odbert-36-03
Overview photo of the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer showroom. In 1950 there was a small Custom car and Hot Rod show, and in this photo we can already see 4 or 5 padded topped customs. At least three of them can be identified as Westergard Customs.

.

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

.

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

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

.

CCC-Westergard-Jack-Odbert-36-04
This photo was also taken at the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer. It shows the car with 1950 black letters on yellow plates. It also appears that the skirts have been decorated with 1941 Buick trim pieces. Note that the small diameter spotlights are pointing forward.

.

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

.

4+

Custom 1933-34 Fords

FORDS MODEL-40 CUSTOMIZED

Today almost all of the modified ’33 and ’34 Fords are done up as street rods or traditional hot rods. In the 1940’s and up until the very early 50’s these cars were routinely built as customs.

Between these two years of Henry Ford’s popular art deco influenced cars, the 1934 was the hands down favorite as custom material. Many ’33 models got a ’34 grille and the two handled ’34 hood as standard operating procedure. It was later when the hot rods got popular that car guys liked the curved bars and thinner grille shell surround of the ’33. Today both years are equally popular and as we know there is a high demand for these good looking and desirable Fords.

When they were built as customs, back in the day, the popular body styles were the roadsters, cabriolets, three window coupes and five window coupes. Although not customized as often as the other styles, the sedans, both two and four door, also made very nice customs.
CCC-34-Ford-Wes-Collins-01-WWes Collin’s 1934 Ford Roadster is possibly the best sample of how good the 1933-34 Fords can look customized. The DuVall windshield, padded top, fender skirts, long GM headlights and Lincoln bumpers add an almost movie star elegance to this type of car.

CCC-34-Ford-Wes-Collins-02-W

Pat Ganahl did an excellent article on Wes Collins 1934 Ford in the Rodder’s Journal issue 51. This photo shows Wes’ roadster with a light color, the padded top in place and this photo also shows the George DuVall “swirl” hubcaps.

 

The first order of change in the forties was to get rid of the stock 17” wheels in favor of 15” or 16” solid wheels with flipper hubcaps or other full wheel hubcaps mounted with wide white wall tires, or black walls in the early ’40’s. Headlights, bumpers, and taillights were also routinely changed.
Lowering with a slight “speedboat effect” gave the desired look for an early custom. Fender skirts were popular in the forties and aftermarket skirts were available for these cars.

CCC-34-Ford-Coupe-01-W

This 1934 Ford coupe was chopped, had solid hood sides, Appleton Spotlights, 1941 Ford bumpers and white trim rings to simulate white wall tires. The stance and overall look and feel is all custom. The photo was taken in 1947.

 

CCC-34-Ford-Coupe-02-W

Here is the same coupe as above, but now wearing a set of white wall tires and single bar flipper hubcaps. The rest stayed the same, but what a difference in appearance.

 

 

CCC-34-Ford-Coupe-03-w

A chopped 5-window coupe with 1936 Ford rear fenders. The taller rear fenders made sure the rear could be lowered a bit more than the stock rear fenders allowed.

 

Appleton spotlights look good on the closed cars of this vintage. In the forties one spotlight on the driver’s side pointed to the rear was common. Later the trend was for dual spotlights turned down in a traditional manner.

Body modifications often included filling the deck lid and door handles. Smooth or louvered hood sides gave a cleaner look to the front-end. These cars really lend themselves to a chopped top and many closed car ’33-4 Fords were chopped. The roadsters would sometimes get a DuVall windshield and the cabriolets a chopped windshield with a Padded Top.

CCC-34-Ford-John-Dennis-01-W

CCC-34-Ford-John-Dennis-02-W

CCC-34-Ford-John-Dennis-03-W

All three photos above show that even 1933-34 four door sedan’s were customized back in the day. This sample is perfectly chopped and restyled by John Dennis.

Some of the more radical examples of these customized cars might have been channeled and the running boards were removed when raising the fenders on the body. Sometimes a different grille such as a Brewster was added, but most customizers preferred the ’34 grille.

These two years of Fords gave the custom fans lots of options and the results were “easy on the eyes”. Rick Dore reminded us how good they look as customs when he unveiled his mint green ’33-4 roadster a few years ago. Although filled with modern billet parts, Rick Dore’s Ford sure had a full custom feel. He used a set of 1935-36 Ford rear fenders to get the car really low in the rear. The car was obviously inspired by the Wes Collin’s 1934 Ford Roadster.

 

CCC-Rick-Dore-34-Ford-W

Rick Dore debuted his 1934 Ford Custom Roadster in 2005. Although much more modern in appearance, it still is evident that the Wes Collins roadster built in the early 1940’s was the inspiration for Rick Dore’s version. (photos by Dave Lindsay)

Hot Rod, Custom or a little of both the ’33 and ’34 Fords definitely have “the look!
We hope that more of these cars will be built as customs in the future and hopefully this article and images will help some to get motivated building a customized 1933-34 Ford in the near future.

 

 

CCC-Sponsor-BENDIX

.

2+

Palle Johansen 47 Caddy Introduction

.

PALLE JOHANSEN 47 CADDY

.

After many years in the works, Palle Johansens 1947 Cadillac Padded Topped Convertible Kustom is finally ready – enough – for its debut.

.

For the last few years Palle has been working on and off on his 1947 Cadillac Kustom. Adding all the details he has had in his mind for a long time. From the extended front fenders with home made brass side trim, the smoothed rear fenders, set in license plate, had made taillights set into 1949 Cadillac guards, to the beautiful styled dashboard with center mounted modified 1948 Cadillac Gauge panel. And not to forget the deep-dark-gold paint with added bronze powder, just as the masters in the 1940’s and 50’s used.

Palle’s goal with this Cadillac was to build the perfect 40’s Kustom, that could have been created in the late 1940’s. His main inspiration were the Custom Cars created by the Ayala’s, Barris and other So Cal builders from the late 1940’s. And especially the 1942 Cadillac Convertible Custom George Barris created for himself as personal driver. George used an older/cheaper ’42 model and updated it with ’47 fenders and bumpers. Barris had Bill Gaylord create the super long and perfectly shaped padded top. David Martinez recreated the top for Palle’s Cadillac in 2013.

.

Inspiration for the Palle Johansen Cadillac is one that George Barris created for himself as personal driver in the late 1940’s. This Cadillac was updated from a 1942 model with new fenders, grille an bumpers.

.

In 2014 Palle’s Cadillac was roughly finished, more like a driving project. Here seen on the road to the Old Style Weekend in Sweden.

.

INTRUDUCING
The Palle Johansen Cadillac

This is an introduction article celebrating that Palle’s Cadillac has been finished enough for its debut at the Flatlands Motorama in Rosmalen, the Netherlands on April 6-7, 2019. Special thanks to the team of friends who have helped Palle to get the car finished in time for the show. We will go much more in depth on the car, all the details and how it was created at a later date. For now, lets enjoy some of the photos Palle took last weekend.

.

For the first time out with the padded top back on the car on Saturday March 30, 2019. Kustom Car Perfection.

.

The Dark Gold color was custom mixed with bronze powder added in the final coats. It looks really dark in the shadows, but ones the sun hits it it starts to glow and sparkle, and changes hues depending on the time of day.

.

The extended and molded in front fenders flow harmoniously with the molded in rear fenders.

.

The hood ornament end center trim was removed and the center peaked.

.

Perfect side profile thanks to the extended cat-walk, heavily forward raked “B”-Pillar and flowing padded top.

.

The Caddy…. and Palle are ready to Kustom Cruise this summer.

.

The smaller size Danish license plates allowed the set in to be done below the truck.

.

The taillights were home made to fit perfectly in the 1949 Cadillac bumper guards. The ’49 guards are larger in size than the ’47 model, making them a better option for the taillights.

.

The front fender section on the doors were extended to make the car appear longer, the side trim was hand made from brass. The vent windows were also completely made from brass after to many hours were spend trying to make the units to work with the lowered top. This photo shows a little bit of the center mounted ’48 Cadillac Gauge pod.

.

Teardrop shapes…

.

The setting sun made the dark gold paint glow with a more red hue.

.

A bit closer look at the custom mixed dark gold color with added bronze powder mixed in with the clear. Appleton Spotlights are mandatory on this style of Custom.

.

High front view shows a little bit of the two tone leather interior created by Continental Custom Seats. (we will get back to that in a follow up article)

.

Beautiful Birds view…

.

.

.

The goal was to create a period Custom Car that could have been built around 1949. This Digital Restyled image shows Palle’s Cadillac parked next to George Barris his 1941 Buick photographed around 1948… Mission accomplished.

.

Stay tuned for articles on the Palle Johansen 1947 Kustom Padded Topped Cadillac in the near future. When we will share some more of the details, interior, dash, how it was created etc. But for now we hope you have enjoyed these debut photos.

.

.

6+

De Rosa Golden Piranha

 

GOLDEN PIRANHA

 

De Rosa and Son Customs create an uniquely restyled 1966 Buick Riviera with styling cues from the 50’s and 60’s.



The first time I saw a photo of this Custom was in 1983, when Chrome & Flames magazine had one small photo in an announcement for an upcoming show article. I was a young kid back then just starting to find my way into Custom Cars. I had no idea what I was looking at, I could not figure out if this was an ’50s custom, or modern, all I knew I really liked it. I hoped the magazine would do a full feature on the car in an upcoming issue, but they never did. I had to wait several years before I was able to find out more about this car. When I bought a copy of the Hot Rod magazine Custom Cars from 1983, around 1986. In there was a two page black and white feature on the “Golden Piranha” a 1966 Buick Riviera customized by Frank DeRosa and his son.

CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-02-WThis is the first photo I saw of the Golden Piranha… before I knew what is was, or who built it, 1982.
[divider]




The team at De Rosa and Son Customs worked nearly two years on the project. They started with a low mileage 1966 Buick Riviera, which was sectioned 5 inches and chopped 4 inched. The top was reshaped to reassemble an typical 1950’s Padded style top for this late 1960’s car. An typical 80’s feature was the sunroof in the padded style top. The front fenders were extended and reshaped with rounded front edges. The hood was peaked with an heavy peak and V-ed at the front to match the 1951 Mercury grille. Another not so obvious restyling on this car, but it works really well. The lower grille opening was reshaped to match the front of the hood and warped under as a roll pan. No bumpers were used on the Buick. Small square headlights were set in hand shaped pods which were covered with a chrome plated wire mesh to sort of match the Mercury grille.

The wheel opening at the front was reshaped and flared, at the back the team hand made a flush fitting skirt to fit the reshaped rear wheel opening. A working air duct to cool the rear brakes was installed in front of the rear wheel opening. At the rear the fenders were extended in a similar way as what was done on the front. The trunk lid was extended and a spare tire cover was created using an old motorcycle fender molded into the trunk. New openings for the taillights were created and filled with left over 1950 Mercury grille sections. The lower pan was rolled under just as was done on the front. The suspension was modified and a set of full hydraulics was installed. This allowed Frank De Rosa to cruise the car low over the pavement and drive at regular height on the freeway.

CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-01-WThis photo of the Buick in primer was taken of the shop wall of Franks shop. Not the best quality, but all we could find from the early stages.
[divider]


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-03-W1983 Petersens Custom Cars series created by Hot Rod magazine.
[divider]



With all the body work complete the car was ready for paint. Frank choose an unique candy apple lime gold for the color. He crushed glass to add sparkle to an under-base and followed with many coats of special mixed candy lime gold. According to Frank there is no silver or gold under-base as most of these type of paint jobs required. But how he did it is still a secret. Frank used the original 1966 Buick side trim as inspiration for the graphics on the side of the car. This was done in a slightly lighter shade of gold and outlines in red and orange striping.

To finish of this 1950’s /1960’s styling combinations the team added white wall tires and restyled a set of four bar hubcaps. Frank enjoyed the car for a couple of years and sold it in the mid 1980’s to Bob Bowen.

CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-07-WIn the December 1982 issue of Classic and Custom magazine the Golden Piranha was featured with another De Rosa custom, “The Shark” The two cars were featured in full color on two pages. The photo above and four below come from this article.
[divider]


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-11-WA good view at the custom spare tire cover made from a motorcycle fender. Nice to see the taillights glow behind the 1950 Mercury grille teeth.
[divider]


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-12-WThe working scoop at the leading edge of the flared rear wheel opening.
[divider]


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-09-W


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-08-WThe interior was upholstered in gold colored velour and button-tufted with white buttons and outlined in white beading.
[divider]


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-06-WThis great photo was taken by Paul Kelly from Australia. He visited and 1990’s Paso Robles event to find himself amazed by the Golden Piranha.
[divider]














CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-10-W


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-13-WThe Buick is still around, and in relatively good shape. It used to be part of the Blackie Gejeian collection in Fresno where this photo was taken.
[divider]





2018 Update

In the spring of 2018 the Golden Piranha find its way back to the DeRosa Family. Together with Frank’s 1951 Mercury four door Custom the Golden Piranha was delivered at the De Rosa Body Shop in Pittsburg, Ca. For the first time in decades Frank DeRosa was able to see his most favorite Custom Creations in person again.

Frank De Rosa in the center, with son Frank JR and daughter Regina next to him with the Golden Piranha and the ’51 Merc at the DeRosa Body Shop April, 2018.
[divider]


Fresh out of the Blackie Gejeian warehouse, ready to be cleaned and detailed.
[divider]








[box_light]
FOR SALE In June 2018 the DeRosa family decided that both the ’51 Mercury and the Golden Piranha needed to find a new home, so that the cars could be displayed at car shows and events again, and enjoyed by Custom Car enthusiast. If you are seriously interested in owning this DeRosa Custom Car Icon, a Historic Custom Car, then please Contact the DeRosa family at: 925-439-5115.
[/box_light]













Resources and more info

  • Chrome & Flames, European magazine 1982
  • Classic & Custom, magazine December 1982
  • Hot Rod magazine, Petersens Custom Cars series, 1983
  • Custom Car Photo Archive, De Rosa Customs
  • FOR SALE  Contact the DeRosa family at: 925-439-5115.


CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-end-W


[divider]




(this article is sponsored by)

ccc-sponsor-ad-customs-by-flash-w


[divider]




.

0

Tiago Ranchero Clone

TIAGO RANCHERO CLONE

George Garcia from Bellflower California has been dreaming of recreating the Famous Dick Tiago 1957 Ford Ranchero for over 30 years.



For many years we have seen photos of an unfinished Ford Ranchero chopped at the old Barris Atlantic Blvd. Shop by Brad Masterson. The Dick Tiago clone, or very close recreation was underway, but progress was slow, and happened when funds and time became available. Janne Lepola, from Finland spend some time in California doing body work, and he worded on the front end of George’s Ranchero, modifying the headlights, the fender tops, rounding the corners of the hood and adding the ’57 DeSoto Bumper/Grille.

In early June, 2018 George picked up the car from the Star Kustom Shop where Dakota Wentz painted the car in a beautiful Candy Green and Gold. The original colors of the Tiago Ranchero were candy green and lime that had been mixed by Joe Bailon. Bruce Heather, the owner of over 40 years of the original Tiago Ranchero had supplied George with color samples of the candy green and lime gold he had found on the car at the A-Pillar. The colors were matched as close as possible. George has named his Ranchero “Hanky Panky”, and next up is the tuck&roll upholstery… we can’t wait!

Lets take quick look at the original Tiago Ranchero, (we will get back to that more detailed at a later date) and the gorgeous recreation fresh from the painter.




The original Tiago Ranchero is best known from the beautiful October 1958 cover of Custom Cars Magazine. The lime color appeared a bit more like gold on the cover.
[divider]


Original (faded) color photo Candy Green and Lime. That is Dick Tiago’s wife posing with the car.
[divider]


From the George Barris Collection. The original Dick Tiago Ranchero.
[divider]


I took this photo of George his under construction Ranchero at Brad Masterson’s Shop in 2011. The work on the chopped top was mostly done by then. And the DeSoto bumper/grille has been fitted to the ’58 front end.
[divider]


Janne Lepola photo of his work done at the front of the car.Adding ’57 Ford elements to the ’58 Front.
[divider]


Peaking the top of the front fenders.
[divider]


Headlight work.
[divider]


Rounded hood corners.
[divider]


Almost done, ready for paint.
[divider]


Fresh Chrome, ready to be installed.
[divider]


Fresh from the painter. STUNNING.
[divider]





The freshly painted Ranchero was driven to George’s home, as photographed from Brian Neu’s Ranchero.
[divider]


Really neat shot from Brian during the trip home.
[divider]


One of the things George changed was adding vent windows, which were never on the original Tiago Ranchero. Therefor the original never had door glass. George’s copy will have fully functional door glass.
[divider]





Paint detail around the rounded hood corners.
[divider]





(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-41-merc




.

0

A short drive in the Hirohata Mercury

 

A SPIN IN A CUSTOM CAR ICON

 

Hirohata Mercury owner Jim McNiel, asked me to jump in the passenger seat of his Mercury for a short drive. It put an instant HUGE smile on my face that lasted for days



[box_light]
This article was original created in 2013, but with the passing of Jim McMiel on May 7, 2018 I thought it would be nice to put this article on Jim and driving the Hirohata Mercury back on top. RIP Jim McNiel.
[/box_light]

In 2010 the plan was developed to gather the very best historical custom cars, that were still around in the US, to be part of a special exhibition at the 2011 GNRS. I was invited to be one of the four organizers of this Customs Then & Now exhibition. The whole experience was mind boggling, something I will never, ever forget in my life. The “road” towards the event was special. In my mind’s eye, I could visualize the building getting filled with all the cars and people we invited from all over the US. When it was time to fly to California, a couple of days before the show, I had a hard time getting any sleep at night. Once arrived in Pomona, I saw the first historical custom cars that had already arrived. Cars like the Barris-built Dick Fowler 1938 Ford coupe, and several others, with more customs arriving every hour. I was in heaven.

On Thursday morning, set-up day before the show, I was walking from my hotel to the AHRF parking lot, towards the Fairplex building, when I spotted a long trailer with the side door opened a few inches. I immediately recognized the ice green color on the car inside: The Hirohata Mercury. So, I walked over and talked to the driver, to see if Jim McNiel was around as well. “They will be here any minute”, he said. And sure that was the case. It was really great to see Jim again, after we had met earlier at the Sacramento Autorama Mercury Gathering in 2009. We talked for a bit, and then he had to unload the car. He parked it in a nice spot at the parking lot, so I could take some photos.

Jim stepped back, and let me alone with the car for some time. I walked around it, followed every line on the car, took as many photos from every possible angle I could think of, and absorbed every little detail about this car. I had seen the iconic Hirohata Merc before in Sacramento, but seeing the car in natural light and being able to walk around it with nobody else to bump into, was an extremely nice and privileged experience.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-01-WThe extended front fenders and hood lip create a perfect balance for the long chopped roof line.
[divider]


The Hirohata Mercury is the Custom Car that comes to mind when somebody says the word Custom Car. At least it is to me, and I know this is the same for a lot of people. the Hirohate Merc is THE historic Custom Car icon. And the car was sitting there in front of me with nobody else around it. If I close my eyes I could hear Sam Barris and his team hammering away on the body. I could almost feel the excitement in the Barris Shop, when the car was finally assembled, and the team saw what they had created. I could almost see the huge smile on Bob Hirohata’s face, when he took it for the first spin around the block. I was in Custom Car Heaven before the show had started, and I did not even realize that – for me – the best thing that very day, still had to come.


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-14-WThe rear 3/4 view shows show all the lines from the Buick Side trim, the chopped top, the curved side windows, custom made scoop and reshaped character line flow together .
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-03-WThe custom made parking lights add extra width to the front of the car. The hand made lip on the front wheel opening matches the one of the flush fitted fender skirt at the rear.
[divider]



Jim had made an appointment with a photographer from Sweden for a photo-shoot. Together they decided the best location for the shoot would be on the other side of area where we were standing. Then Jim asked me if I wanted to take a seat in the car, when he drove to the location…

Eh… Yes please!

Jim McNiel invited me to sit, and drive inside the Hirohata Mercury! Instant smile on my face. I made sure, I put my back-pack and try-pod extremely safely on the floor, in order not to damage anything, and carefully sat on the green and white tuck & roll front seat. Jim got in the car behead the steering wheel, and started the engine. It ran flawless, and the sound of the Cadillac engine was music to my ears. I looked around absorbing every little detail like the hand made laminated dash knobs, (which Bob Hirohate made himself, and which are still in place), the Von Dutch pin-striping on the dash is amazing, extremely fine and detailed, and weird above all. I also noticed the V-butted windshield, the chrome garnish around the windshield, the green hand made fuzzy rear view mirror “warmer” that Jim’s wife Sue, made so many years ago. The green and white headliner- which is still the original that the Carson Top Shop made in 1952, the slightly cracked Monterey steering wheel, and Jim holding it, slowly turning to maneuver the car thru the parking lot. It felt the car was floating, Jim drove slow and seemed to enjoy every second driving his baby.

I tried to imagine how it must have been driving this car back in the early 1950’s. The car probably just stopped traffic, and had people turn to take a second look when it was passing by back then.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-05-WNotice the relaxed position Jim has in the car. This photo also shows the slightly cracked -unrestored- Monterey Steering wheel. Jim added the bullet steering wheel center when he was unable to find the original accessory badge.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-06-WEven Jim has a great smile on his face, and he can jump in the car and take it for a spin whenever he can.
[divider]



On the short trip on the parking lot, people turned their head when they heard the soft rumble from the Cadillac engine, realizing something special was driving by. And then the large eyes, and instant smile on the faces when they realized what they saw. An experience I will never forget, and the smile it caused on my face never disappeared throughout the duration of the show.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-13-WHere we can see the V-butted windshield, Sue’s hand-made mirror warmer, and the unrestored dash with the Von Dutch pin-striping.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-08-WBob Hirohata also created the laminated knobs for the Appleton Spotlights.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-07-WClose up of the intricate Von Dutch pin-striping “this is the City”. Notice the cracked off-white paint on the glove-box lid and dash. This is the original paint that was added in 1952.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-12-WOriginal Carson Top Shop created headliner, and detail work round the curved side windows.
[divider]



When Jim parked his car, and we got out, I noticed one other detail I had never seen before on the car. I had never really seen the custom made dark green lucite piece, that Bob Hirohata made for the door garnish moldings. I noticed it, because the sun light made it look really fantastic when I opened the door to get out.
We drove the car for only a small distance, perhaps a little more than half a mile, but this was a trip inside the Hirohata Mercury… an unforgettable experience!

After making some more photos of the car at the new location, I thanked Jim for the unforgettable experience, and went to toward the main building. Jim and I were talking throughout the weekend, whenever we bumped into each other. He seamed to have a great time at the show.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-02-WMy own personal favorite angle of the Hirohata Mercury. This photo also shows the sectioned bumper guards at the front only covering the bottom part of the grill.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-04-W


I know the short drive was “only” at the parking lot of the GNRS, but to me it was more like a drive in early 1950’s Los Angles…. Very similar to these Photoshopped images I created shown below.










(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-41-merc


ccc-shirt-sponsor-ad-kustoms-la-01


<



.

1+

Background Mystery Custom

 

BACKGROUND MYSTERY CUSTOM

 

In the background of 2 early 1950s drag strip photos I spotted this unidentified Mystery Custom Convertible with Padded Top.



Most of the readers on the Custom Car Chronicle know that I love old photos showing car. And how I love to search the background of city views, cars shows, drag races etc to see if there are any Custom Cars hiding in the background. While I was browsing the online Revs Digital Library I accidentally came across a photo of a drag race I had not seen previously. Some of these large online photo collections use search terms to help you find what you are looking for. But often the search terms are not always added to the photos in a correct way. Making it near impossible to find certain photos that have been archived. None of the “make sense” search terms could have found this photo, and it was even filed under a completely wrong years (1980).

The photo was taken by William Hewitt and part of the William Hewitt Photograph Collection in the Revs Archives and alone his collection contains 21,240 photos. William Hewitt took mostly photos of road races from 1953 and up, but, judging his photo collection, he also was interested in land speed records, and apparently went to a few early/mid 1950’s drag races in California. In the first photo I found of William I spotted and padded topped custom in the background. BINGO… I zoomed in on the photos and noticed this really nice looking, most like ’40 Ford, convertible with heavy chop, padded top and Buick kind grille sitting next to the drag strip. It was a Custom I had never seen before. So I searched for more photos from this series, and  found a few more, but sadly one one other was taken at a similar angle and showed the same Custom Car in the background.

The full photo shows the ’40 Ford Coupe Hot Rod getting ready, or just starting its run on the dragstrip. Cars are parked next to the strip with the Custom all the way to the right.
[divider]


At first I thought that it looked very much like the Al Garcia 1939 Ford Convertible Restyled by Harry Westergard and Less Crane in the late 1940’s. But on closer inspection I don’t think it is the same car. First because the car in these photos has vent windows (’39 Ford, and also Al Garcia’s do not have vent windows) plus the hood line towards the custom grille is different. So I do not think I have seen this great looking Custom ever before, and hope somebody does recognize it.


The ’40 Ford has its door handles removed and some more body work done and was partly in primer.
[divider]


This is as large as I could get the Mystery Custom. To bad there is a pole in front of the car. The nose appears to be more round than a ’40 Ford nose. The hood appears to open up all the way to the Buick like grille with vertical bard. The windshield has a rather heavy chop with small side windows and angled B-pillars on the padded top. The front bumper could be a 46-48 Chevy unit.
[divider]



There is not much to go on when it comes to identifying other than what we see in these two photos. There is no date when the photo was taken (yes 1980 according the Revs site, but that is wrong). We can see that the Hot Rod photos in the first photo has 1951 California license plates. Those were used from 1951 to 1955, so anywhere in between those years these photos could have been taken. William started taking photos in 1953, and the newest car in the photos looks to be a ’53 Chevy. So the photo must have been taken between 1953-55, most likely at an airport strip that was used for drag racing from time to time. The car looks to be based on a 1940 Ford, but even that I’m not 100% sure. It looks like it has a 39 model hood, wheel openings raised, a Buick based  or styled after grille, 46-ish bumpers, heavy chop, padded top, Spotlights, and running boards removed. All very typical for an early to mid 1940’s created Custom.

The second photo I found with the same mystery Custom in the background shows a rather beaten up mid engine Model T Drag Racer as the photo focus point. I think I have seen the car before, but cannot identify it at this moment.
[divider]


[divider]


The close up shows that the car had its running boards removed and a cover added to hide the frame. There is a line in the photo that looks like a possible side trim, which fooled me in the beginning, until I noticed the “trim” extended on the hood of the 53 Chevy parked next to it. The ’53 Chevy is also the newest car in both photos.
[divider]


I combined the two photos to create the most complete photo of this Mystery Custom.
[divider]


If anybody recognized this great looking Custom in the background of these two drag strip photos, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle so that we can add the information to this article. Thank you.









(This article is made possible by)






.

0

1952 New York Show Photo

 

1952 NEW YORK SHOW Photo

 

A closer look at an birds eye view photo taken at the New York International Motor Sport Shop in 1952


Many years ago I came across two photos of an Custom restyled 1950 Ford Roadster on eBay. The photos shown in the eBay ad were rather small and a bit fuzzy, but I did recognize the Ford from the Trend Book Restyle Your Car publication from 1952 where it was listed as owned by Thomas Douglas from Miami Florida. The price for the photos was right, so I placed an offer and ended up with them. When they arrived a week or two later I was pleasantly surprised to see the birds eye view photo also including the famous Barris Kustoms restyled Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy HT  as well as another car I recognized from the Trend Book Restyle Your Car, Charles Eli’s 1951 Ford from Mamaroneck NY.

According the Restyle your Car booklet the photos of Charles Ford were taken at the first Annual International Motor Sports Show from 1952 held at the Grand Central Palace in New York. And the photos from the Thomas Douglas in the booklet were taken at the same show as well.

The birds eye view photo was the first one I saw on eBay, I recognized the car and really like the composition and the two other customs in the photo.


Close up up Thomas Douglas ‘ Ford roadster shows the home made v-ed windshield, the molded in hood and trunk, molded headlights, custom grille and converted to a two-seater. The doors do have the side window channel, but I have never seen the car with the windows rolled up, nor can I see how they would match the shape of the windshield frame.
[divider]


The Larry Ernst Chevy did not show to well in the high point of view photo, but I was very excited to see this Barris Kustoms Restyled Icon at the New York Show.
[divider]


The Charles Eli Ford looked very interesting with its ’50 Mercury rear window, the angled forward B-pillar and filled rear quarter windows.
[divider]




This is the second photo I found taken at the ’52 New York show, a better view of the Thomas Douglas with its all molded sectioned body and speed boat style windshield. On the far left side of the photo we can see a small portion of the Eli Ford.
[divider]


Thomas Douglas Ford from the 1952 Motor Trend Restyle your Car booklet. Very interesting car with a mix of Sports Custom and regular Custom restyling. The Larry Ernst Chevy sits behind the Ford. Thomas Douglas lived in Miami Florida, where the Doray Body Shop had created the car for him. Makes me wonder if he drove it all the way up to New York and back.
[divider]


The second photo from the Restyled your Car shows the rear 3/4 of the Douglas Ford. Bill Harris took the photos for Trend Publishing, and if you compare it with the lead photo you can see that he most likely took these photos when the building was close, no public, and he was able to take down the ropes for a better view.
[divider]


Not long before I had found the photos taken at the ’52 New York Show I came across this Motorsport magazine with the Douglas Ford in color on the cover… NICE!
[divider]


Charles Eli’s 1951 Ford uses just as the Douglas Ford an Oldsmobile grille. And it also looks like the same Olds gave up its windshield, and possibly roof for this car. The hood and front fenders were heavily reshaped with reduced in size wheel openings.
[divider]


Reshaped rear fenders and new taillights mounted on hand made pods, placed higher on the fenders. Flush fit skirts and a new top with filled quarter windows and ’50 Mercury rear window.
[divider]


Another photo I came across taken from the Eli Ford at the ’52 Show, with the Douglas Ford next to it.
[divider]


A better look at the Barris Kustoms Restyled Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy.
[divider]







(This article is made possible by)






.

0

41 Chevy 3-Window

 

41 CHEVY 3-WINDOW Mystery Custom

 

1941 Chevy Coupe with chopped turned 3-window top, 1946 Chevy grille and complete smoothed body. Another Mystery Published Custom Car.



[box_light]
Over the years I have come across a lot of Unidentified Custom Car photos in the early Custom Car Publications. Mystery Customs that appeared in just a single publication, and sometimes even in multiple magazines or booklets, but always laking any info on the original builder or owners name. In this series of articles I will be showing some of these Mystery Published Custom Cars, and hopefully the extra publicity will lead to some more information on these cars.
[/box_light]




1941 Chevy 3-window Coupe Custom.

The first time I saw a picture of this ’41 Chevy Custom was possibly the last published photo of the Custom. It was in the Barris Kustoms Technique of the 50’s Volume 2 book published in 1996. On page 13 there is a great photo taken at the Barris Compton Avenue shop showing this Chevy with white wall tires, listed as a ’42 Chevy – which it might be, instead of a ’41 – parking in front of the Barris shop with a ’41 Ford convertible Custom in the driveway. The photo caption mentioned that some work on the car was done at the Barris Shop… which is very plausible. The car really has this beautiful early Barris look and feel. There is no mentioning about the owners name in the Barris book.

Later when I found an original copy of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling published in 1951, I spotted another photo of what I think is the same Chevy. The photo in the Dan Post book showed the car with a nice profile photo parked in front of an used car dealer when it had black wall tires. There was no photo caption in the Dan Post book. Later I found out that the same photo was also part of the first time the Blue book was published in 1949.

From the 1946 Custom Styling Manual published by Edgar Almquist.
[divider]





From the 1947 published Speed and Mileage Manual published by Edgar Almquist.
[divider]


It turned out that the more photos I found of the car, the further I went back in time with the publications I found it in. I bought a Speed and Mileage Manual by Edgar Almquist first published in 1947. It had a single photo of the Chevy, a nice front 3/4 view and in the photo the car had white wall tires, and the paint looked to be a bit lighter than in the Barris Book photo.  The same photo was also used in Custom Styling Manual and Custom Streamlining published by Edgar Almquist in 1946. In this earliest published photo the car was listed as a ’41 Chevy, but no builder or owner name was mentioned.

In 1947 Dan Post published his California Custom Car Photo Album booklet. The Chevy was shown in the booklet with no less than 5 photos. 4 of these photos show the car with white wall tires, and one with black wall tires. A side view photo was used on the cover, a front 3/4 view with the car in a lighter color on the back cover, and three more on one page inside the booklet. None of these photos had any photo captions, nor photo credits.


The front and back cover of the 1947 published Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album booklet used two photos of the Chevy.
[divider]


Dan Post devoted 3 photos of the Chevy on a full page in his ’47 published California Custom Car Photo Album booklet. I think that all these three photos, which have the background cut off, were taken at the Barris Compton Avenue shop.
[divider]


The photo shown on the cover of the Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album shows the full side view of the car taken in front of the Barris Compton Ave shop. The photo is taken the same day, with the ’41 Ford Convertible peaking in above the Chevy hood, as the one shown in the Barris Techniques book. Wish a bit more of the back ground was shown in this photo, most likely taken in 1946.
[divider]


This is the only rear view photo I have been able to find. It shows how the trunk was shortened at least a foot at the top, the fenders are molded and blended into the body, and the rear window looks to have been cut down and made into a three piece unit (possibly Cadillac rear window cut down?) The rear bumper looks to be a ’46 Chevy unit.
[divider]


On the back cover of the Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album this photo of what I think is the Chevy was used. It shows the car with black wall tires, and a lighter paint job. But otherwise identical to the darker colored photos. The photo looks to be a collage of the car cut from the background and pasted into the palm tree nice building photo.
[divider]


The only other photo I have found of the car so far comes from the internet in the very early years. I have no idea where it came from, but it shows the car in the dark paint, with white walls parked next to what I think is an early version of the Var Martin’s 1941 Buick with full fade-away fenders Custom restyled by the Barris Shop.



The Chevy

The Chevy is a really beautiful restyled 3-window Coupe. Unsure if the car tarted out as a ’41 or 42 model. The top was chopped with a really beautiful flow on the rear of the top. It looks like the rear of the top is still located in the stock position, not moved forward like we see a lot in more preset day builds. This allowed the builder to create a really beautiful flowing line on the top. The rear quarter windows are filled in for an ultimate smooth look. Filing in quarter windows of 5-window coupes, and even on sedans was a very popular Restyling technique used in the early days, the mid 1940’s. In the early days the most commonly Custom restyled Custom Cars, especially in California, where it all started, were based on convertibles and received chopped padded tops originally designed by the Carson Top Shop. These tops had the rear quarter windows filled in and a super smooth flow at the rear of the top. I think that a lot of early Custom Restyler’s liked this look, and when they chopped a coupe body filling in the rear quarter windows seamed a natural for them to obtain this favorable look. Later this filled quarter window look was reused on the twin ’48 Chevy’s restyled by Barris for the High-School Confidential movie in 1957-58.

The rear window was either replaced by a three piece Cadillac unit, or home made. Plus it was cut down in the chopping process, unlike what was more common later on to just lay it forward to match the new roof shape, but kept its original height. The new small “mailslot”  rear window is perhaps another inspiration things fro the popular Padded tops, which mostly had very small rear windows as well.

This profile photo of the  Chevy was first shown in the Dan Post Blue book in 1949. It shows the car with black wall tires and dark paint in front of an unknown Used Car Lot. Not sure when the photo was taken.
[divider]


Photo from the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s book. The photo caption in the book is: Also photographed outside the Compton Avenue shop was this ’42 Chevy coupe which had its top chopped, the door posts kicked forward, and the rear side window blanked. The running boards were molded as were the headlights. Notice that the hood was shaved and had its side trim removed and that we’d installed flat, extended fender skirts. The grille was from a ’46 Chevy.
[divider]



The fenders were welded to the body and flared into the body for that beautiful one piece molded look. All the trim and handles were shaved and the hood was relieved of its center strip and side scoops. The  front end was modified to accept a brand new at the time of the build ’46 Chevy grille and the bumpers front and rear were replaced with ’46 Chevy units. At the back the trunk was shortened at the top, not sure why this was done. The stock taillights were used and everything was smoothed. The car had tear drop shaped fender skirts added, and used smooth aftermarket hubcaps with beauty rings.

The car looks and feels like an early Barris Restyled car, the Barris Technique book mentioned it was done, or at least partly done at the Barris Shop. This is the only written info we have on the car, and since it was photographed in front of the Barris Shop around 1946, it is most likely a Barris Created Custom, but who was the owner? and what happened to the car. Also when was the car the lighter color, before the dark paint, or after? and what about the white walls versus the black walls Which one was earlier?

The Chevy Coupe parked next to what I think is an early version of the Var Martin Barris Restyled ’41 Buick. What a fantastic sight to see these two chopped 3-window coupe early Customs sitting side by side. Unusual for these early customs, (around 46-47, and possibly both restyled by Barris) is that both customs have no Appleton Spotlights installed.
[divider]



Quite a view photos of this car have been published, and most of them in early publications, but none of those I have found shed any light on the history of this car. If any of the CCC readers knows anything more about this Mystery Published Custom Chevy, please email Rik at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to know more about this early Custom Car, and be able to put a name to this well published Custom.







ccc-shirt-sponsor-ad-kustoms-la-01

(This article is made possible by)



0

Tony Rando 1939 Ford

 

Tony Rando 1939 Ford

 

Tony Rando showed his channeled and chopped 1939 Ford at the 1952 Oakland Roadster show. That is about the only thing we really know about this stylish Custom.



The first time I saw a picture of Tony Rando’s 1939 Ford was when Automotive Designer Chris Ito shared some photos taken at the 1952 Oakland Roadster show with me many years ago. It was a rather dark snapshot cutting of the rear and the passenger side fender off in the frame. But there was something about this car that I liked. The hood was extremely sectioned, very similar to the Doug rice 39 Ford Coupe, the grille was left stock, bumpers changed with the all time favorite ribbed ’37 DeSoto units. Double Appleton’s, chopped windshield, ripple disk hubcaps… and that was about all could see in this dark snapshot. Fortunately the photographer had taken the photo in such a way that the show card was very visible and I at least knew the owners name was Tony Rando from San Fransisco, and that he was a member of the Hill Toppers Car Club.

I searched for the car in other photos I had of the 1952 Oakland Roadster Show, but no luck. The owners name also did not bring me anything more. For a brief moment I thought that I might have seen the car in progress in the first Barris Kustom Techniques book. On page 26 and 27 the sectioning of a Ford hood is shown for owner Slim Messick. But after looking a bit better the hood on Slim’s Ford is sectioned less than the one on Tony’s Ford… bummer.

Cover of the 1952 National Roadster Show in Oakland. The only place were we have seen Tony Rando’s ’39 Ford Convertible so far.
[divider]


From the May ’52 issue of Hot Rod magazine. It shows that the heavily sectioned hood required the front of the hood to be reshaped, and now has a really nice curved shape.
[divider]



In January 2012 Jamie Barter sends me a scan he made of an article in the May 1952 issue of Hot Rod Magazine about the 1952 National Roadster Show in Oakland. One photo in the article showed Tony Rando’s beautiful ’39 Ford. And even though it was a rather small printed photo, it showed the car a lot nicer than the one snapshot I had from the Chris Ito Collection. This really was a very nice proportioned Custom. It reminded me a lot about the Ralph Jilek 1940 Ford Convertible created by the Valley Custom Shop. Tony’s being a bit more “vintage” styled, while Ralph’s Ford looked more modern. But both extremely nicely proportioned.

One thing that I was unable to see in the nap shot, was that the main body was not sectioned on Tony’s Ford. The body was channeled over the frame, the running boards were removed, and as far as I can tell the rear fenders remain in the stock position on the rear quarter panels (Unlike the Valley Custom Ralph Jilek Ford which had a sectioned main body). The front fenders on the car were raised a lot, it looks like the top is no level, or slightly higher as the belt-line of the car. Most likely this meant that the lower portion of the front fenders had to be extended down at the rear to meet the bottom of the body. The much sectioned hood must have taken quite a bit of work to get reshaped to fit right with the raised fenders and grille.

The first time I saw Tony’s ’39 Ford was this dark snapshot from the Chris Ito Collection. I really liked everything I was able to see in this photo, and the cars vision stuck in my mind ever since.
[divider]



The car has a relatively high stance, especially for 1952, but it looks very proportioned on the car. Wide white wall tires with ripple disk hubcaps are used that suit the car as perfect as they can be. The windshield is chopped, but not a whole lot, which fits right in place with the stance. All the trim has been shaved from the body, handles removed and there is not even a stainless rock shield on the rear fenders. The rear wheel opening is covered with a tear drop shaped bubble skirt. The stock bumpers are replace with the ever popular ribbed ’37 DeSoto bumpers. The interior looks to be done in two colors, a light and a medium color. The car was shown at the ’52 Roadster show without a top.

In another photo taken at the ’52 Roadster Show we can see another small portion of Tony’s Ford in the background on the far right, behind the little flag.
[divider]


Enlarged section of the Hot Rod photo above, gives us the partial side view of Tony’s Ford.
[divider]



Ever since I have been looking to find more info Tony Rando’s ’39 Ford. It is a very nice car, so perhaps it could have been featured in one of the magazines, but no luck. And everybody I have asked about the car, and the owner could not tell me anything more. The May ’52 Hot Rod magazine photo appears to be the only time the car was published, as far as we know. Possibly the fact that the owner was from San Fransisco and not from the Los Angeles area, where all the magazine publisher were at, might have something to do with it.

The Barris shop created besides the one for Slim Messick, another car that has a lot of similarities with Tony’s Ford. The shop did a ’39 Ford convertible for Mickey Chiachi around 1947-48. This car was also channeled, had its front fenders raised, the hood sectioned, the windshield chopped and ran ’37 DeSoto bumpers. Very similar, yet still different, not the same car. Mickey’s Ford had a far less sectioned hood. Both cars were also very similar to the two cars Art & Jerry created at their Olive Hill Garage. So it is obvious that the style was very popular from the mid 1940’s till the early 1950’s, and the variations in the details and amount of chop and sectioning were unique for each of them.

Mickey Chiach’s Barris Restyled ’39 Ford parked at the Barris Compton Ave shop around 1948. Similar in styling, but with several different details… not the car I was looking for.
[divider]


I’m still very much interested in seeing more pictures of Tony’s ’39 Ford Convertible. It is perhaps my personal favorite from a series of ’39 Fords styled in a similar way. If any of our reader has any more information on Tony’s 39 Ford, or even better some never before seen photos. Please let us know… Thank you.

[divider]

[divider]





.

0