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

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Jack Butler Pinhole Camera Project

 

JACK BUTLER Pinhole Camera

Jack Butler started capturing the Hot Rod and Kustom Culture with a back to basics Pinhole Camera in 2003. Unique photo-captures


The first time I found out about Jack Butler’s pinhole photos was when I was researching the Wally Welch 1950 Mercury for an magazine article many years ago. I stumbled onto an beautiful “fish-eye” image of the Wally Welch Mercury with the then owner Joe Eddie posing next to it (the openings photo of this article). Fascinated by the images I did some more online searching and found out the photo was taken by Jack Butler of Gig Harbor, Washington. And that the photo was part of a complete series of photos (Hot Rod Kulture/Culture Project) he had taken with a so called “Pinhole Camera”. very low tech camera with no actual lens.

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What is a pinhole camera?
A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a lens but with a tiny aperture, a pinhole – effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from a scene passes through the aperture and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box, which is known as the camera obscura effect. (From Wikipedia) A good explanation how the pinhole camera works can be found here.
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Jack has been enjoying Hot Rods and Custom Cars since he was a kid, and in the 1990’s he was drawn back into the scene after he visited a Hot Rod show. He bought himself a ’32 Ford 5-window coupe and rebuilt it to his ultimate Hot Rod over a period of years. Around 2003 he seriously started to combine his passion for Art and the Hot Rod & Kustom Culture scene when he used his Pinhole Camera to capture the Cars and the people in the scene. He started working with instant Polaroid material so that the people could see the result of his work right there at the spot. They were amazed with the result, how such a low tech camera, without lens, F-stop or mechanical shutter could result in such a good looking and characteristic picture.

In 2003 he received a C.O.L.A. grant, which allowed him to explore his project more and resulted in an exhibition of the work at the Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery in 2004. The entire show was about the Hot Rod culture, and he later produced his own book, Hot Rod Kulture featuring his Pinhole Camera Hot Rod & Kustom Culture images.

Initially all the images for this project were shot with his Leonardo Pinhole Camera on Polaroid 4×5 Film. All images copyright of Jack Butler. Later Jack also did a few images in color, using the same camera. Jack Butler’s book is still available on BLURB.

The Pinhole Camera that Jack used to shoot all these images with (4×5 Polaroid Type72 B/W). The camera is made by Leonardo’s in New Mexico.
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Self portrait with the pinhole camera, Jack Butler with his ’32 Ford 5-window.
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Jon fisher 1936 Ford.
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Joe Eddy, Wally Welch 1950 Mercury.
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Keith Weesner Shoebox   –   Keith Weesner Model A.
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Johnnie Escobar 1940 Chrysler Coupe.
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Verne Hammond & Michelle.
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Jack Butler photographing Verne Hammond & Michelle (photo by Aaron Kahan).
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Robert Williams ’32 Ford   –   Suzanne Williams ’34 sedan.
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Verne Hammond’s ’34 Ford    –    Choppers Car Club.
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George Barris 2003   –   Denise ’53 Ford.
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Fabian Valdez Chevy    –    ’56 Ford Hop Up.
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Mike Collin’s Buick   –   Mark Morton ’54 Merc
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Frank Berone’s Ford   –   Custom “Olds” Pomona.
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Frank Berone   –    Jimmy McCord.
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Tom Branch ’32 roadster   –   Jimmy McCord

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“Beatniks” Paso Robles   –   Gypsy & Andrea – BOTC
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’31 Ford Stewart Crawford   –   ’26 “T” Don White
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“Bad News” T
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“Bad News” T in the making.
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Jack Carroll Coupe
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Jack Carroll coupe   –   “Pumpers” coupe
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Fabian’s Chevy   –   “Bad Bob’s” Merc
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Verne Hammond, Aaron Kahan and Jack Butler during an exhibition at Frumkin Gallery.
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Morty and Jack   –   Pat Ganahl and Jack
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Press…
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Jack Butler’s Hot Rod Kulture Culture book.
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Bob Dzemske Photo Collection P1

 

BOB DZEMSKE Photo Collection Part 1

 

Bob Dzemske has been taking photos from Customs Cars since the later part of the 1950’s. This article shows a selection of these photos, part one… of many.



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Bob Dzemske and his son Bob Jr. have been into Custom Cars for many decades. Bob has owned a a great stable of Custom Cars over the year, and always took his trusty camera with him on his visits to the Custom Car shows from the 60′ and 70’s, as well as more recent years. Bob Sr and Jr. have shared some of the most interesting photos of their Collection with the Custom Car Chronicle. We will be sharing these in a series of articles, and hope you will enjoy these as much as we have. Special thanks goes out to Kustoms Illustrated Luke Karosi for scanning the photo.

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Gene Winfield’s ’35 Ford Shop truck in 1962 with burgundy fades on the gold fenders.
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LeRoy Kemmerer had Gene Winfield create a full custom out of his ’56 Mercury. It become of of Gene’s best known customs, the Jade Idol seen here in its original Winfield trademark fade paint-job in 1962.
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Ron Aguirre’s 1956 Corvette X-Sonic with a wild Larry Watson paint job, one of the many Larry would add to this wild show custom.
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Ron’ Corvette was not the first custom that used hydraulics to lower its suspension, but it sure was the best known, and a huge success at every car show it went to.
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Dave Puhl created this ’54 Oldsmobile for Ralph Ferks of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The car was based on a design by Bob Dzemske Sr. and named “The Startling Starfire”.
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Photographed in 1961 is this interesting looking 55 Ford owned by Gord Fiseth.
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The start of the Orange Hauler Show Truck.
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Bob Dzemske Sr. with the finished Orange Hauler.
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Jim Skonzakes (Street) had the Kookie T repainted by Larry Watsen after he bought it. Jim still has the car in 2017.
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Don Gajdosz “Hint of Mint’s 1957 Chevy Hard-Top photographed in February 1969.
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1956 Lincoln restyled by Dave Puhl and Johnny Malik at Trend Automotive for owner Bob Dzemske Sr.
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Color photo of Bob’s Trend restyled Lincoln shows the wild white and orange paint job.
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Dave Puhl’s ’56 T-Bird “The Hybrid Bird”, Dave first Custom photographed in 1959.
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Carl Casper’s 1951 Chevy “Empress” in September 1961.
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Clarence “Chili” Catallo’s ’32 Ford “Silver Sapphire” was created by the Alexander Brothers and photographed in September 1960.
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Dick Scully’s 1959 Pontiac Convertible restyled by Dave. The car was named “Purple Passion”.
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Unidentified Ford F-100 Custom truck painted off white, or light cream with maroon, or candy red stylish flames and heavy pin-stripping in red.
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The complete photos

A lot of the photos in Bob’s Collection have faded considerably over the years. Some have the colors faded, others have yellowed. I have tried to restored the sharpness and colors of the original photos as much as possible. Yes it is still nice to see the original photos as they were scanned by Luke.












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Neferteri Part Nine

 

NEFERTERI Part Nine

 

In this, the next to last episode in the Neferteri saga, our Forrest Gump tackles the challenges of scaling down the full figured Cadillac of Trucks.



Larry Pointer found himself a survivor of Y2K, retired, a widower, and a more or less empty nester.  He needed a project.  In this series, he shares his passion for all things “Streamline Moderne”, and how it all turned into a 13-year labor of love, to create “Neferteri“, his custom Diamond T truck.

By Larry Pointer with Rik Hoving


Neferteri, Part Nine

In this, the next to last episode in the Neferteri saga, our Forrest Gump tackles the challenges of scaling down the full figured “Cadillac of Trucks”. Those sleek smart ads of streamlined Diamond T trucks stylized by graphic artist Storr Baldwin would be his fount of inspiration. Inspiration, he would find, also can come in the most unexpected moments, and from the most unexpected places.

Inspiration …
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Diamond T front fenders were, well, HUGE. Charles A. Tilt wanted substance. His early motto was “The Nation’s Freight Car”. He also was deeply into streamline styling. It was said that “all Diamond T designs are personally originated and carried to completion by C. A. Tilt, President of the Diamond T Motor Car Company.” A familiar quote of his was, “A truck doesn’t have to be homely.”

C. A. Tilt, President of the Diamond T Motor Car Company.
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Tilt also was into boats in the era of Gar Wood, Chris Craft and Hacker. In 1939, he had Mandell Rosenblat, a naval architectural firm, design a 107-foot yacht, “Trouper”, built by Robert Jacob and Sons, City Island, New York. He didn’t get to enjoy it for long, as it was commissioned by the US Navy as a submarine chaser in 1940. As PC-457, the vessel tragically sank north of Puerto Rico after accidentally colliding with the freighter Nortuna. C. A. Tilt would later have a second, smaller 44’ sport fishing boat of strikingly similar, scaled down design built for him in 1942 by Hubert S. Johnson of Bay head, New Jersey.

The Mandell Rosenblat, designed 107-foot yacht, “Trouper”, built by Robert Jacob and Sons, City Island, New York for C. A. Tilt.
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Credit for industrial styling often was accredited to the head of a company or styling studio. How “hands-on” Tilt was in Diamond T design isn’t clear. In the case of Tilt’s first “Trouper”, a letter to Mandell Rosenblat, due credit was given:

“Dear Rosie:

Thank you for designing for me the most beautiful yacht in the world.
Yours,

C. A. Tilt”



The fenders of “The Handsomest Truck in America” were being die-formed by the mid-Thirties. Their exaggerated pontoon forms were pointed up in advertisements of the day as “sweeping lines flowing from the wide center drop bumper, in deeply skirted fenders.” Advertisements of the day were illustrated by Storr Baldwin, in long, low forms, tweaked in artistic license to pattern the patter of the text. “The styling leader among trucks.” “Striking a brilliant style”. “Extremely fast and extremely good looking.” And, if all that was lost on anyone: “Beautiful.”

Diamond T huge front fenders…
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The pontoons that graced my 1936 model were the first of the “fat fendered” styling. Like the rest of the assembled “Cadillac of Trucks”, they were outsourced. The cabs had been built by McLaughlin Body Company, of Moline, Illinois. But I never determined if those fenders were part of the McLaughlin supply line to Charles Tilt’s assembly line in Chicago. What I did discover is that other makes of the Depression era shared some of Diamond T’s body parts. Various fire engines, and the Autocar trucks of the decade…themselves assembled back East in Ardmore, PA…also sported these self-same “beautiful” front fenders.

Beautiful”, the pontoon pantaloons I fished out of the back lot of Buzz and Jerry’s Rod Shop, were not. Under an ancient dry sea bed of cracked Bondo mud, they were pretty solid, I consoled myself. Save for the expected tatters from vibrations over many roads, and the whumps and bumps of ¾ of a Century of use, abuse and neglect. Repairs were expected, and the next order of business.

The fenders on my truck were, well used and abused, and in need for a lot of love. The inset photo show the similar fenders used on an Autocar truck.
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But why just repair and restore, when all else was being restyled? I always admired the Packard cars that were restored by Conquistador Gary “Slim” Richards, and his protégé Blaine Murphy. The round bead that smartly outlined the wheel openings especially seemed classic. Why not use this accent to point up the smartness of the wide openings of the Diamond T?

Packard inspiration…
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Did I say, wide? I mean WIDE, accommodating 20-inch Dayton wheels with commercial grade balloon tires, back in the day. Besides, those tatters and tears would best be repaired and stabilized with the added strength of round rod. Industrial strength, 3/8” round rod. Arrrr!

Minneapolis-Moline Tractor with beautiful body created at the same factory where the Diamond-T bodies came from.
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McLaughlin Body Company, in Moline, also sourced body parts to the Minneapolis-Moline Tractor Company. When I looked head-on at the pair of Dumbo ears that flanked my Auburn styled grillework, I have to admit it. They looked like they would have been more at home with Minneapolis Moline down the corn rows, than announcing the handsomest truck in America.

The repaired and restyled with added center peak, front fenders on my truck. In bare metal on the left, and later in red oxide primer on the right.
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I studied the classic cars of the era in earnest. What often caught the eye in a full frontal view of these frankly massive motor cars, was a subtle styling line. It was called the “bow wave”, borrowed from speedboat prows. A slight peak to strike a divide over the curved fender form. It was just enough of a break to give “snap and life” to their sweeping shapes.
Yep, I welded a length of 3/8” rod dead center, up and over each pontoon fender, and, trusty grinder in hand, massaged my own bow wave accent where no Diamond T had gone before.

A better look at the fenders I created with the added center peak.
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I also scored a “wide center drop bumper”, in two pieces scrounged off the bumper pile at Buzz and Jerry’s Rod Shop. I have no idea what it graced originally, but something really, really wide. Once I welded the two face plate pieces back together, I had to fabricate side extensions to my frame with heavy square tubing to line up and hold their hefty irons.

I can still hear Buzz counseling me, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

Samples of the skirted bedside on the 1930’s trucks I liked so much and wanted to use for my truck as well.
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Today, even Storr Baldwin’s handsome illustrated Diamond T ads are actively collected. As attractive as were the distinctive cabs, the overall integrated sweep of streamlining from front to rear is simply mesmerizing. The McLaughlin cabs were paired with a variety of commercial bodies supplied by yet another Moline-based company, Maremont. Stake, panel, and van bodies were illustrated in attractive color combinations, “but unlike anything that has been seen before,” the ads chirped. “Instead of rough and exposed chassis under the bed or platform, this area was skirted or enclosed by a drop panel. Neat, streamlined fenders swept over and around wheels. Upper stake sides of the body were flush with the top of the cab, to form a continuous ‘flow’ or ‘streamline’.

Before I created the bed in metal I made numerous sketches and designs, figuring out the best way to create the design I had in mind.
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That drop skirt panel, riding evenly with the running boards, did much to clean up a commercial work-a-day truck body. Too, the beltline, flowing through hood, cowl, door and cab, was continued in a sweep down the entire length of the truck body. “Brilliant”.

The fact that Maremont’s truck body design matched a Diamond T cab, line-for-line up to the roof horizon, did not go unnoticed. C. A. Tilt’s early attempt to keep secret their construction coup was to no avail. He had scored a scoop, but…grinning like Alice’s proverbial “Chessie”… that cat sprang out of the bag. Streamlined truck bodies soon were all the vogue. Every marque boasted its own trucks of progress. With the repeal of Prohibition came smartly styled “Beer Bodies”, rolling billboards for a burgeoning beverage industry. Van sides were adorned in sparkling streamline lettering that accentuated their stylish form. Cargo everywhere was carried in smart style. It was “modern”; it was the “future”.

I wanted Neferteri, my tribute to the era of streamline styling, to express this same feel. That drop skirt. Lines that flowed in a continuous sweep from front to back. Once my drawing captured the look I was after, next came the hard part. Reality.
“What was I thinking?”

Measuring tape in hand, and graph paper at the ready, I laid out the options for dimensions of the truck bed. What I discovered right away was that the realities of my GM chassis didn’t fit that long, low Storr Baldwin graphic I coveted. The bed length in front of the wheel opening was quite longer than that from the rear wheel to the rear bumper of my donor truck. To esthetically balance my bed length fore and aft, I saw I needed to extend Neferteri’s derriere a full 19 inches. So, I did.

Now: How was I going to create a truck body behind the cab, to continue those forms and lines that would carry on through its shape? First, I fabricated a ladderwork superstructure of square tubing to ride over the chassis frame. Over this tubing “armature”, the sides of the bed would be formed from sheet metal. Rounded corner caps at the front would come from lengthwise slices out of exhaust tubing. I had a metal shop roll skirts of sheet metal to mimic the outline of the running boards.

I fabricated a ladder-work superstructure of square tubing to ride over the chassis frame.
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That all seemed straightforward. Clamp. Weld. Grind. But how to create the top surfaces of the low bedsides? Remember those all-important sideboards I had drawn? Those handsome panels needed a wide, flat surface from which to rise up, slip through the air stream, and fall away to the rear. Hold on there, Buckwheat! Great idea, but I’d drawn my cartoon into a corner. Blast!

It was 2005. My son Rick and I were in Phoenix, Arizona, backseat passengers on our way to the annual NASCAR race, our first to see in person. My daughter navigated, as son-in-law Grant cut NASCAR maneuvers through traffic. In such situations, attention deficit can be a blessing. A pickup was towing a dual-axle trailer, hauling a car down the Interstate beside us. At that moment I glanced over. Voila! There, rolling mere inches from my wandering eyes, was the answer to my design dilemma. Trailer fenders! They had the perfect form to top off my streamline truck bedsides. Eight inches wide, I would find, with rolled edges. Solid construction of strong sheet metal. Back home, I bought six of them. And began whacking them into lengths and curves to match my dream design. Six panels became seven, as I created the “cloud lift” over the rear wheels, to accent the arc of the rear fender design.

Trailer fenders, the base for my streamline truck bed sides.
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Fabrication of the bed sides over the square tubing frame work I made.
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To cover the seam between the top and the flat panel of the bed side, I again got out the 3/8 “ round rod and began a marathon run through tanks of welding gas and spools of wire. The precept of “a good grinder gives grace to pucky-doodle welds” was driven home again and again, down that streamline sweep line. Held at a 45 degree angle to the seam, the grinder worked even better. Thanks for the advice, Ron Tesinsky.

By this stage of things, I had that inner armature structure built up of square tubing to hold each bedside in place. A regular Erector Set. The floor now could ride level, between the sides. To finish off the bed interior, I found diamond plate aluminum for my Diamond T. Floor surface, and inner fender panels were trimmed out. And, turns out, it was “period perfect”. Diamond plate, I discovered, had come into vogue at the same time as the streamline moderne movement. Not only conspicuously on fire engines, but in a variety of applications throughout the trucking industry.

Diamond plate aluminum, as used in vintage fire trucks would form the floor and inner fenders on my truck.
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Here, on the flat floor of the bed, also would rest a handsome Potter trunk of the classic car period. I had discovered it nesting quietly under a table at the local antique store. This smartly outfitted trunk would hold, not matching leather Gucci luggage for madame, but a hidden tank of Ethyl to serve my Queen, Neferteri.

The aluminum gas tank for Neferteri which I would “hid” in a Potter trunk which I found at a local antique store.
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I searched and agonized over locating the perfect teardrop shaped rear fenders, to continue the streamline theme. But it didn’t turn out to be a quick trip to the repop store. Pickup fenders of the era just didn’t serve up quite the right continuous curve. Panel truck fenders would have fit the flat side panels, but they were scarce as hen’s teeth. I even scored some really swoopy rear fenders off a vintage bus. But they were pancake flat.

Early stages of the rear fenders, 1937 Plymouth units.
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I finally found the shape most like what I was looking for: the rear fenders on a portly Plymouth, 1937 vintage. Perfect in every way, only… The flat lip pressed into the wheel opening was, well, flat. Not to worry, there always was the old 3/8” round rod to rescue me from that quandry.

Then, when I draped the found fender over my artillery wheels for a look-see, it turned out to be too short for those sweeping bedsides. Blaine Murphy came up with a longer pair of 1939 Chrysler pantaloons. My son and daughter threw in together and got me an English wheel for Christmas. I was off and running, cutting, wheeling, welding, grinding. It took seven assorted pieces, finally, to create each of the long teardrop rear fenders, to mimic and match their front counterparts.

Might I here digress to pass along a word of caution to the budding English wheeler? There’s but fingernail room…no full finger accommodations… between those rollers. You might could come away with the finger pads of a tree frog. To paraphrase the wise sage, “I may not be a smart man, Jennie, but I know what pain is!”





And that 19” bed extension beyond the chassis frame? It served up the perfect location for a step, just like those for firemen of old, hanging onto the hook and ladder trucks in answer to the alarm. I would find it the perfect bench seat for striking Rodin’s “The Thinker” pose, in contemplating how to solve each next challenge I’d created for myself.

On the theme of fire trucks, or boats, or oil and gas tankers, or tow trucks…or funeral flower cars some might add… a pipe and ball rail was an accent I always thought looked sharp. I’d already committed to swoopy sideboards, but now with the step-down at the rear, I could accent the transition with a “tail gate”, a literal drop-down gate of pipe. Round metal balls were added to cover each intersect. Johnny Sprocket found the orbs for me and drilled them out to allow assembly. His shop also would mill the base plates for the gate’s uprights, as well as for the stanchions I needed to support those exotic wood sideboards.

Skirted bed sides topped of with the cut and refitted trailer fenders.
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The Plymouth rear fenders with the new skirted bed sides. This is an older photo and the front fenders had not been restored and restyled yet.
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With some fresh coats of primer.
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The teardrop sideboard extensions in wood first were patterned in cartoons on butcher paper. The forms then were transferred onto Masonite for rigidity in mock-up, before attempting those forms in sawn and sanded walnut. Finally, it was the moment of Truth. And I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What if I butchered those precious, pricey boards of walnut? Ron Daigle, a friend with finish carpentry skills, stepped up to do the honors. Once cut, I was able to sand to my heart’s content, smoothing out the edges, bringing out the grain. And what beautiful grain it played into the light, as I waxed and buffed each gorgeous board by hand.

Those stanchion base plates fashioned by Johnny Sprocket next came into play. The uprights, three per side, were cut and assembled of round tubing. An inner leg was cut to length, then a series of slightly bigger diameter tubes were slipped over this core, punctuated with O-rings between each joint. Square channel was then hung horizontally at each of those breaks, to cradle the precious walnut panels.

Side board stanchions.
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Each stanchion was capped in regal style, through another chance “Aha” discovery. At Scott Clark’s shop was a humungous hydraulic Piranha punch. When Scott would pop holes through thick metal, the resulting plug that was cut out had a unique dimple, created dead center by the force of the punch. One of those dimpled plugs would come to cap off each sideboard stanchion.

In my original drawing of 2003, the tail lights I has sketched in were of a teardrop shape, like on mid-Thirties cars, and mounted at the end of the bedside surface, before it dropped over to meet the rear bumper. That carbuncle concept mercifully never made it off the drawing board.
One day as I was driving home, a motorcycle passed me. As it braked for the stop light, its tail light lit yet another little “Aha” bulb in my fevered brain. What was that motorcycle? That teardrop tail light was the epitome of “streamline moderne”! I had to have it.

It was a 2003 Victory Vegas, and it was not cheap. Twice that, over the parts counter please, for a pair of them. They were all plastic, no metal bezel adorned them. Never mind, I had to have them. Soon, I was cutting a hole in the slope of each rear fender. I cut and filed, very carefully, until the plastic bucket slipped into place.

2003 Victory Vegas bike taillight lens was the base for the taillights on Neferteri it fitted by dream design perfectly. The taillight lacked a bezel, so that I had to create myself.
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That done, I next addressed the naked truths of those naked red lenses. First, to be a proper period concept custom, a teardrop bezel was essential, I was musing. Second, came the disappointment of learning motorcycle lights were not of your garden variety 12 volt auto light bulb. Not to worry, off to Dietz salvage to pirate a pair of 1157 bulb receptacles. Out came the trusty Dremel tool and into the resulting hole went the receptacles. A little JB Weld and mission impossible was complete.

But I still hadn’t solved the bezel bamboozle. I graphed out a pattern, then cut a base plate out of 1/8” steel plate, to snugly surround each Vegas lense. For more definition, I then bent ¼” round rod to ride atop the base plate, further defining the opening for the lense. A lot of hand filing went into the finish, before those bezels were ready for the chrome plater. Before I broke my arm patting myself on the back, I chanced upon a magazine feature on the Ridler Award winner of that very year. You guessed it: the tail lights on that car were none other than 2003 Victory Vegas motorcycle lights. I wonder if they JB welded 1157 receptacles in their application? Not saying, but just saying, somehow, I doubt it.

Where was I? Oh, yes, chrome plater. Tail light bezels were ready. The dippy front bumper was welded together now. But what to do about a rear bumper? It was time for another “Aha” moment of discovery.

Nothing available seemed to turn my crank. Then, one day while tripping through the Dietz auto and truck salvage yard, what did my wandering eye discern? The bumper of my Neferteri dreams! Voila!!

Well, you really had to look, to see what was there. I was ogling at the rear bumper of a school bus. You know, those ribbed, guard rail road barrier-like bumpers? The ones engineered to protect precious screeching cargo from impact with incoming scuds of the belated screeching brake kind?

The school bus bumper was pressed into three horizontal ribs of industrial strength steel. If I were to have Scott Clark slice those ribs apart with his trusty plasma cutter, why, I would have three choices of bumper stock to select from. So, we did.
And I had my bumper. As a finishing touch, I cut rectangular notches in the lower edge to either side for placement of the exhaust tips (more recycled rectangular tubing), and detailed the openings with ¼” round rod.

The school bus bumper that formed the base for the bumper I created. The bus bumper was cut in three horizontal sections, of which one was used, cut to size, and reshaped with exhaust tip notches.
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Now my Neferteri pieces were ready for a visit to the chrome plating shop. All that was left was, well, lots of things. And a paint job. One panel at a time in a home-made paint booth, of sorts, in my driveway. That, and more, as they say, in our next and finally final episode of Neferteri.

Neferteri in the Labor Day Parade, 2012.
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Barris Mystery Parked Car

 

BARRIS MYSTERY PARKED CAR

 

In 1994 I saw a Mystery Car in the background of one photo taken at the Barris Shop. The shape of the top intrigued me, and I wanted to know more about it. 23 years later I have found several more photos of the car, but I still do not know much about it.


For as long as I can remember liking Custom Cars and the history of Custom Cars I have been fascinated by old photos showing Custom Cars. Not just the real subject matter of these photos, like the subject cars, people or shops, bet perhaps even more in the objects that just happened to be in the background of these photos. The quest to find out about the Mystery car in this article comes from this fascination for all the stuff that goes on in the bacround of these photos, and especially those taken at the famous Custom Car Shop in the 1950’s to mid 1950’s.

The first time I spotted this photo was in the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book, where the car appeared in the background, being parked in front of the Barris Atlantic Blvd shop when the photographer snapped some photos of the two 1948 Chevy Coupes being created for the Highschool Convidential movie. I scanned the photo, cropped it and saved the scans in my Mystery Barris Customs folder on my computer.

The first time I spotted the Mystery Car was in this photo that was used in the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book published in 1994. I loved the Highschool Confidential twin Chevy’s in the forground, but what was that other car in the background, sitting in front of the shop wall, just behind the Chevy on the right? (photo taken ca 1956)
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Enlarged section of the photo gives us a little more details. With the wrap around rear window, the pointy chopped quarter window and teardrop shaped rear fender it looked like a 49-50 Chevy Coupe perhaps? I was intrigued!
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From what I could see in that one photo, the car looked very interesting. Possibly based on a ’49-50 Chevy Coupe with an unusual wrap around rear window. Some time later I came across a few more photos that showed more small portions of this mystery Custom Coupe. I was now able to tell that the car was not a Chevy, as I had thought previously, but rather a ’41-48 FoMoCo based Coupe. And I noticed that the car must have been parked there, in front of the shop for quite some time. It made me wonder if it perhaps was a shop employees personal project-car. Perhaps the employee had thought he could work on the car after work, but found it hard to find the actual time to do make actual progress. Or perhaps  it was one of those projects that was started for a client, and the client lost interest, or perhaps had been drafted to Korea?

Later, in several of the Kustom Technique books a few more photos showed up with the same car in the background. This photo is nice, since it also shows the abandoned sectioned Ford Victoria parked all the way to the left in this photo. The Sectioned Victoria would be discussed in on of the Technique books (no 1), but the Mystery Car was never mentioned. (photo taken ca 1956)
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A close up showed that the car was not a Chevy as I thought before, but more likely based on a ’41 -48 Ford or Mercury long door Coupe.
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Another car featured in the Barris Kustoms Technique No. 1 , a chopped ’54 Ford showed one photo with the mystery car in the background. And this time I was able to see the front fenders and windshield. Undoubtedly this car was a based on a ’41-48 FoMoCo body, and the front fenders look to be late 40’s early 50’s Oldsmobile units mounted very high, almost level with the belt-line onto the body. (photo taken around 1954-55)
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Another piece of the puzzle came from a photo in the Barris Kustoms Technique No.3 published in 1997. In one of the photos showing and almost finished Earl Wilson’s 1947 Studebaker four door “Grecian”, parked in front of the furniture shop next door to Barris, I could see that the car had ’48-’49 Cadillac rear fenders and taillights added. Interesting! (photo taken around 1953-54)
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Lyle Lake’s ’52 Buick finished in its first (and best looking) version parked next to the Barris Shop. Thru the open garage door and office door at the front we can spot a small portion of our Mystery Custom. This photo was taken around 1956. 
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Another photo taken at the shop, around 1954-55 shows part of the car at an 3/4 view.
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Close up shows that the car had a really great looking chopped top, with a fantastic flow, the panoramic rear window must have looked amazing if it had ever been installed.
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In late 2006 Barry Mazza came to the rescue… well sort of. He send me this great color photo of our Mystery Barris Custom, sitting with the sectioned Ford Victoria on the side of the Barris parking lot, just across the large shop doors. This was the first time I had a good view at the complete car. 
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Enlarged section of the photo shows that the main Ford body was sectioned, the Cadillac rear fenders mounted high on the rear quarters with the top of the fenders level with the belt-line. The front Oldsmobile fenders are installed, but the door panel work was started, with a tubular structure welded to the Ford door, but without the outer sheet metal. The top on the car looks very interesting with the pointy rear quarter window and panoramic rear window. The rounded corners on the door and the whole feel of the top could indicate this might have been an older custom at the shop for a make over… perhaps.
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Barry Mazza had been sharing his wonderful Custom Car Photo Collection with me, and one day Barry had emailed me a few more. Exited, as I always was when I got some new material from Barry, I opened the email attachments and found among some other great pictures an absolutely fantastic color photo, showing the Mystery Custom parked at a different spot at the Barris Shop. In this photo the mystery car was parked next to the neighboring building, right across the large doors from the shop. It was parked next to the sectioned Ford Shoebox Victoria that the Barris shop had started for a client, and who never came back to the shop to pay the bill or for more work done to the car. In the end Barris repossessed it, trying to find somebody interested in the project but nobody apparently was, and according George Barris that Vickey was scrapped. This color photo for the first time showed the complete car in one picture.

I now had a really nice look at this car, and I have to say it looks really interesting and well proportioned. From this photo I was able to tell the ’41 – 48 Ford body, most likely a long door coupe, had been sectioned, before the Oldsfront fenders and Cadillac rear fenders had been crafted to it. They never got arround to do the door panels with the oldsmobile door sheet metal, but they had created a tubular frame for it. The photo showed that the chopped top had a really nice profile, the rear quarter windows had an unusual (for that model) pointy shaped rear quarter window, but that the pointy rear corner worked really fantastic with the wrap around rear window. In none of the photos I have seen the car has a hood, so I guess they also never got around to create that. But if they had, it must have been a scratch built hood, possibly modeled after the 49-51 Ford hoods, in a similar way as was done on Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford.

The photo taken for Life Magazine hows the Ford and how the body was sectioned with a rough well in the center of the door panel. It also shows the tube welded to the top of the door, just below the belt-line, most likely to use as a guide for mounting the Oldsmobile door panels, fender extensions. The sectioned Ford Victoria can bee seen sitting next to the neighbor house in the background.
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The last photo’s I came across – not the last time-frame wise, but actually from late 1952 – are from a Life Magazine photo session. The car can be seen in this photo (it actually can be seen in  few photos from this series) still parked in front of the shop, close to the front wall of the main building. This photo shows clearly how the body had been sectioned right across the door panel on the Ford body. An indication that the sectioning was done with the new Olds Fenders already in mind, the Olds fender panels would hide the rough sectioning job.

December 7, 1957 “the worst day in Custom Car History”, fire at the Barris shop destroyed many custom cars including another mystery Ford Coupe. In the background we can see that our Mystery Car is still parked against the next-door building.
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The Famous 1955 Chevy “Aztec” in primer, ready to get painted with the Mystery Custom and the sectioned Victoria in the background.
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The Barris Aztec a sectioned and chopped ’55 Chevy pick-up and along side the Junior Conway ’50 Ford at the Barris Shop, and in the background on the left side our Mystery Car. This photo was most likely taken after the shop fire, but I’m not 100% sure, it could also have been taken earlier in 1957.
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This photo was taken in the summer of 1958 by Lloyd Willey (according the Rodder’s Journal Scrapbook) We can see Junior Conway’s ’50 Ford, and the car in the front is a wild Custom Merc Barris was creating for “the Twins” On the left side we can see that the sectioned Ford Victoria is still parked in the same spot, and just in front of it we can see the Olds fender of our mystery car. So in the summer of 1958 the car was still at the Barris Shop, untouched.
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This photo of the Barris shop was taken around 1960, shorty before the Big Barris Kustom City was put up in the front. It shows that both the sectioned Ford Victoria as well as our Mystery Custom are now gone. 
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At one point when I started to think about this mystery Custom my mind wandered off to another famous custom car, one that has a lot of similarities in its restyling. the Frank Monteleon 1941 Ford. I knew it could not be the same car, but Frank’s car was also based on an older model, from 1941, to which newer fenders and complete sides had beed crafted. The Monteleon Custom was started a bit later than our mystery Custom, so perhaps seeing this mystery Custom parked in front of the Barris Shop might have inspired Frank to do his ’41 Ford… who knows.

We know that the Sectioned Ford Victoria, which was parked next to our mystery car for at least a year, perhaps longer, was eventually scrapped (According to George Barris). Is the same sad thing happened to our mystery Custom? In photos from around 1960 and newer the car is gone… and we all know that at this time, the late 50’s early 60’s, the interest in older cars was not very big. Everybody wanted to have more modern cars to start with. Mild Customs were the rage, and nobody really was interested in these full customs based on old cars, especially in a far from finished state.

The Frank Monteleon 1941 Ford does show some similarities with our Mystery Car. It is based on an older model, 1941 Ford, and had newer Oldsmobile fenders and a wrap around rear window added. Perhaps Frank’s car was inspired by our Mystery Custom… 
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Dating the photos of the Mystery Car

Over the years I have come across quite a view photos that showed this mystery Custom. Many things about this car intrigued me, and one of the things was that it was sitting left alone at the Barris Shop for many years… why? With the help of all the photos I have tried to figure out how long the car has been at the Barris Shop, untouched.

Parked in front of the shop

  • The oldest photo I have noticed the car on comes from the Life Magazine photo shoot. This must have been in late 1952, and more likely early 1953.
  • Earl Wilson 1947 Studebaker Grecian was first published unfinished in August ’53 R&C A similar unfinished Grecian can be seen in one of the Life Magazine photos. The finished Grecian was published in July 1954 Motor Life magazine.
  • 1954 Mercury Chimbo (Bobby Yamazaki) taken in most likely late 1954, early 1955
  • Highschool confidential cars were created in 1956
  • Lyle Lake 52 Buick uses ’56 Lincoln hubcaps, photo taken in late ’55, early ’56.

Parked along side the shop

  • Barris Fire in December 7, 1957, car is sitting next to the neighboring building.
  • Summer 1958 Lloyd Willey trip to Barris photo. (Last known photo)

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Over the years (23) I have been looking for more info on this car, I have asked numerous people if they remember anything about this mystery Custom at the Barris Shop. So far nobody knows anything. Some remember the car from sitting at the shop, but none of them had ever asked about the car, it just sat there. I hope that with this Custom Car Chronicle article I will  be able to find out any more about this car. Who was the owner, what was the plan for the car, and why was the work stopped, and perhaps most of all, why was it parked at the Barris Shop from 1953 till at least the summer of 1958. If any of you knows anything more about this mystery FoMoCo based Custom with very interesting chop, panoramic rear window, and many other interesting feature, then please let me know. I would love to find some more pieces to this Custom Car History puzzle. Please email Rik if you have any more information about this car, who was the owner, what were the plans for it, and what happened to it.

I think the car had a lot of potential, what was done was already very pleasing to the eye, and I can imaging the car with the door panels in place sitting nice and low with a slight speed-boat stance and dark organic paint, wide white wall tires and Sombrero hubcaps. It would have been a stunning car.. perhaps something that could be recreated today…



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Melford Robbins 39 Tub

 

MELFORD ROBBINS 39 TUB

 

Oilers Club Member Melford Robbins owned this beautiful dark maroon Carson Topped 1939 Ford Sedan Convertible in the late 1940s. The Custom is still around today.


Robert Genat’s book The Birth of Hot Rodding is filled with absolutely amazing color photos of the 1940’s and very early 1950’s. It shows us, in amazing color, how the Hot Rod scene was back then, a scene we mostly known from black and white photos. Most of the photos in the book are, as the title suggests, are about Hot Rods. But there are a few photos showing some Custom Cars in the background. One of the photos is showing some guys having fun in a Model T Hot Rod project car, and in the background we can see a small portion of the rear of a, as described in the book, 1940 chopped Ford. The car is painted a beautiful maroon and the chopped padded top looks a bit weathered, as if the car had been used a lot already.

That photo was the first time I saw this car, and it intrigued me. Because it was looking really great in this color photo with its beautiful deep maroon color, low stance, ripple De Soto bumpers and padded top, but perhaps even more since it only showed a mall portion of the car. I just needed to see the rest of the car. Around the time I bought Robert Genat’s book I started to communicate with with Custom Car enthusiast, builder and musician John Williamson. John shared a bunch of photos from his collection and told me about his passion for 39-40 Ford tubs. Including in the photos he send were some of a ’39 Ford four door convertible sedan he restored and owned back in the 70’s and 80’s. A really beautiful Custom, but I never made the link with any of the padded topped tubs I knew at the time.

In Nov 2013 HouseofHotRods shares the color photo from the book on the HAMB, somebody had shared it on Facebook, and he is asking for more info on the tub in the photo. In Jan 2014 Elrod responses to the HAMB thread with some more info on the guys in the photo, and also about the Custom in the background.

Information from Elrod
“Aprox. 1949 Oilers club members planning their next build. Allen Christopherson behind the drivers seat and front passenger is Bob Telford. In the back seat on the left is Melford Robbins, in the center is Red Lewis and on the right is Jim Nelson. Melford Robbins’ red 1939 Ford Kustom is seen in the background. It is a 1939 Convertible with a Carson top. Photo taken at the “bug barn”, a chicken shed behind Jim Nelson’s house.”

Now the “mystery” Ford Custom is identified as Melford Robbins 1939 Ford. Member of the Oilers Car Club from Carlsbad, California.


The is photo from the Robert Genat book with Melford’s 1939 Ford with padded top in the background. The one photo that started the search for more information about this Custom Sedan Convertible.
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Cropped and zoomed in section of the photo shows the used look of the car, dirty Carson top, dirty bumpers, all adding to the character of the car. It was in indication that Melford drove his Custom very frequently.
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The American Hot Rod Foundation shared a photo of the same guys from the Oilers Club taken from a different angle. It shows a little more from Melford’s Ford.
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From the Oilers Collection comes this photo showing Melford’s Car from the front. This, and the color photo showing just the rear of the car are the only 40’s and 50’s photos we have been able to find of the car so far. To the left of Melford’s tub is Dago Cantarini’s car. Dago’s car is a narrowed 1927 T roadster body with 165 HP 1942 Mercury engine. It ran Offy heads, Offy manifold, Potvin ignition, Harman Super cam and a 3:27 rear end with 7:00×16 tires out back.
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About the 1939 Ford Convertible Sedan

So far we have not been able to find out much about the car, we do not know who did the custom work on the car, or when it was done. The Padded top was crated by the Carson Top Shop using 1933 Ford frames over the rear doors. Perhaps Carson, or the shop next door to them chopped the windshield. The car was lowered, and as far as we know, although we have no photos to proof, the car had single bar flipper hubcaps same as how it looked in the 1980’s. The old black and white and color photo show that the car did have the side trim in place. The teardrop shaped stock ’39 Ford taillights were replaced with 1940 chevron units. The stock bumpers made place for the ever popular ’37 DeSoto bumpers (two front bumpers in this case). The trunk was shaved and the hood had the two half’s welded together and the center trim piece removed. The 1939 Ford headlight rings were replaced by 1940 Ford units, a set of Appleton Spotlights added. The finished car was painted a wonderful deep maroon.

Cropped section of the photo to have a better look at the tub. Notice that one of the headlight rings is missing. Chopped windshield, Appleton Spotlights, smoothed hood and ’37 DeSoto bumpers look so good in the ’39 Fords.
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John Williamson new owner

In 2014 John Williamson mentioned that the car is the Robert Genat book, Milford Robbins ’39 Ford, was a car that he owned from 1975 to 1989. And that it was the car he had send me the photos of a year os so earlier. It all started together now.

John mentioned this about the car.
“I bought it from his estate thru the San Diego antique Ford store. I re did it with the help of the Guildner Brothers Custom Shop, Their Dad Frank helped me go get it in San Diego, drove it daily and really enjoyed it. At that time it had a stock 48 Merc flathead, 40 column shift with zephyr gears and a columbia rearend. It would go about 75 in seconds but took a long time to wind all the way out.

Milf was a finish carpenter and continued to use his ’39 Tub for a work truck so when I got it, it still had the back seat missing and the bracing removed so you could load wood from the trunk all the way to the back of the front seat. Between the backseat riser and front seat was a very well built series of 100 or more wooden shop drawers for all sizes of screws, nails, brackets and so on, after I removed the drawer system there was Milf’s “Black Book” of ladies phone numbers and addresses,

Melf must have been a ladies man, there was a long list of girls phone no.’s in the black book found under the seat. I always wanted to go down the list call the girls and take them for one more ride but never got around to it. I sold the car to Al Mc Kee of Bass Lake in 1989, he sold it to a truck stop owner who then sold it to Woody Pollard the current owner.”


Pat Ghanal’s used this photo of the car in his The American Custom Car book. John Williamson owned the car at this time and was in the progress of getting it finished with new paint. The car at the time had a black Padded Top and it was still in primer after the bodywork was done, The photo was taken at the 1st or 2nd Throttlers Picnic in Burbank. 
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“My close friend Jimmie Collins re did the outside of the Carson and I had him put a plastic rear window so it wouldn’t pull the rear of the top down. Also you can see the 33/34 Ford Cabrolet door windows used in the rear doors to make a round rear corner another 40’s / 50’s trick. I didn’t change the headliner because it had a Milf Robbins Ducktail hairdoo grease spot on it above the drivers seat, I liked that so I kept it.

Milf had also used a series of house light switches and toggle switches to control everything so there was no need for using the ignition switch, you did House Switch for car power then electric fuel pump switch then Ignition Switch and you were off and running. I made some changes to the car but not many. The front fender wheel wells were radiused and re rolled very badly, so I rolled new radiuses using a 55 gal. drum for a tool and made new opening patch panels and installed them, the car wouldn’t steer with the 16’s and 700 tires, they would hit and tear the radiuses, I rolled them and installes round tubing behind the roll and welded them in for strength and rub restance, that worked good.

The car had a 40 column and side shift with zyphers and the Columbia rearend. The car had a home made dropped axle cut dropped and plated with no hammering and stretching, just cut off moved and welded back together, 1949 technology for kids in auto shop. The car was painted with Chrysler Maroon which was applied by Tab Guildner and myself. Tab was also responsible for most of the restoration body work ” 

After having enjoyed the car for many years John decided to sell the car in 1989. John sold the car to Al McKee.

When I sold the car to Al McKee I gave him the book with girl phone numbers, I felt they belonged to the car.”


The great Drummer Joe Uele of John Mayall’s band is behind the wheel in Venice Ca when he was in John Williams Magic Blues Band “great car and musician”. The car looked good with or without the top.
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Sadly Johns’s photo’s are rather dark, they were scanned from photocopies. In this photo we can see the reshaped front wheel openings.
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John had the car at the perfect ride hight, slightly lower in the rear, which suited the car very well.
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Profile photo shows, despite it being very dark, the beautiful shape of the Carson padded top.
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One of the things John changed was the addition of small taillights mound on the DeSoto rear bumper next to the License plate. When he bought the car the ’40 Ford taillights were missing from the car. John also replaced the stock ’39 gas filler cap from the rear fender and replaced it with a newer gas filler door.
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When John redid the car he added a few things, including Pickup truck running boards a front and rear gravel, these are visible in some of the color photos John supplied. These units were made in such a way that they could be removed easily. John always thought that the original owner Milf Robbins would have liked it like this. The current owner of the car has these pans and the fender skirts off the car.



Owned by Al McKee

When Al McKee owned the car they made more changes to the ’39 Ford. Al and & his son changed things like a manual rack & pinyon & a 57 TBIRD 9″, and they were going to run a 350 chev but decided to go with a blown flathead using the Merc in the car. They had Ted Frey build it. They wanted to run a B&M blower but their was no B&M blower manifold for a flathead. They went to Dave at B&M and ask if he would make a manifold them, so the manifold used on this car is a prototype. They also had an adapter made so they could use a ford c4 auto.



Owned by Leroy Sherman

Leroy purchased the car from Al at the Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield years ago.
This is what Leroy mentioned. “We both were racing there at the time, and I would always walk by the Car parked in the pits. The more I walked by, the more I liked it. I struck up a conversation with the owner Al and his wife, and ended up buying it right there. I brought it home to Eugene, OR where I live and owned Sherman Bros. Trucking.”

“While at Fosse’s Hotrod Shop in WA one day, I met a retired millwright out of Aberdeen WA. who had a buck setup, and built the stainless window frames all by hand. The Old original ones were in pretty terrible shape.

The rear taillights, when I got it, were truck turn signals mounted on the splash pan. I replaced them with the ’41 Studebaker lites. I also replaced the wire wheels, with the solid chrome & merchant caps. I sold the car to Woody Pollard.

It was a Great car! And it gave me many Great memories!”



Owned by Woody Pollard

Not much has changed to the car after Woody Pollard became the new owner. Over the years quite a few things have changed on the car, and the most obvious is the stance, now sitting rather high and with a slight forward rake while is used to sit very low, with a nice speed-boat stance. The replacement of the of the running boards with the pickup truck painted ones also made a huge difference in the overall look and feel. In 2017 Woody was looking to find a new caretaker for the car, and found the perfect new caretaker in Tom Zinke, who is planning to take the car back to its original looks.

I came across two photos of Melford’s Ford on the internet some time ago. (not sure who took them). It shows the car how it now looks owned by Woody Pollard. Modern white wall tires, ’50 Merc caps on chrome wheels, higher stance and removal of the fender skirts change the look of the car. But it is all still there, and sure can be brought back to late 1940’s specs with not too much work. Some small aftermarket spotlights replace the Appleton units that were on the car then Melford owned it.
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Gas filler door in the rear fender, 1941 Studebaker taillights replace the rear bumper mounted teardrop shape taillights, which were added by John, favoring them over the ’40 Ford Chevron units added by Melford. The rear window was also enlarged to improve visibility.
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This photo shows the new nose down stance added to the car by Al McKee. The splash pans John added are gone now.
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The all leather upholstery and seats are new and added to the car later. When John Williamson owned the car, the front seats were Corvair bucket seats in front and 40 Ford in the back.
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The interior has been updated over the years and it now sports a tilt column with leather wrapped small diameter banjo steering wheel and new gauge panel.
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Motivation comes from a Mercury engine hopped up with polished Edelbrock heads, a B&M prototype intake manifold to adapt the B&M blower to the Mercury engine.
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Owned by Tom Zinke

In  February 2018 Tom Zinke from Denver CO, became the new caretaker of the Melford Robbins 1939 Tub. After seeing your history on it and after speaking to Williamson, Tom just had to have it. So far he has made the car mechanically usable. It needed quite some work to get the car a reliable road car again. Rewired, fuel delivery, radiator and fan/shroud, oil lines, remove excess under hood, 1″ lowering blocks, 7.60 15 W white walls, chrome wheels are temporary. Next plan is to get to the cosmetics, period correct wheels and interior. Hopefully this coming winter Tom will get to work on that. No paint job in the plan, it’s perfect the way it is!
Tom met with an Oilers Club representative (Elrod) at the Hotrod Hill climb in September 2018. He recognized the Tub and will send me more information on its history.









There are still some blank spots in the history of this ’39 Ford Sedan Convertible Custom that we hopefully one day can fill in. If you have any more information about the car when it was owned by Melford Robbins or any subsequent owners before John Williams bought it in 1975, are any old photos of this car. Then please email Rik Hoving here at the Custom Car Chronicle.

Special thanks to Elrod, John Williamson and Woody Pollard for the help on this article.







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Victoria Custom Stories

 

VICTORIA CUSTOM STORIES

 

The stories that go along with the old pictures of early custom cars are sometimes just as interesting as the cars themselves.


By
Tom Nielsen

I have tried to put together a collection of ’49-‘51 Ford hardtop convertibles, with chopped Victoria tops, and the stories that go with the pictures. I hope the readers will agree that the Ford Victoria’s unique looks gave rise to some “cool” customs and interesting stories.

By 1951 Ford’s shoebox body style was entering its third year of production. While Ford updated their grilles, taillights and dashboards for 1951, they couldn’t help but notice the popularity of the GM hardtop convertibles in all the GM brands. The Ford Crestliner was an earlier attempt to attract the young at heart seeking a sportier two door. By mid-1951 Ford had decided to come out with a new hardtop convertible. The 1951 Ford convertible was to be the basis for the classy, new Victoria. A steel roof with a curved three-piece rear glass would be welded to the convertible body.





Ford’s new hardtop convertible was a big hit with the public and over 110,000 were sold in just half of a year! Since this new model was so popular, it was only natural that the young at heart would personalize this sporty hardtop to suit their tastes.






Mystery 1951 Victoria

One night in 1959 when young Dan Holms was working at the “Premium Pump” gas station in Renton, Washington a custom car pulled into the station. A one-time viewing left a lasting impression on him. (Us car guys know how strong those early car memories of a special car can be.) It was a persimmon colored 1951 Ford chopped hardtop with some very tasteful modifications. Someone had added ’54 Ford side trim, frenched the headlights, and nicely dechromed the hood and deck. The low Victoria hardtop featured a ’51 Mercury back window that had been slanted to match the new contour of the chopped top. In looking at the side profile the chopped top using the ’51 Merc glass fits very nicely. The bodywork must have been done by a seasoned shop as it has such a great look and everything fits so well.

Dan remembers that when the owner, Corky Carrol, opened the hood there was a Ford six cylinder engine in the engine bay. Today that engine adds to the mystique of this cool car even though back then a hot V8 might have been cooler. (Remember the Valley Custom, Ron Dunn sectioned shoebox has a six cylinder engine also.) He checked out the car carefully and remembers that the paint still smelled fresh and the interior was unfinished. Dan was hoping to see it again and find out more about its origin. It only made one appearance and then it was gone, no one knew where it came from and who owned it previously. It was like seeing a “shooting star” and then it was gone!

In fact, that was the only time he or anyone he knew ever saw that memorable “persimmon” Victoria! It was wrecked the very next day and never seen again.

Years later, a friend of Dan’s named Tom Reano gave Dan a picture of the chopped hardtop. Tom’s brotherr, Bob Reano, is in the picture taken at their house in the Kent valley. Bob very briefly owned the car for several days.

Dan was greatful to at least have a picture of the car that he remembered so strongly. In 2005-6 Mr. Holms decided to run an ad with a picture in Hemmings Motor News, asking if anyone knew anything about the car? The ad ran for over four months and no information on the “Mystery Vicky” turned up!

About fifty years after that gas station sighting of the ’51 chopped Victoria in 1959, a very starange thing happened! Dan was at a car show in Renton and bumped into an old car friend named Frank Donafrio. They got to talking and Dan asked Frank if he remembered the chopped ’51 hardtop? Then he showed him the picture that he had received from Tom Reano.

There was a short pause and Frank finally replied, “Yes, I remember that car well, I was also working that same night at the Premium Pump in Renton! In fact, I took that picture at the Reano house.



Corky Carrol and Bob Reano standing by the custom Victoria.  Bob bought it from Corky and they both owned it very briefly. 
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Then Frank said, “ If you walk out to my car with me I have something to show you”. When they reached his car Frank pulled a picture out of his glovebox. When Dan looked at the picture it showed the same car but from from the rear ¾ angleshowing the ’51 Merc rear window.
“Why were you carrying this picture around? “ , Dan aked Frank. “ I came here today hoping to find someone who remembered this car”, Frank replied. Then he went on to tell Dan that he had thought about that car long after last seeing it at the Premium Pump station.
Dan was very surprised to find out that he wasn’t the only guy captivated by this unique custom car.



The side view shows the unique integration of the ’51 Mercury rear window.
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After running the ads in Hemmings Dan decided that maybe he would build a copy of the 
“mysterious” , chopped Victoria. He easily found several ’51 Victorias for sale in the Seattle suburbs around 2006. After a brief search a very clean, rust free, original maroon ’51 hardtop with a bad engine was purchased in Burien.

Once Dan had the newly purchased car in his shop, he and Randy Ricci began working on getting it to run. The 8BA V8 turned out to only have a stuck valve and needed some degreasing before it ran like a clock. I drove his Victoria several times and it was a nice driving car with Ford’s, new for 1951, automatic transmission.

Here I am behind the wheel of the car that was to be transformed into a “clone” of the “Mystery ’51 chopped Victoria.
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Unfortunately the “cloning” of the mystery custom was slow getting started because Mr. Holms was busy with the re-crafting of another more famous custom car. He was working on the ’56 Chev, ” Car Craft ten best custom”, known as Madame Fi Fi.

One day about eleven years ago a man and his wife from Poulsbo, WA were driving around in Seattle. By chance they happened to see the Victoria through an open door in Dan’s shop. The couple explained that they had been looking for a car just like it and wanted it in the worst way. They offered to buy it on the spot.Since it was really a nice original car and there were other projects he was busy with at the time, Dan reluctantly sold it to them.
The desire to know more about this cool “persimmon” ’51 Victoria with the ’51 Merc rear window is still there! So if anyone knows anything about it please let us know.



Using ’51 tops on the ’49-50 Ford convertibles.

I had never paid much attention to earlier shoebox Fords with a hardtop convertible top grafted on the body. In looking through old magazines and archives I discovered that there were a number of custom ’49 and ’50 Fords that got ’51 Victoria tops welded on them. In some cases just like the factory had done in 1951.

If you were building a full custom after chopping the windshield and wing windows you could get a top off of a wrecked ’51 hardtop. When it was chopped you could fit it to the convertible body. Of course the three-piece tempered rear window always presented a challenge. Customizers came up with various ways to put a rear window in the hardtop. One way was to build a plexiglass rear window or to use a rear window from another car. The results proved to be worth the effort and created a desirable custom hardtop.

One of the first customs built in this manner belonged to Elton Kantor and was built by Joe Bailon in 1952. Bailon was able to do a complete makeover of this convertible and even hand made the taillights and grille. The rear window was built from plexiglass in three pieces. With its dark metallic blue paint Elton’s car won the Elegance Award at the Oakland Roadster Show in 1953. The smooth sides and sleek profile make this shoebox’s low lines look awesome. The Hop Up Magazine photo with the attractive models and a lake in the background is a “classic picture”.

Elton Kantor’s Ford started out as a convertible. Joe Bailon chopped the windshield and added a new roof with plexiglass rear window in the typical Ford Victoria style.
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The first version of the car was painted dark blue with no side trim for an ultra smooth look.
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Later Elton had Joe Bailon add modified ’54 Chev side trim and ’54 Chev taillights to give his car an updated appearance. The car was featured in several car magazines in the 1950’s.
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Another spectacular looking hardtop custom from around 1954 was owned and built by Jay Johnston. It also has a nice low profile and the top flows nicely into the trunk area. A great looking Gaylord interior and a chromed ’51 dash set this hardtop apart and made this car one of the great shoeboxes of that era. Photos in the Rik Hoving Custom Car Archives show that it has a coupe body and the chopped Victoria top was grafted on to it. A rear window from a closed car was fit to the hardtop when it was chopped. Jay’s car also looked outstanding in two tone as it appears in the cover photo for Car Craft in January 1955 .

Jay wrecked his custom ’49 Ford Coupe, and bought the remains back from the insurance company. He then collected parts from other cars, including a new roof from a Sedan to create his home made chopped Victoria body.
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Jay goofing around on his in progress project. This photo shows the coupe doors with cut off window frames, laid back windshield, and hard-topped roof created from a sedan top.
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The big picture shows the first version in purple and lavender how Jay Johnston finished his home made Ford Victoria. The inset photo shows the last version of the car with new Mercury taillights and new paint.
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Jay Johnston’s 1949 Ford in its most famous salmon and cream color combo how it appeared on the cover of the January 1955 issue of Car Craft magazine.
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1949 convertible, “survivor”

Unfortunately, not much is known about this abandoned “survivor” ’49 convert with a Victoria top. For a moment I thought that it had been built by Tom Sewell in Yakima and later owned by Frank Maes in Oregon. However, in looking at Franks car the rear window treatment and lack of ’49 trunk hinges show that it is not the same car. Frank’s Ford had been painted and scalloped while at Wescott’s for an update in 1959. The purple and white ‘50 Ford received a respectable third place in “full custom” amid some tough competition at the 1959 Portland Roadster Show.

Using a ’51 top on the earlier Ford convertible created this Northwest, “full custom” hardtop.
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Frank Maes purple ’50 from the back with Frank by his car.
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The “survivor” ’49 Convertible has been saved from any further deterioration. The body has been straightened and it is currently (May, 2017) in primer. We would like to know more about the history of this Olds powered chopped ’49 Ford. If anyone has any information about this custom I would appreciate hearing about it.

 

Here is an interesting story of how a custom hardtop was built from a ’49 convertible using parts from both the ’51 Ford Victoria and trim pieces from a 50’s Buick. Rod and Custom told the story pretty well in their November 1954 issue and there is not much that I can add to it.

Cotton Woodworth’s ’49 Ford with Vicky top had a full 4 pages in the November 1954 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine.
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I think this example of a ’49 convertible with a Victoria top looked more like something Buick or Ford could have offered from the factory. It is a very successful blending of different parts to come up with a good looking hardtop convertible. If Ford had offered a car like this in 1951 it would have been real winner in sales!

Cotton Woodworth did all the work on his ’49 convertible with a ’51 top in his body shop in Oklahoma City. The end result is a very stylish ample of how great these Victoria’ can look as full custom.
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Pictured below are several photos from the great Jim Roten collection in the Custom Archives that Rik Hoving maintains. I don’t know anything about the car, but the car appears to be a ’50 Ford that someone grafted a ’51 Victoria hardtop on when it was chopped. I like the “early look” of the car’s front end view. It shows how guys used to drive around with their car while still undergoing customizing. The rear view shot has a wonderful 1950’s background and the car looks finished from this angle. These pictures taken in Northern California almost tell a story just by looking at them.




Chopped ’50 hardtop from the Jim Roten Collection.
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Here is what Jim Roten remembers about his three photos.

“I took the photos of the chopped ’51 Victoria during the summer of 1954. It was regularly parked in front of a store on highway 101 in Fortuna. I never met the owner and have no history of the car. It was highly unusual to see a chopped late model car in those days, especially in such a remote place as that small city along the coast in Northern California. I doubt that it was ever finished.”

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A few more samples of Customized Ford Victoria’s

Ina Mae Overman took a photo of this very nicely done mild Custom ’51 Ford Victoria at an mid 1950’s High School car show. It shows these Victoria’s did not need much to become a really cool car.
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Shoebox Fords always looked great with a sectioned body, and when Sam Climo added a chopped Victoria top to his sectioned convertible body the result was stunning.
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Sam Climo’s Ford survived and was recently (2015) uncovered. This photo shows that Sam used a single piece of plexiglass, bended to fit the chopped rear window opening replacing the stock three piece unit. More on Sam’s car can be read in the CCC-Article.
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Mark Skipper filled in the rear window and used a smaller unit on his chopped Vicky, the Royal Victoria.
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George Hernandez from Sacramento is the owner of this stunning 51 Ford Vicky with chopped top.
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The rear window on George his Victoria was done exceptionally well, flowing beautiful into the chopped top.
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Epilog:
In summary, the addition of the hardtop convertible Victoria to the line of 1951 Fords was a good move on the part of the Ford Motor Company. It updated their three year old body design. The new model also gave lots of new possibilities for the guys who customized their shoeboxes.



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Neferteri Part Eight

 

NEFERTERI Part Eight

 

Herein, our Forrest Gump embarks on a quixotic crusade in search of elements from the Golden Age of the Classics.



Larry Pointer found himself a survivor of Y2K, retired, a widower, and a more or less empty nester.  He needed a project.  In this series, he shares his passion for all things “Streamline Moderne”, and how it all turned into a 13-year labor of love, to create “Neferteri“, his custom Diamond T truck.

By Larry Pointer with Rik Hoving


Neferteri, Part Eight

Forlorn is about the best could be said of my 1936 Diamond T grille shell. No Art Deco waterfall grille in shiny stamped sheet metal graced its open maw. But that’s not a bad thing. Frankly, I wasn’t a fan of that historic hiccup, before the Cadillac of trucks morphed its face for the Forties into a 1938 Buick on steroids. The 1936-37 grillework definitely was Art Deco, but more like the face of a drive-in speaker than any rolling sculpture.

From left to right; 1937 Diamond T, 1938 Buick grille, 1948 Diamond T grille 
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Drive-in Speakers, common items for those who crew up with the drive-in theater’s. (many younger viewers never have seen a drive-in movie.  Sad)
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Instead, I had borrowed Gordon Buerhrig’s 1935 facelift for the struggling Auburn flagship to grace my own Art Deco dream. What better streamline concept truck than a marriage between Auburn and Diamond T? For help in scale and proportion, I threw myself on the tender mercies of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum. There, archivist Jon Bill came to my aid. With stretched dimensions in hand, I was off and running. I had the WHAT of what I needed; the HOW still continued to elude me.

Original 1936 Diamond T grille shell I started with.
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1935-36 Auburn grille…
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Example of grille surround created from large diameter tubing by Barris Kustoms on the left and using some smaller diameter tubing by the Valley Custom Shop used on Jack Stewart’s Oldsmobile “Polynesian”.
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If George and Sam Barris and the Valley Custom boys could create their grille surrounds in exhaust tubing, it was the way forward for me. First though, I needed an inexpensive mock-up. Quite by accident I discovered the cardboard tubing inside Christmas wrapping rolls was exactly the same diameter! And a lot cheaper to whack into the required lengths, angles, and curves I envisioned. Once it was laid out and adjusted to the Diamond T height and width, I was ready for Darryn Waldo to pass over the real steel for cutting and ticky-tacking.

Christmas wrap tube on the left turned out ideal to mock up my new grille surround before I bought the actual metal tubing and had it bend in shape. On the right you can see the roughed in exhaust tubing clamped to front of my Diamond T shell.
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The handsome expanded stainless screen of bygone days was no more. Scott Clark showed me an alternative, though. And it stood literally in my face on a daily basis as I went in and out of his shop. The behemoth Peterbilt tractor-trailer rigs sported a frontal grillework that was almost a dead ringer for that sported by the Auburn boat-tail speedster. After a few visits to repair shops and salvage yards, I was able to score one that hadn’t played block and tackle against a four-legged foe, or worse.

Peterbilt truck with the stainless screen I used in building my “Auburn” grille. The Kenworth truck on the right shows the style of bars and “teeth” I carved down for my grille.
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The center bar and teeth I was able to clone from yet another 18-wheeler. This time the vertical aluminum grille bars of a Kenworth. It didn’t take long for me to gain a deep appreciation for the values of an open faced file, in the task of whittling down the pieces for the three cross bars of the Auburn’s trademark dental work.

Buzz Franke studying the bare shell and how to incorporate the new panels and exhaust tubing surround. On the right photo we can see Buzz Franke forming a template for bottom of the shell.
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The finished tubing grille surround now tacked to the 37 Diamond T shell.
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Yet, that all turned out to be the easy part. The Auburn’s vertical face was straight, and raked back to a jaunty angle. Jaunty hardly described the bulbous bustle nose of the Diamond T shell. Buzz Franke stepped in to direct the match-up of this odd couple. His studied eye in fabrication was a clinic in customizing, a privilege I never will forget, rest his soul. Finally, to achieve the crowning touch, Ron Tesinsky drug out his English wheel to create the cap of the structure. It came out much like a big brother to the iconic 32 Ford grille shell, as well as that of Buehrig’s classic Auburn.

Close up of the lower grille section, piecing together the shell with the tubing. On the right Buzz with partner Jerry Lafountain checking alignments.
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Lower piecework, adapting tubing to original grille shell on the left and on the right the Grille is now ready for fabrication of top of shell.
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Shaped rod clamped in place to determine form of top of shell, followed by Paper templates in place for shaping top of grille shell.
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Ron Tesinsky with completed grille shell, bare metal. Ron shaped all the sheet metal on the grille surround with English wheel. On the right, grille back home on stand.
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I was so proud of what we had done, I built a stand for our bare metal “sculpture”, and stood it in my bedroom.

Until…., well… Two years later Dotti and I were married. It was no contest. Neferteri moved out to the shop. A girl thing, I think.





Fast forward to 2013. That bucket list we all carry. Wishful thinking. Without Dotti, much of my bucket list only would have remained a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” wish list. Dotti was on family history quest, and we planned out a trip, retracing back her family’s migration West to Montana. Well, along the route through Indiana…umm, almost on the way…was Auburn, and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. After a short detour, I found myself standing in front of that very Mecca of Classic Car celebrants. Soon, I was shaking hands with Museum archivist Jon Bill, the very man who, a decade before, had helped me scope out the dimensions I needed in creating Neferteri’s “Auburn” grille. That day stands out as one of those “most memorable” moments of Life’s special treasures. And to have Jon request images of Neferteri for the Museum archive was…beyond words!

Me in front of ACD Museum, 2013. and on the right Me, on the left, with Jon Bill, on the right, archivist at ACD Museum who ten years before, in 2003, had helped me come up with conversions to adapt the 1935-36 Auburn grille dimensions to the larger Diamond T grille shell.
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As I looked back over the progression of the project, visions of perk charts danced in my head. Jack Whittington had started the wiring, and in tidy Air Force style, he ran wires through lengths of brake line tubing to hide them. The idea to hide the fuse box inside a kitchen toaster masquerading as an Art Deco heater under the dash was, well, my idea. John Stroble took on the brakes. And Darryn Waldo came to the rescue in configuring the air conditioning components to avoid defacing my firewall mural space.

Air conditioning? You ask. Didn’t the Diamond T have individual roll out windshields? And cowl vents down on the sides, in front of the doors? Yes… but. Dotti surprised me with the gift of a complete Aftermarket system. In another compromise, the new hidden hinges Darryn had scored meant the cowl vents had to go.

The solution that we worked out was to run hoses under the firewall and floor to a mounting position behind the seats, on the extended floor board. Venting then later could face forward, beneath a raised platform behind the seats and through a console between the seats, as well as up and over the door frames to that above-windshield glove box panel, via pvc piping.

AC unit on bare floor of Neferteri.
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But that would be later. Actually, years later. Thirteen years and counting; I still don’t have the system charged, nor the defroster vents louvered in above the windshield. My bad. But is a custom ever done? Really DONE done? Those roll out windshields are working really swell, though.

Jack Whittington, who wired Neferteri on the left, and John Waldo and father Darryn Waldo crimping AC hoses on the right.
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How to build an extended cab? I still had the poster board pattern I had used to saw out my 10 gauge floor. Scott Clark had salvaged some heavy duty bakery racks, and I glommed onto one. I surgically removed its base on wheels, to then began assembling parts and pieces of the four C. A. Tilt truck cabs I had purloined. To align the parts and hold everything in position, I built a cage of braces in bracketed ½” tubing. It looked like a Rube Goldberg cartoon, but it did the job.

Top left shows the Bakery rack frame I used parts from for cab gurney The other two photos show the stock cab on bakery rack gurney.
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Buzz guided me on extending the cab length. One set of quarter panels were sliced vertically behind the stamped door frame. Another set was cut parallel to these, but 4” back. For backing, we tacked a narrow strip behind the cutline to hold the pieces in line, then I slowly welded up the long seam.

Buzz Franke studying cab extension. Extended and reinforced to hold its shape cab on gurney.
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Quarter windows. With tried-and-true poster board, I cut out several variations of shapes for the quarter windows I wanted. Standing back, I studied each, with a door clamped into position for proportioning. Then, to create window openings consistent with those of the doors, I actually used doors as donors. Each quarter window surround is made up from the rear portion of a pair of door window frame elements, left and right, set facing each other and welded in the middle.

Quarter window template.
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The center back panels of the cabs I had gathered all were worse for wear. I sliced out the best beltline, then added new sheet metal panels above and below, attached to a 1/2” square tubing frame on the inside. At this juncture, everything was pretty much held together with C-clamps. Perhaps the best advice I received along the way was, “You can never have enough C-clamps.”

Diamond T’s had a small, square rear window. In my humble opinion, they looked more like they belonged on an orchard tractor than the Cadillac of trucks. In stark contrast, all of the classic cars of the era sported long and narrow rear windows. They just spoke “elegance” to me. So, I cut up what rear window frame stampings I had, and built my own long, narrow, elegant rear view. Then I centered and welded them into that new flat sheet metal I’d grafted into the rear of the cab.

From left to right on the top; Original Diamond T back panel,  1/2″ tubing inner framework for new cab back panel, back panel with template for new rear window. The picture on the bottom shows the back panel installed with new much wider rear window opening.
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Welding. The roof was next. I sorted through the roof panels and selected a pair least ravaged by the collateral damage that came with time in service. You know, hay bales, logs, amateur hip-hop dancers. One panel was sliced off, just above the new quarter windows in my cab. The second panel was laid up from the rear alignment. I picked a line of consistent loft in the sandwiched panels and cut a horizontal slice down through them together, from one side of the top to the other, to create an extended top. As with the vertical quarter panel extensions, I cut out a narrow strip from the leftovers, for support beneath the seam. Thanks to the genius who invented Cleco pins! Welding the seam across that roof expanse was made much easier.

By now, the cab gurney had given way to actual construction onto the floor base plate now securely bolted to the chassis. Running boards were next. That lattice framework beneath the floor included outriggers that, as well as for catching shins daily, now served for attaching the running boards. Again, each running board was extended lengthwise, thanks to the sacrifice of a second set of boards for the added length.

The extended cab is now back on the frame with the fender installed we could extend the running boards to fit the longer cab. (This photo was taken prior to 3/8″ rod drip rail replacement)
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Thanks to Charles Tilt’s cab of assembled parts, I was able to adjust individual panels at will. To finally attach the extended roof, I trimmed and clamped it down for final welding. At this point, a little “chopping” was in order. The stock Diamond T cab rose up rearward into an annoying peak at the rear. From a side view, this uphill slope really disrupted any “streamline” flow in styling, front to back. It had to go away. I pulled the roof down in back, and trimmed it off at the dripline. Tilt also had made the drip channel a separate piece, tacked into a wooden header strip inside. Following this alignment, the Diamond T stampings were now fully replaced with a molding I bent to form with 3/8” rod.

Roof extended, rear 3/4 view with the new drip rail in place. On the bottom an aerial view, extended cab, with seams filled.
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More welding. Lots and lots more welding ahead. I was becoming a frequent flyer to the local welding gas supplier.

Up front, the original Diamond T roof panel had been bolted to the top of the cowl, through the A posts and below the windshields. A length of welting was sandwiched between the metal panels to eliminate squeaks. Here was my opportunity to suck the roof down a bit more, and wipe out the ugly gasket distraction interfering with that coveted “B-17” flow of the windshield lines I so admired. While I was at it, I formed a Duvall Vee piece for emphasis, bottom center between the windshields. I continued the Vee theme in striking a sharp line down each A pillar to taper into the belt molding at the cowl. Duesenbergs, Packards, Marmons, and best of all: the Stutz Monte Carlo. The classic cars of the period all had that wind slicing aircraft/speedboat look I wanted Neferteri to share.

1930 Stutz Monte Carlo.  This is the A pillar bottom shape I wanted, as it flows downward and forward into the beltline extending out into the hood panel.
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Close up, original cab A pillar.
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Close up, Duvall-like center pillar piece.
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My reshaped A pillar (A little ahead in sequence, I only had a good image of it already in paint!)
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Stylin’! That 2003 drawing was beginning to emerge in 3D. I was on a roll! And I was only six years into the build. The words of my uncle Willis whispered in my ear, “You don’t holler Whoa in the middle of a horse race.








Next, we will clean up those front fenders, attach the doors, and streamline the scene behind the cab…. Stay tuned.













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Americas Most Beautiful Roadster 2017

 

AMBR 2017

 

Americas Most Beautiful Roadster award for 2017 goes to 1936 Packard named The Mulholland Speedster owned by Bruce Wanta. Designed by Eric Black and wonderfully hand-built by Troy Ladd and his crew at Hollywood Hot Rods in Burbank California.



The oldest ongoing Hot Rod and Custom Car show, the Grand National Roadster show has been awarding a huge trophy, but more than that a very prestigious America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award sine 1950. From the very beginning this award has been an award high on the bucket list of many Car builders. In general this award goes to the most beautiful Hot Rod or Street Rod roadster, but since the last decade or so we have seen more and more Custom orientated cars being entered to compete for the AMBR. 2017 is a new milestone in the history of the GNRS AMBR event when Bruce Wanta’s 1936 Packard Roadster wins the top award, the famous 10-foot trophy.


The Mulholland Roadster with the AMBR award on Sunday evening.
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When the 2017 68th Annual Grand National Roadster Show opened its doors for the contenders of the event, and the competitors of for the AMBR award on Wednesday January 25th the talk of the day was about the Mulholland Speedster. And especially about if it could win the prestigious award as a full Custom. For the past couple of years we have seen a major shift in the winners of the AMBR. The winners were looking like real traditional Hot Rods again. For many years many of the top award winners were high dollar street roddish cars that had no ties to the original Hot Rod scene other than perhaps the pure base of the cars. The entries for this year were all mostly traditional style cars inspired by several era’s of the Hot Rodding history. And one of them was one inspired by the Coachbuilt cars from the mid 1930’s. Lets hope this will set a new trend and more Custom oriented entries will be created for the future AMBR competition.


The Mulholland Speedster

The Mulholland Speedster is based on an 1936 Packard Roadsters, but is largely couch built by Troy Ladd and his crew at Hollywood Hot Rods in Brubank California from a design by Eric Black . The car is owned by Bruce Wanta of Bellevue, Washington. The car was built over a period of several years. Starting with a series of design studies created by Eric Black collaborating with Troy Ladd. One the basic design was approved on a full size rendering created by Eric Black was printed and the work for the real car was planned.

Early concept designs by Eric Black.
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The Mulholland Speedster compared to the 1936 Packard Roadster.
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Most of the car is hand built at the Hollywood Hot Rods shop with the body created out of 1-gauge steel, all metal finished. In 2015 the Mulholland Speedster was displayed at the GNRS mostly done but still in bare polished metal. The car had everybody talking at the show and for a very long period after that. After the show the car went back to the Hollywood Hot Rods shop to be taken apart completely for more detail work. The car is designed as a mid 30’s Coachbuilt Custom, inspired by the famous Coachbuilt cars from that era. But underneath the car was built with all the modern touches and techniques one can think of.



The humble beginnings, 1936 Packard.
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Early construction work with one side of the car mostly there. On the wall is the life size Eric Black Illustration.
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Packard grille and more body construction going on at the shop. The windshield is a heavily modified 1936 Ford Duvall brass windshield.
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Getting one side all mocked up, then repeating it on the other side.
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All body panels were made at Hollywood Hot Rods.
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The Mulholland Speedster at the 2015 GNRS in polished bare metal.
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No elements on the Mulholland Speedster were left untouched. Even the hinges were custom designed and hand grafted, and so were the Art-deco head and taillight moldings.
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All put back together to check for fit and Finnish, then off to the bare metal photo shoot. 
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One of the key features of this car was the plan was to create a metal lift off top that would disappear into the trunk (Retractable hardtop), very much like one done back in 1938 by Peugot. This require a lot of engineering, careful construction and some compromised had to be made to make it all work and the top to disappear into the trunk. To lift the bar even further the idea was to make it all operate using electric motors, and to operate it using your smartphone with a custom designed app. This app controls all the electronics on the Mulholland Speedster, including opening and closing the Packard winter grille, hood sides and suspension.

The car was mostly built at the Hollywood Hot Rods Shop in Burbank California, and the wonderful paint work, in a custom mixed Mulholland Merlot, was performed by Mick Jenkins at M.G.J. Enterprises. The interior was created by Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Interiors.




Retractable hardtop roof. 
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After everything was test fitted and after the final fine tuning and photo-shoot the car was all taken apart for paint, chrome and upholstery.
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The complete handmade frame and all the suspension components specially designed for the Speedster are a work of art.
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A Lincoln V-12 292 cubic inch with Hogan aluminum heads, three-pot Winfield (Double-D carbs used) intake with Latham-Hogan supercharger. Tires are Firestone 6.50×16 wide whites.
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The Mulholland Speedster was displayed mostly with the top down, but from time to time the top was put up for a complete transformation.
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Notice the umbrella sticking out of the door jam. Specially designed storage unit, and of course the umbrella was customized as well.  
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Not only the car itself is spectacular. The way the car was displayed and the display itself was in something very special. Car owner Bruce Wanta wanted to display the car in such a way that car could be enjoyed for the coachbuilt custom, with the perfect stance, but at the same time he also wanted to show the amazing work done on the drivetrain of the car. He came up with the idea of a split level display. One side of the car could be experienced as a car sitting on the floor all closed up, while the other side could be inspected with all the details underneath and inside. Eric Black helped out with the design aspects of this great display concept.
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The interior was created by Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Interiors.
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The instrumentation is original Packard fully refurbished. 
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Car owner Bruce Wanta on the left, Builder Troy Ladd (Hollywood Hot Rods) in the middle and designer Eric Black on the right shortly after the award ceremony.
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Troy and Eric.. did this really happen?…. YES
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Special thanks to Hot Rod magazine, Rob Radcliffe, Howard Gribble, Eric Black and Hollywood Hot Rods for the photo material. 








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Saoutchik Plastic Steering Wheel

 

SAOUTCHIK PLASTIC STEERING WHEEL

 

In the late 1940s Custom builders experimented with the use of plastics in Custom Cars. One of their inspiration sources was the lucite steering wheel in the Saoutchik Delahay 175-S from 1949.

In the summer of 2016 we did an series of article on the use of Plastics by Custom Car builders and the history of it. One article concentrated on the external use of plastics, like hand made bumper guard taillights and parking lights, while the other article focused on the use of plastics in the interior of Custom Cars. One focal point was the steering wheel in the Barris Kustoms restyled Don Vaughn 1948 Buick. And how this technique possibly was inspired by the use of plastic steering wheels in some coachbuild cars from the lat 1940’s. We included a sample of the clear lucite steering wheel in the Saoutchik designed and created 1949 Delahaye 175-S. This breathtaking beautiful car has been completely restored by Fran Roxas and the steering wheel used in the restored car was completely redone, since the original steering wheel showed its age, the lucite was cracked etc.

In an recently ebay offering this apparently original Delahaye Saoutchik was offered for sale. The auction showed some nice detailed photos of this historic piece, and since we have already mentioned it in the Plastics article I figured it would be nice to show it up close here on the Custom Car Chronicle.

 

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Ebay info:

Delahaye Saoutchik
Original used steering wheel
Original NOS New Old Stock 1949 Horn Button Center
The center emblem has the Coat of Arms of the Dauphin
ex French King of France Family

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The Restored Saoutchik Delahaye 175-S









The car is built upon the first new Delahaye chassis designed after the war. New features for this model included a much larger 4.5 liter engine, a De-Dion rear suspension, Dubbonet front suspension, Lockhead brakes, and novelties such as a radio and heater came standard.

The first owner of this car, chassis 815025, was Sir John Gaul of England who brought the car to several European concours, catching the attention of the press and public wherever it went. In 1949, it won top honors at the Grand Castle du Bois de Boulogne in Paris, the Monte Carlo Concours and Coup de l’Automobile in San Remo almost always accompanied by an attractive lady.

By the seventies the roadster had made its way to Colorado where maintenance on the race-spec engine and Dubonnet suspension became a nuisance. The owner then chopped out the entire front section of the chassis to fit a GM Toronado system which was front wheel drive.

For nearly forty years the original engine and car were separated much to the blissful ignorance of everyone who could still appreciate its distinct design. Eventually correct 175 parts were sourced and the owner had Fran Roxas refurbish the massive Delahaye. It made a welcome debut restoration at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours where it graced the shoreline beside the best examples of the marque. Later, the original engine was sourced and it was offered at Sports & Classics of Monterey by RM Auctions.

Info from newatlas.com







Special thanks to Wolf.









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