Bob Aguilera 53 Mercury

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Plain, simple, tastefully done. That would be the best description of my favorite 1953 Mercury restyle. The Bob Aguilera 1953 Mercury.

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The Art of Restraint-
Aguilera’s 1953 Mercury

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Plain, simple, tastefully done. That would be the best description of my favorite 1953 Mercury restyle. Plain and simple not in the sense of uninteresting, unattractive, or common… No, it is in the sense of free from distraction or complication, neither pretentious nor affected. In other words, tasteful.

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Rod & Custom December 1954 issue showed Bob Aquilera’s 1953 Mercury as part of the Reader’s Car of the Month on a two-page spread.

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This ’53 Mercury Monterey two-door hardtop appeared as a two-page spread featured as “Reader’s Car of the Month” in the December 1954 issue of Rod & Custom. The owner is listed as Bob Aguilera of San Bernardino, California. I have little information on Bob. I do believe he was a member of a fairly well known San Bernardino custom car club that featured more than a few 1952-54 Mercurys.

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1953 Mercury Brochure.

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The restyling work was performed by Dick Richardson of the same name custom shop located at Arrowhead Av and Mill St, also in San Bernardino. Although I’ve been told by a few custom guys in the S.B. area that were there, that the shop was actually owned by a guy named Al Andratti, who was the custom body man, Richardson being the very talented paint man.

The bill of particulars includes complete smoothing of hood, deck and doors, doors and trunk are of course solenoid operated. Hood scoop dechromed and altered so that it appeared to actually flow air (contrary to the R&C article, it did not). The same treatment was given to the rear fender scoops. Of course the Mercury was lowered a practical amount, 6 inches all around, with just a tiny bit more at the rear for that just right profile.

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The R&C piece sums it up beautifully, “Good taste in automotive design cannot be purchased so therefore it is priceless”.

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The ’53 grille (in my opinion the best of the ’52-’54 models) was left as is with just the small trim bars being eschewed. The hubcaps are stock. Rear bumper guards shaved. Dual exhaust with twin chrome tips exit just under the bottom edge of the bumper, although in one rear shot in the R&C feature the pipes have been artistically lengthened. Stock headlight rings sealed and blended.

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This photo, and the other three-quarter view of the front, were both taken in July 1954. These two photos were offered on Ebay a couple years ago. I think there were others in the same auction, showing club members and additional cars.

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Aftermarket flared skirts reworked and fitted to conform and blend into lower part of fender scoop area, as well as the rocker panel from the trailing edge of the stainless rocker trim. To finish this area off, three chrome windsplits are incorporated into the intake of the scoops, with small matching body color peaks formed just aft of the openings, very subtle.

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Close up shows the subtle and very well designed work that was done on the rear quarter scoops, the shortened stainless teeth, small added spears blending into the teeth, and extended down, lipped and reshaped flush fender skirts.

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And finally the wonderful use and application of the 1954 Packard Clipper model taillights. Here they are used with the stock Clipper housing, and are very nicely fitted and conform beautifully to the slightly extended fender line and curved trailing edge as it falls into the bumper. The open horizontal chrome edge of the Packard housings are again, subtly blended into small spears or fillets that finish off the taillight to fender transition with grace.

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1954 Packard Clipper taillights with stock housings are beautifully blended into the reshaped Mercury rear fenders. The small body colored spear at the leading edge of the taillights is similarly shaped as what was done on the quarter panel scoop teeth.

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Side profile from the R&C article shows the beautiful stance, slightly lower in the rear.

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This may have been one of the earliest examples of the utilization of the ’54 Clipper taillights. When this Mercury was restyled that taillight was only about five months old. Others could have used it first, but I think perhaps this was the earliest use on the 1952-54 Mercury. And in my view the most attractive element of the restyling.

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The article does not mention the interior, nor is there any indication of the paint color…I would assume seafoam or mint green, or a warm shade of cream. Both with a medium green metallic top of course, or even a powder blue or bluish grey with matching medium blue metallic top?

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The two photos of the Bob Aguilera Mercury that were offered on ebay are now part of the Zeke Carrillo Collection.

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I am not aware of any other features or articles on this mild but well executed Mercury. Any further info or car club affiliations concerning Bob Aguilera or his car would be much appreciated. Please leave a comment if you know more.

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1+

Dick Lippert 49 Chevy

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Dick Lippert from upstate New York customized his 1949 Chevy in his parents drive way in 1953.

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By Dick Lippert

I bought the car in the summer of 1951 while in the service and was putting almost 900 miles per week driving home on weekends and etc.
While in Korea I gave much thought to what I would do to the car when I got home. I was determined to chop my 1949 Chevy convertible upon my return to my home in 1953, in upstate New York, USA. I had to wait for good weather in the spring to be able to do all the work, which had to be done in my parents driveway.

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The first version from 1953 still had the stock grille, but the hood had already been made one piece, smoothed and the headlights frenched with the then popular half moon chrome covers added

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Figuring out how the cut the top bows to match the chopped windshield and still be fully functional.

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Early stages. The windshield has already been chopped, the hood smoothed, headlights frenched, but we are still working on the top bows, and the door handles need to be shaved as well.

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Here the top bows have been all done and the new canvas is in place. The rear fenders have been molded, and smoothed, but the taillights have not been added to the final horizontal position.

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Comparing with a stock convertible.

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The Olds Bumpers at the back, the smoothed trunk and fenders and the lowered stance are a huge improvement over the stock one parked next to it.

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I was just shy of my 23rd birthday when I started the customization of my car. I learned all I needed to know from reading Hot Rod magazine since 1948 plus all the car magazines that were available at the time. I purchased a Oxy Acetylene welding out fit and had a small assortment of hand tools

I studied the top mechanism for hours and made the decision to go ahead and chop the windshield and modify the soft top to fit. I chopped the windshield 2 1/2″, used a one piece 50 Oldsmobile convertible windshield and took it to a local glass shop. I told him they can do it in California! He said he was able to cut for me. While cutting, a crack developed but he was able to stop it. I paid $ 44.- for the windshield – I was only making $ 66 per week – 2/3rds of my pay check. So I was happy they were able to save it.

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Profile photo shows the lowered and slightly nose up stance.

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I had to make a few changes to let one bow drop down behind the back seat, when folded down. Had to cut down and weld the vent windows and send off for re chroming. I had a local auto upholstery shop sew up a new top fabric because a stock top fabric kit would not fit the lowered top structure and etc.

Other changes I made were, removed handles, nosed one piece hood, molded in rear fenders, decked trunk and frenched headlights. The stock tail lights were rotated 90 degrees with added wind-splits near the rear edge of rear fender/quarter panel inspired by the 49 Ford. I used 50 Olds bumpers front and rear with exhaust exiting the rear tips and shortened bumper guards on the front. Most parts used came from the scrap pile.

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The Oldsmobile bumpers, the smoothed body, lower top and the turned 90 degrees taillights gave the car a completely more high end look.

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Later I added a ’49 Mercury grill surround, Chevy front fender sections switched right and left under the headlights, 1953 Chevy grill bar ( look what’s driving bye ) ’49 Mercury grille opening panel was welded to the Chevy hood and the ends to right and left modified. The hood bottom corners were radiused. I ended up working for the body shop that primed my car as I made progress and also painted it. The color was Burgundy Maroon, a stock 1949 Chevy color.

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Posing with the Chevy

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The 2 girls sitting in the back are my sister and a friend. The guy behind the wheel was a close friend.

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The low mounted, turned horizontal taillights give the car a much cleaner and lower look as this low angle color photo shows.

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Slight nose up stance gives the car an instant speed feel.

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The Chevy looks amazing with the top down….

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… or with the top up. The new lowered top bows give the top a beautiful flow.

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In 1954 I installed a 303 cubic inch Oldsmobile engine and drag raced it that summer. The weight of the Olds engine brought down the front of the car and helped with the nose up attitude. The car was at it’s best in the black and white photo I took in September 1955.

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After the door handles were shaved I added push buttons hidden in the belt line trim, just behind the doors. The red and white interior looked so sharp with the maroon pained garnish moldings and dash.

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Zoomed in at the dash.

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All of the colored pictures were taken in September of 1953 and as you can see at that time the car still had the stock grill. The only picture I have of my customized front end was taken in September 1955 and only in black and white. I cannot believe I didn’t take a color slide of it. I accidentally lost many pictures in the 60’s and it still hurts, even today.

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The only photo I took of the car with the new ’49 Mercury grille shell and floating ’53 Chevy grille bar was taken in September 1955. I think the car looked at it’s best like this.

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9+

Palle Johansen 47 Caddy Introduction

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PALLE JOHANSEN 47 CADDY

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

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

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

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

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

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INTRUDUCING
The Palle Johansen Cadillac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Teardrop shapes…

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

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

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

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Beautiful Birds view…

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

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

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6+

Don Britton 1950 Ford

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DON BRITTON 1950 FORD

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Don Britton 1950 Ford Sedan was restyled in 1950 by Chuck Calvin who sectioned the body for an unique look. Where is this well published Custom now?

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This elegant 1950 Ford sedan Custom Car has been featured in quite a few publications in the early 1950’s when the car was near new. Yet it never was one of those “popular” Customs that most people think about when you mention Custom Car.

The Don Britton Ford always has had a bit of mystery around it, at least that is how it felt to me. When the car was featured in the 1954 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine it was mentioned that in a very short period the car had changed hands several times, and therefor the original owners and builders name had been lost. That always sounded a bit odd to me, especially since earlier publications from 1951 had clearly listed Don Britton as the owner and Chuck Calvin as the builder. Even today when creating this article I find odd things about the car… In fact I’m still not even 100% sure all the photos used in this article are of he same car… or perhaps there were two nearly identical 1949-50 Sectioned Ford Sedan’s.

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In progress photo appeared in the 1951 published Trend Book #101 Custom Cars. The photo shows the car was lights colored and all the black areas is where the body work had taken place.

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Original Version – Don Britton

Lets start with the things we know. The very first Custom Cars Annual, Trend Book #101 first published in July 1951 showed a few photos of the Don Britton Ford Sedan, one of them of the car in progress with most of the work done, and the body partly in primer. The photo was taken in front of a body shop that I so far have not been able to identify. Not sure if Chuck Calvin, who was listed as the body man of the car in the same booklet on page 81, had his own body shop. Also included in the booklet was a wonderful photo of the Sectioned Finished sedan parked next to a bone stock 1950 Ford to compare the two.

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The Don Britton Sectioned sedan parked next to a bone stock 1950 Sedan.

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Don Britton was the owner of the D&B Auto Sales Lot on 8221 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood, California, a second hand car dealer specialized in Hot Rods and Custom Cars. We do not know how long Don actually owned the car, but it cannot be very long, since in 1952 the car already had moved to new owner. Possibly Don had his sectioned Sedan parked at the lot, as he most likely used it as a daily driver, and somebody visiting the lot, in search of a new Custom Car made him an offer he could not refuse.

First version of Don Britton’s 1950 Ford, possibly with Don behind the steering wheel.

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The rear view shows how the taillight wind-splits had been removed from the rear quarters, and new taillights were added in round holes in the 1949 Ford bumper guards. Notice the 1949 Chevy license plate suround.

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The firs time I saw pictures of this sectioned Shoebox Sedan was in the Fawcett Hot Rods book published in the early 1950’s the same booklet also had a couple of pictures of the Valley Custom Shop sectioned Ron Dunn 1949 Ford Coupe, and I really enjoyed comparing the two. In my eyes the Coupe Body of the Ron Dunn Ford lent itself better to the sectioning restyling than the sedan, especially with the top remaining stock height, which caused the Sedan to look slightly top-heavy… But I still was intrigued by the Sedan, I liked it a lot.

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The original version of the Don Britton Ford shows the car with the door handles in place, stock headlights, stock looking fender skirts, stock hubcaps, shortened rear quarter side trim, exhaust below the stock rear bumper with 1949 Bumper guards with integrated taillights.

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Chuck Calvin of Encino carefully measured the amount to be cut out through the body sides, 4 inches all around. He ten used tin snips and a metal saw to cut out the marked section. When the top and bottom halves were brought together, the fit was so perfect that Calvin did not have to use a welding rod, he merely fused the metal edges together with a torch.

The first version of the was not modified all that much, apart from the 4 inch section job the car dis have a rather stock appearance to it, which made it a very interesting custom. I could see how many people had to turn their heads when the car cruised the streets of SoCal. Viewers probably thought this was the newest model from the Ford Dealer. Especially since all the rest of the restyling was done so restrained and elegant… enhancing what was already there.

The other custom touches on the car are; The 1949-50 Ford grille surround was cut down at the bottom to fit inside the new reduced opening. The original Ford spinner grille was replaced with a single very elegant 1951 Kaiser floating grille bar. During the sectioning process it was decided the body would look better with the taillight wind-split removed, and the rear quarters smoothed. The taillights would later be incorporated into he bumper guards. Similar lights were also added to the front bumper guards which were used as direction turn indicators. The trunk had to be cut 4 inches to fit the new reduced in height opening, and the trim and emblems were removed at he same time. The hood also was shaved of the Ford letters and center trim.

The front wheel openings were slightly radiused with a more rounded top portion, to make sure the front wheels would not rub on steering. The low mounted side trim was shortened on the rear quarters to stop right in front of the stock accessory fender skirts. With all the body work completed the car was painted metallic maroon by Ted Nielson.

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Howard Markel did the interior in gray and black leatherette.

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The suspension was lowered just a little bit to get everything back in proportion after the sectioning. The plan was a slight level lowering which was accomplished using lowering blocks in the back. The front end was dropped cutting two coils. This brought the car down to the perfect level right height. The original version of the car used the stock Ford hubcaps.

Howard Markel of Beverly Hills reworked the seats. He removed the lower, movable section of the front seat and reworked to bottom section to be mounted to the floor. The rear seat cushion and springs were cut down and rebuilt to sit level with the side window openings. The steering column location was also modified to be just right for the new seating position. The interior was upholstered in gray and black leatherette.

The finished first version of the car appeared in the 1951 Trend Book Custom Cars #101, and the July 1951 issue of Motor Trend.

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Chuck Calvin who was the body man responsible for the restyling and the sectioning of the body. The ’51 Motor Trend Magazine and 101 Trent Book Custom Cars has the car listed with with a 4 inch sectioned body, while the 1954 R&C magazine has it listed as 5 inch!

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Second Version – Dana Boller

In the October 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine the Sectioned Sedan was featured again. By now the car had changed hands and Dana Boller was the new owner. The car also had done some more restyling in the meantime. Not sure if these modifications were done while Don Britton owned the car, or after it had changed hands. The car was now listed as an 1949 model while it was listed as an 1950 model in the 1951 publications.

The door handles were removed and push buttons installed for all the openings. The headlights were frenched with a nice small lip. The grille surround was completely redone as well. a modified 1951 Ford grille surround was added that eliminated the 49-50 round center piece that was on the car before. The hood had to be filled in and a new peak was added to flows very nicely into the center of the grille surround.

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The car looked more custom in this version with the frenched headlights, ’51 Ford grille surround, lipped skirts and aftermarket hubcaps.

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Hop Up photographer Ralph Poole photographed Dana’s Ford with and without the fender skirts to show the readers the difference. The no skirt option makes the car look much lighter.

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New fender skirts were added, possibly aftermarket units, or cut down 1951 Mercury units. The antenna was moved from the stock location on the cowl, to the rear splash pan, a popular locations at the time.

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Also new for the Dana Boller version are the rear bumper exhaust outlets.

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A better look at the new exhaust outlets in the rear bumper.

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Close up of the bumper guard taillights and the splash pan mounted antenna.

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The Andrews and Evans sales lot ad showing the Ford on the far left was in Hop Up July 1953.

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Third Version – Mike Stone

From here on I have to say that I’m not 100% confident the car shown below is the same as the Don Britton Ford. There are some different details, including a new ’51 tag license plate, but for multiple reasons I do think this is still the same car. Mike Stone’s 1950 Ford had a four page feature in the July 1954 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. Spence Murry spoke highly about this car in the article, and mentioned the cars mysterious past, which is very much the same as what is discovered about the Britton Ford.

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The Mike stone version of the Ford was even more elegant than the earlier versions. The removal of the skirts, addition of the full length side trim and use of ’51 Ford bumpers and guards made it look very sharp, and classy.

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The Don Britton and Dana Boller versions of the car had a 1951 California license plate 1N92582, the Mike Stone car has 1951 California plates 1X88047. We have seen this before on other famous custom cars that had different plates over the year. The most striking changed to the car are the use of 1951 Ford bumpers and bumper guards. The front bumper guards are stock, but in the rear new handmade vertical taillights were added. Resulting in a more elegant solution than on the early version, plus as an extra benefit the taillights are not also viable from the side of the car, an important safety feature.

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Also new on this version of the car is the grille opening. It appears as if a the grille surround from the previous version was modified with the use of a second 1951 Ford grille surround, which was flipped upside down to create a complete chrome grille surround. The Kaiser grille bar remained. Another change for this version is a full length side trim, which appears to be located a bit higher than on the earlier versions. This is one of the things that make me wonder if this is actually the same car, or perhaps there were two near identical sectioned Ford Shoebox Sedans?

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Close up of the new grille surround.

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This photo shows the nice peak added to the hood, and how it flows nice with the grille surround center line.

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With the use of the new 1951 Ford bumpers the exhaust was now re-routed to go back under the bumper again, just as it was on the original version. The ’49 Chevy license plate surround was modified to fit the ’51 bumper. The R&C article mentioned that 4 years ago when the car was originally restyled a 5 inch strip had been removed from the body. The other published articles had always mentioned it to be 4 inch.

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The interior colors for the car are now chartreuse and green. The car is now listed as being painted a deep metallic green when the photos for the July issue were taken. But Spence Murray mentioned in the article that right before the magazine went to print Mike had the car repainted all white.

In the 1990’s I came across an article on the long career of Sam Foose. In the Street Rodder Magazine article there was a small black and white photo of the Mike Stone version of the car, mentioning that Sam Foose had build the car using two totaled cars ’49 and ’51 Ford. The article did not state when Sam had build the car. Sam Foose was born in 1934, so he would have been 16 in 1950 when this car was build. Not sure if it is a mix up, or if Sam perhaps worked together with Chuck Calvin, or perhaps he worked on the car for the last changes around 1953-54? Mystery!

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As the 1954 R&C article mentioned Mike Stone repainted the car in white in 1954. I have been able to find a few photos in which the car appears in all white. Non of the photos I came across where taken of the car itself, but it appeared in the background. the two best photos were both taken at an outdoor event at the Hollywood Park Horse track parking lot in 1954. (perhaps early 1955)

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The new white paint shows off the radiused front wheel opening much better than the darker colors used on the earlier versions. Notice that the hood by now has been louvred and most likely the stock engine has been replaced, something Mike had mentioned in the R&C article he planned to do.

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Finally… there is one more photo that adds more mystery to the car… In one of Andy Southard’s books there is a color photo taken at the Barris Show showing an all white, a bit rough looking sectioned 1949-51 Ford sedan. The sectioning and removal of the stock taillights all match with the Britton Ford. Only odd thing is that the rear bumper and guards is now a 49-50 unit again, and the exhaust is back in the bumpers, like it was on the earlier version of the Britton Ford (although the exhaust tips are now much larger)

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Sectioned all white (off white) 1949-51 Ford Sedan, possibly owned by an Barris Shop employee parked at the Barris Kustom Shop around 1957. (Andy Southard photo)

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The photo was taken around 1957 I believe, and the car now has ’56 California plates on it. Again I’m not 100% sure it is the same car, but I do think it is. Now if all these photos are of the same car, the main question is… where is it now? what happened to it?

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3+

Ron Sobran 1951 Mercury

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Ron Sobran created an unequally restyled 1951 Mercury with laid back windshield around 1952 in the Detroit Michigan area. A closer look at this early Full Custom 1951 Mercury.

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The first time I came across a picture of Ron Sobran’s 1951 Mercury was around 2005. I had found an old, already ended photo auction on eBay of an bit oddly chopped 1951 Mercury parked on a street. The old photo really intrigued me for several reason. One because it was of a full Custom Car parked on the street in an unknown town in the early 1950’s, Two because the car had a very uniquely chopped top.

The first photo I ever saw of Ron Sobran’s 1951 Mercury. The Custom looked very interesting with its strangely shaped chopped top, door handles and parked on the street of an unknown town. Possibly the hubcaps on this version were stock ’51 Mercury units?

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I shared the photo with some of my Custom Car friends from the US, asking if anybody recognized the car, sadly nobody did.
It took a few more years before I came across a few more photos of the same Mercury. Photos that were taken at the first Annual Detroit, Michigan Autorama in Jan-Feb 1953. These new photos gave me a bit more info on the Mercury, not about the owner or who built it, but more about how it was restyled.

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The photos showed that the stock Mercury windshield had been laid back, and was not actually cut like we are all known from the more “regular” chopped tops. The new Autorama photos showed that the grille was very nicely created from a narrowed stock ’51 Mercury unit with the wrap around sections removed and replaced with just the end pieces of the wrap around’s. Creating a very nice floating grille bar.

And what also was very important was that the photos were taken in late January, or early February 1953, which means that this car had to be created no later than late 1952, and that made it an very early chopped 1951 Mercury. Especially on this side of the US.

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Overview of the 1953 Detroit Autorama show. Several Alexander Brothers cars were on display at the show as well.

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Zoomed in we can see how the angled back windshield and lowered top made the car look to have a very long hood.

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This picture was really great since it showed the beautifully done grille. Sadly the show sign info cannot be read.

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Overview photo from the other side shows Ron’s Mercury on the top right.

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Zoomed in on Ron’s Mercury. Sadly a bit blurry

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Version 2

A few more years later I came across an online photo collection of the Ford Motor Company. Photos taken at the 1955 Ford Rotunda Ford Motor Company organized Custom Car and Hot Rod Show. And for the first time I had a name of the owner, Ron Sobran. And by 1955 the car had been updated a bit from the 1953 photos. The most obvious update was a new much darker paint job (now listed as Metallic Maroon), extended rear fenders housing ’54 Mercury taillights, the stock rear bumper was replaced by an 1951 Lincoln unit and stock door handles were replaced by push-buttons, most likely Lincoln units.

These 3 new 1955 photos were really fantastic, since they showed a lot more detail than the old ones I had. I now was able to tell that in the chop process the drip rails had been shaved, and the rear of the top/rearwindow had been sunken down. What made the rear of the top really unique was how they had removed the stock bottom stainless trim fro the rear window, and replaced it with an unit that wraps around from the beltline on the sides of the body.

I cannot say this is the most attractive way to chop a Mercury, but I like how creative they were with the angled back stock height windshield and rear window solution. Very creative, and especially the continues belt-line chrome trim is very interesting.

These new photos also showed the hand made bubble skirts, which look really well with the car, the heavier than stock side trim and the Calnevar wire wheel hubcaps. The last are not rally attractive in my eyes, but they were very popular in the early 1950’s giving your car a more sporty, perhaps even European look.

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The rear quarter view taken at the audition day shows the skirts really well. It also shows the sunken or reshaped rear window, the extended rear fender using 1954 mercury rear fenders and taillights, and the addition of an 1951 Lincoln rear bumper.

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Ron’s Mercury had frenched headlights,most likely stock ’51 Mercury units, the hood was smoothed and the grille opening replaced with a 49-51 unit. The hood corners were not rounded. For the updated version Ron had removed the bumper guards from the Mercury front fenders.

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Ron Sobran posing with his Mercury inside the Ford Rotunda Builing Custom Car & Hot Rod show in 1955. This photo shows how much the windshield had to be angled back to get the low side window profile.

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After I had found out the name of the owner I started asking people about the car and the owner some more. But so far nobody I have asked knew anything about the car, nor the owner. I have not been able to find out who actually build the car, or what happened to it after the 1955 Rotunda Show. These images in this article is all I was aver able to find out. If any of our readers know anything more about Ron Sobran, or his ’51 Mercury, please send us an Email.

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Rogelio 1954 Chevy

 

Rogelio 1954 CHEVY SOLD

 

Rogelio Martinez bought this car as a far from finished project back in 2000. He saw the cars potential and over the next decade he built his dream Custom. Now its time to let go. SOLD


(Sponsored Article)



Rogelio Martinez (Roger) from Houston, Texas has been into old cars for as long as he can remember, but when he visited a Texas Good Guys Cars show he spotted a gorgeous chopped 1950 Mercury. From that time everything changed, he just knew he had to have a Custom like that one day, so the search began. In 2000 Roger came across an cheap 1954 Chevy Sedan in New Mexico. The car was very rough, incomplete with no engine or transmission, missing the floor boards, wiring no glass, no bumpers, and the fenders were held together on the car with 4 bungee cords and 4 bullet holes. Still Roger managed to see that this project was ideal for him, and when he closed his eyes, he saw the car in front of him how it now looks. When he brought the project home his wife could not quite see that same picture and according Rogelio the look on her face was priceless.

Smoothed hood, ’56 Oldsmobile headlights, removed bumper guards and 4 additional ’54 Chevy grille teeth, give the Chevy a very tough look.
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The 1956 Oldsmobile front fenders and headlights were matted to the Chevy units and the Chevy wind-splits eliminated in the process.
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Over time Roger located all the missing parts from visiting California swap meets, for the dream custom he had in his mind. The ’56 Packard taillights, bumpers, the ’56 Oldsmobile front fenders, the floor boards and a new wiring kit, bumpers, and all new glass. The top on the Chevy was chopped a heavy 6 full inched with leaned forward B-pillars by Miguel Zarate. He also added a new rear window which is a turned upside down ’51 Chevy Business Coupe unit.

Adrian, another friend and member from the Los Cochinos Car Club did all the work on the beautiful looking front fenders. He incorporated the top portion of the ’56 Oldsmobile fenders to the bottom half of the Chevy fenders. The rear fenders had to be modified to make the ’56 Packard taillights fit, a job also handled by Strays Car Club president Miguel Zarate. A stock ’54 Chevy rear bumper would not work right with the new extended rear fenders with Packard Taillights, so Roger found a pair of ’56 Mercury units that had the perfect look for him. They shaved off most of the trim, but Roger kept the belt line and rocker trim to make the car look longer and sleeker. All the final body work in preparation of the beautiful deep metallic blue paint job was done by DavidDutchvan Renzellier. The paint was applied by Alex HernandezGarage Arte”.



Miguel Zarate did the work on incorporating the ’56 Packard taillights into the Chevy rear fenders. Notice the notched rear bumper to allow the exhaust pipes to sit a bit higher.
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The rear bumper on the Chevy comes from a ’56 mercury, and it took Rogelio two bumpers, to create what he needed. The bumper guards are ’54 Chevy units, modified to fit the mercury bumper. (Trent Sherrill photo)
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This low angle side view shows the smooth flow of the heavy, 6 inch chopped top. The B-pillars were leaned forward to help with the streamline shape. The Airbag set up allows for any stance you prefer.
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Close up of the Oldsmobile front fender addition to the the Chevy. The 1956 Dodge Royal Lancer hubcaps on wide whites is just the perfect combination for Roger’s Chevy.
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Extended down and flush fitting skirts with Buick trim.
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During the more than a decade Roger has been working on his project he has had all the support from his Strays Car Club brothers. They have helped make this a reality for him. Since the car was finished around 2015 he has been driving the car everywhere. Even with the 235 in-line 6 motor the 4 speed transmission. The 4 speed really helps keeping up with traffic. Roger has had tons of fun with the car, but it’s time to let it go, and move on to a new project. So the car is now offered for Sale. (contact info at the end of the article)


A stock ’54 Chevy steering wheel was beautiful restored and painted to match the body and interior. The Low-Rider inspired Metalflake and Candy painted dash is the work of Miguel Zarate.
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Stock ‘Chevy seats were beautifully upholstered in medium blue and white leatherette by Abel from Abel Upholstery in Houston, Texas.
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Close up of the Metalflake and candy painted dash.
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Interior overview.
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Roger’s Chevy was also subject of famous Car photographer Trent Sherrill Photo Shoot.
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Cruising… on their way to another car show.
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At one of the many outdoor car shows Roger went to over the past couple of years. The beautiful pin-striping was done by Rogelio himself.
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The 235 in-line 6 engine with the 4 speed transmission is reliable and more than capable to make it a daily user. Eric doyon “Lefty” came up with the bright idea of installing the Webber carburetor on the car.
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A few in progress photos along the way.
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Metalflake and Candy paintwork in progress by Miguel Zarate.
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1954 Chevy Specs

  • 1954 Chevy
  • Chopped 6 inches, shaved drip rails
  • 1951 Chevy Business coupe rear window
  • 1956 Oldsmobile front fenders sections grafted to the Chevy units.
  • 1956 packaged taillights in modified Chevy rear fenders
  • 1956 Mercury rear bumper, modified
  • Extended flush skirts with ’41 Buick trim
  • Shaved door handles
  • Shaved and smoothed hood and trunk
  • Stock grille with 4 extra teeth
  • Body work by David “Dutch” van Renzellier
  • Paint job done by Alex Hernandez “garage arte”
  • Dash paint done in metal flake and candy, patterns done by Miguel Zarate in north Hollywood ca.
  • Interior done in white and bright blue Tuck&Roll by Abel from Abel Upholstery in Houston Texas
  • Stereo in the glove box with two 6×8 speakers in the kick panels
  • 2 link set up done by Adrian Arizmendi in Houston Texas
  • 1969 Camaro rear end front disc brake , 3” drop spindle, step notch done by Rudy Rivera
  • Motor, is a 235 in-line 6, Saginaw 4 speed transmission
  • Airbag set up Firestone bags all around Viair compressor done by Jesse “Mushu” Zapien
  • Mustang 2 gas-tank


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SOLD

The car is located in Houston, Texas

 

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Bob Dofflow 1949 Ford

 

BOB DOFFLOW 1949 FORD

 

Don Roberts from Bears Custom Shop outdid himself on the magazine cover car, many award winning Bob Dofflow 1949 Ford Sedan. Lets take a closer look at this beauty.



Bob Dofflow‬ 1949 Ford Shoebox restyled by Don Roberts at his Bear’s Custom Body Shop in Downey, California in the early to mid 1950’s is one of the most attractive restyled Customs of its kind. The Custom was designed to flow together from front to back. Every design element that was added was carefully placed, and repeated in shape where needed. The way the grille teeth are echoed in the above the headlights scoops, the way the flow of the chopped roof was repeated in the teardrop shaped wheel openings. The lip from the 1951 Ford front bumper is repeated at the back with the use of an 1954 Ford front bumper. It is all these, and many more details that make the Bob Dofflow 1949 Ford one of the very best Custom Shoebox Fords ever created.




Bob Dofflow’s son from Yucaipa, CA mentioned that the Custom Restyling on Bob’s Ford was started around 1950-51, some time after his father had bought the car new. Despite his mothers protest, Bob asked good friend Don Robert’s who ran the Bear’s Custom Body Shop next door to the Dufflow’s if he could do the work he had been dreaming about for years. Bob was still a young guy, but had been into customizing for many years and had studied every custom he had seen, so he knew pretty good what he wanted.

The use of the 1954 Ford front bumper with it heavy overhang on the back is brilliant. It gives the car extra lenght, plus it has a similar peek at the bottom half as the 1951 Ford bumper used on the front. This low angle photo shows how beautiful the lines of the chopped and shaved top looks, and how well the teardrop shaped wheel openings match the flow of the top. Round trunk corners match those of the cars hood.
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Dead-on front show shows how well all the elements work together on Bobs Ford. The repeating grille teeth above the headlights, the perfectly rounded hood corners matching the shape of the mercury grille opening.
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The car would be in the works off and on, as money and time allowed the work, for over a year and a half. During this period the latest parts were used to update the car. The work started with lowering the suspension with cut coils in the front and lowering blocks in the rear. Next was the chop, Bob wanted a heavy chop, so Don took around 4.5 inches (according the magazine articles) out of the top and did a lot of work to reshape the rear portion of the top and quarter windows to get the right flowing lines. In the process the drip rail was shaved, which was the common practice in the early 1950’s in SoCal.

At the front Don Roberts molded a ’49-50 Mercury grille shell in place, rounded the hood corners, and smoothed the shaved hood before punching in 4 rows of louvers, which was kind of unusual for Customs. The headlights were frenched, possibly ’52 Ford units, with small eye-lids added to the top portion. Above the headlights small air scoops were created and later dressed up with three small chrome or stainless teeth. The door handles were shaved, and all chrome side trim and trunk hardware shaved and body worked till perfection. The stock taillights were modified and frenched into the openings a little.

Stock ’49 Ford engine was dressed up with a lot of chromed parts on the original version.
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Closer look at the Headlights with toothed scoops, the teardrop shaped ’54 Olds wheel openings, and the Ford Accessory wire wheel hubcaps with ’51 Ford grille spinner bullets.
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Bob Dofflow standing and Don Robert kneeling in front of the Shoebox. Notice how the grille teeth are repeat above the headlights inside the custom scoops. The same for the bullet shaped Mercury bumper guards, and ’51 Ford grille bullets.
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All corners, including the doors and trunk were rounded to give the car an even more pleasing look. And one of the nicest modifications done to help to smooth out, and streamline the car was the use of 1954 Oldsmobile 98 wheel openings front and rear.. The Oldsmobile openings have a very nice teardrop shape which accentuate the shape of the chopped roof perfectly. Unique for this period was the choice to not use fender skirts on the rear. But then, who wants to hide those beautiful teardrop shaped rear wheel openings.

The stock side trim was replaced by that of the 1954 Oldsmobile 98 that also had offered its wheel openings. The side trim and down the belt-line was used to separate the deep Titian Red on the bottom, and Alpine white on the top portion. According the magazine features 20 coats of lacquer paint were needed to get the right hue, depth and gloss.

Don Roberts created a new grille bar to float inside the Mercury opening using an narrowed 1954 Ford grille bar. At both sides he mounted a 1951 Ford grille spinner bullet. The bullet was modified with the tip cut off and an 1951 Ford round parking light lens was modified to fit the tip of the bullets. One of the better looking custom created grilles of the era. The smooth ’49 Ford front bumper was replaced with an 1951 Ford units, which is the same in shape, but has an aditional peek added to make it fit with the grille really well. The bumper guards were removed and replaced with 1953 Mercury bumper bullets modified to fit the Ford bumper. The splash pan was molded to the front fenders.

Unique for a Custom are the four rows of louvers punched into the hood. The addition of the cowl vent is another unique touch Don and Bob added to the car.
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Bill Gaylord did the totally unique diagonal tuck&Roll patter in maroon and white Naugahyde. The headliner had a front to rear pattern, with 3 rows of  Tuck&Roll strips in the center portion. The garnish moldings were beautiful finished after the chop and chrome plated.
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At the back Don modified an 1954 front bumper (which has more of an overhang than the rear bumper) to fit the car. He modified a 1953 Kaiser bullet bumper guard to fit the Ford bumper, and added oval shaped exhaust tips to the bumper tips. The ’54 Ford bumper has a similar lip at the lower edge than the ’51 Ford bumper. It is details like this, that keep a theme going all around the car.

The interior of the car was done by Bill Gaylord. Bill lowered the front seat 3 inches to make sure the was plenty of headroom after the chop. He used maroon and whit Naugahyde in a diagonal tuck&roll pattern on the seats and door panels. The headliner was done with the same colors with a front to rear pattern, to create some optical length in the interior. The floor mats were done in dark Maroon with white piping and accents. The dash was painted Titian Red, and the window garnish were chrome plated.


Beautiful Color photo from the 1956 Custom Cars Annual. The photo was taken by Peter Gowland with model singer Carol Richards. This color cover photo showed the real beauty of the car and must have left a lot of readers in total awe.
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One day promotional Car Show at a Thrifty Drug store in May 1955 showing Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford together with Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury and the Hirohata Mercury.
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Bob Dofflow next to Bob Hirohata with his Hirohata Merc, both winning an award at this outdoor car show. This photo was taken in 1955, after the Hirohata mercury had been painted lime gold.
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A small portion of Bob’s Ford can bee seen all the way in the back at a photo Ina May Overman took at the November 1954 Petersen Motor Review Autorama show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium.
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This snapshot of Bob’s Ford was taken by Danny Lares at the 1954 Petersen Motor Review.
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I spotted Don’s Ford in the back round of one of Ina Mae Overman’s 1954-55 outdoor car show. It does not show very much, but since it does show a bit of the interior in color, I wanted to included it here anyway.
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Finishing touches were a set of, for the time, mandatory Appleton Spotlights, wide whites, and a set of unusual for this type of custom, dummy accessory wire wheel hubcaps. But to make the unusual hubcaps fit the car four 1951 Ford grille spinner bullets were modified to fit the hubcap centers, and since the car does not use fender skirts, found units had to be made.

By the time the car was finished Bob had moved to Whittier, Ca and he took the car to many Custom Car shows, but indoor as outdoor. And wherever the car was shown it won prices. Not strange since Bob’s Bear’s Custom Body Shop restyled 1949 Ford is one of the nicest of its kind. In late 1955 Bob decided the old dressed up Flathead engine needed to go, and he, and Don Roberts and team at the bear’s Custom Shop installed an 1953 Oldsmobile Rocket engine. The installation was covered in a four page article in the February 1956 issue of Car Craft Magazine.

The Oldsmobile Rocket engine is dropped into the engine bay on Don’s Ford. Car Craft cover photo.
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This low angle photo gives a very good look at the beautiful front end design of the car, as well as the flowing shape of the 1954 Oldsmobile wheel openings.
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1956 was a very good year for the publicity of Don Robert’s Bear’s Custom Body Shop and Bob Dofflow’s 1949 Ford. Two very nice color photos were used on the covers. One on the ’56 Custom Cars Annual, the other on the Car Craft Feb, 1956 issue.
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2 page feature article in the Trend Books 1956 Custom Cars Annual, which had the beautiful color photo of Bob’s Ford on the cover.
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Car Craft February 1956  4 page article on the engine swap in Don’s Ford.
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Bob Dowlow at the top left at the time the Olds engine was put in his ’49 Ford. Don Roberts is at the lower left side of the photo, and the other guys were helping out at the Bear’s Custom Body Shop. (if anybody recognizes the guys on the right, please let us know)
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Car Craft February 1957 feature on Bob Dofflow 1949 Ford.
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The hubcaps used on Bob Dofflow’s 1949 Ford are based on Ford aftermarket dummy wire wheel hubcaps. The center of the hubcaps was modified with a chrome bullet taken from a 1951 Ford grille. (same as those used on the outside of the car’s grille)
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Bob’s son mentioned that his father had owned the car up till 1962, and during those years the car was repainted in Sapphire Blue and White. This is how it looked when Bob Dofflow sold the car to somebody in Fountain Valley.

According to Dennis Heapy‬ Dave Levig from Brainerd, Minnesota bought the car in the late 1960’s in California. When he bought the car the Oldsmobile Rocket engine had been removed, and Dave flat towed the car back to MN. But somehow Dave’s original plans for the car changed and as far as Dennis knows no work was ever done on the car, it just sat outside the house for years. And it was just two block from where Dennis had rented a house, he saw all the time when he drove bay. And then one day in 1970 the car was gone. He asked around and found out the car was moved to Nisswa, MN. By then the car was all beat up and rolled over. Shortly after that, the car was buried in the Nisswa city dump.

When Dennis heard it was taken to the Nisswa MN. Dump he drove out and sure enough there it was, back end sticking out of the junk! Such a shame… one of the best ever looking Shoebox Ford Custom gone forever.
Perhaps it is time that somebody would recreate this stunning Custom, so that we all can enjoy the creative collaboration between Don robberts and Bob Dofflow that resulted in one of the most beautiful Shoebox Customs ever created.

Bob Dofflow on the right and most likely Don Roberts on the left at an outdoor car show in the mid 1950’s. Captured by Ina Mae Overman. Possibly the guys are standing with Bob’s Ford, but since the yellow car on the right was the focus in the photo, there is nothing more showing in the original color slide. Nice to see the Bear’s Custom Body Shop employees always wear their white work and show clothes.
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Bears Custom Body Shop

 

Bear’s Custom Body Shop was operated first from Downey California. It was at this shop Don Robert and his team restyled Bob’s 1949 Ford into the show winning Custom. In the mid 1950’s the hop moved to Inglewood, California. Don later went on to work for a Chevrolet dealership in the area.

 

As always we are still looking for more information, and especially more photos of the Bob Dofflow’s 1949 Ford. Despite the car being one of the very best Shoebox Customs ever created, and it was a magazine cover car twice, there are surprisingly few photos from the car. If you know about more photos of Bob’s Ford, in its original maroon and white version, or the later Sapphire Blue and White version, please Email rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle, so that we can add it to this story.





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Cliff Rackohn 1948 Mercury

 

RACKOHN 1948 Mercury

 

One of the more elegnat Customs to roll from the Barris Kustom Shop in during its hay days was the 1948 Mercury Restyled for Cliff Rackohn.



Before we start about this beautiful Barris Restyled Mercury I want to mention a few things about the name and the year of the car. In the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 1950’s Volume 2, the name of the owner of this Mercury is spelled Cliff Rockohn and the year of the Mercury is marked at 1947. In the April 1951 issue of Motor Trend Magazine, as well as the Trend book Custom Cars #101, there is a different spelling of the name Cliff Rackohn, in both the small article as well as in the For Sale ad, and the car is labeled as an 1948 model. I will keep the 1951 Motor Trend spelling of the name, as well as the year for the car to be the most accurate.

’48 Mercury Coupe restyled by the Barris brothers for owner Cliff Rackohn from South Los Angeles. This Mercury is one of the late 40’s, perhaps early 1950’s restyled cars at the Barris Shop that had its fair share of publicity, and one that survived on the Custom Car scene longer then most others created during the same period. Yet, the Mercury is not often mentioned in the more recent Custom Car publications.





So far I have not been able to find a date on when Cliff’s Mercury was first created. The first time it was published was in the Motor Trend issue from April in 1951. Meaning that the car had to be finished around two month prior, February ’51. Around this period the Barris Shop was extremely prolific and a lot of cars were created at the shop. Some were very well documents, others, like Cliff’s ’48, was not. A few elements, like all the molded body panels, the bumper guard taillight and most of all the not rounded top corners of the trunk and rear fenders indicate that the car might have been mostly built around 1948-49. After that it was more common to round off sharp corners.

Cliff was a member of the Kustom’s Los Angeles. This frontal photo shows the beautiful peak on the hood extending all the way down to the grille and how extremely well and elegant the ’48 Cadillac grille looked on this Mercury.
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The overall lines, the perfect speed-boat stance and wonderful long hood make this ’48 Mercury one very elegant Customs.
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The Barris shop created many ’41-48 Ford based Customs, but relatively few same year Mercury based Customs. And that while, as Cliff’s car clearly illustrates, the three inch longer front end of the Mercury’s lend themselves to the perfect tail-dragging Custom. the long nose does not only give the impression of having a more powerful motor, but the proportions, especially with a heavy chop, really benefit from the longer front end. How much the top was chopped is hard to tell, like usual the early publications were often far from accurate with their tech info. And numbers were often exaggerated to make the cars looks even more special.

According the Barris Technique book Cliff’s Mercury was chopped 4 inches in the front and 8 inches in the rear. MotorSport magazine and Trend Books Custom Cars #101  mention 6″ and 8″ and Car Craft magazine a full 8 inches. The chop is pretty heavy on the car, but 6 inch removed from the front might seem to be a little to much. But the difference from to more in the back does sound more accurate than the 4 inches difference from the Barris Book.

The chop on Cliff’s is beautifully proportioned, and reminds me a lot about he chop Sam Barris would later perform on Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury. With its distinctive forward rake on the B- Pillars and super smooth C-Pillars. Clearly an experiment by the Barris brothers who usually kept the B-pillars straight on their chops. The shape of the door frame and roof shape on Cliff’s Mercury remind me of some of the super smooth and flowing padded tops coming out of the Bill Gaylord shop. But just as on the Quesnell Merc, the rear quarter window front corners seem to have some trouble finding the right direction when looked at from certain angles. But I have to say that the forward pillars sure help with the speed-boat look, and make it look going fast, standing still.

Notice the mud-flap below the front fender.
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In 1951 Cliff entered his ’48 Mercury at the Montebello tent show. Together with Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford, Jesse Lopez. 41 Ford, Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury, Snooky Janish 1941 Ford, Gil Ayala 1942 Ford and a fee more not in this photo the car formed the Custom Section at this unique show.
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Typical for the late 1940\s early 1950’s the Barris Brothers removed the running boards, and the door skin was extended down. The rear quarter panels was treated the same way. All four fenders were welded to the body, and the seam smoothed with lead for that desirable one piece look. The very busy stock Mercury grille was removed and the body panels reshaped for a much cleaner front. A more elegant and more expensive looking ’48 Cadillac grille was chosen to fit the new smoother front ,and it turned out to be the perfect look for the Mercury. The lower section of the front, which is separate on the 46-48 Mercury’s was molded to the new front end along with the splash pan. The front of the hood was extended down into the new section above the Cadillac grille and the Mercury peak on top of the hood was reshaped at the front to end in a point just above the Cadillac grille, making it look like the peak flows into the center vertical grille bar. This all leads to one of the best custom front-end designs created by the Barris Shop.

There was a small feature on the Mercury in the April 1951 issue of Motor Trend Magazine, showing two photos, including one with Cliff posing with the car.
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A closer look at the Motor Trend 1951 photos. A well dressed Cliff posing with his fantastic looking ’48 Mercury.
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And taken at the same location this nice higher point of view 3/4 look at the Mercury. Very nice angle photo showing the car in all its beauty.
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The headlight rings were molded into the front fenders for a smooth look and the headlights very slightly recessed. The door handles and all emblems were shaved and the side trim shortened on the hood, which was a typical Barris Trademark. At the back the splash-pan was molded to the body, just as on the front, and the taillights plus fender trim was shaved and all holes filled. The bumpers remained the stock units front and rear. But at the rear the Barris crew modified the bumper guards to accept some hand made laminated Lucite taillights. The finishing touch was a set of long 1941 FoMoCo fender skirts, a set of Appleton Spotlights, Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide wall tires (6.00:16 ).

The information from the interior comes from the Motorsports magazine. The front seat was pirated from an 1942 Chevy, allowing to be seated 3 inches lower than stock, which was very welcome with the much lower top. The interior was upholstered in tan cowhide pleated and rolled. The headliner was done in grey imported English wool, and the floormat was made of deeply-piled green rug, which matched the lacquer dash trim. Which makes me wonder if the original color of the Mercury was perhaps green when Cliff Rackohn original owned it?

The car was offered for sale in the same April 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. The $6000 invested in the car to built is was a lot of money back then. Notice the spelling of the name Cliff Rackohn. Perhaps Cliff had signed up to go to the War in korea… like so many other guys in the Kustoms Los Angeles Club. Hopefully one day we will know.
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New owner in 1952

In the January 1952 issue of Motorsport magazine There was a two page + feature on the Mercury. According the article the car was then owned by Dave Clickman of Southern California. According the article the the car was chopped 6″ in the front and 8″ in the rear with new sheet metal added from the top of the trunk to the bottom of the rear window, creating a smooth transition. The frame was z-ed in the back and the front was dropped with a 2.5 inch dropped front end. The article also mentioned that the hood was chopped 5 inches, which would technically be a section job, but that is clearly not the car on this Mercury. And that all body panels are molded together and leaded to form one smooth body. It also mentioned that the skirts used once belonged to a ’48 Buick, another false “fact” since the skirts are ’41 Ford Mercury units.

The article mentioned that the car was painted 25 coats of Arctic Blue lacquer by Gram Brothers of West Los Angeles. The engine was rebuild by Ray Brown, a famous Hot Rodder. The Cylinders were bored to 3 5-16″ and a 1950 Mercury crankshaft of 4″ stroke was employed. The 275 Cubic Inch engine utilizes Jahns 3=ring racing pistons with high domes.  It had Edelbrock heads two carb intake with two 48 Stromberg carburetors.

January 1952 issue of Motorsport magazine. Scans provided by Jamie Barter.
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Beautiful rear 3/4 view from a higher point of view shows how gorgeous this Mercury was. From this angle the top works the best. The sharp top corners of the trunk might indicate that the majority of the work was already done on the car around 1948-49.
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The interior was done by Bill Gaylord in a tan colored leather, green carpets.
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This photo shows that by the time Dave Glickman owned the car the rear has been raised a few inches.
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This photo shows the bumper guard mounted taillights a bit better.
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When Dave Cickman owned the car the car ran 3T 609 1951 California plates.
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Dave drove the Ray Brown rebuilt flathead engine to a best time of 87.70. Not bad for a heavy leadsled.
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Third owner

In the August 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine the Mercury was featured again. This time the car was even more on a forward rake, and the fender skirts have been removed. The owner by then was listed as John Logg of Hollywood, and the Mercury described as a 1947 year model. By now the car was dark maroon, and there is some color movie footage of the car at the 1957 Coachman Car Club high-Shool car show. After this we have not been able to find info on the car. Where it went, or what ever happened to it. If you know more, please let us know.

The Mercury was owned by John Logg when it was featured in the August 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine. By then the rear had been raised, and the fender skirts removed for a completely new look.
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John Logg was a member of the “Streaking Deacons” and used their club tag on the front bumper.
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Screen shot of a color 8mm movie made at the Coachman Car Club Motorcade Car show in 1957. The footage was filmed by Bob Stephenson who was Coachman Club member, and it is so far the only color images we have of the car. By then it was painted a dark maroon.
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This was a slowly moving from left to right shot so thee screen shot was rather blurry. But still very interesting to see that the car was shown with its hood up, showing off the Ray Brown Flathead engine.
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So far this has been the last photo I have been able to find on the Rackohn Mercury. The car looks still very much like the original version, only it has a different stance, and by now the Sombrero hubcaps have been replaced by some more modern hubcaps 9possibly Olds Fiesta hubcapa. This photo was used in the Trend Book #143 Restyle your car published in 1957.
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Tiago Ranchero Clone

TIAGO RANCHERO CLONE

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



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

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

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




The original Tiago Ranchero is best known from the beautiful October 1958 cover of Custom Cars Magazine. The lime color appeared a bit more like gold on the cover.
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Original (faded) color photo Candy Green and Lime. That is Dick Tiago’s wife posing with the car.
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From the George Barris Collection. The original Dick Tiago Ranchero.
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I took this photo of George his under construction Ranchero at Brad Masterson’s Shop in 2011. The work on the chopped top was mostly done by then. And the DeSoto bumper/grille has been fitted to the ’58 front end.
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Janne Lepola photo of his work done at the front of the car.Adding ’57 Ford elements to the ’58 Front.
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Peaking the top of the front fenders.
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Headlight work.
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Rounded hood corners.
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Almost done, ready for paint.
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Fresh Chrome, ready to be installed.
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Fresh from the painter. STUNNING.
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The freshly painted Ranchero was driven to George’s home, as photographed from Brian Neu’s Ranchero.
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Really neat shot from Brian during the trip home.
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One of the things George changed was adding vent windows, which were never on the original Tiago Ranchero. Therefor the original never had door glass. George’s copy will have fully functional door glass.
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Paint detail around the rounded hood corners.
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Porterville 1950 Mercury

PORTERVILLE 1950 MERC

Who knows more about this mystery 1950 Mercury that was photographed in 1958 in Porterville California. The car was later found in San Diego.


UPDATED April – 11 – 2018



In July 2017 Derby Ahlstone from California send me some photos of an vintage 1950 Custom Mercury that a friend of his father considered to sell. He asked is I had seen this Mercury before, and knew more about its history. At the time I did remember seeing a few photos of a similar Mercury sitting in a garage with some boxes on top of it, but I could not find it in my archives. So I send a message to Anthony White, (the best source to go to if you have a Custom 49-51 Mercury that you like to know more about the history), asking if he knew more about the car.

Anthony sure knew more about the car, he recently had found an old High-School Yearbook photo showing the same Mercury in the late 1950’s that was shared by 46-to-64 on Instagram. It turned out to be a photo of a Del Simpson’s Service Station in Porterville Ca (between Fresno and Bakersfield) that showed a few cars, most likely of friends and or from the owners of the service station. One of the cars sure was the chopped Mercury from the photos Derby had send. The photo was shared by 46-to-64 on Instagram and came out of a 1958 Porterville High Shool yearbook.

46to64 Intagram post.
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Derby was very excited about the new information that the photo showed that the car was at least from 1958, and more likely even older than that. And that he now had a location the 1958 owner was located. Derby decided to buy the car from his late fathers friend, and shared some more information with us to see if we can find out some more info on the car’s history. Derby plans to restore the car back to how it used to be, but would like to know a bit more about it. All he has right now is the one photo from 1958, and of course everything on the car itself. So far we have not been able to find out more about who owned the car, and who was the original builder From what we can see in the photos it appears to have been restyled in the early to mid 1950’s, and was perhaps updated a bit here and there over the years.

The photo as it appeared in the 1958 Porterville High-School Yearbook.
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Close up of the Merc shows a little more of the details, and also the primer spots on the doors. The other dark sections is shadow from the late or very early in the day photo.
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This is all we know about the car.
The car was purchased by the previous owner (friend of Derby’s father) in 1971 in San Diego. From what has been told then the car had sit outside from 1967 till the moment it was sold. The guy, who is a Mercury guru stored it inside a barn where the photos in this article are taken at as well. Derby remembered seeing the Mercury every time him and his father went to visit the friend. And each time Derby asked his father to see if he could buy the Merc, but the friend never wanted to sell the car, until 2017. The previous owner has never been able to find any history of the car from before the time he bought it, only that it had been stored outside from 1967. The car came without an engine and there is still no engine in the car as it is today. The former owner figured all the work on the car was done in the late 1950’s.

This is how the car sat in the summer of 2017 in the garage of the previous owner.
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Frenched stock headlights, molded grille surround and splash pan and rounded hood corners. Lavender and light metallic blue paint are the colors the car was painted last. But we do not know when. It appears the car might have been painted white when it left the factory. And most likely it was primer white in the 1958 photo.
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The car was very dusty after having sit in the garage since 1971. But it was all there the same as how it was put in there.
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Narrowed 1955 DeSoto grille.
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Spotlight mounting brackets on the chopped A-pillars.
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The top was chopped, with the drip rails removed, a technique often used in the early to mid 1950’s. The sharp body line below the rear window was retained after the chop, most of the times this line was smoothed in the early years. The B-pillars were angled forward during the chop and the door rear top and bottom corners are rounded. All handles were removed (in the ’58 photo we can see primer spots were the handles used to be), the hood was nosed and the trunk decked. The grille shell was molded to the fenders and the hood corners are rounded. The stock grille was replaced by an narrowed 1955 DeSoto grille. The headlights are frenched, most likely using the stock Mercury headlights. The taillights of the Mercury were removed, the holes filled and the stock lenses placed lower on the rear fenders and molded in using hand made molded in surrounds for a smooth frenched look.




The chop on the car looks to be expertly done with all the fit and finish work done very well, including the chopped working vent windows.
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A look at the back shows the lowered taillights, straight corners on the trunk, nice flowing roof after the chop, with the character line below the rear window still in place.
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Close up of the nicely molded in and lower mounted stock 1950 Mercury taillights.
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A better look at the flow of the chopped top, the nice shape of the rear quarter window, angled forward B-pillar and rounded door corners. The rear quarter panels are not molded to the body. Notice the location of the door push button.
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Close up of the rear quarter windows, which are still pivoting, and the shaved drip rails.
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Quarter window at the passenger side.
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An very unique feature on this Mercury is that the body was actually channeled over the frame. Something we often read in the old magazine, but was actually very seldom done on the car. But this Mercury really was channeled. Not an easy task on the Mercury. The interior was done in pink and white and has some characteristics that indicate it could have been done in Tijuana, Mexico. Especially the rear bench is shaped unique and upholstered in a very particular way. The steering wheel, or what is left of it, is most likely added later, and so are the extra gauges below the stock dash.  The car had Dual Spotlights with interior handles (not the Dummy kind). The side trim appears to be 1955 Buick, and on both sides of the car a bush button to open the doors was located between the top of the side trim and the door character-line, a rather unusual spot for this, since most of the time these buttons were hidden as much as possible. At this point it looks like the car might have been painted a lavender, as well as a light metallic blue.

Interior photo showing the amount the body was channeled over the frame.
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Pink/lavender painted dash with later added steering wheel and extra gauges. Notice the unique upholstery on the engine and drive shaft tunnel.
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Custom rear seat with unique upholstery… what is left of it.
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Pink upholstery.
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Rear quarter interior panel.
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Closer look at the pink upholstery.
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White or perhaps light gray carpet with pink piping.
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We, and especially Derby would love to know more about the history of this Mercury, where was this car restyled, and by whom? And who was the owner of the car, originally, or when the 1958 photo was taken, and what happened to the car after that. How did it end up in San Diego? If any of our readers has seen this car before, or knows more about it, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to know and share the information with the Derby, the car owner, and add it to this article.



UPDATE April 2018

From Derby

“First I want to thank many of you that spent the time to help me search for the history about this car.
I was able to correspond with Barry Simpson Sr. who is 2nd from the right in the old B&W photo, he was the son of the owner of the gas station. He owned the Corvette next to him (not bad at the age of 20!). Anyway, the gentleman next to him is Audie Galloway who owned the Mercury in 1958. He worked at the Gas Station and is the one standing next to Mercury. He did pass away in 98. Barry also mentioned that there was a “The Mad Russian” in the area who used wire hangers for welding rod and no bondo/lead… (implying that he was quite the craftsman), but did not know if this “The Mad Russian” worked on the car or not.

The Mad Russian” or “The Russian” did the body work in Strathmore, California. Apparently he was quite the craftsman and was known to hammer weld the seams. As a side note, William John Vukovich Sr was a Serbian American automobile racing driver who lived in nearby in Fresno. He was also referred to as “The Mad Russian” although he was actually Serbian. Unfortunately, he passed away racing at Indy in 1955. Perhaps a relative of his had a body shop… So if anyone knows the name of this person or shop he worked at would be much appreciated.

For now, Barry does not remember much more. Unfortunately, it looks like Audie passed away in 1998. I have tried to reach out to Linda/Lynda Galloway (either his daughter or wife), but no luck yet…

I believe that the Owner between Audie Galloway and the person I purchased from (Merle Fourez) is Louis Anthony LaVorin Sr. from Spring Valley, CA (San Diego area). Unfortunately, he passed away in 2013 at the age of 95 (and his wife as well). I have reached out to his relatives, but no returned phone calls… My guess he purchased in early 1960s then sold in 1977

So the question is does anyone know of Audi Galloway or a Russian Body Man based in the Porterville area in the 1950-60s? It would seem like Barry and the Russian (if he did the body work) would have gotten some attention at car shows back in the day…


Derby found this photo in the 1957 Porterville High School Yearbook which states that Marty’s Upholstery (Marty Martin) did the interior work. It appears that Marty’s is in business today being run as a side business by a son of one of Marty’s employees from the 1950s. Still waiting to hear back, in case he has any additional new information about the car.
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The owner I purchased the car from found the inside front door panels. Pretty cool, even has the letter “A” sewn in and electric window switches still in tact. Also matches the photo from the yearbook.
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“My Plans For the Car – Now that I have this car (along with other projects), I need to find the time, space, and money (like all of us car guys) to move forward. My initial thought is to get it running as-is (keeping the dust/dirt on the car as long as possible). Then eventually do a full restoration back to how it was done originally (I am hoping, eventually, I figure that out).
Thanks Again Everyone!”

Map of California highlighting Porterville where the car was photographed in 1958 and San Diego where the car was found in the early 1970’s.
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Derby Ahlstone is no stranger when it comes to restoring historic Custom Cars, Derby owns and restored the Coachcraft created Paul Plannette 1939-40 Mercury Roadster.
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