1950 Sacramento Autorama

1950 SACRAMENTO AUTORAMA

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The Capitol City Auto Club, better known as the Thunderbolts organized a two day Auto Show in 1950. Held at a Sacramento Chevy dealer the show hosted 23 top class Customs and Hot Rods.

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Special thanks to Lawrence Fears.

The title of this article is 1950 Sacramento Autorama, which is not precisely accurate. But, many people refer to this small 1950 Auto show organized by the Capitol City Auto Club “Thunderbolts” as the first Sacramento Autorama. Hence the name of this article.

In 1950 Car Shows was still brand new. The first of these shows were held just two years earlier. The Sacramento Custom Car and Hot Rod scene was very active, a lot was going on, rod runs, street drag racing, and some of the countries leading Customizers had their shop in or around Sacramento. The Capitol City Auto Club better known as the “Thunderbolts” had a great number of high quality cars in their club. Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian was one of the club members and president of the club. He was one of the leading forces in organizing this first Sacramento Auto Show.

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The club members just wanted to know who had the nicest car among them. What better way to find out during a Car Show. Plus they really wanted to show off their cars, and not just at the local hang out places, but at a nice indoor event. The Capitol Chevrolet Company dealership at 13th and K Streets in downtown Sacramento had the perfect space for the show the members had in mind. In total the club brought together 23 cars this first show. And among these 23 cars there were some top Customs and Rods. The cars displayed at the show represented the high quality, and creative minds of the Nor Cal car builders. Custom builders Harry Westergard, and Dick Bertolucci were well represented at the show. Of all the Customs, many had been based on convertibles and all had Hall of Oakland Padded Tops. According different sources the two day show drew between 500 and 1000 visitors.

The show was held on November 4th and 5th, 1950. Saturday from 3:00 P.M. until 10:00 PM and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. until 10:00 P.M. The admission was 60 cent. The story goes that the entrance had to be kept below a certain amount, because otherwise everything had to be done official and Federal Amusement Tax would have to be paid. This first show was not about making money, it was about having a good time for the attendees as well as the visitors.

There were two trophies awarded.  One for Best Custom Car and Leroy Semas won the Custom Class with his 1937 Chevy. Burton Davis won the Best Rod with his 1931 Ford Roadster.

Rod Dust newsletter dated November 1, 1950. This was the issue that mentions the first Sacramento Auto Show in 1950.

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Local newspaper from Friday November 3rd, 1950 announcing the Sacramento Auto Show.

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On the top right we can see Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford,  #5 Lawrence Brocchini ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield, Vern Haversack 1927 Model T with track nose with #11,  #1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, and on the left is #19 Harold Casarang’s ‘25 Model T. bottom right shows the #14 of Jack Odbert’s 36 Ford, behind it the engine and front of #15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford 5-window.

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Show overview

The nice thing about the Capitol Chevrolet dealer ship location is that there was a second floor, from where some nice overview photos could be taken. These overview photos show that this small show was jam-packed with the best of the best. Amazing padded topped Customs created by the countries leading Customizers. Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci. The photos taken at the two day show also show that the cars were actually moved around a bit during the weekend. Some cars were added, like the two ’32 Ford 5-window Hot Rod’s in the photo below. In some photos those two cars are missing.

The cars at the show were mostly local cars, but some came as far as Oakland. Hot Rod magazine devoted some space to the Sacramento Auto Show in the Januari 1951 issue. The feature included the beautiful overview photo (below) which showed the nation that Sacramento was packed with beautiful Custom Cars… just as well as Los Angeles, which was always much more represented in the early magazines.
I have been collecting photos and info on this show for many years, and all I have is included in this article. I know there is more out there, and hopefully we will be able to share more in the near future.

Overview of part of the Chevrolet Dealer Show illustrates the great number of Custom Cars invited to this show. A perfect balance.

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Same photo as above, now with numbers, perhaps somebody will be able to identify some more. We still need to know # A on the far left, # B on the top right center, and from car # C we know that that is Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury, but we do not have a show number. (The number – car – identification list is shown further down in the article)

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This overview photo was taken either earlier or late as the one above. The two ’32 Ford 5-windows are missing sitting behind the #14 Jack Odbert’s ’36 Ford.

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Custom Cars at the Show

The Custom Cars shows we have been able to identify were all top of the line, and are now mostly considered historical Customs. Created by Harry Westergard, Les Crane, and Dick Bertolucci. The Barris Brothers had already been moved south for a few years, so their work was not represented at this show. It is really remarkable that a great number of the Custom Car show entries are Convertibles with chopped padded tops, which were all created by C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland, Ca.

Unknown number for Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury restyled by Harry Westergard and Les Crane. More on Butler’s ’40 Mercury can be seen in this CCC-Article.
#2 Custom 1946 Chevy Convertible Butler Rugard restyled by Harry Westergard. (Listed in the program as Bob Ghilotti)
A little more clear photo of Butler Rugard’s ’46 Chevy Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard. Harry used a set of the Jimmy Summers fade away fenders on this Custom.
#4 1948 Johnny Lehman Mercury Convertible with padded top restyled by Dick Bertolucci. Most likely the Hall padded top of Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford is showing on the left of the photo.
Johnny Lehman’s Mercury seen from the back shows the ’49 Mercury bumpers and taillights. The top was done by Hall of Oakland. On the right we can see the ’37 Chevy Coupe from Leroy Semas. More on Johnny Lehman’s ’48 Mercury in this CCC-Article.
#4 Enlarged section of another photo shows another peak at the Johnny Lehman Mercury and behind that on the right showing a small portions of Mel Falconer’s 41 Lincoln.
#14 Jack Odbert 1936 Ford Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard with Hall Padded top. More on Jack’s Beautiful ’36 Ford in this CCC-Article.
#18 Mel Falconer /Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard with a then new metal top replacing the Hall padded top that was on the car originally.
#21 Mel Falconer 1941 Lincoln with 1948 Cadillac rear fenders, 1949 Mercury bumpers. Restyled by Harry Westergard, and the car is supposed to be still around, anybody knows more about this?
#23 Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy restyled by Harry Westergard. Leroy was the winner of the big Custom Car trophy at the show. One of the two trophies awarded at the show. More on Leroy’s Harry Westergard Restyled Custom can be seen in this CCC-Article.
Interior of Leroy Semas his ’37 Chevy Coupe.

Cars in the show
According the the information we have been able to find 23 car were entered. 14 of them we have been able to identify, hopefully some of our readers can help name the others that were at this 1950 Sacramento Auto Show. From the 23 cars entered at least 8 were Customs, high end Customs. Below is a list of the cars and numbers we have been able to identify.

1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster
2 Butler Rugard / Bob Ghilotti 1946 Chevy Convertible
3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose
4 ?
5 Lawrence Brocchini 1931 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield
6 ?
7 Herk Vigienzone 1924 Model T Roadster
8 Rico Squalia 1924 T Roadster.
9 – 13 ?
14 Jack Odbert 1936 Ford Convertible
15 Ronnie Brown 1932 Ford 5-window
16 – 17 ?
18 Mel Falconer / Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford Convertible
19 Harold Casarang 1925 Model T
20 ?
21 Mel Falconer 1941 Lincoln
22 ?
23 Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy Coupe

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The Program
The 8 page, text only First annual Auto Show program generously donated by David E/ Zivot shown below, has a list of all the people and cars that planned to be at the show. Most of the numbers in the program correspond with the numbers we have seen in the show pictures, but apparently more cars were added to the show after the Program had been printed. The Program only lists 20 cars.

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In early 2020 David Zivot donated a 1950 Thunderbolts First Annual Auto Show Program. The 8 page program has a list of the cars and people that planned to have their car displayed at the event.

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The Hot Rods at the show

The Thunderbolts Auto Club had both Custom Car as well as Hot Rod oriented members. The Sacramento erea has been big on Custom Cars from the early beginnings, but Hot Rodding was very popular as well, and the Hot Rod and Race scene grew bigger every year. The show displayed some of the best Hot Rods and Race Cars in the wide area.

#1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, the winner of the big Hot Rod award at the show.

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#3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.

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A better look at the Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.

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#5 Lawrence Brocchini ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield.

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The actual number 5 sign from the 1950 Sacramento Thunderbolts Auto Show, used on Lawrence Brocchini’s Hot Rod.

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#5 Lawrence Brocchini’s ’31 Ford.

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#15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford channeled 5-window coupe showing off its kilmont brakes. On the left is Johnny Lehman #4 ’48 Mercury and on the right we see the Buick trim on the skirts of Jack Odbert’s  #14 1936 Ford Convertible

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#15 Ronnie Brown posing with his channeled ’32 Ford 5-window Coupe.

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#19 Harold Casarang Oakland Roadster club member took his ‘25 Model T to the Sacramento Auto Show.
January 1951 Hot Rod Magazine article on the show.

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Sources and more information

  • Garage Magazine
  • Classic & Custom Magazine
  • Don Montgomery books

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2+

1957 Sears Parking Lot Show

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1957 Sears PARKING Lot SHOW

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The parking lot at Show Arena. Started in the early 1950s, gathering some of the most beautiful Customs. A closer look at the 1957 Sears Parking Lot Show.

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In 1950’s it was quite common to organize one-day outdoor car how at a large store. The parking lots of these stores where huge, the visitors could get food nearby, the stored usually had plenty of bathrooms and other shops were nearby, which made it ideal to visit with the whole family. These parking lot shows were organized all over the country.

One of the most famous photos ever taken at one such parking lot show was from 1954, where an car show was organized at the Thrifty Drug Store. A huge number of these parking lot shows, like the thrifty parking lot show, and this Sears parking lot show were only advertised locally – in these cases in Los Angeles – perhaps thru the car clubs, the local newspaper, and at the local stores around the parking lot with banner, poster, perhaps hand-outs. These stores of coarse benefited from these show, extra people coming in for a bite to eat, drink etc, or some general shopping on their way back home. Another famous show was held (multiple times) at the Hollywood Park Race Track parking lot.

So far I have never been able to find any of these show flyers, or ads, but we know from several of these show, that the advertising resulted in a great number of first class, magazine cover or feature cars in attendance.
Not sure if these shows were specifically advertised as Custom Car Shows, but it is very remarkably that the majority of the cars at these events are Custom Cars, and not Hot Rods. According to Greg Sharp it just shows how big Custom Cars were during these Golden Years of Customizing.

The 50 Year of Rod & Custom magazine book had a beautiful color photo of the 1957 Sears Parking Lot Show. Most the information comes from Custom Car historian Greg Sharp.

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Overview of most of the car at the event. Interesting to see the Ayala Shop Truck and the R&C Dream truck sitting face to face in the front.

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Close up of the left side of the photo.

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The Left Side

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  • 01 – Carol Lewis’s Dean Jeffries flamed ‘56 Chevy
  • 02 – Unknown ’53 Ford Victoria
  • 03 – Herb Conway’s super low ’54 Mercury
  • 04 – Hershel “Junior” Conway’s ‘50 Ford Coupe
  • 05 – “Chimobo” or ” The Chinaman” Barris Kustoms chopped ‘54 Merc (the car was later destroyed in the ’57 Barris Shop fire)
  • 06 – Ed Beck’s ‘56 Ford with Dean Jeffries pint striping
  • 07 – Frank Monteleon’s ‘56 Ford convertible (From the movie Hot Car Girl)
  • 08 – Unknown medium blue ’56 Chevy
  • 09 – Lloyd Bakan’s ‘32 Ford three-window (one of the two real Hot Rod in the lot)
  • 10 – Buddy Alcorn’s Ayala restyled and redone by Barris chopped ‘50 Mercury (before Dick Jackson added the new two tone paintjob.)
  • 11 – George Barris ’56 Continental Mark II
  • 12 – Dale Stricklin’s silver ‘40 Ford Sedan Delivery (Owner of the Advance Muffler shop located near George Cerny’s shop. He did a lot of the exhaust work on Cerny’s as well as Barris’s projetcs)
  • 13 – Dave Bugarin’s chopped ‘51 Mercury.
  • 14 – Several unidentified car
  • 15 – Several unidentified car
  • 16 – Several unidentified cars
  • 17 – ‘34 Ford Tudor deep purple paint
  • 18 – Super-low ’50 Ford from the Krankers of San Bernardino
  • 19 – Bruce Geisler’s chopped ‘49 GMC pickup (Originally restyled and owned by Gil Ayala used as the Gil’s Auto Body Shop truck)
  • 20 – Jim Pitts’s red ‘55 Corvette

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A closer look at the cars in the row on the left; Carol Lewis’s Dean Jeffries flamed ‘56 Chevy, Unknown Brown ’53 Ford Victoria, Herb Conway’s super low ’54 Mercury, Hershel “Junior” Conway’s ‘50 Ford Coupe, ” The Chinaman” Barris Kustoms chopped ‘54 Merc, Ed Beck’s ‘56 Ford, Frank Monteleon’s. ‘56 Ford convertible, Unknown medium blue ’56 Chevy, Lloyd Bakan’s ‘32 Ford three-window.

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Buddy Alcorn Mercury, shortly before, or after he traded it to Dick Jackson. George Barris personal ride ’56 Lincoln.

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In the back-row, Dale Stricklin’s silver ‘40 Ford Sedan Delivery on the left, and Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury restyled by Barris on the right, behind the open hoods of the unknown cars.

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Bruce Geisler’s chopped ‘49 GMC pickup – formerly owned by Gil Ayala, super-low ’50 Ford from the Krankers of San Bernardino, 34 Ford Tudor deep purple paint, unknown early 50’s Chevy sedan light blue with spotlight.

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The Right Side

Close up of the right side of the photo.

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  • 21 – Spence Murray’s R&C “Dream Truck” (finished in two-tone primer the night before at the Barris Kustoms Shop)
  • 22 – unknown touring
  • 23 – ‘55 Chevy Black with red top unknown owner
  • 24 – Patric Morales’s ‘53 Chevy Bel Air hardtop Restyled by Ed Wright
  • 25 – Jud Morgan’s ‘56 F-100 from the Renegades of Long Beach
  • 26 – Dan Purinton’s 56 Mercury Bahama blue and mother of pearl, and more Renegades entries including Jim Ashley’s ‘55 Chevy, Damon Richey’s ‘50 Bel Air Hardtop, and Ed Cousin’s Deuce pickup (the second Hot Rod).
  • 27 – Unknown MG
  • 28 – Unknown
  • 29 – Ron Dulin’s ‘56 Plymouth Fury (later painted by Larry Watson)
  • 30 – ’56 Buick unknown owner
  • 31 – Gilbert Crus’s George Cerny-built ‘55 Chevy
  • 32 – Unknown Ford pick up
  • 33 – Unknown Classic Touring
  • 33 – Studebaker Hawk, Mercedes sports cars
  • 34 – Unknown Sports Cars?

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A closer look at Spence Murray’s R&C Dream Truck, the unknown touring classic car, the unidentified black ‘55 Chevy with red top and Patric Morales’s ‘53 Chevy Bel Air hardtop.

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Jud Morgan’s ‘56 F-100, Dan Purinton’s 56 Mercury, and some more Renegades entries including Jim Ashley’s ‘55 Chevy, Damon Richey’s ‘50 Bel Air Hardtop, and Ed Cousin’s Deuce pickup.

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Unknown MG, Unknown two tone ’56 Mercury, Ron Dulin’s ‘56 Plymouth Fury and an unknown ’56 Buick.

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Gilbert Crus’s George Cerny-built ‘55 Chevy.

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Close up of the unknown Sports Cars at the far right. Mercedes Sport Cars, an Alfa Romeo and the rest I have not been able to identify.

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Can you imagine how many kids got inspired by these parking lot shows, going shopping on a Saturday morning with mom. Not knowing anything about the parking lot shows, turning in on the parking lot to do their weekly grocery shopping’s. Then being confronted with all this eye candy in the parking lot.

In the summer of 2019 the Petersen Archive started to share their enormous photo collection online. While browsing thru the collection I came across a series of black and white photos taken at this event. So now we have many more photos to show many more cars that were not in the original color photo, plus many detail photos. Below is a selection of the black and white photos taken at the Sears Parking Lot from the Petersen Collection.

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2+

1955 Thrifty Parking Lot Show

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55 THRIFTY PARKING LOT

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1955 Hot Rod and Custom Car show held at the new Thrifty Drug Store on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.

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Original article from August 09, 2018, updated August 26, 2019.

In the 1950’s it was very common to organize Hot Rod and Custom Car shows at the local parking lots large public facilities as drug stores, stadiums etc. The parking lots were huge easily accessible and it was easy to rope off a section for the show. One of the most famous of these parking lot Shows was a show with high end custom cars held at an Los Angeles Thrifty Drug store in May 1954 which we covered in this CCC-Article.

Since we did that article I have been collecting photos of outdoor parking lot car shows I came across to add to this what I hope to become a series on parking lot car show articles. Several early and mid 1950’s magazines had a few photos taken at these parking lot shows which I had not been able to identify until I came across an article on the Hot Rod Magazine Article featuring some really great photos taken by Rick Rickman.

One photo in particular stood out to me. A picture taken at a Thrifty Drug store in May 1955 showing the Hirohata Mercury, in it later lime gold paint, Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury and Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford. And while drooling over that photo I realized I had seen a few more photos taken at the same location, and now I was able to place them all at one May 5th, 1955 event held at the Thrifty Drug Store at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. And, perhaps just as important. The photo caption from the Hot Rod magazine article explained why these car shows were held at the Thrifty Drug Show… and how it was possible that all these high end Custom Cars were at this and the 1954 show.

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This was taken at a show at a Thrifty drug store on May 5, 1955, at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Hollywood Blvd. From right to left we can see, Bob Hirohata’s 1951 Mercury with the new (after the Running Wild movie shoot) lime gold paint job, and door mounted mirror, Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury (both by Barris), next to Dave’s Merc is Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford restyled by Bear Customs, and next to that we can see the top and a few other small details of what most likely is the 1948 Mercury of Cliff Rackohn (thanks Anthony White for identifying that one) Behind Bob’s Ford we can see a ’46 Chevy panel truck with roof rack, which was most likely used by Rick Rickman to make the overhead photos.

From the Hot Rod magazine article

Three rolls that Rickman logged into Petersen’s in-house lab on May 9, 1955, as “Thrifty Drug NHRA Show” mystified archive divers for decades. In our July 2010 issue, founding HRD editor David Freiburger published six pages of parking-lot pictures, including one showing NHRA’s third employee and Drag Safari organizer, Chic Cannon, with an L.A. sheriff’s deputy. Left unexplained were who organized the event, and why, and how a gathering of so many famous hot rods, race cars, sport specials, and especially customs apparently never made HRM or its sister magazines.

In 2013, Cannon’s autobiography answered the first two questions: “Since I had some experience organizing car clubs, Wally gave me the position of [NHRA] National Club Advisor. My cousin, Art Crawford, was in marketing … and had Thrifty Drug Stores as a client of his. They were developing new shopping centers all over Southern California, and Art asked me to help promote the grand openings…. So in 1954 and ’55, I organized about a dozen car shows.” As for why at least two were thoroughly photographed on Petersen film but never made print, Chic’s insight leads us to suspect that Rick’s assignment came from NHRA president Wally Parks—not his HRM boss and editor, also named Wally Parks.

Possibly the photo lab supplied sets of prints, only, to NHRA and/or Chic’s cousin for promotional purposes, while the negatives were filed, as usual, with the publishing company.

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Close up of the Hirohata Mercury which was at the 1955 show with the new lime gold and organic green below the Buick spear paint. The color was changed, because it needed to be updated after having been on the road for a few years, but also because a darker hue would show better on camera for the Running Wild movie. Most likely the Mercury was still owned by Bob Hirohata, but he did sell it in 1955. Notice both the hood and trunk are open, and the public can come very close to the cars, even touch it.

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The Dave Bugarin ’51 Mercury and Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford a bit more close up. It must have been an amazing sight to see these high quality, magazine featured and show award winning Customs lined up in the parking lot.

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Here’s a shot of the other side of the parking lot. Possibly taken from the roof of the Hovey 1946 Chevy panel truck we can see in the top photo. In the foreground are Dave Bugarin’s ’51 Merc, next to the Hirohata Merc, and unidentified chopped padded top early 40’s Chevy and two more light colored customs I have not been able to identify. On the other sied are three drag cars including the Sparks & Bonny Willys and on the far right we can see the front of the pale yellow Chuck Porter truck. It is amazing to see that people could walk up to the car and even touch them.

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Close up of the Hirohata Mercury and Dave Bugarin Mercury, both Barris Kustom Shop creations.

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Taken from the same high location as the previous photo, but taken at a different angle shows Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford the best of all the known photos shared from this event.

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Show officials checking out the Hirohata Merc.

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The Ayala/Barris Bettancourt Mercury also made an appearance.

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Also taken from the roof rack, but now facing the opposite direction from the photos shown earlier. This side of the parking lot had more of the Hot Rod entries. The only car I recognize is the ’34 Ford with the padded top which was owned by Earl Schieb or possibly his son, Al at the time.

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Slightly different perspective.

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Mild custom line up on the road side.

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Mild Mercury Hard-Top with ’53 Pontiac Wagon taillights.

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Subtle touches on this early 50’s Chevy convertible.

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Love the super smooth rear end of the 1952 Chevy fastback, especially interesting are the taillights in the Kaiser over-rider. ’51 Ford Sedan looks good with the Pontiac grille bar and smoothed hood. Simple, but very effective.

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Many thanks to the Petersen Archive for sharing these amazing photos on the Hot Rod Magazine website. And hopefully many more from those 3 rolls of film that Rick Rickman took in 1955 of this event will be shared. And hopefully more of the 1954 and perhaps any of the other events held at the Thrifty parking lot will be shared. With such top cars in attendance at these outdoor events it would make sense if many more photos were taken. By professional photographers, as well as by car owners and those who came to look at the cars at these free Custom Car Shows. If any of our readers know about more photos from these events, or know more about the events themselves, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle.

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There were quite a few photos of this customized Muntz with Hemi engine. I guess Rick Rickman realy liked it, or perhaps planned to do a feature on it?

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Awards

David Zivot send us two photo of a Trophy from his Personal Collection.
“This trophy from my personal collection
was awarded to the 2nd Place winner at a Thrifty Drugs grand opening less than a week earlier than the show from this article. It appears that the Thrifty and Alexander’s Market sponsored show (in cooperation with the NHRA) was held one street over on Sunset & Vermont, at the Barnsdall Shopping Center.
It would be very interesting to discover which customs were in attendance at this show, and who won this 2nd Place award.”

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These photos, the awards and the notes from the Hot Rod Magazine article that there were a series of Car Show held at the Thrifty Drug Store parking lots across LA makes me really wonder how many of these shows were held in 1954-55. And how they were advertised. So far I have still not been able to find any announcement for these shows. Possibly announcements were made in the local news-paper, or perhaps posters were made that were distributed at the local hang-outs? Who knows more?

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1954 aerial view showing the parking lot where the ’55 Car Show was held.

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(this article is sponsored by)

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

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Barris Display Wall Pan-Pacific Auditorium

 

BARRIS DISPLAY WALL

 

The Barris Kustom Shop had a special wall Barris Shop display at the Petersen Motorama Shows held at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. From 1951 till 1955 these Barris Shop Wall Displays were among the highlights of the event.



Petersen Publishing had a lot of experience with promoting their publications and they used their knowledge to help promote that would be come a series of most influential Hot Rod and Custom Car shows on the West Coast, and possibly in the whole USA in the early to mid 1950′. The show ran from 1950 till 1955, originally names the Petersen Motorama show, but in 1954 the name was changed to Motor Revue & Motorama due to the Motorama name now being used by General Motors for their futuristic new car show events. George Barris already worked with the Petersen Publishing people for some of their publications supplying Custom Car content. As soon as George heard about the plans for the Motorama shows he knew instinctively that these shows would become a huge success. Both locally, as well as nationally when they were covered in the Petersen publications.

George also understood that these shows were not only to show off a series of beautiful Custom Cars to the public. These shows were much more than just that. These shows were ideal to help promote the Barris name, and to draw attention from possible new customers. Potential customers needed to have somebody to speak to at these shows, so George would be there at all time, and if he had to step out, there were other employees who could show of the cars on display, and talk about possible future projects. Besides handing out actual business cards at these events George Barris understood that the cars on display were even more an business card for the Barris Shop. So from early on the Barris team tried to display their latest, and very best customs, presented the best way possible, with trophies, etc. From the 1951 Peterson event George had a special Wall Display for the Barris Shop. These wall displays drew a lot of people during the multi day event. Only in 1953 the Barris Shop did not have a full wall to be used as Shop display.

Creating displays like this for large events was not something new in 1950, it had been done by the big car brands at car shows for many years. But it might have been something new for a Custom Car Shop to promote its business like this at Car Shows. George Barris had a great sense for promoting his business, and these Barris Wall Displays at the Motorama are a perfect sample of this.





1951 MOTORAMA

In 1951 the Petersen Motorama Event moved from the LA Shrine Convention Hall to the beautiful Art-Deco Pan-Pacific Auditorium building. The first show was very well promoted, and a huge success, learned from the first show the second event at the new locations became an even bigger show. From this first Pan Pacific Auditorium held show there are very few known photos, and only one photo we know about, shows the very first Barris Wall display. Only one Barris Custom can be seen in this photo, the Larry Ernst Chevy, with George and Sam standing next to it. At this moment we are not aware if any other Barris Customs were part of this display, or if there was just the Ernst Chevy. If any of our readers has any more details about this, please let us know. The 1951 Petersen Motorama event was held from November 7th till the 11th.

1951 Motorama Program and floor plan. Sadly the Barris Shop was not listed in the incomplete list of vendors/participants, so we have, so far, not been able to find out where the Barris display was at the show.
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The only photo we have come across from a Barris Display at the 1951 Petersen Motorama Show is this photo of the all suited up Sam and George Barris standing proudly with the Larry Ernst Chevy in front of  a curtain covered wall with beautiful Art-Deco BARRIS letters.
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1952 MOTORAMA

The display wall at the 1952 Petersen Motorama was the largest of them all. At least with the greatest number of cars displayed at the wall. For this year Barris Kustoms had teamed up with the Carson Top Shop, and both their names were on the huge curtain covered back wall. 6 recently completed Barris Customs were on display in the joint display space. The 1952 show was also the first time Barris Kustom displayed their cars with their brand new Barris Crest mounted on the front fender. From this year on many of the cars on display had small plants separating the display area from the visitor path. The green plants gave the show a very special feeling. The 1952 Petersen Motorama event was held from November 10th till the 16th.

The Barris / Carson display at the show included some of the very best and recently finished customs. From left to right we can see Tommy Thornburgh’s 1947 Studebaker, Robert La Briola’s 1949 Oldsmobile, Dan Landon’s 1949 Chevy, Jack Brumbach’s 1942 Ford, Don Vaughn’s 1947 Buick and barely visible in this photo at the end of the line-up was Bob Hirohata’s 1951 Mercury.
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Tommy Thornburgh’s unusual 1947 Studebaker convertible was sitting on the far left side of the Barris Kustoms Display wall. The car was painted ice blue with a dark blue Carson Padded Top.
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Robert La Briola 1949 Oldsmobile in lime gold was a relatively mild custom, but it was exceptionally restyled for a beautiful, almost European feel.
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This photo taken by Andy Southard shows the huge Carson letters on the curtain covered wall above Dan Landon’s Chevy. In the center of the display the Barris team had displayed some of the trophies won by the cars on display, and set up a small table with business cards for the potential new customers.
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Dan Landon was a member of George Barris’s Kustoms Los Angles Club as the brass tag on the front bumper shows.
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Jack Brumbach‘s 1942 Ford came all the way from San Fransisco.
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Don Vaughn’s 1947 Buick in a deep purple must have looked stunning with its white top, plus it was parked next to the light colored, sea foam green Hirohata Merc Don came all the way from Port Orchard, Washington (But perhaps the car was still in Ca, after it had just been finished).
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The last Barris Custom of the Display wall all the way to the right was the just-in-time finished 1951 Mercury for Bob Hirohata.
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1953 MOTORAMA

At the 1953 Petersen Motorama event at the Pan Pacific Auditorium the Barris Shop did not have a wall presentation. I have not been able to find out why the hop did not have their annual wall display this year, perhaps they applied for it too late. Instead the Barris Shop displayed a number of cars spread out over the building, with the Sam Barris 1950 Buick, which was just finished in time for the how on a center stage display. The Barris name, created from gold glitter cardboard most likely for the previous years was used on the single car display of the 1947 Studebaker “the Grecian”. The 1953 Petersen Motorama was held from October 26th till November 1th.

Overview photo shows the Sam Barris 1950 Buick on the center display allowing the audience to walk around it and view it from every angle. In the background is the ’47 Grecian with the “Barris” name on the curtain behind it.
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The Grecian ’47 Studebaker had been recently finished at the Barris Shop, and there had not been enough time to do the interior. So it the car was displayed with white cardboard taped to the inside of the windows. Interesting is that the dot on the “i” on the Barris name is missing. The fact that the “Belond” sign in the background seems to be made of similar glitter card-board might indicate that this part of the displays was organized by the Petersen crew.
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1954 MOTOR REVUE & Motorama

The Petersen Show was renamed Motor Revue & Motorama for the 1954 year. This was done to make sure people would not confuse it for the GM Motorama. At the ’54 Barris Shop Wall Display the Barris crew displayed 5 new Barris Customs, plus the Golden Sahara was displayed on a huge turn table just in front to the wall. Making this one of the most spectacular Barris Show displayed in history. George Barris had just started his Kustom Of America, which evolved from the Kustoms Los Angeles Car Club. A lot of attention to the new nation wide club was paid at this event and besides the “Barris” script in gold glitter card board, a huge Barris Crest, there was now also a huge sign for the KUSTOMS of America done in gold glitter cardboard on the curtain covered back wall. The 1954 event was held from November 5 till November 14th.

Overview of the Barris Display wall at the 1954 Petersen Motor Revue & Motoramat at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. From left to right we can see the following Barris Customs; Dave Bugarin 1951 Mercury, Chuck DeWitt 1952 Ford wagon, Roy Dobb’s Simca/60, Nobby Miyakawa’s 1953 Mercury HT “The Japan” and Ed Sloan’s 1953 Plymouth Belvedere all the way on the right only showing its front fender and hood.
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Close up of the Barris letters, the Barris Crest and the KUSTOMS of America cardboard glitter signs.
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Barry Mazza shared this photo taken from the opposite side, showing the Chuck DeWitt wagon and the Dobb’s Simca. Most likely the well dressed lady and men in the picture were helping Barris to promote both the body shop as well as the Kustoms Of America club at the event.
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Another snapshot from the Barry Mazza Collection is rather blurry, but since only very few photos of this event and the Barris Wall have surfaced I like to show it here anyway. Can you imagine being able to walk around the Golden Sahara I, and then look in the other direction and see the wall full of other amazing Barris Custom creations.
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The Barris crew sure knew how to draw attention, with the Golden Sahara as highlight on the turntable and the long Display wall behind it. Custom Car Golden Years.
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The 1954 event is the first one we have been able to find color photos from. Ina May Overman, who owned a Valley Custom Shop ’52 Lincoln custom, which was also at the event, took a series of beautiful color slides, including this one of the Golden Sahara I with part of the Barris Display wall in the background. So now we know that this year the Barris Shop had a dark blue curtain as backdrop.
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The point of view in Ina May’s photo was the Golden Sahara.
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Walter Wyss took this photo of George Barris talking to Jim Skonzakes about details on Jim’s just finished Golden Sahara. This photo illustrates how these shows meant business for shop owners as George Barris.
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The Dave Bugarin 1951 Mercury was just finished in time for the 1955 Petersen show. It was put on display all the way to the left side of the designated wall and was lacking the Appleton Spotlights which would be installed shortly after the show.
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Danny Lares, the new owner of the Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford took this snapshot of the Dave Bugarin Mercury at the event.
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Chuck DeWitt, who used to have a beautiful well known Barris Kustom restyled Shoebox Ford convertible with chopped padded top had his latest Barris restyled car on display at the event A much milder ’52 Ford wagon in beautiful green with burnt orange.
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Interesting detail showing one of the woman of the Barris crew promoting the Barris shop and the Kustoms of America Car club in front of Chuck’s Wagon.
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A very unusual car for Barris to display at the event was the Roy Dobb’s Simca/60 that was slightly restyled and fitted with a flathead V-8. I guess that Barris was aiming at a new group of clients who would have the show restyle the more and more popular Sports Cars.
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Nobby Miyakawa’s 1953 Mercury HT “The Japan” was the subject in several How Two magazine articles written by George Barris.
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At the 1954 Petersen Show George Barris paid a lot of attention to promote his newly formed Kustoms of America Club. Several signs were set up at the Barris Shop Wall display, as well as a desk where you could sign up and fill out your application for the club.
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Barris even had Miss Kustoms of America hand out flyers and business cards at the show. In this photo from the Danny Lares Collection we can see here with a stack of flyers that look to be a reprint of the special Rod & Custom magazine ad George Barris ran (inset picture).
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1955 International MOTOR REVUE

The last year the Petersen event was held it had changed name ones again. It was now names the International Motor Revue, and the location was held again at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. 4 Barris Kustom creations were displayed in front of a red curtain covered Barris Display wall. Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury was displayed at the wall for the second year in a row. This time it can be seen with the Appleton Spotlights installed.

From left to right are; Buddy Alcorn’s 1950 Mercury, Frank Monteleon’s 1941 Ford, Dick Jackson / Ronnie Dragoo 1954 Mercury and Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury. The Kustoms of America sign is again up on the wall, but the signs on the floor and table where you could sign up used at the ’54 show are now missing.
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Buddy Alcorn’s 1950 Mercury was originally restyled for an unknown owner by the Ayala brothers, but later bought by Buddy and delivered at the Barris Shop for a complete make over. They finished it just in time for the 1955 Petersen International Motor Revue. Sadly the overview photo is the only one we know about showing the Alcorn Mercury at this event.
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Dick “Peep” Jackson / Ronnie Dragoo’s 1954 Mercury looked really amazing in Colonial White with “Sam Bronze” in front of the red curtains. The green plans and wood planters looked so great at these show. They might be in the way of showing the cars completely, but the overall effect was very classic and stylish. Andy Southard captured this show in some amazing color slides.
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Frontal view of the Jackson / Magoo Mercury.
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Frank Monteleon brought his super wild ’41 Ford Convertible to be displayed at the Barris Wall Display. The ’41 Ford was updated with later model Oldsmobile fenders which gave the car a much more modern look. The bright pink paint with white top must have drawn a lot of attention at the show.
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The top on Frank’s ’41 Ford was constructed from a ’38 Ford sedan top. Notice the beautiful detailed Midget that was done by the Barris Shop as well. 
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Dave Bugarin’s deep blue ’51 Mercury really stood out a lot better with the red curtains behind it at this ’55 show than with the blue curtains of the previous year. When this photo was taken the midget had been moved to be displayed with Dave’s Mercury.
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Mercury Perfection.
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Close ups of the glitter card-board signs on the 1955 Display Wall.
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As far as we have been able to find out the Barris Display walls only happened at the Petersen Motorama events. Of course the Barris Kustom Shop and the cars entered by this show were at many other Car Show’s around the US, but possibly never all situated together as we have seen in this article. If you have any more information about these 1950-55 Petersen Motorama events, and specifically to the Barris Displays, please let us know. We are looking to find more photos of these events, as well as personal stories, of people who attended these event. Please send the Custom Car Chronicle and email if you have more input.






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50s Indianapolis Custom Shows Part 2

50s INDIANAPOLIS CUSTOM SHOWS P2

Part two in our photo coverage of the early 1950s Custom Auto Shows held in Indianapolis.



This is part two of our series on the early 1950’s Custom Auto Shows held in Indianapolis. This show was very popular in the mid west, and with the help of some good publicity people from much father entered the show with their cars, or just to watch the cars at the even. These two articles shows a small collection of some of the custom cars on display at the 1951 and ‘52 show. Most of the photos used in this article are part of Geoff Hacker’s “The David Disney Collection.

Indianapolis had already a very strong bond with automotive scenes with the countries best known race track. Making a lot of car enthusiast people move to the area, and continue to give input to this scene. When the Hot Rods and Custom Cars were starting to develop on the West Coast Car loving Indianapolis soon followed. Custom Cars and Hot Rods have always had a tie with the Race Car Scene. So it was no coincidence that one of the bigger and best known shows outside of California would be in this part of the US.

The Custom Car scene was big in this part of the country, influenced by the Californian Custom Car Scene, brought over by cars bought in the west, and of course the early car magazines. This part of the US soon would develop their own style of cars, both in Hot Rods as well as in Custom Cars. This series of photos give us a great look of this.

Over the years the Custom Car scene has always been important in Indianapolis, at first there were these Custom Auto Shows that spread the word, and in the last couple of years there is the Custom Car Revival put down by Kevin Anderson and team. Still promoting and spreading the Custom Car spirit in the Mid West…

Special thanks to Geoff Hacker.


The 1951 and 1952 show programs.
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Very nicely restyled 1936 Ford 5-window coupe with a narrow grille, painted running boards, De Soto bumpers, teardrop bubble skirts and single bar flipper hubcaps on black wall tires. Jerry McKenzie from Indianapolis was the owner. The super nice car had two photos in the Jan 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine.
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1941 Ford convertible with chopped windshield and padded top with panoramic rear window. It also features molded fenders, shaved body and filled side grilles with custom made narrow center grille and 1937 DeSoto bumpers.
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A closer look at the panoramic rear window padded top.
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A body shop owner from Springfield, Missouri, started with a 4-door ‘39 Mercury and turned it into a 2-door. He then carried on to section the body, chop the top and removed the center styled to make it a semi Hard-Top.  He also added a ‘35 Ford humpback trunk the back and molded in the cut down fenders. The Grill and headlights are late 1940’s Cadillac and bumpers are ’49 Plymouth. The car is still around today.
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The Collection also included an outdoor photo of the ex-4-door Mercury Possibly the photo was send along with an application to enter the show with the car.
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Sports Custom restyled by Robert L. Darling of Jeffersonville, Indiana. The car was turned into a two-seater coupe with cut down to the belt line -doors and uses body panels from Buick, Chrysler and DeSoto. Car is also still in existence today.
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R&C editor Spencer Murray drove his Link Paola-chopped ‘49 Chevy all the way from Glendale, California. He wrote a story about the 6000-mile trip in the September ‘52 issue of Hop Up Magazine.
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Openings page of the September 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine article on Spence Murray’s 600 Miles in a Custom trip to the Indianapolis show and back.
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The ClarKaiser shop created this stunning ‘48 Mercury coupe for Leo and Adele Volpe. The car was sectioned, chopped and had full fade away fenders, as its most obvious restyling. This photo was most likely taken for promotional purpose before, or after the show.
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The Volpe Mercury during the show.
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Obscure looking car created from a whole list of car parts and home fabricated panels. Has Mercedes star on the radiator. Typical home build car inspired by the Sports Cars of the time.
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Same car as above at the ’52 show. The airplane white wall tires are now replaced by black wall tires, and a soft top has been fitted.
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Thomas Douglas brought his sectioned and molded Shoebox Ford from Miami Florida. The car has a beautiful proportioned all modled-in body with speed boat style windshield. The car has a very interesting mix of Sports Custom and regular Custom restyling. The molded in trunk incorporated a recessed license plate including fancy chrome plated surround. The whole plate units was hinged from the side to give access to the hidden gas filler pipe mounted in the center behind the license plate.
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Larry Ernst brought his Barris Kustom Restyled 1951 Chevy from Dayton Ohio for the 1952 Show.
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Fully detailed ‘ 32 Ford with dressed up flathead engine with three carb. intake manifold displayed at the 1951 show.
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Heavily channeled  full fendered Model A Hot Rod with ’32 grille.
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Another channeled Rod at the show. Completely detailed inside and out. The Sombrero hubcaps on wide whites give it a bit of a Custom feel.
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J. A. Wright of Covington, Va brought his 4 inch sectioned ’49 Ford convertible to the show.
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This front 3/4 view photo of the Wright sectioned Ford shows the use of Mopar rear fenders, and Custom grille using Lincoln units. Unusual for this type of full custom are that the hood ornament, and door handles remained on the car. Typical for this part of the country is the addition of the Continental spare tire kit at the back.
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A bit fuzzy snapshot of a very elegantly done 1941 Ford convertible with chopped padded top, smoothed center grille and ’46 Ford bumpers. All Styling elements so typical for the early California style Custom.
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Based on a 139 Mercury chassis the front and rear fenders are also very recognizable as Merc units with Full Fade-Away’s added. Hood looks to come from a 40’s Buick. The grille was all home made in stainless steel by owner Ray Zuend.
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The description of this Wild Rod/Custom reads that it is basically a Mercury, but perhaps that is for the frame and engine. The body looks to be based on a 33-34 Plymouth or something similar, with widened body and later model front and rear fenders molded into the body.  The grille looks to be from a ’49 Cadillac.
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Unusual Convertible with simulated wrap around windshield, Smoothed body seems to have been constructed from many body panels from different makes. A lot of work went into this car with some very interesting details as the door handles “hidden” at the end of the side trim.
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Another Sports Custom looks like it has an early fiberglass hand made body with stylish boat-tail rear end.
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Francis B. Clemmens from Cortland Ohio, entered this “Red Hornet” 1940 Chevy Coupe that appears to be relatively mild. But on close inspection it looks like the body was channeled over the frame, with the front and rear fenders raised, and a new grille surround was created to house a modified 1948 Buick grille. Unusual is the sun-visor, not much seen on Custom Cars back then.
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Donald White’s 1949 Dodge mild Custom entered by Donald White.
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Clarence Schaaf of Erlton, New Jersey built this nice looking Sports Custom in his own Schaaf Body Shop. Based on a front wheel driven 1937 Cord chassis. The body was constructed from using body parts of other cars and a lot of hand fabrication. The main parts are 1950 Studebaker front fenders and 1950 Buick rear fenders. The grille appears to have been made of 1950 Buick teeth placed close together. The doors have a “Darrin dip” and are covered with a soft padded top edge done in red and black leather.
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Very unusual is this rare Citroën Traction Avant Convertible with custom headlights, hood sides and grille.
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Mildly restyled Custom Hudson Convertible owned by Harry Ghlee Jenkins, Jr of Waukegan, Illinois.
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Very mildly restyled ’49 Chevy Convertible with Cadillac like rear fenders, Custom grille teeth, spotlights, Sombrero Hubcaps and a mild re-chroming.
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Ramond Jones 1948 Cadillac Convertible with lift off steel top, and very unusual body modifications including molded in double front bumper that wraps around the body all the way to the door, and have the headlights integrated into it.
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The rear of Raymond Jones Cadillac has extended rear fenders and taillight pods, including 1950 Cadillac taillights. The addition of a continental kit, and extended, molded in splash pan.
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A closer look at the front of the Raymond Jones Cadillac shows how two bumpers, bot with the bottom cut off and then welded together with the bottom one flipped upside down. Even the bumpers guards are doubled up. Scalloped paint is unusual for the time.
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Famous body man Bob Metz from Shelbyville, Indiana created this 1950 Buick HT Custom from a train wreck for owner Montfort Olinger.
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Unusual for the Bob Metz Buick are the fender skirts on the front and the new Buick side trim separating the two colors. Also notice the silver half moon headlight shades. An aftermarket product that was used a lot on Mid-West and East Coast Customs in the 1950’s. Bob’s Buick is still around in drive able condition today.
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Both the 1951 and 1952 Indianapolis Custom Auto Show were featured in Hop Up magazine. Both both years only on two pages.
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50s Indianapolis Custom Shows

 

50s INDIANAPOLIS CUSTOM SHOWS

 

In 1951 and 1952 the Indiana State Fair was hosting the Custom Auto Show. A unique show with the best Hot Rods and Custom Cars the mid-west of the US had to offer. Part One.



The first Hot Rod and Custom Car Shows were organized in Southern California back around 1948. The Hot Rod and Custom Car scene had developed there over the years, and these first Car Shows specialized in Hot Rods and Custom Cars were a huge success. The word of the big success spread fast, just as the rest of the Hot Rod and Custom Car scene and by 1950 these Hot Rod and Custom Car shows started to pop up in different states as well.

One of these events was held in the Midwest in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Custom Auto Show, organized by Ralph Potter, Bert Disney and Max H. Adams Jr., would be considered­ the best show in the Midwest from 1950 until the
late 1950’s. The show sported Hot Rods, Custom Cars, Sports Customs, and Classic Cars of all sorts. Cars from many states, even as far as California, would make the trip to enter the competition­. Geoff Hacker has shared his amazing “The David Disney Collection.” with the Custom Car Chronicle. Included in this collection are a series of photos taken at the early Indianapolis Auto Shows from 1951, 1952 and a few from later shows.

The photos from these early shows show Custom Cars that have been imported from California, have been influenced very heavily on the California scene and cars that were unique in style for the Mid-West and East US. These early shows were held at the Golden Years of Custom Restyling, and the sky was the limit as some of the cars in the photo show. This article is the first of two on these early shows, and are based around photos from the Geoff Hacker Collection. Most of the photos were taken by W. Frank Jones Studio, Inc. A few more additional photos from other collections have been added to the article as well. Enjoy…

Many thanks to Geoff Hacker for sharing his collection.

Indiana State Fairgrounds, where the Custom Auto Show was held and the 1951 and 1952 show programs.
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Clyde Bangiola from New Jersey displayed his 1947 Ford padded topped convertible at the 1951 show. He had bought this original Barris Custom Convertible in damaged condition and had repaired all the body damage and painted the car in midnight blue.
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1941 Ford convertible owned by Hank Langsenkamp III has the typical California look that had made it to the Mid West with the help of magazines, and guys traveling to California and bringing back stories, and photos. The windshield was chopped with matching padded top, molded fenders, frenched headlights and an aftermarket filled-in center grille.
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A closer look at  the front of Hank Langsenkamp III great looking 1941 Ford.
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A bit of an overview photo showing some of the Hot Rods in the foreground and Jim Skonzakes’s 1949 Buick sitting in the background.
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Jim Skonzakes brought two of his custom cars to the 1951 event, both had been created in Los Angeles. Here is his 1949 Buick convertible that was created mostly at the Barris Kustom Shop. It started out as a convertible to which Jim added a heavily modified Cadillac top.
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The Jack Stewart Ford

Jim Skonzakes also brought the Jack Stewart Ford which he had just bought in Los Angeles. Jim drove the car from California to his home in Dayton, Ohio. This photo was taken at the 1951 show and the car still had California license plates mounted.
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Later at the show, they moved the car more towards the wall.
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A little closer reveals that Jim had placed a Barris Business Cars in the passenger vent window.
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Jim Skonzakes brought the Jack Stewart ’41 Ford to the Indianapolis show again in 1952. No it had 1951 Ohio plates, and  taped onto the hood is a Barris business card to promote the body shop in the Mid-West, and to show that the car was created in California. Something very important for Jim, who was very much in love with California.
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A bit more overview in this snapshot shows that Jim Skonzakes also showed his drag bike “The Beast” at the ’52 Show. In the background we can also see the Barris Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy.
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Jim snapped this picture of the Jack Stewart Ford going home from the Indianapolis Show in 1952. The Barris Business Card is still taped to the hood.
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Its a bit hard to tell from the photos, but Jim Skonzakes once confirmed it was the Barris card with the Cadillac on it. that was taped to the front of the hood.
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Hot Rod magazine show feature photo.
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Taken at the 1951 Custom Car show, the Rudy Makela 1942 Cadillac designed and built by Indianapolis Power Hammer Works, Indianapolis, Indiana.
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The Rudy Makela, also name “WOW” Cadillac was at the show again in 1952, now updated with a new front. Possible engine cooling problems had the owner redesign the front of the car with a new large hood scoop/grille. Also the front now has the wheel opening cut out, possibly to fix a wheel turning problem caused by the fully skirted first version. More on the Makela “WOW” Cadillac HERE.
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Also show at the event in ’51 or ’52 is this in progress project that has a lot of similarities with the “WOW” Cadillac above. Possibly this project was also done at the Indianapolis Power Hammer Works. All hand-made body, with the use of a Buick grille and ’49-50 Mercury bumpers and a large V-Windshield. I do not recall ever seeing finished photos of this.
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James Bishop brought his heavily restyled yet un-chopped 1940 Mercury coupe to the show. The car is channeled with the running boards removed, molded fenders, filled belt-line, sectioned hood, early 50’s Lincoln headlights, custom grille and a new wide rear window installed (possibly a ’50 Mercury unit).
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In another photo of the show we can see the unique large rear window in James Bischop ’40 Mercury a bit better.
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Interesting mix of Custom and Hot Rod with DeSoto bumpers, aftermarket hubcaps looks to be Lincoln based.
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Richard Rush of Washington had Bud Unger restyle this very rare 1950 Italmeccanica IT160 Coupe prototype. The car was left mostly as it was, but Bud added ’49 Plymouth bumpers, single bar hubcaps on wide white wall tires. Bud also painted the car Chariot Red and light tan.
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1950 Oldsmobile “88” Convertible Sports Custom restyled by Wally Troy of Wally’s Garage in Springfield, Illinois. The project was based around a wrecked 1950 Oldsmobile Convertible. The front and rear were dramatically modified with pie-cut sectioned and further reshaped hood and trunk. hood and rear deck on the Olds were sectioned to lower the car and hand finished from sheet stock. 1951 Packard windshield was added on a much steeper angle and the top of the doors were pie-cut and reshaped for more swooping lines and blended in to ’50 Oldsmobile 98 rear fenders. The center of the trunk was reshaped styled after the very popular at the time 1951 Buick XP-300 concept car.
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W.B. Dorr brought his really wild Custom Convertible all the way from Texas. It looks like his car was based on a ’39 Ford convertible that looks to be channeled with the running boards removed. He then added a whole list of newer car parts, including heavily modified ’41 Ford front fenders, Possibly late 40’s Buick rear fenders, Buick like grille to create his ultimate custom. The doors were cut down in the rear, sort of like a “Darrin dip” and the rear of the body as sectioned the same amount.
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Very unusual Studebaker, I guess a bit typical for the mid-west, east coast styling at the time. A lot of add-ons, mix of styles, to create a more exclusive car.
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Sam Benanti, Kansas City brought his ‘49 Merc engine powered ‘32 Ford Hot Rod. Unusual large front tires give this Rod an almost toy like appearance.
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Unique Art-Deco styled short wheel based Roadster looks to be using ’47 Cadillac fenders, an rakes windshield and soft top. Anybody knows more about it?
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Sports Customs have always been very popular with Mid West and East Coast builders. This unidentified sample looks to be based on a late 1940’s GM car. It features welded doors with a deep “Darrin dip” and what appears to be a speed-boat V-windshield added. with a Buick hood, and ’48 Cadillac grille, and ’47 front bumper.
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Another Sports Custom looked to be based on 46-48 Mercury body panels. Possibly a four door sedan, shortened, with all body panels, including full fade-away fenders fully molded together and a heavy chopped windshield.
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Don & Bill Cunningham 1940 Mercury was a well known and well build unique ally restyled Custom in the Indianapolis area. The two brother did all of the work on the car themselves, including channeling the body, sectioning the hood, completely reshape the front fenders and grille area. The doors have been cut with the ever popular “Darrin style” dip and the padded top has unique boat style porthole windows added. The car was painted with a custom mixed Lavender Rose paint and finished in 1950. The headlights are placed deep inside the grille.
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The interior was done in all leather and the passenger seat could swivel 180 degrees so the passenger could look to the people in the wrap around rear seat that had a 7 inch TV and small bar installed. The padded top was opened up halfway at the show to be able to look inside to see the unique interior features.
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For the 1952 show the Cunningham brothers made a few updates on the car, including new headlights, placed outside the grille. and an satellite antenna like grille.
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Dean Causey from Indianapolis entered the show with his very nicely done chopped and channeled ‘39 Ford convertible. He created a really great looking removable steel top. The belt line was filled, fenders molded, running boards removed and the hood was sectioned. He added a custom grille, De Soto bumpers and aftermarket hubcaps.
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Another interesting car with some added Custom Touches as Sombrero hubcaps, and ’41 Oldsmobile bumpers.
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Very nicely mildly re-styled 1940 Mercury Convertible featured removed running boards, shaved body, 46 Ford bumpers and aftermarket “sombrero” hubcaps.Notice the black painted letters on the white wall tires. I have seen this done on a few cars. Not sure if it is a Mid Western thing.
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1948 Paris Salon Car Show

 

1948 PARIS SALON

 

The 1948 Salon de Automobile has been captured in beautiful color slides by Jale Youle of Life Magazine. It gives us an amazing look at how stylish these Early Car Shows were. Lets be Inspired…



The Life Magazine Photo archives are an amazing treasure of unique photos. There are some really wonderful photos of a day at the Barris Shop in their archives, which we covered in and CCC-Article some time ago.  They also have a really great set of photos of some Coachcraft cars from the late 1940’s and many other really beautiful images. Several years ago when I was browsing the Life Magazine online Collection I also came across a series of really amazing color photos taken at the 1948 Paris Salón de l’Automóvil. The photos were breathtaking and showed a collection of beautiful teardrop style coachbuilt cars as well as some production cars in the beautiful Salon at the Grand Palais in Paris France.

Grand Palais in Paris France, where this amazing 1948 show was held.
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It was not only the beautiful cars that caught my eye in these pictures. It was also the way these cars were displayed in a pure and elegant way. It was all about the car, not about amazing displays, or wild show cards, and trophies ans sponsored signs. It was the way the whole building was one with the show, the ceiling hanging banners were all uniform, just one color (white) with dark red hand painted letter. And the vendor booth were were discrete, like we have seen in early US Hot Rods shows as well. These wonderful images made me think about the modern day Hot Rod and Custom Car Shows… and made me wonder how it would be if we could organize a Custom Car (and Hot Rod) show today, as if it was done around 1950.


Overview of the factory car section.
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Thinking about this took me back to the GNRS of 2011 in Building No. 9 where the Customs Then & Now exhibit was held. For this show the team had created a large number of hand made ceiling hanging banners, styled after the early 1950’s Oakland Roadster shows. It brought a really great vintage feel with it. The displays of the cars was mostly kept very traditional as well. But the vendors in the room were using all their modern ways of attracting people. Which, in my eyes, took away from the overall effect of the amazing Customs Then & Now show. It is of course very understandable that these vendors want to draw as much attention to their product if possible.

But how would it be if these vendors were invited to a special show that does allow only period style advertising. Hand painted signs, logo’s cut from colored paper, pinned to velvet like curtains behind the booth. Vendors, car owners and other officials in vintage period clothing. Authentic music playing in the building. All very much like the Then & Now show, but then taken to the max, and perhaps even find a venue that was already standing back in 1950 as well. It would be the ultimate Vintage Car show experience. I know things like this are being done on a small scale, like in just one booth, or a special car display. But doing it in a full building and taking it all the way would be such an wonderful event…. oh well I can dream.


1948 floor plan for the Salon.
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Getting back to the Salon in 1948, this show was held at the top of the teardrop Coachbuilt car era. This show had all the very best cars that were available at the time. Coachbuilders as Franay, Figoni et Falaschi and Saoutchik had several of their beautiful cars at this event, just 3 years after WWII. These Life magazine photos show how these one off beautiful created cars were displayed, how people were invited to take a look inside these car, and how the shops had set up the display with some office furniture where the sales man could talk to possible future clients.

Lets take a close look at this 1948 Show and all those beautiful cars on display. Lets get inspired by the simple yet gorgeous displays at this early show, let look at the way these show signs were done, all uniform, very much like the early US Custom Car Shows were in house sign painters created the show signs at set up day. Lets get inspired to create future Custom Car Shows inspired by these early Car Shows, lets create a travel back in time Car Show…


Coachbuilder Saoutchik displayed several of their beautiful cars in Paris. The green one on the left is built on a Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport chassis. The white car next it, with the landau half top, was built an a Delahaye 175 chassis. The white car, in front of them both was built on a Talbot T26 Record. The wonderful red car is quite likely a Cadillac, with a coachbuilt body but with the Cadillac front kept. The dark convertible seem to be based on a Bentley and built in the same manner as the Cadillac. In this way Saoutchik showed that they could perform their skills on British and American luxury cars as well as the native french cars. (Info from Per Webb)
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The grey car in the lower section of the photo is a Citroën 11 with body built by A.C.B. The rest of the cars in the photo are from Saoutchik. (Per Webb info)
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Jaques Saoutchik and his employees built the body of this Talbot-Lago after being inspired by the Buick Sedanette. The car was painted light pastel green and brown. Today the car is still around and painted two tone blue. (Per Webb info)
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Fantastic overview of the Saoutchik  display.
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Delahaye Sedanca de ville created by Figoni & Falaschi.
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Besides the Coachbuilders the car of course also housed all the major factory brands from the time. This is the display of the France Ford Veddette.
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White Jaguar with wide whites on white wheels and dark red interior with a beautiful France lady…
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Panhard Dynavia prototype.
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Panhard Dynavia front view.
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Another photo of the “regular” car section of the show. Notice the displays, the Persian rug and comfortable office furniture and those hand painted ceiling hanging signs.
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Special thanks to Life Magazine, Jale Youle for his fantastic photos, and Per Webb for his amazing knowledge.










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1950 Petersen Motorama

 

1950 PETERSEN MOTORAMA

 

In 1950 Robert E. Petersen organizes the first Annual Motorama Show. A prestigious and well promoted Show setting the trend for all upcoming Shows.


In our series of Historic Custom Car Shows I’m creating articles around the, mostly, early Historic Car Shows. And then concentrating mostly on the show itself, and even more on the Custom Cars that were entered in these shows. In most of the Show coverage of these early shows the Hot Rods and Race Cars get a lot more attention than the Custom Cars. These early shows, till around 1956 can be considered as the jump-start to all later shows. From the beginning in 1948 till then, the shows were mostly about the beauty and ingenuity of the cars, displaying the creativity, and the beauty of the Hot Rods and Custom Cars. Awards were given to the most beautiful cars in each class. Then over the years the judging system at the shows was changed. To win trophies you had to score points, and each modification on your car gave you more point. The more points, the better chance you had to win trophies in your class. This obviously changed the way some people build their cars.

I have been collecting information and photos from these Early Show for many years, and still try to find out more about them. I hope that this article, about the first MOTORAMA Show, will be enjoyed by a lot of people, and I also hope that it perhaps will bring us some more info and even better would be some never before seen photos of this or other early events. My goal is to do as complete as possible write ups about these early Custom Car Shows.

The very early shows up till around 1950 were mostly based on Hot Rods, Race Cars, and exotics. The Custom Cars played a relatively minor role in these early shows. The first Petersen Motorama Show is no exception in this, the main focus for this show was Speed. The introduction in the 1950 Show Program illustrates (shown further down into the article) shows this very well.

The first Annual Petersen Motorama was held at the Shrine Convention Hall, 700 West 32nd Street in Los Angeles, California, from November 16 through 19, 1950.
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Interior of the Shrine Convention Hall, this photo is from the 1930’s, but I believe that the interior was not changed much in 1950, when the Motorma was held there. This photo shows how huge the hall is, and also shows the very wide balconies where more cars could be shown and vendors could promote their products.
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Robert E. “Pete” Petersen doing his Hot Rod and Custom Car publishing work with Trend Publishing putting out magazines as Hot Rod magazine and Motor Trend also wanted to do a special car show. Inspired by the Hot Rod Exposition from 1948-50 and the Hot Rod and Motor Sport Show Petersen decided to go all the way with his all new Show which he gave the inspiring name of MOTORAMA. Petersen had the privilege of having his own publishing company who could take care of all the publication he needed, having as much ads on his own nation wide read magazines as he wanted. And he knew his way around, making deals with all the right people, including local television for special broadcasts about to the show, to create the buzz and the visitor numbers he wanted.

Artist impression Created ahead of the show illustrates the luxurious feel the team was after. The impression was also used in the ad campaign in the magazines.
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Announcing ad for the 1950 Motorama show on the back of the December 1950 issue of Motor Trend magazine. (This means that the December issue was distributed before the show, which was held on November 16-19, 1950)
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One of the articles in Motor Trend magazine announcing the Motoram show on the left, and a promotional ad in Motor Trend magazine on the right.
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Robert E Petersen is being interviewed by KTLA’s Kenny Grau at the 1950 Motorama the night before the event would start. The show was promoted on the KTLA “City At Night” program. The interest this program (and all other promotional actions) created made sure the Shrine exposition Hall was filled with audience every day. The Delehaye on the right was part of the Exotic and Sports Cars on display.
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Petersen and his team wanted a very glamorous feel for the show, and of course the MOTORAMA name really helped with that image. The first location for the show was the beautiful Shrine Auditorium. A large building with a main floor, and also balcony space that could be used for displays, and for the visitors to have a walk and get an birds eye view of the event. (At around the same time GM also came up with the name MOTORAM, which they used to promote their new line of cars, and most of all new design studies. The two similar named shows had nothing to do with each other. It did however result in Petersen changing the name of his show into the Motor Revue name in 1954)

The 1950 Motorama show was the first show in its field that was promoted so much. Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazine had ads many month ahead of the show, and had several articles devoted to what would be displayed at the show. And when the show was over, Hot Rod magazine had a full four page article to cover the show, making sure everybody would remember this show, and would make plans to visit the show in the following years.



The Circle of Champions

Photo taken before the public was allowed from the balcony shows the “Circle of Champions” featuring the fastest of the fast. Johnny Parson’s ’50 Indy winner on the left, the aircraft Little Tony, Rollie Free’s Vincent Motorcycle, the So-Cal Streamliner and Ab Jenkins’ Mormon Meteor. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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This is how the Circle of Champions looked like during openings hours… (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Johnny Parson’s ’50 Indy winner unique color slide taken by Walter Wyss. (from the Jimmy Barter Collection)
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Another Walter Wyss color slide taken from the balcony shows Johnny Parson’s Indy racer,  Rollie Free’s Vincent Motorcycle and the Little Tony aircraft. (from the Jimmy Barter Collection)


Filming for the  KTLA “City At Night” program with the So-Cal Streamliner co-owners Alex Xydias and Dean Batchelor being interviewed. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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In 1950 this type of show was still a new phenomenon, cars shows specializing in Hot Rod, Race Cars and Custom Cars had only been around for two years. These early shows were extremely well visited, people from all over the State, and probably even from outside went to see the many top of the bill cars exhibited at these early events. Sadly very few photos have surfaced of the early shows, especially photos of the first Motorama show are very rare, and especially photos of the custom cars attending at this event have so far not surfaced often. If you have any photos that you think were taken at these early events, or know about some, or have any information regarding these early Car shows. Then please email us here at the Custom Car Chronicle, we would love to add the information and photos to this, or other subject related articles.


Tom Medley on the left and Al Isaacs, Art Director at Hot Rod Magazine, preparing the photo-shoot for the Jan 1951 cover of the magazine. This was done at the evening of set up day. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Newhouse Speed Equipment Booth. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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So-Cal Speed Shop and Edlebrock shared a booth at the Motorama. Notice the glitter paper cut letters on the curtains.
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Indian Motorcycle had a booth at the ’50 Motorama with girls promoting their latest bikes at the show. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Fred Lobello “Ladybug” Lakester. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Paul Scheifer’s track nose Model T. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Rose Marie Reid bathing suit models and the Kenny Smith roadster on the main podium entertaining the crowd.
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I came across this photo of this very rare empty 1950 Motorama Award plaque online a few year back. There was no info on where it came from, or what the story was behind it. I guess it was a left over from the show when to many awards had been ordered.
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1950 MOTORAMA Introduction. (from the show program)

In the belief that an annual presentation of the finest motorized equipment obtainable in the automobile, motorcycle, boat and airplane fields would hold great appeal for Southern Californians the officers of MOTORAMA, Inc., evolved the idea for this exposition.
Planned as a late fall event coinciding with the completion of competitive events in the foreground categories, this show permits the owners of record-breaking and record-holding equipment to display their winner before an interested audience under the most favorable and colorful auspices.

No other exposition in this country offers a showcase for the nation’s fastest competition boats, airplanes, motorcycles and cars. No other exposition affords the numerous Clubs and Associations, identified with speed and sport event in the aforementioned classes, an opportunity to join together in one vast presentation for their mutual benefit.

An imposing array of parts, accessories and special equipment, manufactured and distributed in Southern California, is being exhibited in conjunction with the presentation of the motorized vehicles on which such equipment is used.

Thus, the entire scope of the speed movement is embraced in this exposition although the appeal is not limited to speed enthusiasts. Much of the “Specialty” equipment of today man be considered “standard” by tomorrow. Much of it already is easily adaptable to the family automobile.
Speed is therefore not without its constructive and practical aspects. Its contributions to American technological progress are recognized and validated.

MOTORAMA is something more than just another show. Aside from serving as a mechanical display, it has a second and equally important purpose.

For many years past, the need of a test timing strip in the Southern California era, which could be employed as a locale for the many time trials and related event held in this vicinity, has been most urgent. Such a facility would not necessarily be confined to speed events but also could be put to practical use by industrial concerns such as automobile and petroleum companies.

Out of Motorama, with the cooperation and aid of participants exhibitors, will derive funds to be used to inaugurate a cohesive movement aimed at the eventual construction of such a strip. This is the first definite step in this direction ever taken in Southern California.
The exhibitors and officers of participating Clubs and Associations, as well as the Public Service participants, join with the officials of MOTORAMA, Inc., in bidding you WELCOME!

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MOTORAMA Management
Producers: Robert E. Petersen, Robert R. Lindsay
Show Director: Lee O. Ryan




Cover of the First Annual 1950 MOTORAMA show program.
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The Customs at the Show

Even though the high light for the first Motorama Show was on Speed, there were still a number of Custom Cars entered in the event. The fact that the show was so well announced made it very interesting for people like George Barris, who understood the power of publicity. And he definitely wanted to be part of this event. Barris had a booth at the show, promoting the Barris Kustom Automobiles Shop, and we know about at least two Custom Cars created by Barris to be entered in this show.  Jim Skonzakes entered his freshly finished 1949 Buick, of which at least one photo taken at the show has surfaced. Nick Matranga also entered his brand new 1940 Mercury at the show. Sadly so far we have not been able to locate any photos of his car at the show. If you know of any other Custom Car that attended this first Annual Motorama show, please let us know.

Custom Cars attending the 1950 MOTORAMA Show

  • Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury
  • Jim Skonzakes 1949 Buick
  • Art Chrisman 1936 Ford 4-door
  • Leroy Viersen Sportscar with 48 Caddy grille
  • Ralph Carter 1949 Studebaker mild custom
  • Bill Tailor 1949 Chevy (possibly)


One page of the program was devoted to Custom Cars to be entered at the show. From only one of these cars we know for sure it was at the Show. The Viersen Sports Custom. From the other Customs shown in the program, we have so far not been able to find a picture taken at the show, or had any confirmation from somebody who attended the show.
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Jim Skonzakes 1949 Buick was shown by Barris. Interesting promotional photo with George Barris and Jack Stewart behind the car. More on this unique photo in the CCC-Article (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Art Chrisman entered his metallic maroon painted 1936 Ford four-door-sedan mild Custom. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Leroy Viersen Motor Trend Cover Sports Custom (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Ralph Carter 1949 Studebaker with Custom Hubcaps. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Petersen / AHRF)
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Two page list of planned exhibitors of the 1950 MOTORAMA event. Interesting for us Custom Car Enthusiasts is to see Barris Kustom Automobiles and the House of Chrome at the show. Also interesting is that the Oakland Roadster Show had a booth at this event.
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Very shortly after the event, for the January 1951 issue, Peters’ own Hot Rod magazine had a full cover and four page feature article about the show. Making sure everybody in the US knew about the importance of this show. Petersen was already planning ahead for his Second Annual Motorama…
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The Cover of the January 1951 Hot Rod magazine showed the Kenny Smith roadster photographed the night before the show opened during the TV “City at Night” broadcast.
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Overview photo from the Hot Rod magazine article shows the large crowds during opening hours. According the HRM article the large crowds made it hard to watch the exhibition from time to time.
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More overview photos from the HRM article show how packed the building was. On both outside photos we can see the balconies, and how they were also used for display.
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More mostly speed orientated vendors drawing a crowd all day long.
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The First Annual Motorama was a huge success, with huge visitor numbers at all days of opening. According the Jan 1951 HRM article on the show, people from all states, and even some from Europe went to visit the show. The first two days of the show the weather was perfect California weather, but the last two days, apparently it rained non-stop, most likely dropping the number of visitors. Withe the large crowds already visible in the photos, we can only think, that the rain on the last two days was a good thing… Perhaps otherwise to many people would have wanted to get in during the weekend.

We can only imagine what kind of impact this show had on the visitors. Back in 1950 you only had Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazine for you Hot Rod and Custom Car buzz (and of course the cars on the street), and now you had this one building that was jam-packed with the finest Hot Rods, Race Cars, and Custom Cars, plus all the Hop Up and other related aftermarket products. Shows like this have played a huge part in promoting the Hot Rod, Race Car and Custom Car movement. While writing this article I also tried to imagine how the parking lot at the Shrine must have looked during the course of this event. Most likely many of the visitors drove their Hot Rod or Custom Car to this event, simply because it was their only way of transportation, but also because they knew all visitors would be just like them, very much interested in this type of cars. We can only hope that one of these days more photos of this event, and perhaps the parking lot as well will be shared.

Learning from this first show, Petersen decided to document the next shows even better than this first show. Always planning ahead, he realized it was important to show the public for the upcoming show how the last show had been. So he decided to create promotion movies of the next events. After having hosted the first Annual show at the Shrine Convention Hall, they would move to the Art Deco venue of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium for the next shows. From 1951 and up, the Motorama Show would be the place to show your new Custom Car. Beauty and graze would get much more place from than one, compared from the Speed controlled First Annual. More articles on Historic Custom Car Shows can be found HERE.

Location of the Shrine Convention hall where the Motorama Show was held in 1950 marked by the red pin. The blue pin shows the location of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, where the show would move to in 1951.
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Special thanks to Jamie Barter, AHRF, Rodders Journal, Geoff Hacker.
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1952 New York Show Photo

 

1952 NEW YORK SHOW Photo

 

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


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

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

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


Close up up Thomas Douglas ‘ Ford roadster shows the home made v-ed windshield, the molded in hood and trunk, molded headlights, custom grille and converted to a two-seater. The doors do have the side window channel, but I have never seen the car with the windows rolled up, nor can I see how they would match the shape of the windshield frame.
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The Larry Ernst Chevy did not show to well in the high point of view photo, but I was very excited to see this Barris Kustoms Restyled Icon at the New York Show.
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The Charles Eli Ford looked very interesting with its ’50 Mercury rear window, the angled forward B-pillar and filled rear quarter windows.
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This is the second photo I found taken at the ’52 New York show, a better view of the Thomas Douglas with its all molded sectioned body and speed boat style windshield. On the far left side of the photo we can see a small portion of the Eli Ford.
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Thomas Douglas Ford from the 1952 Motor Trend Restyle your Car booklet. Very interesting car with a mix of Sports Custom and regular Custom restyling. The Larry Ernst Chevy sits behind the Ford. Thomas Douglas lived in Miami Florida, where the Doray Body Shop had created the car for him. Makes me wonder if he drove it all the way up to New York and back.
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The second photo from the Restyled your Car shows the rear 3/4 of the Douglas Ford. Bill Harris took the photos for Trend Publishing, and if you compare it with the lead photo you can see that he most likely took these photos when the building was close, no public, and he was able to take down the ropes for a better view.
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Not long before I had found the photos taken at the ’52 New York Show I came across this Motorsport magazine with the Douglas Ford in color on the cover… NICE!
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Charles Eli’s 1951 Ford uses just as the Douglas Ford an Oldsmobile grille. And it also looks like the same Olds gave up its windshield, and possibly roof for this car. The hood and front fenders were heavily reshaped with reduced in size wheel openings.
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Reshaped rear fenders and new taillights mounted on hand made pods, placed higher on the fenders. Flush fit skirts and a new top with filled quarter windows and ’50 Mercury rear window.
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Another photo I came across taken from the Eli Ford at the ’52 Show, with the Douglas Ford next to it.
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A better look at the Barris Kustoms Restyled Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy.
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1989 Oakland Roadster Show

 

1989 OAKLAND ROADSTER SHOW

 

Bob Dzemske and his son visited the 1989 Oakland Roadstershow and captured some of the many Custom Cars that were entered in the 40st Anniversary of the famous show.



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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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The late 1980’s were great for use Custom Car Enthusiasts. The Custom Car Revival was perhaps at its high point, and very exciting stuff was happening in the Custom Car World. Old Custom Cars were sought after, found, and restored. New, very creative Custom Cars were created by young new Custom Car builders, as well as by the Famous builders from the 50’s, as Frank DeRosa, Joe Bailon and Gene Winfield. At the 1989 Oakland Roadster show Gene Winfield was honored as Builder of the Year and had no less than exciting Custom Car on the main floor. This was the show’s 40’s anniversary of the show, and back then it was still held in Oakland. In 1997 the show would move to San Fransisco, and later to Pomona, where it is still held every year as the Grand National Roadster Show.

Bob Dzemske and his son went on a trip to the 1989 Oakland Roadster from Arizona. Some of their friends had mentioned the show would have some fantastic Custom Cars on display that year. Their friend Ermie Immerso also talked to them to come over for this years show so they could see his Track T Roadster competing for the AMBR award, which he won.




4 Gene Winfield Custom gathered to celebrate Gene as Builder Of The Year. Traditional styled ’47 Ford Convertible created by Gene Winfield. To the right of the purple Ford we can see Gene Winfield’s Strip Star Show car and next to it Gene’s ’63 Buick Riviera.
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Gene Winfield ’63 Buick Riviera original created for Jim Noteboom and Randy Dunnaround 1964. Many years later the car was restored and entered in the 1989 Oakland Roadster Show.
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The Gene Winfield display with the pearl pink 1951 Mercury for Pegasus and the chopped ’47 Ford convertible. Notice there are all kinds of Winfield historic photos displayed on the floor next to the cars.
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The focus on this cropped picture was actually the big trophy winner Irmie Immerso’s Indy four-cam Ford Powered Pearl Orange Track T. But the fact that John D’Agostino’s 1940 Mercury Stardust in the background had more people looking, put a smile on my face.
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Since Irmie Immerso, the winner of the Americas Most Beautiful Roadster award for 1989, was a good friend of both Bob’s I thought showing a photo of the car, even not a Custom, would be appropriate.
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Rod & Custom magazine displayed the restored R&C Dream Truck at their booth.
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Ray Bozarth brought his beautiful ’51 Buick all the way from West Liberty, Iowa. The car was built by Merle Berg from the family four door sedan.
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Beautiful early 60’s styled ’56 Ford.
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The Ford had a full detailed pearl white tuck & roll interior, including a fully detailed trunk.
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Detailed engine bay with some more modern attention to detail to the engine.
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Channeled, sectioned and chopped ’39 Ford Coupe looked really nice with its bold ’49 Plymouth bumpers and wide white wall tires. The car was brought to the show by Marianne Robison.
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One of my personal highlight at this ’89 Oakland Roadster show was the Bill Reasoner built “Thee Forty One” for owner John Conley.
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Jerry Sahagon did the beautiful interior in dark and light green velvet combined with white Naugahyde. Even the trunk was fully detailed. The rumour is that Jerry deliberately “delayed” the work on the Padded top so that the car would debut at the Oakland show without the top. This way the full interior would be more visible. 
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John’s ’41 Ford has an amazing amount of work done, inspired by the work of the greatest builders from the 1940’s and early 1950’s The Ayala and Barris brothers. 1947 Buick fade away fenders were incorporated in the sides, the windshield chopped, front wheel opening radiused, and the fender skirts at the back hand made and flush mounted.
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At the front Bill Reasoner and his team reshaped the front of the Ford to accept an ’39 Buick grille and ’72 Jaguar headlights for the right effect.
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Another reason for the Dzemske’s to visit the show is to meet with old friends and have some good diners with them, including those organised by the show promotors.
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