De Rosa Golden Piranha

 

GOLDEN PIRANHA

 

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



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

CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-02-WThis is the first photo I saw of the Golden Piranha… before I knew what is was, or who built it, 1982.
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The team at De Rosa and Son Customs worked nearly two years on the project. They started with a low mileage 1966 Buick Riviera, which was sectioned 5 inches and chopped 4 inched. The top was reshaped to reassemble an typical 1950’s Padded style top for this late 1960’s car. An typical 80’s feature was the sunroof in the padded style top. The front fenders were extended and reshaped with rounded front edges. The hood was peaked with an heavy peak and V-ed at the front to match the 1951 Mercury grille. Another not so obvious restyling on this car, but it works really well. The lower grille opening was reshaped to match the front of the hood and warped under as a roll pan. No bumpers were used on the Buick. Small square headlights were set in hand shaped pods which were covered with a chrome plated wire mesh to sort of match the Mercury grille.

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

CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-01-WThis photo of the Buick in primer was taken of the shop wall of Franks shop. Not the best quality, but all we could find from the early stages.
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CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-03-W1983 Petersens Custom Cars series created by Hot Rod magazine.
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With all the body work complete the car was ready for paint. Frank choose an unique candy apple lime gold for the color. He crushed glass to add sparkle to an under-base and followed with many coats of special mixed candy lime gold. According to Frank there is no silver or gold under-base as most of these type of paint jobs required. But how he did it is still a secret. Frank used the original 1966 Buick side trim as inspiration for the graphics on the side of the car. This was done in a slightly lighter shade of gold and outlines in red and orange striping.

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

CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-07-WIn the December 1982 issue of Classic and Custom magazine the Golden Piranha was featured with another De Rosa custom, “The Shark” The two cars were featured in full color on two pages. The photo above and four below come from this article.
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CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-11-WA good view at the custom spare tire cover made from a motorcycle fender. Nice to see the taillights glow behind the 1950 Mercury grille teeth.
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CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-12-WThe working scoop at the leading edge of the flared rear wheel opening.
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CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-08-WThe interior was upholstered in gold colored velour and button-tufted with white buttons and outlined in white beading.
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CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-06-WThis great photo was taken by Paul Kelly from Australia. He visited and 1990’s Paso Robles event to find himself amazed by the Golden Piranha.
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CCC-de-rosa-golden-piranha-13-WThe Buick is still around, and in relatively good shape. It used to be part of the Blackie Gejeian collection in Fresno where this photo was taken.
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2018 Update

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

Frank De Rosa in the center, with son Frank JR and daughter Regina next to him with the Golden Piranha and the ’51 Merc at the DeRosa Body Shop April, 2018.
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Fresh out of the Blackie Gejeian warehouse, ready to be cleaned and detailed.
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FOR SALE In June 2018 the DeRosa family decided that both the ’51 Mercury and the Golden Piranha needed to find a new home, so that the cars could be displayed at car shows and events again, and enjoyed by Custom Car enthusiast. If you are seriously interested in owning this DeRosa Custom Car Icon, a Historic Custom Car, then please Contact the DeRosa family at: 925-439-5115.
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Resources and more info

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


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(this article is sponsored by)

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Curley Tremayne 50 Merc Restoration

 

TREMAYNE 50 MERC RESTORATION

 

Loren Curly Tremayne of Monterey California had this 1950 Mercury Custom built in 1977. Rod Powell and Butch Hurley are responsible for most of the work. The car made a huge impact, and inspired many Mercury owners to chop the top on their Mercurys. In 2017 Frank Morawski the new owner is having the car complete restored.



When I first saw pictures of Tremayne’s Mercury in the 1983 Custom Cars publication the car stood out from the rest of the cars featured in that magazine. It had a huge and lasting impact on me, and I know from other people the car did the same for them. It was the refreshing mix of styles, the very traditional style for the body work, as if it could have rolled out of the Ayala or Barris Shops in the early 1950’s, the lack of skirts, the ’54 Oldsmobile hubcap, the unique ’63 Buick grille bar and that outstanding brilliant paint job. Later I found out that the building of the car was very well documented by Andy Southard, and used in several How-To articles on how to chop the top on a 49-50 Mercury. Including one in the Hot Rod Magazine Custom Cars publication from 1982.

I remember how I used that article to chop the top on my 1/25 scale AMT model car kits. Many Mercury owners have studied how Butch Hurley tackled the job on chopping the Mercury just the way they did back in the early 1950’s. The Tremayne Mercury has played a big part in brining back this popular style, the chopped Mercury, in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Even though the car was already finished in 1977, we still like it to be part of our Icons of the ’80’s series, especially since the 80’s magazine publications of this car have played a big part in the history of the chopped 49-51 Mercury.

The first time I saw photos of Loren “Curley” Tremayne’s 1950 Mercury was in the Hot Rod magazine Custom Cars publication from 1983.
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The August 1977 issue of 1001 Rod & Custom Ideas had a full feature on the Mercury, including two pages showing how Butch Hurley chopped the top on the car. 
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Color photo from the ’77 1001 Rod & Custom ideas feature, and a color page article from the Custom Rodder Feb 1980 issue.
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Hot Rod Magazine’s Custom Cars from 1982 spend no less than 5 full pages on chopping the top on the Mercury. Explaining in detail how Butch Hurley did all the hard work to make this car look so good.¬†
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Loren “Curley” Tremayne from New Monterey, California was a helper at¬†Rod Powell Powell’s Custom Painting shop on Griffin St. in Salinas California and his dream car was a chopped 1950 Mercury. He found a suitable Mercury, factory blue at the time, and with the help of Rod Powell and Henry “Butch” Hurley he was able to make his dream come true. Butch and Curley dropped the car 4 inches all around and mounted a set of 6.70-15 Bedford white wall tires for the perfect stance Curley was after. Butch chopped the top 3.5 inches in the front and 5.5 inches in the back to get that beautiful pleasing flow and the perfect highest point in the middle of the door window. Butch shaved the drip rails, and rounded the top door corners for that typical SoCal early 1950’s Custom look.

James Handy photographed the Tremayne Mercury at the 1978 Grand National Roadster Show, Oakland Colliseum, California.
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’53 Buick taillights frenched into smoothed rear fenders, rounded corners on the shaved trunk and molded in splash pan.
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The stock headlights were replaced with a set of molded in 1953 Buick headlights. And at the back the stock taillights had to make place for a set of frenched 1953 Buick taillights. All exterior handles were shaved and so where the side and belt line trim and all emblems. The grill surround was molded into the fenders, all four hood corners rounded and the splash pans front and rear molded to the body. All trunk corners were also rounded to match those on the hood. A new grille was created from¬†wire mesh and a ’63 Buick Wildcat grille bar was used as floating bar. Butch added a double tunneled antenna’s on the passenger front fender and everything was smoothed before Rod Powell would do his magic and paint the car a wonderful¬†candy orange – red¬†acrylic lacquer paint job.

Rocky and Ron’s ¬†Upholstery did the interior in tuck & roll pearl white naugahyde.¬†And Rod Powell was also responsible for the¬†beautiful flower power theme graphics on the white pearl dash with matching pearl white steering wheel. Motivation comes from a updated ’55 Ford Y-block

According to Rod Powell the Tremayne Mercury was used a lot, Curley used is as his every day transport, and it was parked outside most of the time, which would cost the Rod Powell paint job its shine over time.


Going to the Cruisin Nationals in 1982, Ron Brooks photo.
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Going East

After Curley Tremayne passed away in 1998 the car has seen a few new caretaker, Gary Minor owned it for some time, and in the early 2000th the car came ot the East Coast of the US when Frank Morawski from Bel Air, Maryland bought the car. The Mercury had always been used by Curley as well as the later owners. Used one a regular base, as daily driver and it was often parked outside. All this left its toll on the paint, which had dulled and weathered considerably. At first the new caretaker Frank decided to keep the car as it was. The showing age added something interesting to the car. It showed how these Customs were used, and not only shown and towed on a trailer. In 2017 it was decided that the car would need a full restoration.

Lyle Willits took this photo of the car sitting in the back corner of the building at the 2005 Jalopyrama in Glen Burnie, Maryland. It was the cars first showing since many years.
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The Mercury at the Rodder’s Journal show¬†in 2013.
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The interior looks still very good after all these years. All it needs is a good clean up.
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Spectacular Dash

Before the car was shown again by Frank I had no idea that the Dash-board had this wonderful 70’s flower power theme painting done by Rod Powell. Non of the older photos ever showed the dash, so it was a great surprise to see that, and to hear from Rod that the dash was still the way he had done it back in 1977.


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This is what Rod Powell¬†had to say¬†about the Dash on Curly Tremayne’s Mercury.
” I did paint the dash for Curley. The style came from the motorcycles I had done years before. In those days Curley was a helper in my small shop on Griffin St. He liked this style of paint so much at that time he had me add it to the sail panels and door jambs of his ’65 Riviera. Years later, when we were finishing his Merc I added the same designs to the dash. The pinstriping on the glove box door is not my work. It is not part of the original look of the car.
I hope this helps.
Rod”

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The flower power theme on the dash is really refreshing and brightens up the inside of the Mercury. The striping on the glove box is from an unknown artist and had been done after Curley had passed away by a new owner.
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Fortunately the dash is in excellent condition, so it will stay just the way Rod Powell did it in 1977.
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Restoration started

On May 14, 2017 Frank Morawski droppes of the Tremayne Mercury at Absolute Rod & Custom Paint in Annapolis, Maryland. Here the team of Richard and Brandon Glymph, Frank Morawski, and Rick Lowman will be doing the body and paint work on the car. Cody Walls will later take care of all the stainless. Plan is to bring the car back to how it looked back in 1977. We will be following the whole progress on the Custom Car Chronicle and will be adding any new info on the FORUM POST as soon as we get it.

The Mercury arriving at Absolute Rod & Custom Paint in Annapolis, Maryland.
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Stripping the Rod Powell Acrylic lacquer and brining the car to bare metal.
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More photos of the restoration process can be seen on the Custom Car Chronicle Forum.













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Hirohata Merc Clone Going West

 

HIROHATA MERC CLONE GOING WEST

 

John DAgostino and his Silent partner acquire the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. The story behind the deal as told by John DAgostino.


A few weeks ago we reported in our News Flash article that John D’Agostino and his silent partner had bought the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. We also mentioned that John is planning to travel a lot with the car so that people all over the world can enjoy this great Custom. Which¬†means¬†a lot to a many Custom Car enthusiast around the world, since this clone changed a lot of people when it was first shown by Jack in the 1980’s, long before the original Hirohata mercury was “found” and restored. We asked John to shed a bit of light on how he got Jack Walker to let go of his pride and joy. Lets take a look at the story John send us, accompanied with some of the photos he took.




By John D’Agostino

It all started at the 2016 KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” in Salina, KANSAS on July 27th, 2016. Several weeks before this show, my partner commissioned me to build the Hirohata III recreation. I did not want to make this happen, so I talked to Jack (Walker) at the Leadsled Spectacular show about selling his Mercury with the intentions of me displaying it at car shows around the World. Jack¬†was hesitant at first but I kept on him all weekend for his decision. I also had my partner talk to him about our plans that we may build one. I feel that why build another whereas the Hirohata recreation is probably the most famous Merc ever built and has been shown in 100’s of shows around AMERICA since debuting at the KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” on July 4th, 1985.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-01This is the last photo John¬†took of Jack Walker’s Doug Thompson built Hirothata Mercury clone¬†in Salina, KANSAS, 2016 before his¬†trip to Missouri.
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This is without a doubt the BIGGEST Kustom news in a very long time. The news of the Jack Walker “Hirohata” recreation was instantly Worldwide history to Kustom fans everywhere. Now I feel it is time to let the World see the “Hirohata” recreation for the first time starting in 2017. After the deal was sealed after many telephone calls to Jack, my partner¬†(To be disclosed at a later date)¬†drove our rental car to¬†Belton,¬†Missouri¬†to close the deal.¬†The car was purchased on August 28th, 2016.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-02Arriving at Jack Walkers home, shortly before entering Jack’s showroom.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-03Jack showing John around in his “office” with an incredible amount of car memorabilia, of which a lot has to do with either the real Hirohata Mercury, or Jack’s recreation.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-04Handshake confirms the deal….
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-05The paperwork makes it official.
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When Jack Walker opened the door to his AMAZING showroom I knew immediately that my childhood dream would come true and the car would now live in the west. The deal was made for a undisclosed amount between us three ONLY. I can still remember seeing the ORIGINAL Barris built Hirohata Merc in many magazines when I was a child. It is definitely my favorite Merc of All time.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-06John D’Agostino sitting for the first time in the¬†Hirohata Mercury clone¬†which he now co-owns.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-14One of the things that set the recreation apart from the original Hirohata Merc is the body color painted dash with no striping, while the original has a white painted dash, with pin-striping by Von Dutch.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-08Jack Walker and the “silent” partner.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-09More handshaking for the historic records.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-10Look at all the cool stuff hanging on Jack Walkers showroom walls.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-11Jack Walker¬†walking around his Hirohata Merc Clone for the last time…
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-12John also took some close ups of the memorabilia on the wall of the Showroom that caught his eye. Singed painting of GeorgeBarris at the Barris shop with the Hirohata Mercury created for the 50th Autorama.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-07Mamie Van Doren signed photo to Jack.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-road-tripAfter the deal was made with Jack in Missouri, John and his partner went back home to California…. ROADTRIP…
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After a 4 day trip back to CALIFORNIA we decided to remise and spend the night at the Historic¬†RYDE Hotel¬†in Ryde, CALIFORNIA on the Delta waterways. This hotel is a Art Deco place where many celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable etc… stayed since being built in the mid 1930’s. What a way to end a storybook tale of the “Road to the Hirohata” !

Kustoms Forever, Johnny D’.



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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-15September 13, 2016, The Doug Thompson/ Jack Walker created Hirohata Mercury¬†clone is getting loaded for the long journey West to John’s home in Discovery Bay, California. Jack Walker (seen on his back) saying good-bye to the car for the last time.
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The Mercury will soon arrive at his new home in sunny California.
We will keep you posted about this and John’s plans with the car here on the Custom Car Chronicle.


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Doug Thompson 50 Chevy

 

DOUG THOMPSON 50 CHEVY

 

In 1986 master Custom builder Doug Thompson restyles an 1950 Chevy Hard-Top for Larry Cochran. The uniquely restyled custom is awarded that year with the prestigious Harry Bradley Design Achievement Award.



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Custom Cars & Lead Sleds

In 1990 I bought a copy of the brand new book Custom Cars & Lead Sleds by Timothy Remus. This was at a time it was still rather hard for me, here in the Netherlands to find any Custom Car related magazines and book. I was able to get some magazines from Scandinavia, and the UK, but an all new book on just Custom Cars was really welcome. When I opened the book for the first time I could not believe my eyes, such amazing cars as the restored Sam Barris 1950 Buick, the R&C Dream Truck, the Hirohata recreation done by Doug Thompson, several others, and one car that really stood out to me. A 1950 Chevy Hard Top restyled by Doug Thompson for Larry Cochran from¬†Belton, Missouri. The Chevy was so elegant, so perfectly balanced and styled. It looked like it could have been created in the 1950’s,¬†but at the same time it had a touch of modern feel to it.

There were 8 wonderful photos of the car in the book, an I know it might sound like a clich√©, but I stared at those for hours. I even started to build a 1/25 scale model based on its design. But I did not have the Caddy taillights, and the ’55 Chevy units I used instead, just did not give it the right feel, so it was abandoned. Doug’s amazing Chevy had a really big impact on me back in the early 1990’s, and from what I have heard from others the car had a huge impact on the whole Custom Car scene in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

I had seen some previous word done by Doug Thompson in the swedish magazine Wheels, and in some of the Hot Rod Custom Car annuals from the 1980’s. I already was very much impressed with his work, but now I had seen his Hirohata Merc recreation¬†(I actually saw pictures of the recreation before ever seeing photos of the original Hirohata Merc) and Larry’s 1950 Chevy, I had found a new Custom Car hero, Doug Thompson. Doug is able to combine traditional 1940’s and 1950’s styling with his own ideas of how a car needs to look which results in uniquely, well balanced and¬†very stylish Custom Cars.



Building a Masterpiece

The 1950 Chevy Hard-Top was started in 1984, and Larry Cochran‘s original plan for it was a chopped pro-street machine. Fortunately for us Custom Car enthusiast, Doug was working on the recreation of the Hirohata Mercury at the time Larry showed up with the Chevy. And Jack Walker, good friends with Doug, and life time Custom Car enthusiast and collector, was hanging out at Doug’s shop a lot. He was able to talk Larry into taking a different route with his Chevy, the full Custom route. Doug chopped the top 4 inches in the front and around 5 in the rear. The two part Chevy windshield was replaced by a cut down one piece 1950 Oldsmobile unit. And once the rear of the top was all shaped the way Dough wanted it it was impossible to get the rear glass pieces to work with it. So new rear window glass was created from heated and bend plexiglass.

CCC-barris-larry-ernst-chevy-second-01The second version of the Larry Ernst, Barris Kustoms created 1951 Chevy Hard-Top was in inspiration sours for Doug Thompson and Jack Walker thru-out the building process of the Larry Cochran 1950 Chevy.
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With the chop done Larry took the Chevy home and had another shop install¬†a 350 Chevy engine, Nova subframe and Nova rear end. This new set up had lowered the car almost 7 inches.¬†The new wider Nova front end caused the tires to rub the front fenders when the wheels were turned. So when Larry took the car back to Doug’s shop the first thing Doug did was cut out 4 inches of sheet metal around the wheel opening to make sure the wheels would turn. Thats how I always work, get rid of the problem and find a new way to make it work. Doug and Jack Walker discussed about some of the design elements on the car,¬†and together they came up with the large wheel opening flare and how it flowed into a long peak flowing from the top of the new wheel opening all the way to the rear fenders. The line of the peak was slightly higher in the front than in the rear giving the car an instant speed feel.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-11Mark Wojcik shaking hands with Doug Thompson the master builder of Larry Cochran’s 1950 Chevy in 1986.
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To make the peak work even better the rear fenders were molded to the body, and a funktional scoop was added to the leading edge of the rear fender just below where the peak touched the rear fender. Later Doug added three 1953 Mercury grille teeth in front of the opening, inspired by the Barris built 1951 Larry Ernst Chevy. Both Jack and Doug really liked the way the Barris shop had restyled the 1951 Chevy Hard-Top for Larry Ernst, and especially the second version. So this car was an inspiration for both of them thru-out the process, although they never intended to copy it.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-05Larry Cochran displayed the Chevy at the 1988 lead sled spectacular in Holland Michigan, where it sat with two more of Doug Thompson’s masterpieces including the Hirohata Mercury recreation sitting next to it.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-06Doug added exhaust tips and molded the Chevy license plate guard to the 1952 Pontiac rear bumper. The splash pan was reshaped and molded to the rear of the body. The peak below the Caddy taillights heavily reshaped. Everything on Larry’s Chevy works so well together.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-07The only¬†“compromise” that had to be done on the Chevy to give Larry still a bit of a race car feel are the hood louvers. Personally I think it would have looked better with a nice smooth hood.
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The new peak running the sides of the body did cause some work to get the doors to open and close without rubbing the peaked section. But eventually Doug got it all figured out. Next up was the front end. Doug liked the extra optical length the car had gotten with the center body peak, and since he planned to use longer Cadillac rear fender ends, he decided to extend the front fenders two inched to get the best balance. Doug decided he liked the early look of the stock frenched headlights the best for this car. Doug spend a lot of time to make the 2 inch extensions looks as “factory” as possible¬†curving nicely into the headlights openings. The original grille was removed and a 1950 Mercury grille opening was molded in place. The two piece hood was welded solid and the front of the hood reshaped to flow nicely into the Mercury grille surround. The hood corners at the front were rounded with a radius that matched the headlights.¬†Doug created a new grille for the Chevy based on an 1959 Chrysler Imperial grille bar to which he welded modified 1951 Mercury accessory bumper guards. The new grille bar has an unique shape and despite the age difference fit the car really good. This was the 1980’s and Larry still had a bit of Pro-Street feel in him, left over from the original plans for the car, so he asked dough to louver the hood with 150 louvers.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-16The lower angle photo gives a good look at the flared front wheel opening.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-15From this angle you can see how wonderful the flared front wheel openings flow the the front fenders and how the peaked side panels lead the eye towards the 1953 Mercury grille teethes in the working scoops. This photo also shows how the grille bar and front bumper are matching in style.
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The molded to the body rear fenders were next up to be modified. Doug had found a set of 1953 Cadillac rear fenders and decided the humb of the back portion of these rear fenders, where the taillight moved up, would fit the big trunk on the 1950 Chevy really perfect. The back portion of the Chevy fender was cut off, and 12 inches of the 1953 Cadillac rear fenders, including the taillights was added to the Chevy rear fenders. In the process the fenders were slightly extended to create mre length. The lower section of the rear of the fender was extended down, and the stock flush fitting fender skirts were extended down to sit level with the bottom of the rear fenders. Larry wanted to have a set of lake pipes on the car, and to better incorporate those with the rest of the design of the car, Doug decided to half tunnel these pipes. He created the tunnel shape on the rocker panels, just below the door. And molded in section just behind the front wheel opening covers the front few inches of the pipe. The Design Doug came up with integrates the lake pipe very nicely with the body, and gives it a much more finished look than most lake pipes used on 50’s customs.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-01The extended front fenders, lowered suspension, chopped top, body side peak and longer cadillac tipped rear fenders add a lot of extra actual and optical length to the Chevy.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-02Side view of the center section of the car shows how all the lines flow rearwards. It also shows how the door line had to be cut at the front to make sure opening the door would work with the added peak. The door corners were rounded to make all the lines on the Chevy flow better. Notice how wonderful the chopped roof flows, both front and rear.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-03The rear quarter view of the Doug Thompson 1950 Chevy is perhaps the most elegant. This angle show how all the lines of the car flow and work together in a harmonious way. It is exactly how Doug Thompson wants to see his Customs. 
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Doug used a set of one piece California 1950 Chevy front¬†bumper to which he added 1952 Pontiac corner pieces. Doug also welded the bold, and molded the 1949 Chevy license plate surround to the unit. Especially the molded guards make the bumper look very custom, and the shape of the molded in surround now matches the shape of the grille teeth wonderful. It are these “small” details that set apart any of Doug Thompson’s creations. At the rear Doug used an 1952 Pontiac rear bumper that wrapped around the extended rear fenders much nicer than the Chevy units ever did. He added new exhaust ports to the bumper ends and just as he had done on the front he molded a 1949 Chevy license plate guard to the Pontiac bumper. The front and rear splash pan’s were reshaped where needed and molded to the body.

The whole body was shaved, all emblems and handles removed and everything prepped for paint. Doug painted the car in Candy Root Beer for the complete car with a lighter shade below the body peak. Then the car was send of to Bob Sipes who did the interior in brown velour matching the new paint color very well, and was typical for the era it was built in. Doug created some custom hubcaps and mounted a set of wide white wall tires to finish the look. In 1986 Doug Thompson finished Larry Cochran’s 1950 Chevy. Larry showed the car at the¬†1986 KKOA Street Custom Spectacular,¬†where it won the¬†prestigious¬†Harry Bradley Design Achievement Award.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-08The front fenders were extended 2 inches and rounded to flow nice with the frenched headlights. The smoothed front bumper with molded in license plate guard matches the shapes of the customized 1959 Chrysler grille bar with 1951 Mercury bumper guard ends.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-0912 inches of a 1953 Cadillac rear fender were added to the cut down 1950 Chevy rear fender. Quite a bit of reshaping was needed to make it all work. The peak on the Cadillac rear fender was reshaped to flow with the ’52 Pontiac rear bumper, and mimic the shape of the peaked¬†that was added to the front fender and body sides.
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Second Version in 2000

Larry showed the car at a few car shows, but after 1988 the car was rarely seen, Larry kept it mostly inside, but in 2000 Jack Walker talked Larry into selling the Chevy to him. Jack decided to freshen up the car, he added a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps and removed the “out dated” brown velour interior and had Bob Sipes create a new more ’50’s inspired white with¬†burnt orange piping tuck & roll interior. The car was also repainted¬†with a¬†lighter shade of Root Beer than the original version of the car. Jack has been enjoying the car for quite some time now, and a few years ago it was offered for sale. As far as I know it has not sold and is still part of the Jack Walker Collection.CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-12


CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-13The new color on the second version of the Chevy is much brighter than the original Version. The only other optical change are the Sombrero hubcaps, which give the car and more early 1950’s feel.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-interiorBob Sipes redid the interior on the Chevy in 2000 Original done in brown velour, the car now has a more 50’s inspired the. Upholstery was done in white Tuck&Roll leatherette with burnt Orange piping and brown carpets. The dash remained¬†mostly stock.
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Resources and more info:

  • Custom Cars & Lead Sleds, book¬†by¬†Timothy Remus
  • Howstuffworks, website
  • Hot Rod & Custom Chronicle, book by Thom Taylor and Consumer Guide

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1982 LEADSLED Roadtrip Part 2

 

1982 LEADSLED ROADTRIP

 

In 1984 Mike Key created his famous LEADSLEDS book. It made a huge impact on me. Today, in 2016 Phil Waters makes us relive this 1984 book, with his photo collection and story.


By Rik Hoving with photos from the Phil Waters Collection

This is part TWO of the¬†Road trip to Des Moines:¬†Driving The Rebel to the KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular, 1982. If you have not read part ONE, then please read Phil’s STORY¬†first.¬†The photos in this article were taken by Phil in 1982, at the¬†KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in Des Moines Iowa. A car show¬†this editor (Rik Hoving) know so well from the Mikey Key Leadsled book from the early 1980’s. This article is my story about the Mike Key book and how the photographer of the photos used in this article, Phil Waters lived my dream back in 1982.

In 1984 Mike Key published his LEADSLEDS Chopped and low – ’35 thru ’54 book. I bought a copy of the book¬†as soon as it came out, it was so fantastic. Filled from cover to cover with nothing but Custom Cars. I had never, ever seen anything like it before. Back in the early 1980’s I was a young guy 16-17 years old, and anything Custom Car related was nearly impossible to find in the Netherlands. So when the Mike Key book came out I was in Custom Car heaven. I have read the book at least thousand times, gone over every little detail on all the cars in the book. I had my favorite photos, like the Sam Barris Buick and the one of the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford (I had no idea it was the Ayala – Barris created Jack Stewart Ford for another couple of years). And there was one photo, or a mildly customized black 1950 Mercury. Nosed, decked, lowered and custom hubcaps. Not as spectacular as many other customs in the book, but the photo caption with that Black Mercury always intrigued me.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-33-phil-watersMike Key’s 1984 published LEADSLEDS chopped and low- ’35 thru ’54 book with on the back cover Phil driving “The Rebel” 1950 Mercury with Kathy Ashby in the passenger seat.
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Mike Key mentioned the car was owned by Kathy Ashby, but that is was driven by an English guest of Ashby. I was “jealous”… I wanted to be this guest… But besides being “jealous”, it also made me think… that if this guy from England could go over to the US and drive a 1950 Mercury…. So could I… in perhaps a couple of years. Dreams!… I often wondered about this English guest, or better said myself in that Mercury, and what I would do if we would have arrived at the ’82 Lead Sled Spectacular¬†in Des Moines, where the mercury was going when Mike Key took that photo. I know I would have brought my camera and shot hundreds of photos of all those beautiful Customs. But sadly it was not me in that Mercury, it was that unknown guest from England.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-32-phil-watersPage 14 of the book shows Phil “the English guest” on highway 35W. Mike Key gave Phil the photos he took back in 1982.¬†
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In April 2016 Phil Waters shared a photo on his Facebook Page, a photo of a young guy in a black Mercury. I recognized the Merc and the scene immediately. Phil mentioned that it was him, as a young guy back in 1982. Ok… so Phil Waters was this unknown guest from the 1984 Mike Key book black Mercury photo. WOW…

I checked out Phil’s other photos and sure there it was an Facebook album with around 50 photos taken at the 1982 Led Sled Spectacular in Des Moines. I contacted Phil and asked him if he would perhaps be interested in sharing his photos, and his story from the amazing 1982 show, with us here on the Custom Car Chronicle. He would love to do that he wrote back. Great!


CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-19-phil-watersGrilles…
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A couple of days later Phil had scanned over 200 photos he had taken back in 1982,¬†and I could use them all he said. I was in Custom Car heaven.. looking at those photos took me back to the mid 1980’s when I looked at the Mike Key book for hours… and dreamed about being at that show… and taking¬†exactly the photos that Phil had just shared with me. It is so great that after 32 years I finally know that the English guest in the Mike Key book is Phil Waters, and that he took exactly all the photos I always dreamed of taking if I had been there.

Phil Waters, thank you so much for sharing these 1982 photo with us now. They bring back wonderful memories.


CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-20-phil-watersGreat low angle photo of a dark brown primered chopped 1950 Mercury, Donn lowe’s chopped white with burgundy and maroon scalloped 1949 Ford Coupe. Donn’s Shoebox had a huge impact on me.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-21-phil-watersYellow…. Connie Winkler’s 1939 Mercury 3-window coupe with 1940 Ford grille,¬†Jeff Johnson’s heavy chopped¬†school bus yellow ’50 Merc, and two photos of the huge hit Posies 1936 Ford convertible with white padded top.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-22-phil-watersDonnie Malinkovich¬†Ford Shoebox,¬† John Kolkovich built the sectioned Bonneville inspired red chopped and sectioned ’51 Ford and John Gowman owned the black and flamed pro-street box
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-23-phil-watersJim Wilkens finished an old sectioned project vehicle and brought it to Des Moines where it pleases the crowd. The baby blue ’54 Ford “Crystal Blue Persuasion” built by Keith Steies,¬†and bright red 1952-54 Fords show that these cars look good done mild, or wild.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-24-phil-waters“So Fine” 1950 Mercury with Pontiac grille bar and a wonderful Candy Apple Red paint job, an un-chopped nicely restyled primer gray ’50 Merc, chopped with¬†Buick headlights in the works project and Ken Meyer’s chopped 4-door Merc with red and white scallops from Kansas.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-25-phil-watersChopped in progress primered 52-54 Ford coupe project, Class of ’57 chopped Merc with unique front quarter panel extruding lake pipes. Glenn “Moose” Morion’s ’57 Ford convertible cruiser, and nicely styled black 1956 Ford Victoria.
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Deep Candy Red chopped 49 Chevy with black wall tires, which sure made it stand out at the event. Lee Pratt’s primered sedan with Buick side trim, “Wild Child” Chopped gray with maroon scalloped Coupe and a rear view of¬†George Dorr’s maroon ’48 Chevy coupe with Plymouth bumpers.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-27-phil-watersRon Channel brought his chopped with ’50 Mercury rear window ’56 Chevy from Lebanon Illinois. It looked really great with the ’56 Packard taillights. The chopped and unfinished ’57 Chevy¬†shows these years chevy’s can make very nice Customs as well.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-28-phil-watersPat Show built this chopped with ’54 Buick headlights and ’60 Chrysler tailights ’57 Chevy hard top with smaller rear window.¬†The ’59 Chevy looked like it just rolled out of the early 1960’s.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-29-phil-watersDoug Reed’s 1949 Oldsmobile in wonderful medium green with dark green and gold tipped scallops. A nicely chopped mid ’50’s Buick with a yellow chopped 1940 Ford sedan, a line up of customs and¬†Elden Titus’s 1950 Buick.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-30-phil-watersVery nicely done bright red mild restyled Hudson, chopped ’56 Pontiac Safari Station wagon in black with red and yellow flames. Very stylish chopped mid ’50’s Chevy pick-up in pale yellow and two more in progress custom pick up projects.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-31-phil-waters Super slick gloss black 1960 Chevy with yellow to red flames with reversed chrome wheels with narrow whites from Donnie Malinkovich, and later ended up in Japan. A very interesting in progress chopped 1957 Chevy custom project in brown primer. Kurt McCormick with his Sam Barris Buick in the late afternoon, and a flamed black with silver top 1950 Chevy Hard-Top.
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Go to Part ONE


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1982 Road Trip to Des Moines

 

ROAD TRIP to DES MOINES

 

In 1982 Phil Waters makes the trip from Manchester, England, to the US, to visit the Lead Sled Spectacular in Des Moines Iowa.


By Phil Waters

Driving The Rebel to the KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular, 1982.

Ever since I was a young kid I have been mad about cars. Back in the early 1960s when I was around ten years old I came across a copy of ‘Custom Cars Annual 1959’. It was in a pile of old US magazines for sale in a department store in my home city of Manchester, England. The one with Larry Watson’s panel painted ’58 Thunderbird on the cover. The magazine cost me very little money to buy and I still have it! Inside were photographs of the top custom cars of the day and a major feature on one of the guys that built such cars: Joe Bailon. I was very struck by the design and look of his wonderfully restyled cars even though the black & white photographs obviously did not show the ‘Candy Apple’ colours for which Joe is famous.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-A55-phil-watersMy old 1958 Austin A55 chopped sedan I created. 
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Many years later, when I had started to mess around with real cars, I put together a traditionally styled roof chopped custom car based on a 1958 Austin A55 sedan. The influence of that old magazine was still strong! Then I saw a photograph in the British magazine ‘Hot Rod & Custom UK’ that showed an old Bailon built 1950 Mercury that was owned by a guy called Sterling Ashby in Minneapolis/St Paul. I decided to make contact, managed to track down a mailing address, and wrote a letter about my admiration for Bailon built custom cars.

A short time later I was delighted to receive a reply from Kathy Ashby, little did I know at the time that this would be the start of a long lasting transatlantic friendship…


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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-03-phil-watersMike Key took this photo while I was driving¬†Kathy & Sterling’s 1950 Mercury¬†“The Rebel”. The photo ended up in Mike’s famous LEADSLEDS book. Mike¬†gave me this print of the photo.
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Some time after this Hot Rod & Custom UK magazine decided to organise a visit to the Street Rod Nationals to be held in St Paul, July 1982. I must have mentioned in one of my letters to Kathy that I was considering going on this trip. I received a very quick reply inviting me to come and stay at their home, extending my visit so that we could also attend the Lead Sled Spectacular the following weekend. Not only that, but Joe Bailon was scheduled to be the guest of honour at that event!

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-02-phil-watersOn our way to¬†Des Moines, Iowa. ¬†We met up with other members of the Crusin’ Customs at our¬†breakfast stop in Albert Lea.
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And so it was that whilst all the other guys on the magazine trip were taken to their hotel for a week…I was met at the airport by Kathy & Sterling in The Rebel, a 1950 Mercury custom, and taken to their home. I was obviously quite tired and jet-lagged, but we managed to watch ‘American Grafitti’ on the VHS player that evening…a great start to two weeks of hot rod heaven!

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-16-phil-watersLead Sled Spectacular at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-04-phil-watersRick Schnell’s 1950 Mercury ex-coupe “Misty Blue”.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-05-phil-watersCecil Proffit’s silver¬†and scalloped ’51 Merc with continental kit and Truman Nelson’s red 1951 Mercury.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-06-phil-watersMercury Grilles…
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-07-phil-watersGeorge Beluscsak’s bright yellow ’50 Mercury, a nice flame and primer chopped 51 and Jim Grinlimton’s flamed, but un-chopped ’49 Merc.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-14-phil-watersTom Philpot’s ’48 Ford “Artic Gold” cloned after a ClarKaiser custom from the 1950’s and Bob Drake brought his restored Jack Stewart 1941 Ford originally built in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s by the Ayala’s and the Barris Shop.
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Our first weekend was spent at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals, which is a whole other story and photograph album. Suffice to say it was fantastic! During the week that followed I was asked what I might like to do and replied that I would really love to go to a drive in-movie. We didn’t have such things back in England…there would be no point as the movies would have to have weather-appropriate titles such as ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ or ‘Rain Man’! But I digress.

So Kathy, Sterling and myself climbed into The Rebel and went to the local drive-in movie theatre, hung the speakers on the window and enjoyed cherry cokes whilst watching the newly released movie ‘E.T.’…fantastic!

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-08-phil-waters“So Fine” candy red and scallops 50 Mercury, Jeff Johnson’ hammered school bus yellow ’50 Merc showing off the engine and a mean looking perfectly chopped gray primer ’51 Merc.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-09-phil-watersThe old Barris Employee’s Frank Sonzogni’s 1950 Mercury, which was created in the early 1950’s, was brought to the event by Larry Dames.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-10-phil-watersDuane Flaherty’s orange and white with Buick Riviera side trim ’51 Merc, Ed Lepold’s white with DeSoto grille ’49 Mercury used some odd looking wheels.
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We also went to an ’emergency cruise’ one evening with the Crusin’ Customs car club, probably to make arrangements for the convoy of customs to Des Moines. Plus lots of other interesting stuff during my stay which included visits to various folks’ homes to see what they had stashed away in their garages, and an expedition to a junkyard in Fountain City Wisconsin to rummage around the vintage tin and view the yard owner’s collection of classics, muscle cars and even a Model A Ford that lived in his sitting room.

Finally the second weekend arrived and we hit the road at a very early hour, bound for Des Moines, Iowa. Myself and Kathy were in The Rebel and Sterling was in his pickup truck towing the Bailon Merc on a trailer. We met up with other members of the Crusin’ Customs and drove for a couple of hours before a breakfast stop in Albert Lea where the first of my photographs were taken. Mike Key, the British photographer had joined the convoy to cover the event for the UK magazines and at some point on the freeway came past the line of customs to get the driving shots that appear in his ‘Lead Sleds’ book. Kathy had invited me to drive The Rebel for a few freeway miles and so that was how I came to appear in Mike’s book driving the car. She has been constantly quizzed about who the driver was in the photos ever since!

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-15-phil-watersKathy and Sterling Ashby with Joe Bailon talking about the Sonny Morris Mercury Joe built in 1956. This was the first time Joe saw the car in a long time. Sterling found the car in 1973. Joe Bailon would help with the restoration a couple years later.
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We reached Des Moines in the early afternoon and went to the event headquarters hotel to register, although we weren’t staying there. Kathy had arranged for us to stay at a nearby friend’s house for the weekend…I’m not too sure about the name but it may have been Bob Butterley the pinstriper. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

Then onward to the State Fairgrounds to help unload the Bailon Merc and begin to take photographs. I even took my turn on the entry gate welcoming attendees and the like. In the evening we went back to the headquarters hotel to hang out, look at the cars in the sunset and generally have a great time. I was introduced to Pat Ganahl, a writer for whom I have a huge amount of respect having enjoyed his many thoughtful and informative hot rodding articles over the years. Another time we went to George the Chilli King’s drive-in restaurant where they had car-hops on roller skates serving food to your car just like in ‘American Grafitti’…wonderful!

I spent a lot of the time at the show wandering around taking photographs, and some of the best ones were taken when Joe Bailon was reunited with the Merc custom he originally built for Sonny Morris back in the 1950s. My pictures show him chatting with Kathy and Sterling, possibly discussing the eventual restoration of the car. There was so much to see and do, copies of old car magazines to be bought and more Mercs to look at than I’ve seen before or since! Another outstanding car was the Sam Barris Buick, and I managed to get a few shots whilst Mike Key had his professional shoot set up! Sorry Mike!

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-01-phil-watersKurt McCormick brought the Sam Barris 1950 Buick that had been freshly restored about three years prior to this event.
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At the close of the event Joe presented trophies to the winning exhibitors, and everyone present had the chance to get a signed print of his iconic Chevy custom ‘Miss Elegance’. Then the long return journey back thru’ the fading evening light in convoy once again, tired but blissfully happy!

Before my flight back home to England I decided to have all my photographs printed to avoid any possible damage en route, some 25 film cassettes in all and over 500 prints. Kathy kindly took them to a local photo store and promptly almost brought the place to a standstill with all the pictures coming through! I hope you all enjoy looking at a selection of them and maybe those of you that were also at the event will have your own great memories and stories to tell.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-11-phil-watersYELLOW… Ken Fenical’s Posies 40’s styled 1936 Ford, super smooth chopped ’50 Merc, Marv Englert’s chopped ’50 Chevy Coupe, and Donnie Malinkovich interesting looking darker yellow Shoebox with Caddy taillights.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-12-phil-watersMark May’s ’49 Mercury “Earth Angel” with 53 Buick side trim, Gold and maroon ¬†’50 Merc, and Roger Lund’s very nicely restyled ’49 Merc with ’55 Chevy side trim.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-18-phil-watersDave Crook’s Harry Bradley designed Firebird, ¬†George Dorr’s maroon ’48 Chevy coupe, and a wild restyled Chevy with full fade-away fenders, chopped top and canted headlights.
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CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-13-phil-watersBright yellow stripes on heavily chopped red ’50 Merc, Jim Musgrave’s candy red ’51 Mercury, ¬† The “Green Flame” Mercury in wonderful purple with, what else green flames, ¬†Ron Dolson’s unique “Nascar themed” ’50 Merc in red with yellow to orange flames.
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Finally I cannot close this article without paying tribute to Kathy and Sterling Ashby, better known to some as ‘Mr. Merc’, for the kind hospitality freely given, their great sense of humour and fun and the enduring friendship I now have with these wonderful people as a result of all this. Special thanks also to Kathy for letting me drive The Rebel, truly a dream come true…

Go to PART TWO of the 1982 Road Trip to Des Moines.



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1940 Mercury Stardust

 

1940 MERCURY STARDUST

 

In 1986 John DAgostino hired Bill Reasoner to¬†create his dream radical 40’s style custom¬†based on an¬†1940 Mercury. The end¬†result, named Stardust made a huge impact.



In our series Custom Car Icons of the 80’s ad 90’s we feature Custom Cars that have left a mark on the scene in during the rebirth of the Custom Car in the 1980’s and early-mid 1990’s. One of the key figures in promoting the traditional custom style during these years was John D’Agostino. During the 1980’s he created several Custom Car Icon’s that inspired many people around the globe to like and build traditional styled Customs Car.¬†John’s 1951 Mercury “Midnight Sensation” had left a huge impact on the scene, and in 1986 John set out to to fulfill his dream of building a radical ’40’s style Custom.

John started to look for an suitable base for his dream and found a one owner¬†35K miles,¬†original light grey painted 1940 Mercury coupe in Sacramento Ca in October 1986. In December that year he delivered the car to Bill Reasoner’s Classic Auto Body shop in Walnut Creek, California with a list of modifications he wanted to be done on the car. The main inspiration for the car was of course Nick Matranga‘s Barris Kustoms restyled 1940 Merc from the early 1950’s. But John wanted his custom to be a bit more radical, yes still remain that wonderful art-deco feel. After John had acquired the Mercury he started to hunt for the needed parts to create his dream Customs and had delivered everything to Bill’s shop.

CCC-40-merc-stardust-primer-011987 wearing black primer the Merc is almost done… and John D’Agostino could not wait to take it out to cruise.
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The chassis was updated with a Mustang II front end which dropped the front around 8 inches lower than stock. The rear of the frame was modified in the rear to allow the original rear axle to be lowered 9 inches. The rear was modified with air shocks and an air compressor to allow the rear to be lowered and raised¬†for high way cruising.¬†John mentioned… NO air bags at that time !!!¬†The front wheels were replaced with ’47 Cadillac units, which made the use of Caddy Sombrero hubcaps really easy. A set of¬†BFGoodrich wide whites (7.10×15) 4 1/8″ white walls from Coker tires was used front and rear.

Next up was the engine. John had the engine replaced by an 1948 Ford 239 cubic inch flathead engine that was bumped up to 255 cubic inches. The engine was completely balanced and rebuilt, and dressed up with period perfect speed parts. A set of polished Offenhauser heads, and three carb intake was installed along with three chrome plated Stromberg carburators. The engine work was done by Bill and Tom Frazer.

CCC-40-merc-stardust-gnrs-1989Stardust at the GNRS where it won first place in the Kustom class.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-scramento-1989-01John making sure the Mercury looks spotless for the 1988 Sacramento Autorama show.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-scramento-1989-02The car was a huge hit where ever it went and at the Sacramento show it won the SAM BARRIS Memorial Award, Best use of Color and Most Popular car in show.
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To start with the body work Bill Reasoner cut the top 5 inches in the front and around 6 inches in the back. A 1941 Mercury oveal rear window was used and the whole rear portion of the top was remade in fresh sheet metal to get the perfect shape. In the process the top was thinned a little to prevent the top to become to heavy. The side window openings was reshaped to accept hand made side window moldings created from chrome plated 5/8 inch channel, similar styled as the Barris Shop had done in 1950 on the Matranga Merc.

All four fenders were molded to the body with a nice radius. The bottom hinges of the door was cut off and new hidden hinges installed for a smoother look. The stock running boards were removed and new smooth units created and welded and molded to the body and fenders. The lower door corners were rounded. A set of 1940 Buick teardrop shape fender skirts was frenched into the rear fenders using a molded in metal rod. Again for the ultimate smooth look. At the front the cowl vent was welded shut and the hood peak was extended onto the cowl all the way to the windshield. The original chrome plated eye brows on the bottom of the hood were removed and a new lip was added to give the grille a slight frenched look. All the molding and frenched elements had similar radius effects to give the car an uniform look.

CCC-40-merc-stardust-paso-robles-01John took the car to the 1988 Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms show, where it was a huge crowd pleaser.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-ron-brooksPaso Robles photo by Custom Car archivist Ron Brooks.
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At the back the lower corners of the trunk were rounded and a hand made splash pan was installed and molded to the body. A set of 1946 Ford bumpers was smoothed, the bold heads welded to the back and filled in. Then the whole unit was narrowed ad reshaped to fit the 1940 Mercury body perfectly. Sam Foose was asked to create the bumper guard mounted taillights at the rear, similar in style as was used on the Matranga Mercury. The complete body was shaved of all handles and trim except for the belt line trim. The trim on the hood was shortened in the front till the forward point ends front wheel opening center point, just as they did in the 1940’s and early 1950’s. With all the body work done the car was painted with black primer and put back together. All the body work had been done by Bill Reasoner and Bob Munroe.

Next up was the interior. John had something special for that in mind as well. The stock 1940 Mercury dash was smoothed, the ribbed inserts removed and the whole unit was send out to¬†Century Plating in San Leandro, CA to be chrome plated. Mark Marini from San Leandro CA. was asked to make new inserts for the chromed dash in clear red lucite. Just like the Barris Kustoms from the late 1940’s had. Mark also created the off white teardrop dash knobs. The steering wheel was replace with a pearl white painted 1949 Mercury unit. For the upholstery John send the car to¬†Jerry Sahagon’s Custom Interiors in San Leandro. Jerry modified the stock mercury front seat, and he custom made a rear wrap around unit. When it became time for the upholstery John choose an pearl white naugahyde and maroon mohair for the seats, panels and headliner, and a maroon nylon carpet to cover the floor. Jerry designed the unique upholstery pattern giving the interior both an modern and vintage luxurious feel.

CCC-40-merc-stardust-indoor-showStardust was showed in over 20 ISCA shows from 1988-1995 winning top honors and Most Popular in almost ALL shows entered.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-GNRS-show-02Stardust surrounded by rock-salt at an late 80’s Oakland Roadster Show.
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John drove the car like this for a short time and when the 1988 Oakland Roadster show was coming up he send the car back to Bill Reasoner so he could paint it in an amazing custom mixed House of Kolor candy black cherry over a pearl black base. The base color was Nacromer Pearl a left over from the early days. Bill Reasoner did an really amazing job on the paint and the car looked absolutely stunning. The car was finished just in time to debut at the 1988 Oakland Roadster Show where is was a huge crowd pleaser and it won 1st place in the Kustom Class. Highlight for John that show was when Nick Matranga flew in together with Junior Conway from Los Angeles espcially to check out Stardust. Nick absolutely loved the Merc and it brought back a lot of great memories for him. The deep and sparkling paint made John nick-name the car “Stardust”.


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CCC-40-merc-stardust-rc-magazine-feb-89-01Stardust was featured inside and on the cover of the February 1989 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. This photo was taken atRoy’s drive-in in Salinas California.
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After the Oakland Roadster show John took the car to the Sacramento Autorama where it won the prestigious Sam Barris Memorial Award, best use of Color and the Most Popular Car in Show awards. In 1988 John also took the car to the other most important Custom Car event, the Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms show where Stardust won the prestigious Best Kustom award. And besides that the mercury was a HUGE crowd pleaser with people surrounding the car the whole weekend. The Mercury made a huge impact on many people who saw it at these late 1980’s shows. After that John showed the car at over 20¬†ISCA shows from 1988¬†to¬†1995 winning top honors and Most Popular awards in almost all the shows the car was entered.

Stardust was featured in many magazine over the years and inspired a lot of people to build similar styled customs. It showed the younger generation (including the author of this article) in the early 1990’s how traditional styled custom cars were looking back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Remember that in those years not many magazines were out there, no books, and no internet to search for period customs. In fact I saw photos of Stardust even before I had seen any image of the Barris restyled Nick Matranga Mercury. This might be hard to imagine now, but back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s it was very hard to find traditional Custom Cars, especially if you lived outside the USA. So Stardust made a huge impact on me, and many other custom car enthusiast. The was¬†very special for me¬†back when it was new, and it still is¬†today.

CCC-40-merc-stardust-rc-magazine-feb-89-02The 1941 Mercury rear window fits the lines of the chopped coupe better than the original split window.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-rc-magazine-feb-89-03Pat Ganahl wrote the R&C Feb 1989 article on Stardust and also took the photos used in the article.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-with-modelJohn showed Stardust in many ISCA shows. This model photo-shoot was done for the annual ISCA show program.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-custom-car-magStardust was featured in many world wide magazines. The nicest feature might be the one in the rare Custom Car magazine from Nov-Dec 1989 with amazing photos shot with the 1941 Ford “Forty One for the centerfold, and a great scene on the cover.¬†
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-cc-magazine-89-01The cowl vent was welded shut, and the peak on the hood extended on the cowl. The hood was peaked and an lip added at the lower edge where once the chrome eye brows were mounted. The 1946 Ford bumpers were narrowed, smoothed and reshaped for a better fit.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-cc-magazine-89-02The smooth teardrop shaped lined of the car all flow together and the perfect slight speed-boat stance makes it all look as perfect as it can be.
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In 1995 John decided it was time to let go of the car and¬†Woodroe Parker, a car collector from Seattle Washington bought the car. He displayed the car in his personal museum for a few years. In 1997 the Oakland Museum was putting an exhibition together; Hot rods and Customs, the Men and Machines of California’s Car Culture. Stardust was invited to be part of this exhibition to be displayed together with the original¬†Hirohata Mercury, The¬†Buddy Ohanesian¬†1940 Mercury, and Billy Gibbons¬†Cadzilla¬†to represent the Custom Car scene.

CCC-40-merc-stardust-oakland-museum-1996The Mercury at the Oakland Museum of California for the Hot Rods and Customs: The Men and Machines of California’s Car Culture exhibit.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-auction-01Images from the time Stardust was being auctioned around 2007.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-interior-01Jerry Sahagon from¬†San Leandro, California,¬†was responsible for the really unique interior done in pearl white and maroon mohair. This photo taken in the early 2000’s also shows the clear red lucite¬†dash inserts and the 1949 Mercury steering wheel.¬†
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-interior-02Pearl white naugahyde and maroon mohair was also used to upholster the fully detailed trunk.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-engineStardust is powered by an 1948 Ford 255 cubic inch Flathead V8 completely balanced and rebuilt. It featuring polished Offenhauser aluminum heads and 3-carb inlet manifold, beehive oil filter and brass radiator.
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Ted Steven the new owner

After the one year exhibition in the Oakland Museum of California the car was¬†send to the Monterey¬†RM Auction¬†to be sold. The car was bought by¬†Richard “Ted” Stevens¬†of Los Gatos, CA., who took the car to Roy Brizio for a complete redo. Ted had always been in love with the 1940 Mercury and he knew now he was able to buy his dream custom he wanted to drive the car at any moment as well. So the car needed to be updated mechanically, and while at it he decided the 80’s interior needed to go as well. The car was build 20 years ago and had been on the road and in shows most of the time. So it was time for a complete redo. The team at brizio completely redid the Mercury including the Flathead engine, transmission, rear¬†and¬†front end¬†to make it as reliable as a driver as possible. Brizio modified the dash by removing the red lucite inserts and replacing the Mercury steering wheel with a custom made transparent 1946-48 Lincoln steering wheel with Mercury center button.

CCC-40-merc-stardust-brizioStardust during the final stages of the redo at the Brizio shop.
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After Brizio had done all their work the car was send of to¬†Darryl Hollenbeck’s Vintage Color Studio¬†who prepped the body and added an wonderful¬†PPG Brandywine. Sid Chavers was asked to redo the interior in and off white and maroon leather in a more 50’s style. The overall looks of the car was left very much as how it was original designed by John D’Agostino in 1988, just updated to more modern standards and with the focus on creating a driver. The redone Stardust debuted at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama where the car was invited for the Special Mercury Gathering event. Later in¬†2009 the Mercury won the Custom of the year award at the¬†Goodguys All American Get-Together. In 2011 the Mercury was invited to represent the 1980’s Custom Car creations at the¬†Customs then & Now¬†event during the GNRS in Pomona.


CCC-40-merc-stardust-stevens-interior-01The red plexiglass panels were removed from the chrome plated dash and the 1949 Mercury steering wheel was replaced with a custom build translucent red ’46-48 Lincoln steering wheel with custom mercury center. The dummy spotlights were replaced with genuine Appleton Spotlights.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-interior-2009Part of the redo of Stardust was creating an all new interior. This time an off white and maroon leather was used to create an traditional style interior upholstered by Sid Chavers.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-04-WBirds eye view of Stardust at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama Mercury gathering.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-paintIt was extremely difficult to capture the color Darryl Holenbeck used on the latest version of Stardust. I took this photo at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama mercury Gathering and it gives a hint of the wonderful red sparkle of the pearl black paint. Without a direct light the paint looks a very deep organic black.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-gnrs-2011Ted Stevens was invited to bring Stardust to the prestigious Customs Then & Now exhibit during the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona California. I took this photo at set-up day when the car had just arrived in building No. 9.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-rear-fenderLuke Horton captured the wonderful molded rear fenders and smooth running boards in this photo. It also shows how the teardrop skirts are frenched into the rear fenders with a molded in lip around the skirt. The super straight reflections say enough about the team at Brizo and painter Darryl Hollenbeck’s craftsmanship.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-tail-lightsJust like the original Matranga Mercury, Stardust also has the taillights set into the 1946 Ford rear bumper guards. The smoothed bumper, the hand made molded in splash pan and rounded corners on the trunk are unique for Stardust, and were not seen on the Matranga Merc. Sam Foose created the bumper guard taillights.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-wck-2009At the 2009 Goodguys Pleasanton car show.
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CCC-40-merc-stardust-illustration

John’s D’Agostino’a 1940 Mercury Stardust is one of the few Custom Cars created during the rebirth of the traditional Custom Car in the 1980’s, that has left a huge impact on many people. The well executed designs on the Mercury, performed by the team at Bill Reasoners shop, reminded people how beautiful the customs from the 1940’s and early 1950’s were. It influenced many people to create their own ’40’s influenced Custom Car, and till today the 1940 Mercury Stardust is one of John D’Agostino’s personal favorite Custom Cars.

Special thanks to John D’Agostino for helping with this article.

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Midnight Sensation back in CA

 

MIDNIGHT SENSATION Back in CA

 

The Custom Car sensation of the early 1980’s John D’Agostino’s 1951 Mercury Midnight Sensation is back in California. The car will be freshened up and then shared with the public as much as possible.



John D’Agostino’s 1951 Mercury named “Midnight Sensation” was one of the mercury Customs created in the early 1980’s that had a huge impact on the scene. The car was just the perfect combination of early 1950’s styling with then modern influences to make a lot of people get more and more interested in Custom Cars. The perfect styling of the car obviously inspired by the great historic customs like the Hirohata and Bettancourt Mercury’s made the car a big his at the car shows and in the many magazines it was featured.

After being located in Connecticut on the East Coast of the US since the early 1990’s the big Custom Car sensation of the early 1980’s John D’Agostino’s 1951 Mercury “Midnight Sensation” has found its way back to California again. The car’s current caretaker is Rob Fromme, a nephew of John D’Agostino. Rob has loved this car since he was a kid, when his uncle John took him on rides with the Mercury and he saw it at the big shows in California. The previous owner of the Mercury,¬†Frank Mercede from¬†New Canaan, Connecticut, passed away in 2013, and since then the car was being cared for by his family. After reading the Icon’s of the 80’s CCC-Story I did on the Midnight Sensation in 2014, the Mercede family started to look more into the history of the Mercury that Frank had enjoyed so much,¬†to see if the car could be brought back to the original owners. They got in contact with John, and eventually with Rob Fromme finding out about Rob’s biggest wish of owning his childhood dream custom. The Mercede family now knew that Rob would be the perfect new owner for the Mercury.

In October 2015 the car made the trip from Connecticut to California. The Mercury was delivered to¬†Darryl Hollenbeck’s shop, and eagerly waiting for it where Rob Fromme, then new caretaker, and his uncle John D’Agostino, the original owner. Rob shared the photos he took of the car how it was pulled out of the trunk, from the first time they could inspect the car for the first time in decades. After 34 years the Mercury was home again.

 

CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-03After a long haul the 1951 Mercury finally see the Californian sun again..
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-04Almost California ground under its “feet” again…
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-09Yep… back home again.
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-08The car has fortunately changed very little over the years. Only real obvious changes are the pin-striping. Lets hope those will go to get it back to its early 1980’s specs.
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-01Original owner of the Mercury John D’Agostino on the left and the new owner of the car Rob Fromme on the right… Happy guys!
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-07Parked in front of¬†Darryl Hollenbeck’s shop for a better inspection. The light blue 1950 Merc is Dale¬†Hollenbeck’s¬†stunning Mercury.
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-02The car sits a bit high in the rear due to not properly working (dated) air shocks. One of the things that will be fixed in the near future.
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-06After inspection the car was ready for the drive to Rob’s home in¬†Antioch, California.
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-11On the road home…
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Even though the Mercury has been taken very good care of over the last decades, it will need some tender love and care and some updates here and there to get it back in shape. Rob plans to¬†share it around as much as he can. Original plan was to have it at the 2016 GNRS to show it alongside the old Richard Zocchi 1950 Mercury “Cool 50”, which was recently completely restored. But it was decided that the car was not in show quality and should first be freshened up. Hopefully we will see plenty of it in the summer of 2016, and the plan is now to have it at the 2017 GNRS with the “Cool 50” and who knows more of the original 1980’s Custom Car Icon Mercury’s? I you want to read more about the history of this Icon of the 1980’s then check out the full CCC-Article.

Rob wants to thank the Mercede Family for their generosity and kind heartedness for allowing his dream car to come back home.

 

CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-caThe Mercury in Rob’s home garage… feels good.
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-12John D’Agostino with his old ’51 Mercury Midnight Sensation in Rob’s garage.
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-10New registration and plates are in… the car is ready for the road…¬†
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CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-1980s-02Ron Brooks took this photo of the Midnight Sensation in the early 1980’s… stunning.
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1983 Metalflake Inspired

 

1983 METALFLAKE INSPIRED

 

Three wild, Metalflake painted cars from Sweden made a HUGE impact on me when I was a young kid, just discovering Custom Cars.

 
[box_light]My mother recently came¬†across a couple of strips of photo-negatives, when she was cleaning out the attic in the house I grew up in.¬†I recognized them as some photos I took from this car show I went to with my dad in 1982-83. I had the photos of these negatives in an album, but also knew that scans made directly from the negatives make much nicer digital photos. So back home I scanned these negatives¬†I had taken¬†as a kid. And they did come out really nice, much nicer¬†than the, apparently poorly developed, photos I have had in my photo album since the early 1980’s. These new scans brought back so many memories… Hopefully I will be able to find the rest of the negatives as well… one day.[/box_light]
 
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It was the first ever indoor Custom Car show I went to. I remember my dad reading out loud from this¬†ad in the newspaper, or perhaps in one of his regular car magazines. “Rik, perhaps this is something you will enjoy“, he¬†then¬†showed me the ad. I could not believe it, a Custom Car show in the Netherlands. I had seen some photos of US and Scandinavian shows in some of the very few European car magazines I had back in 1982-83. And now a car show like this would be¬†here in the Netherlands… and we might go and visit it!… I was ecstatic…. “Can we go, can we go…. please!” My father realized that there could not be a NO for an answer…. So a few weeks later we went to the show. We even took the train, not quite sure why, but I think my dad liked to go by train if we had to go to the west of the country, he did not care much for heavy traffic there. It was the perfect¬†father-son day out.
 

CCC-leiden-show-1983-flyerFlyer for the show in Leiden, The Netherlands.
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When we got there I could not believe my eyes. The parking lot was filled with special cars… No Hot Rods or Custom cars like we talk about here on the CCC, but for the Netherlands they were special, and for me, a young kid from a very small town, I was just in car heaven. We bought the tickets and went inside. I was overwhelmed, there were Hot Rods and Custom Cars all over the place inside the building. You have to realize that this was the time that I started to learn to appreciate Custom Cars. Back then I thought everything that had some special paint or chrome wheels, was already cool. The Hot Rods and Custom Cars inside where not the same style or quality as that most of us are now used to, even from back in the early 1980’s. But all these special cars in one building was so spectacular. I noticed¬†cars from the UK, Germany, Belgium a few from the Netherlands, and quite a few from Scandinavia. Especially the cars from the¬†UK and Scandinavian cars were very¬†spectacular in my eyes.

I was walking around looking at these amazing cars when I made it to the far end of the building. There I saw three of the most Beautiful and stunning Customs I had ever seen in my life. (again, remember this is 1983, perhaps even 1982, and I was a young kid, and was not aware of the American Custom Car history with builders as Barris, Ayala, Valley Custom Shop, Winfield etc). From a distance I spotted the gull-wing-doors of what looked like a Mercury. I knew about the Mercury since I had been looking for an AMT 1/25 scale Mercury for some time. (Later I found out that the car was not a mercury, but based on a 1951 Lincoln four door.) The interior looked totally out of this world, with swivel seats, a cocktail table in the back and everything was upholstered is bright red button-tuffed velvet. I had never, ever seen anything like this before. And then the paint… wild glitter paint… Somebody mentioned that is was Metalflake paint.. I had no idea. I guess I must have stared at the car for quite some time before I was able to take my photo camera and try-pod and start to take photos of the car. Photo’s back then were pretty expensive, so I did not take to many. And I also remembered that the cars where parked close to each other, and those ugly metal fences were blocking the view.
 
CCC-leiden-show-1983-lincoln-01The 1951 Lincoln was based on a four-door-model, the drivers side rear door is welded shut, but the one on the passenger side is still functional, making it a three-door model. The top is chopped and I think the body is sectioned as well. The headlights where remodeled to look more Mercury units.
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CCC-leiden-show-1983-lincoln-03The interior of the Lincoln was something I just could not believe could ever be done in a car. Little did I know that this was a style very popular in the Low-Rider scene in the US. Apparently the builder of the car, Sven Hansson from Sweden, was much better informed about the history and styles back in 1983, than I was. Sweden was always a much more car oriented country than the Netherlands had been.
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CCC-leiden-show-1983-lincoln-02The wild paint turned out to be a Metalflake silver base, the graphics on the side and pin-striping around the headlights and else were, were taped off, and partly covered with candy blue, and fogged in with black. The whole car was covered in many coats of candy red. Back in 1983 it was the most beautiful paint job I had ever seen, and it took me a long time to figure out how it was created. I tried to recreate it on my model cars, but never succeeded.
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I absorbed every detail on this car before going over to the one parked next to it.¬†It was an 1962′ Chevy convertible with a long white weird shaped top, totally different than the soft tops I had seen in the magazines. I had never heard of the word Carson Top back then… But I did like the shape of¬†the top on this car. But what¬†had¬†the most impact on me was the huge boat tail section that was added to the back of the car. My head was spinning and I wanted to build model cars of both of these. And again I noticed the glitter paint… metalflake. It dawned on me that I had seen paint like this before. On the local carnival rides… I had never even thought this would look good on a car. This Chevy had glitter details, as in scallops in white and flames in dark red.

The Chevy was so long it barely fitted the space that was reserved for it in the building. And it was totally impossible to get the whole car in one picture without getting the fence in the picture as well. Another thing I noticed, and which I really liked was the chrome side pipes coming out of the front quarter behind the front wheels. I had no idea it as called a lake pipe… but I knew I liked it. The Chevy was low… and these pipes make it look even lower. Another thing that got my eye was that the steering wheel was made from the same chain material as the grille… This Chevy also had the complete interior done in red velvet.
 
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Chevy-02The Chevy was tall with is boat-shaped rear end. The license plate had to be v-shape bend to fit inside the recess. The mail slot shaped taillights must have looked totally evil when lit at night. The electrical power supply box and Camel tape wrapped fences blocked the car no matter what I tried.
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CCC-leiden-show-1983-Chevy-01I think the Chevy they started with was a sedan model, and they cut off the top and build this padded top for it with a little overhang at the front. This¬†gave the car even more optical length. The chromed chain grille was odd… I even thought so back then, but it was custom, so it must be good. Notice the poor looking¬†display. The cars in the back ground, vans with special paint, VW’s with wide fenders etc show what most of the cars at this Custom Car show looked like, and show how Special these three Metal Flake Customs were.
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CCC-leiden-show-1983-Chevy-03I could not believe how low this car was, especially with the side pipes. Most likely it was hydraulic, but I did not learn about that till long after the show. 
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The car on the other end of the gull-wing Lincoln was a Volvo Amazon. One that had been turned into a two seater coupe with Targa Style top. Again my head was spinning. I saw those Volvo’s driving around where I lived. So I could see that one day in the future I could have something like this… Something Exactly like this one. The car was absolutely perfect in my eyes… back then!!! I found out that the car was owned by a young kid… just a few years older than I was I guess he just had his drivers license.¬†From time to time he would open the one piece front hinged front end of the car to show the wild V-8 engine they had installed. Sadly I never took a picture of that. This was was, just as the other two, painted with wild glitter paint… Metalflake. The builders must have got a huge discount on the paint. Details were done in white and light blue. And the interior on this one was also done in red velvet.
 

Per Webb from Sweden explains about the Volvo Amazon: The reason for a very young Martina in the metalflake Volvo Amazon is that the customized Amazon is not a car, but an EPA Tractor! The Swedish invention with a car with two seats, and a technical maximum speed of 30 km/h. The twin tailpipes behind the cab reveal it as well. The EPA tractors can be driven from 15 years of age. These cars made into tractors was a II World War thing but in the 1960-70’s young guys found out that they could be used for streets instead of field use. Most common back then was Volvo Duett made into tractors and there are still some around. Today Volvo 745 is the most common one to modify, and in the countryside (not Stockholm area…) they are quite popular. More than a few hot rodders / custom builders in Sweden has begun with buildning EPA tractors. Photo google EPA traktor and you will find a lot off odd rides and some nice ones!

 
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-01The widened fenders, the molded in bumpers, and even the targa-style top was looking so spectacular back in 1983. 
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CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-03The chopped top and widened front gave the car a much more aggressive and sporty look than any of the Volvo Amazon’s I had ever seen before.
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CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-02Before I found out I really liked Special Cars/Custom Cars I was into big trucks, so the back of this Volvo coupe fitted in perfectly. Back then I really loved those pipes thru the rear fenders, those small taillights and the small etched rear window… Notice the hitch below the molded in rear bumper.
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CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-04The molded into one piece front looked really great to me. And for some time I thought that every good looking custom needed to have the bumpers molded in and painted body color… Fortunately my taste in customizing¬†changed quite a bit in the following years.
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CCC-martina-hansson-Volvo-01Recently I came across this photo on-line which shows a young kid inside the Volvo. It appears that the Volvo belonged to Ingemar Hansson or perhaps his siter Martina Hansson. both kids of the builder from the 1951 Lincoln. A car just like daddy…. The owner of the Volve looked very young when I saw the car in Leiden, just a bit older than I was looking back then, and this sure helped imaging me driving in a car like this… back in 1983.
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These three Swedish Custom Cars I saw at this early 1980’s show have had a huge impact on me ever since. And even though my taste in Custom Car has now completely changed. These cars still have a very special place in my heart. I have build many model cars inspired by these cars, and have spend many hours daydreaming about owning a car just like any of these three…

I know that the Chevy is still around in Sweden, redesigned with a different top and new rear end for the body. The 1951 Lincoln with gull-wing doors now lives in the US. I think the builder moved there in the 1990’s and took the car with him. The car has changed hands several times and now has an leather look interior… but the last photos I saw of it it still looked pretty much the same. I have no idea what happened to the Volvo Amazon.
 
 
 
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Posies 1936 Ford

POSIES 1936 FORD

This classic looking outside¬†and¬†all modern street rod underneath 1936 Ford built by Posies,¬†was trend setting crowd pleaser in the early 1980’s.

 
[dropcap]K[/dropcap]en Fenical, owner of the Posies Hot Rod Shop in Pennsylvania already had quite a reputation for building fine Street Rod and Hot Rods in the early 1980’s. But he put his business really on the map in the 1981, when he built a traditional styled 1936 Ford convertible for his personal use. The early 1980’s was the time of the revival of the Custom Cars, inspired several major Custom Car enthusiasts as John D’Agostino, Richard Zocchi, Rod Powell, Pat Ganahl and many more the interst in 1940’s and especially 1950’s styled Custom Cars grew from nearly zero interest into a new rapidly growing movement. Several Custom Cars helped grow of State wide interst in the period styled Custom Cars, one of these was this Posies 1936 Ford Convertible. It was styled as if it could have been driver right out of the early 1950’s, but a modern Street Rod drivetrain made sure the car could be driven anywhere. The color choice of bright yellow with a white padded top made the impact this car had even bigger.

CCC-posies-36-ford-12On the left is the December 192 issue of Chrome & Flames magazine (title is in Dutch), the first time I saw Posies 1936 Ford. Later I found a copy of the  October 1982 issue of Classic & Custom magazine with the car on the cover, and much more info in the four page feature inside.
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The first time I saw his car when it was featured in the Dutch/Belgium magazine called Chrome & Flames. An rather obscure magazine, but sometime they had some nice cars, besides that it was my only link with the American Car scene in the early 1980’s The car had an amazing 6 page full color article in this magazine, and I was in total awe. I just could not believe how beautiful this car was back then. (I had no access to old magazines and books in the early 1980’s) By my own personal standards today I think that the car is too low, and especially the slight forward rake, and none accurate looking padded top and other details, does not give the car the right feeling of a late 1940’s custom Car, but back in early 1980, I thought this was the most beautiful car ever.

CCC-posies-36-ford-02Mike key used this photo of the 1936 Ford in his book LEAD SLEDS from 1984. I really like this photo now, since it does not show the slight forward angle.
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Ken built this car for himself over a period of nearly four month. And his goal was to built a car that he could use to go to Street Rod shows as well as Custom Car shows. He decided to go with a full modern Street Rod drive train and frame, but all the looks and feel on the outside would be late 1940’s early 1950’s, Westergard style.

The Frame work was done first. Ken wanted this car to sit very low, but he still wanted to be able to drive it. To be able to do this he knew he had to modify the frame a lot. But rather than reshape the original frame he decided to use more modern components for the front and rear section of the frame. The ride height for the car was figured out, and a jig was built for the frame. The stock 1936 Ford frame was cleaned up and strengthened. The front end of the frame was cut of and replaced with a 1969 Chevy Nova subframe. The rear end was replaced with the frame section of a 1965 Mustang. Both suspensions were of course updates with Posies excellent Street Rod parts making sure the car would drive the best.The stock flathead engine was replaced with a reliable 1980 Corvette L-81 engine. The engine was cleaned up, and later dressed up with all kinds of chromed goodies.

CCC-posies-36-ford-07Original interior shows the molded and smoothed dash, the real Appleton spotlights with handles, Crestline steering wheel on tilt column, AC outlets and radio underneath the dash. The white leather upholstery looks very classic.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-06Another Mike Key photo from the LEAD SLED book shows the low mounted spare tire cover, and the  narrowed DeSoto bumpers. It also shows the slight forward rake.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-05Des Moines 1983.
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Then it was time for the body customizing. Ken had done his research, looking in his old Custom Car magazines and knew he wanted to go for an¬†early Harry Westergard inspired look. He had found a 1937 LaSalle grille and a set of 1937 Ribbed bumpers. All parts Harry Westergard loved to use on his typical customized 1940’s customs. The windshield frame was chopped 3,5 inches and a frame for the non folding top was created. Ken created the bows from metal rods and wood to created a more modern interpretation of a Carson style top. Next up was the installment of the LaSalle grille. Ken reshaped the top portion of the grille and hand formed the body shaped to which the grille fits onto. The stock hood sides were replaced with home made smooth units, and the two piece hood was welded to a one piece unit and hinged at the back “alligator” style. Headlights were molded low into the fenders, and two 1934 Ford parking lights are molded to the fender to make up the parking lights.

At the back the trunk was smoothed and the 1937 DeSoto bumper narrowed 8 inches to fit the lines of the car better. The gap from the bumper to the body was filled in with a hand made splash pan. To fit with the style of the rest of the car the splash pan was not molded to the body. the rear fenders were dressed up with a set of original 1940 Ford fender skirts which were slightly reshaped to fit the 1936 Ford fenders. A metal spare tire cover was mounted low below the trunk and sunken into the splash pan. A 1949 Chevy license plate cover was modified to fit the ribbed DeSoto bumper. To stay with the 1940’s theme the door handles were not shaved, and the rear fenders were not molded to the body.

CCC-posies-36-ford-03Barry Mazza took this picture of the car after a rain storm. Ken drove the car everywhere,not afraid of it getting dirty.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-11This photo shows the wonderful classic lines of the car. 
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Once all the body work was finished the car was painted with a bright Sunfire yellow lacquer. A mid 70’s Cadillac Power bench was narrowed to fit the small 1936 Ford body and a late 60s’ mustang rear seat was fitted to the rear portion of the car. Originally these convertibles only had a front seat. But Ken had two young kids and he wanted to bring them to the shows as well. The original dash was welded to the inside of the car for a smooth look and once the whole dash was smoothed he added a set of Stewart Warner gauges. Below the dash Ken installed modern AC and radio. The dash was also painted Sunfire yellow. The upholstery was done by Mike Haverstock Upholstery out of Chambersburg, PA. He used white leather to upholster the modern seats in an vintage looking tuck & roll. Mike also upholstered the padded top with white cloth material. He used an jaguar convertible rear window.

Finishing touched are a set of real Appleton spotlights, wide white wall tires and modified 1951 Chrysler hubcaps. Ken restored an rare 1949 Ford Crestliner steering wheel and painted it body color and mounted it on the modern tilt column.

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CCC-posies-36-ford-10Taillight pods are stock 1936 Ford, but smoothed for a cleaner look.
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Remake one

Ken showed the car a lot in the early 1980’s. He took it to the legendary second annual Lead Sled Spectacular in Des moines, Iowa where the car was a HUGE hit. After that the car was seen locally but not as much as in the early 1980’s. Then the car sort of disappeared of the radar, but in 2009 it suddenly appeared in California. The new owner, from Florida had taken the¬†on a long cross country drive to show it at several shows. The car looked amazing in its natural habitat, but the new dark blue cloth upholstered top and interior had given the car a completely new look. It sure was great to see new photos of this Custom Car icon from the early 1980’s in such a good shape.

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CCC-posies-36-ford-25Dave lindsay took some nice photos of the Posies 1936 Ford now named “Smooth”. This photo shows the modified 1949 Chevy plate surround and the great looking 1951 Chrysler hubcaps sitting on that body colored metal spare tire cover. The Smooth hubcaps centers were hand made and replace the Posies units original on the hubcaps.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-21A good look at the molded in dash and window garnish molding. The Crestliner steering wheel in body color  looks really great. Notice the blue cloth upholstery.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-13The dark blue upholstery on the padded top changed the look of this car a lot. New are also aditional graphics to the simple pinstriping along the belt line and on the trunk. Also not an improvement in my eyes.
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Another re-make

A few years ago, a new owner decided to redo the car completely, refresh the over 30 year old build. He decided to not change anything on the car, why would he, the car was perfect the way it looked. But he decided to go for a new color, burgundy, which once again changed the looks of the car completely. The dark blue upholstered top was redone in black and the interior was re-upholstered in black and off white. The molded-in 1936 Ford dash was cut out and replaced with a 1940 Ford unit which was painted body color with an off white lower section. The new owner also removed the AC and tilt column and replaced it with a Line Works steering column. At a later date, possebly after the car changed hands once more the interior was redone again. A dark red material was used to match the color of the body. The new interior with its diagonal pleats has a more street rod feeling than the previous interiors. The last photos I have seen of the car (not included in this article) show that the current owner has put chrome reverse wheels on the car.

CCC-posies-36-ford-17The interior was redone for this dark red version in black and white.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-20The new paint and top color give the car an more street rod feel to me.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-19The red wheels are painted black, and the custom made center emblems have been removed from the hubcaps.
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CCC-posies-36-ford-18The 1940 Ford dash is new to this version. And so is the all dark red interior with diagonal pleats on the doors.
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Info and resources

  • Chrome & Flames,¬†magazine December 1982
  • Classic & Custom,¬†magazine October 1982
  • LEAD SLEDS,¬†book by Mike Key 1984 isbn 0-85045-547-2

 
Personally I prefer the first yellow with white top and interior version of this car. Just the way Posies Ken designed the car.

 
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