A short drive in the Hirohata Mercury

 

A SPIN IN A CUSTOM CAR ICON

 

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



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This article was original created in 2013, but with the passing of Jim McMiel on May 7, 2018 I thought it would be nice to put this article on Jim and driving the Hirohata Mercury back on top. RIP Jim McNiel.
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In 2010 the plan was developed to gather the very best historical custom cars, that were still around in the US, to be part of a special exhibition at the 2011 GNRS. I was invited to be one of the four organizers of this Customs Then & Now exhibition. The whole experience was mind boggling, something I will never, ever forget in my life. The “road” towards the event was special. In my mind’s eye, I could visualize the building getting filled with all the cars and people we invited from all over the US. When it was time to fly to California, a couple of days before the show, I had a hard time getting any sleep at night. Once arrived in Pomona, I saw the first historical custom cars that had already arrived. Cars like the Barris-built Dick Fowler 1938 Ford coupe, and several others, with more customs arriving every hour. I was in heaven.

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

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

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-01-WThe extended front fenders and hood lip create a perfect balance for the long chopped roof line.
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The Hirohata Mercury is the Custom Car that comes to mind when somebody says the word Custom Car. At least it is to me, and I know this is the same for a lot of people. the Hirohate Merc is THE historic Custom Car icon. And the car was sitting there in front of me with nobody else around it. If I close my eyes I could hear Sam Barris and his team hammering away on the body. I could almost feel the excitement in the Barris Shop, when the car was finally assembled, and the team saw what they had created. I could almost see the huge smile on Bob Hirohata’s face, when he took it for the first spin around the block. I was in Custom Car Heaven before the show had started, and I did not even realize that – for me – the best thing that very day, still had to come.


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-14-WThe rear 3/4 view shows show all the lines from the Buick Side trim, the chopped top, the curved side windows, custom made scoop and reshaped character line flow together .
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-03-WThe custom made parking lights add extra width to the front of the car. The hand made lip on the front wheel opening matches the one of the flush fitted fender skirt at the rear.
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Jim had made an appointment with a photographer from Sweden for a photo-shoot. Together they decided the best location for the shoot would be on the other side of area where we were standing. Then Jim asked me if I wanted to take a seat in the car, when he drove to the location


Eh
 Yes please!

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

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

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-05-WNotice the relaxed position Jim has in the car. This photo also shows the slightly cracked -unrestored- Monterey Steering wheel. Jim added the bullet steering wheel center when he was unable to find the original accessory badge.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-06-WEven Jim has a great smile on his face, and he can jump in the car and take it for a spin whenever he can.
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On the short trip on the parking lot, people turned their head when they heard the soft rumble from the Cadillac engine, realizing something special was driving by. And then the large eyes, and instant smile on the faces when they realized what they saw. An experience I will never forget, and the smile it caused on my face never disappeared throughout the duration of the show.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-13-WHere we can see the V-butted windshield, Sue’s hand-made mirror warmer, and the unrestored dash with the Von Dutch pin-striping.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-08-WBob Hirohata also created the laminated knobs for the Appleton Spotlights.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-07-WClose up of the intricate Von Dutch pin-striping “this is the City”. Notice the cracked off-white paint on the glove-box lid and dash. This is the original paint that was added in 1952.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-12-WOriginal Carson Top Shop created headliner, and detail work round the curved side windows.
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When Jim parked his car, and we got out, I noticed one other detail I had never seen before on the car. I had never really seen the custom made dark green lucite piece, that Bob Hirohata made for the door garnish moldings. I noticed it, because the sun light made it look really fantastic when I opened the door to get out.
We drove the car for only a small distance, perhaps a little more than half a mile, but this was a trip inside the Hirohata Mercury
 an unforgettable experience!

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

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-02-WMy own personal favorite angle of the Hirohata Mercury. This photo also shows the sectioned bumper guards at the front only covering the bottom part of the grill.
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I know the short drive was “only” at the parking lot of the GNRS, but to me it was more like a drive in early 1950’s Los Angles…. Very similar to these Photoshopped images I created shown below.










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Neferteri Part Seven

 

NEFERTERI part Seven

 

Inspiration.
Where does it come from?
For our Forrest Gump, the pages of National Geographic became the siren song of Neferteri, his Queen of the byroads.



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

By Larry Pointer with Rik Hoving


Neferteri, Part Seven

So there we were, grownups acting like kids acting like grownups. Sitting on a sheet of metal over a bare car frame, steering a broomstick with a paper plate for a steering wheel. And yes, I went “Vroom, vroom, vroom.” Adolescents Anonymous.

Larry, testing sitting position, with mocked up Diamond T cowl, hood and original grille shell.
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But I had big dreams for my disassembled Diamond T truck assembled by Charles A. Tilt’s Chicago assembly line. And I had my drawing to tease me along, like a carrot in front of a donkey.
Most kids had a passion for Dinosaurs. There was T-Rex (can’t spell the full name), and later Jurassic Park. I liked the Sphinx, the Camel on the cigarette pack, and exotic Egypt.

Diamond T factory worker de-burring openings in a Deluxe dash panel, and Larry’s design of Neferteri, custom Diamond T truck.
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National Geographic picture showing the Sphinx and Pyramids of Gisa in background. The things I liked as a kid, and still do today.
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When citizens were urged to contribute to the War Effort through World War II, one way to participate was through the paper drives. In my hometown of Sheridan, Wyoming, folks would take their gathered up papers down to the platform at the CB&Q railroad depot. When my mother discovered an entire collection of National Geographic magazines stacked there, she couldn’t stand it. She cut a deal to trade paper, pound for pound, for those precious pages. And she did it.

Photo of the Sheridan railroad depot, c early 30s, where Larry’s mother traded paper, pound-for-pound, for a set of National Geographic magazines donated for the War effort.
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Growing up BTV (before television), National Geographic was my entertainment. It could take me to faraway places, and back in time. I could be with Hiram Bingham, when he discovered Machu Picchu high in the Andes, or Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, in the Valley of the Kings as they opened Tut’s tomb (can’t spell his name either, but that’s OK, the Egyptians left vowels to our imaginations).

National Geographic photo by Hiram Bingham, in discovery of Incan city of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes on the left. Newspaper release, showing Lord Carnarvon (right) and Howard Carter at the opening to King Tut’s tomb, 1922 on the right.
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The discovery of the treasures sealed for Centuries in that tomb re-kindled a World-wide passion and curiosity about all things ancient Egyptian. The timing of the grand opening of Tut’s tomb came at a pivotal point in all things Art. The curves and floral designs of Art Nouveau were being replaced in the Twenties by an Art Deco movement toward stylized simplicity. Geometric angles, stylized forms, mysterious symbols, and the saturated earthy colors found on stunning wall frescoes for King Tut’s enjoyment in the Afterlife sparked a wildfire of design passion. Egyptian Revival. We see it today in the Washington Monument obelisk, in architecture and furnishings, in the simplified line and form in graphics
 and in classic automobile design.

The burial mask of King Tut found with the mummy of the King in the sarcophagus. Fresco discovered on the walls of Kin Tut’s tomb in 1922, by Howard Carter. Early hand-tinted postcard of the Washington Monument obelisk.
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Exterior of the Egyptian Theater, DeKalb, IL. Interior of the Peery Egyptian Revival Theater, Boise, ID.
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Example of Egyptian Revival styling used for posters and of the juke box.
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Pure Egyptian Revival automotive art is best found in the sculpted hood ornaments of the era. And no one has captured these artform expressions better than car photographer Jill Reger through the magic eye of her camera lense.



Jill Reger photos.
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It was the Jazz Age, man, and it was SWELL! Ragtime night time wild times. Everywhere! Downtown, outa town. Dance halls and ballrooms; cabarets and discotheques. Back road joints and side-street Speakeasies. Bootleg hooch, bathtub gin. Uptown Brandy Alexander, Whiskey Sour, Sloe Gin Fizz.
And the music was hot, man. Insane syncopated sets driven to the drummer’s bump. Sizzle snares; double bass thump. Bringing it. Exotic rhythms. Call and recall, to the piano man, banjo man, the brass sax. Sick riffs from the licorice stick.

Beautiful painting of a Flapper girl of the Roaring 20s, all decked out, ready for the ball. Hilarious LIFE magazine cover, dancing to the Charleston in your Gatsby spats! Vanity Fair cover with couples dancing in the ballroom. Boop boop de doo!
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Swingin’ out. Bringin’ it. Tango. Shimmy. Charleston. One step, Two step, Quickstep. Turkey Trot, Foxtrot, Lindy Hop. Stompin’ at the Savoy. In the mood, man. Oh, Bodie, Doh, Doh!
Back in the day, my dad was a banjo man, and drummer. Even stepped up to the mike for the crooner tunes. The band leader was his buddy, Glade Kilpatrick. They called themselves the Rhythm Venders. But then, thinking about it, they never quit their day jobs.

Photo left: Kilpatrick and Rhythm Venders.  Larry’s dad, Les, is the tall guy,on the right. Photo right: Kilpatrick and his Rhythm Venders.  Glade Kilpatrick, Roy Kopisch, Les Pointer, Inez Depue.
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Under the glitter ball, the Gatsby in spats could shimmy and shake his naughtily nice Cleopatra Queen. Dressed to the nines, the Flapper girl. Sally shoes, short swish skirts, spit curls. Glamorized, accessorized in Egyptian Revivial STYLE. The bees’ knees, man. My mother wasn’t a bad looking Flapper herself.

Larry’s mother, Freda Headley Pointer, 1931 high school graduation photo.
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But none epitomized the Queen of the Nile better than the sensuous seductive sirens that flowed from the pen of Erte, the tinsel town stylist of the Hollywood Star. Garbo, Lombard, Loy, Horne, Harlow, Lamarr, Lamour, Dietrick, Keeler, Dagmar, Montez, Mae “Come up and see me sometime, big boy” West! Yes sir, that’s my Baby!

(Left) Egyptian Revival costume design art by Erte. (top right) This Erte drawing in the Egyptian Revival style is titled “The Improvised Cage”.  Oh Bodie oh, doh, doh! (bottom right) Another Erte costume design in the Egyptian Revival style.
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Did I say it was all about the girls? Man, Oh man.

Sitting in my euphoric state, staring at the classic dash panel of my 1936 Diamond T, I had an epiphany. Valley Custom could have its Polynesian; the Barris brothers, their Grecian, Golden Sahara and Aztec; the Alexanders, their Victorian and Adonis; Bill Cushenberty, his Marquis and El Matador. I would have my own Egyptian Revival in this Diamond T: Neferteri!

Wall fresco from the tomb of Neferteri, queen of Ramses II. (Right) Bust of King Tut’s harsh step-mom, Akhenaten’s wife Nefertiti.  NOT my beautiful Neferteri.
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Neferteri, Queen of the Nile. No, not Nefertiti. She was King Tut’s harsh step-mom. A beauty in her own right, but not my Queen of the Nile. Neferteri (Egyptian consonants, my vowel choice) was wife of Ramses II, and chronicled as one of antiquity’s most beautiful women.

As I stared at my Diamond T dashboard, my eye was drawn to paired cartouches flanking the handsome gauge cluster. They were fascinating streamline shapes, and they caught me up in visions of Egyptian images of deities and dignitaries. I could imagine wood carvings of Neferteri, facing each other across the panel, just as in ancient Egyptian depictions.

Dashboard cameo cartouche Larry carved of Queen Neferteri.
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Wood, exotic wood. What wood that came with my Diamond T was far too gone for salvage. Rich grained mahogany was the choice for wooden boats of that Art Deco era. But mahogany is not readily available in Montana. There are, however, a variety of wood types to select from, thick planks imported from faraway places. Kansas is pretty far from Montana, so I picked out some appealing walnut boards. Pretty easy to carve, with deep, rich tones and interesting grain patterns. I spent some time carving my pair of Neferteri images for the dash panel: mirror image cameo side views, with hair flowing back along the wood grain.

Now I had a theme going. I next focused on the flat firewall. If I didn’t add a huge carbuncle of a brake booster, that firewall could remain flat: a perfect “canvas” for an Egyptian Revival graphic. I could even incorporate lettering to proclaim her name. Neferteri. With left-over 10 gauge, I covered the existing Swiss cheese facing the engine bay with a perfectly smooth, flat surface.



Raw cowl/firewall of the 1936 Diamond T, below that the bare firewall with flat steel plate added, and on the right the firewall in primer, ready for graphic.
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Inspiration. Those “Aha” moments in Life always announce themselves in the most unlikely and unexpected ways. I was thumbing through the slick pages of the Arts & Crafts magazines at the big box book store, and there it was! An antique art tile with a lotus flower design in the Egyptian Revival style. The art tile was even given the name “Egyptian Revival”. I could adapt that stylized design to create my firewall graphic.

This is the art tile, entitled Egyptian Revival, Larry found illustrated in a magazine.  It was created, c.1924 at the Boisenburger Plattenfabrik factory near Hamburg, East Germany.
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I later learned that particular tile carried an impressive pedigree, and was dated to the very first flush of objects influenced by the 1924 discovery of King Tut’s tomb. It was designed and fired in the Boisenburger Plattenfabrik kilns, on the Elbe River, just east of Hamburg, Germany. Again, the “small World” aspect of our custom car culture comes around: Rik Hoving and his family recently spent their vacation time nearby in the city of Hamburg.

I went to the art supply store and purchased a transparent grid paper. The firewall form set the scale, and the grid helped me hold to the balance and symmetry of the graphic. It also was my guide in laying out the lettering for NEFERTERI in the Art Deco font I chose to copy. After sanding and priming the metal, I painted the firewall with a rattle can of cast gray. Next, I taped the grid paper in place, with carbon paper beneath, and traced my design onto the firewall. Voila!

Larry’s graphic drawing, “NEFERTERI” for the Diamond T firewall and below that the painted graphic on the firewall.
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But that was the easy part. For each of my six design colors, I had to mask off the rest of the area, spray the paint, peel tape away from edges before the paint set up, wait till it dried, then do it all over again for the next graphic color. Mask, spray, peel, wait. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I love how it turned out, so much so that it was a few years before I got up the nerve to add the Diamond T hood panels, and hide that NEFERTERI Egyptian Revival graphic!

Larry’s research binders.
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Every Queen needs her bling. Yeah, but
 Now I was entering dangerous uncharted waters. I had amassed two over-stuffed binders with articles of every sort. Kind of like Bubba Blue’s myriad shrimps in the Forrest Gump movie. I had stories that told all about, what you need to do, how to do what you needed to do, what parts you had to have


In this Life there are those few who are blest with unique supernatural powers. Dotti’s cousin Clint Wildman is one such a man, who speaks in tongues known only to parts men. Another is Darryn Waldo, a dirt track racer whose gift is channeling into the deep mysteries of the Aftermarket, The things that you’re liable to read in the slick page bibles ain’t necessarily so. These were the billet times that tried men’s souls, and I definitely needed an Aftermarket guide. Replacement of worn out parts is Clint’s specialty. Finding the odd specialty item is Darryn’s forte.

Dashboards, cartouches, Classic gauges, mock-up.
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First came the period style gauges. But they were a skosh smaller than the Deluxe panel had provided for in 1936. I built a template, then found a water jet service that cut holes to fit the gauges. I then inserted this adapter plate behind the chromed Diamond T façade.

Then there was that pristine firewall, now with the Egyptian Revival graphic. As well as a 10 gauge floorboard, now complete with a precision folded toeboard, courtesy Rick Sannon’s behemoth hydraulic brake with 16-foot jaws. The solution came in the form of an aftermarket 90 degree, under the dash swing pedal and brake master with booster. It worked. Eventually. But as Buzz Franke often had to counsel me, “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”

The 10 gauge toeboard bent on a huge brake by Rick Sannon. The aftermarket horizontal brake pedal/booster assembly, and on the right the bracing inside the cowl to support dash and brake assembly.
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Did I mention this project was going to consume 13 years?

Aftermarket steering followed. The billet banjo wheel had a half wrap in pitiful plastic masquerading as wood. Arrrgh!
At this point in my wanders in the wilderness, Jim Erickson appeared. I had seen a wooden Model T steering wheel he had made from scratch. It was a dove-jointed marvel. I told Jim of my walnut wants. “No problem,” he smiled. “We can do that.” And he did.

Jim Erickson with jig, clamps, to form the walnut steering wheel wrap. (Right) Dove-tail joints securing six pieces of walnut for steering wheel blank.
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In Jim Erickson is found the true “Jack of all trades.” His own Master, he’d smile and say, was but a humble Jewish Carpenter. A finer disciple, though, you’ll never find. Jim had cabinetmaker skills, among myriad others, and he kindly let me watch and photograph the process of creating a walnut half wrap for my steering wheel. Six rough pieces of my walnut plank material were cut to length. The diameter of the circle was his guide. The pieces then were dove-tailed together in a rough hexagon.

Jim Erickson cutting out the steering wheel wrap with his router jig.
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To work this bulky hexagon into a smooth circle, Jim created a perfect circle “lazy susan” jig to guide his work through a router, as it cut away excess. Slowly, the hexagon did become a circle. The half round surface came, and the flat side fit perfectly to the billet wheel. That walnut half wrap is one my most treasured elements. I marvel at Jim Erickson’s work every time I slide in and feel the smooth walnut to the touch of my hands.

The walnut half-wrap, pictured with a Neferteri cartouche.
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Mock-up, dash, steering.  All but the lower walnut dash trim.
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Close-up, Neferteri dashboard gauge cluster, with lower walnut dash trim added.
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I always had admired the sumptuous woodwork found in classic cars of the Roaring Twenties. I wanted Neferteri to give a nod to those coach-built elements, too. Jim also cut and shaped a curved walnut trim piece to finish the bottom edge of the Diamond T dashboard. Later, I would continue the theme, with walnut on doors below the stainless garnish moldings, and continuing on around the inside back of the cab and the same level.
But that’s getting ahead of the story.
Next comes the story of the Auburn grille and the extended cab that Diamond T never had.














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Anthony White Collection

 

ANTHONY WHITE COLLECTION

 

Anthony White, Pin-striper extraordinary, historic Custom Merc owner, collector of vintage photos and walking Custom Car encyclopedia, an introduction.



I have been in contact with Anthony White for many years… well on the computer that is. We “met” for the first time on the HAMB where he was one of the die-hard custom car guys. One of the guys that always shared his knowledge in word and pictures. I soon found out that Anthony was an authority when it came to historic Custom Cars, both from the 1950’s and especially from the revival of the 1980’s and 90’s. His knowledge of especially the east coast cars from this last period is astonishing. If somebody asked a question about a specific red Merc that he had seen at an 1986 show, then Anthony would reply with the name of the owner, the builder, the body modifications… and a little later if at all possible a photo to proof it as well. Anthony loved everything Custom Car, and absorbed as much as he could, and best of all he shared everything he knew and had, with everybody who wanted to know about it.

Over the years we have stayed in contact, and for the last couple of years mostly on Facebook, when he shares photos from his huge collection, pictures of his latest incredible fine, straight and detailed pin-striping jobs, and all kinds of Custom Car trivia. A new facebook post from Anthony is always a pleasure.
Now its time to pay some attention to Anthony White here on the Custom Car Chronicle. In this article we will highlight a few of the many photos from his collection, and share some info on the historical Custom Merc that was owned by his family since 1985. We will share much more of his photo collection on the CCC-Forum, and will continue to update that with new material when Anthony shares it on his Facebook or Instagram pages.

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-11Anthony White with his Frank Maratta ’49 Mercury original built in 1956.
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Anthony White was born in NYC and raised in Rockland county New York. He lived in South Florida for 6 years until 2009 and now he lives in New Jersey.His interest for Custom Cars started in kindergarten when his mother bought him a copy of the book “Grease Machines“. His father sam Anthony with the book and started to read in it as well. He started telling tales of his mild custom 49/50 Mercs he had when he lived in Washington Heights NYC.

Anthony read the book cover to cover, over and over again. He noticed the creativity in the restyling and terms like nosing, decking and his use of ’55 DeSoto side trim captured his attention immediately! His Custom Car brain-data-base was starting to take shape back when he was a little kid. Shortly after that, (at age 7) Anthony was taken to Lead East where he met Barry Mazza and Bob Nitti and the Kustom Knights. These Custom Car hero’s were all very impressed with young Anthony’s knowledge of Custom Cars and were all very eager to help him any way they could from then one. Anthony remembered that at one point ath the Lead East show he yelled at his mother, “Look mom, a Barris Merc with fadeaways” Of course, it wasn’t.


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Anthony continued to visit as many east coast Custom Car shows as he could, and started to take as many pictures as his allowances allowed him to. He kept every single photo he has ever taken. He also started to buy the magazines that covered Custom Cars and at each show he went to he tried to find the old guys who could tach him more about Custom Car history. He also was introduced to one of the most knowledgeable Kustom Historians on the planet, Mr Ray Soff of Saddle Brook N.J. and they would become good friends. Years later Mr Ray Soff’s incredible photo collection would help Anthony identify the family Custom Mercury.


I never forgot a single true 50s/60s style KUSTOM I’ve ever seen. I remember every curve of every modification of every car I see and have since childhood




The Frank Maratta Remington ’49 Mercury

To give the family something to enjoy at the Kustom Car hows shows, which had become like religion for the White family, they bought an old chopped Custom Mercury in 1985. They knew it was an old custom car, but nobody knew anything about it, who had built it, or when.  Anthony had seen a picture of this car in an old magazine when the car was first built in 1953 as a mild custom, but he could not proof it was the same car, since the car was now chopped. Not too long after the car was bought the had taken it to a Kustom Knights picnic. While Anthony was browsing thru a pile of Ray Soff’s old pics he spotted the family Mercury among the photos. Anthony was then able to verify what he already suspected, that it was the George Remington car from Astoria, Queens in NYC with certainty. The funny thing was that Ray was very well aware of the photos he had, but did not know it was the White family Merc until Anthony pointed it out.


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The car was done first as a mild custom car with DeSoto grille and spare tire cover on the back, typical for the east coast style. The car like this was featured in Car Life magazine in February 1954. It was this magazine that Anthony had seen it for the first time. The photos had already been taken in 1953, since later in 1953 the car was crashed in a New England sanctioned road race. George Remington took the damaged car to Frank Maratta’s body show in Hartford Connecticut in 1953. Over a period of time Frank turned the ’49 Mercury in an great looking full Custom. He did the collision work, rounded the hood corners with a large radius, Chopped the top Did the tail lights which are 4 frenched stock lenses and painted it bright gold. The car’s restyling was inspired by the Ayala brothers built Wally Welch Mercury. (Anthony once found several Wally Welch Mercury clippings in the material he had received from George Remington.) 


The car was finished in 1956 and showed at the 1956 Hartford Autorama. Frank had painted the car gold, possibly inspired by the lime gold on the Ayala built Wally Welch Mercury. But George Remington never liked it, so he repainted it ’56 Chrysler maroon as soon as he picked it up from Maratta. George hold on to the car until 1972 when he sold it to Ed Soffco, who put a 445 engine out of a ’37 Chevy gasser in the car.  When the White family bought the car in 1985, it was owned by John Burgess. When John owned the car he got hold of some of the color photos of the mercury in red. He later donated them to Anthony. Back in 1985 John was aware of the name Frank Maratta, but at the time he did not know who he was, and that he was the builder of the car. So Franks name was not mentioned when the White family bought the car. Much later when Anthony talked to John again the puzzle was coming together.

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-19This photo was taken at the 1956 Hartford Autorama. Frank Maratta from Hartford Conn. had recently finished the 1949 Mercury and painted it gold. It was like this how it appeared at this show. 
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-02This was a pic taken by George Remington in the mid 60’s of his Merc. The color was 56 Chrysler maroon which was immediately done after picking up the car and hating the fact that Maratta painted it gold!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-13Anthony tracked down Mr George Remington, the original owner of the  Merc, and he drove to his house when I was 15. The man showed up in the same customized Volkswagen bus that he got rid of the Mercury for in 1971. He gave Anthony the 2nd place cup that the car won in the Hartford Autorama! George Remington sitting in his old Merc and a young Anthony standing.
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The White family found the Mercury in ’85 when Anthony was 11 years old. Can you imagine what that must have been for a kid who was to full of Custom Cars, to have an historic Custom Merc parked in the garage. After having enjoyed the Mercury for many years it was time for a rebuild in the early ’90’s.

In 1991 the car was sub-framed by Barry Mazza, and the 455 Olds (which came out of a straight axle ’37 Chevy) was removed and replaced with a small block. In 2002 -3 David Adamski (Slag Kustom) did a lot of work on the car. He makes and repairs the splash pan and does some painstaking structural repair in his free time. Bob Falco did patches on the door and quarters to fix some of the rot on the car.

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-10This is how the Merc looks in 2016, wearing black primer… for now.
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After moving to Florida, where he stayed for 6 years Anthony did not work much on the Mercury. The only work he was able to do during this time was on the engine bay and some bodywork on the nose. Anthony did all the body work on the engine bay, smoothed out all the panels and painted it the bay in Barcelona red. In 2010, Anthony was back in New Jersey, when Russ Montelbano dedicated himself to the car. Russ is owner of North Jersey Kustoms and he really came to the rescue. He want over everything mechanically, making sure it is road worthy before countless hours of bodywork and dealing with decades of previous owners mistakes. His work ethic and ability to make what was so hard for Anthony seem easy. The car is now in black primer and all back together, and perhaps more important, back on the road! Russ will be resuming work on the car before long, with finally a gloss color on the body again.




The photo collection

Over the years Anthony has searched for, and found many old photos of custom cars. He has his own collection of photos that he took from a very young age at the Custom Car shows he visited with his family. He also traded material with other collectors and friends. And the best of it all, he loves to share it. Anthony loves to share his passion for Custom Cars, his knowledge and he hopes to inspired others to do the same, and be inspired to create better looking Custom Cars. When we asked Anthony if he made notes on the photos he took and others that are part of his collection he said… “No, I memorized everything”. Amazing! 

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-05This wonderful pic was introduced to me by one of the most knowledgeable Kustom Historians on the planet, Mr Ray Soff of Saddle Brook N.J. It was taken outside of Tony Bruskivage’s North Jersey shop in the early 60’s. The car is in South Florida now. I last saw it 8 years ago as an unfinished street machine with flared wheel wells, a few lifetimes from what you see here!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-08If it looks like Herb Gary and it smells like Herb Gary, it most likely be. But right now wer are not 100% sure. Anthony is still checking for more info on this beauty.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-12This is Anthony’s person favorite photo from all the photos shared with the world! He got it from the man you see pictured, Mr Bob Barkoff of New Jersey. Bob would chop the top not too long after this photo was taken. The car later known as “Bob’s Chopper” was the first chopped Merc Anthony would see in person! When he saw the car it was owned by Sammy DeJohn. Bob now has a candy magenta 51 and you can almost tell the same guy owned both, 55 years after the pic was taken!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-09This was my friend Harold Olsen moments before I met him when I was 11. After He heard that I knew that Vern Lacey, Joe Wilhelm and Rod Powell worked on his famous 54 Buick, I got introduced to Gene Winfield, Rod Powell, The Alexander Brothers and Les Pratt in the next hour!! What a day that was at the Lead sled Spectacular in 85. R.I.P. Harold!!! What a wonderful friend you became!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-14Anthony at age 9…
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-04 This 57 Olds was a wild old Kustom that I photographed at the 1990 James Dean run in Gas City Indiana in 1990. The car was owned by Chuck Reeves.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-03Anthony took this picture in Springfield Ohio in 1985 at age 11. He never saw the car again!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-06This wonderful old Kustom from Va. captured my heart in Gettysburg Pa in the late 80’s. The guys with the car didn’t have much information. Since then, I’ve seen it on the net in the Maryland or Pa area with a patina 53 DeSoto grille in it but have yet to talk to the owner in person.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-07This was a beautiful 50 Merc chopped by Terry Rielly and when this pic was taken, owned by Joel Scheipe, then of Elmont NY. It is being redone today by Lugwig Kustoms in Pa.
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Anthony sees a lot of great Customs at the cars shows he visits, both for fun and for striping. He always takes plenty of photos of the cars at the shows and shares the most interesting with his friends on his Instagram and Facebook pages. It is one of his ways to share his passion for Kustom Cars, and share the style and details he enjoys best. He also loves to discuss every Custom Car in detail, and what was done to it, and what should have perhaps done to it. Anthony is a walking Custom Car dictionary. His knowledge of Custom Cars their history, who build them, what happened to them and where they are now is just beyond believe.


CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-18Anthony loves Bob Mishko’s 49 Ford 4-door with a coupe roof because it carries the short door coupe idea from 41-48 into a 49-51 model! He has seen this treatment done on Mercs and it didn’t work nearly as well. Bob came up with a successful phantom body-style that never existed!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-01This Merc, owned by Tommy Delv was clearly influenced by Larry Lorenzo’s famous chopped Merc convertible! Tommy is a Kustom nut who still has the little scooter I striped for him and his dad when he was 11. The chopped Merc on the right is Anthony’s Frank Maratta built ’49.
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The Anthony White Photo Collection is way to big to be shared here on the main CCC-Site, so we have opened an thread on the CCC-Forum where we will be sharing the photos from his collection. We will add material to it over a period of time, and continue to do add new material when Anthony is sharing more. Both from his vintage collection as well as the most interesting material from the Custom Cars he captures these days. The sign below will bring you to the CCC-Forum-Post with the Anthony White Photo Collection. Enjoy…
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Anthony’s Artwork

At 15, Anthony began a mission to do the most tasteful technically perfect Pinstriping possible. He has done thousands of jobs in a style rooted in the early kustom scene but as organic and technical at the same time. His super straight extra thin lines are legendary.

According to Anthony he was really a Custom Car artist, he was an illustrator or at least he thought he was, then 15 years ago he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which changed everything. He only did two drawings out of his head in the past 6 years. He mentioned “Maybe it’s lack of practice because I’m in pretty good shape considering”.
We have seen several of Anthony’s drawing and they are really fantastic with lots of little restyling ideas, the Custom Car builders can find inspiration from for many years to come.


Pinstriping is my trade and it has driven me to the brink of insanity but Kustoms are my passion and my obsession


CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-17Anthony striping a Thunderbird trunk.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-illustration-01Anthony created this from memory, with no reference material 2 years ago.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-illustration-02Anthony designed this car for a friend… if she was a car in her past life!
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My best memories are discussing builds by top guys and seeing cars influenced by our discussions



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The Dowry Monterey

 

THE DOWRY MONTEREY

 

This 1950 Black and Canary Yellow Mercury Monterey was the perfect wedding gift to Larry Pointer from a College teacher and colleague in 1972.

 

By Larry Pointer and John Stroble



The first weekend in June the Roaring Twenties Club of “all original” car enthusiasts would stage their annual auction and swap meet outside Billings, Montana. It was 2006. Alone, I pulled into the lot to walk up the line of cars awaiting the auction block. All the predictable models were there, with visions of Barrett Jackson bids dancing in owners’ heads. Then, what should my wandering eye behold? A certain car up the line caught my eye.

Tears soon unabashedly spilled down my cheeks! Here was MY old car. Perhaps the most special, symbolic period car I was ever to embrace and celebrate: this was a 1950 Mercury Monterey. Twenty-two years before, I had been forced to sell this very special car. Career and life would take me far away, then back again. But, unquestionably here she stood. I stepped up the hill to her in silence. Beyond the auctioneer’s prattle, we held our reunion. Recollections came rushing through my brain.

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-05Larry’s Mercury Monterey in 1984.
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Twenty-two years in the passing. My life seems to go in elevens. Eleven year periods, phases, and cycles. From where this story of life’s twists and turns begins, I once was given the care of this very special Mercury Monterey.

The car was a wedding gift. In 1972 when I married Patsy Kay Samelson, we were given this car by its first owner, a very remarkable lady. Pat Hamilton and I go way back in life’s quirky journey. She was one of those larger than life, electric energetic people with attractive magnetism. It didn’t hurt that she was a tall, statuesque blonde. Her infectious enthusiasm for life gifted her as a teacher, mentor, and rodeo coach.

Yes. A woman rodeo coach. She launched a rough and tumble career path for many, not the least of which were the World Champion and western songster, Chris LeDoux, as well as Conquistador Harry Larsen’s little brother, six-foot-six Fred, “King of the Cowboys” in the movie Buffalo Bill and the Indians. She was a motivator, and her encouragement energized in so many of us that certain spark of life and accomplishment beyond whatever seemed possible.


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Pat Hamilton taught at Sheridan College, both when I was a student there from 1958-1960, and when I returned to teach there from 1963-1966. She and I would share shared an office there. She would roll in from her ranch in a cloud of dust behind her 1950 Mercury Monterey, slide to a stop, jump out, run into the office, shut the door, change from her ranch jeans into a proper dress and nylons, and stride off to give the day’s lecture. The nylons always were at the ready, draped over her office chair. The dress, my favorite, a black leather sheath.


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Ahh, nostalgia. That Mercury! The Mercury Monterey always was a personal favorite car to me, on the nostalgia side, but it really was a most remarkable automobile. Perhaps the SYMBOL of the Fifties. Hot rods, custom cars, movie cars
 James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” used a jet black Merc, mildly customized. There was “Something about a Mercury”, as Alan Jackson would sing. They just captured the romantic vision of those rock-n-roll Happy Days. It seems few survivors today remain unchanged from the original. Chopped tops are the new norm. But the Monterey
 They were rare. Possibly 850 Monterey models that first year for the option. And today, very, very rare.


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GM had come out with the “hardtop convertible”. No side “B” pillars or door posts. When all side windows were rolled down, there was free open space from the windshield posts back to the rear window frames—like a convertible, with its top up. Ford/Lincoln/Mercury were caught flat-footed behind the advancing times.

To counter, while feverishly retooling to a Gordon Buehrig designed Victoria “hardtop” to break out late in 1951, there was a scramble to come up with a stop-gap adaptation: the Mercury Monterey and the Crestliner of Ford. What they did was cover the Tudor top with a vinyl or, even in some, leather upholstery. Glued right over the top of the roof. And with color coding to match the upholstery of the interior. Chrome garnish moldings dressed up the interior cabin.

CCC-1950-mercury-monterey-colorFoMoCo factory photo showing the 1950 Mercury Monterey black with Canary Yellow vinyl top. A stunning car.
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The color combinations were few. There was black on black; black vinyl over a tomato red body. And then the color combination on Pat Hamilton’s Monterey: Canary Yellow vinyl over a black body. Striking. Garish? Eye catching for sure!

So, in 1972, Patsy Kay and I started our life journey together with this gift, Pat Hamilton’s one owner, low mileage 1950 Canary Yellow and Black Mercury Monterey. It had been left sitting beside Drew Jackson’s garage and gas station in Ranchester, Wyoming. We hooked onto it with a chain, my new bride steering, and me towing with our new 1972 Ford Ÿ ton truck “Mallard”. We dragged that car for twenty miles, over the dusty gravel foothill roads from Ranchester to Soldier Creek to the Heights Ranch, past the fairgrounds to my folks’ place in Sheridan.

;

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-03Black and white photo taken in 1973 Riverton, Wyoming back yard.  The nose of the Merc showing, behind the small, dirt-floor garage in which I painted the 1967 Ford T-bird for Vic Svilar in trade for his mechanical work on getting the Merc on the road again.
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Life does strange things to us in our journeys. I was then teaching and coaching rodeo in Riverton, Wyoming. There, in Hudson, Wyoming I traded labor with Vic Svilar (one of Conquistador mentor Cecil Wentz’s old dirt track racer crowd). Vic soon had the old flathead running like a clock. He overhauled the carburetor, put in a new voltage regulator, spark plugs and wires, belts and hoses. In return, I painted his 1967 Thunderbird a metallic Ginger brown.

Pat Hamilton still was providing encouragement along the way. We would merge our rodeo teams to share travel and lodging expenses down the road. Chaperone their activities, cheer their successes, stand by them in hospital emergency rooms. Listen to charismatic Chris LeDoux try out his ballad compositions.

Then, once again it was time to move on to new “Forrest Gump” episodes in my life. Schooling in Denver; a new job in natural resources in Biillings, Montana. The Mercury waited at my grandfather’s farm until it could join our family now of three. I did some bodywork on the car. The passenger door had sheared a hinge pin, so I replaced it. Those doors are heavy! I stripped off the tattered fragments of vinyl from the roof, and gave it all a coat of black primer. A rusty wine colored cloth was draped over the cracked leather of the front seat.

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-071984 The Mercury Monterey in Larry’s Billings, Montana driveway with the new black top. Fit and finish, not great. She was far from pristine, but she sure had History.


CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-06The rear sat too high, especially with the original fender skirts Gary Richards had scored for me.
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CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-02Larry had draped a rusty wine colored cloth over the Canary Yellow cracked leather of the front seat.
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My wife would drive our son Jade and his little friend Sarah Lewis (now a medical doctor in Seattle!) around the neighborhood. She had to have wooden blocks added to the pedals so she could reach them to drive. The seat didn’t go far enough forward. To a five-year-old son, those rides were exciting; to the same 39-year-old today, precious memories.

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-04Larry’s boy Jade is carrying his Easter basket.
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In 1984 I was transferred to Phoenix, Arizona, into an exciting job creating training videos and materials for civil servants managing our public lands in the West. With career opportunities and the uncertainties that came with them, a painful decision was made to sell that Mercury Monterey. I sold the car, for what? Maybe $1200.

“Don’t look back,” Satchell Paige used to say. “Somethin’ might be gainin’ on you.” Well, that doesn’t make those choices less easy to swallow, especially when you are all choked up watching your Mercury drive away. Time and miles had taken their toll. The front springs sagged, the rear sat too high for the original fender skirts Gary Richards had scored for me. Fit and finish, ummmm, Not. She wasn’t pristine, but she sure had History.

Away. As I stood staring at that same Mercury on the auction block, a lot had gone Away in those intervening 22 years. Pat Hamilton had died, much too young, of a brain tumor. My wife Patsy had passed on unexpectedly in 1995. Even our balladeer Chris LeDoux was gone. I and my son had relocated back to Billings in the aftermath. In 2002 I began the build of my 1936 Diamond T “Neferteri”. Occasionally, I made inquiries after that Mercury Monterey, but came up empty.

But here she stood, her number in queue for the auction taped to her windshield.

AND the name of the present owner! Neil Schlaeppi. I was dumb-struck. Neil was a major player in the Roaring Twenties club. I had even gone to his nearby place to view his extensive Montana license plate collection. I was wanting to restore a pair of 1936 plates for the Diamond T.

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-13The Mercury Monterey at the auction in the first weekend in June 2006. The Roaring Twenties Club of “all original” car enthusiasts staged their annual auction and swap meet outside Billings, Montana.
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How close had I been to that Mercury Monterey that day? It had been there, just feet away from me, behind garage walls.

I nearly fell over myself tripping back down the hill to go find Neil Schlaeppi. We had quite a conversation, as I would learn what all life adventures the Mercury had undergone in those 22 years. Turns out Neil had bought it from the fellow to whom I had sold her: Bob Walker. Bob had frenched the headlights, shaved the decklid, then in turn, the meticulous Neil had obtained the proper Canary Yellow material and had the upholstery and roof redone, before repainting the car jet black. She was refurbished with shiny new bumpers and grille parts.

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-08Bob Walker, the guy bought the Mercury from Larry had completely redone the car as a mild custom. Frenched headlights, nosed, decked and new black paint with Canary Yellow top and yellow to orange flames by an unknown painter.
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CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-122006, the three surviving owners of the Dowry Monterey:  Larry Pointer, Neil Schlaeppi and Bob Walker.
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And given a flamed paintjob, fading from bright yellow to tips in red. Hmmmm.
But mechanically? She was exactly as Vic Svilar had made her whole in 1972! But with a more proud stance.

Neil told me what his reserve was. Quite beyond my capabilities. So too, all bidders by the end of the day. It didn’t help when, seeing my forlorn look, in parting Neil Schlaeppi told me, “Tell you what, Larry. I’ll sell you back the Mercury for $10,000. You can even make payments.” I left the auction, agonizing. Decisions! How could I come up with what Neil fairly wanted? I already was committed—and deeply into—the build of “Neferteri”, my 1936 Diamond T “streamline moderne dream”.

CCC-neferteri-larry-pointer-01Larry’s 1936 Diamond T “Neferteri”
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The next day I first stopped by Buzz and Jerry’s Rod Shop just up the road. It was there that I had bought Neferteri’s beginnings. There, we had sparked a lasting friendship. Buzz was a meticulous fabricator, metal man, and upholsterer. Jerry was a car guy too. A lawyer, a decorated Vietnam veteran, founder of Montana’s exemplary Purple Heart Memorial, a series of black granite monoliths inscribed with the names of our fallen and our wounded in service to our Country. “Jerry has done more for people quietly behind the scenes,” Buzz once confided to me, “than we will ever know.” Behind that tough lawyer patina is a solid bronze American.

Who also happened to own a radical chopped custom 1949 Mercury. “That car,” Jerry responded when I would ask about it, “is just an ordinary car. I just drive it. It won’t die. It’s been from Creston, British Columbia to Algodones, Mexico. I take it to Phoenix each winter. Americruise in Lincoln, Nebraska, three times there. And “Jimmy Dean Days” in Spokane. Been there, done that.”

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-09The contrast between Jerry’s wild chop and the Monterey’s old near stock proportions was too much to pass up such a “photo op”.
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CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-10Jerry’s Mercury has a narrowed ’54 Pontiac grille bar and ’55 Pontiac bumperettes, shortened, front and rear.
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“The Wanderer” is the lettering hand-brushed on one rear fender. The car wears a weathered coat of DP90 black primer, and a really wild set of flames across the front and back to the doors, in yellow fading to orange, to red.

“Six different people butchered and chopped on that thing,” Jerry pointed out. “The basic body modifications were there, we just finished it up.” The body has been shaved of trim. There is a narrowed 54 Pontiac grille bar. 55 Pontiac bumperettes, shortened, front and rear. The trunk has a wicked recess built into it, and extensions out over the rear bumper. Volkswagon tail lights sit sideways low on either side of the deck lid. Then there is that “bad” chop. Jerry grins mischievously as he describes the reactions he gets, even from experienced custom guys. “The 1950 rear window and frame are upside down. Thant’s why it flows so well. That is the secret!”

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-14The top on Jerry’s chopped mercury flows nicely with the shaved drip rails and rounded door corners. 
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Jerry goes on to explain that the car isn’t really even a Mercury. “It’s a 1977 Oldsmobile! We had that body on and off that chassis and floorpan 13 times before it sat right.” The donor was a low mileage, 32,000 mile Delta 88. Now the odometer read 140,000 miles.

The day I arrived at the shop, Jerry was putting new wheel discs on his “not-a-Mercury”, these smooth caps were from a 1960 Buick. He only had three of the hubcaps, so he thought we could go up to the Roaring Twenties swap meet to try to score one more. So, we jumped into Jerry’s three hubcap custom and headed over to the clubhouse.

I had my camera. We convinced Neil to place the Monterey nose-to-nose with Jerry’s car. The contrast between stock proportions and Jerry’s wild chop was too much to pass up such a “photo op”. Then a voice hollered out.

“Hey, Jerry. Did you hear? I just bought my old car back!” A big fellow came striding up to us, smiling from ear-to-ear.

“What?” Jerry answered. My jaw dropped. Jerry turned.

“Bob Walker, I’d like you to meet Larry Pointer. He’s the guy you bought this Merc from back in 84.”
Now Bob’s jaw dropped. Matching the Mercs? How about matching the dropped jaws of all three surviving owners out of four ever to own this unique 1950 Mercury Monterey!

And now it was going back home. Not to my home–as I was almost on the verge of negotiating–but back home to Bob Walker, its 3rd ever owner. Elevens. 22 years to lay to rest this quest.
Tender mercies.

CCC-mercury-monterey-pointer-012006, the three surviving owners of the Dowry Monterey:  Larry Pointer, Neil Schlaeppi, Bob Walker and Jerry LaFountain, the owner of the chopped black and flamed Mercury.
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P.S. Bob Walker and his son still own the Mercury Monterey. Jerry LaFountain has his custom Merc, now with a Mercury Maurader mill. Neil Schlaeppi still is at the forefront of the Roraring Twenties. And I am approaching the start of my 77th year. Elevens!
Sadly, Larry’s son Jade Pointer, recently passed away May 8, 2016.


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Cats 48 Chevy

 

CATS 48 CHEVY

 

Unexpectedly bumping into my Dream Custom Car on my first American Custom Car show during my 1994 USA trip



It was the early 1990’s, I was in my early 20’s living in Amsterdam the Netherlands. I had been very passionated about Custom Cars for about a decade and while it had been tough to find anything Custom Car related in the early years,  things had been changed for the last few years. The Custom Car revival from the 1980’s had made it possible for me to find more and more material in the Netherlands. A few books had been published and an book store in Amsterdam carried several Custom Car related magazines. I had taken subscriptions to some magazines including Rod & Customs and loved avery Custom Car related feature in the magazine. I absorbed as much as I could and slowly the historic path of the Custom Car started to visualize in my head. You have to understand that all the 1950’s and 60’s magazines that you can buy now were not available for me at that time. Also there was no internet for the common people yet, so no google search to find any pictures or info on historic Customs.

I was very much into scale model car building and had started to get involved with an Tennessee based aftermarket company named Altered States. I started to create Custom Car related aftermarket parts for the 1/25 scale model car kits. Patterns of special hubcaps, taillights, side trim’s and even complete customized bodies that I would send off to the US so they could be cast in resin and sold on the US market. The owner of the company Chuck Mier and I had become good friends over time, communicating with mailed letters and sometimes on the phone (Long distance phone calls still cost a fortune back then).


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Around 1993-94 I decided it was time for me to visit the US for the very first time, visit my friend Chuck and go to a Knoxville model car show to show some of my model cars, and to help promote my Custom Car model car parts. In the summer of 1995 I flew out to Memphis Tenn. stepped out of the plane and was surrounded by this hot damped humid blanket. I had never experienced this kind of weather, hot and humid… wow. I was picked up by some local Memphis model car friends and the next day we drove to Knoxville where they dropped me off at my friends place first, and later we went to the model car show that would be held the next day. It was really fantastic to finally meet Chuck and to go to my first ever big model car show. The trip was a great succes already and  the four weeks in total would get only better. After the show Chuck took me on many rod trips showing me all kinds of fun stuff in Tenn. Chuck knew a lot of places where they had old cars in the fields which we all checked out. On one of our trips we went to Pigeon Forge, a rather touristic place. On our way there we noticed a few nice Hot Rods and Custom Cars. One of the cars I recognized from the magazines, it was BRS (Butch Rod Shop) from Dayton Ohio, they had this orange 1938 Dodge panel delivery shop truck. They were stopping for gas at the same station we just had some gas as well. We got out of the car and asked why they were in town and what all the other cars were doing and if there was some kind of meet or show going on in the coming weekend.

CCC-brs-orange-38-dodge-panelThe BRS, Butch Rod Shop 1938 Dodge panel truck that we came across at the gas-station, and who would tell us about the next day Custom Car show. If we had not bumped into these guys we might have never found out about the show at all. I took these two photos of the BRS Shop truck at the hosting hotel parking lot.
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Turned out there was a first annual KKOA Custom Car show organized in Pigeon Forge that weekend. Chuck had looked for car events to visit during my stay, and had not found anything interesting in the magazines. So this Custom Car show came as a complete surprise. We later heard they had not done a very good job on the communication and promotion of this first show. But apparently something had been written about it in a east coast custom car club newsletter, so fortunately for us quite a few custom car owners knew about the show. We asked for directions and even thought the show was going to be started until the next day, we decided to take a look anyway. WOW.. this was going to be my first ever US Custom Car show… I was very excited.

We found the locations, and as expected, nothing going on other than some officials and venders setting up. We drove off and cruised the main street in Pigeon Forge… when I all of the sudden saw something absolutely beautiful from the corner of my eye… it was just a split second, before my view was blocked off my a van we were just passing. I told Chuck to see if he could make a U-Turn as quick as possible since I thought I had seen an absolutely gorgeous Custom Car parked down one of the side roads. I think its a Chevy I had seen in an “recent” Rod & Custom Magazine. Oh boy if that is that car I think it is… After a while Chuck was able to turned the car and we drove back… I was on the tip of my seat, my head against the headliner to make sure I would not miss it on our way back. And there it was… The dark maroon teardrop shaped Custom sitting 200 or so yards from our street.

CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-RC-01The photo of the 1948 Chevy I fell in love with published in the Dec 1993 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine.
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We drove up to the car and the closer we got… the more sure I was that my eyes had not deceived me, this was that stunning looking 1948 Chevy from the Rod & Custom Magazine. When I had received the December 1993 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine there was one photo inside that had jumped out to me. On page 20 there was a black and white photo of Glenn “The Cat” Patrick’s 1948 Chevy photographed at the NSRA Nats in Columbus, Ohio. And the car was absolutely stunning. Everything I could see in that small photo was absolutely perfect in my eyes. Custom Car Perfection…. and now I was going to be able to actually walk all around this car, check it out in detail and from every angle. And take photos of it… Oh boy!

I had studied that one R&C photo of Glenn’s Chevy for a long time, everything on that car was just so right in my eyes. The perfect amount of chop, the filling of the rear quarter windows, the use of the cleaner ’46 Chevy grille, frenched headlights, perfect stance and Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide white wall tires. I had never even thought about the possibility of seeing that car in person.



Glenn Patrick 1948 Chevy

When we came closer to the car it was cruising slowly to a parking spot close to section of town where a pick-up show was taking place that day. Glenn and a friend wanted to go and check out that show and were looking for a suitable parking spot where his Chevy could be parked and be seen by the people. Chuck parked his car close by and we got out, to go check out the Chevy. Of course I took my trusted 35 mm Minolta camera with me, but first I walked around the car, and stepped back and around it again to look at it from every angle. It was just so perfectly shaped. In the meantime Chuck started to talk to Glenn, asking him about the Chevy… and soon I would join. Chuck introduced me to Glenn as his friend and business partner all the way from the Netherlands.

CCC-barris-high-school-conf-chevies-02Barris created two identical 1948 Chevy coupe customs for the High School Confidential movie. Filled quarter windows and a chopped top are similar to what Glenn did later, but the grilles on the Barris cars are different and so is the lack of white wall tires. Remember that these were movie cars, build in a matter of weeks and seen only in motion. One of the two cars was destroyed in the movie when it was rolled over in a race scene. The car was actually to heavy to roll over and was eventually dropped from a crane. The second car survived and is still around today.
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On of the first thing Glenn mentioned about the car was that an 1948 Chevy Coupe, but that he had added the ’46 Chevy grille since he thought it looked much better. And how he was inspired by the High School Confidential Barris Kustoms created movie cars. He had seen the movie back in the 1950’s when it came out, and that car had had a lasting impact on him. Decades after he had seen the movie he came across a ’48 Chevy coupe and the plan came up to create his personal interpretation of the High School Confidential Chevy. Back then I had no idea how the original movie car looked like. Remember this was 1994, and the Barris Technique Books and the other Barris history books had yet to be published. Later in 1994 when I was able to get a copy of the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book I first saw the two movie cars Glenn had based his Chevy on. I like Glenn’s version better.


CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-10When we drove up to the place where I had seen that wonderful car from the corner of my eyes I found the Chevy I thought it was cruising slowly to find a parking spot. Seeing this car actually in person, and hovering slowly on the streets was absolutely magical.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-04Chuck checking out Glenn backing up into the parking spot. This was the first time I noticed the skull graphic on the fender skirt, I had never spotted that in the R&C photo. Not a fan of that, but the graphics were very popular in the early 1990’s. Glen spend a lot of time working on the door frame and getting it all to flow right and removed the factory stock indents. 
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Glenn had some magazines that showed some photos of the one original barris Chevies that had survived the movie shoot. He had studied all the lines on the car very carefully before he turned his 5-window coupe into the three window coupe by filling in the rear quarter windows. I think he succeeded very well in creating the perfect shaped heavy chop that gives the car a great, slight cartoonish feel. Glenn also decided to mold in the rear fenders for a more original Barris Custom look. The movie cars never had the rear fenders molded in. There was no need for that, since details like that would not show up on the movie screen. Glenn also smoothed the trunk, but left the chrome plated exterior hinges in place. A set of teardrop skirts match the shape of the rear fenders and the shape of the top. The two piece original hood was welded to a single unit, peaked in the center and relieved of all the emblems and trim for the ultimate smooth look.


CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-01After Glenn had parked the car we could take all the time we had to check it out. I was amazed how good it looked from every angle. Especially the filled in quarter windows made the car looks so streamlined and special.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-16I was amazed how good it looked from every angle. Especially the filled in quarter windows made the car looks so streamlined and special.
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Glenn did not like the grille set up on the movie cars very much, and also did not care for the over the top design of the stock 1948 Chevy. So he decided to back date the car with an more elegant 1946 Chevy grille. He lowered the suspension and added the correct size white wall tires and dressed the red painted wheels up with a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. The car was not sitting very low, with a very slight rearward drop which gave the car that wonderful hovering look it was was driven. Glenn bought a paint of Kustom Kraft dummy spotlights that were created by Bill Layman and are based on the shape of the Appleton S-112 spotlights that were popular in the 1940’s and early to mid 1950’s. The only difference is that these Spotlights have no interior handles and are therefor none-working. One everything was done Glenn painted the car in a wonderful shade of maroon.


CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-02It was one of the first cars, perhaps even the first car with correct shaped Spotlights. I had heard about the Appleton spotlights before, and seen them in photos, but never on a real car. Later I found out Glenn had used a set of Kustom Kraft dummy Spotlights. But those had the same shape as the Appleton S-112’s. 
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-03The shaved trunk, molded in rear fenders and molded Pontiac taillights with added blue dots looked so fine then, and still does today. Glenn used the ever popular ’49 Chevy license plate cover on a smoothed 48 Chevy bumper and large diameter exhaust tips.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-09Glenn’s Chevy also introduced me for the very first time to the perfect wheel tire combination for an late 1940’s early 1950’s styled Custom. It was like looking at art on a museum wall to me.
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Show day

The day of the show we returned early to Pigeon Forge and it was really spectacular. Quite a few very nice Customs had already showed up early, and new cars arrived all the time. I could not believe the beauty on all these cars. We spend the whole day at the event, checking out the cars, talking to the owners, and making new friends.  But for me the one that made the biggest impression and inspired me the most was Glenn’s 1948 Chevy. For me it represented everything I feel how a real Custom Car should look back then. My taste in Customs has changed, perhaps grown a little over the years, but overall I still think that Glenn’s Chevy is an extremely good looking custom, and I’m very pleased to have been able to see this car in person, be able to walk around it and talk to Glenn about his vision and how he created the car.

CCC-pigeon-forge-show-1994-rikChuck took this photo of me wondering around at the Pigeon Forge Custom Car show in 1994…
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-13Glenn and a friend cruising around at the car show location. I cannot remember for sure, but I think the car might have had air shocks on the rear, but this was way before air-ride!
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-05Glenn had a skull theme going for the car, with the skull painted on the fender skirts, one on the tall shifter inside his otherwise period styled and great looking interior.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-06The interior was done in an off white tuck & roll with dark red piping and dark red carpets. Another skull was placed on the package shel at the show.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-07The dash and steering wheel are stock 1948 Chevy, but nicely restored and cleaned up. Glenn added some modern components including AC and stereo and some extra gauges below the dash.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-12Glenn added beautiful subtile round taillight openings to the molded rear fenders to house a set of blue-dot 1950 Pontiac taillights.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-15The only thing I noticed back in 1994 that I did not care about was the fact that the stainless windshield frame is missing. 
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-11 Cats 48 parked at the host hotel parking place low angle photo gives us a good look at the molded in and reshaped headlights and welded and peaked hood.
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CCC-cats-48-chevy-glenn-patrick-08Another interior show was taken at the host hotel parking lot. It shows the nice door panels.
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After having had some health issued Glenn decided in 2008 Glenn to let go of the car. The Chevy was bought by Jim Eckard from Glendale, Arizona who did a complete overhaul and added his own personal touches to the car. I had seen some photos online and to me the real simple beauty of the car is now all gone. The new owner added a lot of “Bling” as in 57 Cadillac hubcaps with painted bullets, ’59 Cadillac taillights, and a lot of totally out of place pin striping. Basically the cars beautiful lines are still all there, but now hidden by an overload of dress up. I did not want to show any photos of the car’s current state here since it takes away from the great impact it had on me in the early 1990’s. But if you want to see the car in its current state and read about the current owners ideas about the car then you can check out the Street Rodder Magazine ARTICLE on the Chevy on the Hot Rod magazine website.

I saw the car again in person in 2011 when it was at the Grand National Roadster show. But I was disappointed by all the added “bling” by the then current owner. I did not even take a photo of the car at the show. The car that made such an great impact on me in 1994 with its pure and simple lines was gone for me… In 2018 after the car had passed hands one more time the current owner has the car back For Sale again, and hopefully a next caretaker will bring the car back to the original “The Cats” 48 Style. To me Glenn “The Cat” Patrick had created the perfect 36-48 Chevy coupe.



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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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(this article is sponsored by)

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The Shadow

 

THE SHADOW

 

Who knows that evil lurks in the hearts of men?
The Shadow knows!



By Larry Pointer

With these words, delivered in a “hauntingly sibilant quality voice that thrilled,” would begin each episode of The Shadow radio drama. An ominous laugh would follow. Then familiar and equally haunting strains of music would waft over the airwaves. The Shadow debuted in 1930, first with Orson Welles as the crime fighting superhero. Through 1954, each week the youth of America would gather around their radios to catch the serial adventures of this mysterious man of mystical psychic powers. We all could envision him clothed in black, with a cloak and a black hat masking his true identity. To this image were added quickening accents of flame: a coat lining; a scarf to hide his lower face from view. It was a palpably ominous presence. Yet he had, you know, “the power to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him.” Oh, the imagination that radio could stimulate in the mind!

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-orson-welles-02Orson Welles as “The Shadow”.
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Here was the film noir antihero, a spymaster omnipresent in the dark world. None of the evil realm were safe. Nor were the youthful minions gathered around their radio sets, transfixed under the hypnotic powers of The Shadow.

But The Shadow’s alter ego was just an ordinary Lamont Cranston; Batman really was just Bruce Wayne; Superman, the hapless Clark Kent. Perhaps dreams could come true for a boy in Wyoming
a fellow from among the immigrant families struggling to realize their American dream, a kid like Gerald Brantz. Only the imagination could limit what super powers a fellow could seize for his own. Lamont Cranston, that “wealthy young man about town”, could be a role model to follow. And then there always was the thought that The Shadow might be lurking not so very far from view.

Didn’t frail little Billy Batson transform into Captain Marvel in a single magical word?…


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Well, perhaps there was a way for a fellow to have that Shazam moment in his life. Not every guy could step into a corner phone booth to become his own superdude; couldn’t fly through the sky like a bird or a plane. But he could style a kemp in his own image. Batman had his Batmobile, didn’t he?
George Lucas caught the magic of the righteous ride best. With bittersweet memories of cruising the streets of Modesto, Lucas sent out the rallying call across this vast land of American Graffiti dreams. Where were you in ’62?

Spiderman debuted in ’62
just plain ol’ Pete Parker in daily life
a superhero reincarnate of radio days, arriving to avenge the forces of evil. We don’t fall far from our fantasies, do we. This, too, The Shadow knows.

In ’62, Gerald Brantz was a cruising Conquistador in Sheridan, Wyoming. And musing, what kind of ride would carry The Shadow on missions against mayhem, a Mercury mayhaps? A long, low, chopped Mercury. Chopped, yeah, definitely chopped. And black. Black, with an electrodynamic flare down the sides.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-38-fordGerald’s 1938 Ford Standard Coupe.
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Life goes on. Gerald Brantz sold his ride, a sweet 1938 Ford Standard coupe resto-rod with a 312 c.i. Y-block and 3 2’s, to finance his schooling. He served his country. Returned to a career as a highway engineer. Raised a family, saw two sons serve their country with distinction.

But those childhood impressions remain; dreams don’t die easily. As I write this, we gather faithfully to catch our serial episodes of The Big Bang Theory. “Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj” are insufferable nerds, yes. But BAZINGA! They escape to comic book fantasies. The funny thing is this outrageous sitcom is a favorite of young and old. Baby boomers and beyond identify! Just like we did as kids, huddled against the radio, listening to The Shadow.


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The Shadow. Gerald Brantz never did lose HIS vision of The Shadow, gliding through the night in his stealth black chopped Mercury. This was his dream. Finally, he could gather it up and make it materialize.

In 1976, Gerald bought a ’50 Mercury two-door from Conquistador Tommy Lopez. Step-by-step, the Mercury first was restored. Next the side trim was removed, and local policeman Floyd Olson painted the car in a striking metallic Jade Green in Imron. The car was a driver, regularly seen cruising about Sheridan.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-00Gerald’s 1950 Mercury after it was restored and painted metallic Jade Green by Floyd Olson.
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Then, in 1987, it was time to fulfill his dream. In Ron Tesinsky at West Side Kustoms, Brantz found just the medium to channel his dreams into reality. The Billings, Montana customizer soon began the Mercury’s transformation into that full custom Gerald had always dreamed of: The Shadow.

In researching this unique 50 Mercury custom, I found a treasure trove of photographs. Gerald Brantz has full albums of his cars, the cruises, and the shows he attended. Ron Tesinsky also has kept albums, one for each custom that has come through his shop. His detailed images of the chop he performed on The Shadow are a virtual clinic on the traditional approach to chopping the ’49-’50 Mercury top.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-01Gerald with his Mercury freshly chopped by Ron Tesinsky.
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CCC-pointer-chop-a-top-22And finished in primer black.
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At the time of the top chop, Ron also nosed and decked the Mercury coupe. Black epoxy primer completed this phase of the evolution of The Shadow.
In its flat primer form, the car was ready for some serious cruising, except for one very important touch. Gerald Brantz is an avid collector of old-time radio programs, including all of The Shadow episodes he could locate, for those long distance cruises, you know. The packaging cover of one set of these programs had a graphic representation of the mysterious man of mystical powers. Gerald loved it, thought it a perfect graphic for his Mercury, and contacted Sheridan, Wyoming graphic artist and pinstriper, Steve “Shooter” Benth to do the honors.


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CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-shadow-merc-01Steve “Shooter” Benth painting the first version of “the Shadow!” on Gerald’s primer black Mercury.
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CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-07Finished artwork on the rear quarter of the Merc.
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The graphic turned out beautifully, low along the left quarter panel behind the rear tire. What better way to set off this custom’s unique identity! I almost can hear that eerie laughter from The Shadow as I write.

 

Changes continued to be made to The Shadow as Gerald Brantz could afford, or make time between long-range cruising. Again, Ron Tesinsky was called upon to shave the door handles and french the headlights. In mating the traditional ’52-’54 Ford/Mercury headlight rims to the ’50 Merc, Ron again relied on templates to form smooth curvatures via patch panels. The original center grille of the car was retained, but the awkward square parking light bezels were discarded. Gerald opted for a simple form consistent with the headlights, in his choice of round ’48 Ford park lights, frenched beneath the headlights. Around back, the stock taillights also were frenched by Ron Tesinsky with hand-made surrounds blended into the rear fenders. Three-bar ’56 Olds flipper wheel covers all around completed the traditional period custom look.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-02New frenched headlights and ’48 Ford parking lights are added.
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Mechanically, Brantz updated the running gear. His old friend Floyd Olson had located a warmed over 68 Monte Carlo 327 c.i. engine in St. Paul, Minnesota for the cruiser. In addition, Gerald redid front suspension with Fatman fabrications, and the rear
a 9-inch Ford
with a Posies set of springs. The result was a ride with that California rake attitude, and secreted responsive power only befitting The Shadow.

And cruise Gerald and Sharon Brantz did. The Shadow carried them to Minneapolis and Back to the Fifties. To Billings to meet the inimitable disc jockey Wolfman Jack. On to Deadwood’s Cool August Nights and annual concerts that included Jan and Dean, and Chubby Checker. Most importantly, though, they cruised to Casper, Wyoming where Sharon enjoyed an up close and personal sit down with the large father himself, Big Daddy Ed Roth.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-chubby-checkerChubby Checker and band performing at Deadwood’s Cool August Nights annual concert.
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CCC-pointer-the-shadow-wolfman-rothMeeting with Disc Jockey “Wolfman Jack”, and “Big Daddy” Ed Roth.
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By 1994, it was time to freshen the car. Gerald Brantz returned to Ron Tesinsky with a request to add a side-trim treatment. Several ideas were sketched out in cartoon fashion (Ron’s resume also includes sign painter.) Always they kept coming back to the traditional sweep spear of the 50-53 Buicks, such as appeared on the Bob Hirohata 51 Mercury. Gerald Brantz is a traditional kind of guy and, out of high school, he had a 49 Merc with the thin 56 Buick spear to separate a two-tone paint scheme of cream and 56 Packard lilac.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-03A 1/1 sketch of the ’53 Buick like spear was first drawn on a piece of cardboard taped to the side of the Merc. This was used as a template to shape the metal rod.
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At this point, Ron Tesinsky brought to play a subtle appearing, technically tricky, bit of mastery. Instead of scrounging up worn Buick stainless, Ron sculpted the entire sweep out of a pair of welded-in lines of cold-rolled rod! The upper spear line was done in 3/8 inch rod, the lower line in Πinch. Very labor intensive and, I can tell you from personal experience, extremely risky in panel warpage for craftsmen of lesser lights. But Ron formed those sculpted lines to flow flawlessly.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-04Finished molded-in rod shaped spear with a fresh coat of black primer.
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CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-05A look at the frenched stock taillights with the molded-in hand-shaped surround.
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CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-06Finished in black primer… parked in the drive way ready for more cruising.
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Within the cabin, front seats were taken from an ’83 Thunderbird, and rear seats from a ’65 model. These, the headliner, and all other panels were clothed in two shades of grey cloth, and trimmed out in a pair of lavender tones of leatherette. Brantz marvels that the Thunderbird front seats sit exactly 3 Âœ inches lower than stock. Exactly the extent of the chop in height of the top.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-14The interior was done in two tone gray cloth with details on lavender leatherette.
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Then, it was time for the final paint. Nothing less than gloss black would do for The Shadow ride. The graphic Shooter had done earlier on the lower left quarter was sacrificed at this stage. Instead, that electrodynamic sweep that had burned into Gerald’s mind now was born under the skilled airbrush artistry of Steve “Shooter” Benth. A silver basecoat was sprayed over the “Buick spear” sculptures down the sides of the Mercury. Then a fade purple was laid down, beginning in light tones at the front and slowly deepening into a rich, dark purple toward the rear. The result is an absolutely stunning accent to an inspired work of art. Finally, the car returned to Shooter for another Shadow graphic, laid down this time on the black coupe’s deck lid.

CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-08One happenstance that still has Brantz smiling is having The Shadow serve as an impromptu prop for “Miss Harley Davidson” when a promotional tour for the motorcycle company came through town in 2000.
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An outdoor car show was held on the grounds of Trails End, the historic Kendrick mansion on the hill behind the high school in Sheridan, Wyoming. There, Gerald was able to show The Shadow in a head-to-head photo opportunity with another full custom Merc. This car, owned by Ray Mead of Billings, was a four-door converted to a custom with a Hirohata-style roofline, and that ’50-53 Buick stainless sidetrim which had inspired the sweep spear on The Shadow. The comparisons and contrasts are striking. Gerald Brantz most definitely achieved his dream ride in The Shadow.


CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-11The Shadow 1950 Mercury parked with Ray Mead’s ex-four door Mercury in Sheridan, Wyoming.
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CCC-pointer-the-shadow-mercury-12This photo shows how similar both cars are styled, yet how different they both feel. Ray’s Merc much like the 50’s lead-sleds, while Gerald’s merc has a more 80’s rod feel to it.
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Don’t let go of your dream. Where were you in 62?
(The Shadow knows.)



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1Shot Shooter

 

1SHOT Shooter

 

A colorful story about Sheridans Steve “Shooter” Benth, creating irreplaceable pinstripe art in his inspiring shop.



“Are you Shooter?”
Steve “Shooter” Benth had just stepped outside his shop and pulled the door shut behind him. It was that twilight time of evening when objects become hard to discern, especially when standing beneath the floodlight over Benth’s shop door. Shooter squinted, trying to make out the imposing figure of a man striding toward him.

“Who wants to know?” he asked with feigned bravado. (as in, “Whose husband might you be?”)

“I want you to teach me how to pinstripe.” The tall, dark young man smiled and stuck out his hand. “I’m Scott Stalick. I’ve admired your work, and I’d like you to teach me how to pinstripe.”

Benth was taken aback. In all the years he had been painting cars, doing art graphics and pinstriping, never once in all that time had anyone ever asked him to teach them his craft. With that handshake, Shooter Benth took on a protégé.


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Beginning with all the menial tasks of a bodyshop, Scott dove right in. Sweeping floors, hauling out trash, it didn’t matter. Soon he graduated to wet sanding, then shaping metal and fabricating pieces under Shooter’s tutelage. Just as Bill Brown, in this very same shop in decades long past, had passed along his craft to us Conquistador teens of the ‘50s, Shooter shared with his willing pupil the tricks of the trade. From spraying primer over fresh metalwork, to shooting color in wet coats, to dragging a line with a sable brush loaded with 1Shot enamel, Shooter proudly watched his student grow in confidence and skill. To Scott Stalick, Steve Benth is a hero, just as Bill Brown stands tall in the memories of each and every young man whose future he helped paint.


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What goes around, comes around. The Benth boys had, in their turn, learned from the likes of “Frenchy” Holbert and Harry Schwartz, their childhood heroes. Steve Benth, especially, displayed artistic aptitudes and talents that can’t be taught. In every sense, he was to become an artist. Early on, it became apparent, most noticeably in the building and detailing of model cars.

Pinstriping did not come right away to Shooter’s repertoire. Growing up, he was impressed with edgy art of the Beatnik Generation, of Abstract Impressionists, and the quirky influences of Salvador Dali. Especially as it would pop up in the psychedelic California scene of weirdo graphics. Ed Roth’s art caught his eye, but Shooter expressly mentioned George “Stanley Mouse” Miller, starting in Detroit and migrating to the California scene to engage in in friendly competition with Roth’s iconic Rat Fink. “I always was for the underdog,” Steve smiled. “Rat Fink always was beating the #%$& out of Mouse.”


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Cartoons of weirdos had been part and parcel of his letters to brother Buddy in Viet Nam from 1969 to 1971. His first pinstriping, with a cheap brush from Dean’s Hobby Shop, and ordinary enamel from Lansings’ Sherwin Williams paint store, he recalled, was lettering John Schwartz’s nickname on his Corvette gas cap!


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Nicknames. Sooner or later everyone got one, for various and sometimes unmentionable causes. “Pushbroom” was John’s monicker. The story goes that John was pressed into community service by the Buffalo, Wyoming gendarmes, sweeping up the street with a broom appropriated from the city jail. A young female companion had a glass beverage container slip from her grasp and break, in view of the vigilant crime fighters. Task done, John reached to return the broom to the civil servants. But, no, his service to the city would not be completed until he returned the broom to the jail. So, as John Schwartz told the story himself, he dutifully shouldered the pushbroom and flanked by the officers on duty, marched back to the jail, whistling the tune from the movie, “Bridge On the River Kwai.” To this day, friends and acquaintances call John Schwartz, “Pushbroom”.

I never asked Steve Benth how he came by the nickname, “Shooter”. The first time Shooter added his monicker to a bit of auto graphic art was on the tailgate panel of Frenchy Holbert’s jet black 73 Chevy Blazer. Benth had completed his artwork, and stood back with the hobby brush in hand.

“Aren’t you going to sign it?” Frenchy’s lady demanded. “All artists sign their work, Shooter.” Dutifully, in miniscule letters only the myoptic are blessed to lay down, he added the letters, “Shooter”.

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The young lady then asked why it was he wasn’t using a proper striping brush. He didn’t know, he’d heard of them, but didn’t believe any were available in Sheridan, Wyoming.

“Go down to the NAPA auto parts store. They have them!” she snorted. And sure enough they did.


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In doing some homework ahead of visiting with Shooter, I picked up a recent book about Kenneth “Von Dutch” Howard. It was like Order meets Chaos. And Order staggered off, totally unraveled by the encounter. I had to chuckle. The Left Side of the Brain really is different from the Right Side. No wonder Von Dutch almost never granted interviews. He floated on his own surreal seas; to attempt navigating them in a craft of Old Ironsides Logic would be like riding the Perfect Storm.


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Then there was Jackson Pollock, the Abstract Expressionist born in Cody, Wyoming. After WWII, former Marine combat artist Harry Jackson made a pilgrimage from Wyoming to Long Island, where he took up residence in Pollock’s chicken coop, to study under the eccentric artist. Kind of like Scott Stalick, learning Steve Benth’s craft. Harry told me one time the prestigious Museum of Modern Art called Pollock in a panic. In mounting one of his signature canvases of free-form poured paint swirls, they discovered a cigarette butt had fallen out of the painting. Hearing only the panic over the phone, Pollock took the train in to Manhattan. When he saw his discarded butt in the trembling museum staffer’s hand, he snorted a singular expletive, turned on his heel and left.


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These were the icons of Shooter Benth’s explorations of art expression. As “Stanley Mouse” had expanded into psychedelic posters, album covers for The Grateful Dead and Journey, and weirdo airbrush work, Shooter’s own work evolved. Two of his mentors locally were Bud Culver and Harold Burcell of Empire Neon. Sign shops and sign painters always have had strong influences on automotive graphics and pinstriping. By the 80s, 1Shot enamel had come onto the market, and increasingly Shooter was the 1Shot pinstriper in demand. With the times, it would only follow that Benth also would take up air brushing of graphics.


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“Shooter has done so many vehicles around this country,” Scott Stalick recalled. “I used to get a kick out of spotting brand new off the lot cars he had striped, and then immediately running into a 70s truck in a parking lot that he had obviously done 30 years before. He’s painted everything from a custom chopper that shared the floor at the Grand National Roadster Show, to a new SUV that just ventures to the grocery store and back. It’s always amazed me how his talent for painting has made him a part of so many peoples’ lives, just by adding a little custom style to their ride. He’s a character, a mentor, a “make up new lyrics to a familiar song” kind of guy, but he’s a real friend to hundreds, through his work. I think that’s what it takes to be a good custom painter. Enough crazy, and enough sane, and plenty of folks to entertain.”
An early work of a more traditional look was the gold “fire engine” graphic designs he laid down over custom shades of red on a one-ton dually pickup for Bob Prill.

CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-73-ChevyBob Prill’s One-ton Dually pick up truck with the “fire engine” style striping.
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The Shadow, an early graphic created on Gerald Brantz’s chopped 50 Mercury, was hand painted. But the purple fade Shooter laid down on the “50s Buick” lines sculpted on the sides of the same car, was done with an air brush.

CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-shadow-merc-01Steve “Shooter” Benth starting the Shadow mural on Gerlad Brantz’s 1950 Mercury.
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CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-shadow-mercThe finished Shadow artwork.
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Over the years, Benth has lost track of the many cars to bear the “Shooter” signature in miniscule lettering somewhere along their striped lines.

Shooter’s own ride was “Goldfish”, a tastefully done custom gold 56 Chevy hardtop. It was his signature piece of rolling art until 1976, when a friend borrowed it and side-swiped a rural mailbox. That car remains disassembled now in back of Shooter’s shop, awaiting a resurrection day.

CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-56-chevyShooter’s 1956 Chevy Hardtop “Goldfisch.
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Steve Benth moved into Bill Brown’s old shop with the retirement of bodyman Phil Barker. In 2015, as I strolled around the place remembering old times, at every turn there were examples of Shooter’s talent. Door frames, window panes, and walls exhibit monsters, weirdos, lettering and pinstriping in Shooter’s handiwork.


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CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-wall-photo-01“Stanley Mouse” influences abound, most notably across the cinderblock wall of the paint room.
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CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-striping-01I especially enjoyed his “Dancing Cleen” design on the door of his clothes washer residing inside that same paint room.
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One most memorable piece is a toilet seat in pinstriping and monster art. No pun intended, it calls to mind Von Dutch’s cryptic dismissal of all the automotive pinstriping he had done. “For what? What good is it knowing that everything you do is going to wind up in the scrap pile.”


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Looking about this old shop, and taking in Shooter’s graphics at each turn, I’m given pause. I know there are neighbors out there who can’t wait until that day in the future when the bulldozer comes to obliterate this pea-green building. If they see an eyesore, I see an historical record of a culture generations deep. To our Conquistadors, passed down to Steve “Shooter” Benth, and even today to Scott Stalick, this place is storied. The lives touched by that old curmudgeon Bill Brown. The rolling sculpture of Ed’rd Lawrence. The irreplaceable works of Shooter’s art. A sacred place, priceless beyond measure.


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One car with artwork by Shooter that is not going to the scrap pile is the 54 Buick of his protĂ©gĂ©, Scott Stalick. This is a car with family history. Originally dragged home by Scott’s older brother, in the late 90s the Buick saw some of its custom transformations at the Wyo Tech trade school where his brother was enrolled. Then the brother moved on, leaving the Buick behind, and dad told 12-year-old Scott, “Guess it’s yours now.” And it has been ever since.

CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-stalick-buick-01Scott Stalick’s 1954 Buick with flames, and striping by Shooter.
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Over the years the original small Buick v8 and three-on-the-tree went away, replaced by a healthy Buick 401 and turbo 400. A 56 Olds donated a rearend, and Scott rescued a driveshaft from a car shoved over Dave Scrutchfield’s ditchbank. The car is a driver, and maintains a venerable coat of weathered black primer.
Over this base, Scott laid out designs and Shooter demonstrated his pinstriping licks, and fashioned flame graphics out of the Buick portholes. The day Johnny Cash died, Scott had Steve apply the “Johnny Cash Lives” graphic tribute on the trunk lid.


CCC-1shot-shooter-pointer-stalick-buick-02I fully believe that flying eyeball graphic draped over Scott’s dashboard has Salvador Dali, Von Dutch, and Ed Roth smiling, wherever they are. Could “Stanley Mouse” see it, too, he surely would give it a thumbs up.
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Steve “Shooter” Benth has ample reason to be proud. Of his body of work, yes, but also in the young man he helped along the way, ever since that evening when he was asked, for the very first time, to teach his craft to a most willing apprentice. Today, Scott Stalick has his own small “307” business, creating graphics and designs for clothing for the young at heart. In his shop, he has even more car projects. There is a period perfect Model A in the works. And in the wings, a 59 Cadillac, a tribute to Larry Watson.


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As I watched this pair exchange banter that March afternoon, I couldn’t help telling myself, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Good on you, Steve “Shooter” Benth. And you, too, Bill Brown. Wherever you are. Thanks for the memories.




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(this article is sponsored by)

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Gary Birns 1960 SoCal trip

 

1960 TRIP TO BARRIS

 

In the summer of 1960 Gary Birns and two friends make a Dream trip from Cleveland, Ohio to the Barris Kustom City Shop in Lynwood California.



By Gary Birns.

Back in the late 1950’s early 1960’s Gary Birns was a 18 year old high School senior, and just as most of his friend he loved Kustom Cars. The guys would get all the little Custom Car magazines they could get their hand on and dream about all those beautiful customs inside. In their spare time they were creating their own custom cars in their home garages and if there was enough money saved from doing spare time jobs, they would have some more serious work done at the local body shops. The guys noticed that a lot of the customs featured in the magazines came from California. In early 1960 a plan was made to go to use the summer vacation that year to go on a road trip to California. The main goal for the trip was to visit the Barris Kustom Shop, because the Barris Kustoms name was something that could be found in all those magazines… that must be the place to be. At the time Gary was the proud owner of a 1959 Thunderbird convertible that was nosed, decked & Scalloped. Gary was hoping to come back from the trip with ideas that would turn his car into California styled Kustom.


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Gary and two of his friends decided to actually make the trip and they left Cleveland, Ohio and drove to Chicago where they took route 66 straight to Los Angles, California. They would name it the “yellow brick road to Barris”. On their way they did some sight seeing and it took them about a week to get there. They all took turns driving and they slept in the car when we weren’t driving. They also stayed in a few motels during their trip which would take three weeks. Gary, being from Ohio expected he would see a lot of Custom cars on the streets in California. He did see more Custom cars in Southern California than in Cleveland, but nothing too radical like he had seen in the magazines for the past couple of years. Although the closer they got to Los Angeles, the better it got. When they arrived in Los Angeles more and more mild customs could be found driving the streets.

When the guys saw the signs for Lynwood they started to get nervous, because this was the city that Barris Kustom was in. When they got to S. Atlantic Blvd. Gary started to sweat big time. And there it was… 11054 S. Atlantic Blvd, Gary’s “Dream” came true he was in front of Barris Kustom Shop! Gary couldn’t believe his eyes, there were Kustom Cars all over the place, parked on the street & in the shop parking lot. WOW! this was not Cleveland, Ohio for sure!

CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-011957 Pontiac with a wild outline / panel paint-job was parked on the street in front of the shop. On the right on the curb we can see Dean Jeffries Porsche, and in the front, also parked on the curb is the Kopper Kart. Parked next to that is George Barris personal candy red with a silver top 1958 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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They parked the car and got out to take a look at the cars parked in front of the shop and slowly worked their way inside the shop. Gary and his friends were able to talk with a lot of the workers at the shop, picking their brain for styling advise for Gary’s 59′ Thunderbird. Gary didn’t know anyone at the shop, but he is sure all those guys he talked to are all famous now. Inside the shop they were working several cars including Shirley Barris’ 58′ Thunderbird. They spend quite a bit of time at the shop, absorbing everything they saw and everythign that was going on. But the time they were at the shop they did not see George Barris himself. George must have been outside the shop, perhaps shooting photos on location, or some other publicity work. But the guys did see a lot of cars with the Barris Crests, & that was enough for them.

Gary took 24 snapshots of the cars and the Barris shop, but sadly he has misplaced most of them. A few years ago he did come across 8 of them while searching for something else. Those 8 are now in this article and who knows those missing 16 photos will turn up one day… and if they do, we will be sure to share them here with you on the Custom Car Chronicle.

CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-03A view at the work place shows that the Barris Shop was working on Bob Crespo’s 1940 Ford “Les Popo”, that had previously been sectioned and restyled by Hal Hutchings and Bill Cushenbery. The Barris shop had done the quad headlights, grille and hood scoop and had just been coated in a fresh coat of black primer. Next to it is Jim Seaton’s 1959 El-Camino, and all the way in the back is Lyle Lake’s 1952 Buick the “Blue Danube” in for an update. 
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CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-04Another view from the street shows the Kopper Kart on the curb and George Barris his personal 1958 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. The car looked stunning in brilliant candy red, silver top, white interior, Button grille and spotlights. Peaking out behind the kopper kart are the double headlights of Dean Jeffries silver Porsche.
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CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-06The Barris shop is not really very big, so work on the cars was done everywhere. And in SoCal the weather is really good most of the time, so the parking space outside the shop was just one big work place. Gary had this photo signed by George Barris at a show he attended many years after he had taken the photo.
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CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-05This is a really great photo with all the cars on the street in the background and of course the kopper Kart in the for ground. It was amazing to be able to walk around that car and see everything in daylights and so close by in person.
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CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-02This 1952 Chevy Hard-Top parked on the street was very nice as well. Beautiful color and paint, with an all white tuck & roll interior with dark green piping. Notice that the rear view mirror and the horn ring are covered in hand made two tone furry covers. It was common back then to have your girlfriend make these dress-up parts for your car.
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CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-07Close up of Jim Seaton’s 1959 Chevy El Camino. Molded headlights, bullet grille on expanded metal, and reshaped eye brows. The car was painted to match Jim’s 1955 Chevy.
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CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-08Sadly a bit overexposed, but this photo shows the unique taillights the shop created on Jim Seaton’s 1959 Chevy El Camino. The light were done in red plastic to which vertical mounted white plastic shaped ribs were added.
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While the guys were in Los Angeles they stayed in several motels and had some addresses they wanted to see. But each day they where they would stop by at the Barris Kustoms Shop to see what was new that day. The shop was just intense with so many projects going on at the same time. They also visited Larry Watson’s shop, Ed Roth Studios, & Bill Cushenbery‘s Custom shop in Monterey, CA. Sadly they only brought one camera with them, which broke down during the trip. And they were very low on budget due to the fact everything in LA was so much more expensive than down in Ohio. They just could not afford to buy a new camera. Now thinking back they of course all wished they had spend the extra money and did buy a new camera back then.

 

CCC-gary-birns-barris-trip-09This is one photo Gary found of another Barris Kustoms created Custom, the Aztec. This photo was actually not taken at the Barris Shop in 1960, but rather at a late 1950’s Cleveland Ohio show.
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CCC-gary-birns-t-bird-01This photo was taken in May of 1960 when Gary’s 1959 T-bird was a “Mild Kustom”. This version of the car was scalloped and striped by Gary’s friend Arni Nashbar. After Garry had returned from his Barris Shop visit he took the car to Davis Auto Body & Kustom where it would be turned into a “Semi Kustom”, with Candy Apple paint, reshaped rear fins, and molded in lake pipes. But we will tell you more about that in a future CCC-Article.
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On the way back home they wanted to stop at the Star Kustom shop to see Darryl Starbird, but they got lost & were in a hurry to get home. They took a detour on the drive back & stopped in Detroit to see the Alexander Brother‘s Kustom shop. Their shop was really great as well, they were building some really cool cars. I especially liked a Candy Apple Red 1958 Chevy Impala Hardtop that they were just finishing (Gary mentioned that is was a really great car, but he never saw it in any magazines). They were using a lot of white plastic & clear plastic rods on their cars. Gary was rally impress and inspired by that. It did gave him some good ideas for the taillights for on his own 1959 Tbird.

 

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The Alexander brothers gave me one of their Alexander Bros Kustoms, Barris Detroit Division business cards.
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CCC-gary-birns-t-bird-012With all the inspiration gathered from the road-trip in the summer of 1960, Gary had the the boys at Davis’ Auto Body in Cleveland Ohio restyle his 1959 T-Bird to his design. The car was finished in a beautiful candy red paint.
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Sharing Custom Car Memories

 

An Appeal To You!

 

Share with us! Your Custom Car Memories. We aren’t looking for letter-perfect. Photos, or not. Just help us preserve the past and grow the future of the beauty of customizing, through the CCC.



By Larry Pointer & Rik Hoving


The Holiday Season is a time for sharing, for counting our blessings, and for reaching out to friends and family.
You are our family. CCC would like for you, too, to share your stories with all of us who enjoy the beauty of customizing.
We have lost some icons of customizing over the passing year. It reminds us how quickly we can lose HUGE pieces of our rich past. People. Stories. Photos. How fleeting they are, as the business of Life carries us beyond return. “If only” are words too often heard when someone or something passes beyond retrieval.

CCC-sharing-cc-memories-rik-hoving-collectionBesides the stories we are of course also always interested if you have any old Custom Car related photos or other material to share. Your shared material is enjoyed by thousands of enthusiast from all around the globe.
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Passing it on is what connects us. It is how we grow in our Lives. CCC would like for you to pass along your own stories, with or without photos. As Scott Stalick recently pointed out, whole new generations of enthusiasts are eager to learn and to more fully appreciate the rich traditional customizing legacy that is theirs through the CCC.

CCC-memo-0rtega-part-nine-06-wMemo Ortega has been sharing from his many albums and amazing stories with the Custom Car Chronicle readers. The readers love his authentic stories, and the shared storied helped Memo reconnected with several of his long lost friends.
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It’s hard to think what we might have missed if Memo Ortega had not sat down with us and told us his stories. We’ve all come to love him. It’s like we just walked up his drive, to watch him work his old school magic. And on top of all, Memo got reconnected with a lot of his old friends who read his stories on the CCC.

CCC-sharing-cc-memories-memo-ortega-01Memo Ortega on the left, with one of his old friends, “Papitas”.
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And Tom Nielsen. How lucky we are, that he and teenagers like him captured their car passions through the lenses of their cameras. When Bob Prill generously opened his personal albums to us this past year, already over 16,000 of us have clicked onto his snapshots of a car life of the Fifties.


Larry Pointer recently shared how blest he has been in connecting and rekindling friendships of the past. The Conquistadors, the daughters of the home-schooled genius Cecil Wentz, the Benths and the brothers Schwartz.
In going through his own “40 years’ gatherings”, Larry stumbled across slides of a very special 1938 Chevy coupe he had from a life, literally, as a chicken coop. He knew the year, 1965, because he sold the coupe to pay for the birth of his daughter Nicole.
The car was bought by the Sheridan College basketball center, who drove it home to Indiana. Fifty years ago, that was, but Larry was able to contact that very man, Dale Phillips, and discover “the rest of the story”. Now a retired professional pilot, restoring a pre-WWII biplane, Dale told of driving that 38 Chevy for several years. “I know where that car is,” Dale added, and not long later Larry received an email: “Look what I found!” with photos of that very car in its present condition today.

CCC-sharing-cc-memories-pointer-01Larry Pointer’s 1938 Chevy Coupe back in the 1960’s and the inset photos show that his old car is still around today. Without the CCC Larry would have never known his old car was still around.
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Soon Larry was sharing stories with Dale and with the car’s present caretaker, Gregory Prosser. For awhile, nostalgia got the best of Larry and had him scrambling to find ways to retrieve the coupe. But the penciled out realities (and actuary tables on Septegenarians) soon set his feet solidly on terra firma.He may not have the coupe back, but friendships old and new have been ignited. Who knows, someone younger may soon give this car with a documented pedigree a new home and a new life
like the perfectly restyled 37 coupe of Keith Gottlichs
as a traditional custom car.

CCC-sharing-cc-memories-T-Era-1Dick Read shared his memories and photo albums with the CCC in the hope he would be reunited with his old car… It worked Dick was reunited, and the CCC readers got an great story.
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We have received many email and comments of people who loved the stories we share, the personal details we add in our historic Custom Car features, and the many added snapshots shared by our readers. Our older readers who have been there in the past reliving their history again after reading the shared stories on the CCC. And the younger generation who gets a much better view how it really was back in time, getting inspired to create fantastic new Custom Cars. Our shared stories have also helped relocate old cars that are still around. A great sample is the Show Rod Dick Read created in the 1960’s. He had been looking for his old car for 15 years, then stumbled onto the Custom Car Chronicle, liked it so much he decided to share his story. And with the help of the Custom Car Chronicle, thousands of people where able to enjoy his story, and even better Dick was reunited for the first time since 1970, with his old Show Rod the T-Era in 2013.
A lot of this and much more, might not have happened if the stories, information and photos had not been shared with the Custom Car Chronicle.

So, we appeal to each and every one of you. Share with us! We aren’t looking for letter-perfect. Photos, or not. Just help us preserve the past and grow the future of the beauty of customizing, through the CCC. Email us and will help you share your Custom Car Memories and photos on the Custom Car Chronicle.

From us to you, Happy Holidays.

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