Baroque Custom Dreams


On a recent cruise in Europe I attended an art history lecture. The presenter started going through all the different periods of artwork and artistic styles. I perked up when she began talking about the “baroque period” of art. It was thought of as the period of artistic style that used exaggeration, excess, and exuberance.

[dropcap]As[/dropcap] soon as I heard the word “baroque” I thought of a picture in an old Custom Car Annual of a chopped ’56 Chev. There was an interesting story along with three pictures of this unique full custom hardtop. The multitude of modifications made to this ’56 hardtop definitely showed excess. The many new custom ideas used on it created tension and exaggeration.

CCC-tom-nielsen-baroque-dreams-02The full page the 1956 Chevy was feature in the Custom Cars 1959 Annual.
I liked the “different” look of this one of a kind custom. Along with the pictures there was an interesting story of how the canted headlights had been installed but the degree of angle not match each other. According to the story this unfinished custom was repossessed by the finance company and was scrapped because it was too heavily modified and it was deemed too big of a task to correct the “crooked headlight” problem.

When I first saw this story and picture I was fifteen, not old enough to get a driver’s license. So I started daydreaming that this would be a “cool car” to own. It would be affordable too, if I could have gotten it from the bank. I dreamed that I would have a body man in town fix the crooked headlight and keep it in primer. I liked the look of it in several shades of primer. I daydreamed about how I would finish it over time, but enjoy cruising around town in it for now.
Years later, I revisited this 1959 Custom Car Annual many times and always wondered if there was more information on what happened to this wild looking chopped ’56 hardtop? All that I had to go on was that single ¾ front view picture, a small rear picture, and a head on front picture in the Trend Annual and the brief story on it.

Then much later, around 2000 there were several old pictures from the late 50’s or early 60’s that surfaced of the rear view of this custom Chev. They were just small pictures in Rod & Custom magazine, and it showed the car turning into a parking lot. I wasn’t so sure that I liked the rear view as well as the front ¾ view that I had studied so many times. However, the rear was definitely in the “baroque” theme of the car and was complex and excessive. The fins have a baroque style, heavy edge to them and fit in well with whole car design.

About thirteen years ago a friend of mine showed me a more recent picture of this very same car. So it hadn’t been scrapped! It looked like it was stored in a back lot somewhere in California. Barry Mazza has copies of that same picture my friend showed, and one more of this Custom in his Custom Car Photo Archives.





I know there are other customs from the late fifties to sixties that fall into the “baroque” category, but for me this one was perfect. I still enjoy seeing it in the old Custom Car annual and dreaming of what could have been!

Tom Nielsen




The Barry Mazza Collection


The Custom Car Photo Archive started in 2004. The first collector who shared his photo collection with us was Barry Mazza. He loved what we did, and shared many of his photos and memories with us for everybody to enjoy.

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]arry Mazza, long time Custom Car enthusiast, collector and car builder, has collected photos, info and memorabilia for as long as he can remembers. He has always shared his knowledge and collection with other enthusiasts, and when he found out about the Custom Car Photo Archive he decided that it would be the perfect place to share his collection and knowledge with a much wider audience. Barry’s amazing photo collection was and still is a huge hit on the the Custom Car Photo Archive. People from all over the world enjoy this collection. Some people got inspired by Barry’s collection and started to share their own photo collection with us, while other people decided to start similar sites to share their passion for Custom Cars.

When Barry started to share his personal collection with us, there was not much else out there on the internet. There was basically no other place you would be able to see these rarely seen snapshots and photos of custom cars from the golden era, at least not in the quantity and quality Barry was sharing. Most of the photos from Barry’s collection came with neat little stories, and information nowhere else to be found. Barry shared color photos of custom cars most of us had never seen in color, or versions of cars that had never been published before. Amazing material, from an amazing guy.

The Barry Mazza Collection on the Custom Car Photo Archive

This article shows only a very small selection of the Barry Mazza Collection. For the full experience please check out the Custom Car Photo Archive.
If you are not familiar with Barry Mazza. Barry Mazza is best known for restoring the Pisano/Barris built 1941 Buick for Herb Ogden. This car now belongs to the Kurt McCormick Collection. Barry also restored the Barris-built 1955 Chevy “The Aztec”. But he also built many other great custom cars or worked on cars from others.

Thank you Barry Mazza for sharing your collection with us custom car enthusiasts. 


ccc-barry-mazza-collection-04-WRare color photo of the George Cerny 1950 Plymouth shop truck parked in front of his shop.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-03-WBarris Kopper Kart in the Barris Kustoms Shop drive way.



ccc-barry-mazza-collection-11-WThree photos of the Ayala/Barris built 1949 Mercury for Louis Bettancourt. These photos show the Barris version for Johnny Zupan

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-10-WJohnny Dragoo 1954 Mercury at an outdoor car show. The 1955 Chevy behind it was soon be transvered into the “Aztec” after this photo was taken.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-09-WBarry Mazza cleaning the 1950 Mercury he built inspired by the Ayala/Barris Louis Bettancourt Mercury.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-08-WRare photo of the Sam Barris 1952 Ford with the soft top up.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-07-WRare color photo of the Hirohate Mercury at an early 1950’s outdoor car show.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-06-WLater the Hirohata Mercury was repainted in lime gold. Here we can see the car at another outdoor show with the new paint and rare three bar spinner hubcaps.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-05-WChuck deWitt’s 1950 Ford convertible built by the Barris Kustoms shop. Seen here at Bonneville in 1953.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-13-WSaint Vasquez 1950 Chevy and Duane Steck’s 1954 Chevy parked at what looks like the Hollywood park race track parking lot show.

ccc-barry-mazza-collection-12-WPaul “Snooky” Janich 1941 Ford business Coupe by Barris Kustoms photographed in the late 1940’s.

Do you want to see more of the amazing collection from Barry Mazza. Check out his section on the Custom Car Photo Archive.



Do you know about a Photo Collection that needs to be saved and shared.
Please let us know Email Rik Hoving