Frank Sandoval 36 Ford




Howard Gribble shared these photos of Frank Sandoval’s 1936 Ford coupe from the mid 1940’s. A trip back in time.

When I see photos like these of Frank Sandoval’s 1936 Ford mild restyled Coupe, it always makes me wonder, how many of these relatively mildly restyled cars were there in the 1940’s? There seams to be a huge amount of photos of this type of restyled car. It appears that the number of photos of the famous and not so famous fully Customs Cars are far fewer than the once showing this type of Customs. Of course it does make sense, since a mildly restyled car is something every handy guy could do himself, or have a local shop do for his newspaper round money. And this type of restyling did already set your car apart from the cars your parent would drive, or which you would see across the street. I guess that we are just not used to see these cars in great numbers today, were we can see photos of fully customized cars in the magazines and books produced back in the day and now. Perhaps the fact that the young guys from the 1940’s are slowly passing away, and photo collections showing their daily driven mildly restyled cars are passed on to family members who share them with the world, or just gave them away to the guy they know who happens to like cars more they they do.

In any event, I’m really happy these photos of these stylish, mildly restyled cars are popping up so frequently over the last couple of years. Because it is a style I happen to love very much, and it really gives us a good look how it was back then. The photos that Howard Gribble shared with the Custom Car Chronicle show Frank Sandoval’s 1936 Ford Coupe, that has actually been restyled a little more than the average restyling job. Something that required a bit more than bolt-off and on skills.

CCC-frank-sandoval-36-ford-03The low angle front photo shows the turned upside down 1939 Nash grille sitting in a much narrowed and reshaped 1936 Ford grille surround. Not an easy task to do this.

Lets take a look at Frank’s 1936 Ford Coupe. One of the most obvious restyling done to the car is the front of the car. Frank uses a 1939 Nash grille and flipped it upside down. On the stock Nash car the grille actually is angled back at the bottom, while most other cars have angled back at the top grilles. The Nash unit is also wider at the top than the bottom. For the Ford design it was needed to flip the grille. The nash does not have a grille surround, the grille bars seam to float inside an opening in the body. Frank decided he liked the original 1936 Ford grille surround. So he narrowed it to fit the Nash grille. The top portion was narrowed more than the bottom. The body work on the grille surround looks to be expertly executed This was done either from scratch using sheet metal bend and folded in shape using the stock Ford grille, or perhaps it was based on an aftermarket grille surround or Pines winter grille that was modified to fit the Nash grille. Smooth hood sides replace the stock Ford units for an even smoother look. The end result is a very elegant narrow grille making the Ford look taller and the nose longer, indicating a powerful engine.

CCC-frank-sandoval-36-ford-02Frank looking good with his 1936 Ford in front of the Banning High School in Wilmington, California.

The bumpers were replaced with the ever popular ribbed 1937 Desoto bumpers, a set of amber fog-lights installed and the wheels were dressed up with single bar flipper hubcaps with beauty rings. The bubble fender skirt, possibly a 1940 Ford unit was dressed up with a 1941 Buick, or similar styled aftermarket trim piece, a very popular dress-up part back then. The car was lowered front and rear, but a little more at the rear for the so desirable slight speed boat stance.

So whatever happened to Franks wonderful restyled Ford… we don’t know… but would love to find out.

Thanks to Howard Gribble for sharing these photos with us and Frank’s grandson Dg Jones and his mother Karen for preserving these great pictures.





CCC-frank-sandoval-36-ford-04Howard Gribble did this great old fashion style colorized photo of Frank with his Ford…. great!




The Howard Gribble Collection part 2




In this second article on the Howard Gribble photo collection, we like to focus on some of the photos showing custom cars that are a bit different from the “mainstream” cars in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Customs that were customized with more than just paint.

Howard Gribble has been sharing his collection of 1960′s and 1970′s custom car, and low rider photos on his own Flickr photo site since 2006. Since 2008, Howard also shares his collection on the Custom Car Photo Archive. In this second article on Howard’s Collection we are concentrating on some of the photos he took himself, rather than photos he had found. We like to focus on the photos that show us that there were still some custom cars that had more than just custom paint and lowering in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
Check out the rest of the Howard Gribble Collection articles on the CCC-site


In those years, the start of the low rider era most of the cars were only milady customized with actual body work. People spend most of their time and money into lowering the car as much as possible, and on the most amazing paint jobs. But there were still a few cars around that had the old style custom body work as chopped tops, reshaped fenders and grilles etc.

lets take a look at those cars captured with Howard Gribble’s camera…


CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-09-WThe Roy Abendroth 1955 Buick “Busonic” was built by John Schott. He customized the Buick with 1957 Lincoln rear quarters, extended, reshaped and peeked front fenders with quad headlights and new grille opening. Every body panel on the car was modified in some way to help change the overall looks of the Buick with great results. Larry Watson ended up painting the car in copper metalflake with cob webbing in the light copper colored scallops in 1964. Howard’s photo shows the “Busonic” after a makeover that was done in 1965. Once again Larry Watson was hired to do the paint, this time in a striking lime metalflake on the main body and pearl black on the top.



CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-01-WDale Gould and and George Barris created this wild 1960 Cadillac Bill Carter was listed as the painter.


CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-11-WJim Noteboom’s 1963 Buick Riviera. Gene Winfields shop did the work on this car. The photo above shows the second version of the car with the extended sail panels and shaved trim. The front was modified  with a custom grille and at the back the taillights were moved from the body into the lower bumper. Gene painted this car in his famous fade away style in candy orange caramel to white pearl.


CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-10-WThe car changed hands two times before it ended up being painted metalflake purple as we can see it in this photo.




CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-07-WCustomized 1955-56 Fod has unique extended hood which hide the windshield wipers. The headlights are deeply tunneled into extended front fenders and the smoothed body is covered in several shaded of gray blue metalflake and candy paints. The wild interior with a supper glossy, metallic plastic, button tuffed, diamond shaped material.


CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-04-WVery pearl pink customized 1959 Chevy Impala with customized front and rear. Drew’s is listed for doing all the work on the car.




CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-06-WJoe Bailon built this wild ’65 Impala SS in 1970 for Jess Alcala. Joe dis all the work on the car including paint in his Los Feliz shop. In 1972 the car won the Elegance award at the Grand National Roadster show.


CCC-Howard-Gribble-BW-02-WThe last car in this article looks to be based on a 1965-68 Chevy Impala with the front of the roof cut off completely. Two separate windshields are installed on the cowl in a thirties roadster style. The door hinges are moved to make them open from the top hinged on the rockers. New trends in low-riders were born in the wild 1970’s.

(This article is made possible by)






The Howard Gribble Collection Part 1


This is the first article in a series the Custom Car Chronicle will do about the wonderful photos from the Howard Gribble Collection. This first article concentrates on photos, Howard has found at various locations over the years.

Howard Gribble has been sharing his collection of 1960’s and 1970’s custom car, and low rider photos on his own Flickr photo site since 2006. Since 2008, Howard also shares his collection on the Custom Car Photo Archive. In addition Howard supplied great material for some of the magazine articles the CCPA has published in the past years.


This photo shows part of the 1960’s and 1970’s photos Howard Gribble is best known for. We will get to those in the next articles on the Howard Gribble Collection.


In this first article on Howard’s Collection we are concentrating on the photos he has found, rather than the ones he took himself. The photos he took himself, mostly during the late 1960’s and 1970’s, show the wonderful and colorful custom cars and lowriders that drove around in SoCal during those years. The quantity and quality of these photos are amazing. Stay tuned if you’re interested in these cars for the forthcoming articles. Besides taking photos, Howard also loves searching for old photos at swap meeting or antique stores. Over the years he has found some very nice,  mostly 1940’s, photos showing hot rods, custom cars, bikes and interesting people. This article will show a fine selection of this collection.

Lets us first tell you a little bit about Howard Gribble.
Originally from Wilmington, North Carolina Howard Gribble moved to the Los Angeles, South Bay area, when he was 8 years old. A few years later Howard was introduced to custom cars, when a relative joined the Navy. When at sea, he parked his milady customized 1950 Ford sedan at the Gribble Family house. The Ford was maroon, with a custom white interior. Lowered some, with loud dual exhausts. Howard’s father would drive the car once in a while, to keep the battery charged. But he was afraid of getting a ticket for the pipes. Howard thinks he drove it once. Howards and his sister (both in the picture below) were fascinated by the shaved door handles.


Later, Howard started to notice more custom cars on the road, and around town. Cars that had custom paint jobs, flamed, scalloped, and pinstriped. Others having mild body work done, like shaved door handles, and custom grilles. During that time, Howard had developed a likening for art, and started to draw these custom cars, and cars he would love to own one day. Around this time, he also started to notice the car related magazines on the news stand. Magazines like Custom Cars, Rod & Custom, were bought with his allowance money, or the money he earned doing small jobs around the house. Magazines which are still part of his present day collection.

Howard bought his first car when he was 15 years old, even before he had a drivers license. It was a 1950 Ford sedan, just like the car that introduced him into custom cars several years back. And Howard of course, took the door handles from his car as well, creating a mild 1950’s style custom car. However due to lack of money the car was never finished. His second car, a 1961 Ford was built, inspired by Don Loster’s 1959 Ford Galaxy, which was painted by Larry Watson.

In the mid to late 1960’s, Howard got interested in photography. First using an instant Polaroid camera, he later bought a much better 35 mm camera, and took it with him where ever he went. His interest in cars, and especially custom cars, took him to many custom car, and hot rod shows in the later part of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  With him his trusty photo camera, and several rolls of films. He took pictures of all the cars, and bikes he loved.  In an era were not many photos were taken! This makes Howard’s collection so unique. He captured the era where mild custom cars slowly developed into low riders. An era were all you need to stand out, was a wonderful custom paint job in pearls or candies, lowered suspension and the right set of wheels. The next article will show many of these spectacular photos, and tell a bit more about Howard and his involvement in the scene.


The first photo of his old photo collection Howard shared with the Custom Car Photo Archive, is this mildly customized 1940 DeSoto.  Photographed in the early/mid 1940’s.




Howard found this great early 1940’s photo at the Pasadena City College antique fair. All the best mods from the period and it looks professionally built. Great lines showing in this side view. The signature appears to be “Bill Reed”.




I love this late 1930’s photo, showing a mildly customized 1937 Ford coupe, and a 1935 Ford in the background. The ’37 looks great with the wide whites, and single bar flipper hubcaps.




From the same collection comes this 1935 Ford coupe photo with some mild period customizing.



This photo, taken in 1946,  shows a 1936 Ford with a Packard Clipper grille mounted on top of the stock ’36 Ford grille. The bumper seems to be doubled up with another center section turned upside down. Something we have seen in some early Coachbuilt cars as well.



The California license plates on the cars in the back ground, indicates the year this photo was taken was 1942. Happy kids with, especially for that time, a very nice, fully dressed Harley.



Howard also takes the hot rod photos as he comes across them. These two examples show some early Californian Hot Rods. A Model T Roadster with ’32 Ford grille and flathead V8 on the dry lakes, and the other, a Model A with four banger engine driving on the streets of So Cal.

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Photo albums from the 1960’s and 1970’s


In our series on Custom Car Photo albums, we like to spend some time in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During these era’s, not only the custom cars changed dramatically, also the way photo albums, and even photos, were made changed.


The 1960’s

This decade brought many changes in the custom car photo albums. The albums were starting to get mass-produced, and most of them contained individual pages hold together by a binder. The heavy card pages used strokes of re-usable glue to hold the photos in place. Shields of clear plastic protected the (mostly) color photos. The – once white – pages of the albums yellowed over the years, due to discoloration in the glue. This was not really meant to be, but it did add a wonderful extra vintage feel to it.

The color photos where also mass produced, and the quality was not always the best, so a lot of the photos faded, or discolored quite a bit over time. The Custom Cars from this era where wild, the “sky was the limit”. New paint techniques, and paints where developed for relatively easy customizing. Bubble tops, and Over the Top Body Work, were covered in multiple coats, and hues of pearls, flakes, and candy’s where dominating the car shows.



The 1970’s

Compared to the previous decade, the photo albums did not change all that much in the 70’s. Only half way through the 70’s, the Polaroid camera’s became popular. They where easy to use, and you knew right away if a photo came out right or not. Polaroid photos where available in black and white, as well as in color. The majority of the custom cars in this decade could be considered “mild” customs. They had lowered suspension, and most of the customizing happened in the paint jobs. “Special Paint” was the thing to have, in order to stand out in a crowd. Of course there where exceptions to this as well, and some extreme, and “not-always-nice-on-the-eyes-kind-of-customs” by todays standards, where built.

There also were some older customs from the 50’s, that where pulled out of the garage, and re-designed to fit the themes of the decade. That usually was not the best that could happen to those cars.
The low-rider scene started, and even though many will not admit this, but the low-riders where the predecessors of the custom cars that where becoming more, and more popular in the late 70’s, and even more so in the early 80’s.



For these albums, photos were used from the Howard gribble, Keith Ashley, and Custom Car Photo Archive collections.CCC-1960-70-Image-W

Part one is about the photo albums in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Part three is about the photo albums in the 1980’s and 1990’s.