Sam Barris Chopping Merc Album 3

 

CHOPPING MERC ALBUM part 3

 

Part three in the series on the Chopping the top on Jerry Quesnels 1949 Mercury by Sam Barris. Finishing the Mercury in white primer, and showing it at the Montebello Tent Show in 1951.

In this third and last part on the Marcia Campbell created photo album of Sam Barris chopping Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury we will show how Sam reshaped the door frames, and how the car left the Barris Shop in white primer. Jerry Quesnel was a part time employee at the Barris Shop at the time his 1949 Mercury was built. We do not know if he had his car done as a client, or if he possibly did a deal with Sam Barris trading work. We know for many stories that a lot of work was traded back in the day, especially among the guys who worked in the Barris Shop. Perhaps Sam agreed to chop the top on Jerry’s car in trade for Jerry helping him out on his own personal Mercury.

 

Sam created the¬†door window frames and now all the hard metal work has been done. In the background we can see most likely the Snooky Janich 1941 Ford on the left, and peaking thru the windshield and just behind the trunk of Jerry’s merc we can see the Jack Stewart Ford again. Notice that Jerry’s Mercury already had a set of Appleton Spotlights previously installed.¬†
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With all the lead sanded smooth it was time to push the car back inside.¬†All the lead dust covers the trunk and roof, and of coarse found its way into Sam’s lungs as well.
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Sam Barris sitting inside the car working on the front corner of the door frame. Notice how much reshaped the rear portion of the door frame is.
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The work done on the roof and B-pillar has been covered with dark primer as we can see in this photo.
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I have enlarged a section of the photo above to show a little better how Sam is welding up the cut he had to make to lean the side window frame inwards at the top, to match the new lines of the chopped windshield frame.
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New window frames with completely reshaped rear sections to match those on the front. The roof and A-Pillars have now been covered in primer. Oddly enough the windshield has been filled with cut down glass. Possibly Jerry needed the car to be drivable during this stage?
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Close up from the back shows how much cutting and welding was needed to make this window frame with the needed shape.
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Sam adding lead to the door frame, holding the wood peddle in his right hand, and the torch and lead-stick in his left hand. 
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Adding more lead.
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Sanding down the lead, smoothing everything for primer.
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Door frames all done, looking fantastic and ready for primer. Look at all the lead sanding dust on the car.
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Adding more primer to the roof. Notice that the rear window has been installed again at this point as well.
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Sam Barris wet sanding the roof to get everything as smooth as possible before the final primer coat (white primer) will be added.
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Sanding the rest of the body. Unsure if this is Jerry, or somebody else helping out at the Barris Shop. It also appears that Jerry used an hubcap in the trunk to make some extra space for the rear axle center piece, just as was done on the Sam barris Mercury (thanks for pointing that out Kenny).
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The last photo in the album shows Jerry’s Mercury “finished” in white primer at the Montebello Tent Show in 1951. Note that the car did not have windshield wipers,¬†no stainless trim around the side windows and no vent windows installed yet. Interesting is that the car still had its stock ’49 Mercury grille (sans center piece) and dressed up with single bar flipper hubcaps, which were perhaps a bit outdated in 1951, especially on such a new car.
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Leaving the Barris Shop

There are two more known photos of Jerry’s ’49 Mercury in white primer as the “White Ghost” at the Barris Kustom Shop. Unsure is if Marcia also took these photos and if they at one time have been part of the album or not. One of the photos, where Sam Barris stands with the Mercury in his typical Sam Barris pose we can see that the car now has vent windows, or at least the vertical bars installe. But it still appears that there are no rear quarter windows, nor stainless surrounds on all side windows. I have included them in this article since I feel that one, and perhaps both photos are still part of the whole series.

The lack of fender mounted taillights makes Jerry’s Mercury look extremely slippery from the rear. This photo shows that the roof towards rear window flow is actually very nice.¬†
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Sam Barris posing with the freshly finished ‚Äď white primer version ‚Äď Jerry Quesnel ’49 Mercury. This photo shows the car with the vertical bars for the vent windows installed. This photo might have possibly been taken after the Montebello tent show.
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Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury would later be finished with a custom grille created from ’51 Ford grille components, Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps and painted deep purple. The front section of the side trim has now also been replace with a rear section for a more subtile look.
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Details

I have enlarges two sections of the last photo in the album that provide us with a bit more informations. And I have noticed that Sam can be seen in this series of photos wearing four different shirts. I have no idea what that means, of Sam wore a different “work” shirt every day, and that it means that the work is spread out over at least four days. I have added the different shirts here anyway. Perhaps one day it will help solve any other loose ends in the time frame of this album and or the chopping of the first ’49 Mercury.

The sign on the windshield reads (at least the part we can read, something more is on the top, which we cannot see good enough): Jerry Quesnel¬†–¬†49 Merc Coupe Chopped & Channel – Work by – Barris Kustom Shop. Notice the lack of windshield wipers.¬†
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There are many trophies placed to the car in Marcia’s photo. We do not know if these trophies actually belonged with the Jerry Quesnel Mercury, or with the Cliff Rackohn’s ’47 Mercury parked next to it. With Jerry’s Mercury only freshly finished and still without the vent windows and side window moldings it might seam odd it already had won so many trophies. But since Jerry’s Mercury is most likely the first ’49 Mercury to get chopped, that might have helped win some trophies. Also we do know that George Barris used to carry a lot of trophies to the shows just to display with the Barris cars on display. Of course a marketing way for gathering more attention to the cars, and the Barris Kustom Shop.
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Sam wore four different shirts during the process of chopping Jerry’s ’49 Mercury. Or at least Marcia Campbell captured Sam wearing four shirts. We do not know how long the whole process of the chop took, nor if Marcia was present from start till Finnish for the whole duration.
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The Montebello Tent Show

The last photo of the album, where we can see Jerry’s Mercury in white primer was taken at the ‚Äď what we know as the ‚Äď Montebello Tent Show in 1951. The Rodder’s Journal did an small article about this one weekend only car show held in one, or multiple tents in the RJ#49. A series of photos taken by Jerry Chesebrough and part of the Ron Kellogg Collection were showed in this article. The Tent Show as said to be held at the old Montebello, California armory, and one of the photo taken outside show at least two tents. Inside one of these tens a line up of mostly Barris Customs was set up and Jerry Quesnel’s freshly white primered ’49 Mercury appeared at this event.

There has been some controversy about if Jerry’s Mercury was actually photographed by Marcia at this particular Montebello show, or possibly a different show. A heated discussion about this was held on the HAMB several years ago, and was based mostly about the absence of the light colored piping on the interior of the Chevy Fleetline parked next to Jerry’s Mercury in Marcia’s photo. The piping seamed to be missing in the¬†Chesebrough photos. However different ways of taking photos ‚Äď Marcia with a flash, versus Chesebrough with long exposure on a try-pod ‚Äď can explain this difference. Especially since all other details, as tent shapes, poles, and especially other cars and empty spot in the pictures seem to match and place Jerry’s Mercury at this Montebello show. Fortunately Hop Up magazine recently published another photo from this same Tent show from yet another angle, and id did show ‚Äď although one have to look very carfully ‚Äď Jerry’s parked next to Cliff Rackohn’s Barris Kustoms restyled ’47 Mercury. Sadly we do not have any show dates for this show, which would help dating all this even more.

Custom Car enthusiast Jeff Neppl has spend many hours trying to find any more info on the Montebello show, but so far no additional info has been found. Jeff also talked to Jerry Quesnel about this show, but not much new info has come out of that, other than Jerry confirming he was at this same tent show.

This photo shows Gil Ayala’s 42-46 Ford Coupe in the front, Gordon’s 49 Chevy on the far right and¬†Cliff Rackohn’s 47 Mercury in the center. There clearly is an empty spot between these two cars, where the easel is standing, possibly from the sign writer who created hand made car signs at the show. ¬†Next to Cliff’s ’47 Mercury we can see¬†Snooky Janich ’41 Ford, Nick Matranga ’40 Mercury, Jesse Lopez ’41 Ford and not showing in this picture is Jack Stewart ’41 Fordparked next to Jesse’s Ford.
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Facing the other way we can see¬†Gordon Anderson’s Barris restyled ’49 Chevy Fleetline, which we also can see in the Marcia Campbell photo of Jerry’s ’49 Mercury. And we can also see the possible signs on the grass on the empty spot between Gordon’s Chevy and Cliff’s Mercury. The spot were later Jerry’s merc would be parked.
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Another photo from the 1951 Tent show has appeared in Hop Up magazine. In this photo we can see an amazing line up of the mid 40’s Barris Customs lined up at the edge of the tent. On the far right the 47 Mercury of Cliff Rackohn,¬†sadly¬†cropped off in the front. But this photo does show a small section of Jerry’s ’49 Mercury parked next to Cliff’s ’47 Mercury. It shoes enough of the car parked in the back to¬†clearly see the very distinctive forward angled b-pillar and rear quarter window shape on the white primered Mercury from Jerry Quesnel. This photo proofs the Jerry Quesnel Mercury was at the same Montebello Tent Car show in 1951. Also notice the similarities in the shape of¬†the B-pillars on Ciff’s ’47 Mercury and Jerry’s ’49 Mercury.
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To show the car a little better, nicer, I have digitally removed the rope from this photos.
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Special thanks to Marcia Campbell, Sam Barris, Jerry Quesnel, John Barris, Rob Radcliffe, Curtis Leipold, and Jeff Neppl.



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Sam Barris Chopping Merc Album 2

 

CHOPPING MERC ALBUM part 2

 

In part one we have showed the full pages of the Photo album that Marcia Campbell put together for Sam Barris. An album showing Sam chopping a 1949 Mercury. Now lets take a closer look at the photos.



The photo album Marcia Campbell put together of photos she took of Sam Barris chopping the top of Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury is not only wonderful to look at. It is also very important for the history of the Custom Car. It is as far as we know the first time that the chopping of the king of all cars to be customized, the 1949 Mercury Coupe gets a chopped top. The album captured Sam Barris most likely cutting one of these cars for the very first time. As far as I have been able to research it Sam worked on Jerry’s Mercury and his own Mercury just days, perhaps a few weeks apart. And according those who where there at the time (including the late Jack Stewart) Jerry Quesnel’s Merc was done first, in primer. And more than likely Sam’s got the full paint and finish treatment the first, since Sam had plans to have a finished car at the Oakland Roadster Show in February 20-25, 1951.

The photos show that Sam Barris had a completely different approach to chopping the top of Jerry’s Mercury than we have today. Possibly the way Sam chopped the top on this Mercury was based on what he was used to do on the pre ’48 Ford’s and Chevy’s. We know that the Barris Kustom Shop was using pre-shaped panels created by California Metal Shaping for restyling panels including fade away fenders. It is unsure why Sam did not use this technique to chop the top on Jerry’s Mercury. But instead choose to use lead to fill the dip from the rear window to the rest of the roof.

Sam chopped Jerry’s Mercury with a completely reshaped and forward angled B-pillar. Before I had seen these Marcia Campbell photos of Sam working on the B-pillars I always thought that possibly Sam had used an extra set of door frames to create the forward angle on the B-pillar. Using a set of front corners flipped from side to side. But the photos in this series¬†actually show that Sam cut and welded the original door frames in such a way that they looked a lot like the front corners. We come back to that in the next part.

The earliest photo included in the Marcia Campbell created album is this rear view of Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury with the distinctive bumper guard taillights and antenna location. The body work needed for the shaving of the trunk and the removal of¬†the taillights from the rear fenders had already been done prior and was covered in¬†primer. On the left we can see the Jesse lopez 1941 Ford in the drive way of the Barris Shop, perhaps the car had already been sold to Danny Lares by then. The Barris “small office” building is in front of Jerry’s Merc.
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The roof cut off completely, and so are the door tops. Material has been removed from the A-pillars and the roof put back on to check if the right amount had been removed. Notice that the door handle already had been removed by then, and the car was already lowered. The last helped getting the chop proportions just right. Early stages of the chop work was done outside where there was more space to move the top around. Notice that there were no braces added inside the car!
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Taken around same moment as the previous photo but then from the rear. This photo shows that the rear window surrounding metal has been cut from the roof, and lower corners. The top portion of the rear quarter windows  and the whole top section of the B-Pillar have been removed at the drip rail.
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Sam removing some material below the corners of the rear window to allow the rear window to lay forward. The whole section around the rear window was cut loose, except the center section.¬†The top is just resting on the lower portions of the C-pillar. the top would in fact be mounted higher than what we see in this photo. Wonder who’s ’40 Ford that was in the background.¬†
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Removing material from the lower C-pillars, also to be able to lay the rear window forward to flow with the rest of the top.
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The car is now moved inside the shop. Most likely the A-Pillars had been tacked in place by now, and the flow of the top was figured out. To be able to flow the bulbous rear section of the roof into the much lower rear window Sam made a relieve cut on the round edges of the top, on both sides at the height of the B-Pillar. The rear portions was pushed up and the cut now had a v-shape. Sam is welding a spacer piece of metal into the v-shape section in this photo. The helper makes sure the center of the top is not sagging during the process. 
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Large diameter tubing (possibly an old exhaust) was set inside to hold the top in the right position while Sam had tacked the rear of the top and the rear window section together. Sam is seen hammer welding the seem in this photo.
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The center section of the top to rear window already has been welded completely. am is now working towards the sides. It is amazing to see that Sam only used a few small wedge pieces of metal to create the top.
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Here the filler pieces have been added to create a solid C-pillar. Notice the low spot from the top towards the rear window. 
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This photo shows the cut in the roof sides needed to move the rear section of the top up. After the rear was moved up the cut had become pie-cut shaped. The filler piece that Sam welded in place makes sure the shape stays the way it needs to be. Time to cut off the -B-pillar lower section to allow it to lay forward.
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The previously removed top sections of the rear quarter windows have the front section cut off and the rear section was cut at the back to make it fit to the top with the new much lower profile.
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Same thing was done on the drivers side, here we can see that the B-pillar section of the rear quarter window tops now has been tacked to the top as well. To allow for the angled forward B-Pillars the window opening top section had to be streched. This photo shows how much metal needs to be added.
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Sam had to make several cuts into the B-pillars to be able to get them to angle forward as much as he and Jerry wanted. The plan was to mimic the shape of the front corners of the window frames, very much like some GM cars from the mid/late 1940’s.
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The filler piece in the rear quarter window tops and C-Pillar have been created and the relieve cut on the roof sides has been welded. It is amazing that the shape of the rear quarter window was created without having the door tops in place.
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The A-pillars have been welded, and a relieve cut has been added to the front lower corder of the window opening. This had to be done to get the top of the door frame in line with the new angle of the A-pillar. When a section is removed in a cone shaped object and the top section dropped the sides will need to be set at a slightly steeper angle to make it all work. 
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Starting to put back the top section of the door window frame. But the rear portion has to wait a little, next up is adding lead to the body work of the top.
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Time to add some lead to make everything smooth again. Using no replacement shaped metal section to create the smooth curves needed for this shop made it necessary to ad heavy layers of lead in some placed. Especially above the rear window. In this photo Sam is adding lead to mold the rear window surround to the turret panel.
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The whole rear quarter window and its surround was covered with lead.
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The lead in the process of being filed, shaved and sanded. Notice that the passenger door window frame still had to be done when Marcia took this photo.
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Sam sitting on the package tray shaving the lead above the rear window in shape.
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Next¬†Jerry’s Mercury was taken outside again for more shaping and sanding. Marcia Campbell took this photo of Sam filing the freshly applied lead from the C-Pillars. ¬†In the back ground we can see the passenger door of the Jack Stewart’s 1941 Ford. That Jack’s Ford shows up in this photo is actually really important to date this series of photos.
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Here Sam is sanding the lead filler smooth for the next step, primer. Notice how the C-pillar is still missing from the door in the lower left corner of the photo. In the background we can see the Jack Stewart Ford again. 
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Dating the 1949 Mercury Chop

We do not know exactly when Marcia Campbell took the photos of Sam Barris chopping the Jerry Quesnel ’49 Mercury, we also do not know when she created the album for Sam. The Album, nor any of the photos inside show a date. But with careful examining the photos in the album we have narrowed the time frame when these photos were taken down to around a few weeks. Timing these photos is important since there still is the question of who chopped the iconic ’49 Mercury Coupe for the very first time.

One of the first photos in the album shows Jerry’s Mercury before it was chopped with 1951 California License plates. Still these photos could have been taken in the later part of 1950, when the ’51 plates had come available. But on closer inspection of the photos I spotted two photos that showed the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford in the back ground. And in one photo I could clearly see that the interior had been installed. I have been involved in the research of the Jack Stewart Ford to help the restoration, and for my book on that car. I know that Jack entered his ’41 Ford when it was almost finished at the 1951 Hot Rod and Motor Sports Show held from Jan 25-28, 1951 at the Los Angeles National AGuard Armory. The interior was the only thing that had not been done, and the windows on the car were white-out to hide that from viewers. But in the photos Marcia had taken of Sam chopping the top on Jerry’s mercury there was an interior, so I knew these photos had to be taken after January 28, 1951.

The Jack Stewart 1941 Ford with white out windows to hide the fact the car did not have an interior at the January 25-29, 1951 Hot Rod and Motor Sport Show in Los Angeles.
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In the top right corner of Marcia’s photo we can see Jack’s 41 Ford in the background. The photo shows the car with an interior, meaning¬†the photo must have been taken after Jan 28, 1951.
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We know that Sam chopped Jerry’s Mercury and his own ’49 Mercury around the same time, according to people who were there at the time days or perhaps weeks apart, but that Jerry’s was done first and finished in white primer first. We also know that Sam Barris entered his ’49 Mercury completely restyled and painted (sans interior) at the 1951 Oakland Roadster Show, which was held from February 20-25, 1951. Which leaves the time frame for these Marcia Campbell album photos from January 29 till around February 19, 1951. A very short period for sure. But we know the Barris shop was capable of tackling a full custom job in a matter of weeks. The famous Hirohata Mercury was restyled completely in just 6 weeks!




Details

Wanted to enlarge a few sections of the photo of Jerry’s Mercury before it got chopped. This photo shows a few nice details that might not show up to well on the original size of the images in this article.

Here we can see the hand made clear red lucite taillights in the rear bumper guards really well. It also show the cars unique location of the bumper mounted antenna, plus most likely a heavily distorted mirror image of Marcia Campbell snapping the picture on the bottom right side in the bumper.
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The same photo also shows two parked cars mirrored¬†in the rear bumper. The one of the right looks to be a ’40 Ford, possibly the same one as we can see in a few other photos. The one on the left could possibly be the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford.
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The story continues in PART 3






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Sam Barris Chopping Merc Album 1

CHOPPING MERC ALBUM part 1

Custom Car photographer Marcia Campbell and Sam Barris were good friends. When Sam chopped the top on Jerry Quesnels 1949 Mercury Marcia took a series of step by step photos and used prints from the series for a personal photo album for Sam.



In 2009 I worked with John Buck and Alex Idzardi on the Mercury Gathering, a special Custom Car exhibition at the Sacramento Autorama. The whole organization of this event and the event itself was an amazing experience, I met so many amazing people and saw the best of the best Custom Mercury’s. But there was one special object that was the icing on the cake. It was an photo album constructed by Custom Car photographer Marica Campbell containing photos she took of Sam Barris chopping a ’49 Mercury.¬†John Barris was invited to the Mercury Gathering at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama to talk about his father Sam Barris in a panel discussion. To visualize this John¬†had taken¬†some historic material from his father with him to show to the Custom Mercury¬†enthusiasts, including the material was The Chop Series on 49 Mercury Work by Sam Barris Photo by Marcia Campbell photo album.

Before I came across this unique photo album I was already in the clouds when I discovered the black and white poster created in memory of Sam Barris, another item John Barris had taken. On this poster there were several new photos of Sam Barris chopping a ’49 Mercury. I quickly realized that some of the photos showed the Jerry Quesnel ’49¬†Mercury being chopped by Sam Barris. Wow… this was huge I though. A few moments later good friend Rob Radcliffe, who was looking with me at Johns material, urgently asked me to come and take a look at this album he had just opened. We both recognized Marcia Campbell’s name on the cover, and started smiling from ear to ear.¬†¬†The way it was set up it was made to look like the album was about Sam Barris chopping his personal Mercury, with a colorized photo of Sam on top of the album.

Before the panel discussion started on Saturday John Barris had displayed the material from his father Sam Barris that he had brought. The photo album is a bit hidden on the far right. The poster made using some of the photos from the album in the top center of the display. (I was proud that John had selected a few of my colorized Barris Custom photos to include in his display.)
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I had never heard about this photo-album and I was completely floored by its content. I imidiatley realized it was a sequence of photos taken by Marcia Campbell, already my hero, of Sam Barris chopping the Jerry Quesnel 49 Mercury. I then recognized some of the photos inside the album and realized that for a long time some of these photos of Sam Barris chopping a Mercury were wrongly labeled as Sam chopping his own personal car. I flipped thru the album, stared at the photos for a long time, and kept coming back to look at it again, and again. It was the absolute highpoint for me my trip to the Sacramento Autorama. Rob and I were discussing everything we had seen in the album, and realized how important this album was for the Custom Car history.

The content of this photo-album not only solved some mystery about a filled antenna hole on the Mercury that had been listed as the Sam barris Mercury until then. It also dated the first time Sam Barris was chopping a ’49 Mercury to 1951, instead of 1949. One of the photos shows¬†Jerry’s unchopped Mercury with 1951 license plate tags on it… So far it a always been mentioned that Sam Baris had chopped his Personal Merc perhaps weeks after he had bought it new from the dealer.

John Barris during the panel discussion showing one of the most famous photos of his father Sam Barris.
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Several of the photos from this series have¬†been used in past Barris magazine and book articles. In all those cases the Mercury¬†was described to be Sam Barris his personal ’49 Mercury. Some people knew about this Album that was part of the Sam Barris family collection and in the 1980’s the¬†black and white poster was created with some of these photos. But so far these photos in this album was never publicly identified as the Jerry Quesnel Mercury being chopped by Sam Barris, instead of it being Sam’s personal Mercury.

The first thing I noticed at the 2009 Sam Barris display was this black and white poster. It contained some amazing photos I had never seen before. Later I realized those photos must have come from the Marcia Campbell photo album.
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At the Sacramento show I also met with Curtis Leipold, a Custom Car enthusiast from Northern California who I have been in contact with on the HAMB. He mentioned to me that he had seen this photo album before, a few years back when he was working on a book project. He mentioned he had high-res scans of all the photos and would fill me in on some more info after we both would return home. Curtis was at the Sacrament show with his Westergard inspired 1940 Chevy coupe.

After I got back home Curtis emailed me with the promised information about the photo-album.¬†Around 2006-7 Curtis¬†was doing research for an Custom Car exhibit and booklet, he¬†contacted John Barris for some possible Custom Car historic material left from John’s father Sam. John handed Cleatus a box of material he had collected over the years.


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This is was Curtis had to say about it.

When I came across all of it in the big tupperware bin John loaned us and I realized what it was,¬†he completely freaked out!¬†“What a great piece of history about the subject we love so much“.

When¬†Curtis¬†found the empty album in the box of photos, it was inside an old, already been opened “dog eared” manilla envelope with a return address¬†TO¬†John Barris¬†FROM¬†(as¬†as Curtis¬†remembered it, but¬†he could¬†be wrong) Trendsetter¬†‚ÄstThe newsletter for¬†Kustom Kemps Of America – KKOA. So,¬†his¬†best guess was that at some point John Barris had loaned¬†the album¬†to¬†Kustom¬†Kemps¬†of America¬†‚Ästperhaps to do a retro article in Trendsetter some time in the distant past,¬†or more likely¬†that poster that John had at the Sacramento Show (in memorial to Sam). After they had used the material¬†they then returned it to John with the photos possibly left loose in the envelope,¬†¬†and when John got it back he opened the envelope and¬†added the content¬†in with the rest of the stuff in the box. Perhaps this is¬†how it came to be that the photos¬†were separated from¬†Marcia’s¬†album. At the time the envelope looked fairly old, so I think it had been quite a while since it all took place.

When Curtis investigated the content of the box he found that most of the material were flyers from recent George Barris involved car show, but he also found an old empty photo album, and a series of amazing photos of Sam Barris chopping an 49 Mercury. The photo album title said it all… Photos by Marcia Campbell of Sam Barris chopping his first 49 Mercury. Curtis¬†realized that this material was of big Custom Car Historic importance. He sorted the photos and placed them all back in the album to make sure the photos would not get harmed. When he later handed the box of material back to John Barris he mentioned his find and how important this material was. But sadly nothing was done with the material after that, until John took the album to the Sacramento Autorama in 2009.

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This unique photo album contained 35¬†photos taken by Marcia Campbell at the time when I saw it. More than likely some photos have been taken from it over the years, possibly to be used in the Barris Kustom Techniques of thee 50’s and the Big book of Barris, and were never returned after that to make the album complete again. The subject of the Album, Sam Barris chopping one of the first ‚Äď perhaps the first ‚Äď 1949 Mercury‚Äôs. In the next article we will go more in depth about the photos and Sam Barris’s work.







The photos of the album shown in this article were taken by me on¬†November 2010 at the Barris Kustom Shop in North Hollywood. When I visited the Barris shop during the Jack Stewart Ford research trip I came across the ’49 Merc chop book and was able to take some good photos of it outside in the parking lot of the shop. The photos were far more superior than those I had taken at the Sacramento Autorama in 2009. Those I had to take indoors and lacked proper lighting. Sadly between the Sacramento time and when I saw the album again at the Barris Shop, somebody must have taken out the photos and placed them back in the wrong order. So the photos below show that some of the photos are not in order. I will get back to that in the next CCC-Article on this subject.

I noticed that 25 of the photos included in the album have a white border around them, the other 10 do not. I know that Marcia most of the time developed here own film, and most likely did the same thing for the photos in this album.¬†Possibly Marcia made more than one set of photos, some with and some without the white borders. Possibly one set for this album, and one set for George his personal files, and over the years they were swapped back and forth and a mismatching set ended up in the album…¬†but this is pure speculative. It could also be possible that the photos with the borders show the complete photo, while those with no border are enlarged on the same size photo paper. Just to remove some extra background and focus more on the subject.



















The photo of on the bottom right shows Jerry’s Mercury with the trunk and rear fenders in primer, but still with the uncut top. This photo should have been all the way at the front of the album.
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The last spread of the album shows Jerry’s Mercury in white primer at the Montebello Tent show, most likely in 1951. This photo also shows that there use to be three more photos on this page, and I believe the discoloring was also present on the back of the right page. But sadly I did not take a photo of that to proof it.
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Missing from the album

When I saw the photo album it contained 35 photos. But at the end of the album the yellowed pages showed that at one point there had been more photo in the album than the 35 in it now. at least 3, but more likely 5, perhaps even more of the photos look to be missing from it. In several of the Barris Kustoms produced books photos have been used of Sam Barris chopping a ’49 Mercury. And most of these photos look to be part of the Marcia Campbell range of photos.

The very first photo taken in this series of photos is this one where George Barris pretends to make the first cut (with the glass still in place), kneeling in front it Sam Barris, who would later do the real work, and car owner Jerry Quesnel with the white shirt. It is as if they knew they were doing something important (chopping their first 49 Mercury) and decided to capture this moment.
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This photo shows Johnny Zaro helping out Sam Barris, it is the only one in the set that appears to have been taken with a different size film, and is also more fuzzy than the rest. Possibly this one was taken by somebody else.
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In PART 2¬†on the Marcia Campbell photo album of Sam Barris chopping Jerry Quesnel’s 1949 Mercury we will take a closer look at the photos in this album.






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Marcia Campbell ‚Äď Not a ‚ÄúBettie‚ÄĚ Page!

 

¬© by Michelle M. Yiatras¬† ‚Äď ¬†Timechanic ‚ĄĘ

 

My name is Michelle from Las Vegas, NV. In assisting David with his myriad car projects over the years
(in this particular case an accurate Matranga ‚Äė40 Merc rebuild with the assistance of Nick himself), I have enjoyed the rare gift of meeting and getting to know many of the still living legends of the hot rod, custom, and vintage car hobby.



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Part 1

I savor all their sage words and log them for upcoming articles and book chapters. I was an earnest kid who actually listened and heeded and cherished the historical memories and fascinating tales my Grandparents and Elders told. I grieve daily the loss of these heroes of the “Greatest Generation” as they pass on.


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Requiring some of her original photographs for the details, we searched and sleuthed the reclusive
Marcia Campbell. Since re-discovering her a few years ago, we befriended and coaxed her back into some public recognition. I was grateful to have learned what a standup and standout woman she was. She was not a hermit. She just bowed out of the Hot Rod mainstream in the late 1950’s. She continued with her ardent passion for cars as a collector, restorer, and RACER. She trained for her private pilot’s license in Long Beach in the mid-1960‚Äôs just for kicks. She was an avid sail boater, skippering and racing those for most of her adult life, setting yachting records. She evolved her career as a professional photographer from cars to include architecture and to include natural wildlife, the arctic, the jungle, and California wilderness, becoming involved with the polar bears because of their majesty and wanted to see them before they slowly demised. Her collections will be donated to museums and schools. She belonged to several trade associations and clubs. In her later years she was a professional social worker for Orange County Social Services. She continued these avocations throughout. Her interests and talents were unlimited!


CCC-marcia-campbell-matranga-merc-01One of the photos Marcia took of Nick Matranga’s 1940 Mercury. It was photos like this one that made us go look for Marcia, to find out if she had more photos like this perhaps some never before published material.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-matranga-merc-02Nick Matranga and his Barris-Kustoms-built 1940 Mercury from¬†Marcia’s famous Line-Up photo.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-magazines-01A few of the many early 1950’s Custom Car photos Marcia took that were used in the early magazines and books which helped shape the history of the Custom Car.
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She didn’t even bother with being sick, she was too busy having the best of times. She simply dropped from an aortic embolism at the age of 77 (born in the auspicious year of 1932). She was a sensitive, artistic, brilliant, and compassionate Pisces. She endured prejudices because she was treading on guys turf before it was popular for women to do so. However she was always welcomed, respected, and appreciated for her invaluable photographic contributions to the hot rod, kustom, and vintage car sport. When you see a picture of Marcia Campbell with one of her kustom roadsters she isn’t changing a tire by the side of the road naked and she really is utilizing the speed wrench not just jacking it. She was a clean-cut, trim, handsome, dignified lady, not a trollop. She was refreshing and I admired her immensely and wish there were more like her.
God Bless You, Marcia Campbell!


CCC-marcia-campbell-michelle-01This is Marcia’s original copy of the HOT ROD Magazine picture,¬†that she gifted to Michelle & David from her collection.
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Part 2

Marcia was born Mar. 15, 1932, in Huntington Park, CA, a So Cal gal. An only child, her parents owned a stationery store, ‚ÄúIndustrial Stationery & Printing Co.‚ÄĚ, with her father passing away when she was four and her mother continuing to President the business very successfully. When Marcia was of adult age she became Personnel Director of the family enterprise. Marcia enjoyed her childhood being raised in an idyllic place and time. She attended St. Matthias and St. Mary‚Äôs Catholic Girls High Schools and Compton Junior College.

She began studying photography in her teens, being entirely self-taught. She started taking photos for Barris at 17 or 18. Her first car at 15 was a new Buick sedanette. Her next car was a new powder blue and white ‚Äė49 Chevy convertible she immediately brought to Barris Kustom to begin work on it. Her following car was ‚ÄúBaby Bluey‚ÄĚ, a ‚Äė42 Ford heavily but tastefully chopped with a hopped up Mercury flathead.
CCC-marcia-campbell-michelle-42ford-01Marcia’s Barris-built 1942 Ford ‚ÄúBaby Bluey‚ÄĚ, was her daily driver in 1950. At least four girls are inside the car when this snapshot was taken.
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Her life-long dearest friend of 60+ years, Suzanne Irvin, of Westminster, CA, reminisces about ‚ÄúBaby Bluey‚ÄĚ in their teens, ‚ÄúOn a car trip to Vegas, we were doing over 100 mph. They were waiting for us, because we did it earlier along the 15, heading us off with a road block on the other side of Cajon Pass in Victorville. The police officer gave us a ticket and then wanted to know all about the car‚ĶWe were in a hurry to see Nat King Cole at the Flamingo (still known as Bugsy Siegel‚Äôs place). On the way home we lost the exhaust pipes, lights, and when we stopped and she turned the engine off, the battery died and we were locked in the car because the doors and deck lid were electric. Her mother had to get us a step ladder and we wiggled out the slotted windows. It was after midnight.‚ÄĚ

Marcia hung out at ‚ÄúThe Clock‚ÄĚ in Huntington Park, the place to go so you sat in your car and everyone walked around and admired or envied each other‚Äôs cars. She hung out frequently at Barris‚Äô shop to chat, take pictures, and observe work being done. Marcia was about the only gal around into the cars. She was self-initiated and could talk the language. She was received well because she was mechanically minded and she knew what she was talking about with cars and wasn‚Äôt trying to invade or intimidate.

‚ÄúSam was a talented sweetheart. He put the cars together and made the pictures come to life.‚ÄĚ The fellows liked the pictures, yet at the time I don‚Äôt think they realized the valuable contribution she was making to the hobby. She never sold her pictures, she always gave them away.


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Suzanne tells me, ‚ÄúMarsh drove ‚ÄúBaby Bluey‚ÄĚ to high school. She volunteered to drive the nuns on all their errands and got out of a lot of classes as a result. She also picked up many of her classmates to ride to school. She always had a carload.‚ÄĚ

Marcia had money from the family business to buy great cars. The ‚Äė49 Chevy was before the ‚Äė42 Ford. She traded the Chevy for the ‚Äė42 Ford. She had it in 1949 when she started at Compton College. She only had it for a year or so. After that it was a couple of Mercs, a ‚Äė50 and a ‚Äė51. Then suddenly she went from Mercs to Lincolns in the mid-50‚Äôs.


CCC-marcia-campbell-marcia-chevyAfter Marcia traded here baby blue 1949 Chevy for Carl Abajian’s 1942 Ford Carl had Barris update the Chevy with a new deep blue paint job. Marcia took this photo of Carl’s version of the car.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-51-mercuryMarcia on the fender of her 1951 Mercury convertible in 1952.
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David met with Jesse Lopez at his rooster farm in Nuevo, CA, and Jesse recalls, ‚ÄúMarcia did indeed have the first ‚Äė49 Chevrolet convertible in the area. I remember it being a real nice powder blue lacquer job. She then traded that car for the ‚Äė42 club coupe that had originally belonged to Danny Abajian in stock form. When his brother Carl got a hold of it, he had Barris do the whole treatment. Of course it wasn‚Äôt as nice as mine (the green ‚Äė41 Ford club coupe), but it was pretty slick. So by the time Marcia got Abajian‚Äôs car it had already been pretty much customized.‚ÄĚ Marcia had Barris do additional work.

Jesse also mentioned that the photo of Marcia standing next to her ‚Äė42 coupe in the ‚ÄúSam Barris‚ÄĚ pose was actually taken in front of the Lincoln-Mercury assembly plant at Eastern and Slauson Avenue. This interview with Jesse Lopez seems to clear up finally the ‚Äė49 Chevy/‚Äė42 Ford ownership-trade chronology. Jesse also very well remembers Marcia hanging out at Barris‚Äô shops in the L.A. area very early on and always having a couple cameras slung around her neck.


CCC-marcia-campbell-wiss-29-ford-01Walter Wyss took a few color photos of Marcia with here 1929 Model A Roadster at the 1951 Hot Rod Show. Marcia and her Hot Rod were mentioned in the January 23, 1951 Hot Rod News newspaper.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-29-ford-rjFrom the Rodder’s Journal magazine.
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Marcia kept up on the dry lakes and Bonneville by reading all the magazines. She and Suzanne went to the drags to watch other cars. She finished her Model A roadster (Hot Rod Magazine January 1951) and brought it to Oakland. Later she raced her Mercedes 300SL ‚Äúgull wing‚ÄĚ at Riverside starting in ‚Äô56 and continued well into the 60‚Äôs at the Los Angeles Mercedes-Benz Club races. Once she accomplished one car she went on to the next. All in all she had 52 cars she collected, restored, or raced, doing quite a bit of mechanical work herself at her house. She liked to take engines apart and put them back together. She was stuck under a car once when an engine slipped a little, but she was alright with some bruises.


CCC-marcia-campbell-36-woody-01Marcia took this photo of her almost completed 1936 Ford woody she was restoring. Marcia did most of the work on it herself. 
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Circa 1948-52, Marcia used a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex 2 ¬ľ‚ÄĚ2 camera, and a Speed Graphic 4‚ÄĚ x 5‚ÄĚ. Having her own darkroom in her house, she processed all her own stuff. She used lots of cameras later, Canons, Nikons, and lately a Canon PowerShot A620 digital. She succumbed in September, 2009, with a loaded memory card of final Alaskan gems.


CCC-marcia-campbell-michelle-cameraThis is Marcia’s very first camera. It belonged to Marcia’s mother and she gave it to Marcia when she was a girl. Marcia learned everything on this Kodak No.2 Folding Autographic Brownie from circa 1917. This camera was on display in the curio cabinet at Marcia’s house, and was given to Michelle after Marcia passed away.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-michelle-model-t-01Marcia restored this 1911 Model T-Ford with which she won a second pace award at the Horseless Carriage Club in 1953.
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Part 3

When I last spoke with Marcia, perhaps three months before she died, she was getting ready to go on another photographic expedition to the Arctic, as she was a professional Arctic wildlife photographer. She specialized in polar bears and camped out with them, as it were. She didn’t mention her illness; she didn’t give it that energy. We were planning to visit her soon in S. California. In October 2009, we called her house to check on how she liked The Rodder’s Journal ‚ÄúDan Post‚ÄĚ article. Suzanne, her best life-long friend told us she just died. Guess what? Marcia never even got to see it. She already passed. Suzanne said she was experiencing a series of seizures over the past year and ultimately succumbed to a pulmonary embolism, which is swift and merciful considering the threat of incapacitation.
Marcia was 77 years old.


CCC-marcia-campbell-proof-prints-01A few of the photo proofs that were included in the envelope we received from Suzanne show Carl Abajian’s 1949 Chevy and Bill Taylor’s 1949 Chevy, but Barris Customs. Marcia always made sure the back of each photo she made was properly stamped with her name.
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David spoke with Jesse Lopez for a couple hours on one of the visits to his farm, showing him photos of both versions of the ’49 Chevy and the ’42 Ford, and the information provided in the narrative is the most accurate to date, considering that both Marcia and Carl Abajian have recently passed. Jesse grew up with Carl and knew him since puberty. Jesse had nothing to offer concerning Anne DeValle. Also Suzanne said she didn’t think Marcia knew her either, since the car was sold by Marcia a few years before Anne got it. I also spoke with Suzanne regarding the ‚ÄėJack Campbell‚Äô mystery. She adamantly states that Marcia did NOT use a pseudonym for ANY reason; she LIKED full credit for her work. She said that Marcia would say, “I don’t even know who this ‚ÄėJack Campbell‚Äô is!” I remember actually asking Marcia that question a couple years ago and she DID say that. I hear her voice saying, “I don’t know who that Jack Campbell is.” Marcia had her full faculties with an acute memory. I wanted the article for Marcia’s surviving family and friends to enjoy and realize how appreciated Marcia was. Suzanne must have been grateful, because she unexpectedly sent a large padded envelope of original photographs of Marcia’s she just discovered going through Marcia’s stash of forgotten things. She didn’t know they existed, and Marcia herself probably forgot about these.

Suzanne said ‚Äúthey‚ÄĚ were giving them to me as a gift. They included very early original shots of the so-called Anne De Valle car (Marcia named the car “Baby Bluey“), Marcia working on her roadster from the Hot Rod magazine issue Jan 1951 (with an original issue), pictures of her ‚Äô36 Ford Woody that she restored herself, her 1911 Ford Model T, ribbons that she won for Horseless Carriage Club meets in the 50‚Äôs, one of the first ‚Äô55 Mercedes Gullwing 300 SL Coupe that she owned and raced, as well as other foreign exotics (such as Porsche and Aston Martin that she owned and raced), plus 1st place ribbons, schedules, and trade articles from all these races.

CCC-marcia-campbell-amOne of Marcia’s many cars was this Aston Martin.
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I also learned that Marcia raced yachts and she and Suzanne were the first females to cross the Pacific from CA to Hawaii winning a yachting expedition in the late 1960‚Äôs. I made the highest quality, un-Photoshopped, scans converting these photos (no negatives of the particularly interesting stuff though, except for the now legendary 4 x 5 color transparency) into jpg’s. I sent the best and most intriguing ones to Rik, and requested that he archive these images on his site for posterity (and for him to Photoshop them as he sees fit to improve their quality), so that Marcia‚Äôs work is commemorated properly!

CCC-marcia-campbell-michelle-300SL-01Marcia Racing one of her¬†Mercedes Gullwing’s in 1960.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-michelle-gulwing-01Marcia with another Mercedes Gullwing 300 SL Coupe.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-racingMarcia racing her Porsche on one of the many car events she participated in. In the photo on the right Marcia is awarded for here efforts at one of these events.
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Part 4

The Hot Rod Magazine pic of her in her Hawaiian shirt (shown above) is simply an optical illusion of a tattoo. Miss Marcia was a devout Catholic girl with strict rules about that. Actually, she was quite amused by the modern custom/hot rod car culture, with its relatively dramatic grooming, clothing, music, and car design styles, compared to her days gone by. She was squeaky clean.
I do have to mention though, she regularly adorned a few bruised arms and legs, scraped knuckles and knees, torn dungarees, and authentic grease smudges on her face, as she did quite a bit of her own wrenchin’! Now that’s Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie! I believe Suzanne told me that it is her that slid into the driver‚Äôs seat as Marcia jumped out of the usual carload to snap the photo in front of one of the drop off homes. And yes, Marcia had a fondness for both woodies (she had a few), and teddy bears (she had dozens). I have the funniest photo of the teddy bears arrayed on the woodie. Ha, ha, ha,…Teddy Bears’ Picnic!


CCC-marcia-campbell-36-woody-02Marcia’s collection of teddy bears displayed on her 1936 Ford Woody.
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Marcia belonged to the now defunct International League of Teddy Bear Collectors spanning 1985-2000, headquartered in SoCal, boasting three hundred+ members worldwide. Marcia was a founding member and served as president 1988 & ’89, after holding offices of secretary, treasurer, and vice-president. Marcia was also a member of other teddy bear clubs in San Gabriel Valley and Orange County. She collected antique, vintage, and artisan bears, she had about 400. Suzanne herself made bears. Marcia and she had a business named “Bear Clawset” for twenty years from the 1980’s-2000’s, selling bears and bear making supplies.


“If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down in the woods today, you’d better go in disguise.
For every bear that ever was, will gather there for certain because,
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their Picnic…‚ÄĚ
Val Rosing vocal, Kennedy lyrics, Bratton melody, 1932



For your perusal are the pages of the 1965 Tricentric L.A. Mercedes-Benz Club of America racing program results. You’ll notice the published final winning results of the Ladies Division with Marcia Campbell and her ’56 300 SL Gullwing in 1st Place for Slalom and Gymkhana, 2nd Place for Acceleration. Also 4th Place Best of Show Sports Class (after three men). And the entire Sweepstakes Winner being Marcia Campbell! The program photos are indicated by Marcia’s own annotated sticky notes.


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As a tribute, Rik Hoving is a magnificently talented and perspicacious photojournalist. He diligently labors and sacrifices extended hours making every event “picture superb”. He is easy and fun to work with. He’s historically tuned in to the details and the atmosphere. He gives so much more than he asks for in return. Sometimes I think people take advantage of his generous and magnanimous nature. Because he is devoted to his vocation and is amicable with everyone, he’s blessed to be an authentically happy soul. This car culture hobby has a charter destination since Rik is at the helm wheel. We anticipate his next tour de force. You know, Rik, that Marcia desired & deserved the credit, acknowledgement, & recognition she is endowed with posthumously. That you polished up the color transparency of her photograph of her custom at her home, for TRJ, & your HAMB & Custom Car Chronicle website icons, is showing her the most reverent respect. She gave up on all that many years ago. She would be very grateful for you.

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ALL of the photographs included in this article are © COPYRIGHTED EXCLUSIVELY
by the respective property owners,
 NO PERMISSION is given for anyone to reproduce
or utilize these photographic images for ANY PURPOSE.

ALL of the words of this article are ‚ĄĘ TRADEMARKED &¬†¬© COPYRIGHTED
EXCLUSIVELY by Michelle M. Yiatras.

NO PERMISSION is given for anyone to reproduce or utilize this article for ANY PURPOSE.
Thank You for respecting these properties!


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The first chopped 49-50 Mercury?

 

FIRST CHOPPED 49-50 MERCURY

 

Who was the first one to chop the top of the 1949-1951 Mercury, the quintessential Custom Car? This is a question that has been on the minds of a lot of die-hard custom car enthusiast for many years.



I’m not quite sure when the discussion about who did the first chopped ’49-51 Mercury came up for the first time. Perhaps it was at the time the Barris Technique books were first published, and photos of Sam Barris chopping a 1949 Mercury where shown in these books. On the HAMB there were several threads discussing this topic off and on for several years. When a photo album, created with photos that Marcia Campbell took of Sam Barris chopping Jerry Quesnel’s 1949 Mercury, showed up at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama, the discussion took on a whole different direction. I was fortunate to be at this show, and be able to copy the content of this amazing photo album and share it on the Custom Car Photo Archive, and later in the Rodder’s Journal article on Marcia Campbell, TRJ #51)

The first couple of customized 1949-51 Mercury’s are the trend setters for most customized Mercury’s being built ever since. So it is interesting to find out who actually chopped the first of these customized mercury’s. More than likely these¬†first well known customized Mercury’s¬†were all build around the same period, chopped with perhaps just days, weeks or mostly a few month between them. Possibly the builders must have known about the facts the other Mercury Customs were being build, and how they were build and chopped. The fact is, that unless some photos will show up with an exact date, or with multiple of the discussed Mercury’s in the same picture, at possibly different or the same building stages, we most likely will never really know the answer to the question who was first. However it is really fun to do the research needed for a project like this. And most of the times the research will reveal other new Custom Car related facts.

The candidates for this quest in this CCC-Article are: (in alphabetic order)

  • Buddy Alcorn 1950 Mercury
  • Sam Barris 1949 Mercury
  • Louis Bettancourt 1949 Mercury
  • Bill Gaylord 1949 Mercury
  • Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury
  • Wally Welch 1950 Mercury
  • others?

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For long it was “believed”¬†that the Sam Barris 1949 Mercury was the first Chopped Mercury out there. Sam had chopped his own personal car in his spare time. It was said he had bought the car brand new and started working on it a few weeks after he got it. We now know that Sam actually bought his Mercury as a used car, but we are unaware of the date when he bought it. Some of the photos shared in the Barris Books (published in 1994-97), as well as a few other publications, show Sam Barris chopping the top of a 1949 Mercury. In multiple publictions the photo captions always read that Sam was chopping his own personal Mercury.

Fortunately Custom Car photographer and good friends with Sam Barris, Marcia Campbell, took a series of photos of Sam chopping the top on a 1949 Mercury andcreated a photo album from those. Some of these photos taken by Marcia were the same that had been used in the Barris publications with photo captions saying Sam Barris chopping his own personal Mercury, letting us believe Sam was the first one to chop one of these Mercury bodies. However the rest of the photos in this photo album created by Marcia, clearly showed that Sam was not working on his own, but rather on Jerry Quesnel’s Mercury. Which made the enthusiast wonder how true the written “facts” were that Sam Barris chopped his own personal Mercury as the first with this body style. And then the whole discussion about who was first was brought up again.

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-campbell-20The photo album that shows the photos taken by Marcia Campbell chopping the Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury.
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Below are two lists of Original Radical Restyled Custom 1949-51 Mercury’s, one by Harry Bradley (published in 1986) and the other by Pat Ganahl (published in 2001). Since then, a lot more new information has surfaced. So these lists are not quite accurate anymore. However they are very interesting to look at, and also to see that back then the question who had done the first Radically (chopped) Mercury, was already on people’s minds. And publishing these findings was possibly done to trigger a discussion… well they succeeded, and the discussion is still going on in 2014.

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-02Harry Bradley published this list of the Original Radical Customs in the February 1986 issue of Super Hot Rods & Customs magazine.
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CCC-first-chopped-mercury-03Pat Ganahl published his own version of this list in his The American Custom Car book published in 2001.
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In this CCC-Article I have collected as much facts about the “candidates” for being the first chopped 49-51 Mercury, as I could find. Hopefully this article will generate even more info from the readers that might have been there when some of these cars were customized and might remember details we have not seen, or heard before.

The new 1949 Mercury has been available to the public since April 1948, and in the past it has happened more than once that a brand new, or near new cars where customized right from the dealer¬†by their owners. So in a way it is kind of strange that the 1949 Mercury was not chopped as soon as it hit the dealers. Perhaps the relatively high price was responsible for that. However¬†Bill Gaylord did not mind¬†this,¬†and he had George Barris chop his 1949 Mercury Convertible in 1949. Bill then¬†created a wonderful padded top for it. Perhaps this was the real first chopped 1949 Mercury.¬†I have included Bill’s Mercury in the candidates list, but since it is a convertible we have to see it apart from the other candidates.

Lets take a quick look at the candidates and we will share all the details about them further on in the article. Right now I like to concentrate on the big name shop customs. I think that these Mercury’s were relatively¬†expensive when they were brand new, making¬†the changes that somebody would just chop it in their back yard or home garage when brand new very small. So its probably fair to say that the first 49-51 Mercury was chopped by one of the bigger custom shops.

Below are the facts we know about these early Restyled 1949-51 Mercury’s.

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Buddy Alcorn 1950 Mercury

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(Buddy bought the car already chopped and customized in 1955, original owners name is unknown)

  • Chopped by: Ayala’s.¬†Gil’s Auto Body Works year unknown
  • First documented¬†appearance: Unknown
  • First publication: Dan Post Blue book of Custom Restyling published in 1952 (the car is shown here unfinished and in primer)
  • Earliest date on license plates when the car was chopped: unknown
  • Other facts: Full fade away front fenders, molded in rear quarter panels, Oldsmobile rear fenders, rounded hood corners, near fade away roof chop at the back, angled forward B-pillars¬†Further restyled¬†by Barris in 1955 for owner Buddy Alcorn.

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-alcorn-11Two photos of the mercury as it looked when the Ayala’s had finished the body work on the car. These were published in the 1952 Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling.
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CCC-first-chopped-mercury-alcorn-09Sadly we have no photos (yet) of the Mercury as a finished Ayala custom, we are not even sure if it was ever finished, but this photo shows the car after Buddy Alcorn had the Barris Shop restyle it for him in 1955.
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Sam Barris 1949 Mercury

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  • Chopped by: Sam Barris
  • First documented¬†appearance: Oakland Roadster Show 20 to 25th February 1951 (Shown in full paint but with unfinished interior, indicating a rush to get the car done for the show.¬†The car placed second in full custom class.)
  • First publication: Motor Trend Magazine, December 1951
  • Earliest date on license plates when the car was chopped: 1951
  • Other facts: Full fade away fenders with molded in rear quarter panels. heavy chop with straight B-pillars. Grille uses parts of a 1951 Ford. Sharp hood corners, hand made taillights.
    No known in progress photos. Car most likely built in Sam’s spare time after shop hours.¬†Car was sold in 1951 to its new owner Bob Orr of Muscatine, Iowa.
    A few of the Barris books claim Sam bought this car brand new from the dealer, but several other sources who worked with Sam in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s all say Sam bought the car used.¬†Sam had to work on his own Mercury in his spare time, after shop hours. This being a disadvantage over client cars (Jerry Quesnel) which could be built during shop hours.
    (The photo of the snow scene on the cover of Dec 51 (winter of ’51-’52) Motor Trend was most likely photographed¬†around October or perhaps even earlier – assuming the Dec ’51 issue hit the stands before Dec ’51 + production time of at least one more month. Therefore, since Sam’s Merc was sold in February¬†’51 – right after the Oakland Roadster show, it pretty much proves that the photo was shot in the winter of ’50-’51 right before the show at which the car was sold.)

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-barris-13Sam’s mercury at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show. The photo shows the car had no custom interior yet.
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CCC-first-chopped-mercury-barris-14Cover photo for the December 1951 issue of Motor Trend Magazine.
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Louis Bettancourt 1949 Mercury

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  • Chopped by:¬†Ayala’s.¬†Gil’s Auto Body Works
  • First documented¬†appearance: Petersen’s Pan Pacific Motorama 1952 November 10-16
  • First publication: Restyle your car, 1952
  • Earliest date on license plates when the car was chopped: 1952
  • Other facts: ¬†full fade away fenders with molded in rear quarter panels. Angled forward B-pillars, and lots of molded in panels. Large radius on all the corners. Removal of most external body trim. Hand made taillights. Of all the Mercs in this list this one has the most body work done to them.¬†There are no¬†known in-progress photos. Car was styled a lot like how the Ayala’s styled the 1941-48¬†Fords.
    Perhaps this could have been the first one chopped and customized because of a lot of the late 1940’s styling cues. Possibly lack of funds or simply the huge amount of work involved this radical customs, prevented Louis to have the Ayala’s finish the car for him until late 1951 or early 1952.
    Car was redone by Barris in 1953-54. There are also stories that say that it was planned that the Louis Bettancourt and the Wally Welch Mercury, both painted in “similar” lime gold paint jobs, were going to debut at the same time at the 1951 MotorRama show. The Wally Welch Mercury made that deadline, but Louis had to wait another year to show his car at that show.

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-Bettancourt-16Colorized photo of the first version of the Louis bettancourt Mercury. No external trim and molded in body work gives the car a late 1940’s custom feel.
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CCC-first-chopped-mercury-Bettancourt-17Hand made bubble taillights are most likely shaped from laminated red lucite. and set in round rod shaped openings flared into the rear quarters. Notice how the fade away fenders wrap around the body all the way to the trunk. 
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Bill Gaylord 1949 Mercury convertible

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  • Chopped by:¬†George Barris
  • First documented¬†appearance: Hot Rod show,¬†Los Angeles National Guard Armory in 1950.
  • First publication: Unknown
  • Earliest date on license plates when the car was chopped: 1949
  • Other facts: chopped windshield, sharp hood corners withe grille surround molded in. Rear quarter panels are not molded to the body. George Barris chopped the windshield and frenched the headlights in trade for Bill Gaylord doing the padded top and interior on George his personal 1942 Cadillac. Bill’s Mercury is a Convertible and not a Coupe like the others in this list, but since most likely this is the very first 1949 Mercury ever to be chopped, we feel it is significant enough to be part of this list.

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-05Freshly finished with the George Barris body work showing 1949 license plates.
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CCC-first-chopped-mercury-gaylord-10Bill’s 1949 Mercury Convertible at the 1950¬†Hot Rod show,¬†Los Angeles National Guard Armory.
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Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury

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  • Chopped by: Sam Barris / Jerry Quesnel
  • First documented¬†appearance: Possibly the tent Show in Montebello in 1951. No exact dates known for this show. (the¬†Car was shown at this show in white primer, possibly a late arival, indicating a rush to getting it ready for the show)
  • First publication: Popular Science October 1951 (in white primer)
  • Earliest date on license plates when the car was chopped: 1951
  • Other facts: Heavy chop with curved forward raked B-pilars. sharp hood corners, similar grille as on the Sam Barris Mercury (painted version) rear quarter panels do look to be not molded to the body. Taillights hand made and set in bumper guards. Marcia Campbell documented Sam Chopping this mercury in a photo album containing 37 photos.¬†Stock grille when the car appeared in white primer. Later the grille would be replaced with one made out of 1951 Ford parts, similar to the Sam Barris Merc grille.¬†Sharp hood corners. Jerry was an Barris employee working afternoons and evenings at the Barris Shop. We are not quite sure if Jerry’s merc was a customer car, or build in the spare time of Sam and Jerry.
    Jeff Neppl has been in touch with Jerry for a couple of years, and have had several conversations about this topic. Jerry mentioned that he started customizing his mercury in his parents driveway, on a near new Mercury. His father got very upset about the fact he was cutting in a perfectly good car. Jerry (who is still with us in 2014) claims that Sam Barris cut the top on his merc before Sam chopped his own Merc. (This was confirmed by the late Jack Stewart in a short video Jeff Neppl recorded, but Dick Jackson mentioned that both Sam’s and Jerry’s where chopped at the same time, perhaps just a few days apart.)

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-quesnel-06Jerry’s mercury in white primer at the Montebello Armory tent show. We¬†assumed this is 1951 since that is the date on the license plate, but we have no date for this show to find out what time of the year it was.
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CCC-first-chopped-mercury-quesnel-12Jerry’s Mercury after it was painted deep purple at the Barris shop and after the new grille made from 1951 Ford grille components was installed.
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Wally Welch 1950 Mercury

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  • Chopped by: Ayala
  • First documented appearance: Petersen’s Pan Pacific Motorama 1951, November 7-11
  • First publication: Hop Up magazine, April 1952
  • Earliest date on license plates when the car was chopped: unknown
  • Other facts: Straight B-pillars, rounded hood corners, rear quarter panels are not molded to the body. reshaped extended front fenders. ’51 DeSoto grille teeth, stock taillights with the bezels removed. The chop on the Wally Welch Mercury was relatively mild with shorter (compared to the others) rear quarter windows. In 1952 Barris redid the car for Wally, changing the color to deep purple, and adding two extra 1951 DeSoto grille teeth.¬†Rounded hood corners.¬†This Mercury has a lot less body work than the Bettancourt Mercury, a relatively easy chop and could have been done in a shorter time.
    Wally was known for having had a lot of custom cars already. And most likely he was able to sell them for good money thus generating some money for having his 1950 Mercury to be built in one run and fast.

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-Welch-15The Wally Welch Mercury at the 1951 Petersen AutoRama show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium.  
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Some quotes of people who where there.

Some quotes by people who were around when these first ’49-51 Mercury’s were restyled in the late 1940’s early 1950’s.

Sam’s was the first one I¬†saw chopped at the Barris shop. Sam was a cop at the time, not sure it this was part-time or full-time, but he¬†worked on his Merc¬†after work. It took him some time to get it done because he could only work on it in his spare time. I do not remember¬†Jerry Quesnel, nor the Mercury you mention.¬†I was building my¬†1949 Buick at the Barris shop at that time, and in 1951 I¬†bought the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford, but I lived in Dayton Ohio and I was not there all the time, so it did not see every car being build there. (Jim Street)

 

Back then there was no competitive attitude about who had his car chopped first. Like many books and magazines have said, Sam did not buy his mercury brand new from the dealer. Sam bought is towards the end of 1950, and it was in a stock Mercury green color.
I used to drive Sam’s Merc¬†(when it was in primer)¬†to high school sometimes,¬†and I even got it¬†stuck at a RR crossing with a train coming, when the battery cable popped off and we¬†couldn’t get the doors to open. We¬†were on our¬†way to the Carson Top¬†Shop,¬†to pick up a Chevy convertible that was just finished. Somebody as able to put the cable back on just in time. Sam had¬†Bill Gaylord do a black and white rolls and pleats interior right before he sold it. I remember both Sam’s and Jerry’s being built at the same time, and finished at the same time as well, perhaps with just days or a week between them. (Dick Jackson)

 

Another observation. When¬†Barris Kustoms put the Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury in the Feb. 1951 Oakland Roadster show (same show where Sam debuted his 1949 Mercury) they used the wall behind the car to display the latest or most important work by the shop. (Check out the¬†CCC-Article¬†about this display).¬†This photo display¬†did not show any 49-51 Mercury’. We know that Sam’s 1949 was at this same show, but it still is a bit strange¬†that Barris would display only older model cars as promotional material. Most likely Sam’s¬†Mercury was so fresh, that no photos had been taken of the car yet.

 

 

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The Jack Stewart Ford timing the photos.
The Marcia Campbell photo book of Sam chopping the top of the Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury has learned us a lot about how Sam worked. It also showed us that Jerry’s Mercury had 1951 plates shortly before it was going to be chopped. Two photos in this series showed something else that also dated the chop process a bit more detailed.¬†The photos below show the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford is in the background. And show that the Jack Stewart Ford has the interior installed. (the photos are a bit blurry in the background, but since I have studied the Jack Stewart Ford for my book about the car, I can tell for sure that the interior has been installed at the point those photos were taken.)

We all know that the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford was mostly built at the Ayala shop, but George Barris finished it for Jack. And we also know a few dates when certain things where done to this car. Jack Stewart entered his 1941 Ford in the 1951 Hot Rod and Motor Sport Show at the Los Angeles National Guard Armory held January 25 thru 28 of 1951. He showed the car there with white out windows since he did not have an interior in the car yet. So with the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford in the background with an interior we can now be sure that Marcia took the photos of Sam finishing the metal work on the top of Jerry’s Mercury after the end of January 1951.

Jack could not remember¬†exactly when he had the¬†upholstery on his car done, “sometime after the Hot Rod show” was as close as Jack could remember it. So if the Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury and Sam barris his personal Mercury were chopped around the same time, we can now narrow this happening down to January and the first half of February 1951. Sam had his 1949 Mercury finished in paint at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show held in February 20-25, a short month after the Hot Rod show where jack showed his 1941 Ford.

 

CCC-first-chopped-mercury-quesnel-07Sam Barris filing the fresh lead on the top of Jerry Quesnel’s Mercury. Between the Merc top and Sam’s right shoulder we can see the Jack Stewart Ford.
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CCC-first-chopped-mercury-19If you look carefully you can see the interior on the top right of this photo of Sam using the grinder. I have set in a more recent photo showing the original interior which is still in the Jack Stewart Ford today.
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Based on all these findings we can draw the following conclusions;

  • First chopped ’49-’51 Mercury to be shown at a car show.
    Sam Barris at the Oakland Roadster Show February 1951.
  • First published chopped ’49-51 Mercury.
    Jerry Quesnel, unfinished in primer Popular Science October 1951
  • First published finished chopped ’49-51 Mercury.
    Sam Barris, Motor Trend Magazine, December 1951
  • Earliest date on the license plate of a chopped Mercury.
    Sam Barris and Jerry Quesnel, both 1951. Bill Gaylord Convertible has a 1949 plate.

Will all this info and facts about who was first be really important? No, I do not really think so.
Back in the day when these cars where being built it was not important who was first. As long as a new Custom Car was making the deadline for a major show. Car owners wanted to win trophies at these shows, and the builders needed these new entries to attract more clients for the shop. But I doubt that it was a race against the clock to have the first ever 1949-50 Mercury chopped.

Well, this was quite long… I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I had gathering the information and creating¬†this article. I hope more facts will be added in this thread in the futures. And hopefully one day we will be able to get a date for when the first 1949-50 Mercury was chopped, and or finished.
If you have more info on this subject to be added to this article, then please leave a comment at the end of the article, or email Rik, so that I will be able to add it to the article.

Many thanks to Jeff Neppl, Rob Radcliffe, Ian Gibbons, Jason Bickford, Curtis Leipold, Ulf “Wolf” Christiansson, and many others who have discussed this topic with me.

Resources and more info 

  • Popular Science, magazine October 1951
  • Motor Trend, Magazine December 1951
  • Blue book of Custom Restyling, book by Dan Post, 1952
  • Restyle your Car, Trend book # 105, 1952
  • Hop Up,¬†magazine, April 1952
  • Kustoms Illustrated, magazine #35
  • Super Hot Rods & Customs, magazine February, 1986
  • Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s, book 1994
  • Barris Kustom Technique books, books 1996-97
  • The American Custom Car, book by Pat Ganahl, 2001
  • The Big Book of Barris, book, 2002
  • The Jack Stewart Ford, book, 2012

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CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob

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Marcia Campbell 1942 Ford

CAMPBELL 1942 FORD ‚ÄúBABY BLUEY‚ÄĚ

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Perfectly styled 1942 Ford by the Barris Kustom shop, owned by Custom Car photographer Marcia Campbell.

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Marcia Campbell’s version of this 1942 Barris Ford was never featured or mentioned in any magazine until the article on Marcia Campbell in the Rodder’s Journal Issue 51. Until then, this Ford was known, to most people, as the Anne De Valle 1942 Ford, the girl who owned this car in the mid 1950’s. The Anne De Valle Ford had been updated over Marcia’s original version, with light paint, pin striping and different hubcaps which changed the look of this originally early 1950 built custom.

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Listed as a Barris reworked car. This is how the 1942 was first shown in the magazines in the mid 1950’s. And this is how most people remembered this car until the Marcia Campbell photos, which can be seen below, surfaced.

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Marcia Campbell standing proud ‚Äď in what we now call the Sam Barris pose ‚Äď next to her Barris Custom 1942 Ford Coupe. The photo was taken by Suzanne Irvin in 1950 at a Lincoln-Mercury assembly plant at Eastern and Slauson avenues.

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Marcia Campbell 1942 Ford

In 1950, Marcia traded her first custom ‚Äď a powder blue 1949 Chevy (the full feature on Marcia’s Chevy can be seen here), for this 1942 Ford. Marcia, however, was not the first owner of this car. It was Carl Abajian who bought it in stock form from his brother Danny. Carl then had the car customized at Barris. Two photos of the car, unfinished in light color primer, appear in the 1949 edition of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling. It might have been Marcia who took those two photos. She worked a lot with Dan Post, and always hung out at the Barris shop so it is likely she took the photos. When Marcia received the car it was still in progress and she had Barris finish it according to her design requests.

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This is one of the two photos of the 1942 Ford that appeared in the 1949 version of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling. It looks like most of the work has been done on the car and it has been painted with a fresh coat of white primer. The glass indicates it’s been driven, and perhaps at the time of this photo the car was already owned by Marcia.

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The car has a heavy, but well proportioned chopped top with 5 inches in the front and 7 taken out of the back. Straight B-Pillars with rounded door-top corners followed the shape of the side windows and were now almost identical to the radius of the door top at the front. The rear section of the top flows smoothly into the tulip area and into the trunk. Most likely Sam Barris used pre-shaped metal shapes from California Metal Shaping to create this area. As with most of the early radical customs, the drip rails were removed for an ultimate smooth look. The running boards were also removed and the doors lengthened at the bottom, as were the rear quarter panels, to cover the space where the boards used to be. All four fenders were welded to the body and molded in with a nice radius for a one piece smooth-looking body.

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This wonderful color slide was taken by Marcia in front of her home in Walnut Park, California in 1950.The house is still standing in 2014, but does not quite have the same classy look.

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Barris used a 1949 Oldsmobile grille and front-bumper set up. The front sheet metal was modified to fit the new grille, and a new gravel pan was created to make the Olds bumper fit. The stock headlights were frenched and the side trim on the hood shortened to make the eye believe the back of the car is lower, and longer. At the rear the taillights were removed from the fenders. A 1947 Buick Special rear bumper was used at the back, and a set of 1946 Chevy taillights were mounted on the top portion of the new bumper. The car was lowered substantially with the front a little less than the rear for that perfect speed boat stance. A set of long, factory 1941 Ford/Mercury accessory fender skirts were added to the rear fenders and Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps were mounted on the wheels, surrounded with wide white wall tires.

Suzanne Irvin, Marcia’s partner, described the color of the car as an extremely dark blue with a hint of fine metallic. The interior was done in a simple white and tan tuck and roll. The dash was painted body color and it looks like the shifter was moved over to the left side, but nobody knows for sure. The steering wheel is the ever popular Mercury Monterey Accessory steering wheel. Marcia named her 1942 Ford ‚ÄúBaby Bluey.‚ÄĚ

Marcia most likely sold the car around 1952 but so far we have not been able to find out if she sold it to Anne De Valle then, or to somebody else who later sold it to Anne. What we do know is the car was owned by Anne De Valle in 1955-56.

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CCC-Marcia-Campbell-42-Ford-04-W
This photo was taken at the same day and same location as the photo shown above. Except Marica was now behind the camera instead of in front of it. This photo show the wonderful designed front of the car with the Oldsmobile bumper and grille nicely integrated with the 1942 Ford sheet metal. The stance and flow of the car is absolutely perfect.

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This fantastic photo of the ’42 Ford with at least four girls inside the car with Marcia behind the wheel shows the best stance of this car ever. This photo must have been a snapshot that Marcia kept in her purse, or wallet. It shows marks of being carried around for a long time; the scratches and torn edges, show she really liked this car a lot.

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CCC-Marcia-Campbell-42-Ford-07-W
The interior was done in off-white and tan rolls and pleats, and diamond pattern panels on the floor. Mercury Monterey Steering wheel and Appleton Spotlights where standard equipment for any late ‚Äô40’s early ’50’s custom car.

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Hinton’s Speed & Style found this photo on Marcia’s 1942 Ford in San Fransisco. There is no info about the photo, or if it was actually taken in San Fransisco, or elsewhere. In the back ground we can see George Barris’s personal 1942 Cadillac padded topped convertible, and Marcia had 2 Barris Business Cards taped in the passenger side window. The license plate is the same with 1950 tag as the car had on the Lincoln dealer photos.

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The Anne De Valle version

When Anne took the 1942 Ford to the Barris shop in the mid 1950’s the style of her car was far from up-to-date. Not too much was changed over the original version of the car, but enough to make it look completely different, and fit in better with the then current styles.

The hood was punched with louvres, the long 1941 Ford/Merc fender skirts where discarded and replaced with shorter 1946-48 lipped aftermarket units. The exhaust was changed from exiting below the rear bumper, to a shorter version exiting just in front of the rear wheels. Barris repainted the car in a Sierra Gold. The Cadillac hubcaps were replaced with Oldsmobile hubcaps with customized four bar centers. Dean Jeffries was hired to do the typical mid 1950’s heavy white, none flattering pin striping. The car was ready again for some car shows in the mid 1950’s.

Photos of his version of the car were used in several magazines and later in a few books as well. Since the first Marcia Campbell version was never featured in any magazine, nor book (except for two very small black and white photos of the unidentified car in white primer in the Dan Post book) the car was consequently always known as the Anne DeValle 1942 Ford.
The strange thing is that even in the Barris books nothing was mentioned about the Marcia Campbell connection when photos of Anne’s version of the car were shown in the Barris Techniques Volume one book.
Even though the changes from Marcia’s first version are minimal after the remake, Marcia’s dark blue version appears to be much more in balance.

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This is how most of us know the Barris built 1942 Ford custom ‚Äď as the Anne De Valle 1942 Ford. All the photos of this version of the car have 1956 license plates on it.

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The interior in the car remained mostly the same after Anne had Barris redo the car. Major change was the Siera-gold, new body color) painted dash. This photo shows the door extension panels Barris created to cover the section where the running boards used to be.

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’53-55 Oldsmobile 88 Series Hub Cap with 4 Flipper Bars and custom emblem added, give the car an more modern look.

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This photo gives us  good view of the Dean Jeffries striping on the hood and front fenders.

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Molded splash-pan works really well with the beautifully shaped Buick rear bumpers. Notice the curb feelers.

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Closer look at the wonderfully chopped top, molded in fenders and the new updated exhaust that exit just in front of the rear tires. Make me wonder how much this affected the white wall tires condition.

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Close up of the 1949 Oldsmobile grille and front bumper set up on the car. This great set up fortunately remained the same when the car was at the Barris shop for the Anne DeValle updates.

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Anne’s Ford at an outdoor car show in 1956-57.

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The later versions

In 1957-58 Don Pinkley bought the car in California from a car lot. He worked at a body shop back then, and there he painted the car midnight blue with gold surrounding on the grille and small scallops around the headlights. The car only had a front bench ‚Äď the rear bench was removed and the space filled with a custom cocktail lounge, all upholstered in Mexico. In the fall of 1958 he drove in the Ford to Wooster, Ohio. At that moment the car had a souped-up Chevy engine, which he burnt up in the desert. He traded the bad running engine for a souped-up flathead, burnt that up, did another trade, this time for a stock flathead. And that engine got him home to Ohio. There he replaced it with 1950 Olds engine to match the grille. Don named the car ‚ÄúPinkley‚Äôs Creeper‚ÄĚ.

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Two dark snapshots are all that was found from the time Don Pinkley owned the car. Don drove the car to Mexico where he had a complete new interior made, without the rear seat.

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Eric Rickman snapped a few photos of the car in 1958 when it was owned by Don Pinkley. This and the photo below were shared on the Petersen Archive photo site, but sadly had no additional info.

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Detail photo showing the teeth on the skirts, and the new lakes pipes added after the DuValle version.

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Zoomed in a little for a better look.

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Chris Herman shared some information about the Marcia Campbell 1942 Ford with us about the time after Don Pinkley had sold the car. Chris his father bought the car in the early 1970’s, we are not sure if he bought it from Don Pinkley, or if the car had already changed hands. Chris has only one, badly faded, snapshot of the Ford, where the car can be seen in rather rough condition. Basically just the bare body and frame sitting on black wall tires and steel wheels. It was always his intention to restore the car, but in the end not all that much work was actually done on the car. In the early 1980’s Chris and his father went to a car show in Wooster, Ohio. At this show they met with Iggy Barra. Iggy was working on a clone of the Anne De Valle Ford at the time, and while they were talking at the show the real car must have come up in the conversation. A deal was made and Iggy bought the ‚ÄúPinkley‚Äôs Creeper‚ÄĚ 1942 Ford and brought it home to sit besides his recreation, which must have been a totally unique sight, especially in the early 1980’s. Chris also mentioned that his father always called the car the “Pinkley‚Äôs Creeper”. And that he was very well aware of the Barris heritage the car had.

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This photo was taken around 1973, the car is in rough shape, most likely from sitting outside for some time before Chris his father bought it.

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Iggy Bara
When Iggy went to the place to pick up the original Barris Custom from mr. Herman he was absolutely sure this was the original Anne DeValle’s 1942 Ford. He was very excited and realized how all this was a real coincidence, since Iggy had been working on recreating the Anne DeValle Ford in the previous years. Iggy bought the remains of the original Barris car, and took them home. The car has had a rough live, but all considered it was not in a very bad state. Original plans where to restore it as an early version of the Anne De Valle Ford. Siera Gold without the striping. But after that the new photos of the Marcia Campbell version have surfaced, Iggy has decided he will go for this much cleaner and classic 1950 look.

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These two photos show the car as Iggy found it. The molded-in front fenders had been removed for unknown reason. Fortunately the front fenders and the front sheet metal including the grille and all other parts were in the barn behind the car.

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The light primer gray Ford is the real Barris car and the dark primer car is the clone Iggy had started years ago.

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Reference and more info

  • Dan Post, Blue book of Custom Restyling
  • Restyle your car, Trend Book No. 143 1957
  • Rodder’s Journal, Number 51, Marcia Campbell article
  • Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s, Volume 1

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Marcia Campbell was a well known, published, automotive photographer who took many, now very famous, custom car photos in the early 1950’s. To find out more about here work and here cars check out the Marcia Campbell Section on the Custom Car Chronicle.

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Special thanks to Michelle M. Yiatras & David E. Zivot

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Barris 1949 Chevy Convertible

CLASSIC BARRIS 1949 CHEVY

This classic, conservative restyled 1949 Chevy convertible was the first convertible ever to be customized at the Barris shop. Custom Car photographer Marcia Campbell was the original owner.

 

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The story on Marcia‚Äôs chopped 1949 Chevrolet convertible might be a little controversial here and there. In several custom car publications, including several of the Barris books, there are two “nearly” identical 1949 Chevy customs mentioned and shown. One known as the Carl Abajian Chevy and the other as the Marcia Campbell/Bill Chuck Chevy. The fact is these two 1949 Chevy convertibles are the same car. Barris originally built this Chevy for Marcia Campbell in 1949.
Sadly the only photos shown so far are from the later two versions. We have not been able to find any photos of this Chevy when it was first finished for Marcia. Hopefully one day some photos of the car taken in 1949-50 will show up.
The photos shown in this article are from the period the car was owned by Carl Abajian from 1950 till 1952, and the Bill Chuck version from 1953. From the information we have gathered the Bill Chuck version was very close to the way Marcia had it built at Barris.

The story about the Chevy
Marcia bought the Chevy brand-new, and was the first person in California who bought a 1949 Chevy convertible. Son after she bought it she dropped it off at the Barris shop. Together with a list of things she wanted modified/improved.
The Barris shop did a really nice job on this car. It is very subtle and typical of the customs built in the late 1940s. Nothing on the car was overdone, or out of place. The car’s main focus points are the wonderfully shaped padded top, which was the work of the Gaylord Tops, shaped according to Barris’ instructions, and the raised and extended rear fenders.

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Let’s start at the front. The hood was de-chromed and welded into one-piece, the hood corners were not rounded. Barris thought the stock sharp corners would fit better with the new modified grille. A 1949 Cadillac grille was modified to for the Chevy. The center horizontal grille bar end pieces were reshaped fit the Chevy fenders. The stock headlights were frenched into the front fenders, and a new splash pan was created to fit the new grille and the new bumper. The bumper was made using a 1949 Buick unit that was cut, reshaped and welded into one piece. It had a perfect fit to the body and new grille. The side trim was also removed from the body, but the chrome trim piece above the belt-line and on the rockers were left in place to give the body a more streamlined effect.

CCC-MarciaCampbellChevy1-WSide view gives a good look at the longer and higher rear fenders. The profile of the padded Gaylord top is absolutely perfect.

 
George and Marcia were not happy with the flow of the stock rear fenders because they did not match the shape of the trunk. So it was decided: the rear fenders needed to be reshaped. A power hammer was used to create new panels for the rear fenders. The end-result was 4 inches longer fenders and 10 inches higher at the rear, and level at the bottom. 1950 Chrysler taillights were fitted low on the reshaped rear fenders. The stock rear bumper was replaced with a much more elegant-looking 1949 Oldsmobile rear bumper. While reshaping the rear fenders, the gas filler neck was rerouted to the trunk and the gas door was filled in.

The windshield frame was chopped 3 inches, and then the car was sent to Gaylord with the message that Barris wanted a really smooth flowing top, with some very elegantly shaped B-pillars for the Chevy. The Gaylord shop did a wonderful job on the top. Its shape and flow is absolutely perfect, the top corner radius on the side window opening and angle of the B-pillar is very elegant and complements the shapes of the body. Gaylord was also responsible for the interior upholstery. They used turquoise blue and white naugahyde in horseshoe shape seats with tuck and roll panels. The dashboard was painted in two tones, regal blue metallic and blue mist, and a set of custom chrome dash knobs was used to finish off the interior.

CCC-MarciaCampbellChevy3-W1953 license plate on the Bill Chuck version of the car.

 

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A close up of the front shows the modified grille end-pieces and the frenched headlights.

 

CCC-MarciaCampbellChevy5-WInterior was done by Gaylords. (photo from the Barris DVD)

 
During the customizing in the shop, George Barris badly damaged the hood on Marcia‚Äôs Chevy. George was working on one side of the hood ‚Äď while welding the two half’s together ‚Äď and the other side kept popping up. In a moment of totally frustrating, George hammered hard on the hood… to hard! The hammer not only left a deep dent in the hood, but bounced off and cracked the windshield. Marcia was in tears and George went out and bought a new hood and windshield the next day.

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Carl Abajian
Marcia owned the Chevy only for about a year. She then traded the car with Carl Abajian for his unfinished 1942 Ford coupe, another Barris custom.
When Carl Abajian owned the car he had Barris repaint it in a dark deep royal blue. Carl’s version of this Chevy was featured in Motor Trend magazine, Dan Post Blue books and a few smaller photos in several other magazines in the early 1950’s.

CCC-MarciaCampbellChevy4-WCarl Abajian (left) with “Smiley” are posing with the freshly redone Chevy at the Barris Shop.

 
CCC-MarciaCampbellChevy7-WPhoto above shows the Carl Abajian version of the Chevy in the Dan Post Blue book. Incidentally these photos were taken by Marcia Campbell.
 

The Chevy received a full write up article in the September 1953 issue of Hop Up magazine.¬† The article tells a story of the car being owned by Bill Chuck. The car was powder blue again when it was photographed for this 1953 feature. Apparently the car was repainted in powder blue after Carl sold it to Bill. The heading on the Hop Up 1953 article ‚Äúconfirms‚ÄĚ the car being redone again. ‚ÄúFirst ‚Äė49 Chevy Convertible Delivered in California has been customized, customized and re-customized many times.‚ÄĚ After this the car disappeared, and we have not been able to find a trace of the car.
 
Reference and more info

  • Dan Post, Blue book of Custom Restyling
  • Custom Cars, Trend Book No. 101
  • Hop Up magazine, September 1953
  • Rodder’s Journal, Number 51, Marcia Campbell article
  • Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s Volume 1 and 2

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[box_light]Marcia Campbell was a well known, published, automotive photographer who took many, now very famous, custom car photos in the early 1950’s. To find out more about here work and here cars check out the Marcia Campbell Section on the Custom Car Chronicle.[/box_light]

 

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Marcia Campbell’s Hot Rod

 

GIRL HOT RODDER

 

This 1929 Model A Hot Rod was built and owned by famous custom car photographer Marcia Campbell.



Marcia Campbell is best known for here custom car photography in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. Marcia spend a lot of time at the Barris Kustom Shop and photographed many projects as well as finished customs. A lot of Marcia Campbells photos were used in the early Hot Rod and Custom Car publications. Marcia loved custom cars and cars in general. She had customized cars from the moment she could drive. In addition to custom cars Marcia also liked hot rods and racing at the dry lakes. Together with the Barris shop, she built this 1929 Model A roadster pick-up truck. The Hot Rod was built on a 1932 Ford frame. To this Marcia added a sectioned ‚Äô32 Ford grille and to get he perfect profile she channeled the body and the shortened pick up bed over the frame.

The roadster appeared in the January 1951 issue of Hot Rod Magazine with a photo of Marcia wrenching on the flathead engine inside the Barris Shop. The article mentions Marcia getting ready for the next Oakland Roadster show, doing a lot of the mechanical work on the roadster herself, but giving credit for the body work to Barris. The car rode on black wall tires and Lyons‚Äô Sombrero-like aftermarket hubcaps and the ‚ÄėKustoms of Los Angeles‚Äô club plaque on the headlight bar showed her custom background.

CCC-marcia-campbell-29A-03 There are at least two photos of Marcia wrenching on here Hot Rod pick up. Possibly because the photographers liked the idea of a beautiful woman working on her own car and wanted to show this to the audience. The photo above was staged in the Barris shop, but the fact was that Marcia did a lot of work on here own cars. Later in her live Marcia would restore complete cars all by here self.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-29A-08Amazing color photo of Marcia sitting in her petrol green Roadster Pick Up at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show. This is the first time, that we know of that a color photo of Marcia’s Pick-up has been published in color.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-29A-04 Image above shows a photo of Marcia and her Hot Rod was used in an early issue of the Rodder’s Journal.
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CCC-marcia-campbell-29A-07Another color slide of Marcia and her Roadster at the Oakland roadster show. This photo shows the painted red details as well as the – bit out of place – Kustoms Los Angeles plaque really well.
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From the 1951 Hot Rod Show program.
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After Marcia Campbell passed away in 2009, her live partner Suzanne Irvine was interviewed about Marcia by Michelle M. Yiatras and David E.Zivot. The only thing Suzanne could remember about the ’29 Model A Roadster Pick Up, was that she and Marcia took a trip to Oakland in it. Most likely to enter the car for the 1951 Oakland Roadster show, but Suzanne could not remember any details about the show or year this must have been in. All she remembered was that the car needed two batteries to get started.

What happened to Marcia’s old Roadster Pick Up… We assume Marcia sold the car in the early 1950’s after she found our Roadsters were not really her thing. Who bought it… and where did it go?¬†If anybody recognized Marcia’s old Pick Up, please let us know.




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Marcia Campbell Famous photo shoot

 

CUSTOM CAR LINE UP

 

One of Marcia Campbell’s better known photos, is this custom car line up, taken in 1950-51. Actually there are two very similar photos: one of the owners posing next to the cars, and an other one, just with the cars.



These two photos are actually part of a series, Marcia Campbell did on this location, with a couple of Customs created at the Barris Kustom Shop. It is very well possible that the photo session was organized for the Dan Post Blue book of Custom Restyling. 12 photos taken by Marcia that day were used in the last two editions of the Dan Post book.

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The Barris created custom cars in this amazing custom car line up photo are from left to right:

  • Nick Matranga,¬†1940 Mercury
  • Bill Taylor,¬†1949 Chevy Convertible
  • Carl Abajian,¬†1949 Chevy convertible
  • Richard Riuz,¬†1949 Chevy convertible
  • Gordon Anderson,¬†1949 Chevy fleetline


CCC_Marcia_Campbell_LineUp-01This scan from the photo without the owners, was made from a copy of an original proof sheet from Marcia (thanks to David E. Zivot). Not the best quality, but all we have in the Marcia Campbell Collection at the Custom Car Photo Archive. If you look carefully, you can see that both the cars and the background are exactly the same in both photos. The only difference is the presence of the people. Proof that Marcia used a tripod for this photo shoot.
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Some of the other photos from this photo shoot ¬†were also used by the Barris Shop to help promote their business at car shows, in the early 1950’s. Nick Matranga‘s 1940 Mercury was shown at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show. And the wall, behind his car, was decorated with some of the photos Marcia made at this photo shoot. George Barris also used the photos for his Barris Kustom techniques of the 50’s books. The photo without the owners, was as far as we have been able to find out, never before published. Until the Rodder’s Journal used it, in issue 51 in the article on Marcia Campbell. The line up photo with the owners posing next to the cars, has been used several times before.
George Barris once commented¬†that this Marcia Campbell photo really shows how the Barris shop was able to make every car look different, using different techniques, and in this case different grilles on 4 different 1949 Chevy’s.

As Marica Campbell told before: she often took photos of the cars and went straight home, where she developed and printed them herself at her dark room. Then she returned to the Barris shop, and gave the freshly developed photos, to the owners of the cars…and to George Barris as well. In this particular case, Marcia also gave a set to her good friend Dan Post. Another interesting detail we can see in these two photos, is that Marcia actually used a tripod to take the photos. When we compare the photo with the owners, and the one without the owners, we can see that the cars, and the background line up are exactly the same. Which can only be done if the camera is fixed, most likely, with the aid of a tripod. As far as we know, a lot of the photos taken back then, were taken by holding the camera in the hand. We have not been able to find out where this location is. Probably a High School, not to far from the Barris shop. In those days, the roads were not all that good, and to drive a long distance for a photo shoot was just not happening that much.

UPDATE July 28, 2013.

The location has been identified by Mats Olsson. Marcia Campbell took these photos at: 8616 California Avenue, South Gate, California. Read all about it on the CCC-Forum here.


MarciaCampbell-DanPost_PhotosThe images show the line up photo, and the other photos (plus a few other shots) taken at the same photo shoot by Marcia. These are all photos taken from the 1951 edition of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling.
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Sources and for more info:

  • Dan Post Blue book of Custom Restyling 1951 & 1952-53 edition
  • Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s Volume 1 & 2
  • The Rodder’s Journal Issue No. 51

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Marcia Campbell’s Photo Treasures

MARCIA CAMPBELL’S TREASURE

Custom Car Chronicle and The Custom Car Photo Archive are proud to house the Marcia Campbell Photo Collection. The collection was given by Marcia’s good friends David en Michelle. Without them we would never have known al the iconic images Marcia Campbell took of important moments and cars in the history of custom cars

[button link=”http://public.fotki.com/Rikster/custom-car-photographers/marcia-campbell-pho/” variation=”red”]Take me to the Collection[/button]

About the Collection

The collection shows, amongst others a unique photo album containing 39 sequential photos taken by Marcia Campbell of Sam Barris working on one of the first chops ‚Äď perhaps ‚Äėthe‚Äô first ‚Äď of a 1949 Mercury. The step-by-step photos show how Sam Barris and Jerry Quesnel chopped the top on Jerry‚Äôs new 1949 Mercury. For many years this album was nothing more than an empty album ‚Äď the photos had been removed at some point and scattered throughout a box full of Barris promotional materials from the John Barris Collection. Curtis Leipold was researching a project and loaned this box.

Most of the content was off-topic, but amongst the materials Curtis found was the empty album with Marcia Campbell’s name. And one by one he also found the 39 missing photos. Curtis realized they all belonged together. Like a priceless step-by-step of the master Sam Barris at work photographed by Marcia Campbell. Curtis reassembled the album with the photos in order, handed it back to John and told him what it was and the importance of the album.

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