Wally Welch Other Customs

 

WALLY WELCH other CUSTOMS

 

Before Wally Welch had his famous 1941 Ford and 1950 Mercury, he had a few other Custom Cars as well. Lets take a look at some snapshots of those from his old Photo Album.

 
When we mention the name Wally Welch, most people will think about the 1950 Mercury he owned in the early 1950’s. A great custom that was created by the Ayala shop and featured in color on the cover of the Aprill 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine, some might think of the 1941 Ford The Ayala did for Wally before his 1950 Mercury. But when we had the chance to look in the Wally Welch Photo-album in 2011 we noticed that Wally had several other custom cars prior to his 1941 Ford as well. In this article we would like to highlight the photos of Wally’s other Custom Cars he had owned, and which photos we had found in the Wally Welch Photo-album.

William Wallace (Wally) Welch was born on September 24, 1928 in Glendale, California, but he grew up in Burbank Ca. For as long as he could remember he had a passion for cars. Custom cars, and hot rods to be precise. He studied advertising, but before getting his degree, he changed careers, and went into sales and management. He worked for the well known hot rod and custom dealer: Andrews & Evans. Wally Welch enjoyed a good career, working at various dealerships in sales and management. Wally’s daughter Terri shared the Family Car album with us at the GNRS Customs Then & Now Exhibit in 2011. Thank you for letting us scan this amazing album.

We do not know much about these cars at all. Terry had no additional information from her father about these car, and as far as we can tell, none of them have ever been featured in any magazine or book. The photos have been taken in the early/mid 1940’s, most likely all in Wally Welch his hometown Burbank California. We also do not know who build these cars. Wally had a close connection with the Ayala’s so perhaps some of them were done by the Ayala’s. But we do not know for sure, they could as well have been done locally in Burbank. All we know right now is what we can see in the photos, so lets take a look.
 

1936 Ford Convertible

The Photo-album had four photos of Wally’s 1936 Ford Convertible with padded top in it. All the photos were taken in front of Wally’s home, most likely in the early to mid 1940’s indicated by the black wall tire, and the overall styling. The car’s running boards where removed a filler panel has been installed to cover the frame and both the front and rear fenders were restyled when the running board holes were filled in. The windshield was chopped and a padded top added. The car was lowered a bit, and kept level. The photos appear to show the car in primer only.
 

CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-01This side view shows the filler panel to cover the frame, and also shows the nicely reshaped rear section of the front fenders. The teardrop shape fender skirts look very nice on the car.
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CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-02This front photo shows the 1941 Ford bumpers. a popular choice for any 36 Ford back then. And also shows the “BURBANK” letters in the windshield. This was another popular thing to do back in the 1940’s. I have seen it on may old photos. It appears the car was still in progress.
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CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-04The letters “BURBANK” are a bit clearer to see in this close up snapshot.
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1936 Ford coupe

There was only one photo of this light colored 1936 Ford coupe in the Photo-album. Wally is posing here with the mildly customized coupe in front of the family run Welch Drug store in Burbank. The car has been lowered a bit, Spotlights added and some custom hubcaps and wide white wall tires.
 
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1938 Ford Convertible

There were 5 photos of this 1938 Ford in the album. Another Convertible with padded top. This time the car was finished with a nice gloss paint job, color unknown. The windshield frame was chopped, and a nice padded top was added. The car was lowered and dressed up with single bar flipper hubcaps and teardrop shaped fender skirts. It appears that the license plate was set in low on the Trunk. The hood on the car had to be modified on the front to fill in the hood grille section with smooth body work, and to modify the opening mechanism. A set of 1937 De Soto bumpers was added front and rear.
 

CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-05Wally posing with his 1938 Ford Convertible. Wish we had some more and clearer photos of this one. It looks to be a very nicely balanced early custom. I love the cars in the background of this photo. Gives a good feel of how special Wally’s custom must have been back then. The location is¬†out in front of Burbank High School. That school had a really good and active Auto Shop that supported Rod and Custom Car building by the students. (thanks to John Williamson for identifying the location)
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CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-06Front view shows the modified front section of the hood, and the DeSoto bumper.
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CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-09Close up with the hood open, does not show the engine, but it does show the modified hood sides.
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CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-08A bit out of focus snapshot of the ’38 parked in front of Wally’s home.
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1939 Chevy Coupe

Another early ride for Wally as this bit sinister looking 1939 Chevy Coupe. The coupe was another mild custom car with a minimal amount of body work. These 1939 Chevy’s are rarely seen as customs, but this one sure shows how nice they can be. Wally’s Chevy has been mildly lowered with a mild speed boat-stance. Black wall tires and single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings. He added fender skirts in the back and a set-in license plate was added to the lower section of the trunk.
 

CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-10Wally posing proud with his super black 1939 Chevy Coupe.
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CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-11This photo of the rear shows the set-in behind glass license plate in the trunk as well as the 1940 Chevy taillights, which looks really great on the car. Sadly we cannot see the top portion of the license plate to help date the photo.
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1939 Ford convertible

Wally‚Äôs 1939 Ford convertible was another mild Custom he owned. Black wall tires indicate that this one was from the early 1940’s as well. Perhaps something done during WWII, perhaps shortly after that. The car had a mild speed boat stance, single bar flipper hubcaps and a set of Spotlights. the 1941 Ford bumpers are typical for the early/mid 1940’s. Also typical for the era are the home town name stickers in the windshield. Burbank in Wally‚Äôs case.
 

CCC-wally-welch-other-customs-12There was only one photo of Wally’s 1939 Ford in the album, its a very nice one though.¬†
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Wally Welch 1941 Ford

 

WALLY WELCH 1941 FORD

 

Wally Welch loved everything automotive, he loved his bikes, Hot Rods and his Custom Cars. One of the Custom Cars that meant a lot to him was this 1941 Ford Convertible restyled by the Ayala Custom Shop.



I’m not quite sure when I read the name Wally Welch for the first time. Perhaps it was in one of the Barris Technique Books, or an earlier magazine article about the Mercury Customs from the early 1950’s. I do know that it was connected with Wally’s 1950 Mercury. And to be precise the Barris version of the Mercury. Only later I found out the Ayala origins of the Wally Welch Mercury, and even later I found out that Wally had owned several other Custom Cars prior his 1950 Mercury, and one of them being an 1941 Ford restyled by the Ayala’s.


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The first time I saw a photo of the Wally Welch 1941 Ford was in the Trend Book No. 101 Custom Cars from 1951. I had heard many good things about this small booklet and how it was filled with late 1940’s and early 1950’s Custom Cars, so when I found a reasonable priced one on eBay, I ordered it and waited a week or so before it arrived in my mailbox. I remember opening up the envelope and browsing true the booklet for the very first time… a huge smile appeared on my face, and it would last for quite a while. I’m a huge fan of early Custom Cars, those cars that shaped the style and paved the path for the golden age of Customizing in the early 1950’s. And this booklet was just filled with these cars. I studied every page, every photo and every word.

You can imagine how happy¬†I was when I got to page 80 of the Custom Cars No 101 book and found no less that a full page with three photos of a 1941 Ford convertible beautifully restyled by the Ayala’s for Wally Welch. I finally knew how the car looked.

Many years later I got in contact with the daughter of Wally Welch, Terri.¬†She mentioned to me that¬†her father¬†had past away a couple of year earlier, but that she still had a photo album full of photo’s from Wally’s Custom Cars and Hot Rods.¬†In 2010 I was asked to be part of the organization for the¬†Customs Then & Now exhibit that would be held at the 2011 GNRS in Pomona, California. For this event we would gather 80 historical Customs from all over the US. One of the cars invited for the show was the Wally Welch 1950 Mercury. Now owned by Justin Mozart and the restoration was nearly completed. Wally’s daughter¬†had been in contact with Justin and they had made arrangements to meet at the show so she could look at the restored Mercury for the first time. I happened to be at the right place in the right time when I bumped into Justin, while he was showing¬†Terri around the Mercury. It was a really great moment, we had emailed before, but never met in real life. We talked about the Mercury, and about her father, and what a great guy he was and how he had always loved his cars and bikes and even planes. Then she asked if I wanted to see the photo album she had mentioned before. Of course I said, and then she pulled this amazing photo album out of¬†her bag.

CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-31A section of one of the many pages in the Wally Welch photo album.
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The photo album was mostly filled with photos from the late 1940’s and very early 1950’s. A few photos of the 1950 Mercury, but mostly of the different stages of Wally’s 1941 Ford. When I met Terri she was there at the show with a friend and they had only very little time before they had to leave for an appointment. So all I could do right there was to copy the photos in the album with my digital camera. I concentrated on the Custom Car photos in the album, and managed to copy them all before we had to say good-bye. I was smiling from ear to ear the rest of the day… well I guess for the whole weekend.

The Wally Welch 1941 Ford Convertible was only featured in the Trend Books Custom Car’s No 101 with only a minimal amount of words written about the car. So other than the basic stuff as that the car was built at the Ayala’s with a chopped windshield, Louis Chavez, padded top with a 1942 Ford front end grafted on, a chromed engine and molded fenders with ’48 Ford gravel shield and Devil-Red Metallic paint, there was not really known much about this Custom. With the help of the Wally Welch photo album we now know that this 1941 Ford has been build over a period of time, and knows roughly three versions before Wally sold it.



Version One

As far as we know Wally¬†took his stock¬†1941 Ford convertible to his friend Gil Ayala to have his shop restyle the car for Wally. The first version was done around 1947. Overall the modifications where rather conservative, but the end result is a very stylish- late 40‚Äôs styled custom. The windshield was chopped but only a few inches, hard to tell for sure, but we guess two, max three inches. Louis Chavez American Auto Tops did the removable padded top for the car. The Ayala’s installed an aftermarket center grille filler piece, shortened the side trim on the hood, shave the hood and trunk, added 1941 long fender skirts and painted the car in a dark red color.¬†To get the perfect stance for the Ford¬†the frame was kicked up at the rear, lowering blocks were installed to get the rear as low as they could get it and the front was lowered with a dropped axle.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-16Wally Welch stands proud with his 1941 Ford in 1947. The first version of the car used black wall tires and an aftermarket License plate bracket with chromed protection bar below it.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-291949 Catalog ad for the bumper license bracket Wally used on the first version of his car.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-13The 1941 Ford had a great speed boat stance as this photo taken in front of the Welch home shows.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-15Several photos in the album show Wally’s 1941 Ford parked next to a friends 1941 Ford convertible. Both cars are restyled in a similar way, but have some different details. Sadly we do not know the friends name, nor anything else about the car, other than what we can see in the photos.¬†
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-17The friends Ford, on the right has a 1948 tag over the plate. He used a small grille opening in the smooth grille replacement panel. He also removed the fender trim and added a set of spotlights. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-28From the rear we can see that Wally used the stock side trim on both the body and the fenders, but his friend opted to remove all trim. Both trunks were shaved, but the door handles on both cars remained on the car.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-12There was one very much faded color photo of this version of Wally’s 1941 Ford in the photo album. That is most likely Jeanie Christman, Wally’s girl friend at the time posing with the car.¬†
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The first update

In 1948-49 Wally made a few smaller updates on his Ford. White wall tires had become available again after being very hard to get due to WWII. So Wally installed a set on his Ford which changed the look a lot. The stock bumpers were replaced with a set of 1946 Ford units, the front license plate bracket was removed and a set of Appleton Spotlights was installed.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-11Jeannie Chrisman inside the second version of the Ford. The new white wall tires make the wonderful speed boat stance look even better.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-19Wally’s 1941 Ford parked in fron of the Welch family Drugstore in Burbank, California.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-18A great lower angle shot makes the car look at its very best. lower in the back for the instant speed look. The hills in the back make this photo really fantastic.
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The second update

It is now 1949 and Wally thought it was time to take his 1941 Ford to the next and as far as we know final level. He took the car again to his friend Gil Ayala’s Auto Body Works shop on East Olimpic Blvd. in ¬†East Los Angeles. The times had changed and the Custom Car from the era were becoming wilder and wilder with more and more fantastic body work. Wally’s Ford would still remain relatively mild, but now with a lot more fine tuning body work. First things on the list were molded front and rear fenders for a smooth overall look. The fenders were molded in with small pieces of sheet metal bend to shape¬†once everything was roughly shaped a liberal amount of lead was used to smooth it all out. At the rear a 1948 Ford splash pan was molded in, and the shop hand made a pod to house a 1948 Ford taillight. The pod was molded to the rear fenders with the top portion level with the fender crease.¬†The running boards were removed and a filler pan below the main body was created and molded to the fenders. At the front the headlights were frenched.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-26The front fenders were welded to the body and filler pieces welded in. This photo was taken after the work had been leaded and smoothed before primer. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-01Wally took several in progress photo of the work done at the Ayala shop for this phase of the car. Here we can see the pre-shaped filler panels that were created to make the welded on fenders flow nicely into the main body. In the photo on the right the metal was cleaned before the lead could be added. Also note the new panel replacing the running board.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-25Same stage as above but now viewed from the back. The gas filler cap has been removed and will be welded shut soon after this photo was taken. Note the 1950 tag on the license plate.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-02Now with the gas filler filled in and the new taillight pods molded into the rear fenders. Notice how nicely they flow from the fender crease. It looks like this photo was taken with the fresh lead work still waiting for its final sanding.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-04At the front the fenders were reshaped to be able to french the headlights. Notice how the stainless trim was only partly removed to make place to be able to do the body work. A 1939-40 Mercury convertible with chopped padded top and molded in fenders is parked against the wall at the Ayala shop parking.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-03We have no idea who this is posing with Wally’s¬†now in primer 1941 Ford. Most likely the guy is one of the Ayala shop part-time employees. It looks like it is the same guy who is cleaning the fresh body work in a few photos above. At this point the stick 1941 Ford grille remains in place.
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The in-progress photos taken by Wally at the Ayala shop show all the new work done except for the final update on the car, the installment of the 1942 Ford grille. Perhaps Wally drove the car with all the new body work except for the 42 grille for some time, before he had the Ayala’s install the new grille. In any event he did not take any photos of the process, nor are there any photos of the car with molded in fenders with the stock grille sides and a full paint job.

A stock 1942 Ford grille with the center bar removed was installed in a custom made grille surround. The surround was molded into the front of the car, and at the same time a molded in splash pan was added shaped in a similar way as the one on the rear. The fender trim was shortened at the front. This new grille was the final work done to the car, it was now time for Gil to paint the car in a wonderful deep Devil Red Metallic Finish as the 1951 Custom Cars Trend Book describes the color. Most likely the color was custom mixed by Gil, since that was one of the things he liked to do best.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-10The Ford now has a completely new look. The smoothly molded in fenders and new wide grille changed the looks completely. Some elements, like the padded top, remained unaltered thru out the different versions of the custom.
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In the meantime Gil Ayala formed the Auto Butchers of East Los Angeles, or just simple Butchers car club. Wally became a member and hung his cleaver club plaque from the rear bumpers, just below the license plate.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-22The molded in fenders, new taillights and molded in splash pan changed the rear of the car completely as well. Note the 1950 license plate tags.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-23Original designed with the padded top up, the open version of the car looks equally as impressive as the closed version.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-24Faded color photo gives us a glimpse at the original Devil Red color. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-30The full page with three photos in the 1951 Trend Books Custom Cars No. 101 booklet.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-05This photo comes from a photo-shoot by Felix Zelenka for the cover of the October 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. The photo gives us a really great look at the color Gil Ayala painted the car with. That is Wally on the left and his girlfriend Jeanie Christman on the right.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-08Original photos that were used in the Custom Cars full page article show that the license plates are now 1951 units.
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At the Races

Just like Gil Ayala and many, many other custom car enthusiasts back in the early 1950’s Wally Welch also liked to drag race his 1941 Ford. Despite being a full custom with a ton of expensive body work and expensive and wonderful paint, Wally still raced his car in several races. Most likely all Santa Ana drag strip which has just opened around the time.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-21Wally’s number 58 Ford is ready for his race. on the right we can see the 1940 Ford that was also built at the Ayala shop for¬†John Geraghty.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-20The “pit crew” is hard at work¬†getting¬†the car ready for the competition. Judging the large amount of spectators something really special is going on there….
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-27Wally used an fully dressed flathead engine in his 1941 Ford. The engine was not only fast, it also looked very good with the two carb intake, and a load of chromed goodies.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-06Wally on the Santa Ana drag-strip with his Ayala 1941 Ford. For this race he has removed the heavy padded top to gain some speed. We don’t know if Wally’s competitor is already out of this shot, or not yet in it. I love the spectators parked at the side of the track.
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Where is the Wally Welch 1941 Ford now?

Well that is a question we really would like to give an answer to, but sadly we have no idea where the car is, and even if the car is still around today. We know that Wally sold the car not long after he bought his next custom project, the 1950 Mercury, which he took to the Ayala’s for a full restyling as soon as he could. Possibly the ended up on the Customs & Hot rods For Sale lot at Andrews & Evans, where Wally worked. But we do not know for sure. In our research we have not been able to find anybody who knew what happened to the car after Wally sold it. Who knows, perhaps it is still out there, disguised as a Street Rod or something like that, but we also realize that it might be long gone. Hopefully one day we will be able to shed some more light on what happened to this great looking Custom convertible after 1951. If any of the CCC-Readers knows anything more, please let us know.


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Want to see more interesting articles based on material from the Wally Welch Album. Check them out HERE.

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Wally Welch Mercury 02

 

THE BARRIS VERSION

 

Wally’s 1950 Mercury was among the first customs based on this iconic Mercury model. Originally restyled by the Gil and Al Ayala, this milestone Custom was redone by the Barris Kustom Shop in 1952.



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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n part one of this story we ended when Wally’s girlfriend Jeannie Christman had expressed her dislike for the lime gold color Wally had Gil Ayala paint his mercury. Wally also wanted to have a full custom interior. So, in late 1951 it was time for an update on the car… not even a year after it was finished by the Ayala’s. For unknown reasons Wally took his Mercury to the Barris Kustom Shop on Atlantic Blvd in Los Angeles for the remake. Barris decided the grille needed two more grille teeth. So the grille mounting holes were filled and now 7 1951 DeSoto grille teeth were spread out evenly inside the hand made grille opening. Most likely with Jeannie’s approval a very deep organic purple was chosen for the new paint color. Reportedly 30¬†coat of paint were applied to the Mercury to get the depth and color just perfect. Sam Barris also painted the Appleton Spotlights interior handle plastic part in the same body color.With the new paint all done the car was send off to the¬†Carson Top Shop for a full custom interior.


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This version of Wally’s Mercury was never featured in any magazine, but some photos of the car did appear in a few magazines in the early 1950’s including¬†Trend Book Nu. 105¬†Restyle Your Car, which was published in¬†December 1952. Two photos of the car appeared in this issue. It must have been a really great deal for the Barris Shop. WIth only minimal efforts they could produce a complete new very stylish custom car. They put the Kustoms Los Angeles plaques on the car, and in general the car was now known to be a Barris Custom. Wally drove and showed the car for a couple of years after it was finished and then in 1954-55 he decided it was time to let it go.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-04The April 1953 issue of Popular Mechanics had an article named “Four Wheels Waiting For A ace Lifting” which showed some very interesting Ayala, Barris and Valley Custom Shop photos. Included were two of the Wally Welch Mercury. This one is particularly nice since it marks the modifications for the untrained PM readers. The chop is now listed as a 3 inch in the front and 7 inch in the rear!
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-36The other photo in the Polar Mechanics shows Wally demonstrating the hidden door locks in the side trim.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-16This photo of the freshly Barris finished version of the Wally Welch Mercury was taken by Jack Campbell in 1952.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-22The Barris version of the Wally Welch Mercury was never really featured in a magazine back in the day. But there are two photos, taken my Jack Campbell, in the Trend book No. 105, Restyle Your Car from 1952. The booklet lists Barris as the builder, and does not mention the car was originally built by the Ayala’s.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-33The Mercury at the Hot Rod show in the National Guard Armory in Los Angeles held at April 24-27, 1952.
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Wally Welch sold his Mercury to Joe Contrero of East Los Angeles in 1954-55. Joe took out the tired stock Mercury flathead and replaced it for a much more powerful new Ford Y-block V-8. He drove the car regularly up to 1957 when he joined the Army and parked the car. Back at that time, or perhaps later in its life somebody painted the car with a heavy coat of white housepaint, to protect it from the elements. This, or perhaps the fact that the remainder of its life the car had been stored inside made sure the Mercury was in relatively good condition when Joe Eddy of Rosemead, California, purchased it in 1985.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-38This is how the Mercury looked like when Joe Eddy picked it up in 1985. Most of the body was covered in a heavy coat of white household paint to protect the body from the ellements. The trick worked well, since the car was very well preserved. (Street Rodder magazine image)
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Joe Eddy finds the car in 1985

Joe Eddy was a well-known Ford F-100 truck customizer who also appreciated traditional Hot Rods and Customs. A kid from Joe’s neighborhood hung out a lot watching Joe¬†working on his car. Every time this kid came by he told Joe about this old Custom mercury that he had spotted sitting under an old avocado tree while he rode his bike in East Los Angeles. But Joe did not think anything of it, he was more into the truck and Hot Rods at the time. One day this kid shows up with the Street Rodder magazine with Richard Zocchi’s 1950 Mercury on the cover and told Joe, something like this is sitting under that tree in East LA.. Now Joe was interested and took the kid to the place. There he saw this sad¬†looking 1950 Mercury covered in heavy coats of white paint. The car owner told Joe the Merc¬†had been sitting for nearly 30 years, but that everything was still there. Even though Joe had no idea about the history of the car he decided to buy it anyway. He could tell this was an original 50’s customs… and he loved the lines on it.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-34Street Rodder magazine May 1988 featured the Mercury after Joe Eddy had restored it. The first version had a bit of an Hot Rod look to it, with its black wall tires, deep rims and forward rake and no skirts.
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Joe did not wait too long before he started the rebuild on the Merc. When he started to take it apart he¬†still had no idea what the cars origins were. Being a Hot Rodder Joe removed the Ford engine and replaced it with a¬†350-cid Chevy V-8, a Turbo 350 transmission, a Ford nine-inch rear end, and power steering from a ’76 Ford half-ton pickup. He reversed the front spindles, cut some coils and added black wall tires with deep dished wheels. The car now had a slight forward rake to it… Joe loved it. The interior was redone in silver gray velour kind of material, he added more modern touches as AC and stereo and a Grant steering wheel on a tilt column. When Joe was far into the rebuild of the car he came across the April 1952 issue of Hot Rod magazine, and realized that the car on the cover, the Wally Welch mercury built by the Ayala’s was the Merc he now owned. He did some more research and found out that Barris later redid the car in Purple. It was now to late for Joe to restore the car to the early 1950’s specs. He would have to turn back a lot of modern touched he had done already. But he decided to at least paint the car close to one of the original colors, in the Barris Organic Purple. When Joe bought the car some of the parts were stored inside the car, including the original Appleton S-552 Spotlights. Joe kept all those parts, but for his version he decided to go with a set of smaller size Spotlights. Later when he found out about the cars heritage he also found out that it was Sam Barris who had painted the plastic handles on the Appleton Spotlights.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-50In the¬†late 1980’s Joe decided to give the car a bit more of its original Barris look and feel. White wall tires with Sombrero hubcaps were added, the stance was now level again and the skirts were put back on. The interior, inset photo, shows the all gray velour and Grant Hot Rod steering wheel.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-31These two David Dale photo show that the car now has a bit of original feel back. The original S-552 Appleton spotlights were replaced with smaller units.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-49Jack Butler captured Joe Eddy with his Wally Welch Mercury in his famous Pinhole Camera Series. This print is part of Jack’s¬†Hot-Rod-Kulture-Culture book.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-32In August 1989 Rod & Custom did a feature on Joe Eddy’s cars, including the Wally Welch Mercury. For the cover the semi staged it as a scene from Rebel without a cause. The cover was an unique fold out version.
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Joe enjoyed the car for some time as he had built it. Then in the late 1980’s he decided to give it a bit more of a custom feel and added some white wall tires with Sombrero hubcaps, raised the front and added the fender skirts. The car now looked a lot more like how the Barris shop had rebuilt it in late 1951. The Mercury remained like this until 2004, when Custom Car enthusiast Justin Mozart talked Joe into selling the Mercury to him.



Justin Mozart, the new caretaker

Justin Mozart planned to restore the car to its original early 1950’s version. Al though at that point he was still debating if it should go back to the Ayala or Barris version. Justin collected as much information as he could. He got in touch with people who knew the car from the 1950’s and with Wally Welch his daughter, who was able to shed some¬†light on a few details and shared some old photos. In the end Justin decided he would bring the car back to the Purple Barris version. Basically because of two reasons. One, Justing wanted a full custom interior in the Mercury, and ¬†as far as he could tell the original lime gold Ayala version only had the original cloth interior.

The restoration Justin planned for the car was a complete restoration. Even though the mercury looked still¬†pretty good when he bought it from Joe, and possibly some back dating of parts would have brought the car to a very respectable status. Justin decided to go all the way and get the car back to bare metal, remove all the updates done by Joe and get it to a period perfect condition. And period perfect means 1951 condition in this case. While the car was send off to the restoration shop Justin begun to hunt for the missing parts. A set of Appleton S-552’s, (since Joe had not included the originals that came with the car when he bought it in 1985), the Monterey Accessory steering wheel, plus original Mercury steering column, a 1950 Mercury flathead engine and a lot of other small parts.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-23When Joe restored the car he left the glued in place taillights on the car. And just taped them when it was time to prime and paint the body. On the full restoration under Justin Mozarts supervision, the glued in place taillights were removed. The Ayala’s used a simple textured metal plate as reflector for the taillights.
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Before the restoration on the Wally Welch Mercury could start the car was dissembled completely. New added parts from the previous Joe Eddy version were discarded or where possible changed back to how it was on the Barris version of the car.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-24When Joe restored the car in 1985, he removed all the paint from the outside of the body to get the body to bare metal, but fortunately he did not touch the inside of the body. The inner door panels had several old layers of paint. The door jambs even had the original Ayala and barris paint colors in very good condition. The uncut floor was in good condition as well, only needing a good clean-up, and a fresh coat of protective paint.
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At the restoration shop the car was disabled, the interior was removed and the paint stripped. They knew Joe Eddy had stripped the paint before he started his rebuild in 1985, so on the outside of the car they team could easily remove the paint. But they did hope to be able to find traces of old paint on the inside of the body. And they sure did find them. It turned out that the door jambs still had all the original paint layers in some sections. The team was able to carefully sand layer by layer and¬†reveal the original Ayala Lime gold and the Barris Organic Purple. Justin was extremely excited about this news. Now he was able to match the color exactly. All the body work from the Ayala’s was still in rather good condition, but some sections needed some work. The bottom corners of the cowl needed a lot of work, so it was decided to remove the welded and molded in front fenders, in order to be able to get in there and do the repair work. Later the front fenders were molded in again. with all the restoration work done the car was painted in the matched Organic Purple paint.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-25Most of the body work from 1950-51 was still in very good condition. It needed to freshen up here and there. The front door jambs.lower cowl sections needed some more work, so it was decided to remove the molded on fenders at this point to get better access to the to be fixed sections. Later the front fenders were welded to the cowl again.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-27The front fenders have been welded and molded to the rest of the body and the main body is in primer waiting for the final touches before paint. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-29With the front end in bare metal we can see the Ayala made grille opening and section that is hiding the lower sections of the 1951 DeSoto grille teeth really well. The deep sitting grille teeth look very good on this car.
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The Wally Welch Mercury Colors

CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-26The happy surprise came when the guys at the shop carefully started to sand down the paint on the door jambs. Slowly all the old layers of paint were discovered. The Dark purple paint the Barris Shop applied was carefully matched and duplicated in more modern paints using this sample.
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If we look at the photo of the sanded layers of paint on the door jamb we can see the following.¬†The Lime Gold applied by Gil Ayala, after a year the car was repainted at the Barris shop with a dark gray primer first. This was followed with a dark color, possibly black which was followed with a dark purple. Next up came the Joe Eddy restoration which starts with an light green/tan coat, followed by an off white, a silver and then the final purple color built up in layers. It is really amazing all these colors were still on the car after so many years. At this time in the restoration Justin Mozart was still debating which version of the car he should restore it back. I had hoped the car would go back to the first lime gold Ayala version. But sadly Justing never cared much for light colored 1949-51 Mercury’s and he really wanted to have a full custom interior in the car, which was never installed in the Ayala version, so the Barris Organic Purple version was the obvious choice for Justin.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-52I even did a very quick not all to accurate color version of the unrestored car in a sort of lime gold to show how good that would look. Sadly Justin went with the second version of the car in Barris Organic Purple. Also a wonderful color.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-28The Mercury during the final paint stages.
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Debut at the Mercury Gathering

In 2009 Justin was asked to debut the Mercury at the Mercury Gathering exhibition held at the Sacramento Autorama. The car was not finished for the show, it lacked an engine, interior and a lot of other details. But it was still great to finally be able to see this car in person. In 2011 the car was again invited to be part of the prestigious Customs Then & Now exhibit at the GNRS in Pomona. The car was now almost finished, only lacking a new interior.¬†Justin had¬†not been able to find any¬†photos showing the original Carson Top Shop interior really well. So in the end photos of other similar styled cars were used for reference and the few original photos of the Barris version that are in Justin’s collection, were digitally adjusted to be able to¬†study¬†them as good as possible. The new period upholstery design was discussed with the upholsterer,¬†stitched and installed… now the car was finally completed and looked it as if rolled fresh out of the Barris Kustom Shop in 1952.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-35Justin Mozart’s was invited to the Mercury Gathering at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama. Even though the car’s restoration was unfinished the car was a huge crowd pleaser. The car sits extra high in this photo since there is no engine installed.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-43This original Houser’s Carson Top Show tag was taped in the Wally Welch Scrapbook. Assumably Wally took the tag out of the car when he sold it¬†to¬†Joe Contrero.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-10In 2011¬†Todd Olson took these photos of the Wally Welch Mercury at the¬†Palo Alto Concours D’Elegance. The car was finished a bit further with a lot of details added, including the engine. But the interior was still missing at this time.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-37When Joe Eddie sold the Mercury to Justin Mozart, the original Appleton S-552 Spotlights were not part of the deal. Joe had taken them off the car when he restored it, and had later replaced them with a different set of spotlights. He kept the Sam Barris painted original in his personal collection. Until he decided to sell them in March 2011. The set sold for $3,000.- to an unknown buyer.
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At the Customs Then & Now Exhibit

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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-41The side view shows the wonderful flow of the top, and the large radius on the back of the rear quarter windows.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-42
CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-46Justin was able to find an Mercury Monteray steering wheel in rather good condition to replace the Grand Steering wheel Joe Eddy had installed. The interior was not done for the 2011 Grand National Customs Then & Now exhibit.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-47Closer look at the taillights of the mercury. The Ayala’s crafted the suround from metal rod and shaped metal molded to the rear fenders with lead. The stock 1950 Mercury lens was installed from behind to create this smooth looking effect. Justing used NOS Mercury tialight lenses, to replae the original units that were drilled for a set of Blue dots in the 1980’s.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-53The author of this article, Rik Hoving, with the Wally Welch mercury at the 2011 GNRS Customs Then & Now Exhibition.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-45Howard Gribble too this photo of the now with¬†completed interior¬†Mercury in May 2012. Justin Mozart, the car’s caretaker stands behind the car.
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Resources and more info

  • Trend Book 105, booklet, Restyle Your Car 1952
  • Hop Up, magazine, April 1952
  • Motor Trend, magazine, December 1952
  • Hop Up, magazine, April 1953
  • Street Rodder, Magazine, May 1988
  • Rod & Custom, magazine, August 1989
  • How stuff works, website¬†http://auto.howstuffworks.com
  • The Rodder’s Journal,¬†Magazine issue #39
  • 1951 Autorama winner, CCC-Article

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 Go back to part One of the Wally Welch Mercury


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Wally Welch Mercury 01

 

THE AYALA VERSION

 

Wally Welch’s 1950 Mercury was among the first Customs based on this iconic Mercury model. Gil and Al Ayala of Gil’s Auto Body Works, created this Milestone Custom Car.



[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ally Welch bought his 1950 Mercury from the dealer in late 1949, and took it straight to the Ayala shop¬†located at 4074 East Olympic Blvd. Wally had been working with Gil Ayala on a few of his other cars, including his famous 1941 Ford convertible. He had become good friends with Gil and Al, so when it came time to have his new Mercury customized the Ayala shop was a logic step. The body style of his Mercury was very new, and not many of them were fully customized at the time. The Ayala shop was most likely still working on the Louis Bettancourt chopped 1949 Mercury Custom at the time Wally brought his car to the shop. Or perhaps Wally took his Merc to the Ayala’s before Louis did his 1949 Mercury. I still have never found any proof of when which Mercury was started and finished. Most likely the Welch Mercury was finished first, since it was shown at the 1951 Motorama show, and Louis was shown in 1952. In any event Wally had¬†something a little more subtile for his Mercury in mind, than¬†what the shop was doing with the Bettancourt Mercury.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-09A young Wally Welch.
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The Ayala’s started with lowering the car to the perfect ride height, Wally wanted his Mercury to sit¬†level and¬†low, but not to low that it would be impractical. The frame was C’d in the back to allow the axle to travel without hitting the frame. At the front the car was lowered by¬†reversing the front spindles and cutting the coil springs. A set of 1950 Mercury fender skirts were extended downwards to sit level with the bottom of the body. Then the Ayala’s started to chop the top. While the 1952 Hop Up article lists the chop as four inches in the front and 5 inches in the back, the 1952 Restyle Your Car, Trend book #105 lists it as a three inches front, and 5 1/2 inch rear chop.¬†Both numbers listed in 1952¬†are not quite correct. The chop must be¬†less severe than those numbers. Compared to many other chopped Merc, the Wally Welch Mercury looks really mildly chopped. In the past we have tried to figure out how much chop it actually was when we asked the cars current caretaker Justin Mozart, who could take measurements from the windows. But sadly so far we have not been able to get actual numbers for this.

During the chop process the drip rails were shaved, as was done with most of the Californian built chopped Mercury’s in the early 1950’s. It was decided that the B-Pillars should remain straight, and not angled forward as the shop had done on the Bettancourt Mercury. The door corners at the top were rounded for a much more pleasing flow which was needed after the drip rails were removed. One unique¬†element of the chop was the shortening of the rear quarter windows. The way the Ayala’s did this make it not really obvious, until you start to compare it with other chopped Mercury’s. This gives the Mercury a real coupe feeling.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-05The October 1954 issue of Speed Mechanics used this photo of the Wally Welch Mercury for its article on how to install Spotlights. In the May issue of Hop Up magazine you could order a new subscription on the magazine and choose one of four photos as a free gift. This photo of the Wally Welch Mercury was one of them. Who has one of these original hop up prints?
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The door and trunk handles were removed as well as the hood and trunk ornaments. Next up was the extension of the front fenders. The headlights were moved several inches forward and new sheet metal shaped to fill the gap. Below the headlights rings which were frenched into the body an angled forward section was shaped. This angled section has the same angle as the Mercury bumper guards, and gives the front end a nice elegant feel. The grille surround was molded to the fenders and the hood corners rounded. The splashpan was molded in, and the lower edge was reshaped to hide the base of the 5 1951 DeSoto grille teeth. These grille teeth are sitting inside the grille opening much deeper than how most of these grilles are installed today. The deep sitting grille teeth fitted perfectly with the angled front fender shape creating a very well balanced front end of the Mercury.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-13This photo from the 1952 Hop Up article shows the clean work the Ayala performed on the front of the car. Extended front fenders with frenched headlights. deep inserted 1951 DeSoto grill teeth in a custom pan, and rounded corners on a shaved hood.
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At the back the upper trunk corners were rounded. This optically helps flow the trunk into the chopped top a lot better, creating more pleasing lines.The taillight bezels were removed and round rod used to create the shape to which the stock taillights could sit in. This frenching of the taillights brought the styling of the front and rear of the mercury together. Another nice Ayala touch. The front section of the side trim that originally has a Mercury script on it, was replaced with a shortened section that belonged on the rear quarters. To be able to do this both sides had to be flipped. But now the hole side trim front to rear was nice and smooth. And small ignition type lock, (taken from a 1940 Chevy glove compartment door) was installed in the rear section of the side trim on the drivers door. This ignition motivated the electrical door openers.


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With all the body work done and in primer it was time to choose the perfect color for Wally’s mercury. Wally and Gil mixed up some colors and decided to go with an amazingly brilliant lime gold. The Ayala’s installed a set of Appleton S-552’s and added wide white wall tires with Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. The first version of the Wally Welch Mercury was finished…. and just in time to participate at the the 2nd annual Petersen’s Motorama show held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. A very prestigious show, and Wally won the¬†Best Custom Award at the show. Check out the¬†CCC-Article¬†on this event. Another Milestone for the Wally Welch Mercury as well as for the Ayala’s was that the car was in color on the cover of the¬†April 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine, and had a four page feature inside. Irony is that by the time this issue hit the newsstands the car was looking quite different than how it was featured.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-06Color cover of the April 1952 issue of Hop up magazine. This color image of the lime green.gold painted Mercury must have had a huge impact on its readers.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-07The Wally Welch Mercury at the 1951 Petersen Autorama in the Pan Pacific Auditorium. The trophy the car won stands on the table on the far right of the photo.
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Wally enjoyed the car in this first Lime green version for a little less than a year. The original gray velour interior was still in the Merc at this time. Wally either did not have the cash to do the interior the first time, or perhaps the deadline for the show made it impossible to get a new custom interior done. So when Wally’s girlfriend at the time,¬†Jeannie Christman had made clear to wally that she never really liked the color Wally and Gil had come up with, In late 1951, Wally decided it¬†was time for an update. New paint and a full custom upholstered interior. It is unknown why Wally choose the Barris shop for this update and not go back to the Ayala’s. Possibly the workload and the few employees, leading to long waiting lists at the Ayala’s might have played a roll in this decision. In part two of the Wally Welch Mercury we will capture this part of the story.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-08After winning the Best Customs award at the Motorama show a well dressed Gil Ayala,is standing proudly next to the Mercury. A unidentified Auto Butchers club member hold the trophy. The Auto Butchers was the car club Gil had started.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-03The Petersen promo movie of the 1951 Petersen Motorama showed three images of the Wally Welch Mercury at the event.
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According to Wally’s daughter Terri, Wally preferred this Mercury over the other customs he had in the 1940’s and 50’s. Wally loved to tell his daughter stories about his Mercury; how all the body work was done in lead, and how the handle-less doors were opened. Wally really loved this Mercury.


CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-12Hop Up Magazine cover and four page article. The stange thing about the article is that one spread was done with green, and one spread with sepia toned ink.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-20Another odd thing about the article on Wally’s Mercury was that the text was mixed up during the preparation of the magazine in 1952. Somehow the order was completely mixed it in the first two paragraphs. I have fixed this in the image above.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-17Enlarged scan from the Hop Up cover.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-19The original slide that was made in 1951 by Jerry Chesebrough has sadly faded in color quite a bit. So this cannot be used to match the original lime green gold paint from. Fortunately when the car was restored they found the original lime gold on the doorjambs. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-21Hop Up magazine received a lot of letters about the model that was posing with the Wally Welch Mercury in the April 1952 Hop Up magazine issue. In the July 1952 issue the magazine responded to the many requests about the model. In there they mentioned it was Jeannie Christman (later this name was spelled as Christam). No mentioning was made that she was Wally’s girlfriend.¬†
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-02Later Hop Up magazine even gave away photo prints of Jean posing with Wally’s Mercury to new subscribers.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-50-mercury-18From the April 1953 issue of Hop Up magazine. 
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Just like with a lot of other famous and beautiful early Customs Cars, not to many photos have been saved or surfaced of the original Ayala version of the Wally Welch Mercury. Hopefully more material will surface in the future, and if it does, we of course will add it to this article. If you have, or know about additional photos of the Wally Welch Mercury in its first version. Please let us know.

Go to Part TWO of the Wally Welch Mercury Story.

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Resources and more info

  • Trend Book 105, booklet, Restyle Your Car 1952
  • Hop Up, magazine, April 1952
  • Motor Trend, magazine, December 1952
  • Hop Up, magazine, April 1953
  • Street Rodder, Magazine, May 1988
  • Rod & Custom, magazine, August 1989
  • How stuff works, website¬†http://auto.howstuffworks.com
  • The Rodder’s Journal,¬†Magazine issue #39
  • 1951 Autorama winner, CCC-Article

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(This article is made possible by)

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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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Wally Welch Color Photos

 

FADING COLORS

 

The amazing Wally Welch Photo collection consists of mostly “regular” black and white photos. Fortunately Wally also took a few color photos of his famous custom cars from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Lets take a closer look at those color shots.



Wally Welch is perhaps best known for his Ayala-built 1950 Mercury. The brilliant lime gold painted Mercury was used on the cover of the April 1952 cover of Hop Up magazine, making Wally’s custom one of the best known custom Mercury’s in the US in 1952. The bright color of the car must have made a huge impact on people. In ‘real life’, but also on the cover of the magazine. The color looked amazing. This must have made a lasting impact on many readers. But this Mercury was not Wally’s first custom. Wally owned – before the Mercury – one other full custom that became famous. This was a 1941 Ford convertible with a chopped padded top, also built at the Ayala shop. Wally owned Ford for quite some time. The car was redone at least twice, and was featured and shown in several magazines over the years.

Fortunately for us Wally took a nice amount of photos of this 1941 Ford. Mostly in black and white, but there are also three color photos left of his amazing photo album. That photo album is in the proud possession of Wally’s daughter. One of these color photos shows the car in an early version, with the filled center grille, stock outer grilles, and black wall tires. The other two photos show the car with the extended taillights, white wall tires as we know it best from the magazine publications.

Sadly the photos are badly faded or shifted in color to yellow over the years. Some brand photo material like Kodak, was known to produce very accurate colors that lasted many decades in both film and print. But more than likely the color photos in Wally’s collection are produced from another brand, that used color pigments that were not color proof for the 60+ years. Still these photos are really great to look at. We have tried to upgrade the colors a bit on the photos for the best viewing experience. Custom Cars book #101 named the color of Wally Welch’s 1941 Ford ‚ÄúDevil Red.‚ÄĚ

CCC-Wally_Welch_Color-03-W A really great, but faded color photo from the Wally Welch Collection. This badly faded, and fuzzy photo shows Wally’s 1941 Ford in its first version. It already has the chopped windshield, and padded top. But still has a near stock front end. As far as we know all the work on the car for this version was done at Gil Ayala’s Auto Body Works. The photo was taken in 1947-48. Wally’s girlfriend, Jeannie Christman was posing with the car which had black wall tires at the time. This was a very small color snapshot which held some color over the last 60+ years.
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CCC-Wally_Welch_Color-01-WRear 3/4 photo of the 1941 Ford after the Ayala’s had redone the car for Wally. We can see the characteristic Ayala taillights, made from 1947-48 Ford taillights set into custom made pods extending from the fender crease. The stance and overall look is just about as perfect as it can be. The inset photo shows the original badly yellowed and faded photo. The larger version was digitally adjusted.
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CCC-Wally_Welch_Color-02-WGreat low angle side view of the Wally Welch 1941 Ford in this late 40’s early 1950’s color photo. Everything is so right about Wally’s 1941 Ford. The relatively mild chopped withheld, the absolutely breathtaking low speed-boat stance the frenched headlights, addition of the splash pans and the extended taillight pods. The Ayala brothers sure knew how to create a perfect Custom Car.
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CCC-Wally_Welch_Color-04-WThis photo is part of a large color slide that was used for the cover of October 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine.
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CCC-Wally_Welch_Color-06-WWe have no information about Wally’s Cadillac. It looks to be mostly stock, and perhaps it was. But it was nice enough for Wally to shoot a photo of the car. The location is the City of Burbank’s valley pumping plant. Located on Hollywood Way above Victory Blvd. This location was used for several famous magazine photo shoots including Wally’s own 1950 Mercury, and several Valley Custom Shop customs.
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The second famous custom car that Wally owned and that is part of this Color Photo article is Wally’s 1950 Mercury. This car was build by the Ayala’s, who performed a rather mild chop on the car with a wonderful reshaped grille opening filled with¬†DeSoto grille teeth, and extended and reshaped front fenders. Gil Ayala painted the car in brilliant lime gold. Later the car was redone by the Barris shop, who also repainted it. The story goes that Wally’s girlfriend Jeannie never cared much for the lime gold color, and asked Wally to repaint the car in a different color. Fortunately for us we still have a great color photo of the car in its first Ayala version.


CCC-Wally_Welch_Color-08-WJerry Chesebrough took the famous Hop Up magazine cover photo. This scan was made of the rather faded and discolored original large slide. The car was built by the Ayala’s, and finished in a wonderful gold lime color. Wally won the Pan Pacific Peterson’s Autorama with this version, and it got him on the cover of the magazine. Later of course Wally took the car to Barris to have them add some more DeSoto grille teeth, and a new very deep organic purple paint job.
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A close up of the the slide. We have tried to recreate better colors, but the quality of the scan and the to much fading of the original slide made this nearly impossible to do. Still an unique piece of custom car history.
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Wally Welch and his passion for cars

 

WALLY WELCH THE MAN AND HIS MACHINES

 

Want to know more about the late Wally Welch? You are at the right place. We will be sharing many more stories, background information, and photos from the Wally Welch Photo Collection, in future CCC articles. This is a short introduction piece on Wally Welch, and his dearly beloved machines.


When we hear the name Wally Welch, most of us will be thinking about his Ayala/Barris Mercury, built in 1950. This Merc was featured on the cover, and inside the April 1952 Hop Up magazine. However this Mercury was not Wally’s first custom car. He had a few other custom cars, hot rods, and a hot bike, before his famed Mercury.

William Wallace Welch was born on September 24, 1928 in Glendale, California; he grew up in Burbank. At a very young age, he choose to go by the name of Wally. Even as a young guy, he always had a passion for cars. Custom cars, and hot rods to be precise. He studied advertising, but before getting his degree, he changed careers, and went into sales and management. He worked for the well known hot rod and custom dealer: Andrews & Evans. Wally Welch enjoyed a good career, working at various dealerships in sales and management.


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Wally’s 1950 Mercury, was among the first customs based on the iconic 1949/1950 Mercury model. Gil and Al Ayala of Gil’s Auto Body Works created this milestone custom car. Gil Ayala painted the car in lime green which was chosen by Wally. But Wally’s girlfriend, Jeannie Chrisman, never cared much for the color. So, to please his girlfriend, Wally took the car to Barris for a redo, including some extra grille teeth, and perhaps more importantly, a brand new, very deep, purple paint job.

According to Wally’s daughter Terri, he preferred this Mercury over the other customs he had in the 1940’s and 50’s. Wally loved to tell his daughter stories about his Mercury; how all the body work was done in lead, and how the handle-less doors were opened. The Wally Welch scrapbook Рthat survived all these years Рshows mainly his 1941 Ford, some of his hot rods, and his friend’s cars. It is assumed the album was created before the Mercury was built. Later a few photos of the Mercury were added. Unfortunately, Wally did not share many stories with his daughter about his older cars, his bikes, boats, or even the plane he flew.

CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-03A young Wally Welch looking over the engine of his hopped up 1929 Model A Roadster with 32 Ford grille.
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-07Wally enjoyed all kinds of automotive transportation. His custom cars and hot rods were his first love. But he also had some bikes which were tuned up to go fast.
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-05Unfortunately we do not know anything about Wally’s 1939 Ford convertible he had shortly after WWII. It was only mildly customized with a perfect speed boat stance, single bar flipper hubcaps on black wall tires and a set of Spotlights. Typical for the early/mid 1940’s are the home town name stickers in the windshield. Burbank in Wally’s case. We have no idea who built the car.
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-06Another early ride for Wally as this sinister looking 1939 Chevy Coupe. Skirts in the back, lowered speed boat stance, single bar hubcaps on black wall tires, and not visible in this photo, a nice set-in license plate in the back. Wally looked tough!
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-09Wally standing next to a Model A Hot Rod with some of his car buddies. The car is parked in front of the family run Welch Drug store in Burbank.
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-01Wally on the left looking tough with his sun glasses ad leather jacket leaning against the first version of his 1941 Ford Custom. A friend is stadning next to him leaning against his own similar styled 1941 Ford custom. Notice that both cars had an aftermarket filled center grille filler panel. But that the friends car had an extra grille opening cut into this panel.
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-02Wally looking cool with the first version of his 1941 Ford. The car still had the two stock side grilles, and stock bumpers. Along with black wall tires.
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-10Wally standing next to his girlfriend Jeannie Chrisman, in front of the later version of his 1941 Ford. The car now sports a 1942 Ford grille, 46 Ford bumpers, and white wall tires. The photo taken by Felix Zelenka was part of a photo shoot for the October 1951 issue of Motor Trend cover. (TRJ article)
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CCC-Wally_Welch-Machine-04Wally even had a flying permit, and loved to go out into the air.
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