1951 Eastern Auto




Eastern Auto Supply has been in business sine 1919. In the third issue of Hop Up, October 1951, the company was subject of the Meet the advertisers article.

1951, Custom Restyling was booming like never before and could be considered to be in the middle of its Golden Years. In August of 1951 the very first issue of Hop Up magazine appeared on the news-stands. Hop Up magazine was an all new magazine created for the Hot Rod and Custom Car enthusiasts. It was published by the Enthusiasts Publications Inc. in Glendale Ca. To help gather more advertisers for the magazine they came up with the idea of creating an article telling a bit more about the advertisers, under the title MEET THE ADVERTISERS. This way the advertisers got some very welcome extra exposure, which made them very happy and they would most likely keep supporting and advertising in the magazine longer.

The October, 1951 issue of Hop Up magazine had a special Meet the Advertisers on the Eastern Auto Supply Co. This company has played a huge role in the lives of many young Hot Rod and Custom Car enthusiast in the US. They made it easier for people to order special parts needed to build your own hot rod or custom car by mail order, or if you were in the Los Angeles area, you could visit their well stocked shop. Especially this last must have been a really special event for many. From the photos that have been used in the Hop Up article we can see that the store was loaded with an incredible amount of Hot Rod and Custom Car goodies. Eastern Auto place their first ad in Hop Up magazine in the October 1951 issue. They would continue to advertise in the magazine for a long time.

CCC-eastern-auto-supply-1951-04The first Eastern Auto Supply ad in the October 1951 Hop Up issue. The ad mentioned the new for 1951 Custom Catalog which you could order for 25 cent.


The Hop Up Meet the Advertisers Article

(text from the Hop Up article)
Eastern Auto can truthfully claim to be the oldest accessory and custom firm in the business, having been started in 1919, by Joseph Kraus, to feature speed and custom accessories for the model “T” Ford.
Alex, his son, grew up with the business, working there after school and on Sundays. Since graduating from UCLA in 1939, Alex has devoted full time to the store. Eastern Auto pioneered many items no taken for granted in the custom accessories line, such as “bull noses” for Fords, Plymouths etc. (the first being the 1936 Ford) While long schackles and lowering kits had been used for some time on Californian cars, Eastern Auto was the first to apply mass production technique to these items and make their popularity nation-wide, as well as lowering the cost. Also among Eastern Auto’s first are solid hood sides and grille panels, which, in the middle and late ’30s accounted for a good volume of their business.


Thru the years, this firm has established an enviable reputation for fast service, excellent workmanship and fair dealing. Their guarantee of satisfaction is no idle claim. In addition to their retail store, Eastern maintains a large manufacturing division. There a research department constantly adds to their ever expanding line of custom accessories. Included are such itmes as chrome air-cleaners, chrome wire looms, and chrome dash-boards. In fact, Easthern Auto claims to have one of the most complete line in the business. While government restrictions may temporarily curtail introduction of some new items, Alex assures us that with the lifting of restrictions, they will offer more, better, and newer “automotive goodies” than ever before.



The 1951 Eastern Auto Catalog

For 25 cents you could get the all new for 1951 Eastern Auto Supply Catalog. The catalog had 40 pages of the latest Custom Car and Hot Rod accessories and speed parts. The company delivered their product by mail in the whole USA. And made many young Car enthusiast very happy.























(this article is sponsored by)

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





Installing Spotlights




Spotlights have been a popular accessory item on custom cars since the early 1940’s. This article shows an excellent article on how to install them from the October 1954 issue of Speed Mechanics

The spotlights used on the customs from the 1940’s and 1950’s were produced by several manufactories. The Appleton and Lorainne spotlights were the brands used on most customs. And the Appleton S-112 and S-522 were the most popular models to use. The Spotlights could be bought at your local speed shop or ordered from any of the early mail order companies. They came in left and right hand version. Each box came with full instructions and templates for the use of most of the then current automobiles. However it still took some skills to mount them properly and at the right angle to have the best result. The article published in the October/November issue of Speed Mechanics is an excellent article, and must have helped many custom car enthusiast all over the US in installing their favorite set of spotlights.

Special thanks to Ulf “Wolf” Christiansson and Stefan Elbrink.

CCC-installing-spotlights-19-WThe magazine spend four and a quarter page on how to install the spotlights.



















Below are some photos that give you an impression what you received back in the day when you bought a set of Spotlights for your Custom Car. The box and content shown here are from Wolf’s collection. He was very lucky to find some NOS Appleton spotlights on one of his many searches. Some of the instruction sheets come from Stefan’s collection.


CCC-installing-spotlights-23-WIf you opened the box the spotlight was sitting between bended cardboard. On top of this was another piece of cardboard and the instruction sheets.

CCC-installing-spotlights-21-WThe complete content of the box.


CCC-installing-spotlights-20-WThis is the sheet with templates for the most common cars available back then. When you ordered the spotlight you have to specify which brand and year car you wanted to use the lights for.

CCC-installing-spotlights-24-WClear instructions were included.

CCC-installing-spotlights-26-WWith well detailed instruction diagrams.

CCC-installing-spotlights-27-WThe backside of the instruction sheet included an diagram showing each part used in the spotlight assambly. This in case you needed to replace a broken part or had to repair something.

CCC-installing-spotlights-25-WNot included in the box, but needed for installation are these two brackets that go onto the A-Pillar. These had to be bought separate since a few different types/angles were needed to make sure the lights fitted your car model.


Check out the CCC-Article on how to take apart the Appleton Spotlights for more information.

We have also created a CCC-Forum post about how to install the Appleton Spotlight.
This is THE PLACE to find more information, or ask any question about the installation, restoration or any other questions about the Spotlights.




(This article is made possible by)



Ultimate Custom Car Library




We often get the question here at the CCC what kind of Custom Car related books we recommend. Time to create a complete list of Custom Car related books, that make up for the Ultimate Custom Car Library, with special thanks to CCC-Member Bert Gustafsson.



If you grew up in the 1990 or earlier and you wanted to learn all about Custom Cars, you had to find the right magazines to stay in touch with what was happening around the world. There where magazines like Rod & Custom, Custom Rodder, Hot Rod magazine and many more, especially in the 1950’s and 60’s, ¬†that devoted more or less pages to Custom Cars. If you wanted to find out even more, you could get some great books on the subject, and if you wanted even more you could try and find some old booklets from the 1950’s and 60’s. Today all you have to do it turn on your computer, your tablet or smart phone and go to your favorite Custom Car related Website, Facebook or any of the message boards to get your daily dose of Custom Car information.

As the editor on the Custom Car Chronicle I absolutely love to create articles on this site. I love to write about Custom Cars and I love to share my passion for them. But for my research on most of my articles I still relay on my collection of old magazines and books. Even though a lot of info can be found online, there is just nothing like browsing thru my old books and magazines, looking for that one bit of evidence needed for an historic article.

Custom Car Chronicle member Bert Gustafsson recently started an new thread on the CCC-Forum named: The ultimate library on traditional custom cars. in which he listed all the Custom Car (traditional Custom Car) related books he has in his collection. And Bert has quite a collection. Bert started to think what titles would be included in the Ultimate Complete Collection of books devoted, at least partly, to traditional custom cars?

Bert started the list and a few others added some more books, and most likely a few more will be added later as well. I was actually really surprised how long this list is, with books devoted to mostly Custom Cars… This list of books is the Ultimate List, and if you are into Custom Cars it is a really helpful list when you go out shopping for new books. Some books on the list are now nearly impossible to find, and when you do, they are quite expensive. But most others are still very much available from different sources. This list will help you find the right books. In time I will try to add pictures of all the covers from these books as well. If you have another Custom Car related book that is not listed here, send us an email, so that I can add it on this list.



CCC-ultimate-custom-car-library-01Just a few of the books on this rather long list of Custom Car related books.

The Dan Posts books:

  • Remodelers manual for restyling your car 1944, 1945, 1946
  • California custom car album 1947
  • Master custom restyling manual 1947
  • Blue book of custom restyling 1949
  • Blue book of custom restyling, enlarged super edition¬†1951
  • Blue book of custom restyling, revised edition¬†1952
  • Abc‚Äôs of Custom How 1954


Edgar Almquist:

  • Custom Styling Manual¬†1948
  • Speed and Mileage Manual¬†1947


The Trend books:

  • Trend Book¬†101 Custom cars
  • Trend Book¬†105 Restyle your car
  • Trend Book¬†107 Dream cars
  • Trend Book¬†109 Custom cars annual 1954
  • Trend Book¬†116 Custom cars annual 1955
  • Trend Book¬†122 Custom cars annual 1956
  • Trend Book¬†133 Custom cars annual 1957
  • Trend Book¬†143 Restyle your car
  • Trend Book¬†156 Custom cars annual 1958
  • Trend Book¬†175 Custom cars annual 1959
  • Trend Book¬†181 Custom show cars
  • Trend Book¬†189 Custom cars annual 1960
  • Trend Book¬†197 Custom cars annual 1961
  • Trend Book¬†205 Restyle your car
  • Trend Book¬†206 Custom cars annual 1962


Trend books by Justin Kudolla:

  • Trend Book¬†207 Custom cars annual 2009
  • Trend Book¬†208 Custom cars annual 2012


From Custom Rodder:

  • Custom handbook No.1 1961
  • Custom handbook No.2 1961
  • Custom handbook No.3 1962
  • Custom handbook No.4 1962
  • Custom handbook No.5 1962


Barris Spotlite: 

  • 20 top customs 1961
  • Custom car grilles 1961
  • Fins and taillights 1962
  • Scoops and sculpturing 1962
  • Custom painting 1962
  • Custom headlights and fenders 1963
  • Custom wheels and lowering
  • Custom dashboard and detailing
  • Custom Corvettes 1963
  • Custom Chevies 1963
  • Custom Fords 1964


From Hot Rod magazine custom library:

  • Custom Car yearbook No1. 1963
  • Custom Car yearbook No2. 1964


Consumers guide:

  • Grease machines 1979


From Hot Rod magazine:

  • Custom cars 1982
  • Custom cars 1983
  • Custom cars 1984


Tex Smith’s: 

  • How to build custom cars 1989
  • How to chop tops 1990
  • How to build shoebox Fords & Mercurys 1991
  • How to build Fat Fords 1991


Mike Key:

Lead sleds 1984
Wild lead sleds 1992


Timothy Remus:

  • Custom cars & lead sleds 1990



  • KKOA 1980-1992 1993


Andy Southard:

  • Custom cars of the fifties 1993
  • Hot rods and customs from the sixties 1997
  • Hot rods and customs from the seventies 1998
  • The Oakland roadster show 1998


Barris Kustoms:

  • How to Customize Cars and Rods, George Barris and Wayne Thoms 1963
  • Kustoms of the fifties 1994
  • Kustoms of the sixties 2002
  • Kustom techniques of the fifties Vol1. 1995
  • Kustom techniques of the fifties Vol2. 1996
  • Kustom techniques of the fifties Vol3. 1997
  • Kustom techniques of the fifties Vol4. 1997
  • Big book of Barris 2002
  • The Art of George Barris King of the Kustomizers (last Gasp) 2015


Gene Winfield:

  • The Legendary Custom Car and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield¬†David Grant¬†2008

Pat Ganahl:

  • Hot rods and cool customs 1995
  • The American custom car 2001
  • Hot Rod Gallery 2013


Bo Bertilsson:

  • Classic customs and lead sleds 2001


Thom Taylor:

  • Hot rod and custom chronicle 2006
  • Kustomland 2008
  • Watson‚Äôs Custom Car Confessions, Thom Taylor and Larry Watson 2010


Mark S. Gustavson

  • The Sage of the Spencer Murray Dream Truck¬†Mark S. Gustavson and Bill Aitchison, 2001


Strother MacMinn:

  • Hot Rods and Custom Cars 2009


Rik Hoving:

  • The Jack Stewart Ford 2012


Robert E. Larivee:

  • Show Car Dreams 2010


If you are into early Custom Cars, then I think that the Hot Rod books by Don Montgomery also should be part of your library. Although the majority of the books is about early Hot Rods, and Race Cars, each of them also have a nice number of early Custom Cars in them.

I think that Authentic Hot Rods and Hot Rod Memories are the best of them all with the most Custom Car content in them.

Don Montgomery

  • Hot Rods in the Forties, 1987
  • Hot Rods as they where, 1989
  • Hot Rod Memories, 1991
  • Authentic Hot Rods, 1994
  • Old Hot Rods Scrapbook, 2006




Golden Sahara Seiberling Advertising




In the mid 1950’s¬†Jim Skonsakes’ Golden Sahara I, was hired by the Seiberling Rubber company to promote their new tire range . The futuristic Golden Sahara was used in an advertising campaign for the company.

Jim Skonzakes (Street) has always been a very good business man. When Jim and the Barris shop had created the Golden Sahara I, he realized that the cars futuristic appearance drew a lot of attention. Jim used this knowledge to promote the Golden Sahara the best way he could. And not only that, he also offered the Golden Sahara to companies and Television Networks to help promote their business. In the mid 1950’s, Jim made a business deal with the Ohio based Seiberling Rubber Company. Seiberling would hire the car to help promote their new line of tires, the Sealed-Aire tires, at shows and at dealers throughout the country. The company marketed their tire with the pay-off line¬†the tire of tomorrow – is here today,¬† and the futuristic appearance of the Golden Sahara I, was an absolutely perfect visual for this. This deal was very welcome to Jim, since the built of the car had cost him a small fortune. Seiberling also used the car for a series of magazine ad’s, both full color ads as well as black and white used on single pages, and full width spreads. As far as we know, the ads were used in magazines like Life magazines, and not in the specific car magazine.


CCC-Golden-Sahara-DaytonaBeachFor one of the Seiberling ads, the Golden Sahara I was transported to Daytona Beach. The car was driven on the beach for this photo session.


CCC-Golden-Sahara-DaytonaBeach-photo-01I found this photo on an recent (july, 2015) ebay auction. Very interesting snap shot by somebody who was there when the movie and photo shoot for the Seiberling ad campaign was made.  (photo taken from the ebay ad)


CCC-Golden-Sahara-DaytonaBeach-photo-02Back side of the photo reports the event as taken place in August 1955. (photo taken from the ebay ad)










CCC-Golden-Sahara-Ad-Tire-01-WThis image is part of a two page (spread) ad that was used in 1955. It shows a photo of the Golden Sahara I in combination with an illustrated Seiberling Sealed-Aire tire.





The Ayala covers




Gil Ayala’s Auto Body Works never had as much magazine exposure as the Barris shop had. Gil was always hard at work, not spending the time George Barris spend on promoting the business using the car magazines.

[box_light]This was one of the first articles I created for the Custom Car Chronicle. I still needed to learn a lot about the website software we are using, so this article was far from how I thought it needed to look… time for a reshape… and some additional material. (Original publish on June 27, 2013)[/box_light]


The Ayala’s however¬†did have¬†a couple of very nice magazine covers in the early 1950’s. Actually some of the very best Custom Car magazine covers done in the Custom Car golden era. And perhaps the best one was the¬†October 1951 issue of Motor Trend.¬†On this cover an fantastic color photo was taken by Felix Zelenka at the Ayala shop with a gathering of Ayala Custom Cars.

Lets take a look at the Ayala Custom Cars that made it on the cover of the magazines.

Motor Trend November 1950

The first magazine cover exposure the Ayala’s had was on the Motor Trend of November 1950. Even thought the Mercury was on the cover, the inside only showed two photos and a few lines¬†of text on about a quarter of a page. The text mentioned builders Gil and Al Ayala, but not Gil’s Auto Body Works as the body shop. The cover photo was taken by Thomas J. Medley, the model is Anita Houck and it was Al Ayala inside the car. According to Motor Trend magazine the photo had this “back-to-school” motive. It’s still kind of odd that the finished version of this Mercury in black paint is on the cover of the November 1950 issue, while the in¬†-progress photo¬†was used on the Oktober 1951 cover.

Motor Trend November 1950, edition C

This November 1950 Motor Trend cover with the Gil Ayala 1940 Mercury on the cover is a rather rare magazine. As can be seen on the cover,¬†on the top right it reads “Edition C”. As far as I have found out,¬†the Mercury was used on the cover of the magazine distributed to California only. The Rest of the US/World had a cover with a Henry J on it, as can be seen in the inset. The cover and the description about the cover photo on page 5 is the only thing different on the inside of¬†these magazines. So if you ever come across one with Gil’s Mercury on it you better get it.

As for the Mercury… Gil and All chopped the top on the car, they had special metal shaped panels made to fit the back of the top, as well as the full fade away fenders by the California Metal Shaping company. The rear fenders and rear bumper where replaced with 1949 Cadillac units. At first the car used a stock front end. Regular headlights and a 1946 Ford bumper. This is how Gil drove and raced it for a while. The body was in primer, but later they modified the front section of the front fenders, molded in a set of newer headlights and used a 1950 Studebaker bumper on the front. Gil painted the car in a very deep glossy black.

Motor Trend October 1951

One of the best and perhaps most beautiful Ayala covers was taken by Felix Zelenka for the October 1951 issue of Motor Trend. The original photo must have been taken quite some time before it ended up being used for the cover. Odd is that Al Ayala can be seen working on the unfinished 1940 Mercury on this cover photo from October 1951, while the finished car was already on the cover of the November 1950 issue of Motor Trend!

Motor Trend 1951.

In Pat Ganahl’s Ayala articles in TRJ he showed that Felix originally shot a color transparency of this Ayala shop scene. But it was decided that the cars needed a bit more color and light for the magazine cover, so a colorized version was made by Don Fell. In this colorized version some of the cars received different colors than original so that they would look better, more attractive on the cover of the magazine. In this photo we can identify most of the cars as Ayala Customs.

On the top right we can see Wally Welch with his girlfriend – Jeannie Christman,- in front of Wally’s 1941 Ford Convertible. Below that the 1940 Ford of John Geraghty. On the bottom right the 1942 Ford with Cadillac rear fenders of Hank Griffith. On the bottom left side we can see Gil’s personal 1942 Ford Coupe. The car on the top left side is probably D. Hollands 1941 Ford convertible, but thats the only one I’m not 100% sure of. Gil Ayala is leaning on the cars front fender. And in the center of the photo is Gil’s 1940 Mercury with Al Ayala sitting on the fender/hood. The fade away fenders where all done, but the chop was unfinished. The c-pillar filler pieces still needed to be done. What a great photo‚Ķ I hope that one day more photos from this Felix Zelenka photo session will show up.

Custom Cars 1951

(the first of the Custom Car Annuals)

In 1951 the Ayala had one of the car they worked on, on the cover of the Trend Book No. 101 Custom Cars. The first book that would later become an Annual until 1962. There where two cars on the cover of this book. One was the 1940 Ford based Coachcraft built roadster (shown in green on the cover while the car was actually dark blue) and the other car was the 1942 Ford Coupe Ayala did work on for Hank Griffith, colorized in red. The scans of the Cover where made from the first edition of this book. The first edition was printed in July 1951, and the cover was printed on uncoated coarse paper giving it a dull look. While the second edition, printed in October 1951 was printed on a coated glossy paper. Other than the cover, as far as I know, nothing changed between the first and second print. I guess the first edition in July was printed in a relatively low amount. This was a new type of book and Trend Publishing had no idea what to expect from it. Apparently it did better than they thought, hence the second print.

CCC-ayala-cover-custom-cars-1951First Custom Car Annual Custom Cars 1951.

About the Ayala car on the cover. Hank’s 1942 Ford coupe had a full page insided the book, on page 77 (see inset). Three photos where shown of the primered Custom. And as far as I can tell the cover photo must have been taken at the same photo shoot as that was used on the Cover of the October 1951 issue which I showed earlier. High point of view (most likely from the Ayala shop building roof. This photo was also taken by Felix Zelenka and colorized (Flexichrome) by Don Fell. The Ayala’s grafted a set of 1951 Cadillac rear fenders to the extended front fenders for a completely unique look. The grille was replaced with a 1949 Cadillac unit. More about the Hank Griffith 1942 Ford can be read in the CCC-Article on the car.

Although the car was colorized red on the cover, I have never seen a photo of this car with finished paint. In the gathering real color photo shot by Felix that TRJ used in their Ayala article we can see the car in dark gray or black primer. And in the October 1951 issue of Hop Up magazine there is a photo showing Hank’s Ford in white primer with black wall tires.

Hop Up March 1952

Although not a Custom Car, this is still an Ayala Customized car that made it on the cover. The Eddie Dye 1929 Model A Roadster on the cover of the March 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. Inside the magazine the car had two whole spreads on one was used for three quart with a really great cut away drawing created by Jim Richards. Although the articles stated that all the body work on this Roadster was done by the Ayala’s we do know that the grill was formed by Whitey Clayton. But as far as we know the rest was done at Gil’s Auto Body works, including the channeling of the 1929 Model A body over the 1932 Ford frame.

Hop Up March 1952.

They also hammer welded the door shut, and created a really smooth body by doing that. A new roll pan was created at the back which had nice little cut outs at the bottom for the exhaust pipes. They also constructed a full belly pan. Not sure if the Ayala’s or Clayton did the hood and hood sides. But those where custom made as well, and had some very nice tear drop shaped bubbles to clear the engine. The cowl was modified to accept a DuVall windshield and the dash was modified to accept a 8 gauge panel and a Ford accessory steering wheel. The interior built and upholstered by Berry’s Custom Upholstery in white leatherette and a contrasting dark with white piping carpet. Gill mixed his own dark red color for this car, and applied it with great care. The end result is flawless. The white wall tires with hubcaps and beauty rings and the perfect very low stance are the best option for this car to make it look absolutely stunning. The Hop Up Cover also featured the Barris/Quesnel built Jerry Quesnel’s 1949 Mercury.

Hop Up April 1952

In 1952 the Ayala’s had another custom car on the cover of one of the major magazines. It was on the cover of the April 1952 issue that Hop Up used the very first full color photo of the Wally Welch 1950 Mercury Custom taken by Jerry Chesebrough. It turned out to be one of the best¬†Hop Up magazine covers ever. The photo agains a brick wall with a single palm tree is really fantastic and with the bold HOP UP Letters a really strong graphical image. The color reproduction in those days was far from perfect, and even the full color printing left a lot to be desired. I have included a photo made from the original color transparency that was used for the cover. It has faded over the years, but it still looks amazing. I hope one day it will be used in a magazine really big on a page.

CCC-ayala-cover-hop-up-1952Hop Up April 1952 (inset original color slide).


The article inside – two full spreads – showed a nice selection of photos of this early chopped Mercury. And it did mention Gil And Al at Gil’s Auto Body shop as the builders. I really like the look of this Mercury in this first lime gold color. But it did not stay long in this color. Wally Welch brought the car to the Barris shop for a redo which they did in deep purple, and they added two more DeSoto grille teeth in the process as well. This Hop Up cover shows the beauty of the Ayala restyled Custom. Everything is just right on this car. The chop, not to much, just right, the stance, and above all the color in combination with the rest of the restyling. Gil Ayala had a very good eye for picking the right color for the right car. You can read more on the Wally Welch 1950 Mercury in the full CCC-Article on this car.


Hop Up May 1953

The Ayala’s had another Custom Car on the cover in 1953. Al Glickman’s 1949 Mercury customized at Gil’s Auto Body shop was used in color on the cover of the Hop Up¬†of May 1953. For the Ayala’s this was a really great magazine because not only Al’s Mercury they had built was featured in it. There was also a two page feature on the Gil’s Auto Body Works 1951 GMC shop truck in it.


Ayala-Al-Glickman-1951-MercuryHop Up May 1953.


If you are not familiar with this particular Motor Trend issue… you might want to check it out next time you see it. It has a ton of really great Custom Car features, including a very nice 4 1/2 page article on the Barris Customs history. If there was ever any competition between Barris and Ayala in building the best Custom Cars, then this battle continued in this issue as well.
Back to the car on the cover….¬†Al’s 1949 Mercury. The car is rarely seen elsewhere. Only a very few photos of this typically Ayala different designed Custom Car have been published in magazines other than the feature in this Hop Up article. The one things that pops out on this Custom are the 1952 Oldsmobile 98 rear fenders grafted onto the body, and the upward body crease flowing from the front fender where it usually had the dip. The other thing that stands out from the rest is the use of the 1952 Ford Meteor grille (Canadian Ford) which flows nicely in the molded grill surround.

The Ayalas also rounded the hood corners with a large radius, just like they did on the Bettancourt Mercury. Also the rear corners are rounded, and now flow nicely into the A-pillars, a very nice touch you rarely see. Of course the windshield was chopped and Chavez was hired to do the padded top as well as the interior. Gil Ayala painted the car in Devil Red Maroon, which is most likely a bit darker than it shows in the colorized cover photos. According the Motor Trend article Al was called overseas soon after the car was finished, and he sold it to Tommy Kamifuji… and I have no info what happened with the car after that… anybody knows?

Rod & Custom June 1956, Car Craft March 1958

The July issue of Rod & Custom Magazine featured another Ayla Custom on the cover. A very nice full page color photo of the Johnny Rosier 1953 Mercury. The car was a collaboration between Johnny and the Ayala brothers. But most of the work was done at Gil’s Auto Body Works shop. Johnny’s 1953 Mercury with its unusually dark blue (with a greenish hue)¬†and gold paint scheme made it¬†look¬†very good on the cover of the magazine. Another color photo of the Johnny’s Mercury¬†was again used for the cover of the March 1958 issue of Car Craft magazine (right inset photo) as part of a expanded metal grille feature, showing the copper plated material.¬†The Ayala’s did not chop Johnny’s car, but that does not mean everything else was mild on this custom as well.

Rod & Custom June 1956, Car Craft March 1958.


At the back they narrowed a 1954 Cadillac bumper to fit below the 1955 Lincoln taillights which were mounted in extended rear fenders. The scoops in the rear quarters where opened up and chrome 1955 T-Bird front fender louvers trim was mounted inside the opening. The front end was modified heavily as well with a new grille opening filled with gold/coper plated expanded metal and the use of three 1955 Buick bumper bullets. The front fenders where extended and a set of 1956 Packard headlights trimmed to fit the Buick bullet and stock Mercury bumper ends. The unusual upwards shaped side trim was created from 1955 DeSoto items, flipped and turned upside down. The upward movement of the side trim makes the car looks kind of strange.¬†But I think back then, was it first built, it was something really new and exciting.. Details like this¬†might have helped getting the car into the magazines. Johnny was a Auto Butchers member, so the brass Auto Butchers cleaver plaque was mounted on the front bumper. Pinstriping on the car was done by Von Dutch. Acording Memo Ortega who hung out a lot at the Ayala shop, Johnny and his Mercury where always over at Gil’s shop, and his car looks so good going down the road when he would leave the shop.

[box_light]The “About the Cover” text from R&C is:¬†The California sun looks down on many sights, and pretty girls, custom cars and swimming pools are more often the rule than the exception. Models Paula Westrope (foreground) and Maura Martin wonder why Johnny Rosier doesn’t leave his Black Gold Custom Mercury long enough to take a dip in the extremely inviting La Canada pool of Fred Tayberry. Cover Ektachrome by Al Paloczy.[/box_light]

Motor Life May 1957

Another Ayala Custom car was used on the cover of the May 1957 issue of MOTOR LIFE magazine. This time it was Gil’s personal customized 1955 T-Bird.

The Ayala’s reshaped the front using a set of 1955 Pontiac bumpers, Studebaker pans and a small oval grille opening in the center. The front fenders where extended, and 1955 Packard headlights installed. In the photo is clearly visible that the passenger side chrome headlight insert is missing. A new much larger working hood scoop was fabricated. Both wheel openings front and rear where reshaped. The rear fenders where also completely reshaped and the crease running from the front fenders all the way to the back now stops shortly after the door. It looks like the whole back portion of the fender comes from a 1956 Lincoln, including the taillights.

Below it sits a modified 1954 Cadillac bumper end piece, which now also houses the exhaust pipes. Gil fabricated a new roll pan for the back starting just below the trunk and he recessed the license plate into it. In 1957 it was the latest trend to use expanded metal, so Gill used it to create brass plated fender fins at the back, and screens for the hood scoop. Then Gill added one of his signature Candy red paint jobs.

Motor Life May 1957.

The wild pinstriping on Gil’s 1955 T-Bird was done by Walt Leeman who later used to pinstripe out of the House of Chrome which was housed on the corner of the lot where the Ayala Brothers where at. Walt striped Gil’s T-Bird at a hollywood car show. Walt was striping the car just when Von Dutch was brought over by Earl Bruce and the two where introduced. It must have been a touch job striping while the pinstripe master Von Dutch is watching you over your shoulder. Later Gil redid the car and removed the over the top expanded metal, reshaped the front fenders and added different headlights.¬†Fortunately this car survived, and¬†is currently (summer 2015) being restored for a Norwegian caretaker by a shop in Florida


This is the text that was on the inside of the cover of the Motor Life magazine.

COVER STORY: (Left inset photo) Setting up for one of several color shots made for the cover of this issue of MOTOR LIFE, is Bob D’Olivo, seen here focusing on Gil Ayala’s flashy Thunderbird (details on pages 52-53). The young lady, both here and on the cover, is Ada Hume, student at UCLA who spends her summers in the chorus line at the Sahara in Las Vegas.


Speed and Custom Spetember 1961

Another Ayala Custom Cover Car is this 1953 Chevy Gil’s Auto Body Works created for Bob Lomax from Harbor City, California. Inside this September 1961 issue of SPEED and CUSTOM the car is listed as a Bob Lomax owned candies ’53 Chevy. The two page feature does not mention anything about the cars Ayala origins at all. However the May 1960 issue of Rod & Custom magazine also has a two page feature on this car. It looked a bit different then, with an mid 1950’s look and in this article the car is mentioned to be a Gil Ayala built Custom Car. In this article it is mention that the car¬†has been collecting custom trends over that past few years.

Speed and Custom September 1961

The Ayala’s build this car from Bob in¬†the mid 1950’s,¬†and it was updated every few years. The two inset photos on the bottom show how the car looked in the 1960 R&C feature. The front wheel openings where flared and radiused, a new grille opening was created in which a Barris tube grille was mounted. Although I can imagine this car had a different floating type of grille earlier. The headlights frenchend, and taillights are now 1954 Packard units in extended fenders. The side trim comes from a 1956 Plymouth.¬†CCC-ayala-bob-lomax-spread

In 1961 The stance of the car had changed completely, now with a forward rake and with the fender skirts and Spotlights removed looked much more sporty than before Bob also added a set of chrome reverse rims to replace the wheels with hubcaps on the aelier version. In the Speed and Custom article it is mentioned that the car had 20 coats of Candy Apple lacquer, but no mentioning of who applied it. We all know Gil Loved to paint cars, and Candies where his favorite type of paint, so perhaps the paint job was his. Louie Chavez is credited for the interior and padded top.


(this article is ponsored by)







Custom Shop Business Cards


In the CCC-Series on printed material we show you here a¬†fine selection of business cards from US custom shops in the 1950’s and 60’s.

With my background in graphic design I have always really been very interested in¬†the old business cards from the Custom Car builders from the late 1940’s and up.¬†The printing techniques, the typefaces, the lay-out and the special designs. They are always very neat to look at… and even better to collect.

It is really funny that when these business cards where created the shop owner would have never thougth about these items once would be collector items. They were only a means of promoting their business, or simply to give clients or posseble future clients a way to get in touch.

Some of these Business Cards are trully work of arts, they are very well designed with paper choice matching the looks the shop owner would like to display. While others were nothing more that the words in a nice letter font the printer happened to have handy at the time of the order.

In this article we are showing you a selection of some nice cards from¬†some better know shops as well as some shop I had even never heard about… enjoy.







RG Canning Show Card


Gary Canning was a car/bike show promotor in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Craig Wise shared one of¬†the neat RG Canning Attractions¬†promotional Cards with us.

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen Craig Wise, a good friend, was cleaning out some boxes in his garage, he came across this Promotional card, produced by his high school buddy, Gary Canning. Gary was a car/bike show promotor in¬†California in the late 1960’a and 1970’s. He promoted car shows with his RG Canning Attractions business. To help promote his¬†business, he created this promotional card. The photos for this card were taken at a show he promoted¬†in the 1970’s at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

CCC-rg-canning-card-01The front of the long promotional car was done in full color with photos from the amazing colorful shows Gary produced.
CCC-rg-canning-card-02The back side was done in one color, black. Printed address labels would cover up the Postcard address text. 
I have cut up the large overview photo of the front of the car to make sure it can be seen a little better This was the era of the low-riders, the Watson and Anderson amazing pearl, candy, and flake paint jobs. This overview photo shows how colorful the cars were.





And the rest of the photos.







Thank you Craig Wise, for sharing this great promotional card.







Kustom Kar Books Golden Sahara



The Wayne Detroit Custom Shop?


The Wayne Auto Customs Works Inc. from Detroit, Michigan, who knows more about this shop?

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e always love it when people show up with those rare Custom Car related items, or with information about a Custom Car, or Custom Shop we have never seen or heard about.
David Zivot is one of those people who always comes up with some neat Custom Car historic info, goodies, and cars. David donated an old matchbook cover that he came across in one of his many quests. The cover is from a company called The Wayne Auto Custom Works Inc. a company from Detroit Michigan. David had never heard about this Custom Shop, and neither have we. We have asked around, but so far nobody could share any more information on this Custom Shop.


The matchbook cover is the only thing we have ever seen of this shop before, but apparently the shop was big enough, or at least have money enough to spend it on creating this custom made matchbook cover. The front of the cover is done in a darker red with printing in silver and black. The backside had a lit of the companies specialties printed in black. The matchbook cover was produced by the Diamond Match Co. N.Y.C.
The matchbook cover sample we have was never Folded, nor had the striking patch attached to it. So it looks like it was also used as a business card or so. It looks to have been produced in the later 1940’s or early 1950’s.

CCC_the-wayne-custom-match-02The front and backside of the matchbook shown side by side.

The front side shows
The Wayne Auto Custom Works Inc.
44 – 60 Brady
COlumbia 2900-1


The backside reads
Auto Body Rebuilding
Auto Painting
Collision Work
Call COlumbia 2900


The big question is, who knows more about this Custom Shop from Detroit? Was it a Custom shop as we know it like the once from Barris, Ayala etc. Or was it perhaps more like a couchbuilder like Coachcraft? What kind of Custom Cars did they create, how many, and for how long? Hopefully we can find out more about the Wayne Auto Custom Works.

If you have any rare, unique, or just nice Custom Car related objects, that you would like to know more about, or would like to share with other Custom Car enthusiast. Please let us know. We would love to include them here on the Custom Car Chronicle.







Rotogravure prints in early magazines




You have probably enjoyed these wonderful dark color toned photos when browsing thru your early 1950’s Custom Car and Hot Rod magazines Collection.

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I started with my Custom Car and Hot Rod magazine collection several decades ago I noticed that some of them had these wonderful deep sepia colored pages in them. Most of those magazine were printed in black, but several spreads had, what appeared to be better quality photos printed on more glossy paper done in a dark color. Some of these magazine pages were pure art to me. Photos as the 1949 Mercury of Jerry Quesnel in an amazing sepia toned¬†color, showed much more detail than any other black and white photos I had seen. Features on Ralph Jilek’s 1940 Ford, Wally Welch his 1950 Mercury, Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy, and many others¬†made even more impact on me, back then, due to these wonderful smooth, soft highly detailed prints in the early Hop Up and R&C magazines.


The wonderful sepia, dark blue or dark green printed pages almost appear like duo-tones. In Art-School I had experimented a bit with¬†Duo-tones, which is a printing technique where an image is built up from two colors, usually black or a very dark color and mid to light toned color to give extra depth.¬†At first I thought that those early magazine¬†colored pages¬†were actually printed in duo-tone.¬†After Art-Shool¬†I started to working at a graphic design agency and started to learn a bit about printing techniques. I had studied the Spepia tones spreads in the magazines and soon found out that the printing technique was called Rotogravure printing.¬†There is just one color used for the Rotogravure printing technique, but due to the very fine grid patter which is used on the printing cylinder it appears that there are more tones than just the color that was used used. The technique created an illusion of depth. The fine grid also makes the image look a lot smoother and sharper than regular printing techniques using just one color (black) back in the 1950’s.


This example shows the difference between regular off-set printing in black (top image) and the rotogravure technique (image below) in a green toned ink. The images are scanned¬†at the same percentage and show that the bottom image (rotogravure) has a lot more detail, and creates a much smoother image. The screen that could be used for this technique is a lot finer than the regular screen used for the black and white printing of the magazines. Modern techniques can even improve on this, but in the 1950’s this was about the best reproduction you could get in one color.


In short this is how it works.

The image, photo and text for a magazine page, is engraved on a printing cylinder, a very fine grid is used to create shades. Once the cylinder is engraved, this cylinder is placed in the printing machine, where is will be partially immersing the ink tray. The ink will fill the recessed sections of the engraved cylinder surface. When the cylinder is rotating in the printing machine the none engraved sections of the cylinder are scraped clean by an blade inside the machine. Now only the recessed sections contain ink. Most of the ink is concentrated in the sections that where the darkest in the original photo, and only very little ink is in sections were the original photo was very light. Next the paper will be pressed against the cylinder by a roller underneath it, and the ink gets transferred from the cylinder to the paper. The roller puts a lot of pressure to the paper making sure all the ink from the cylinder gets absorbed into the paper. This technique allows much more ink to be added to the paper than regular printing techniques. Hence the very deep tones in the darker sections of the photos. It almost appears that those sections are done in the color, and black was added to that. But the rotogravures that we know from these magazine are all done just in one single color. There for the rotogravure printed spreads have much more depth than the regular printed sections of the magazines. This all happens with a fast rotating printing machine.

The reason why only parts of the magazines were done using this technique is due to the high cost of creating the printing cylinders, making the start up cost considerably higher than regular printing. However in high volume printing, the end cost will go down per unit, due to the speed of these rotation printing machines. Only the well known magazines like Hot Rod, Hop Up, and Rod & Custom could afford using this technique. It created more attractive spreads which draw more readers and happy advertisers. But even though those titles were printed in high volumes it was not affordable to print the whole magazine using this technique.




ccc-rotogravure-differenceOne of the disadvantages of the technique is that lines and text are made up from dots. Solid on the inside, but clearly visible as small dots on the outside. The sample above shows the main image done in rotogravure in blue. Everything is dotted in this image, while the Hop Up, October, 1951 in black, on the bottom, comes from a page of the magazine with regular printing. It shows that for text the regular printing is much cleaner and sharper.

In the Hot Rod and Custom Car magazines three ink tints were commonly used. Sepia was used the most followed by dark green and a few were done in blue tinted. This article shows some examples of these colors and how they created wonderful magazine spreads and amazing detailed photos. Other colors were used, but not often seen in these type of magazines. In fact today many magazines and books try to mimic these rotogravure colors when they show old photos of cars. And some enthusiast magazines like Magneto even used duo-tones to re-create the effect.

 The green tinted Rotogravures






ccc-rotogravure-hop-up-dec-52-detailThis enlarged section shows the distictive grid pattern. This is produced on the prints by a screen etched on the printing cylinder. It makes it look like there are actually more shades of green in this image.



The blue tinted Rotogravures





The sepia tinted Rotogravures












Barris magazine ads


George Barris started to promote his Barris’s Custom Shop in the early car magazines starting in 1948.

When the car magazines started to bloom in around 1947-48, some of the early Custom Car builders understood this was their opportunity to get their name out there. To get attention to the work they were doing and show a wider audience the possibilities of Custom Restyling. Before these magazines there was no real way of advertising the Custom Car business other than word by mouth. Which worked fine, but in those days did not spread very far. In this series of articles we will share some of the early, and not so early ads created by the known and not so known custom car business.

In this first article we like to concentrate on the early ads the Barris shop created from 1948 and up to about the mid 1950’s. George Barris started to advertise in the 1948 Road and Track magazine after his 1941 Buick had won the class in the Hot Rod Show. George was asked to have his car featured in the May 1948 issue of Road and Track, and part of that deal was a 1/4 page ad. George imidiately understood the importance of this way of getting your name out to a large public. From then on the Barris shop had many ads in various magazines. Latter George would combine these ads with how to articles to get even more attention.

Lets take a look at some of these nice and interesting ads.
(special thanks to Jamie Barter, David Zivot and Palle Johansen for scanning or sharing some of the advertising material)

CCC-Barris-Ad-06-May48May 1948, Hot Rod Magazine


CCC-Barris-Ad-07-481948, Hot Rod Magazine


CCC-Barris-Ad-09-491949 Hot Rod Exposition program





1948, Hot Rod magazine


CCC-Barris-Ad-10-49November 1949, Motor Trend


CCC-Barris-Ad-04-19501950, Motor Trend magazine



1950, Motor Trend magazine


CCC-Barris-Ad-05-1951January 1951, HotRod News












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