Custom Car Chronicle
Ayala Custom ShopCustom HistoryHistorical Custom Car Shows

Gil Ayala at the 1951 Roadster Show




Lynn Ayala recently share some really great historic Custom Car¬†memorabilia¬†from her dad. Gil Ayala entered the¬†Ayala built¬†1940 Mercury at the 1951 National Roadster show in Oakland. Lynn’s mother went there with Gil and kept some souvenirs from that trip.

Gil Ayala’s Gil Auto Body Works at Olympic Blvd. in East Los Angeles has turned out a huge number of fantastic Custom Cars in the 1940’s and 1950’s and even long after that. Together with Harry Westergard, Jimmy Summers, Barris Kustoms and a few more they set the style in the early days of Customizing. Gil was never really much into promoting his work. His shop was relatively small, and he always had plenty of work. His advertising was the great work he did, and new customers would come in after seeing other clients Custom Cars. This is one of the reasons that there has not much been published about the Ayala Shop… at least not as much as for instance on the Barris Kustom Shop. It is also a reason why there are relatively few photos or other material left from the Ayala shop, or their cars.


So each time we do find out more about the history of Gil and Al Ayala the Custom Car enthusiasts from all over the world get excited. The Ayala family has been sharing some great material with us and others over the past decade or so, and now Lynn Ayala is sharing more material. Lynn is actually working on something very special about the her father and the custom car world… It is not ready yet, but when the time comes it will be ready we sure will inform you about it here on the Custom Car Chronicle.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-mt-portretGil’s 1940 Mercury from the cover of the November 1950 Motor Trend magazine. The car was painted jet-black at this point. Inset photo is Gil Ayala.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-09I found this old postcard of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay bridge online.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-coversGil’s 1940 Mercury appeared twice on the Motor Trend magazine cover. First time as finished in yet-black on the November 1950 cover, and still unfinished and in primer on the October 1951 cover.

The memorabilia Lynn shared this time are some scrapbook samples of the trip Gil Ayala and his wife  took to the National Roadster Show in 1951. Gil showed the 1940 Mercury that he had originally built for himself, but later sold to Richard J. Stickley from Hollywood, California. They showed the car at the Oakland Exposition Building show for the new owner. And they did very well, winning the Customs class with the car. After Gil had sold his 1940 Mercury he repainted the car in Devil Maroon for the Richard J. Stickley.

Note from Lynn


Not only did my mom keep EVERYTHING from being alongside my dad & all his automotive adventures…..
she wrote down details as well.

Sometimes actually on the souvenirs lol.

These are from the Oakland Roadster Show in 1951 (now the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona) where he took 1st place!

I love how she writes that they were at Bob’s Big Boy from 1am-2am after landing at Burbank Airport. She’s still so proud of him & so am I.


CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-01Gil Ayala’s Parking pass.¬†

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-02Gil Ayala’s¬†door pass for the National Roadster show.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-03This is the backside of the Door Pass where Gil’s wife wrote: Oakland Roadster show – Oakland Exposition Bldg. Gil won 1st place with his 1940 Mercury (Devil Maroon) No. 406 2/24/26/ ’51 door Pass.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-05 CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-04The¬†Bob’s Big Boy match book where Gil and his wife had lunch after landing at the Burbank airport, on their way home. ¬†1-am,¬†February¬†26, 1951 after landing at Burbank Airport.

CCC-oakland-exposition-building-01Photo from the Exposition Building where the National Roadster show was held. This photo is not from 1951 though.


CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-07From Ron Brook’s Collection comes this scan of the 1951 National Roadster show program showing Gil’s 1940 Mercury.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-06The short description on the 1940 Mercury on the show program mentions that the dash was painted purple with cream, but not that the car was now painted “Devil Maroon” as we can read it in the note on the door pass.

CCC-national-roadster-show-1951-articleHot Rod Mechanics article on the 1951 Oakland Roadster show, a small photo of Gil’s 1940 Mercury appeared in the article.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-11The photo used in the Hot Rod Mechanics article¬†is the only “good” photo we have been able to¬†find of Gil’s 1940 Mercury at the 1951 Nations Roadster show.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-08In one other overview photo we can also spot the No. 406, 1940 Mercury at the show. Sadly the photo is a bit blurry and pretty dark.

CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-12One more photo of the 1951 National Roadster show that shows Gil’s 1940 Mercury is this one focusing on the Sam Barris 1949 Mercury. Parked behind Sam’s Mercury is Gil’s car.

Sadly Gil’s, or actually Richard J. Stickley’s 1940 Mercury¬†vanished after the 1951 National Roadster show. We have not been able to find any information about the car after it appeared in the 1951 show. If you know anything more about Gil’s old 1940 Mercury, what happened to it after 1951, or if it is still around today hiding away in a barn, or garage. Please let us know, Email Rik. We would love to find out what happened to the car.



(this article is made posible by)





Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

3 thoughts on “Gil Ayala at the 1951 Roadster Show

  • Love seeing that first version of this iconic custom! Like the Ron Dunn Ford, being able to see early versions opens a better understanding of how not only each car evolved, but how interest stimulated by the car shows affected sequences of changes to these cars. I especially like the frenched headlight treatment, best seen in the early photo!

    All of us deeply appreciate the donations that are coming in to keep Custom Car Chronicle our go-to place for traditional custom cars!!
    Larry Pointer

    • I agree with you on the headlight/front fender treatment on the first version of this car. And I will highlight this and other elements on this classic Custom in a future full article on Gil Ayala’s mercury.
      This article however was not really about the car, but more about the show the car was at, and the memorabilia saved from 1951 shared by Lynn ayala.

  • i dont care what anybody saya this car kicked … s , best 40 kustom merc ever built bar none in my book, the work gill an al did on this kustom is awesome the chop …the cad quarter panels… the fade aways running down front fenders to rear fenders .. the frenched headlites …the outstanding metal work an black paint job made this car standout, i would have left the car black but thats just me an my 2..cents

Leave a Reply