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Remembering the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford


REMEMBERING the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford


In 1959 Memo Ortega buys the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford. Memo finished the car, paints it blue and enjoyed it for a few years. Here are some of his memories.

By Memo Ortega

The other day I was thinking about back in 1959, when I was the luckiest guy on the planet… It was on a Saturday afternoon when me and my friend krused over to the Ayala’s in East Los Angeles, to visit Gil’s Auto Body Works shop. I had been there many times before after I discovered the shop back in 1951. All these year I had driven my green kustom ’37 Chevy up to meet with Gil. This day was a special day, I remember we got there my friend said hi to Gil and was looking at some of the cars they were working at the time. I stayed there talking to Gil about Kustom Cars and how I really dug them, as well as all the work done by their kustom shop.

A few years back I spotted this kustom chopped ’42 Ford Coupe sitting next to the small building on the corner where the House of Chrome was. The car had been sitting there for about three years, if I remember correct. The House of Chrome was, just as Gil’s shop, also very popular. They sold all kinds of goodies for kustoms and hot rods, its where I got my first set of Appleton Spotlights.

Gil’s Ford parked at the Gil Ayala Auto Body Works shop in 1949. Not to far from where it was parked in this photo was where Gil left it sitting for some years until he sold it to Memo Ortega in 1959.

Back to Gil…. when I had first seen this ’42 Ford Kustom I had asked Gil about the car and he told me he had started working on the dual head lites to give it a little different look, but he had not worked on it for a while, since they were always to busy at the shop. He just had no time to work on it. Back then I had asked him if he would sell me the car, Gil told me “If I sell the car, I will sell it to you. I know you will fix it to look good, like your ’37 Chevy… gimmie a little time to think about it”. Well this Saturday in ’59 turned out to be a Special Day… Gil told me he decided to sell me the car…. Talk about being happy!!! I was so excited. I asked him when can I pick it up. He told me when ever u want to, I will be here.

Well we left the shop, went krusin and I just could not get the Gil’s kustom out of my head. My friend was also very happy Gil was selling me the car, and he asked me when are you going to go get it? I told him it would maybe next Saturday. I was working at Matt Kolbert’s shop in Pomona at the time, so I my boss Matt for the day off. And I would have to find out if one of my friends had a trailer I could borrow. since I only had enough money to buy the car, not to rent a trailer on top of that. Well my buddy Johnny, who worked also at Kolbert’s had a friend (Big John) who had a big tractor trailer for hauling Orange Grove Tractors in the groves. He said we could use, and to come over next Saturday to pick it up. We also loaned Big John’s Chevy farm truck, a big two axle (not a semi though) and hooked the trailer on. We then went over to Gil’s Shop to pick the car up.

The only photo Memo has showing his friend Johnny, his boss Matt Kolbert and himself, back in 1953. Back then Memo already knew about Gil’s ’42 Ford, but had no idea he would end up with it some 6 years later.

When we got at Gil’s shop and pulled into Gil’s parking lot, Gil noticed us and started laughing real hard. “Thats a big trailer you guys got there… but it’ll work!” We had to air up the tires on the ’42, they were near flat from sitting there for so long. We did the deal, I paid Gil, and they all helped us load the car on the trailer. And then we left. MAN was I happy! On our way back we got all kinds of looks from people staring at the car on the trailer, it took us a while to get back to Pomona, since we were real careful towing the car. We unloaded the car at Kolberts, and parked it next to the shop and left again to take the trailer back to Big John in Cucamonga at his Orange Grove. We thank him and left thinking what a GREAT day we had that day!

After having thought about Gil’s Ford the rest of the weekend I had to get up really early on Monday morning. I was real eager to see my new Kustom again. I was at the Kolbert shop before anybody arrived and stood there just starring at the car. I was thinking how mean it looked just sitting there. I then opened up the shop, by then my boss Kolbert came in, and so did mu buddy Johnny. They both gave the car once over look and they both liked it. My boss told me “looks like you’ll be busy working on it after work” I said “yep sure will… every time I get a chance

Gil Ayala’s old ’42 Ford with the quad headlights at an 1961 event at the Pomona Drag track.

Gil had used Ford dual headlights in the ’42 Ford fenders. Memo Ortega finished the work and eventually repainted the whole car in Royal Blue.

The Ford being driven at the parking lot back in 1961.

First thing I did with Johnny’s help, was to try to get the car started. We jacked up the car and pulled the gas-tank plug off, got rid of the old jellowed gas (it looked like Jello). We had to pull off the gas-tank, clean it, and back it went. We poured new gas in and got a new battery for it. We also drained the old oil, got new oil and after a little while we got the engine going. It smoked heavy for a little while, then it got better and the engine sounded good. Then Johnny and I decided it sounded good enough to take it for a spin.  MAN that was good! The two 92’s were working good that was a big plus. It’s hard to remember every thing, since this was all such a long time ago.

Anyway, after getting the car drive-able, the first thing I wanted to do was get the headlites Gil Ayala had started finished. They turned out real good. I got the car all cleaned up, the interior was still the same as what Gil had in the car since the late 40’s. Tuck & roll, looked real cool. I started driving it and it was just so kool. The car had had lots of power, I really dug it. I kept driving it while I continued working on it. Me and some of my buddies were krusin with the car all over the place. The car ran fantastic and another big plus, the radio also worked. We took the car to Fairmont Park in Riverside at least twice, and we got some good looks as we krused around there. That was the place to go bumper to bumper krusin good memories from Gil’s kustom. Eventually I got the car all done, had the chrome re-plated and painted it a beautiful Royal Blue Bonito.

Illustration Memo created some years after he had sold the Ford.

Thank you Gil Ayala for creating this mean kustom and allowing me to buy it from you. I have enjoyed it a lot during the few years I had it. May you rest in peace… The Ayala’s forever.


Gil’s ’42 Ford still around?
We have recently heard some rumors that Gil’s ’42 Ford is still around today… stored in a warehouse for the last 15 years. Apparently it was saved from a junk Yard in California, then brought to the East Coast of the US by a previous owner, and sold to the current owner in early 2002. We hope to be able to bring you more news about this in the near future.




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)

6 thoughts on “Remembering the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford

  • What a cool story! And it might not be done yet. Wouldn’t it be something to have that car be located and brought back to its glory days. That custom has class and pedigree, for sure. Thanks for your memories, Memo.

    Long live the CCC.

  • I really enjoyed the story of you buying the Gil Ayala ’42 Ford. I know that feeling of excitement that you felt when you saw how cool it looked sitting at the Kolbert shop.

  • A true “car guy” can sit and stare for hours and hours at all the wonderful shapes and lines of a nice car. It’s even better when it’s a car you’ve admired and then acquired! Great story Memo!


  • All of the above ^^^^^^
    Would love to see to brought back into the light!
    Thanks Memo and CCC.

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