Custom Car Chronicle
Ayala Custom ShopThe Wally Welch Collection

Wally Welch Color Photos




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 “Devil Red.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.




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 “Wally Welch Color Photos

  • Those are really great photos Rik. The photo with the Cadillac convertible looks to the be the same location as was used in the article about Ed Jacques Valley Custom built ’41 Ford when it was in the large size Hop-Up. I believe you have some photos of Ralph Jilek’s ’40 Ford convertible on your site which were taken at the same location as well.

    • Good eye Justin. I have added a bit of information since you made your comment. Turns out Wally’s own 1950 Mercury was photographed at this location at one time as well.

      • Thanks for listing street address in your update! The next time I go to California, I’ll go by there. I always wondered about that place! I like seeing those old photo locations in person. Surprisingly, most of the more famous ones are still there and still look about the same as they did in the 1950s and 1960s. Thanks again, Rik!

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