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.”
Rear 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.
Great 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.
We 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.
Jerry 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.
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