Custom Car Chronicle
Barris Kustom ShopGeorge Cerny Shop

Buster Litton Panoramic Ford


The Buster Litton Panoramic Ford is really what Customizing is all about. Created by the Barris Kustoms Shop and Carl and George Cerny enhancing all the lines on this 1949 Ford to create this wonderful flowing Custom Car Milestone.

I have been gathering material for a Custom Car Chronicle Buster Litton Panoramic Ford article for quite some time. The Panoramic Ford as Buster named it has been on my list of personal faborite Custom Cars for as long as I first saw a photo of it. Fortunately for us the car has been documented pretty well back in the early / mid 1950’s with lots of photos, and even better in more recent years even more material has surfaced as in some amazing color photos and the best of all detailed information from the two of the original owners of the car, Buster Litton, officially the second. Owner of the car, but the one after who the car was named, and Don Schaedel, who owned it after Buster sold the car. (we will name him third owner of the car) We will all get into that much more detailed in a bit. With the help of good friend Rob Radcliffe we have been able to get a Pretty good view of the cars history. In fact we have so much information, that we might need more than just one article to cover it all.

Allen Anderson 1949 Ford

The story on the car starts with an owner from which we do not know much, basically just his name, Allen Anderson from Compton California. Allen is the owner of the 1949 Ford Coupe who takes his car down to the Barris Atlantic Blvd. Kustom Shop to have it converted to a wild, but ellegantly looking hard-topped full custom. With a wonderfully shaped hard-topped style top and both front and rear completely restyled.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-00This photo appeared in the December 1952 issue of¬†Motor Trend article “What is the cost of Customizig”. George Barris was interviewed in this article and some of the past and present shop projects were used to illustrate the¬†MT article topic. It shows the 1949 Ford¬†how it looked in primer at the Barris Shop. It¬†is¬†unknown if the car still belonged to Allan Anderson at the time of the photo, or if it already was owned by Buster. We can see the stock Ford side trim, and interesting to see is that the cut down 1951 Mercury fender skirts are already in pace. This is so far, the earliest photo we have seen of the car.

According to Buster Litton, as well as the later owner Don Schaedel, it was¬†Sam Barris who tackled the increadible chop, by removing the B-pillars completely, welding the tops of the door frames to the top, reshaping the A-pilars and reshaping the entire roof and turret panel to one of the best looking chopped cars ever created. Sadly, so far, no in-progress photo of the cars initial restyling have ever showed up. The numbers on the chopped top listed in the old and newer publications have varied quite a bit, and both Buster and Don are not sure about the amounts either. The only number that seams constant is that the windshield was chopped 3 inches. We assume that Sam dropped the rear just as much as it needed to look right, and never really took any measurements. Shoebox¬†Ford convertible side windows where heavily modified to fit the car. With the chop in primer it was decided the Ford’s front end needed more “movement” and a set of forward raked 1951 Studebaker front fender headlight units was bought, and one, the drivers side, was tacked in place. Then, for reasons unknown at this point, Allan decided to sell the the unfinished project.
(Both Buster Litton and Don Schaedel mentioned the car started out as a Coupe model, but after doing some research and talking with Andreas Åberg, who built a near clone of the Panoramic Ford, we have come to the conclusion that the Panoramic Ford more likely was based on a Sedan model. We will get back to that in part two)

Buster Litton buys the Ford

Buster Litton was in the market for a new Custom Car / project at the time and approached George Barris and Allen about the car. Buster bought the unfinished Shoebox project from Allen for $1500.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-26Buster’s Ford at an outdoor show in 1953. Notice how the show card hides part of the front of the car.

The 1951 Studebaker front fenders installation was completed and a new grill opening was created using the top portion of an 1951 Mercury grill surround welded to the bottom of the 1949 hood. The stock half round opening in the hood was filled in at the time as well, and the center hood peek extended down. The new forward portruding hood lip worked really well with the pointy Studebaker front fenders and headlights, making it all flow together like it belonged on the car in the first place. A new grille for the new opening was created from a 1953 Chevy grille bar with 3 grille teeth. To the end of each side of the grille bar 1951 Ford grille spinners were added. All this work was done by George Cerny.

The Fords front bumper was kept, and even it stock position was working really well, but the spash pan did need some work and was molded into the fenders and lower grille opening to work with the rest of the new front end. All the work on the top, including the sliding rear quarter windows, and weather proofing the top was finished at this time. The Ford was already lowered when it was still owned by Allen. At this point Buster takes the car home and enjoyed it like this for some time.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-02Before there had been any of the color photos published or shared I did this colorized version of the Panoramic Ford for an article in the Rodder’s Journal.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-27Buster Litton demonstrating how the sliding rear quarter windows work.

Carl and George Cerny get to work on the Ford

In early 1953 Buster takes the car back to George and Carl Cerny’s shop, (Cerny’s Auto Paint & Metal Shop) to have the car finished. Buster had been really happy with the way he top and front end of the car looks, but the rear now needed some attention. Together with the Cerny’s it was decided that the Ford rear fenders needed some more length and that the 1951 Oldsmobile 98 units, which George Cerny loved so much, would suite the car really well. The Stock Ford rear portion of the rear fenders was cut off and the Oldsmobile units grafted in place creating a nice counter weight for the overhang on the front created by the Studebaker front fenders. To make everything look like it actually belonged on the car, the stock Ford rear bumper-end pieces were cut off and 1952 ford rear bumper ends were welded in place. The shape of the 52 Ford units followed the shape of the Oldsmobile rear fenders really well and the larger wrap around section tied everything wonderfully together.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-24Wonderful rear 3/4 view of the Ford with an 1953 tag on the License plate.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-20Side view photo from a higher point of view shows the wonderful lines on Buster’s Ford. The forward angle on the front fenders, the wonderful sloping top, the Buick side spear and the Oldsmobile rear fenders work all wonderfully together.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-22A coupe of scans from some photo proofs taken of Buster’s Ford by George Barris.¬†(Taken from the Mad Fabricators Barris Photography DVD)


The rear spash pan was molded to the body, and the stance was fine tuned. Most of the work was done by Carl Cerny before brother George Cerny and Doug (Joe) Anderson, who worked at the Cerny shop at the time, painted the car with a wonderful deep coco rust lacquer. The paint was picked from an existing car color, sadly none of the people involved remember which car color was used. But Don mentioned that the base color was mixed with toners or other colors to reach the perfect color for the car. A 1950 Buick side trim had the absolute perfect shape for the car, so the stock Ford side trim which had stayed on the car was removed an the Buick unit was mounted in its place for a much more elegant look.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-18The Panoramic Ford was also used in the Barris list from 1953-54 illustrating number M64 Chop and Hard Top Coupe version for $650.-.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-29Car Craft magazine did this nice four page full feature on Buster’s Ford in the December 1953 issue. One spread was done in sepia tones and the second spread in greenish tone¬†rotogravure¬†print.¬†

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-21This snapshot of the Panoramic Ford comes from the Bill Gaylord photo album. This photo was most likely taken by Bill’s wife who was also model in a color photo-shoot at this same location (see photo below). Sadly Bill’s photo album¬†did not include any close up photos of the actual interior work done at the Gaylord’s shop.

Dick Jackson had this great photo of Bill Gaylord’s wife posing with the Panoramic Ford. Dick most likely got the photo from Junior Conway. There is at least one more photo from this photo shoot where Bill’s wife stands besides the front fender of the car. Most likely she took the black and white snapshot above with the camera in her hands. The photos were most likely taken just after Bill had finished the interior work on the car.

Up to this point buster had a mild Custom interior without any tuck & roll panels in his Ford. Nobody remembers who did this early version of the interior, but Buster remembers that when the car was nearly finished at the Cerny shop he decided the simple interior was not enough for the car and sold that complete interior to Junior Conway, who used it in his famous Shoebox Ford. Buster then took his car to Bill Gaylord for a full custom interior with wild rolls and pleats in off white (antique white) and dark orange (bittersweet orange). He added a set of 1953 Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide whites, and a set of appleton spotlights and the Panoramic Ford was born.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-31This photo comes from an article about the Gaylord shop in Rod & Custom magazine. It shows the car with the nearly completed upholstery and one of the employees is refitting the steering wheel horn ring on the Crestliner steering wheel.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-16Buster proudly showing the fully rolled and pleated headliner of his car. Notice the chrome plated windshield garnish molding.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-17A good view on the uniquely styled interior in the Panoramic Ford. The Gaylord shop really outdid themselves on this one. The antique white and bittersweet orange must have looked so great with the coca copper paint on the car. This photo also shows that the side window garnish moldings were chrome plated as well.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-04Cropped photo shows the Gaylord interior in color. The wide and very round pleats give the interior a very luxurious look and feel. The Steering wheel used in the Panoramic Ford is an Ford Crestliner Accessory steering wheel.

Updates on the Panoramic Ford

Buster Litton owned the Panormic Ford from 1953 till the early summer of 1954. He showed the car at several in- and outdoor car shows in California winning quite a few awards with the car. During the period Buster owned the finished car he made a few small changes to the car, which help us identify the date some of these photos where taken. The first modifications made are the installment of the Ford Shoebox dealer accessory bumper guards on the front bumper. And a 1951 Kaiser over-rider on the rear bumper which was modified to have the exhaust tips run true the bullets. A little later the Barris crest was added on the front quarter panels just above the Buick side trim.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-25Buster Litton and his Ford with some of the other original Kustoms of Los Angeles club members at the Barris Kustom Shop on Atlantic Blvd. Possibly gathering to drive to one f the Car shows. We can see the following cars in the picture from L-R: Nobby Miyakawa 1952 Mercury “The Japan”, Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford convertible, Louis Bettancourt Ayala/Barris 1949 Mercury, Buster Litton’s Panoramic Ford, Tommy Thornburg’s 1947 Studebaker, and an unknown 1946-48 Ford Coupe. The guys are all posing for the unknown photographer.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-13Not sure if this photo was taken at the same day as the one in front of the Barris Shopm but we do know that this photo was also taken at Atlantic Blvd. not to far from the Barris Shop. Just driving away from the corner is Buster, with Chuck DeWitt behind him, Louis Bettancurt is speeding up in the middle of the street.

This Custom Car Chronicle article contains a lot of information gathered by Rob Radcliffe and his good friend Octavio Chavez on their meetings with Buster Litton. First hand information which has helped us solve a lot of mysteries about the Panoramic Ford.


How Rob Radcliffe got in contact with  buster Litton and Don Schaedel.

By Rob Radcliffe

Long story short, my best friend¬†Octavio Chavez¬†has worked in the bodyshop of our local Ford dealership for the past few years and about a month or so ago he walked into the front office area on his lunchbreak and happened to walk past a cubicle and spotted a picture of the Buster Litton shoebox hanging on the wall with the Ford dealership’s shuttlebus driver¬†Ron¬†standing in front of the car. The¬†particular photo¬†was taken in the mid 1950s.

Octavio recognized the car immediately and had also known Ron from talking to him at work, so he asked him about the picture and it just so happens that Ron and Buster have been friends since High School in Huntington Park. Octavio called me up and I ran over to the dealership after work to meet Ron and hang out for some time, talking about the cars from back then and of curse Buster Litton. It was really one of those small world/too good to be true coincidence stories…

Ron told us that Buster Litton would park the car at¬†his house in South Gate while he went up the mountains to go skiing with his girlfriend and Ron would take it out cruising and hit the Drive-In movie and the Clock Drive In.¬† I kept in touch with Ron and got to meet him and Buster Litton on a Saturday morning¬†at the Rod Run over breakfast and talk about Kustoms… it was¬†pretty damn kool! We have stayed in touch ever since.


CCC-radcliffe-maiden-voyage-14Rob Radcliffe with Buster Litton and Octavio Chavez with Rob’s just finished 1950 Ford Shoebox.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-05Beautiful birds eye view of the Panoramic Ford.


CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-01This is one of the photos that got us puzzled a little. Buster has mentioned that this must have been taken after he sold it to Don since Buster was not in the King Pins Car Club. But the car does not show the Barris crests. So we do believe Buster must have still owned the car when the photo was taken. That is Buster in the black and white shirt with his back towards the camera, talking to Jack Stewart.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-30Close up of the King Pins Huntington Park Car club plaque and the Ford Shoebox accessory bumper guards Buster had installed. 

CCC-buster-litton-bumper-guardsChris at Shoebox Central send us this photo of a NOS set of the same bumper guards used by Buster on the Panoramic Ford.

The car always had a great running stock flathead motor and Ron, Busters good friend, remembers it very vividly when Buster and him both drove it up to the Oakland Roadster Show in 1954. A long drive, but with no problems what so ever. Ron mentioned that the motor was untouched and always filthy dirty from oil leaks and road grime, but nobody at the shows cared because the hood was never opened and mechanicals were not important to show judges back then.

CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-28Buster Litton accepting the award for Best Custom at the 1954 National Roadster Show in Oakland California. By now the car has Barris crests mounted on the front quarters and not visible in this photo the Ford Shoebox Accessory bumper guards.

 CCC-buster-litton-panoramic-ford-23Two snapshots taken f the Panoramic Ford at the 1954 National Roadster Show. (photos shared on the HAMB).

In early¬†summer of¬†1954, when Buster’s¬†son was born, buster¬†decided he needed a more practical car for his young family, and decided it was time to let go of the Ford.¬†Don Schaedel, who remembered the car from its early primer stages at the Barris shop in 1951, decides this car is perfect for him and made a deal with Buster. More about that, and many more photos and interesting info including a full time line on the Panoramic Ford can be seen¬†in the second part of the Panoramic Ford story here on the Custom Car Chronicle….

Go to Part TWO of the Panoramic Ford…



(this article is sponsored by)

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






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)

2 thoughts on “Buster Litton Panoramic Ford

  • Thanks Rik, Rob and Octavio. That top chop! I remember drooling over it in the 50s. And deja vu, all over again! And now, today, thanks to Andreas for bringing that image back for us in his stunning custom, too.

  • Brian Martz

    Very cool top chop!!! Trend setter ‚ÄúBuster Litton‚ÄĚ really put a flare to chop topping! Creative, imaginative, and a leader. Just a few words to describes his style. Way to go Buck-a-rue!!

    Brian. Martz

Leave a Reply