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Barris Kustom Shop

Dick Carter’s Essential ’41 Ford Convertible




Dick Carter padded topped Ford, the very quintessence of the 1946-48 Restyled 1941 Ford Convertibles.

By David E. Zivot

1941 Ford ragtops have been a consistent favorite of mine…If restyled in the manner that became popular in Southern California immediately after the end of hostilities in the summer of 1945. Although there were a few nice examples from late 1940 into early 1942 when these cars were purchased new off the dealer’s lot. However it was from 1946-48 that some of the best examples of this model Ford custom were built. Some of the finest coming out of the Barris shop. And in my opinion Richard “Dick” Carter’s being the very quintessence of that style.

Richard Carter attended Bell High School with Jesse Lopez, played football, ran track, chased girls, and like Jesse, had a passion for cars that were cool and fast. He was sixteen when he got his first real car; a ’36 Ford three-window coupe, customized and gowed-up, of course. After graduating with his pal Jesse, and seeing him build his ’41 Ford coupe with the Barris boys, he wanted a ’41 Ford also. But his just had to be a convertible. They were much in favor at the time.

It is interesting and not widely known how many of the early custom guys liked them, and owned the template re-styled Super Deluxe ’41 Ford convertible, before their more famous cars. A few notable ones being: Wally Welch, Bill Gaylord, and Joe Graffio, who all built similar examples. It appears that the popularity of the nicely done, chopped, but otherwise conservative, custom 1941 Ford convertible had run its course by late 1950.

CCC-barris-dick-carter-41-ford-article-1951The only magazine publicity Dick Carter’s 1941 Ford ever got was in the July 1951 published first Custom Car Annual, Trend books No. 101. I asked Richard about Chavez providing the padded top (as mentioned in this booklet), he insisted most ardently it was Gaylord, and notice it has the Gaylord flow. He also was amused at the “channeling” mentioned in the article, that never occurred.

Richard’s car was completed in early 1949, and along with Jesse, George, Nick, Snooky, and all the other caballeros of “Kustoms Los Angeles” participated in all the outings, car shows, and impromptu get-togethers and drive-in burger joint activities. The only period publication I know of that featured Dick’s custom was a small article in Trend Book No. 101 Custom Cars, from July 1951. What is it in particular about Carter’s ’41 that makes it stand out? Well, all the wonderful to be expected custom tricks are present. Tasteful well-proportioned chop, flowing and tight Gaylord padded top, standard issue Barris lowered stance, foreshortened hood side stainless, filled center grill panel, dual 112 spots, ’46 bumpers, and the deep organic opalescent metallic maroon lacquer finish.

Additional early Barris shop touches, mainly the result of Dick Carter’s and Jesse Lopez’ labor and craftsmanship included; handmade Lucite bumper guard taillights, tubular license plate light (subsequently copied and offered by Eastern Auto, and later Cal Custom), chromed dash panel, and translucent red Lucite appliques. Shaved doors, hood, deck, front and rear molded gravel pans, small flipper bar hubcaps, skirts, echo cans, fender mount antenna, are for all intents and purposes standard fare. The fact that this ’41 retains its stock headlight rings is unusual, but is one of the things I like about it.


CCC-barris-dick-carter-41-ford-golf-01Two never published shots of the Carter ’41 taken at the Municipal golf course.

In summation, what makes Richard Carter’s ’41 Ford custom stand out is that it shouldn’t. Most ’41 Ford convertible customs were built conforming to most, if not the complete menu of items previously outlined. However, there is something about the way these templated and expected elements come together on this particular car that perfectly represents the encyclopedia entry or art school definition of “Early Custom ’41 Ford Convertible”.
Richard Carter passed away August 2015. I spoke with him on occasion and found him to be an informative and cordial gentleman. He remembered his times in “Kustoms Los Angeles”, George, Jesse, the Barris shop, and his custom car compadres, with exceeding nostalgia.

CCC-barris-dick-carter-41-ford-edison-01Dick Carter’s ’41 Ford at the Edison Plant. A slightly different angle than what was used in the Motor Trend booklet. The photo shows the great proportions of the car and beautiful flow of the Gaylord padded top.

CCC-barris-dick-carter-41-ford-edison-01bEnlarged section shows an “KUSTOMS LOS ANGELES plaque on the concrete planter!

CCC-barris-dick-carter-41-ford-edison-02The rear 3/4 photo is identical to the one used in the Motor Trend booklet.

CCC-barris-dick-carter-41-ford-edison-02bEnlarged section shows that the rear bumper. license plate and taillight set-up is near identical to that on the Jesse Lopez ’41 Ford.

CCC-barris-dick-carter-41-ford-color-02The pride of my custom ’41 Ford photo collection, a never before seen color photo taken at the Los Angeles area Edison Plant, where other well known early Barris customs were photographed. A lot of them in Kodachrome. I’ve heard of and seen published, as well as hints of, other important cars shot in color on this spot… Where are Matranga’s Mercury, Lopez’ Ford… One day perhaps?


All photos are from the David E. Zivot personal collection courtesy Marlene Carter & Family.


(This article is made possible by)




David E. Zivot as a young lad was encouraged by his father to pursue and work on “old cars”. Thought it would keep him out of trouble. Has been in trouble ever since. Interest was always the early roadsters and customs from the era 1929-1958. Michelley, without whom the boys wouldn’t keep their stories straight, documents the history, wisdom, and enjoyment, portrayed in the cars.

8 thoughts on “Dick Carter’s Essential ’41 Ford Convertible

  • Love it! A perfect bookend piece to Rik’s bumper mounted tail light article. Thanks for sharing, David. Especially that color photo!

  • Wow, great article! What a gorgeous car and, like you mentioned, a prime example of a perfect ’41 Ford kustom. I never noticed the Kustoms LA plaque sitting on the curb in that photograph- good eye! Dick Carter almost looks a bit like John Milner at first glance 🙂

    It would be incredible if we were to see more photos- color or B&W of any Barris Kustoms…they still seem to trickle up every now and then. I was lucky to get some original, never- seen photos of the Buster Litton Ford from Buster and Don Schaedel, so they are still out there shoved in dusty shoeboxes on top of the closet shelf.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful color photo! Nothing beats the look of an old Kodachrome.

  • I love this custom, it just has the look. Isn’t there a pic of this parked out in front of Gaylord shop in Lynnwood ? I’m rusty but I think I remember that photo.

    • If you are thinking about the same photo as I do, then you are rusty. That is Bill Gaylord’s own ’41 Ford. Its chopped more than Dick’s. But perhaps there is another photo that you have seen… Will do some digging.

  • David, the photos that you shared with us are outstanding. The Carter ’41 convertible was the perfect full custom ’41 Ford convertible!

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