DICK CARTER 41 FORD
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.
The 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.
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.
Dick 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.
Enlarged section shows that the rear bumper. license plate and taillight set-up is near identical to that on the Jesse Lopez ’41 Ford.
The 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.
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