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Custom Car Builders

October 29, 2014

Westergard Custom Found

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Written by: Rik Hoving
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WESTERGARD CUSTOM FOUND

 

Rick Atterberg posted three photos of a 1939 Ford custom convertible on his facebook. Rick Amado possible id-ed the car as an original Westergard Custom.



Close to midnight on October 28, I was just going to shut down the computer when I spotted three photos of an very interesting late 1940’s looking 1939 Ford Custom Convertible on Facebook. Rick Atterberg posted these on this Facebook page for his friend and Car owner Larry with the following message;

“Would anyone have any information on the original builder and owner of this 1939 ford convertable? It has been chopped 3 ” with a gaylord top it has a 1940 dash with a maroon and white rolled and pleated interior with a black exterior. It left Sacramento California in 1953 to Burlington Iowa I think it was built in 48-49 after finding a Sacramento paper in the inside passenger rear quarter panel. Any information or pictures would be great.”



CCC-westergard-39-ford-found-01The 1939 Ford as it sits in 2014. It looks like the body is in really great shape. The hood that is now on the car is an original Ford hood. The Harry Westergard modified hood is being worked on at the moment.

 



I got very excited, but right then I could not find it in my memory database. So I figured that if I would show them on my own Facebook it would be seen by many more Custom Car enthusiast, and could possibly, or at least hopefully be identified during the night. Rick Amado found a small black and white photo on the Custom Car Photo Archive showing an 1939 Ford Convertible built by Harry Westergard in the late 1940’s. A Custom that has a similar style grille opening, the same headlight treatment, chopped windshield with padded top, same bumpers. And even the location, Sacramento sounds right. Looks like the Custom Car Photo Archive has helped identifying another early Custom Car again. Great!


CCC-westergard-39-ford-found-04Al Garcia’s 1939 Ford Convertible build by Harry Westergard in the late 1940’s. The Garage magazine mentioned this photo was taken in 1948. But according to Dick Bertolucci the photo was taken at the 1952 Autorama show.

 



Sadly at this point this grainy photo showed only very small in the Garage Magazine Harry Westergard article is all we have of the car when it was just finished and owned by Al Garcia. The photo caption reads Al Garcia’s ’39 Ford seen in 1948. The only thing I cannot see in the black and white photo from the late 1940’s is the rather wide rear window in the padded top. The rear window in that photo looks to have the more regular proportions, while the top as it is on the car in 2014 has an exceptional wide rear window. But that, could of course have been changed over time to help improve visibility.

Well, I have in the meantime spoken with the owner of the car, Larry May. And he confirmed that the wider rear window was done by a previous owner, but that he still has the original smaller rear window… as well as all the other parts we cannot see in the photos Rick shared first. The original grille was create from brass tubing and Larry already has re-plated it for the restored car.
Larry also mentioned that he has two old photos from the early 1950’s showing a little more on the car. Hopefully we can share those two with you here shortly. Larry also knew the owners name was Al Garcia, but never was able to link Harry Westergard to the car. Well the Garage magazine article conformed all this.

Rick Atterberg spoke to Dick Bertolucci in early November 2014. Dick mentioned that that the car in all the old photos shown and the car that Larry now owns are indeed the same car and that besides Harry Westergard, Les Crane and Dick Bertolucci himself also worked on Little Al Garcia’s 1939 Ford. Dick mentioned that he did the taillights, molded in 1939 Chevy units on the car, and ended up painting it black. Little Al and Dick were good friends and Al really wanted Dick to build the car for him. But Dick had several people in line, before Al to have their car build for him. Al Garcia did not wanted to wait, so he ended up having the car done by Harry Westergard and Less Crane, but did find Dick willing to spend his spare time putting the taillights on and have him do the paint work on the car.

I’m trying to get in touch with Sully Hake, who wrote the great story on Harry Westergard in Garage magazine back in 2004. This article shows the 1948 photo of Al Garcia which I have added to this article. The current owner of the car would really love to have a better copy of that old photo to help him with the restoration of the car. Or anybody else who knows about this photo, or perhaps other old photos of Al Garcia’s 1939 Ford. Please let me know by sending an email to: Rik Hoving

If there is anybody who knows more about Al Garcia or this 1939 Ford, please let us know.


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Larry mentioned that he knew about this car since 1958, and he has been trying to buy it from the then owner in Iowa ever since. In 1990, he was finally able to acquire it, and has been working slowly on the restoration. From time to time Larry was asking around to find out more information on his car, but nobody really knew. He even asked Custom Car Collector and Historian Jack Walker, he also had no idea who originally build it.  But he sure tried to buy the car from Larry…. Larry always said, No, its not for sale. I have been waiting to drive this car since 1958, and nobody is going to take that away from me. Together with Rick Atterberg they are now working a little harder on the car. And with this last piece of information… a real harry Westergard Custom, my guess is they really want to get this one out on the road as soon as possible.


CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-12The Harry Westergard 1939 Ford current owner Larry May with the car.

 



Larry send these digital photos made of the photocopied photos he got when he bought the car. Its all he has, and will help a lot with the restoration. These photos were taken in Iowa 1954, and Al Garcia had already sold the car by then. Some changed have been made, like the hubcaps which now appear to be 1953 Studebaker units. These photos show that the car has 1949 Chevy bumpers front and back. So perhaps these bumpers have been added to the car at a later date, since it was mentioned that the car was build in the 1946-48 period. We have seen that happen before on another Harry Westergard Custom.


CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-07The hand made grille looks really good in the car, giving it some more width, and making the front looks a bit aggressive.

 



CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-11This side view shows the 1953 Studebaker hubcaps on the wide white wall tires. It looks like the teardrop skirt is in primer, perhaps a mishap, or the original went missing and had to be replaced.

 



CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-09The photo from the rear shows the original smaller rear window still in place in 1954.

 



CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-06Ford Crestliner steering wheel. To bad we cannot see more of the interior, and it looks like the glove box door is missing. 

 



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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-15The previous owner of the car had trouble looking out the back of the padded top, so he widened the rear window. Larry still has the original trim piece for it, which will be used on the restored version.

 



CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-14With the rear bumpers held in place.

 



CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-13The grille is hand-made from brass tubing by Harry Westergard. Larry already restored it and had it re-plated. Its just sitting inside the hand made opening just for the photo.

 



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CCC-al-garcia-westergard-39-ford-05The interior was done in black and white as the headliner in the padded top shows. The inside of the top is still in remarkable shape after all these years.

 





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About the Author

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)




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3 Comments


  1. Very cool! I love seeing these old customs come to light again. I look forward to seeing this one restored!


  2. So interesting Rik ! Many Thanks!!


  3. This is an awesome Westergard built kustom.
    Hop to see it finished.
    KUSTOMLAND



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