Custom Car Chronicle
Jim Street CollectionLarry WatsonLarry Watson Personal Collection

Golden Sahara at Watson’s




In late 1959 Jim Skonzakes, owner of the Golden Sahara has Bill DeCarr customize and Larry Watson paint his 1958 Ford Truck, which will be used for transporting the Golden Sahara.

[box_light]This article shows a selection of photos of the Golden Sahara II and the Golden Sahara Hauler. The hauler was painted by Larry Watson. All these¬†photos come from the Larry Watson Personal Photo Collection. More on Larry’s personal collection can be found in the Larry Watson section on the CCC-Site. Or on the Custom Car Photo Archive.[/box_light]

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen the Golden Sahara II was nearly finished, Jim Skonzakes bought a brand new 1958 Ford C-Series Truck and had a local (Dayton Ohio) company built a custom stainless steel cargo box for it. The Cargo for this truck would be the Golden Sahara and everything needed to display the car at shows across the nation. Inside the truck a special frame was constructed to mount the Golden Sahara to, to assure the car would not bounce the walls on bad roads or if something happened with the truck. The cargo box had a full work bench, and all kinds of tools and equipment to be able to create anything needed if the truck or the GS would break down.

After driving the truck with the Golden Sahara around the country for some time Jim figured it was time to get truck customized, to make it fit better with the cargo. On one of the countless tours to show the Golden Sahara Jim found enough time in busy show the schedule to take the truck¬†to Bill DeCarr’s how on Artesia Blvd.¬†in Bellflower to have it customized. Driving an award winning Custom Show Car inside a stock Ford Truck was something not done for Jim.

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-05-WSnapshot taken when the stock truck with the custom made cargo box was delivered at Bill DeCarr’s shop.

Bill added a 1960 Mercury grille in the slightly modified grille opening. Inside the grille opening he bended a surround for the Mercury grille from round tubing with parking lights mounted at the grille ends. This whole unit was chrome plated and the parking lights of unknown origins received some chrome bullets in the center. This would match the planned bumper treatment. Bill removed some emblems and the body was straightened and cleaned up before it was handed over to Larry Watson.

At that time Larry still had his most famous Bellflower shop on 9012 Rosecrans blvd. Larry painted the truck in pearl white, to match the paint on the Golden Sahara. He then created some very stylish panels in metallic gold and candy fuchsia to accent the body lines of the truck.The gold sections were pin striped in white by Larry. Bill added two 1958 mercury Park Lane taillights as cabin lights and a chrome plated scoop in the center of the roof. Jim could not remember what was used for that. The bumper was chrome plated and dressed up with 1958 Cadillac bumper bullets.The huge steel wheels were cleaned up and send out for chrome plating. A set of long chrome plated behind the cab exhaust tubes were installed. At the back they created some oversized dummy bellflower tips that were put at an angle on the rear quarters of the cargo box.

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-02-WThis photo was taken at Larry Watson’s Rosecrans blvd. shop shortly after Larry had finished the paint. They¬†already had started to put the car back together, but a lot was still missing including the cabin lights.¬†Larry also still needed to outline the golden stripe¬†at this time.

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-03-WParked in front of the Peanut House next to Larry’s shop we can see that Larry has added the white striping around the gold sections of the paint. The cabin lights, made out of 1958 Mercury Park Lane taillight units are installed now, but the grille and roof scoop are still missing.



CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-07-WThis photo was taken at Bill DeCarr’s shop, it shows that the roof scoop of unknown origin is now installed. On the right we can see the the rear fender of¬†Terry Holloway’s 1957 Plymouth who was at the shop for a complete make over.

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-01-WParked in front of the famous Watson shop wall at the Rosecrans Blvd shop. It looks like by now the car was completed.  

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-08-WLarry Watson had this photo listed as “Skip”. So we guess the guy in the photo is Skip, but so far we have not been able to find out more about it. He holds a chopped gas tank in his hand painted in the same colors as what Larry used on the Golden Sahara. When we asked Jim Skonzakes about this, he had no idea. He never had a bike done like this. So most likely the colors on the two are the same, but otherer than that nothing is related.

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-11-WNot the best photo, but this one is very interesting. In the back on the left we can see the finished, or near finished Golden Sahara Hauler, and on the right, behind the pearl white ’57 Ford we can see the tubular frame of the Kookie-T trailer. Jim Skonzakes also owned the Kookie-T, and most of the times both the GSII and the Kookie-T would be displayed at the same show. The GSII was inside the truck, and the Kookie-T in a trailer behind the truck. At first in this tubular frame trailer with a canvas tarp over it. Later Jim constructed a wild aluminum trailer especially for the Kookie-T.

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-10-WThis is the last photo we have of the Golden Sahara Hauler, when it leaves the Bill DeCarr shop. The truck looks to b completely finished, including upholstery in pearl white and burgundy. This must have been quite a sight to see on the roads… and even better to see it stop and the GSII being unloaded from it.

Judging the photos the truck was driven back and forth between Bill’s and Larry’s shops to get the work done. While the truck was in the shop for Bill and Larry’s handy work the Golden Sahara stayed at a local show. But when the truck needed some final detailing the Golden Sahara was unloaded and stayed at the shop’s parking lot attracting a lot of attention for other customers of the shop. Some even went home and brought the family to get a private demonstration by Jim Skonzakes of the top Show Car of the moment.

CCC-larry-watson-golden-sahara-01Customers, friends and family are gathering to see Jim’s full demonstration of all the working features on the Golden Sahara II at the Artesia Blvd. shop.

CCC-larry-watson-golden-sahara-02The GS II interior and hand made plexglass windshield. The stick controle was just one of several ways to steer and drive the GSII.

CCC-larry-watson-golden-sahara-03Jim Skonzakes, with the dotted shirt in the center of the photo, explains the GSII features to some visitors.

CCC-larry-watson-golden-sahara-04The pearl paint on the GSII looked amazing. This photo show how it really glowed in the setting sun.

CCC-larry-watson-GS-truck-06-WPeople looking in awe at the GII when Jim showed all the electronic features he and his team had incorporated into the car. This was extremely high tech in those days.



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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 “Golden Sahara at Watson’s

  • thanks Rik…amazing! especially the one with the glowing sun in the fishscale paint. notice the: please do not touch sign..
    when did he finnish the trailer for the Kookie T. i dont see a hitch on the truck. is it really that late!?

    • Not 100% sure when Jim finished the trailer for the Kookie T. But Larry was at his Rosecrans Blvd shop up till early 1960. Then he moved in with Bill Ortega at the Artesia shop.

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