Custom Car Chronicle
Larry WatsonLarry Watson Personal Collection

Harvey Buthoff 1956 Chevy




Harvey Buthoff was good friends with Larry Watson, in fact, Harvey was Larry’s very first paying customer, when he had Larry pin-stripe his Shoebox Ford. Later Larry did this wonderful paint-job on the Harvey¬†Buthoff¬†1956 Chevy.

[box_light]This article shows a selection of photos of Harvey Buthoff’s 1956 Chevy. 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.¬†Special thanks to Roger O’Dell for scanning this amazing material and sharing them with us on the Custom Car Chronicle.[/box_light]
The story was told by Roger O’Dell, who was very close friends with Larry Watson, and who made it possible for us to share the amazing Larry Watson Personal Photo Collection. Roger mentioned that Harvey Buthoff became¬†good friend of Larry after he has asked Larry to proof he could pin-stripe his Ford Shoebox for him. The story was that Larry had pin-striped his own personal 1950 Chevy, which was still pretty much stock at that moment. Larry took out his Chevy to the local drive in’s to show off his new striping, but nobody believed¬†Larry had actually done the striping himself. The rumor was quickly spread that Larry’s car was actually striped by the one and only Von Dutch, and that Larry had only added his own signature to make it look he had created the striping.
CCC-larry-watson-50-chevy-p1-15The striping on the hood of Larry’s 1950 Chevy. The striping that everybody thought was done by Von Dutch.
One day, not to long after Larry had finished the striping on his own Chevy, and despite what Larry told, everybody thought was done by Von Dutch, Harvey parked his Shoebox Ford in front of Larry’s house, and asked Larry to proof he had done the striping himself. Stripe my Ford, and then everybody knows. Well Larry did, and did a great job, sadly no pictures are known to exist from Harvey’s Shoebox showing this striping. It did however mark the beginning of Larry Watson’s amazing and long career. Harvey and Larry¬†stayed good friends since that day. And when Harvey moved on to a 1956 Chevy in 1959, he asked Larry to do some more of his magic and make his mildly customized Chevy look outstanding.
CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-04Parked in front of Larry’s Rosecrans shop with the Peanut House bar in the background.
We do not know who¬†performed¬†the customizing on Harvey’s 1956 Chevy Bel Air, but whoever it was, they sure did a great job on it. The work that was done, was all mild customizing, but everything was done with great sense for style and elegance. All exterior emblems were removed and the body was smoothed, the hood was peaked, where once the massive hood ornament was mounted. The stok grille insert was removed and replaced with two grille bars from an 1956 Chrylser Windsor. The rocker stainless trim was removed and a full length lake pipe was added.

At the rear the stock taillights remained in place. The bumpers were dressed up with accessory bumper-end guards, and down in the corner of the bumper it looks like they made an thru the bumper exhaust with a exhaust flange added to it. The car was also equipped with a set of Belflower exhaust tips behind the rear wheels, below the rear fenders. The car was lowered all around as sat about level¬†on a set of medium wide white wall tires with black wheels and 1958 Plymouth hubcaps. Harvey also added a set of spotlights, we are not sure if these were real spotlights or dummy’s. They are not the typical Cal Custom shaped cones though. The interior on Harvey’s Chevy was done in all white tuck & roll with vertical rolls.¬†¬†The dashboard was painted the light exterior color for the top portion and white on the bottom.

CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-09This enlarged section of the photo shows the bolt-on accessory bumper end guards, the Bellfoloer exhaust tips, and the thru the bumper exhaust capped of with the flange.
Then it was time for Larry Watson to add his magic to the car. Larry choose a pale banana yellow pearl as base, the top portion was covered with an orange candy. Larry used the stock side trip to separate the colors. But what makes this paint-job really stand out from others is the way Larry handled the separation of the two colors on the front of the car. Larry followed the side trim point on the front of the front fenders and gently curved up, flowing from the side trim to the top of the fender, where the separation of the two colors shapes into a since scallop ending close to the cowl. The separation moved over to the other side following the shape of the hood/grill surround. Unlike most 1956 Chevy’s the section inside the side trim was not painted a different color. On the rear fenders Larry added a set of long licked flames in an heavy banana pearl outline. The flames flow from the ribbed section of the side trim on the rear quarter leading edge. The flames as well as the¬†color separations on the front of the car were outlined with a fading black shadow.¬†Harvey’s Chevy is a¬†great¬†proof¬†for Larry’s excellent¬†eye for colors and lay-out, and what worked best for each specific car.
CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-03Low angle photo shows that the car was sitting rather low, and about level with perhaps a slight forward rake. It also gives us a good look at the three different exhaust systems used on the Chevy. Most likely only the Bellflower tips where the only functional system.
CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-05Better look at the front of the car with the perfect looking Chrysler grille¬†bars in the stock grille opening and the brilliant paint lay-out Larry id on Harvey’s Chevy.
CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-06Zooming in on the all white interior an the pin striping around the mirrors.

CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-08A better look at the long licked banana pearl flames.


The first photos we have of Harvey’s Chevy taken at Larry Watson’s Rosecrans Blvd shop in Bellflower show some pin striping around the side mirrors. Later the car was updated with additional pin-striping, which¬†we can see in the two James Potter photos. More pin-striping on two sides of the color separations and a new set of color coded 1959¬†Dodge Lancer¬†hubcaps. We have never been able to find any photos of Harvey’ Chevy at the local Ca Car shows from the era. Nor any period magazine photos of the car. We also do not know what happened with the car after the James Potter photos where taken. What we do know is how neat it would be if somebody would replicate this really great looking period mild custom. Would not take to much effort.

CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-01Some time later more pin-striping in white and dark orange was added to the car. The side mirror has been removed, and the holes filled in and repainted.
CCC-larry-watson-buthoff-56-chevy-02Front 3/4 view with the new added pin-striping, and Dodge Lancer hubcaps with orange painted centers.

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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 “Harvey Buthoff 1956 Chevy

  • I really like the second version of this great looking ’56 Chev. The additional pin-striping and the Lancer hubcaps really make it stand out!

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