Custom Car Chronicle
Larry WatsonLarry Watson Personal Collection

Jim Doss 58 Chevy




Larry Watson painted a lot of cars with his signature “outline” or “panel paint” jobs. The outline paint he did on Jim Doss 58 Chevy is one of the very best he ever did in his career.

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]arry Watson was a master when it came to picking the right color, or right effects for a certain car or body style. When he looked at a car he knew what to do to make it look even better than it already did. In the later part of the 1950’s Larry developed his outline paint style. For this Larry would choose the cars outlines, or other characterless that needed just a little bit of extra attention. Larry would also thin down the body profile for the eye when he outlined the body side trim, or outlining the top and bottom section of the body. When Larry was done with an outline paint job, the car would look longer, lower, sharper… all the customer wanted, done with nothing but paint.

Version one

In the case of the 1958 Chevy Impale of Jim Doss from Bakersfield, Ca, Larry’s canvas was an smoothed and mildly customized car. When Jim brought the car to Larry the car had been shaved of all its trim including the fake rear quarter scoops. The front bulbous portion of the side trim was replacing with the rear portion. This gives an elegant feel to the side of the body that you really wonder why they had not thought about that at the factory. The rocker panel trim was also removed and to help lowering the body a set of lake pipes was installed. The car also had a set of Bellflower pipes, but those were added in a later version. At the back the three stock taillight on each side, were replaced with a single taillight unit from a 1959 Pontiac Catalina. The roof scoop was modified with the chrome trim removal and the addition of  a small peek to the leading edge. The car was lowered and four bar lancers hubcaps were installed on perfect size white wall tires. All body work was performed by Walkers Body Shop from Bakersfield Ca. – the home town of Jim Doss.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-06-W This version of the Jim Doss 1958 Chevy by Larry Watson is perhaps my most favorite of all the custom 1958 Chevys Larry ever did. This set of photos taken in front of Larry’s famous Rosecrans Blvd shop wall is magical.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-07-WJim very cleverly painted the sections in between the horizontal bars of the grille in a dark color. This way the eye only detects the horizontal portions of the grille, making it appear like an tube grille was installed. He even left the factory parking lights in place, and they look great on this car. 

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-19-WThis rear 3/4 photo shows that the early version did not have the Bellflower exhausts installed.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-18-WEnlarged section of the previous photo shows the small peak added to the roof scoop as well as the pin striping below the trunk lock scallop.

Larry Watson applied a fine metallic lime gold to the body and masked of a wonderfully styled outline following the side trim and other body feature lines. He then covered the body with a wonderful shade of candy green. Larry outlined everything in white striping with a small amount of elegant pin striping on the trunk where a single scallop accent marks the center of the trunk. For the interior Jim had all the garnish molding plated and the rest was upholstered in a matching gold and white tuck & roll.
Later Larry would add more panels to this car, but this first version is my all time personal favorite. I have always wondered why nobody is cloning this version of this car.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-02-W CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-03-WThis photo shows how the door jambs were painted gold and how the interior was done in gold and white roll & pleated material. It matches the outside body perfectly. (original photo by Jim Potter)


CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-04-WSmall color photo that appeared in the Winter 1963 issue of Popular Customs magazine. Jim’s ’58 Chevy Impala was picture in their 36 cars in full color section. The photo below shows the small write up on the car in the same magazine. No owner or builder info was provided.


CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-17-WIn 1978 the editors of Consumer Guide published a book called “Grease Machines”. Not a very good or accurate book, but it has tons of great photos including a lot of Watson painted customs. Jim Doss his Chevy was used on a full spread including two color photos showing the car in its verst version.

Version two

In late 1959, or early 1960 Jim takes the car back to Larry for an paint update. We do not know if the Candy green might have faded, or if it was just time for a refreshment for a new Car Show season. But Larry was asked to add more panels to the car. The Candy green sectioned of the car were taped of for soft pearl white panels outlined in medium and dark green candy fogged in. Only a very small portion of the original candy green is visible in this version. The lime gold is left alone in this update. The car appeared like this on the cover of the June 1960 issue of Custom Cars magazine. By now Jim had added the Bellflower exhaust and replaced the Dodge Lancer four bar hubcaps with 1959 Dodge units.



CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-08-WJim’s ’58 Chevy was shown in color on the cover of the June 1960 issue of Custom Cars Magazine as introduction to an taillight article. But inside the car was not featured, nor mentioned in the article.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-21-WbJim’s Chevy in the Restyle your car by Jim Potter, Trend books #205 from 1961.

Version three

Shortly after that Larry was asked to repaint the lime gold sections of the car in pearl white. The full length lake pipes were also removed for this version. These new “improvements changed the looks of the car completely. While the first version of the car was very subtile and restrained, this last version was bold and wild. Our guess is winning points at the local car shows had a lot to do with the updates.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-13-WThis photo taken in front of the Rozecrans Blvd shop show the third version of Jim’s Chevy. This photo also shows that the dash had been repainted, this was already done in the second version.




Version four

There was one more documented update on Jim’s Chevy in the Larry Watson Personal Collection. Perhaps there was more done to the car in a later stage, but that is not documented in Larry’s files. For this last version the once lime gold sections, covered in pearl white in the third version, are now repainted in a mist green pearl. The door jambs are also repainted in this update. The mist green blend the other colors used on the car nicely with each other. But the nice contrasting white of the previous version possibly made it stand out more. The two car-show photos below show the gold sections in the interior are now a bit out of place in the car.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-15-WPhoto taken at an unknown early 1960’s car show shows that the door jambs are now repainted with a pearl mist green, the same color replaces the gold on the exterior. It also appears that some of the white outlines are now wider than on the earlier version.

CCC-jim-doss-58-Chevy-14-W This photo also gives us a good look in the fully upholstered trunk. I guess this car was in for many awards during the couple of years Jim showed it.


[box_light]This article shows a selection of photos of a car painted by Larry Watson. The 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]




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)

4 thoughts on “Jim Doss 58 Chevy

  • The enlargements of the photos are very good. I never noticed the peak in the middle of the roof scoop before, what a neat detail!

    Also, I love the side view of the car against the old Holiday Inn-Watson sign, it looks great!

  • The 1958 Impala is so pretty in stock form that it doesn’t take much modifying to make them look outstanding! I really like the detail and simple outlining scallops in the first version. The green and gold go so well together and give Jim’s 58 Chev a great look!

  • This car has been a long time Watson favorite. The first version rules and if I had the talent it’s the color combo I’d put on my ’54!

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