Custom Car Chronicle
Larry WatsonLarry Watson Personal Collection

Kermit Hanson 1957 Buick


Larry Watson added three tone crab-style flames to the mildly customized Kermit Hanson 1957 Buick and created a new trend with it.

[box_light]This article shows a selection of photos of Kermit Hanson’s 1957¬†Buick Custom. A¬†large selection¬†of¬†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]
Kermit Hanson, Bellflower High School class mate from Larry Watson mildly customized his new 1957 Buick Hardtop Coupe. The BUICK letters were removed from the hood and the holes filled for a smooth look. The bar was removed from the grille for a much cleaner appearance. At the back the trunk was shaved of its Buick emblem and everything smoothed before the hood and trunk was repainted in 1957 Buick garnet red. Kermit added Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcaps on red wheels. He also lowered the car a bit all around, but more in the front to create a nice forward rake which was just getting popular in early 1957. To make the car look even lower he added a set of dummy lake pipes.

CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-02Great photo of Kermit Hanson’s Buick taken at the Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills. A popular place for a Custom Car photo shoot. This and the other photos are possibly taken by James Potter and prints given to Larry for his Personal Collection.
Kermit asked if his friend Larry Watson could add some flames to his Buick. So one day Kermit took the Buick to Larry’s home where Larry taped off the crab claw style flames on the hood, the roof, top of the fender, front and rear quarters and on the trunk. The sides show the more classic crab claw style, while the top sections of the car have more longer licks. Larry then sprayed the flames in metallic gold and highlighted them in bright red. After the masking paper¬†and tape was removed Larry pin-striped the flames with a heavy white outline.

CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-01Close up of the flames on the hood show the downward pointed licks on the front of the hood. This photo also shows that the fades from gold to red in the flames is rather abrupt.

CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-04Close up of the flames on the trunk. Larry added an upside down heart shaped opening in the flames. Notice how bold the white pin stripe is.
In the past post flames painted on cars started at the front of the car, at the bottom of the hood, the front of the fender etc. But Larry experimented with free standing flames. The flames on the top of the fenders and on the front and rear quarters behind the wheel well’s are the more traditional style. But the flames¬†created¬†on the hood and trunk are starting without touching the borders. On the hood the licks of the flames are all around pointing down wards on the front of the hood. But on the trunk Larry incorporated a nice teardrop shape at the bottom, around the trunk lock. And inside this shape he created an upside down heart shape.
CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-05Black and white photo from Larry’s Collection shows the wild flames covering the tops of the fenders and hood. It also shows the flames on both sides of the hood are identical.
CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-06After some time Kermit asked Larry to add the name ‘Snatch Wagon” to add to the Buick rear quarters.¬†
Before Larry added the name to the Buick he showed Kermit what he had in mind for it He sketched a wild cartoon of a breasted box with legs and the name “Snatch Wagon”. Larry hold on to the sketch all these years.
CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-07Close up of the finished artwork on the Buick.
CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-09The flames on the rear are a lot less than on the front. We can also see that the rear of the top has not been flamed.
CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-11In one photo¬†from the¬†Ina Mae Overman Collection¬†we can see¬†Kermit’s Buick in the background. The photo is probably taken in late 1957 or early 1958. Kermit added Spotlights, and he also added some pin-striping to¬†the center of the hood, and possible other places as well.
CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-10Kermit’s Buick was featured in several late 1950’s magazines.¬†Here is the cover of the November 1957 issue of Car Craft magazine which showed the front end of the Buick.
CCC-watson-kermit-hanson-buick-12Kermit’s Buick had a full page in the October 1957 issue of Rod & Custom magazine as part of the ’57’s Under The Torch article. The car was photographed in front of “The House”, a popular George Barris location.
Kermit’s Buick, as well as a few other cars flamed by Larry Watson showed that you did not need to have major body work done to your car to make them stand out, win prices at the car shows, and even get the car in the magazines and on the cover.

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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)

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