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Larry Watson Flames part 3




In this third part of the story on Larry Watson’s flames, we take a look at the flames Larry created on Al Lazarus his 1955 Chevy.

In our first two articles on the Larry Watson Flames, we showed how Larry quickly developed his own style of flames from 1957 up to the 1970’s. In this third article we will show you the first “seaweed” style flames he created on Al Lazarus his 1955 Chevy. Fortunately Larry, Jim Potter, and sone of Larry’s friends took several photos during the progress of Larry’s famous flame paint job. Larry painted these flames in the later part of 1957. Before that he had painted Al’s 1955 Chevy with an interesting outline paint job in olive green and silver.

Al and Larry where very good friends, and they had discussed Al’s idea of having flames all over the body on his 1955 Chevy for some time. Larry’s long swirly flames where the first of its kind, and became a huge success. They where painted in Olive mist green metallic tipped in silver and pinstriped in imitation gold. Larry mentioned that the only real expense on paint jobs like this was in the huge amounts of masking tape, and of coarse the hours taping it.

The guys at the Watson shop nick named Al’s 1955 Chevy the “Seaweed Wagon”. Al’s 1955 Chevy was nosed and decked, and had the door handles shaved, excepts for the Bel Air script on the rear quarter . The interior was redone in mist blue tuck&roll and the car was lowered by C’ing the frame in the back and cut coils in the front, with chromed suspension parts. The car was very low for a daily driver, and the lake pipes made it look even lower. The custom looking grill is actually a stock 1955 Chevy grille with most of the vertical bars removed. Al’s car was always a strong contender in Mild Custom.


Go to part ONE,  TWO or part FOUR of the Larry Watson Flames articles to read more about Larry’s trend setting flame painted cars.



CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-02-WAl’s Chevy has shaved door handles and hood, but the Bel Air script on the rear quarters has been left in place and outlined.


CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-03-WAl Lazarus polishing the Larry Watson outline painted Chevy in his drive way. Notice the small dent in the front fender just next to the parking light. Things like this eventually led Al to repaint the car.

CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-09-WEarly stages of the flame job. Larry had drawn the long licked flame design on the black painted body. (note the broken vent window)


CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-05-WClose up of the drawn lines, yet to be followed by masking tape.

CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-20-WHere we can see Larry outlining the flames in wide, according todays standards, tape. Larry had drawn the flame design only on the drivers side of the car, including on the roof of the Chevy.

CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-18-WHere we can see Larry duplicating the drivers side flames onto the other side of the car. This was done to make sure both sides were identical.

CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-12-WOnce the flames were outlined in tape, the rest space was covered with take as well. Only the larger sections were covered with newspaper.


CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-17-WStaged flame painting.  Larry is actually shooting some yellow paint, but this is not the actual painting of the flames. For a James Potter photo shoot Larry is “faking” painting the flames on Al’s unfinished taped up Chevy.


CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-15-WThe finished first “seaweed” flamed paint job. Larry painted Al’s 1955 Chevy in olive mist green metallic, tipped in silver, and pinstriped in imitation gold.


CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-21-WThis photo – taken by Al – at a 1958 outdoor show held at Excelsior High School in Norwalk shows the car in its most famous seaweed flame painted version. Al had chromed his suspension parts, hence the removed rear wheel in this photo.

CCC-larry-watson-lazarus-Chevy-19-WColor detailed four bar 1956 Dodge Lancer hubcaps are fitted on gold painted wheels and nice size white wall tires.

[box_light]This article shows a selection of cars that were flame 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]

Sources and for more info:

    • Watson Custom Car Confessions by Thom Taylor and Larry Watson
    • KustomLand The Custom Car Photography of James Potter by Thom Taylor
    • Custom Rodder magazine Winter 1992
    • Rod & Custom Magazine June 1996
    • Kustoms Illustrated magazine #27 to #34


(this article is sponsored by)






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 “Larry Watson Flames part 3

  • Great post, Rik, thanks! Do you know what Larry used to draw the flames? In the photos it almost looks like brass wire but I can’t imagine how that would work.

    Thanks again,

  • Another really good article. It’s nice to see the progression of shots from the car’s first version to the final flame job. The B&W photo of the 1st version of the car on the street is a classic.

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