Custom Car Builders

February 5, 2018

Larry Watson Painted Hot Rods




Larry Watson is best know for his special paint on Custom Cars, but he also painted his fair share of Hot Rods during his long career.

This article shows a selection of photos of Hot Rods painted by Larry Watson. Most 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.

Most of the photos in the Larry Watson Personal Collection were taken of his beautiful paint work on Custom Cars, Bikes and boats. But these are also a few that show that Larry also did some fantastic paint work on Hot Rods. Unsure why there are relatively few Hot rod’s being painted by Larry. Most likely because he was most of all known as a Custom Car painter, and perhaps the local Hot Rodders thought he might not be interested in doing their Hot Rod, or perhaps thought he might be too expensive doing those fancy Custom Car paint jobs.

Still Larry did his share of Hot Rod painting and showed that he could do beautiful paint jobs on those as well. In this Custom Car Chronicle article we show you most of the Hot Rod photos from the Larry Watson Personal Collection, I have added a few photos from other collections, since they were slightly better quality, or were taken in color. Pleas feel free to place a comment if you know more about the cars showing on the photos. Because as always, they did not come with any info at all.

Larry took this snapshot of Bill DeCarr – on the left – and possibly the owner of this t-Touring with a mostly stock body. But the primer spots indicate that Bill did some work on it to get it straight for Larry to paint it. The car has wire wheels, and a dropped chrome axle…


“Ye Old” Joe Barnett’s T-Touring with the finished Larry Watson paint job. The car looks a lot like the on in primer above, but some details are different, so it might be a different car all together. This T runs on black wheels, baby moons and big & Little white wall tires. The tall top is covered in white canvas, while the interior is upholstered in black.


This T has a dropped, black painted dropped axle. The color combination of light metallic, or pearl blue with the white top and black interior and wheels works really well.



Rear view shows the really nice rake on this T.


Great photo of the Bill DeCarr/Watson 10116 Artesia Blvd. when it had still the Ed Schelhaas sign on the front. In this around 1960 photo we can see Jerry Fever’s nice ’29 Model A Roadster Hot Rod outside, a 1959 Ford inside the shop that just had a nice Larry Watson silver and candy blue paint job, and Terry Holloway’s 1957 Plymouth in the back behind the roadster.


Close up of Jerry Fever’s 28-29 Model A full fender orange-red Hot Rod. The car has black wheels and baby moons, just as the T-Touring above.


Jerry Fever had a good looking all dressed up flathead engine in his Model A with a three carb intake, and paint detailed Stromberg Carbs.


Very nice Model T coupe with a wonderful Larry Watson paint job. The stance, the chrome wheels, the tires, the white interior and top they are a part of making this one a very stylish Hot Rod. The rear bumper was not installed, most likely still at the home of this very happy Hot Rodder.


Unique vintage look was achieved with the non chopped top, traditional Watson paint, chrome and white details.


I really like this photo of the primered T-Body in front of the Watson/DeCarr shop. Also notice the circular paint overspray on the bottom right. The photo below shows how that happened.


Not the same T-Body as above, this one was hanging on the wall of the Larry Watson Museum, and shows how the circular paint over-spray in the photo above might have happened. Not sure where and when this photo was taken, but the flames are of Larry’s early 60’s style.


This is the former and first AMBR Bill Niekamp’s 1929 Model A at the time it was owned by Delmer Brink. Larry Watson actually painted this car twice. First in a candy purple and later in a fading from front to rear candy red/maroon paint job which you can see here sitting in front of the Artesia Blvd Shop. The hood and grille are still missing in this photo. More on Delmer’s Hot Rad can be found in this CCC-Article.


David C. Martins Model A Ford was restyled by Bill DeCarr at his Artesia Blvd Shop and later painted a beautiful Lime Gold by Larry Watson in the paint booth he rented behind Bill’s shop. The body was partly channeled over the frame and special rolled panels added below the body on the sides and at the rear. A ’32 Ford grille was sectioned to fit the lower body.


Bill also installed an narrowed 1940 Ford dash and modified it to accept 5 round gauges before Larry painted it. More in David C. Martins Hot Rod can be seen in on this Custom Car Chronicle Article.


Unidentified Tall Model T bucket in front of the Artesia Blvd shop. By now the Ed Schelhaas sign had been replaced with a Bill’s Shop sign. There are only primer photos of this car in the Watson Collection as far as I know. So I don even know if Larry ended up painting it, or if it was only in Bill DeCarr’s Shop.


Jim Skonzakes on the right leaning against the special trailer he build for the “Kookie T” which had just been repainted by Larry Watson in pearl white and Red flames. This photo was also taken at the Artesia Blvd Shop.


Beautiful pearl or fine metallic teal blue paintjob on this ’27 Chevy Coupe Rod.


Larry choose a really unique classic looking color for this near stock bodies Hot Rod. The photos came with no info, so we have no idea who the owner is.


Beautiful Candy purple paint job on this restyled T-Bucket for owner Gene Chan (thanks Marcus Edell). The contrasting white interior and gold rear tires look really well on the car.


Candy Red painted traditional T-Bucket.



Phil Kaelin’s 1932 Ford from the Larry Watson Collection. Sadly there was only a few black and white photos of this car in Larry’s Collection. The color inset photos come from the Wirths Custom Auto Collection and is used to show the amazing colors of the car). This front 3/4 photo shows that the body had been chopped and channeled over the frame. Note the double sided white wall tires up front.


Willys mostly ended up as gassers and drag racers, but this one was done more as a Hot Rod with shin line big and little white wall tires on chrome reversed wheels. The fresh Larry Watson paint-job look a mile deep.


Another car that most of the time was used for the race track was this American Bantam. But the owner of this car decided he want to Hot rod his Bantam. These cars always looked a bit odd with their unusual proportions and relatively small size. And this one with large – out of scale – tires makes it even look stranger. Larry Watson painted this one with many wonderful coats of Banana/peach yellow pearl.  This photo was taken at the Watson Downie Firestone Blvd shop.


Rear 3/4 view of the Bantam. The Pearl paint-job looks really amazing. The unknown owner must have been very happy with the result.


Woody Barber had two photos of this Larry Watston painted American Bantam in his collection. since these were a bit sharper than the photos Larry had in his collection I have added them to this article.


Larry painted this 1929 Chevy panel in gunmetal gray, and covered it with vertical free hand airbrushed stripped flames for owner Ron Glusac. Typical styled for late 1960’s early 1970’s. This photo was taken at Larry’s Firestone Blvd shop.


Few more Hot Rod photos from Larry’s paint-jobs fro Larry’s Personal Museum walls.


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About the Author

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)


  1. In the early 1960’s there were many hot rods that were given the “custom paint” look with chrome wheels and skinny or wide whitewalls. It gave them a “new life” and they fit in with the custom cars getting their special candy and metal flake paint jobs. Larry Watson probably did quite a few hot rods in this style. Rik, you always say that the background of the vintage photos are of interest. I liked looking at the background scenes in these photos.


  2. Great article Rik
    The pictures of the hot rods that Mr Watson painted bring back memories of being a kid in Detroit watching the “Beach party” movies that were popular at the time.
    These California Hot Rods (Especially the Model T’s) had a look all their own.


  3. Roslyn Black

    Was this the Larry Watson that painted Fantasia? If so we have been trying to get a hold of him to get information on the before mentioned car.


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