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Custom Car Builders

May 5, 2015

Larry Watson Space Age Pick Up

 

LARRY WATSON SPACE AGE PICK UP

 

Besides having his 1961 Ford Econoline, named Wire-O, Larry also had plans for a much wilder Econoline, named Space Age. Sadly this show truck was never completed. This is what we know about it…

This article shows a selection of photos of Larry Watson’s 1961 Ford Econoline Pick-Up Truck. 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.

Larry Watson and Bill DeCarr created the already spectacular Wine-O 1961 Ford Econoline Pick Up truck in the mid 1960’s. (You can see this pick up truck in our CCC-Article.) Around the same time Larry also had plans for a much wilder, full show custom Pick Up truck based on a similar 1961 Ford Econoline Pick Up truck.

Fortunately some snapshot have been made during the construction of the car, several color photos and several much faded black and white Polaroid snapshots. The material we have from the Larry Watson Personal Collection on the Larry Watson Space Age Pick Up Truck “Space Age” is not the best, mostly scanned from color copied photos. But we feel the car is interesting enough to share here on the CCC.

 

CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-01The 1961 Ford Econoline Larry and Bill started with.

 

 
The project started at Bill DeCarr’s 10116 Artesia Boulevard shop (the former Ed Schelhaas shop). Plans called for a sectioned and chopped cabin, integration of two half belly tanks, a custom made Pick-Up bed, 1960 Mercury grille and many other details. The top portion of the cabin was removed and so was a 4 inch strip of material below the belt-line to make sure the removed part could be reinstalled at a much lower position. The B-Pillars were cut down 5 inches for the chop. The whole rear portion of the cab was removed to make repositioning the top lower on the rest of the body easier, and to be reinstalled at a more forward angle at a later stage. In this process the windshield was not chopped, just lowered onto the body.
 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-03The first Polaroid snapshot in the series shows how Larry and Bill are placing back the cut of top after 4 inches of the body below the belt-line had been removed.

 

 

CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-10With the top removed.

 

 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-02This snapshot shows Larry trying to figure out the best position for the belly tank sections to be integrated into the body. The top was set back on the main body to get a feeling of how it would look.

 

 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-06Bill (on the left) and Larry removing the top of the cabin and decide what to do next.

 

 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-04Bill is removing some material from the back of the cabin to make sure if would fit well on the main body. The backside of the still in place dash is showing here.

 

 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-05Larry, and unknown helper and Bill making sure the top will fit back on after the sectioning.

 

 
The original headlights were cut out, and new opening for a 1960 Mercury was cut in the front. Bill shaped small diameter round tubing around the mercury grille and welded this into the cut down front. Larry made a paper template from the 10 foot drop tank he had bought at the Aircraft Surplus store. The plan was to use  the tank inverted on the sides to create an oval shaped oversized wheel cut out. The template was transferred to the body and Bill cut out the not needed metal, and then welded the tank half’s in place. Creating an really wild look. The inverted shape was extended onto the front and an second smaller grille opening was created in this recessed section.

The pick up bed top section was removed and a new top section was created from large radius round tubing. At the end of the tubing Bill added 1959 Ford taillights. And that was the last bit of work that was done on the Pick Up. It was 1965, and both Larry and Bill DeCarr got really busy doing other work. Bill with working on more profitable Foreign Sports Cars, and larry with doing more and more single color paint jobs, and preparing the LA Sports Arena show where he would show an insane number of cars painted by him. So the pick up truck was abandoned and although initially Larry did plan to finish it, in never came to that. Eventually Larry sold the remains and he never saw it again. Although Larry was not sure, he thought it ended up being crushed. So sad.
 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-13The top portion of the front, where the headlights are located, is removed and the lower sections cut down to make sure if will fit lower on the body. This was done to make sure the chopped cabin, but with the stock height windshield would fit the way Larry wanted it.

 

 

CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-11Welding the top portion of the front in place a few inches lower than stock.

 

 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-12Very blurry Polaroid snapshot shows the sectioned front section the top was positioned back in place to take a look of how it all looked. Thats bill holding the top in place. 

 

 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-09Of all the Polaroid snapshots of the Space Age Pick up this is my personal favorite. Its very blurry, but I love the smile on Larry’s face sitting inside the tacked together cabin and day reaming how he would drive it. The fading and cracking on the Polaroid gives this photo a very nice feel.

 

 
According the Custom Car Confessions book Larry planned to create a lowered tailgate, slanting the rear of the top forward 7 or 8 inches, adding belly tank shaped fender skirts, similar Ford Thames rear bumper as he had used on his “Wire-O” truck. And 1958 Mercury taillights as headlights mounted inside the concave section. I think it would have been totally awesome… So sad it was never finished, especially after a lot of the hard work had already been done, or at least started.

CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-08This is the latest stage that was photographed. It shows the inverted Belly Tank sections into the body. It also shows the new grille opening for the 1960 Mercury grille, the new lower grille opening and the sectioned and chopped.

 

 
CCC-larry-watson-spage-age-pu-07This last photo is really interesting since it show the huge difference in height the Space Age was compared to a stock Econoline. Note how the stock windshield was used and how much sectioned the front end was. 

 

 
 
Hopefully somebody might get inspired by this article and will try to built a replica of the Larry Watson Space Age Pick Up truck and will finish the car so that everybody can enjoy the vision Larry had for his Wild Show Pick Up Truck.
 
 

Resource and more info:

  • Watson’s Custom Car Confessions book
  • Larry Watson Personal Collection

 
 

 

 

(this article is sponsored by)

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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)




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3 Comments


  1. Wow that is super cool. I would be very neat to see someone take on a recreation of this truck. It’s too bad Larry is no longer with us to let us know what he had planned for a paint job.


  2. Great story Rik. What a neat “find” this would be out there. I would love to have seen it finished……Thanks for sharing! Geoff


  3. I was blown away by this when I first saw photos of it in the Larry Watson book by Thom Taylor. It’s great seeing the additional photos shown here. Thank you Roger and Rik!



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