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Custom Car Builders

July 15, 2015

Watsons – Dennis Morgan 58 Chevy

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Written by: Rik Hoving
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DENNIS MORGAN 58 CHEVY

 

Larry Watson painted a great number of 1958 Chevys, they made excellent mild custom, and Larry knew how they looked best. This article shows photos of three stages of the 58 Chevy Larry did for Dennis Morgen

 

This article shows a selection of photos of Dennis Morgan’s 1958 Chevy. 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 ArchiveSpecial thanks to Roger O’Dell for scanning this amazing material and sharing them with us on the Custom Car Chronicle.

 
 

Stage One

In late 1959 Dennis Morgan took his 1958 Chevy Impala to Larry Watson’s Rosecrans Blvd. shop for a Candy green and fine metallic gold outline paint job. The car was just a year old then. The car was going to be completely painted, still Dennis decided to keep all the factory trim pieces. more common was to at least shave off some of the emblems, especially since the whole car was going to be painted. Larry laid down a base of fine metallic gold, then taped of the main body contours including the side trim. Larry was most likely trying to give the car a more sleek appearance, so he concentrated on the main body characters and left the smaller details like the door handles and other smaller trim pieces alone. Then Larry added the really great looking candy green to the none taped sections of the body. With the paint dry and tape removed larry added a nice medium width, white pinstripe between the green and gold. The car was lowered a little all around sitting on medium size white wall tires and a set of, perfect for this mild custom, Dodge Lancer four bar hubcaps. A set of Spotlights was installed. The interior remained factory stock in this version, and also the grille was left the way it came from the factory.
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-00This is the earliest photo of Dennis his 1958 Chevy in Larry’s Personal Photo Collection. The car is basically factory stock with a mild lowering. Larry painted the Chevy in rich gold, then masked the outlines of the bodies. and added a wonderful hue of candy green. Dennis added a set of Spotlights and Dodge Lancer hubcaps with candy green center. It appears that the interior was still stock at this point. This photo was taken at Larry’s Rosecrans shop

 

 
 
The rage of the day during the late 1950’s early 1960’s was to paint your wheel wells and visible chassis parts with white paint. According some of the guys who where there during that time this was typical a thing for the Long Beach area, but it did spread around a little after a while. It was a fad, and disappeared after a short period. It possibly disappeared since it was always an hassle the clean the white painted sections on the underside of the car. Dennis wanted to keep up with the latest style so that was exactly what he did, and added white painted wheel wells, and visible chassie parts, were mostly done in the late 1950’s and early in the 1960’s. Later the stock grille was replace with a chrome tubular item.
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-02The next photo shows that Dennis had his Chevy upholstered with all new white tuck and roll in the C-Pillars. This photo also shows how small the outlines around the body character lines are, which gives the car a very subtile longer and lower effect. The color separation lines are outlined with white striping.

 

 
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-01Possibly taken around the same time and place (Larry’s Rosecrans shop) gives us a better look at the new custom interior done in white and dark green with Horizontal roll’s. Also new is the aftermarket chrome tubular grille. Notice the white painted wheel wells.

 

 
 

Stage Two

Judging the photos it looks like it is now 1960 and Dennis decided it was time for another update to keep up with the style of the day. The Chevy logo from the hood was removed and the front bulge section of the side trim was replaced with a shortened pointy shaped rear portion of the 1958 Chevy side trim. This was a common thing to do to your 1958 Chevy and cleaned up the overall looks of the car greatly. Larry Watson did the second paint-job on the Chevy in a brilliant lime gold candy with a silver top. It changed the looks of the car completely. Dennis also replaced the Appleton looking spotlights with the trend of the day narrow shaped dummy spotlights, most likely for the Cal-Custom units. The Lancer hubcaps where replaced with some large four bar spinner aftermarket units. Some parts of these hubcaps were detail painted and they were mounted on gold painted rims. To optically lower the car some more a set of full length lake pipes was added.
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-05The next series photo photos are taken at Larry’s new shop which he rented from Bill DeCarr on Artesia Blvd in Bellflower. Dennis had some more work done on the Chevy before a complete new paint-job in lime gold with a silver top. Side trim changes and the Chevy logo on the front was shaved. The spotlights, possibly Appletons from the first version were replaced with much pointier dummy units, and a set of lake pipes make the car look much lower.

 

 
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-12Cropped section shows the aftermarket four bar hubcaps with the dark green painted sections.

 

 
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-06At the rear we can see that the car has custom taillight lenses installed, and that the dash has been painted white with candy lime gold fogged around the edges. The hubcaps were replaced with other type four bar units. Most likely aftermarket items.

 

 
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-11A better look at the taillights. It looks like they used the stock 1958 Chevy chrome rings with larger bullet shaped lenses, a nice touch.

 

 
 
The photos of this version of Dennis his 1958 Chevy show that the car was more than just a nicely painted car. A lot of attention was paid to detailing the engine bay with paint and many chrome details. The interior in the car was also fully detailed, with great upholstery, and a custom created min-bar. I bet Dennis his friends loved to go out cruising with the him and his amazing 1958 Chevy.
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-07
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-08It looks like the engine compartment was painted as well and the engine has a good amount of chromed parts added.

 

 
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-09Here we have a really good look at the nicely done interior in Dennis his Chevy. White painted dash with lime gold fogging. Upholstery in dark green with white and dark green carpet with white edges, and the accesory of the day… a phone.

 

 
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-10In the rear Dennis built in a wooden mini-bar with a place for some bottles, glasses and ice, to make cruising even more comfortable. Notice how nice and round/filled the pleats are in the upholstery, giving the interior a very comfortable feeling. 

 

 
 

Stage Three

For the last known version of the car Larry repainted the car completely again. This time in a candy dark green, and by the looks of it a bit more blueish green than the first version of the car. Sadly there was only one photo of this version of the car, so we cannot even tell if the top was done in a different color, or if anything else changed. Most likely not much, since even the “V” on the hood, and the front fender trim pieces are still in place. The engine bay was painted in white and more chrome was added to the engine bay. This version is the last version shown in the Larry Watson Personal Collection. We have no idea what happened with the car after that.
 
CCC-watson-dennis-morgan-58-chevy-04The engine bay has been painted white and a chrome plated extruded panel has been added to cover the radiator.

 

 
 
 

 

 

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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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One Comment


  1. Rik, the candy green,chrome engine & interior was & is true lowrider style ! painting the wheel wells white was mandatory back in the day ! Larry got it right !



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