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October 16, 2015

Watsons Saint Vasquez 50 Chevy

 

SAINT VASQUEZ 50 CHEVY

 

Larry Watson designed and painted Saint Vasquez his 1950 Chevy with one of the most outstanding and trend setting scallop paint job.

 

This article shows a selection of photos of Saint (Santo) Vasques’s 1950 Chevy convertible. 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 ArchiveSpecial thanks to Roger O’Dell for scanning this amazing material and sharing them with us on the Custom Car Chronicle.

 
 
The 1950 Chevrolet convertible of Saint Vasquez was restyled over a period of time. The first round, with most of the customizing was done around 1956 by Ed Schelhaas at his shop on Artesia Blvd in Bellflower, the shop which was later taken over by Bill DeCarr and where Larry Watson would have his shop for some time as well.
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-18We could only find one photo of this version of the Chevy. This photo show the car with added side trim on the rear quarters leading up and down towards the rear fender scoop. We have no idea when this photo was taken. The photo shows that the rear fenders had some scallops added, possibly in silver, or very light gold, with white striping. The same color was used inside the side trim. It also looks like the skirts have no lip. Possibly this is the earliest version of the car, and was the side trim later removed.

 

 
 
The windshield of the convertible was chopped, according the period magazines 4.5 inch, and the glass was replaced with a one piece Oldsmobile unit. The grille shell of an 1953 Chevy was molded in at the front, the hood was extended down and the grille lip molded to the hood. The front fenders where reshaped to make a set of 1955 Cadillac headlight fit. The work involved hooding the headlights and adding a peak on the side of the fender flowing from the hooded section. The front splash-pan was molded to the front to create a smooth solid front unit. A 1955 DeSoto grille was narrowed to fit the ’53 Chevy grille opening. The front bumper was smoothed and flipped upside down.
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-14Photo from the Car Craft magazine photo-shoot shows how wonderful and clean Saint’s Chevy is in it early version. The George Newton Titian Red looks stunning.

 

 
 

At the rear Ed Schelhaas considerably reshaped the Chevy fenders to accept 1956 Packard taillights, and a 1956 Chevy bumper was used to tie it all together. The bumper ends on the 1956 Chevy unit were modified to have the exhaust tips exit thru them. At the front of the rear fenders a scoop was created in which four small chrome plated teeth were fitted. All trim and handles were shaved and the body prepped for paint. The car was lowered to the max with modified A-arms and a c-ed frame in the rear. The car was lowered so much that the drive shaft tunnel had to be raised to clear the drive shaft. Once all the work was done George Newton, Ed Schelhaas his painted added the Titian Red Nitro Lacquer.

 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-16Another photo from the Car Craft photo shoot shows the car with the padded top in place. Photographed in late 1956, early 1957 the Customs in that time still had real Appleton Spotlights.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-15Close up from the front shows the Ed Schelhaas created hooded front fenders to adapt the 1955 Cadillac headlgiths, the molded-in 1953 Chevy grille shell, and the detailed with paint and “gold” plated four bar spinner Dodge hubcaps. Also notice the white or light color painted inner fenders.

 

 
 

The interior of the car was done in red and cream pleats and rolls using DuPont leatherette according the 1957 Car Craft magazine. The trunk was done in a similar way using the same red material and cream for the piping. The padded top was really unique since it used a 1953 Chevy Bel Air wrap around rear window. Saint then took the freshly finished Chevy to Larry Watson who was still striping out of the drive way of his parents house. Larry Watson finished this first version of the car by added striping in imitation gold.

 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-21A bit fuzzy photo shows the interior of the Chevy with detailed floor mats.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-01Winning a trophy at one of the high school outdoor car shows.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-03This photo taken at one of the many outdoor shows shows how the padded top was lifted to show off the nice interior and headliner, but also shows that the 1953 Chevy rear window stayed on the body when the top was lifted.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-04Sadly the photo taken at the outdoor show above was taken from a great distance, and we are not able to get all the writing on the show car as clear as we would like it to be. This enlarged section of the photo is the best we could do.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-00It looks like Saint Vasquez is doing some fine tuning on his Chevy before the crowds are allowed at this outdoor show. The photo shows the completely gold plated engine bay. This photo also shows how the grille surround top section was added to the bottom of the hood.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-02Another look at the fully detailed engine bay in the Chevy. Gold paint chrome and red wires/tubes everywhere.

 

 
 
 

More Scallops added

Somewhere in 1957/58 the Chevy was taken to Larry Watson again. And this time to have some nice scallop added to the body. We only have been able to find one black and white photo showing the front of the car, so we have no idea what was done to the sides and rear of the car. From the later color photos when these new scallop were covered again with others we can tell that this set of scallops was also done in gold.
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-17This is the only photo we found of this version of the Chevy. It appears that the only changed were done using paint, with a set of well designed scallops done by Larry Watson. Gold scallops outlined in  white. I guess that is Diane Guidry on the back seat. 

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-05This black and white photo of the interior of the Chevy shows that the Chevy was name “Adonis” as can be seen on the etched plaque on the glove box. This photo also shows how well detailed the interior was up to the flower? painted shifter and Appleton spot handles.

 

 
 
 

And even more Scallops

When Larry was in his 1016 E Artesia shop in North Long Beach Saint took the Chevy in for another update. This time it would be a very special update. It was late 1957, perhaps early 1958 by now. Larry wanted to try something new, a body covered nearly completely in scallops. The Titian red on the main body would remain the same, but Larry had to work around the scallops on the front he had added to the car earlier. I can imagine that it must have taken Larry quite some time to figure out how to get these old and new scallops to work together the best possible way. Fortunately Larry Watson had a few photos taken while he and his buddies were taping the Chevy for this amazing Scallop paint job so we can enjoy all the hard work Larry and his team did back in 1957-58.
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-06Photo taken at Larry’s E Artesia Shop in North Long Beach we can see Larry on the far left doing the actual outlining and designing, and his two “helpers” taping up the sections in between. The airbrushed shirt of Gary Mc Nutt is classic, especially for 1957.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-07Close up shows the wide tape Larry is using to tape off the gold painted grille shell from the previous version. Notice the glitter detailed hubcap centers. If you look close, you can see the hood scallops from the earlier version sitting inside the masked scallop on the hood side.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-08Another photo taken high above the head of the photographer as we can see in the long shadows shows how the car was parked in the parking lot. Unsure is if the whole taping was done here, or if the car was pushed out for the photos.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-09This enlarged section shows the old and new scallops on the hood even better.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-10At the rear we can see more of the amazing wild scallops. This must have been so much work to outline and tape.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-11Another view from the front 3/4 shows how the scallops flow with the body. The DeSoto grille was unbolted and placed in front of the bumper. Most likely they did not want to remove the wiring for the parking lights.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-12Old scallops and new additions. Quite interacted to combine the two and still come up with such a nice flowing design. Can you imagin what kind of impact this paint job must have had when it was finished.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-13After the scallops where painted in gold Larry outlined them in a bold whiteoutline. Another good look at the glitter detailed hubcaps. This was before Metalflake paint was invented, or at least on the market, but glitters were already available. They were added to the hubcaps using spray glue. Notice the hand striped sweatshirt Larry is wearing.

 

 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-22Another photo taken at the 1016 E Artesia Shop North Long Beach shows the finished scallop paint job on the Chevy with the top removed. Duane Steck’s Moonglow is parked behind it.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-19The finished car at the Renegades Motorama at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium. Shown with the doors, hood, trunk and top opened to show how well detailed this car was, and of course to gain as many show points to win more awards.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-23A closer look at the same location, and now in color. The wild scallops look stunning and even though the surrounding cars at the show also had scallops, flames or panels, nothing was anything like what Larry had done on Saint Vasquez his 1950 Chevy. Notice how the engine compartment was detailed with red lights.

 

 
 

CCC-larry-watson-saint-vasquez-20The last photo of the Chevy shows the car at the Oakland Roadster show. Sitting next to it is fellow renegades member Duane Steck’s 2953 Chevy the Moonglow. This photo shows the well detailed trunk. 

 

 
 

Saint Vasquez his 1950 Chevy Convertible won a lot of awards in the late 1950’s, and was featured in many magazines because of his outstanding, unique and trend setting scallop paint job. Sadly we have no idea what ever happened to the Chevy, if it is still around today, or long perhaps long gone like so many of the Custom Cars created in those days. Fortunately for Larry Watson’s urge to hang on to these photos we can now still enjoy these cars.
 
 
 

(this article is made possible 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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5 Comments


  1. That was about 59 years ago or so, but I was there when the Adonis got “freeway’d”. I can’t remember the side art at that time, seems there was some work done on it, but I remember thinking why wasn’t it scalloped on the deck lid months prior to being paneled. Seemed to be incomplete, but that is what Larry wanted I guess. I remember going home (3 blocks away) and asking my Dad abut the finger art on Gary’s shirt, never saw anything like that. He roared with laughter when I told him what I saw. He explained it all, and I’ve been using it often ever since !!


  2. yep long time ago, saints car one of my favoreds, was at all the car shows in an around the southland area, i remember i attended a lot of those shows with my semi kustom 51 chevy hard top, i liked saints car when it was one color but thats just me, however the first scallop job looked good allso the way watson did it, the last scallop job was a little to much for me but thats what was happening then, rik i give u props on this story, all the photos an explanations on the car thums up rik,


  3. LARRY WATSON ………The original ” WET IT OUT ” walk that kandy painting king….!!

    This kustom is the perfect example of not only how well and detailed a kustom car could be built the early era of Kustoms….But is also the perfect example of Larry Watson building cars but also morphing into the new era of kustom painting and his creative art and skill level to step it up notches and make him self stand out from the rest…….

    This car along with the ” Grape Vine ” and ” Moon Glow ” ” Saint Vasquez ” Actually represent the start of a new style and era of kustom car building….

    This is just one of a handful of cars that started out as the period correct and accepted kustom of the time….But is also a wonderful car that was redone as people experimented. Not to many cars like this awesome and only got better….!!!

    ….Guys like Larry Watson were growing up and more confident in there skills…………….And creative talent and this is the perfect example of just that….!

    Memo I agree with you 100% that the first version looked awesome….But it’s all we have to compare and show how well Larry Watson grew and become who he was and how he looked at cars …It’s lines….The kolor it could be….And in the end an extension of his personality and what he saw through his eyes………..!!!

    Larry Watson ……….. Once said to ” Chuck Boy ” EMPERORS car club Victorville L.A
    ” were on the same team man ” But with a thumbs up………..

    KUSTOMLAND


  4. This was the car that really started my love of customs when it was on the cover of Car Craft May 1957 [ I was 11 years old] and I still have the magazine. . I wasn’t a fan of the ‘freeway scallop’ paint whether done by Watson or not. Long live customs.


  5. I’m with you guys. I, too, fell in love with the first version of that tastfully styled custom. This photo essay really shows the meteoric rise of the custom car in California, and the rise of Larry Watson to shift the custom car world from body styling to art in paint statements. Seemed then to “flame out”, But Rik, you are fanning those embers back to life. Great stories.
    Larry



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