Custom Car Builders

June 25, 2014

Paul Bragg 1950 Ford Convertible




Paul Bragg’s perfect eye for Custom Restyling makes him able to do any Custom job needed, including creating a perfectly styled removable Carson style Padded Top.

Paul Bragg has been building custom cars for many decades. He is world-wide known for his fantastic metal working skills and excellent taste in Custom Car design. Paul combines his metal working skills with an very good eye for proportions, lines and style. Allowing him to modify virtually anything he feels is needed for the perfect custom. We will devote several articles on Paul, and the wonderful Custom Cars he creates. This article will cover the creation of a chopped convertible windshield and the frame construction for a removable padded top.

Paul did not do all the work on this car. In fact the main customizing was already done when the project came to Paul. Bill Reasoner did the majority of custom work on this 1950 Ford convertible in the early 1990’s. It includes extended front fenders with frenched headlights. Mercury grille opening with a 1959 Chrysler Imperial grille, rounded hood openings, molded splash mans front and rear, Mercury taillights with reshaped wind-split.

Lets take a look how Paul chopped the windshield, and created the removable padded top structure and window moldings.

CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-01This is how Paul received the Ford. Customized, but with the stock height windshield and a stock foldable soft top.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-02First oder of the day was disassemble and take out the interior, the windshield, windshield trim and rubber and remove the soft top completely. 


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-03The original wood header bar from the soft top was the only thing Paul kept on the car. This would be used on the padded top later as well. The header bar was secured with factory pins and this was a proven system, so why change it.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-04Next step was to grind down the paint where the the windshield frames were going to be cut for the chop Masking tape marks how much Paul will remove from the windshield posts.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-05The cuts are made, the material removed and the top portion rest on the bottom portion to check it all out. Obviously the vent windows need to be chopped as well..


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-06To make sure everything lines up correctly it is needed to make a few relieve cuts on the lower and top portion of the A-Pillar. The top portion of the A-Pillar can be moved out slightly, and the bottom portion of the A-Pillare can be moved inward a little so that the top and bottom fit together perfectly again. This photo shows the completely welded and metal finished A-Pillars. Paul has also cut down the vent windows, and is working on the door window trim. Templates are made to make sure the left and right side are even.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-07With the windshield and side window frames chopped it was time to get the shape of the lower edge of the padded top to fit the side glass trim perfectly. Paul made an plywood template to make sure both sides would be exactly the same. Then he carfully created the frame from U-Channel. 


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-08Here Paul is test fitting the new window trim and checking if the look and feel is what he had in mind.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-09This next step is really crucial. If at all possible take the car outside to a space where you can walk around the car and be able to step back and look at the car from every angle. It is now time to figure out the actual shape of the padded top. Using some scrap wood and a thin strip of metal Paul shaped the outside contour of the padded top. He screws down the metal strip to the front header, and to the – in this case two – temporarily wood pieces. With this metal strip in the right shape it is time for Paul to start bending the tubing for the bows. As you can see there is enough space between the side window frames and the U-Channel of the top. This is to allows upholstery and weather material to be used.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-10The metal strip is the guide line for bending and cutting down the side to side bows, make sure both sides are the same, check and recheck, then spot-weld them the the U-Channel frame.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-11Paul created his own release mechanism for the top. a main pin hold secure in place with a spring loaded pin. To make sure it works Paul sketched his plan.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-12TThe top frame work is now mostly done, this photo shoes one of the pints to hold down the top to the body. The top is turned upside down in this photo.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-13Another look at the top shows the hand shaped metal panels for the rear portion of the top. These panels make sure the upholstery will not sag over time.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-14The finished frame work back on the car for a final check. At this time it is really important to check the shape over and over again from each and every angle possible. If you want to change it, this is the time. Once its off to the upholstery you cannot change it anymore without spending a lot of money.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-15Glass templates are created.


CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-16And the stainless window trim is cut to size and test fitted.


Now it was time to get the top upholstered. The car was send out to Rick Simmons who did a fantastic job on the padded top and stitching the interior for the ’50 Ford convertible as well. The top has a wonderful original Carson or Gaylord top feeling to is. The stitching on it is really fantastic.





CCC-paul-bragg-50-ford-conv-19From all angles the top Paul and Rick created looks really amazing. The top flows perfectly thanks to the carefully shaped metal strip and top bows Paul created.


The car was later finished in a wonderful metallic champaign color.










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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. work of art ! Paul is the man !


  2. I always liked this car. It’s real different, with those taillights, grill & color. Nice to see a different take on a commonly customized Ford.


  3. Paul’s work is always excellent, the Carson style top on it’s own is a work of art.


  4. Thanks Rik, this info should come in handy soon. Great work as always Paul.


  5. Always nice to come back and see this fantastic shoebox convertible for a refresher on how a proper Carson-style top should look. This is one of just a handful that are spot-on.


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