Comparing Ron Dunn’s Ford


Special memories about two photos, taken in the early 1950’s, of Ron Dunn’s Valley Custom Shop built sectioned 1950 Ford, sitting next to a stock Ford of the same year.

When I was 15 or 16 years old, in the early 1980’s, I was very eager to find out everything about Custom Cars. I lived in a small village in the Northern part of the Netherlands, with no access to any of the US custom car or hot rod magazines. I had found a few 1970’s Hot Rod magazines at car shows. But over all, I had a very hard time finding anything custom car related, that showed me the history, or even current state of my favorite hobby. In a large book store,  in a slightly bigger city, I found a copy of a, then brand new, book called Automobile and Culture.

A heavy 310 page book with interesting subjects. But what really caught my eye was the Hot Rod and Custom Car chapter, which was written by Henry Flood Robert, Jr. This chapter showed some really interesting custom car photos. It gave a overview of the history from the early 1940’s to the 1960’s. It showed some small, but extremely wonderful photos of custom cars. The book was just out back then, and cost a small fortune, but I had to have it. It was the first real information I had ever seen about the history of the custom cars. And it showed amazing custom cars, mostly in black and white, but also a few in magical colors.

One of the cars that was mentioned, and shown in this chapter, was the sectioned 1950 Ford, built by the Valley Custom Shop for Ron Dunn. Two very small black and white photos showed this amazingly proportioned Shoebox Ford, sitting next to a factory stock Ford of the same year. I must have stared at those two small photos for hours. I even built a 1/25 scale model based on this car back then. Two amazing photos that had a special meaning for me ever since. Many years later, I found out much more about one of the most beautiful customs that were ever produced by the Valley Custom Shop. I even had the  great fortune to see the un-restored car at the 2011 GNRS Customs Then & Now event.


A few month ago, I was browsing the Valley Custom Shop Facebook pages. To my surprise I came across some nice scans of the two photos, I had seen as a kid.  I was able to take a much better look at these amazing photos. Photos that showed what a fantastic design work the Valley Custom Shop had performed in the early 1950’s. It showed that this customized Ford was much better proportioned, compared to the stocker sitting next to it. The two photos were taken by Dean Batchelor.
Looking at these two photos brought back a lot of memories. Many thanks to the Valley Custom Shop Facebook team for sharing these old photos. It means a lot to all custom car enthusiasts.



If you ever come across a copy of the books Automobile and Culture. Be sure to take a look, it is an interesting book.

Automobile and Culture
Published by ABRAMS
ISBN 0-8109-2283-5





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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)

2 thoughts on “Comparing Ron Dunn’s Ford

  • September 25, 2013 at 23:50

    Very nicely proportion section IMHO. I some ways I like this better than the Polynesian which I think may have looked better with a little less cut. But I’m far from an expert just opinion.

  • September 26, 2013 at 20:04

    The Ron Dunn car had a similar effect on me, and to this day it’s one of my favorite customs from the early ’50s. It certainly set the standard for the hundreds (?) of sectioned shoeboxes that followed, and in my view nobody has done a better looking Ford.

    I think the Paul Bragg car and the X-51 compare well with the Dunn car in excellence of proportion and workmanship, but they both owe their overall look to the benchmark established by Valley Custom.

    It’s a shame that this car remains unrestored. I’m sure that SAR is looking for a customer who will decide which version should be restored, and it’s a decision I would find difficult to make, but I wish the original was the basis for a future restoration.

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