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Neil Emory 1937 Dodge


Neil Emory 1937 Dodge


In the late 1930s early 1940s a young Neil Emory created a stunning Custom out of a 1937 Dodge Convertible Coupe. It was his very first Custom, many more great Customs would follow…

As a young teenager Neil Emory created all kinds of jobs to make some extra money. One of these jobs was detailing cars at the Warner Brothers studio. Neil got permission to get in the special VIP parking places and ask the owners of these fine automobiles if he could clean detail and gas up their cars. The business went really well for Neil, so well he had to ask a friend to help him out.

CCC-stock-1937-dodge-01A stock 1937 Dodge Convertible Coupe similar to what Neil Emory started with in 1939. Its not an ugly car to start with, but with Neil’s eye for style an balance he was able to create a stunning Custom out of it.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-03Lowered headlights, smoothed hood and hood sides, ripple disk hubcaps on wide white wall tires, teardrop fender skirts and a beautifully shaped Padded Top.

Neil Emory’s first Custom

One of the cars he was detailing was a 1937 Dodge Convertible Coupe. The car belonged to a Director at Warner Brothers, Lloyd Bacon’s daughter. The car was a gift for here 21th birthday. Around 6 moth later the daughter got married and Neil was able to buy the car for $600. Neil was just 15 years old when she got married this was 1938, perhaps early 1939 the exact dates are unsure. It was Neil’s first car.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-01I really love this rear 3/4 photo of Neil’s Dodge. It shows the wonderful shapes of the car and gives us a great feel of how it must have been driving such a great looking car on the Californian streets in the early 1940’s.

Not long after that Neil Emory started another business, lowering cars. He started to produce shackles of different lengths and he would make appointments with customers to be at a service station where Neil would take his tools with his 1937 Dodge and lower the customers car on the spot. Of course he had lowered his own Dodge with his own shackles as well, which was good for rolling advertisement. He also installed some aftermarket ripple disk hubcaps with beauty-rings on a set of wide white wall tires. Around this time Neil Emory and a couple of buddies also ran a gas station where he started to tinkered with cars for his friends and teachers.

Neil was able to do more work on his Dodge in shop class during high school, here he was able to use the much better school tools than what he had himself. Here he shaved the trunk and added the double set-in license plates behind glass. The right one for a Throttle Stompers club plaque and the one on the left for the license plate.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-02Close up of the smoothed rear of the car with the double set-in glass covered license plates, the 1938 Ford teardrop taillights and the Buick teardrop shaped fender skirt that could be mounted becuase Neil had removed the bead around the Dodge rear fender wheel opening.

Neil removed the lip around the rear fender wheel opening so that he could mount the Buick skirts. He also removed the stock taillights and replaced them with teardrop shaped 1938 Ford units.  The bumpers both front and rear are stock with an accessory center bumper guard added. The headlight stances were removed from the grille sides, and new once created to fit on the fenders. This allowed Neil to drop the headlights nice and low, which made the car look lower, and he grille taller. He created smooth hood sides and removed the hood ornament and trim for a much smoother look.

Neil had Burbank Auto Body chop the windshield and then drove the car to the Carson Top Shop to have a perfectly shaped Padded Top created for the Dodge. The shape of the top is really fantastic and folows the shape of the rear of the body really well. The side window opening that the Carson Top Shop created is also very nice with a wonderful flow on the rear top corners, but more flowing than most of the tops we have seen from the Carson Shop. Neil also created a set of roll down side windows in a frame, to fit the new padded top for the car. He ended up painting the car a solid supper glossy black lacquer. Neil married in 1942, and before their son Gary Emory was born he sold the Dodge and replaced it with an 1936 Ford 3-window coupe in late 1942. They never saw the Dodge again after that, and nobody seams to remember what ever happened to the car.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-04Side view shows the really nice profile of the Carson Top, and especially the window shape. This side view photo shows the side window with frame in the rolled down position.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-05This photo really shows the beauty of this car very well. It also shows the side windows with the frames in the rolled up position. The stance and the fact the door handles are still in place are all styling elements from the early 1940’s.

Dean Batchelor

It was Neil Emory’s first Custom Car that he created. Later in 1948 Neil and Clayton Jensen would open the Valley Custom Shop in Burbank and would write history with their finely designed and crafted Custom Cars. Neil’s 1937 Dodge already showed his great sense for style and balance very early on. Fortunately some nice photos have survived of the car. Neil’s good friend Dean Batchelor always had his camera handy and shot every car he liked, and also took several photos of Neil’s Dodge in the early 1940’s. As far as we know only four photos remain of Neil’s Dodge and all these photos were taken by Dean Batchelor.

CCC-neil-emory-37-dodge-RC-01In the very first issue of Rod and Customs magazine, May 1953 Dean Batchelor did a three page article on Pre-War Customs, he used two of the photos he had taken of his friends Neil Emory’s 1937 Dodge.

Dean used four of the photos he took of Neil’s Dodge in several publications, starting with the premier issue of Rod and Custom magazine, May 1953. This very first issue was named Rod and Customs, the second issue the title was renamed Rod and Custom. Dean would create several articles on Pre-War Customs and liked to use Neil’s Dodge as a good sample of the early style Customs. Most likely another good reason to use this car as a sample was to show that not every early custom was based on a FoMoCo or GM based car. Only four of Dean’s photos show the dodge, but Gary Emory hopes to one day find some more photos of his fathers first custom. Ron Kellogg now owns the Dean Batchelor enormous photo collection… time will tell if more photos of this historic custom will surface… we sure hope so.


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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)

4 thoughts on “Neil Emory 1937 Dodge

  • Beautiful car and a foreshadowing of the many beautiful customs that would come out of Valley Customs doors.

  • Awesome story Rik, I was wondering if a story on this car was coming…
    This is a sweet kustom using a car that was not another 35 36 Ford and showed how just as nice a car like this could look…..
    Valley customs sure did a great job with this one….

    I also wonder if any one knows if this car survived??? And if its still around hidden, Because I sure would love to find it….!!!

  • Nice pics Rik, Valley Custom’s and Barris built many cars and you can count on one hand the few iconic custom cars they built that supplied the inspiration to build custom cars in America. You should post pics of that album to give young builders a blueprint to go by, then you might see those cars at car shows. Early 50’s custom car displays today at any car show is the main attraction. Other than that, that’s all enthusiasts have to look at is pictures.

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