Custom Car Chronicle
Jim Roten

Ron Zimmerman 1954 Ford


Ron Zimmerman’s 1954 Ford Skyliner restyled by Ray Orput from the Jim Roten Photo Collection.

In another CCC-Article we highlighted a 1948 Mercury convertible customs owned by Ron Zimmerman. That custom was original build by Dick Bertolucci for Johnny Lehman.¬†Ron replaced¬†this Custom Mercury for a near new and almost stock 1954 Ford Skyiner in 1955.¬†This 1954 Ford¬†was originally owned¬†by John “Jack” Vincent. Vincent soon sold the ’54 Ford¬†to purchase new the ’54 Oldsmobile 88 two-door¬†which he had customized by Riley Collins.

CCC-ron-zimmerman-54-ford-roten-00Jim Roten took a photo of Ron’s “new” 1954 Ford as e had traded it for the 1948 Mercury. Not long after this photo was taken Ron took the car to Ray Orput for the custom make-over.
Soon after Ron acquired the 1954 Ford Skyliner he took it to Ray Orput who performed custom work out of his garage in Chico. Orput was a professional bodyman at the local Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. Ray Orput and Riley Collins were fierce but friendly competitor Custom Car builders in Chico, Ca. But Riley Collins was the most prolific of the two.

Ray Orput smoothed the hood, molded the grille surround to the body and rounded the corners with a nice large radius. Ray used a second top section of the grille surround and flipped it upside down to create the lower section of the new grille opening. He molded the headlight rings to the fenders, shaved the door handles and smoothed the trunk. The car came with a Continetal spare tire, which Ron Decided to keep, but Ray lowered it a little so it would not sit higher than the trunk. All body emblems and lower quarter panel trim were removed. The car was lowered all around, but a little more in the back for a nice speed boat look. The fender skirts where replaced with taller units to make the car look even lower in the back. Ray hand bend all the grille bars before having them chrome plated. The grille was the highlight of the car, and was the subject of many discussions at the car shows Ron attended with the car.

CCC-ron-zimmerman-54-ford-roten-01The only photo Jim Roten ever took of the car¬†outdoors taken shortly before the cars first showing at the Sacramento Autorama. The photo shows the great stance Ron’s Ford had.
Ray Orput¬†painted the finished Ford with a wonderful deep candy apple red lacquer. The interior was done in a matching red and white pleated and rolled naugahyde by Luckenbill’s Upholstery.

Ron¬†entered the freshly finished ’54 Ford in the Sacramento Auto Show, Where George Barris moved the placement of Ron’s¬†car up front, making it the feature semi-custum of the show. George Barris took several pictures of the¬†grille in Ron’s Ford and¬†not too long after that he noticed the¬†similar grille¬†design used on the Sam Barris 1952 Ford Convertible.

CCC-ron-zimmerman-54-ford-roten-02Ron’s 1954 Ford at the Sacramento Autorama.
CCC-ron-zimmerman-54-ford-roten-03The custom grille, large radius rounded hood corners, smoothed body and low stance really make Ron’s 1954 Ford a great looking mild custom.
As it goes with many custom cars in the past at one point Ron moved on, sold the 1954 Ford and he has no idea what ever happened to it, if it has survived, or if it is long gone. If you have any idea what ever happened to this great looking mild custom 1954 Ford, please let us know.

CCC-sam-barris-52-ford-01Sam Barris’s personal 1952 Ford convertible with a similar grille as Ron’s 1954 Ford.




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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)

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