AMAZING 1954 COLOR PHOTOS
The Petersen’s show, held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium, was THE place to be, and the place to be seen in the automotive world.
A short introduction to the Petersen Motorama
In 1950 Robert E. Peterson wanted to organize a special automotive exhibit. The intention of this event was to show the most interesting, spectacular, and unusual innovations in the automotive, and in particular the hot rod world. On display for the first year of the show, were a large number of automotive creations, spanning in type from cherished antiques, through the entire range of motordom, up to the most revolutionary styled custom cars, and hot rods of that time.
Motorcycles, competition styled cars, and boats of championship caliber, have also been a large part of the show. Thus making it a very interesting exhibit for a large audience. Robert E. Peterson named this show the MOTORAMA. It was held from November 16 through 19, of 1950, at the Convention Hall in Los Angeles, California. For the second year, the 1951 show, Peterson moved the show to the prestigious Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. A building with a characteristic Art Deco styled entrance, that suited the character of the shows better.
The show was well organized and promoted, and a lot of effort was taken to make the cars on display, look as attractive as possible. Many magazine ads announced the event far ahead of the show dates. Huge amounts of velvet type curtains were used to divide individual display units. Many displays were further divided from the main floor by the use of wooden planks that formed boxes in which plants and flowers were potted.
Rock salt was used to cover the floor were the cars were displayed. Display cards were all created by the same show sign writer, again to make sure everything was uniform and all individual cars attending created one uniform show. Some individuality was allowed, but everything needed to be styled to fit the rest of the exhibit, and kept to a minimum. Even though the Motorama show covered a wide array of automotive subjects, it is best known for the Hot Rods and Custom Cars on display.
A new name for the 1954 show
In 1954, the show had already established a big name for itself and car, bike and boat builders worked year round to get their cars finished, especially for this show. The Petersen’s show was THE place to be, and the place to be seen in the automotive world. 1954 was the first year the show changed names over the original MOTORAMA name it used since 1950. General Motors had announced its GM MOTORAMA shows, and MOTORAMA show cars. Not wanting a conflict with General Motors, nor creating confusion with the audience, Petersen and team (Motorama Inc.) decided to renamed the show “International MOTOR REVIEW and (Motorama)”.
Ina Mae Overman was asked to display her Valley Custom Show built 1952 Lincoln Capri, at the exhibit. Along side several other Valley Custom Shop created cars. Ina Mae’s Lincoln was first built in 1952-53, and had just been redone, and repainted in white with a gold top. The car was a typical Valley Custom Shop creation, which was styled with an interesting mix of custom touch, combined with styling elements for the Detroit factory design teams. Ina Mae always had her trusty camera with her, and shot a great number of 35 mm Kodachrome slides at the event.
Very special thanks go out to Ina Mae Overman, and her daughter Mary Ellen Marcy. Ina Mae for taking these wonderful photo’s, and Mary Ellen for scanning them, and sharing them with us. These color photos really give us a fantastic look at the shows in the early part of the 1950’s. Very unique material.
The Valley Custom Shop created this wonderfully styled 1951 Chevy HT Custom for John Dietrich. It has a ‘50 Olds grille, ‘53 Lincoln taillights, 53 Dodge rear bumper with Kaiser guard, and a stepped frame in the back. A technique that was covered in an article in the October 1954 issue of Car Craft using this particular Chevy.
Barris Kustoms had a large wall display to show of their latest line of Custom Cars, which can be seen on the left side of this photo. But the Barris highlight at this show was the Barris/Skonzakes Golden Sahara. This show car debuted at the 1954 show, and was displayed on a large turn table, so spectators could look at this amazing car from all angles.
Unique photo of the Valley Custom Shop-built “Polynesian” Oldsmobile for Jack Stewart, shows the second version of the car in a two tone paint-job. The top is still the original metallic orchid paint, but the lower body was repainted a gold tinted color in 1954. The car has been modified with new side trim (which is mostly hidden behind the wooden display) from its original built.
This photo shows Mary Ann Ubrun’s midget racer in the foreground, as part of the Quarter-roadster Association display. It also shows the use of shop window mannequins to create an interesting drag race pit crew display. In the back we can see the Gaylord built 1952 chevy of Tommy D’Amico in white, and sea foam green.
The Valley Custom shop also built this wonderfully styled 1939 Mercury convertible with 1940 Mercury front crafted on. The bottom of the fenders were cut off to sit at the same height as the bottom of the doors after the running boards were removed. The wheel openings were enlarged, and the windshield frame chopped to fit a Carson Top Shop built top. Glen Hooker was the owner.
Bob Casey’s mildly customized 1952 Ford Convertible was painted an unusual white color with a bright red, and white tuck & roll interior. The custom side trim, and low stance were enough to have Ina Mae take this great color slide.
Barris Kustoms created this mild custom 1954 Oldsmobile for Joy Ferguson. The car had extended rear fenders to which 1954 Packard taillights were added, as well as extended front fenders. The Carson Top shop created the pink and white interior.
[box_light]About Ina Mae Overman, as told by her daughter Mary Ellen Overman-Macy
Ina Mae Overman had a long history with the Southern California car scene. She served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII where she met her future husband at Camp Pendleton. He was later killed in the Korean War when Mary Ellen was 4 months old. As a way of dealing with the loss of her husband, and raising a daughter while working full-time as a civil engineering draftsman/designer, she bought a new 1952 Lincoln Capri. She spent her spare time drawing, and redesigning the car.
As an admirer of the Dick Flint ’29 Ford roadster (Hot Rod, May 1952), – she found out through Flints father, with who she worked -, that it was built by Valley Custom (Clayton Jensen and Neil Emory). Ina Mae decided to have Valley Custom execute her designs for the Lincoln. In its day, the Lincoln won many trophies, was written up in several magazines, and showed at the Petersen Motorama in 1953 and 1954. When Ina Mae showed the car at the 1954 Show, someone else had to pick up the car after the show, because she had left with her brother for Mexico to go to the Carrera Pan Americanna (1954 Mexican Road Race).
All the entrants of the Petersen’s show received a watch for participating. Since Ina Mae Overman was the only woman entrant, they had to special order a lady’s watch for her. She had to pick it up later after her return from Mexico. Obviously, women weren’t thought of as participants in the automotive world.
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