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Bill Halliday Cars


Some time ago I found an old color slide online showing a nicely customized 1940 Ford convertible. I was able to identify that car as  Bill Halliday’s Ford. When I shared it on my Facebook Vince Magnante mentioned he knew Bill and would ask for some more photos…

I really like the look of the early color slides, they show us wonderful and colorful scenes from the 1940’s and 1950’s we mostly see in black and white. And the colors captured in these old slides is just magical. I was very happy when I came across the slide above, a great street scene made even better because of the parked custom car in the picture. There are a lot of photos of the Custom Cars and Hot Rods from the 1940’s and 1950’s but usually those photos are some what staged, or taken at car shows. It is not so common to see these cars in their “natural environment” on the street being used as daily transportation. The photographer of this picture was most likely not interested in the cars at all, just the building in the back ground. The building, which is still standing in 2015, was constructed in 1947 as a Bullock’s Department Store. It is Located on South Lake Avenue. Arts and Architecture magazine described it as “one of the world’s most modern buildings.” And the design was recipient of an AIA Merit Award in 1950. today this is a Macy’s department store.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-06It all started with this very nice late 1940’s Pasadena Ca. street scene photo I found online. (sadly the Flickr account where I found it is no longer there). The photo is nice, but what is really interesting is the 1940 Ford with chopped padded top parked on the other side of the road.
A little while after I found this color slide online, I bought a copy of the Don Montgomery book Old Hot Rods Scrapbook, book No8. And in there there were two photos of Bill Halliday’s 1940 Ford… I recognized the car instantly. The shape of the top, the removed running boards, hubcaps and accessory bumper ends all matched. I always get excited about identifying a car in an old photo, so I shared it on my Facebook. Vince Magnante contacted me telling he knows Bill.


Bill lives in Fallbrook, California. He seems to be in good health and is an enthusiastic car guy. I expect to see him within the next couple of months. I will ask him. I will put my copy of your book “The Jack Stewart Ford” in my truck to familarize him with who you are. My guess is he will know. Bill introduced me to Harry Weber and Fred Offenhauser back in the 70’s, he is friends with everyone and everyone wants to be his friend.

Bill has been a good and valued friend of mine for decades. I worked for him in the 70’s and when I opened my own business he went out of his way to help me out. He was my customer when I was a manufacturers representative, but most of all he’s been my favorite car buddy since day one. Bill restores cars (mostly woody wagons) builds Hot Rods (authentic traditional style) and appraises classic and vintage cars. He is one of those guys that recognizes the finer details and still appreciates nice cars without prejudice towards brand. He is objective in his observations. That means if you have a question your going to get the real story the first time.

Bill is still building and restoring cars at his home in California. Everything he does looks like it did the day it was born or the way it should have looked. He has built and restored dozens of cars single handedly over decades. I will assure you everything he does is museum worthy finished.

Best Regards,
Vince Magnante

Several month later Vince contacted me again, letting me know to expect some scans from photos he had borrowed from Bill on the last visit he paid him. bill shared some great photos of his 1940 Ford and an 1937 Ford he did back in 1947. He also shared some copies of photos of a 1940 Ford he did in the early 1990’s which looks a lot like the convertible he did in the 1940’s. All great material, and Vince told us there would be more if we liked these. So I’m already looking forward to see more of Bill Halliday’s cars.

Bill’s 1940 Ford convertible 1947

Bill built this 1940 Ford convertible as his own personal driver in 1947. Bill chopped the windshield and had the Carson top Shop create the padded top to fit. The vent windows were cut to fit. Bill lowered the car and removed the running boards for a more sporty look. The front and rear fenders were reworked to fill in the sections that used to be covered by the running boards. And  Bill hand shaped a cover to fit under the body where once the running boards used to sit. This panel would now cover the frame and give the car a nice low profile. The hood center stainless was removed and the hood sides welded to a single unit before being smoothed. Bill added white walls on the stock wheels and replaced the stock Ford hubcaps with smooth half moon units. The rest was left as it came from the factory. Bill used this 1940 Ford while in school in Pasadena Ca. in the later part of the 1940’s.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-01I love this photo of Bill’s 1940 Ford taken in 1949 at Bill’s home in Pasadena.

CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-02I cropped the photo to take a closer look at the car. The windshield is chopped just the right amount to give the car the perfect balance. The car is lowered a little, but not as low as a lot of the Customs back then. The lack of running boards give the car a nice slim feel.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-04The side view, also taken at Bill’s home, shows the beautiful profile of the car with the Carson Padded Top and the removal of the running boards. This photo also shows that the car still sits rather high.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-03Thats Bill with his Ford…. a happy guy!
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-05Bill send a copy of this photo taken when the car was just built in 1947. 
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-07Enlarged portion of the color slide from 1949 shown above. 
CCC-bill-halliday-37-ford-01Bill’s father with a nicely customizde 1937 Ford convertible with mildly chopped windshield, padded top, wide white wall tires, single bar flipper hubcaps, single Appleton Spotlights  and 1937 DeSoto bumpers. So nice! 

Bill’s 1940 Ford convertible 1990’s

Bill built this 1940 Ford in the early 1990’s, when he lived in Nevada. He had always loved his 1940 Ford he built in 1947. So when he came across a 1940 Ford convertible in decent shape he knew immediately what he wanted to do with it. Built another one, inspired by his old convertible. Not an replica, because this one was going to keep its factory running boards. But the top and stance would very much represent his old car. Another thing he wanted to do on this new version was to create an folding top that looked like his old Carson Top Shop created non folding padded top.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-new-01This was the 1940 Ford Bill found to built a new convertible inspired by the one he had in the 1940’s.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-new-02This time Bill chopped the windshield again, but decided he wanted to have a folding top, but with the looks of the padded Carson top he had on his original convertible.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-new-03A lot of work went into creating the bows and make it all fold up well, and most of all look like a Padded top in the up position.
CCC-bill-halliday-40-ford-new-04The finished car is a bit different with the running board still in place, but the stance and the chopped top sure look familiar.
We are looking forward to do one or two more article on Bill Halliday’s cars in the near future. We have a few more photos in our files and hopefully Vince will be able to get a few more from back in the 1940’s and 1950’s…. and even from the more recent years to share here on the Custom Car Chronicle. Stay tuned….


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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)

5 thoughts on “Bill Halliday Cars

  • Beautiful car! And the one he built in the 90’s looks pretty sweet as well. Really nice look to that folding top. Very “Carson” like. Great to hear that he is still building cars and I look forward to the next article.

  • Rik, I wanted to call attention to the headlights on the ’37. The sealed beam conversion is so well done that it goes almost unnoticed. Seems like everyone else who put sealed beams in a ’37 used those awful die-cast adapters, which IMO never looked good, but Bill’s more complex modification looks perfect.

    I have seen a number of ’36s over the years that used ’41 Chevy headlights to effect a similar change, but the ’37 looks like it was done in sheet metal.

    • I fully agree with you Tony. Those headlights look really great on this ’37 Ford. It really makes me wonder why we have not seen this done more on ’37 Ford over the years.

  • This is so cool…and like Ron said, that folding chopped top has a wonderful shape.

    I live in Temecula, California and Fallbrook is only a few miles down the 15 freeway, so I am interested to meet Bill Halliday and ask some of my local Early Ford V8 Club friends if they know him…I am pretty sure many of them will.

    If there is any contact information available for his appraisal service, I would like to have him take a look at my Ford since he obviously knows kustoms…

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