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Custom Car Builders

October 18, 2013

Favorite Four Doors

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Written by: Tom Nielsen
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4-DOOR CUSTOMS

As a teenager I loved looking at the cars in the “small pages” car magazines. After spending so much time looking at the cars in them I developed some favorites.

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The challenge of customizing a relatively sedate four door sedan always fascinated me. There were several nice examples around my home town that I liked. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of them.
For this article I have selected several mild custom and full custom four door sedans that I think turned out very well. All of them were 50’s builds and were featured in “small pages” period car magazines.

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The Valley Custom Shop created a super fine mild custom out of a four door 1941 Mercury for Joe Brenner. The customizing was mild, but what was done really enhanced the looks of the car.

 

CCC-Tony-Carposa-Four-Door-04Tony Carposa’s ’46 Chevrolet, customized by Donn Varner.

 

Customizing a four door provided more of a challenge for a young car owner. I’m sure the goal was to make their car more appealing and transform it into something that would turn heads when cruising on main street.
Many four door cars were probably less expensive to buy in the beginning. Sometimes they were family cars or maybe they were acquired from a relative. The owners customized them gradually over time so that they became “cooler” and more personalized. When they just kept getting better looking with each modification, they kept at it. In the end, they may have been more expensive to customize. However, the results of the finished car were often spectacular!

CCC-ShoeBox-Four-Door-04Delane Smith’s ’51 Ford with custom mods by Porter’s Body Shop.

With an extra set of doors the custom upholstery was obviously more expensive to do on a sedan. However, the custom interiors in four door cars were always easier to view with the longer space of the interior. The sedans also showed off better at car shows when both doors were opened for display. In the Northwest several of the top show cars, like Fred Welsh’s “Treasure ’40 Ford, were four doors.
Chopping the top had to be much more costly with four doors instead of two to cut and fit. This is probably why there were so few chopped sedans from the ‘50’s.
The chopped four doors I have selected are all perfectly executed. They represent a variety of makes and all look outstanding as “full customs”.

CCC-Fred-Welsh-Four-Door-02Fred Welsh’s “Treasure” ’40 Ford shows a four door, when done right, could win you some major awards back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

 

CCC-Vince-Ulloa-Four-Door-03Vince Ulloa’s Chev Fleetline with custom work by Kenny’s Garage in L.A.

 

What could be better looking than a chopped four door fastback Chevy?
When a four door car was chopped the extra roof length helped to visually add to that long, low look that customizers sought. The low top paired with the usual body modifications really made then stand out!
I always felt that LeRoy French’s chopped Plymouth sedan had kind of a “stately coach”, look to it. My opinion was that a two door Plymouth of the same era wouldn’t have looked as good as his custom four door. There is something about that long, low, boxy top that has an elegant form.

CCC-LeRoy-French-Four-Door-01LeRoy French’s chopped Plymouth photographed by George Barris at one of his favorite locations.

CCC-Reichman-Four-Door-04-NBarris-built Jerry Reichman four door 1950 Mercury cover car, that is as good as it gets! For the photo session, it was paired with Bill Bush Barris-built 1949 Mercury.

 

CCC-Reichman-Four-Door-05Jerry Reichman’s four door Mercury during the customizing process at the Barris Kustom Shop. It shows four doors are more work to chop and customize.

 

CCC-Bill-Bush-Four-Door-04 Bill’s Mercury was an un-chopped  mildly customized four door Merc done at the Barris shop. It can be seen here at the Compton Drive-In for the Magazine photo shoot.

 

A Barris built cover car is as good as it gets! It was paired in the magazine with a very nice mild custom four door ’49 Merc that was also done by Barris.  The color, clean exterior and the beautiful lines of the chopped top with a ’49 DeSoto rear window were well suited to this car.
If you look through the old car magazines you can find many more examples of great looking custom sedans.  When planning a new custom project you might consider a four door as your starting point.
The initial cost is usually quite a bit less than the more popular two doors.  There tends to be more four doors that got overlooked years ago and show up for sale today at swap meets and on the internet.

As we can see from the cars I have featured here, the end result can be a custom car that will stand out in the crowd!  “Dare to be different” can have great results if you choose the right car and then follow through with a good theme.

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About the Author

Profile photo of Tom Nielsen
Tom Nielsen
Tom Nielsen is a long time Custom Car fan with wonderful collection of photos of 1940's to 1960's custom cars. He loves to share his collection and to tell stories about them.




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2 Comments


  1. Profile photo of Jeff Neppl

    This is a very cool write up. I personally love custom four doors. This feature shows some good ones.Keep up the great work.


  2. Profile photo of Dave (a.k.a. rodncustomdreams)

    Nifty topic Tom! My first car was a Canadian (natch!) Pontiac 4dr that my dad gave me on my 16th birthday. I ultimately turned it into a mild custom by nosing (BIG job on a pontiac of that era) and decking it and painting it a lovely bronze metallic. It had black diamond tufted buckets(!) and more than once I had to tell back seat riders they could get out their own doors after they had hopped in through the front and crawled between the buckets – they hadn’t even realized it was a four door!

    Thanks for rekindling a fondness for nicely done 4dr sedans!
    Dave



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