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Art & Designcustom carsLarry WatsonLarry Watson Personal Collection

Larry Watson’s Personal Photo Collection


The Larry Watson Personal Photo collection contains a couple of thousand photos. Most of them are snapshots Larry took himself or asked some of his friends to take. There are photo’s of cars prepped for a famous Larry Watson paint job. Snapshots taken during the painting process and of the finished project. Fortunately for us custom car enthusiast Larry hold on to most of these photos.

Roger O’Dell and Larry Watson were in the middle of documenting this amazing photo collection when Larry was diagnosed with cancer. Larry still wanted to continue the project where scans of all these photos would be made, shown on Roger’s computer and then a video was planned to be made from Larry lacking about the car shown in the photo. Larry remembered most of the names of the thousands of cars he had painted. And he even remembered most of the paint codes he had used for specific paint jobs. But unfortunately Larry’s illness progressed faster than everybody had thought it would. And although Roger did scan a lot of the photo’s, Larry was not able to help him identify the cars in the photos on video. Larry passed away July 20, 2010.
Before his death Larry had asked Roger O’Dell to make sure his photo collection would be shared with the people who would really enjoy them. In the past the Custom Car Photo Archive had create a huge section on Larry’s cars on their website as well as created several magazine articles about Larry. So Larry decided the Custom Car Photo Archive would be the ideal place for his amazing photo collection to be shared. Over the last two and a half years the Custom Car Photo archive has been sharing a lot of really amazing photos and stories behind the photos and the cars on their website as well as on Facebook and some message boards. This sharing has lead to the identification of quite a few of the cars in the photos.

Identify a Car and Help the Larry Watson Photo Archive

But there are still a lot of cars unidentified. We hope that by showing these amazing photos we will be able to show you what an great artist Larry Watson was. But perhaps we’re able to inspire people to build similar styled custom cars. And above all we hope it will help identify the yet unidentified cars in Larry’s Personal Photo Collection. So if you recognize any of the cars in the Watson Photos that have not been listed, please chime in and share your information.

The first photo from Larry’s Collection which will be shown here at the Custom Car Chronicle is this amazing overview of Larry Watson’s parking space in front of his Rosecrans Blvd shop. A shop were Larry was extremely creative and productive as this colorful photo show. Larry did not have his shop in this location for a very long time, a little over a year. But the number of cars painted in this shop is staggering. Lets take a look at the cars in the photo


Lets start on the left side
Unidentified (stock) 1959 Ford Ranchero.

Then first row on the concrete

  • Dave Kyte’s wild painted chopped and heavily customized 1955 Mercury
  • Terry Holloway’s 1957 Plymouth,
  • Unidentified 1958 T-Bird with similar panels as Larry’s own Thunderbird (which can be seen in the center line)
  • Unidentified candy dark blue 1957 Ford Ranchero
  • Bright candy root beer Gull-wing Mercedes owned by TV and film producer Jack Laird
  •  Another unidentified 1958 T-Bird halfway into the paint booth.

In the center line we have

  • An unidentified candy red with silver or light gold outlined 1957 Ford
  • Jack Van Tassel’s 1957 Pontiac in lime green candy
  • Last one in that row is Larry’s own 1958 T-Bird Vino Paisano

And the two cars on the right are

  • An unidentified pearl pink with candy dark raspberry 1954 Buick
  • Parked behind it is another unidentified custom, this time an 1955 chevy which Larry painted candy plum purple

Can you imagine driving past Larry’s shop one day and see all these beautiful cars parked out in the front of the shop. What an amazing sight this must have been. The cars are staged for this photo, which is only one from a series. But I know that most of the times there were several Watson painted cars in his parking lot. One neat little detail about this photo is the shadow of the arms of the photographer are showing in the lower left corner of the photo. Apparently the photographer thought the building he climbed on to was not tall enough and he needed to get his camera high above his head for the perfect shot. I would say, mission accomplished.


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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