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May 22, 2013

The Larry Watson signs

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Written by: Rik Hoving
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SIGN O’ THE TIMES
We all know Larry Watson as a Custom Car and Hot Rod painter, and he might possibly be the best Custom painter we ever had. The amount of car’s, bikes, boats and trucks he painted is staggering.
You can find a lot of photos of Larry Watson’s personal collection in The Custom Car Photo Archive and in several issue of Kustoms Illustrated magazine were we did a series on the Larry Watson Photos. The amount of photos in his collection is as huge as the amount of cars Larry painted.

But mostly all published articles and photo’s are about Larry and the cars he painted. We thought it would be nice to show some of the signs Larry used for the shops he owned (many!). Signs he used to draw attention for possible new customers. Of course his primary advertisement were Larry’s painted cars and the prices he’d won. But Larry also realized he needed to live up to the expectations and show the same quality of his paintwork in his shops as well.
So Larry always had seriously wonderful shop signs. Possibly the best ever and most photographed sign is the shop wall painting on his 9012 Rosecrans blvd. shop in Bellflower. James Potter used this backdrop on many occasions.

Thanks to Larry’s sense of importance for the things he has been doing since the mid 1950’s, and the fact he saved so much memorabilia and photos we can now show these wonderful signs…

This article shows only a portion of the signs and shops that Larry owned

01_1957EArtesiaPotter-web

These James Potter photo’s show Larry’s first shop. The only real simple shop sign. The letters are done in painted wood. The shop was located at 1016 E Artesia.

 

This drawing from 1957 shows the design and was used for approval from the city. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a photo of the sign drawn on the left.

This drawing from 1957 shows the design and was used for approval from the city.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find a photo of the sign drawn on the left.

 

03_1957-EArtesiaimg538-web

 

There are not many photos of this 17200 Bellflower Blvd. shop in Bellflower. The first time we see the shades of gray lines as base, and the bow tie shaped Watson logo. Ray More's 1952 Ford is looking fantastic. (For Larry this Ford was alway the Ray More Ford, even though Pete Angress had bought it from Ray a year or so before this photo was taken.)

There are not many photos of this 17200 Bellflower Blvd. shop in Bellflower. The first time we see the shades of gray lines as base, and the bow tie shaped Watson logo.
Ray More’s 1952 Ford is looking fantastic. (For Larry this Ford was alway the Ray More Ford, even though Pete Angress had bought it from Ray a year or so before this photo was taken.)

 

Here is the most famous sign of them all. 9012 Rosecrans blvd.shop in Bellflower. Larry was extremely productive in this shop and created some of his best work there.

Here is the most famous sign of them all. 9012 Rosecrans blvd.shop in Bellflower. Larry was extremely productive in this shop and created some of his best work there.

 

It cost Larry $240.-- to have a sign painter paint the wall.

It cost Larry $240.– to have a sign painter paint the wall.

 

One of the many multi Watson Car photo shoots that took place at this shop.The large parking space in front and the bright colored shop wall were perfect conditions for taking photos Some of them where taken from the roof top of a next door building.

One of the many multi Watson Car photo shoots that took place at this shop.The large parking space in front and the bright colored shop wall were perfect conditions for taking photos Some of them where taken from the roof top of a next door building.

 

Here is a photo of the Bill DeCarr (Ortega) body shop on 10116 Artesia Blvdin Bellflower. Bill had bought the shop from Ed Schelhaas in 1959 and he rented out some space (including the paint booth) to his best friend Larry.Together they created some magic in this shop. The Ford Pick up in front of the shop is Johnny Zupan's 1956 Ford F-100. The shades of gray lines in the background came back in this shop as well...despite this being Bill's shop.

Here is a photo of the Bill DeCarr body shop on 10116 Artesia Blvdin Bellflower. Bill had bought the shop from Ed Schelhaas in 1959 and he rented out some space (including the paint booth) to his best friend Larry.Together they created some magic in this shop.
The Ford Pick up in front of the shop is Johnny Zupan’s 1956 Ford F-100. The shades of gray lines in the background came back in this shop as well…despite this being Bill’s shop.

 

Another nice wall sign was created at Larry's 14903 Lakewood Blvd.shop in Paramount. This time the sign list most of Larry's specialties. Larry's Cadillac, in front of the sign, looks fantastic.

Another nice wall sign was created at Larry’s 14903 Lakewood Blvd.shop in Paramount. This time the sign list most of Larry’s specialties. Larry’s Cadillac, in front of the sign, looks fantastic.

 

Somewhere between 1962 and 1965 Larry repainted his Lakewood Blvd. shop and got ride of the gray lines, and the dancing letters  almost look cartoonish.

Somewhere between 1962 and 1965 Larry repainted his Lakewood
Blvd. shop and got ride of the gray lines, and the dancing letters
almost look cartoonish.

 

In the later part of the 1960's Larry moved to the 8730 Firestone Blvd shop in Downey. The sign on the pole is one of Larry's Best signs. It's so perfectly styled, and fits the design trends of the time perfectly. The sign could be seen from far away driving up and down Firestone Blvd. The horizontal gray lines are back on the building, but the bow tie shaped logo is gone.

In the later part of the 1960’s Larry moved to the 8730 Firestone Blvd shop in Downey. The sign on the pole is one of Larry’s Best signs. It’s so perfectly styled, and fits the design trends of the time perfectly. The sign could be seen from far away driving up and down Firestone Blvd. The horizontal gray lines are back on the building, but the bow tie shaped logo is gone.

 

Close up of the pole sign.

Close up of the pole sign.

 

The earlier version had only one pole, it was nice, but not as superb as the later version.

The earlier version had only one pole, it was nice, but not as superb as the later version.

 

1971 Larry's shop at 10506 Burbank Blvd in North Hollywood.The shop wall sign is now all painted on the wall again. No pole signs, and the feel is the same as in the 1960's. Only styled time accordingly.

1971 Larry’s shop at 10506 Burbank Blvd in North Hollywood.The shop wall sign is now all painted on the wall again. No pole signs, and the feel is the same as in the 1960’s. Only styled time accordingly.

 

Last photo is a standard road side sign shared with others. Paul Stratton owned Paul's Upholstery. This sign was at the 14903 Lakewood Blvd. (thanks to Rich for the info)

Last photo is a standard road side sign shared with others. Paul Stratton owned Paul’s Upholstery. This sign was at the 14903 Lakewood Blvd. (thanks to Rich for the info)

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About the Author

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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