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custom carsGene Winfield

LeRoy Goulart’s Shoebox Part 1




The Goulart brothers LeRoy, and Ray, created a radical Custom Shoebox over a period of time. The car would make a huge impact in the custom car world, and even had model car companies copy ideas from it to include in their plastic kits.

LeRoy Goulart’s ’51 Ford was mostly built by the bothers LeRoy and Ray Goulart. The photos in this Two Parts article are part of LeRoy Goulard’s¬†personal collection, and are shared by Jerry Daman with the Custom Car Chronicle. The photo below shows the car in its most popular version, with the canted headlights, 1952 Ford windshield, and radical wheel cut outs front and rear. In part two of the article we will tell you more about his particular version.

CCC-leroy-goulart-50-Ford-02-WThis is the best known version o the LeRoy Goulart Shoebox. We will tell you more about the car in this version in Part TWO.

CCC-leroy-goulart-50-Ford-15-W Early photo from the LeRoy Goulart Collection shows LeRoy racing his Shoebox, before the Custom work had begun.

CCC-leroy-goulart-50-Ford-13-W Another early photo of LeRoy’s Ford shows the car before the start of the body work. The interior had been redone completely, including a cover over the rear seats.


CCC-leroy-goulart-50-Ford-19-WBefore LeRoy started the body work he made some rough sketches on photos of his Car. This sample shows some side trim and taillight ideas.

LeRoy bought his 1951 Shoebox in 1954. Before he started customizing the car, LeRoy used it as daily transport. In the weekends he did some racing with the car . Together with his brother Ray, he made some design sketches. When to both agreed on the design, the brothers started working. The front wheel openings of a 1952 Ford were added to the Shoebox. The grille opening was reshaped, using round rod and sheet metal. This new design matched the shape of the 1952 Ford wheel openings perfectly. Two 1956 Chrysler Windsor grille bars were installed floating freely in the new opening. The hood was extended, and incorporated the top section of the new grille opening. Jack Hageman added six rows of louvers to the hood. The front bumper was removed. A roll pan was created to which a 1955 Pontiac two part bumper was added. The brothers used wire mess to create the shape on the trunk to house the license plate. Once this shape was perfect, they covered it in fiberglass.

The door handles were shaved, and so were all other trim. A 1955 Dodge Lancer gave up its side trim which was mounted low on the body just above the rear wheel opening. The shape of the trim gives the flat side of the Shoebox a sense of movement. The car’s suspension was modified to allow for a radical lowering. The Cal Custom lake pipes were mounted on the rocker panels allowing the pipes to sit level with the bottom of the body.¬†The hooded headlights, and radical surrounds for the 1955 Oldsmobile 98 taillights were farmed out to the American Body Shop in Stockton.

When all the body work was done, LeRoy took the car to Gene Winfield for a paint job. The team at Winfield performed some fine tuning on the body work before the car was ready for the final paint. Gene painted the car in a brilliant lime green with a gold under-base. The paint really glowed in the sunlight showing dark lime green colors on the shadow sections, and gold where the sun hits the body. When the car was done, LeRoy  had Von Dutch do the pin-striping in his characteristic bold white line style. The upholstery in white with green piping, was done by the Tuxedo Auto Upholstery.

CCC-leroy-goulart-50-Ford-01-W This photo, taken at one of the many shows the car entered, shows LeRoy’s Ford finished in its first version. Reshaped grille opening with a nice lip matching the 1952 Ford wheel openings, and 1955 Dodge Lancer side trim. The car is now painted green and Von Dutch did the pin striping in white.¬†


CCC-leroy-goulart-50-Ford-08-WTwo nice color photos of the first version showing the new grille opening with Chrylser Windson grille bars, the Pontiac front bumpers, stock rear bumper, fiberglass molded in license plate surround on the trunk, 1955 Olds 98 taillights, 1955 Dodge Lancer side trim placed low on the body, Cal Custom lake pipes and 1957 Plymouth cone hubcaps. These slightly faded color photo also show a bit of how the lime green metallic/flake paint glowed gold when the sun hit the body.



Resource and more info:

  • Gene Winfield book, The Legendary Custom Cars and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield
  • Custom Cars magazine, January 1958
  • Rod & Custom magazine, July 1958
  • LeRoy Goulart Collection


(This article is made possible by)





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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