Custom Car Chronicle
custom carsEarly Custom CarsThe Tom Nielsen Collection

A wonderful 1947 line up!

My favorite era of custom cars is the early times, the 1940’s. The Custom Cars where so original, clean, functional, and well designed back then. I have been sharing some really nice photos from the Tom Nielsen Collection on the Custom Car Photo Archive for some time now.

This article is about a series of really nice old snapshots of some Denver originated Custom cars from the 1947 – 48 period. Tom’s friend Ken Wall was from Denver and drove a nice 1940 Ford Coupe. He has shared his photo collection with Tom. The first photo is this really fantastic line up of custom cars. With a chopped padded topped 1940 Ford leading, followed by an 1937 Ford convertible, 1939 Mercury convertible and a 1940 Mercury coupe. What a fantastic line up for 1947.CCC_Tom Nielsen-Denver_Customs-02

This photo shows a nice side view of the 1940 Ford convertible with chopped padded top, and a 1937 Ford convertible mild custom. It looks like both cars appeared in the line up photo I poster earlier. But now the 1940 Ford has white wall tires. It also has chrome single bar flipper hubcaps and a set of beauty rings. Also the ford uses a front and rear 1937 DeSoto bumper. A lot of customs used only front units since the rear come from the factory to bend around a trunk mounted spare tire cover, and has a large radius. The 37 Ford appears to have small moon disk hubcaps and white Calnevar Dress-Up Wheel Covers.

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This photo from the Ken Wall Collection shows the back of three very nice 1940’s customs from the Denver area. From right to left we can see the chopped 1940 Ford that we have seen before in this collection The 1937 DeSoto bumper has an Ford accessory overrider which also holds the rear license plate. Next to it is the padded topped 1937 Ford with a nice set in license plate, again with the DeSoto bumpers, but this one used the stock bumper guards which mount from behind the bumper. A set of 1939 Ford or perhaps Lincoln taillights – its hard to see in this photo – are set low on the rear fender just peaking over the bumper.

On the left of the three rear viewed Customs is the 1939 Mercury with the padded top. This car also has a set in license plate and also uses a DeSoto bumper with the stock guards. Next to that is an near stock 1940 Ford convertible. The photo was taken in 1946 by a friend of Ken Wall, and Ken’s 1940 Ford Coupe can be seen all the way to the left of the photo showing just the very front of his car. A few years ago Ken cloned this very mild custom he drove in the 1940’s. The color photo further on in the article shows the clone he built.

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A 1948 photo shows two mild customized 1940 Mercury coupes from the Denver area. Both cars have basically stock bodies, with some Custom additions to it. The front car has singe bar flipper hubcaps and a set of fog lights. Both items are considered mandatory for a 1940’s Custom car. The one behind it has a set of 1937 DeSoto rubbed bumpers, and Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps as well as a set of fog lights. Both cars ran black wall tires, most likely the white walls where still hard to find after WWII.

The teardrop shape fender shields – as the skirts where called back then – look great and give the car that instant custom look. Despite the cars are both rather mild customs I bet the owners where day dreaming about their rides with a wonderful chopped top, huge white wall tires, speed boat stance, and wonderful tuck & roll interior. And who knows those dreams where realized after this photo was taken…

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Here is a photo that shows Ken’s original mild custom 1940 Ford coupe back in 1948. This is the car that Ken cloned (see color photo) According to Tom the only difference is that the clone has a flip open gas cap while this photo shows the original gas cap on Ken’s 1940 back in the day. The 1937 DeSoto bumpers look so perfect on any 1940 Ford.

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Ken’s recreation of the 1940 Ford Coupe he had when he was a young guy, a very mild Custom like most of them where back then.
Black wall tires with ripple disk flipper hubcaps. factory bubble teardrop fender guards, 1937 DeSoto bumpers with a Ford Factory Accessory bumper over rider which also holds the license plate. Dual pipes, and a really great light blue paint job. This photo has the feel of a real 1940’s color photo, but in fact was taken a couple of years ago by Tom Nielsen.


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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