RALH BUSH SPORTS CUSTOM
Ralph Bush owned this 1941 Chevy based Sports Custom while in Collage in 52-54 in Santa Barbera. It was originally created in Pasadena around 1948-49.
Special thanks to Geoff Hacker for sharing the photos and information.
The photos of this Sports Custom are all from the Ralph Bush Collection. Ralph bought the car in 1952, and owned it for about 3 years, while he was in Collage in Santa Barbera. Before Ralph bought the car he had seen it many times on the roads in Pasadena Ralph had a good friend Bill White, who would later become a business partner. A business partner from Bill at that time was Keylor Whitehead from Pasadena, Kaylor was half owner of this car. Kaylor and his brother (Ralph could not remember the name of the brother) had build the Sports Custom in their home garage after they had returned from WWII. They had found a 1941 Chevy, that most likely had been in an accident and decided to build a dream Sports Car from it. When Ralph bought the car it has already been completed for a few years, and he never really asked what all was used to create the car, but the ’41 Chevy base was clearly visible and the engine in the car was still the original Chevy Blue-Flame 6 cylinder motor.
The only thing Ralph remembered about how the car was build was when Kaylor Whitehead had told him that after the new fenders were added, or created the transition from the fenders to the hood was to sharp. The brothers cut a galvanized quarter inch pipe in half and welded and leaded that in place to round of the transition from fender to hood, and make this look more pleasing. It appears the brothers might have used some newer fenders, and possibly doors to create the new sides of the car. At the back they incorporated 1946-48 Lincoln Continental rear fender sections including the Lincoln taillights. The door tops were reshaped with the main section lower than stock, creating larger side window openings.
The grille opening was home made and grille parts came from all over. Originally the grille had chrome plated horizontal bars installed, which looked very nice. But Ralph drive the car a lot more than the original owners had ever done, and found out that the car overheated to easy. So he removed the horizontal grille bars. All the photos Ralph had showed the car after this modification. Ralph also did the new center grille insert with the “RB” engraved in it. When Ralph bought the car it had a large “W” from the Whitehead brothers in the center of the grille.
Ralph was very familiar with the car and had always liked it very much. He also remembered it from the Annual Junior Rose Ball Parade in Pasadena in 1949. The car looked really gorgeous leading the parade. In 1952 Ralph’s friend Bill mentioned that the Whitehead brothers planned to sell the car. Ralph bought it then for $900.-. Quite a big sum of money for a High School kid of 18 in 1952. But Ralph had a nice 36 Ford which he sold, and with the savings he had, he was able to get the money. He was in heaven with his new car… and the car made quite an impression with his school buddies and of course the girls in town as well. Ralph remembered that the car had a special radio in it. One that you could choose the radio station with using a foot controlled button… a big success with the girls as well. Ralph remembered that the real Carson Top Shop top was not to heavy, and could be easily removed with two guys for some topless cruising.
One one trip from Santa Barbara to Pasadena the car broke down on highway 118. It turned out the top of one of the pistons had broken off. It was in the middle of the night and fortunately had was able to reach a small town on the highway and used a pay-phone to call his father to ask him to pick him up, which he did. The next day Ralph returned with his toolbox. Took of the head, and found the broker piston problem. He took out the piston, and the spark-plug, put the engine back together and started the engine. He drove the car back to Santa Monica running on 5 cylinders with no problem… there he rebuild the engine. Ralph remembered that the engine had an aftermarket two carb intake, but it was never really powerful, but did what it needed to do.
The Whitehead brothers had installed a nice Mercury Monteray Accessory steering wheel. Sadly the photo is a little dark so we cannot see much details on the interior. Ralph remembers that the upholstery was a dark green and the back seat was curved with a diamond pattern and his mother commented that “it looks like a love seat… but don’t use it as one!”. Notice that the Carson Padded top shows some sagging after being around 8 years old when this photo was taken.
In the mid 1950’s Ralph sold his Sports Custom to his cousin Ray Milton who lived in Palmdale, California. Over the years Ralph lost track of both the car and his cousin. Ralph has no idea what ever happened to the car. After Ralph sold the Sports Custom he bought a brand new Singer Sports Car, and has always had a soft spot for Sports Cars ever since. As far as Ralph could remember this car was the only car the Whitehead brothers ever created. They were not in the automotive business at all, it was just a fun project for them.
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