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Walter Wyss Photos of 1950’s LA Hot Rod Shows


Walter Otto Wyss moved from Switzerland to Dearborn, Michigan in 1939. In 1950 he went West and moved to Los Angeles. While living in LA in the early 1950’s, Walter visited several Hot Rod and Custom Car shows. This article shows a small portion of the color slides he took there.

Walter Wyss loved everything automotive. After building two cars back in Switzerland and being involved in developing a hybrid car in the US, he said good-bye to the provisional automotive business in late 1949. This did not stop Walter from loving automobiles though. In California he took many photos of wonderful streets scenes with nice cars, and he visited many car shows, including several early Hot Rod shows. The great thing about this is that Walter started taking color slides from the late 1930’s. So when he took his cameras to the early Hot Rod shows, he shot took photos with color film. We have seen some photos from these early 1950’s shows the past, but rarely color photos.

Walter took several color photos of Custom Car photographer Marcia Campbell and here model A Hot Rod. We know that Marica showed this car at the Oakland Roadster show in 1951. So most likely Walter met Marcia at that show. Perhaps since both were into cars and photography they spend some time talking. Walter must have asked Marcia to go and pose with her Hot Rod for his camera. Which resulted in some unique color photos of Marcia and her car. Check out the CCC-Article we did on the other color photos of Marcia Campbell with here Hot Rod.

We hope to be able to bring you more of these amazing early Hot Rod and Custom Cars color photos taken by Walter Wyss, in the near future. If you know anything more about the cars in the photos we show in this article, please let us know. We would love to add the information to this article.


This transparency taken by Walter at the 1954 Petersen Motorama in the Pan Pacific Auditorium has its colors almost fade to only the reds. We have tried to get some colors back into it to show the Jim Skonzakes “Golden Sahara”. That is George Barris with suit and tie talking to Jim Skonzakes and an unknown man beside Jim.



The photo above is an early Kodachrome color print created from the slide shown below. The original slide was square, but the color photo material Walter Wyss choose, was not as high as it is wide. Resulting in loosing some of the original image in the photo-print. The color print colors turned out to be more age resistance than the original slide was. The slide colors have faded a lot over the years. The Road Devils LA club members gather around an unidentified belly tank racer. This photo was taken in 1950 or 1951. Most likely at the Oakland Roadster Show.



CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-06-WKenny Smith’s 1929 Ford Roadster’s nose on the left and Lou Banta’s 1927 Model T with 32 Ford grille in red on the right. 1950-51 photo, possibly at the Oackland Roadstershow in 1951.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-03-WJohnny Zaro 1941 Ford by Barris Kustoms. With George Barris polishing the bumper guards on the right. Jack Stewart leaning on the drivers front fender, possibly John Manok polishing the hood and possibly Gene Simmons on the far left. Photo possibly taken at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show.



Beautifully detailed flathead in an Don Ferraras 1929 Model A Ford with 1932 Ford grille.



One wheel motor cycle. Possebly at the 1952 Hot Rod show, held in the Los Angeles National Guard Armory.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-02-WUnidentified lake racer with the hood removed showing the engine. Another early color photo. If anybody can identify this car, please let us know, we would love to add the information here.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-20-WBack side of the early color photos from Walter Wyss. There are just business buildings on this address now.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-21-WModel T roadster body with track nose. If you know more about this car, please let us know.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-12-WLarger format transparency of Hilborn – Travers – Larsen Model A Roadster with a cut down 1932 Ford grille and custom headlight bar.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-13-WDon Rackemann 1932 Ford three window coupe Hot Rod with a mild chopped top and hopped up flathead V-8. Sadly the small scan does not allow us to read the sign.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-14-WModel T Roadster with track nose grille, built for the street.


CCC_WOW-LA-Hot-Rods-10-WWe have shown this slide before in our article on Marica Campbell’s Model A Roadster. However  we now show it complete with cardboard surround as how Walter kept it. This photo was most likely taken at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show.



Another photo of Marcia Campbell and here Model A Roadster Pick up. Marcia smiling at Walter behind the camera. This particular photo has not been published before.





Karl Johansson’s twin boom Howard Cams Special.





And this is the photographer, Walter Wyss.


[box_light]For more articles on the Amazing Walter Wyss check out the Section on the CCC-Site we have created for his amazing work. With special thanks to Tobias Wyss for supplying information and material from the Walter Otto Wyss Collection.[/box_light]







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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