June 2, 2016

Vintage Photo Backgrounds




Adding vintage color photos to recently taken Custom Car photos gives the image a whole new feel, like they were photographed in the Golden Years of Customizing.

Some time ago I was asked if I had a good photo showing the original Carson Top Shop created headliner in the Bob Hirohata 1951 mercury. Well I had a few nice photos taken of the interior when Jim McNeil invited me for a short drive inside the Merc at the 2011 GNRS Customs Then & Now event. When I was looking at the photos, that were taken at the parking lot of the NHRA Museum, the background distracted me from looking at the topic of the photo, the headliner. Then I got the idea to find a suitable vintage Los Angeles color photo and see if I could past it in the photo so that the modern parking lot background would appear to be vintage Los Angeles. Almost like you would step back in time, like Jim was taking the Hirohata Merc for a spin in Los Angeles in the early 1950’s.

Visualizing Custom Car day-dreams…

CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-07The first Vintage Photo Background project was this headliner photo of Jim driving the Hirohata Mercury at the NHRA parking lot in 2011.
It now looks like Jim drives the Mercury in vintage Los Angeles.


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-11The Hirohata Mercury being driving to the Pan Pacific Auditorium in early 1955.



CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-12A Steve Stanford design that I recreated with Digital Restyling, and then added it to the late 40’s Los Angeles color photo. How this 1940 Ford pick up with DuVall windshield and padded top was created can be seen here.


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-02For King Kustoms I created this poster with King Kustoms Rob Radcliff’s nearly finished Shoebox pasted into the famous Motor Trend cover photo of the Sam Barris Mercury taken in 1951.


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-01For our own 2015 Christmas Card I created this image based on an late 1940’s Los Angeles color photo. I removed a few of the signs on top of the building and replaced them with my own signs. Then I added the Jim Skonzakes 1949 Buick and Tim Kirkegaard’s Kevan Sledge created 1939 Mercury to the photofor the right Custom Car touch.


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-03Brian Holden shared a photo of his nearly finished 1936 Ford coupe, including one of the custom dash created by Laurie Peterson. I could not resist to add a nice late 1940’s California street scene to give the whole picture the perfect feel.


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-06Ron Martinez Dick & Keith Dean built, and later redone by Scott Guilder’s 1939 Mercury taking off in an early 1950’s Los Angeles photo.


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-09I took a photo of Tim Kirgekaard driving his chopped 1939 Mercury on a trip to Sweden, and was day-dreaming how it would have been driving this car in vintage California… 


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-05In the summer of 2015 Palle Johansen invited me a trip to Sweden in his chopped padded topped 1947 Cadillac. Palle had just finished his restyled dash with a center positioned 1948 Cadillac gauge cluster. On our long journey we wondered how the Kustoms of Los Angeles car club would have felt driving their Customs in San Francisco in the early 1950’s…


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-10Perfectly proportions sectioned, chopped and padded topped 1940 Ford from Ralph Jilek was photographed at the Rodder’s Journal show in 2015. I was wondering how it would have looked in a more period perfect setting…  


CCC-digital-restyling-vintage-background-04After having don the first image of the Hirohata Mercury headliner with showing only a small portion of vintage Los Angeles, I wanted to do one that showed a bit more of the Hirohata Merc, as well as the Los Angles background. Although the small windows in the Mercury do not allow to see much for the vintage view. The image does bring you back in time…. daydreaming of these beautiful Customs d around in vintage California. 


CCC-digital-restyling-originalsSome of the original “recent” taken photos I used as base.




(this article is sponsored by)

CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob




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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)


  1. Wow, Rik you really capture the feel of just how the customs back in the day caught the attention, and inspired so many now not so young kids. You help us relive just how outstanding they were. Thanks for sharing these digital trips back to Happy Days.


  2. These are fantastic, Rik! Your choice of background images from real-life pictures and your composition blending the old and new is incredible. It’s nearly impossible to tell they are not the real thing.

    One thing I noticed in particular that was really enhanced by your artwork is the detail in design of the ’40s and ’50s. Seeing traditionally restyled kustoms, and originals like the Hirohata, in a contemporary setting only give you 80-90% of the feel. Looking at the original kustoms in period photographs is an improvement, but to see them in vivid detail in a potential period setting through your artwork is just really neat. Just like everything else you do, the details are wonderful. Thanks!


  3. where is that time machine or time warp when its needed , lets go back in time , I love it , beautiful pictures , completes the era perfect with the perfect era !!!


  4. Amazing Rik………


  5. These look great Rik. Very cool to see them old backgrounds. The Pan Pacific one is just perfect.


  6. “Digital Dreams” indeed! Well done once again Rik!



  7. What a fun and creative presentation. Thanks Rik


  8. ur work is amazing looks awesome rik,


  9. Rik, these are great fun. IMO the view from Tim Kierkegaard’s car is the most perfect one in the bunch.


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