Custom Car Chronicle
Early Custom Cars

Al Twitchell Restyled 41 Plymouth




Al Twitchell’s son shared some really great late 1940’s snapshots his father made of the 1941 Plymouth convertible he customized for Charles Kemp.


About a year ago we did an article on another car that had been restyled by Al Twitchell. And R&C Cover car, his own personal 1952 Ford wagon. That story also tells a bit more about Al, and how that ’52 wagon was very special to me. Al’s son “mrspeedyt” on the HAMB had shared some scrapbook photos of his father and the custom cars he created back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Some of the photos he shared where from a 1941 Plymouth convertible custom thatAl restyled for Charles Kemp. When he posted the photos of the car restyled by Al in 1948 I recognized it from one of the magazines in my collection. I had seen it not to long before they where posted. So I went back to my Motor Trend magazines in my collection (I figured it must have been in one of my Motor Trend magazines). After browsing a few I found the car in the May 1952 issue. Two photos and a few lines of text telling a bit about the car.
Al built the car for Charles Kemp in his backyard, with only minimal tools. When the owner of the Plymouth, Charles Kemp brought the car to Al he had already mildly customized the car with a set of custom hubcaps and dual spotlights mounted on the a-pillars. But now it was time to go all the way. All restyled the front of the car by removing the stock grille and filling in the top portion of the stock grille opening. He then created a new grille with three grille bars made from 1947 and 1948 Plymouth grille bars. The lower portion of the front of the hood was cut off and welded to the top of the front sheet metal. The hood now has a smooth bottom section while the stock unit flows down at the front of the car.
CCC-al-twitchell-41-plymouth-Kemp-01Al took this photo of Charles 1941 Plymouth in May 1949, before he started the work. The photo shows that the car had already been mildly customized with dual spotlights, custom hubcaps, fog lights and removed running boards with rock shields on the fender.
Charles wanted full fade-away fenders. Al created them by starting to mold the front fenders to a single unit, and mold the rear fenders to the body. He then used shaped metal – most likely left over parts from other cars – and welded it all to form the fade away sections. Not an easy task to make the door operate with such bulbous fade away fenders. The rear wheel opening was filled in at the top and flush fit skirts where hand made by Al from left over body metal with the right shape. The door handles were shaved, the hood relieved of all it chrome elements and also the trunk was completely smoothed, for an ultimate smooth body shape. The stock belt line trim remained, but was shortened on the hood sides. a 1947 Buick side trim was used on the fade away fenders.
CCC-al-twitchell-41-plymouth-Kemp-02Al also mounted a set of parking lights flus inside the front fenders, just below the headlights. The set of amber fog lights find their way back onto the car, now mounted on the 1948 Plymouth bumpers.
CCC-al-twitchell-41-plymouth-Kemp-03This front 3/4 view of the car is the best of them all… at least to me, It shows how Al reworked the front of the hood to make the hood line stay horizontal all the way up to the front. This gave the car a more up in the air nose feel, which gave the car instant more power.
1948 Plymouth bumpers were used front and rear. At the rear new taillight openings were cut into the fenders and a set of 1948 Kaiser taillights were flush mounted creating a very smooth rear of the car. The windshield was left at stock height. The car was lowered with three inch lowering blocks in the rear, and nothing in the front. Once all the body work was done, Al painted the car in a nice shade of baby blue. He installed a set of wide white wall tires and dressed up the wheels with a set of Lyon Aftermarket hubcaps.

The two photos used in the Motor Trend magazine were already nice, but the photos from Al Twitchell’s collection, and especially the two color photos are truly amazing, it gives us a really great feel of the customs from the late 1940’s.


CCC-al-twitchell-41-plymouth-Kemp-06These two snapshots from behind show us the flush fit kaiser taillights as well as the flush fit fender skirts that were made from scrap metal and fitted to the smaller than stock, wheel opening.
CCC-al-twitchell-41-plymouth-Kemp-04Great color snapshot shows how Al matached the radius from the fade away fenders to the smoothed fenders of the Plymouth.

CCC-41-plymouth-ad-01Stock 1941 Plymouth convertible from an 1941 ad.


(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)

One thought on “Al Twitchell Restyled 41 Plymouth

  • Love it. You are right, Rik. Making functional doors with fadeaway fenders isn’t for the faint of heart. A great tribute to Al Twitchell and his skills, in less than ideal working conditions. So much going on at that time, outside the body shops that got attention in the publications of the day. Cool!
    Larry Pointer

Leave a Reply