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Barris Kustom ShopEarly Custom Cars

Edison Photo Location


EDISON Photo Location


In the late 1940’s a series of Color and black and white photos were taken at an Edison Plant or something like that. Unique Color photos of early Customs at an unique location.

In the mid to late 1940’s color photography was being used more and more. Color slides were shot by both professional photographers as well as the better equipped amateur photographer. We have all seen amazing Kodak Color photos from the 1940’s from every day scenes to special events. But for some¬†reason color photos taken from Hot Rods and especially Custom Cars during this period up to even the early 1950’s are very rare. Most photos taken specifically of the Custom Cars during this period were taken in black and white. So those color photos that were made back then are some real fine treasures, they show us our favorite Custom Cars in their rich and deep custom paint jobs.

In 1997 George Barris produced the fourth book in the series of Barris Kustom Technique of the 1950’s. And in that fantastic book there were some early color photos. Two of which were taken at the same location in the later part of the 1940’s. The Location used for these two color photos has been used for a few other Custom Car photo-shoot backdrop as well. I recognized them from photos of the Barris restyled Dick Carter and Jesse Lopez 1941 Fords from late 40’s and early 50’s Motor Trend magazine publications. Some time ago David E.Zivot shared a story with us about the Dick Carter ’41 Ford, and included in the material he had received from Dick Carter himself was a beautiful Color photo of his car at this very same location.

Upon close inspection of all three color photos taken at this location I came to the conclusion that the three photos must have been taken most likely at the very same day. Most likely in a combined photo-shoot, perhaps organized by George Barris, on behalf of Motor Trend magazine. The¬†shrubbery behind the cars is in all three color photos identical, and so are the flower in the plant in the foreground. Most likely the photos of the Jesse Lopez ’41 Ford which were used in the September 49 issue of Motor Trend magazine at the same location were also taken at this same photo-shoot. And possibly there were also color photos taken of the Jesse Lopez Ford at this time. The way the photos of the Lopez Ford are cropped makes it hard to tell if the flowers are the same as in the color photo of the other three cars. But at least all the other elements in these photos seem to match.

Vic Grace 1941 Buick Special

1941 Buick Special Club Coupe owned by Vic Grace had body work done by several shops, including the Barris Shop. The padded top was most likely created by Gaylord since it had a more swooping line than most padded top created by the Carson Top Shop. George Barris applied the deep blue-green metallic paint on the car.

Vic’s Buick was shown with three cut out photos on a full page in the Custom Cars Trend Book No 101 from 1951. As far as we can see in the reflections these photos must have been taken at the same location os the color photo of Vic’s Buick. And most likely at the same day as the other photos were taken.

Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford

Created by George Barris for original owner John Vara. Before the car was finished Johnny Zaro traded his Barris Restyled ’40 Mercury Coupe plus some extra cash for the car. George Barris finished it in 1948. This color slide is the only photo we know of this car taken at this location. George Barris painted the car in a mile deep maroon.

Dick Carter 1941 Ford

The Dick Carter’s 41 Ford photos taken at this location were – as far as we know – only used in the Trend Book Custom Cars #101 booklet. This was published in 1951. The rear 3/4 photo of the Carter Ford shows that the California 1947 plates have a 1949 tag on them. Barris painted Dick’s Ford in a¬†deep organic opalescent metallic maroon lacquer.¬†From the three color photos we have, taken at this location, the Dick Carter Ford is the only one that we have multiple angle photos from the same shoot. The others are¬†black and¬†white photos. From the Johnny Zaro we have not seen any other photos from this photo shoot, and from the Vic Grace Buick the only other photos we have are three more which are set free from the background, so we do not know for sure if the other photos come from the same location. More than licely they do, since the reflections on the car are similar to what we can see in the Jesse Lopez Ford photos.

All three color photos shows the same identical group of red flowers. These three color photos must all have been taken at the same day.

Jesse Lopez 41 Ford

The Jesse Lopez Ford was was created by Jesse and Sam Barris and was finished in¬†1948. At first jesse used Single Bar Flipper hubcaps on the car, and later replaced them with Cadillac Sombrero units. The car had the single bar flippers still mounted when the Edison Location photos were made. According¬†to the ’49 Motor Trend magazine article the photos were taken by¬†Pat la Narz. So far this photographers name has not rang any bells for the people we have asked about him. We would of course love to get in contact with Pat, if he is still with us today, or his family to see if any of his old photos and slides might still be in the family archives. It might also be possible that the photographer was actually¬†Russ Lenarz who was good friends with George Barris.

The Jesse Lopez ’41 Ford photos taken at the Edison Location were used in the September 1949 issue of Motor Trend magazine. Because of this we know that the photos must have been taken around July 1949 at the latest. (Magazine’s back then always need around one and a half to two month time for production)

The shrubbery next to the white wall of the building is identical in the Jesse Lopez Ford photo (on the left) and the Dick Carter Ford photo (on the right). Making it very plausible that both photo sets were taken at the same day, or at least very close together.

Photos from the early 1950s

As for the location itself. Dick Carter remembered the location had something to do with the Edison Plant, but he could not remember where it was. We have found one more set of custom car photos that were taken at the same locatio, at a later date. The car being photographed at the same location was the Valley Custom shop created Byron Walton Ford Coupe.The wall, and the very decorative doors which were the main ataction for this photo shoot, were still in place then.

This photo is particular interesting since it shows the complete set of door and that there is another section of natural brick wall next to it on the left side.

The Location

Thanks to Richard Bartrop and Rob Radcliffe we now know that the location of the photo shoot is 3395 West Manchester Blvd. in Inglewood, CA. And that the building/gate is still there, but the characteristic gate with the circles is gone now. Thanks for helping find this location.

The 3395 West Manchester Blvd. in Inglewood, CA photo location in 1959.

The sign that was added to the wall after the first photo shoot was done in 1949.

The location as it looks in 2017. (Google Maps image)

The big question now is, where are the color photos of the Jesse Lopez Ford taken at this late 1940’s photo-shoot. Are they still in the Motor Trend archives? We know that Jesse Lopez does not have them. How fantastic would it be if one, or more of these color photos of the Lopez Ford would surface?

Any information about this 1949 photoshoot, or perhaps the missing Jesse Lopez color slide(s) taken during this photo-shoot would be more than welcome. Please contact Rik Hoving at the Custom Car Chronicle, if you have anymore info about this location, or the missing color photos from this photo-shoot. Thank you.

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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)

8 thoughts on “Edison Photo Location

  • I can’t open the facebook link above at work, but here is a Google maps street view…looks like it is right next to Animo Inglewood Charter High School at 3395 West Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA. I’ll have to check it out next time I am in that area…

  • Kudos… Richard, Rob, and Rik! The exact location of these great color shots needed to be established. There was a restaurant or bar & grill type eatery close or even attached somewhere at this location. Mrs. Dick Carter and J. Lopez remember dining there. Michelle researched the Lenarz brothers and references them in her Jesse Lopez and Nick Matranga articles. I don’t think there was a Pat Lenarz…Russell & Richard come to mind. In any event, photos and slides were inquired about…zero. Rik is correct ,and we have mused about this many times…there is more than likely an old cigar box full of Kodachrome 4×5 transparancies of most of our favorite early customs languishing somewhere? DEZ.

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