1949 Ayala Shop Photos from Michu

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    Rik Hoving

    A couple of weeks ago David Zivot send me a link to a finished eBay auction for a couple of old photos taken at the Gil’s Auto Body Works. One of the photos, small and blurry ebay auction photos, shows a 41-48 Ford Coupe that looked like Jack Stewart’s Ford, but without the distinctive taillights, and nothing else telling me for sure that it was the Jack Stewart Ford. I send the small blurry photos to Palle, and he agreed that it could be the Jack Stewart Ford, but he also was unsure at the time.
    I would have loved to see those photos up close, but figure they had ended up in a private collection, never to be shared to the public. ⁣



    Earlier this week I received an email from our own Custom Car Chronicle member, and die-hard early Custom Car enthusiast Michu from Germany, that he had bought some cool old photos on eBay, and attached some clear larger scans of those same photos David had send me.

    WOW, and these photos ended up in the hands of Michu they could not have gone to a better person. Michu is the kind of guy that loves to share the Custom Car stuff he finds.
    There are 3 really interesting photos, and Michu gave me permission to share them here.


    Michu mentioned this about the eBay auction photos:

    “The photos seem to be all from 1949, because they were made on an road trip from two men who drove from Chicago, Ill. to California and Mexico and they visited the Ayala Shop on one day. 1949, because there’s a 49 tag on the Jack Stewart Ford (I’m not 100% sure, but I believe it is the Jack Stewart Ford, iI’m curious if you can confirm it!), in the scanned photo it cannot be seen very good, but on the real photo i can see it is a 49 tag. I try to make better scans soon.

    I’ve asked the seller (he’s from Pennsylvania) where he got the photos from, here is his answer:
    “The photos were in an scrapbook of a US soldier that had other photo’s from boot camp thru WWII. A military collector bought the scrapbook for the “war photo’s”, and removed the cross country trip photo’s. They were in a big box at a local flea market. I believe the trip started in Chicago Ill……taking Rt.66 to Calif. and Mexico, ….in what may have been a new post war Ford, because he took a lot of photo’s of the car. That’s all I can tell about them.”

    ⁣The first photo to share is taken at the Ayala shop in 1949, and shows the Jack Stewart Ford with the modified chopped top, moulded in rear fenders and splash pan and custom taillights set in low into the rear pan just above the splash-pan. It took Michu and me a little while before we could positively ID this car as the Jack Stewart Ford.



    Palle and me have not been able to find any other photos of Jack’s car from 1949, or earlier showing a license plate, (which would have really helped). The only photo we have in our Jack Stewart Ford book shows Jack’s Ford before it was chopped, but it does not show the licence plate.



    But looking at some photos of the car in bare metal and during the restoration revealed the repaired set in taillights on the old version. Positive ID, and WOW, Palle Johansen the cars current owner was just as enthusiast about it. We had never seen a picture of the car in this stage before… I will get back about the car on the left of the photo later.




    Below are two more photos showing Jack’s car. First one when it was still at the Ayala Shop, but after the taillights had been done. And the last one showing the car after George Barris had taken over and smoothed the body lines, rounded the corners and added white primer, around 1951.





    We know that Jack took the car to the Ayala’s after he realised that him and his friends could not really do the chopped top and other mods themselves. This photo must have been taken after the Ayala’s had tackled the repair work on the chopped top. The rear fenders had been moulded to the body, and so was the splash pan, en by the looks of it a set of 46-48 Ford taillights was set low into the rear fenders, just above the splash pan. We can’t see if the full fade away fenders had already been done, but judging the moulded in rear fenders I do think the fade aways were already done when this photo was taken as well.

    Thank you so much for sharing this and the other photos Michu…. This photo of the Jack Stewart Ford in this stage and the other car on the left (More on that one late) are so historically important!…


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing


    Great find.

    If you couldn’t get them Rik, I’m glad that Michu did!



    Palle is so lucky to have a car that both shops worked on , Its a more special just because of that say…

    What an amazing find to have a photo pop up like this…Poor Palle must be on ebay always looking at photos in case some pop up now..?

    I hope Palle at least gets a nice print to add to his collection….

    ” Kustomland ”


    Rik Hoving

    Let’s take a closer look at the car on the left of the photo in this 1949 Ayala Shop photo. When I first looked at the fuzzy small eBay promo photos my first thought was Custom ’47-48 Packard judging the pontoon body sides. But when Michu send me the larger scan of the photo it was clear this mystery Custom was not a Packard.


    Michu did some digging and found out the car must have been based on a ’41 Buick, most likely on a 4-door convertible model. Or at least the rear portion of a 4-door was used. But the main body is clearly from a 2 door, with the longer doors. Quite a lot of work to either create a 2 door from a four door body, or match the front and rear of two different bodies together back in 1949.



    By the looks of it the body was channeled over the frame with the hood sectioned, and the front and rear fenders placed higher onto the body. The section between the fenders filled-in to create a modern slab side body style. Interesting detail is the modified shape of the rear fender opening, with its squared off corners, much like how Ayala did the Jack Stewart ’41 Ford originally. The windshield frame was chopped. The high position of the steering wheel also indicates the body was channeled over the frame. One more details that is very interesting is the “Barris” letters on the trunk done with masking tape. What does this mean…. That the car was perhaps originally a Barris Custom?



    I did find two more photos showing small portions of this mystery Custom at the Ayala Shop. Both from the Wally Welch Collection, who took photos of his own car being worked at in 1950. One of them shows the mystery car with a soft top in place.





    Michu has also found a few Barris photos showing a car in the background that perhaps could be this mystery Custom in its earlier version, but unclear if it really is.

    Does anybody have ever seen any other photos of this Custom?

    Was it ever finished?

    Or was it perhaps one of this projects that was worked on for some time until the owner lost interest, lack of funds, or whatever other reason?

    In any event, I think this snapshot at the Gil’s Auto Body works in 1949 is one really interesting photo, what a find!




    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing


    Rik i think you will find the ” BARRIS ” written on the back of the truck is just some shop  ” TOM FOOLERY ” Done with some Masking tape out of Boredom , This kind of shop nonsense goes on with a bunch of boys at the shop hanging about. I mean who knows ” There could of  some thing along the lines of  , Barris and the boys were standing there looking at the car conversing about it, And an up coming show , & it could of been as simple as Barris did it while holding some tape in his hand and they joked how the were the “BEST ”  & BARRIS was simply jesting while talking…….

    Im mean its not uncommon to fidget while standing around lollygagging…. Roll up some tape and toss it at some one  …….

    You can clearly see its masking tape….On that trunk….

    When i painted in the both  opp Cole Fosters Salians Boys shop there was always , Salinas boys decals put on the window of my kustom car or some one  put masking tape on the trunk of my car jesting
    ” I LOVE COLE FOSTER ” and that kind of nonsense…


    Tho these little insights gives us much to think about and speak of , As if we are trying to guess about what every day life was , And how we all wish we were there,

    I can only imagine the kustoms we do not know about..? The ones that were not finished for many reason…


    • This reply was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by kustomland.
    Larry Pointer

    Thanks for showing this “mystery” car, Rik and Michu.  I fully agree the car is a  41 Buick they started with.  1941 was the first for the hood that was one piece and opened from either side.  The rear definitely has the 4-door phaeton form, as Michu shows.  Also a 4-door touring sedan had the same shape, were it to have been cut at the top-to-body line.  Door tops more point to the phaeton as a beginning however. A huge amount of work went into creating that pontoon body.  And as you point out, longer doors than occur on the 4-door body.

    What if the Barris brothers parted out one of their early Buick projects?  Sold a trunk that already had been shaved, to save the Ayalas some work?  And carrying that thinking forward, what if the Barris donor car had been a 2-door convertible, and those were the door “borrowed for this project, too.  Then, Ayalas could shorten the rear door, move the latch post back to the 2-door opening, and weld up what was left of the rear of the original 4-door.  Not so far fetched, maybe, given the sectioning and the forming of the pontoon body form  pieces, such as Jimmy Summers already was doing to  create full fadwaways.

    Any way you look at that car, there was a huge amount of work involved, and a lot of creativity going on.  Sure would be nice to see if it was completed, and how it would look.  Really a radical car.  Especially for the early timeframe.

    Just my two-cents worth  (the 1941 Buick phaeton is one of my all-time favorites!)  Thanks again, Michu and Rik.  Lon live the CCC!

    Larry Pointer

    You’ve got me hooked!  Studying the rear fender shape and square wheel opening made me go back for a look at Packard of the late 40s.  That ’41 Buick fender  contour at the rear does not match up with this custom, but the later 40s Packard does, with a square wheel opening.  What if the basic ’41 Buick body, which this definitely started with, then had side body panels and rear fenders grafted onto it?  Seems to add up, for that pontoon body and rear fender form and wheel opening.


    I spotted that square rear opening as well, Larry.

    It could also be that they made it way?????

    More questions then there are answers.


    Rik Hoving

    I agree that the main body of a ’48 Packard might have been used, possibly with the Buick rear crafted on. The hood lines and main body lines do match that of the Packard pretty good. The rear wheel opening though is reshaped from whatever it started as. The Packard rear wheel opening does have slightly rounded corners, while those on the Ayala Custom are square.

    Internist insight on the Barris name Luke. Thank you.

    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Another photo taken at the Ayala’s shop in 1949 from Michu’s Collection.

    The snapshot taken at the side of Gil’s Auto Body Works Shop, where Gil’s personal 1942 Ford is parked next to the House of Chrome building.

    The guy who took the photos really captured Gil’s ’42 Ford in all its beauty, one of the best photos of this car I have seen so far. What makes it especially nice is that it is parked on the side of the street, and you just know that after work, Gil will jump in and drive it home.

    Possibly the Ayala’s created this car as rolling advertisement for their business. The Coupe has all the key ingredients for a typical Ayala Custom Car for that era. The top was heavily chopped with more taken out of the rear, and the catwalk left original length, creating a very pleasing downwards swoop towards the rear. The drip rails were shaved and the top corners of the doors were rounded for better flow from the door towards the rear quarter windows. The quarter windows are completely reshape and now have the perfect balance compared to the flowing c-pillar and door side window. All four fenders were moulded to the body for that desired one piece look. The lower panels were reshaped and smoothed.

    The hood was welded and smoothed and the stock 1942 Ford grille surround discarded for a hand made moulded-in surround. The grille is stock, but the center piece was removed for a much smoother look. The headlights rings were moulded into the fenders finishing off the smooth appearance. The splash-pans both front and rear were moulded in place making them flow nice into the fenders.

    Long 1941 FoMoCo fender skirts are used, the suspension lowered, and beauty rings with smooth hubcaps mounted on wide white wall tires finished the perfect package. Gil Ayala painted the car in a bronze metallic paint. Most likely mixed by himself, since mixing unique deep lacker colors was the thing Gil absolutely loved to do. The end result was an ultra smooth 1942 Ford Coupe with a heavy chopped and wonderfully flowing top, showing what the Ayala shop was capable of doing.


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing


    Wow , I second Riks praise of this photo , thanks Michu for sharing this beauty of Gils kustom . To see the Ayala trademark “well moulded” smooth kustom body is sure a treat , a contender for building a clone of . So current whereabouts of Gils -42 Ford is somewhere on the east coast , clearly a trad kustom restoration to look forward to , hopefully back to this version !



    With pleasure Wolf, it‘s my duty and joy at the same time!

    Rik Hoving

    Another photo taken at the Ayala’s shop in ‘49 from the Michu Collection.

    This photo was taken at the parking space at Gil’s Auto Body Works Shop. It shows Gil’s personal 1940 Mercury Coupe Custom Car project in progress. Most of the body work was done, the chop, the fade away fenders, the Cadillac rear fenders, and full shaving of the body. The photo shows the early version of the car with the stock headlights and the 1941 Ford front bumper, and the car had not been lowered at this point.
    This is how Gil raced it at the dry lakes before Gil and his brother Al would modify the front end with moulded in headlights into extended fenders and adding a Studebaker bumper.

    On the left side of the photo we can see the small House of Chrome building, and several client project cars can be seen in the background. It looks like it could be Gil Ayala on the right behind the Mercury, but I’m not 100% sure. In any event, another super interesting historic Custom Car photo shared by Michu.


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing


    Many greetings from California! I’m there for vacation and of course i had to visit the old Ayala Shop, i was there today in the morning and took some pictures, here‘s how the place where Gil‘s Ford parked looks now:



    …and the Shop building:


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