Custom Car Confusion.

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    Rik Hoving

    Jeff Neppl send me a link this weekend about a 1940 Mercury Matranga style Custom Car that was awarded First place at the 2021 Lower Rider Super Show. The car which looks to be a very nicely done all traditional Custom, except for the fact that is has been laid-out, laying-frame, or glued to the ground with its adjustable suspension, can be seen surrounded at the event by what I would call traditional Low Riders.



    This all makes me very confused.
    First of all that an all traditional 1940 Mercury Custom Car is glued to the floor, instead of having a well balanced stance, either being level a decent amount from the floor, or a more speed boat stance with a few more inches lower at the back. But since we have been seeing more and more laying frame All Traditional Custom Cars in the last few decades, I think we have to accept that it the way the majority of the car enthusiast these days like to see these cars.

    Secondly, How is it possible that an all traditional looking Custom Car can be awarded first price at an All Low Rider event… simply because it is parked on the floor? Does that qualify this Custom Car and any other Traditional looking Custom Car that has a adjustable suspension that allows to be parked on the floor as a Low Rider?

    And to make the confusion even bigger I have also included a few pictures of a completely restored 1949 Mercury with adjustable suspension to allow to be glued to the floor. A car that has everybody rave about. As in “the perfect stance”, and the best custom ever etc, etc.  Both the 1940 and the 1949 Mercury have been created by Tovars Restorations.

    In the past it happened that some people who did not know much about car customizing would call a traditional Custom a Low Rider, because it was lowered. Back then it was an easy fix to tell them the difference. But today it looks like the difference between Low-Rider and Traditional Custom is fading.

    My personal view is that I love traditional Customs to have a fixed suspension to create the perfect stance, both in how the car is driven, and how the car sits in the drive-way, as hoe it has been done in the 1940’s ’50’s and most of the 1960’s for most traditional restyled Custom Cars.
    But I also see the benefits of an adjustable suspension, allowing to raise the car a few inches to allow for a more safe driving height not having to worry about speed bumps, bad roads etc etc. But I have never understood the need to use this adjustable suspension to park the car with the frame glued to the floor, with the top of the tires rubbing the inside to the fenders, being totally impossible to drive one inch that way.

    Customizers back in the day spend countless hours, days to get the stance of their created rolling sculptures just right. Exotic car manufactures have craftsman on the payroll that are in charge of the suspension department to insure that each and every car that is designed has the perfect stance for that particular model. Creating the right stance for a car, and even more a Custom Car is a craft. It is a fine balance between all elements of the car, the body shape, the side trim, the window height, the tire size, black or white walls, the hubcaps, the style, the period… everything counts when it comes to the right stance.




    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing


    I don’t like the broken suspension look.

    But the car is undeniably well done.

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by Tony.
    mike sutton

    the whole “laying frame” thing makes the car look broken. I wouldn’t consider the ’49 a low rider or a custom. it’s just a lowered stock bodied car.

    James D

    “Stance” literally means how something stands. Not how it lays on the ground. Laying frame cannot be described as stance. And as stated, it just looks broken after a certain point.

    Jeff Neppl

    Great looking mercs that are done at a very high quality restoration level. Yes it’s obvious that this now is the accepted correct stance on a traditional custom car. I guess that’s just a sign of the modern times.

    Jeff Neppl

    This car would now win top prize at Custom show or a Lowrider show.


    Rik, I can understand your confusion and am completely sympatico with your observations. There seems to be a lot blurring of lines and crossover in terms of how so-called traditional customs are built and presented these days. I might add that this is definately not a new phenomenon. If a new build is being constructed by its owner to approach a high level of verisimilitude to the restyling cues and tastes that were popular and well thought out during the era 1936-53, and in some cases into 1954-64. I think that the builder is well served to adhere to the methods and modifications of that time. Customs that make use of late model computor controlled powertrains, modern “adjustable” suspension systems, base coat/clear coat paint, radial tires, etc. And yes, participation in show venues that are not in any way connected to, or relevant to, the traditional milieu of custom cars as we know them, should be viewed as they are. And that is in most cases examples of beautiful and competent workmanship, and displaying those skills, and long hours in car shows that have no particular theme or purpose. In the final analysis, I think that one should stay true and as accurate as possible to the way things were done to the best of our efforts and skills in the interests of the historic period that these vehicles represent. The anything goes and all tastes are equal philosophy translates to a field of no standards at all. Which would be a very sad state of affairs indeed.

    bob tindale

    Kustoms are lowered to give a streamlined look driving down the road or sitting still. To lay on the ground is totally ridiculous .

    Steve Boutte

    The upside down accessory steering wheel is confusing as well.


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