Historical Custom Car Shows

July 15, 2017

1957 Sears Parking Lot Show


1957 Sears PARKING Lot SHOW


The parking lot at Show Arena. Started in the early 1950s, gathering some of the most beautiful Customs. A closer look at the 1957 Sears Parking Lot Show.

In 1950’s it was quite common to organize one-day outdoor car how at a large store. The parking lots of these stores where huge, the visitors could get food nearby, the stored usually had plenty of bathrooms and other shops were nearby, which made it ideal to visit with the whole family. These parking lot shows were organized all over the country.

One of the most famous photos ever taken at one such parking lot show was from 1954, where an car show was organized at the Thrifty Drug Store. A huge number of these parking lot shows, like the thrifty parking lot show, and this Sears parking lot show were only advertised locally – in these cases in Los Angeles – perhaps thru the car clubs, the local newspaper, and at the local stores around the parking lot with banner, poster, perhaps hand-outs. These stores of coarse benefited from these show, extra people coming in for a bite to eat, drink etc, or some general shopping on their way back home. Another famous show was held (multiple times) at the Hollywood Park Race Track parking lot.

So far I have never been able to find any of these show flyers, or ads, but we know from several of these show, that the advertising resulted in a great number of first class, magazine cover or feature cars in attendance.
Not sure if these shows were specifically advertised as Custom Car Shows, but it is very remarkably that the majority of the cars at these events are Custom Cars, and not Hot Rods. According to Greg Sharp it just shows how big Custom Cars were during these Golden Years of Customizing.

The 50 Year of Rod & Custom magazine book had a beautiful color photo of the 1957 Sears Parking Lot Show. Most the information comes from Custom Car historian Greg Sharp.

Overview of most of the car at the event. Interesting to see the Ayala Shop Truck and the R&C Dream truck sitting face to face in the front.


Close up of the left side of the photo.


The Left Side

  • 01 – Carol Lewis’s Dean Jeffries flamed ‘56 Chevy
  • 02 – Unknown ’53 Ford Victoria
  • 03 – Herb Conway’s super low ’54 Mercury
  • 04 – Hershel “Junior” Conway’s ‘50 Ford Coupe
  • 05 – “Chimobo” or ” The Chinaman” Barris Kustoms chopped ‘54 Merc (the car was later destroyed in the ’57 Barris Shop fire)
  • 06 – Ed Beck’s ‘56 Ford with Dean Jeffries pint striping
  • 07 – Frank Monteleon’s ‘56 Ford convertible (From the movie Hot Car Girl)
  • 08 – Unknown medium blue ’56 Chevy
  • 09 – Lloyd Bakan’s ‘32 Ford three-window (one of the two real Hot Rod in the lot)
  • 10 – Buddy Alcorn’s Ayala restyled and redone by Barris chopped ‘50 Mercury (before Dick Jackson added the new two tone paintjob.)
  • 11 – George Barris ’56 Continental Mark II
  • 12 – Dale Stricklin’s silver ‘40 Ford Sedan Delivery (Owner of the Advance Muffler shop located near George Cerny’s shop. He did a lot of the exhaust work on Cerny’s as well as Barris’s projetcs)
  • 13 – Dave Bugarin’s chopped ‘51 Mercury.
  • 14 – Several unidentified car
  • 15 – Several unidentified car
  • 16 – Several unidentified cars
  • 17 – ‘34 Ford Tudor deep purple paint
  • 18 – Super-low ’50 Ford from the Krankers of San Bernardino
  • 19 – Bruce Geisler’s chopped ‘49 GMC pickup (Originally restyled and owned by Gil Ayala used as the Gil’s Auto Body Shop truck)
  • 20 – Jim Pitts’s red ‘55 Corvette

A closer look at the cars in the row on the left; Carol Lewis’s Dean Jeffries flamed ‘56 Chevy, Unknown Brown ’53 Ford Victoria, Herb Conway’s super low ’54 Mercury, Hershel “Junior” Conway’s ‘50 Ford Coupe, ” The Chinaman” Barris Kustoms chopped ‘54 Merc, Ed Beck’s ‘56 Ford, Frank Monteleon’s. ‘56 Ford convertible, Unknown medium blue ’56 Chevy, Lloyd Bakan’s ‘32 Ford three-window.


Buddy Alcorn Mercury, shortly before, or after he traded it to Dick Jackson. George Barris personal ride ’56 Lincoln.


In the back-row, Dale Stricklin’s silver ‘40 Ford Sedan Delivery on the left, and Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury restyled by Barris on the right, behind the open hoods of the unknown cars.


Bruce Geisler’s chopped ‘49 GMC pickup – formerly owned by Gil Ayala, super-low ’50 Ford from the Krankers of San Bernardino, 34 Ford Tudor deep purple paint, unkown early 50’s Chevy sedan light blue with spotlight.


The Right Side


Close up of the right side of the photo.


  • 21 – Spence Murray’s R&C “Dream Truck” (finished in two-tone primer the night before at the Barris Kustoms Shop)
  • 22 – unknown touring
  • 23 – ‘55 Chevy Black with red top unknown owner
  • 24 – Patric Morales’s ‘53 Chevy Bel Air hardtop Restyled by Ed Wright
  • 25 – Jud Morgan’s ‘56 F-100 from the Renegades of Long Beach
  • 26 – Dan Purinton’s 56 Mercury Bahama blue and mother of pearl, and more Renegades entries including Jim Ashley’s ‘55 Chevy, Damon Richey’s ‘50 Bel Air Hardtop, and Ed Cousin’s Deuce pickup (the second Hot Rod).
  • 27 – Unknown MG
  • 28 – Unknown
  • 29 – Ron Dulin’s ‘56 Plymouth Fury (later painted by Larry Watson)
  • 30 – ’56 Buick unknown owner
  • 31 – Gilbert Crus’s George Cerny-built ‘55 Chevy
  • 32 – Unknown Ford pick up
  • 33 – Unknown Classic Touring
  • 33 – Studebaker Hawk, Mercedes sports cars
  • 34 – Unknown Sports Cars?

A closer look at Spence Murray’s R&C Dream Truck, the unknown touring classic car, the unidentified black ‘55 Chevywith red top and Patric Morales’s ‘53 Chevy Bel Air hardtop.


Jud Morgan’s ‘56 F-100, Dan Purinton’s 56 Mercury, and some more Renegades entries including Jim Ashley’s ‘55 Chevy, Damon Richey’s ‘50 Bel Air Hardtop, and Ed Cousin’s Deuce pickup.


Unknown MG, Unknown two tone ’56 Mercury, Ron Dulin’s ‘56 Plymouth Fury and an unknown ’56 Buick.


Gilbert Crus’s George Cerny-built ‘55 Chevy.


Close up of the unknown Sports Cars at the far right. Mercedes Sport Cars, an Alfa Romeo and the rest I have not been able to identify.


Can you imagine how many kids got inspired by these parking lot shows, going shopping on a Saturday morning with mom. Not knowing anything about the parking lot shows, turning in on the parking lot to do their weekly grocery shopping’s. Then being confronted with all this eye candy in the parking lot.

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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. So many cool customs in one place and all of them driven there by their owners. Wish we had a “time machine” so us custom fans could go to the ’57 Sears parking lot show.

  2. Great picture Rik.
    These types of shows still happen but not with such great cars. 🙂
    One of the small towns that I live near has a car show as part of it’s annual spring festival. They use the parking lot of the local grocery store as it’s the biggest paved area around.

  3. Always loved that photo, so many kool kustoms! Does anyone know where the Sears store was located?

    • SAM FORT

      Sears store on Long Beach Blvd. This store was on the boarder line of Compton and Lynwood. The main store was in Compton and the auto store was in Lynwood. The car show was in the lot behind the auto store. I had the pleasure of being at that show.

  4. Yes, I agree with Tom, we should have a “time machine” and go there. Some of the unidentified cars like no. 14 & 15 (and also one red and a white next to that) are brand-new Mopar cars in 1957, maybe some Mopar-dealer wanted to show them at this event… Beautiful photo!

  5. …also nice to see that new Volvo PV to the right of no.35 🙂

  6. It would be interesting to know how many of these customs are still around today.
    We know that the R and C truck and the former Gil’s Ayala truck still are. Any body know of any of the others?????

  7. And George Barris his Lincoln is also still around… his on Brett now owns it.

  8. Great in depth look into an awesome photo.

  9. on the last photo,the black car near red alfa roméo is citroen DS

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