BAROQUE CUSTOM DREAMS
On a recent cruise in Europe I attended an art history lecture. The presenter started going through all the different periods of artwork and artistic styles. I perked up when she began talking about the “baroque period” of art. It was thought of as the period of artistic style that used exaggeration, excess, and exuberance.
[dropcap]As[/dropcap] soon as I heard the word “baroque” I thought of a picture in an old Custom Car Annual of a chopped ’56 Chev. There was an interesting story along with three pictures of this unique full custom hardtop. The multitude of modifications made to this ’56 hardtop definitely showed excess. The many new custom ideas used on it created tension and exaggeration.
The full page the 1956 Chevy was feature in the Custom Cars 1959 Annual.
I liked the “different” look of this one of a kind custom. Along with the pictures there was an interesting story of how the canted headlights had been installed but the degree of angle not match each other. According to the story this unfinished custom was repossessed by the finance company and was scrapped because it was too heavily modified and it was deemed too big of a task to correct the “crooked headlight” problem.
When I first saw this story and picture I was fifteen, not old enough to get a driver’s license. So I started daydreaming that this would be a “cool car” to own. It would be affordable too, if I could have gotten it from the bank. I dreamed that I would have a body man in town fix the crooked headlight and keep it in primer. I liked the look of it in several shades of primer. I daydreamed about how I would finish it over time, but enjoy cruising around town in it for now.
Years later, I revisited this 1959 Custom Car Annual many times and always wondered if there was more information on what happened to this wild looking chopped ’56 hardtop? All that I had to go on was that single ¾ front view picture, a small rear picture, and a head on front picture in the Trend Annual and the brief story on it.
Then much later, around 2000 there were several old pictures from the late 50’s or early 60’s that surfaced of the rear view of this custom Chev. They were just small pictures in Rod & Custom magazine, and it showed the car turning into a parking lot. I wasn’t so sure that I liked the rear view as well as the front ¾ view that I had studied so many times. However, the rear was definitely in the “baroque” theme of the car and was complex and excessive. The fins have a baroque style, heavy edge to them and fit in well with whole car design.
About thirteen years ago a friend of mine showed me a more recent picture of this very same car. So it hadn’t been scrapped! It looked like it was stored in a back lot somewhere in California. Barry Mazza has copies of that same picture my friend showed, and one more of this Custom in his Custom Car Photo Archives.
I know there are other customs from the late fifties to sixties that fall into the “baroque” category, but for me this one was perfect. I still enjoy seeing it in the old Custom Car annual and dreaming of what could have been!
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