Custom Car Chronicle

LAPL Photo Collection


LAPL Photo Collection


Browsing thru the publicly accessible online photo archives from News Papers, School or Librarys can result in some amazing finds.

In the last couple of years more and more old photo collections are being shared online. Photo collections from newspapers, publishing agencies, and donated collections to institutes like libraries. Digitizing these huge collections has become much easier in the last couple of years, with a lot of automated solutions, in both recording as well as archiving, and making them available on-line. I think, and hope that more and more of these historic photo collection become available for online research.

Quite often these collections are a wonderful sours for finding historic Hot Rod and Custom Car photos. Sometimes they are archived with these specific search keywords, but most often they are not, and you have to really dig deep to find some interesting material. Searching these archives, with or without working keywords is a real pleasure. It gives so much insight in history, and always gives me a lot of new inspiration. Sometimes the photos come with a wealth of additional information, but most often there is now info at all, just a photographers name, or the owner of the collection.

A little while ago I did spend some spare time (like I have any!) on the fine photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library, and came across some nice Custom Car and Hot Rod related photos. I have collected a few to share them here on the Custom Car Chronicle.
I urge everybody who loves to browse for Old Car related photos to search for these online public archives and see what we can come up with Hot Rod and Custom Car related material. The great thing in these archives is that the photos are usually taken with a different goal, perspective than the photos ending up in the magazines from back then. Be creative with your search words when you search these archives, the most interesting photos are often not found where you expect them to be.

October 19, 1949. Custom-built Fitz, selling for $35,000 is Valley product – Builder Ervin Stolle, North Hollywood, sits at wheel of sleek model. Unfinished version of the car later known as the Fitzpatrick Sports Custom.

June 26, 1961. Kirby Arnold, 17, 7506 Collett Ave., Van Nuys, admires his 1940 Ford. The car was originally built by the Valley Custom Shop for Dick Colarossi.

Coachcraft 41 Mercury, originally built for Peter Stengel. Undated photograph article reads, “Automobile designer Peter Stengel stands in 1941 model Ford he designed almost 20 years ago. Henry Ford II commissioned Stengel to design identical car that is still in Ford family. Stengel is designer on station wagon and $30,000 Rolls-Royce model sold exclusively by him in America.”

Glen Hooker’s channeled ’39 Mercury with ’40 Merc front end was beautifully restyled by the Valley Custom Shop. This photo was apparently used in an article on car clubs.

Charles (Chas) Johnson, polishing his own $4,000 custom car, which appears to be parked in front of his dwelling. The automobile was recently (1949) painted. The car was featured in the 1951 published first Custom Cars Annual, Trend Book #101.

August 12, 1954. Delegates to Burbank Timing Association organizational meeting check hot rods after group’s first officers were elected. Moments later they were on their way home to tell members of respective clubs about BTA’s plans. At top of agenda is constitution for group.

November 22, 1950. L. J. Viersen Jr. of Sun Valley is displaying his custom-built automobile at the ‘Motorama’ show at the Shrine Convention Hall. Viersen and son Leroy built car in 30 months from many car parts.

January 27, 1949. Perched in the front seat of the world’s widest auto is pretty Joanee Wayne, actress, and ‘Miss Hot Rod’ for the second annual Hot Rod Show. The car, specially built, stands only four feet high but the front seat is fully six feet wide.” The car is parked in front of a curtain, with Wayne standing partially in the car, holding on to the windshield. The second annual Hot Rod Exposition was held in Exposition Park on January 21-30, 1949 at the National Guard Armory in Los Angeles, California. Joanee Wayne appeared in several films in the 1940s.

December 10, 1954. Racing roadster built by Glendale Timing Association is pivotal point of Glendale’s Valley drag strip fund-raising drive, all proceeds to go toward building and operation of drag strip fund-raising drive, all proceeds to go toward building and operation of drag strip, wherever it is established in Valley, Car is a 29-A roadster with 1948 Mercury engine.

Mr. L. C. Sweatman (left) of Tujunga taking a spin in a futuristic roadster with one of his sons. Photograph dated May 3, 1948.

May 3, 1948. Tujunga family takes spin in futuristic roadster – L. C. Sweatman (driving) with sons, Lawrence (back seat) and Laymond.

August 19, 1954. Favorite hang-out. Wheel out to Bob’s or one of other drive-ins that dot San Fernando Valley some Saturday p.m. You’ll see hot rods, hot rods and still more hot rods. And don’t be misled by conventional exteriors. Many with prosaic, even downright conservative bodies belong to legion of hopped-up ‘deceptors.’ Above, Quirk finds solution to dating without leaving his first love–a hot roadster.

Some of the old photos still have the hand painted, or sometimes airbrushed touch up work on them. In this case some extra darker lines were added around the guys shoulder so it would print better in the newspaper.

LAPL caption: June 22, 1960 reads, This hand made Golden Sahara II, built on a Ford chassis at a cost of $100,000, is on display at Valley Ford showrooms, 811 S. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank. Featuring a 525 horsepower Lincoln motor, the ‘Car of Tomorrow’ incorporates one of most complex electrical systems ever devised for automobiles. It sports a ‘pearl’ finish of imported pulverized fish scales, 24-karat gold plate trim, white mink floor mats, TV set, voice control steering mechanism and gold-studded chest containing cocktail bar and ice cube unit.

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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)

5 thoughts on “LAPL Photo Collection

  • Holy cow! What a treasure trove of how it really was. That F1 sports custom is odd but cool…and that futuristic roadster is wild. I have never seen the ’39 Ford at the top of the article…looks like it had extensive metalwork done to it.

  • What a great batch of photos! I always dig sports customs.

    I especially liked the “sausage-with-wheels” roadster – complete with rumble seat. Did you notice the caption:

    “May 3, 1948. Tujunga family takes spin in futuristic roadster”

    Look at the tires on the passenger side. They are either completely flat or sunk in the mud!

    • I was looking at those tires as well… And I think they are actually partly under water. Look at the rocks in the front of the photo.

      • LOL
        I saw the tires as well. Looks like it is sitting in a stream bed.
        Great research article Rik.

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