Custom Car Chronicle
custom carsEarly Custom CarsThe Personal StoriesThe Tom Nielsen Collection

Angel Hair & White Rock




Indoor car shows have always been an exciting event for me for as long as I can remember! When I was fourteen I persuaded my parents to bring me to the annual Seattle Rod and Custom Show. One of the first cars that I saw when entering the big armory was the R & C Dream Truck. I was hooked on car shows from that point on!

CCC_Three-Show-01Local newspaper Everett Herald picture from the Everett Auto Show 1957. (Everett Harald Photo)

As told by Tom Nielsen
So two years later when I turned sixteen, I knew that I wanted a car worthy of entering in the local indoor shows. With the help of my older brother, who was a hot rodder, we located the right car. It was a chopped ’41 Merc convertible that had been shown in the mid- fifties, but needed a little touch up to be ready for the shows again. During the summer I had a family friend who ran a body shop make some paint repairs and also some detailing. The Cadillac engine got three carbs and lots of chrome. I also had this shop paint the firewall and the under-side of the hood in white.

CCC_Three-Show-06Tom’s 1941 Mercury was first customized by Dale Runyan from Everett in 1948-49.  It went through a half dozen owners and was improved quite a bit before he bought it in 1960.

In the fall of 1960, when the Seattle show was scheduled, the Merc was ready. I was an eager and enthusiastic, “rookie” participant. Arriving at the show on Thursday for set up we were show ready, I thought. Then I observed some of the other owners laying down floor displays to set their cars off.

My friend who was helping me and I decided we needed to do the same, but we hadn’t brought anything along for the floor. The older experienced car guys were nice about helping a young kid get off to a good start. They told us where to get angel hair at a nearby store and said to pick up some Vasoline for the black on the tires.

By the end of the day the car and the display were “lookin good”. However, one final touch would put it over the top. That was to surround the Merc with a border of small white rock.

That night we stopped by the local hardware store and picked up a bag or two of rock. On Friday morning before the show started we added that final touch. I put up the sign that I had a sign painter in my hometown of Everett do for my car. A previous owner had called it “The Velvet Lady”, so I had that name put on the sign.

A light under the hood and a little wood block to expose the headliner of the Carson Top were also added on Friday. The stantions that I had made and some rope finished the display and we were ready for the “big time”!

CCC_Three-Show-03Tom’s 1941 Mercury and the display that Tom and his friend, two high school kids, came up with for the Seattle Rod and Custom Show in 1960.

CCC_Seattle-1960Show-Spread-WTom even made it inside the 1960 Seattle Rod and Custom Show program (car 151).

CCC_Three-Show-081960 Seattle Rod and Custom Show had the famous Lore Sharp 1956 Sectioned Buick on display.

CCC_Three-Show-04Another photo from Tom’s Collection from the Seattle Rod and Custom Show in 1960 shows this paneled 1959 Chevy ElCamino sitting on a simple display of Angle Hair.

That first show resulted in a Full Custom Convertible second place trophy, of which I was very proud. With the experience that I had gained the car was ready for more shows to follow. During 1960 to 1962 my friends and I entered it in about twelve indoor car shows from Vancouver BC to Grays Harbor, Washington. The ’41 Mercury always did quite well in the judging, even though the car was somewhat dated for that era of customizing..

The final show that I entered the Merc in was the ten day 1962 World’s Fair Futurama in Seattle. In the picture below you can see that my display reflected the 1962 trend with white wheel wells and the Kinmont disk brakes exposed for viewing.

The car also looked better with the Carson Top sitting down in place. A dropped axle had been installed to get the stance more level. We surrounded the car with the trophies that had been won. The display theme was more like a beach with driftwood and off white sand. The angel hair was gone, as it was in most other car’s displays in the early sixties.

CCC_Three-Show-02Tom took this photo of his 1941 Mercury at the Seattle World’s Fair 1962.

That was the last show that I entered the “Velvet Lady” in and it was the “grandest show” as well! I sold the car about six weeks later when I began college. A young man who was just out of the military bought it and it disappeared from the Everett area.



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Tom Nielsen

Tom Nielsen is a long time Custom Car fan with wonderful collection of photos of 1940's to 1960's custom cars. He loves to share his collection and to tell stories about them.

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