Custom 1933-34 Fords


Today almost all of the modified ’33 and ’34 Fords are done up as street rods or traditional hot rods. In the 1940’s and up until the very early 50’s these cars were routinely built as customs.

Between these two years of Henry Ford’s popular art deco influenced cars, the 1934 was the hands down favorite as custom material. Many ’33 models got a ’34 grille and the two handled ’34 hood as standard operating procedure. It was later when the hot rods got popular that car guys liked the curved bars and thinner grille shell surround of the ’33. Today both years are equally popular and as we know there is a high demand for these good looking and desirable Fords.

When they were built as customs, back in the day, the popular body styles were the roadsters, cabriolets, three window coupes and five window coupes. Although not customized as often as the other styles, the sedans, both two and four door, also made very nice customs.
CCC-34-Ford-Wes-Collins-01-WWes Collin’s 1934 Ford Roadster is possibly the best sample of how good the 1933-34 Fords can look customized. The DuVall windshield, padded top, fender skirts, long GM headlights and Lincoln bumpers add an almost movie star elegance to this type of car.


Pat Ganahl did an excellent article on Wes Collins 1934 Ford in the Rodder’s Journal issue 51. This photo shows Wes’ roadster with a light color, the padded top in place and this photo also shows the George DuVall “swirl” hubcaps.


The first order of change in the forties was to get rid of the stock 17” wheels in favor of 15” or 16” solid wheels with flipper hubcaps or other full wheel hubcaps mounted with wide white wall tires, or black walls in the early ’40’s. Headlights, bumpers, and taillights were also routinely changed.
Lowering with a slight “speedboat effect” gave the desired look for an early custom. Fender skirts were popular in the forties and aftermarket skirts were available for these cars.


This 1934 Ford coupe was chopped, had solid hood sides, Appleton Spotlights, 1941 Ford bumpers and white trim rings to simulate white wall tires. The stance and overall look and feel is all custom. The photo was taken in 1947.



Here is the same coupe as above, but now wearing a set of white wall tires and single bar flipper hubcaps. The rest stayed the same, but what a difference in appearance.




A chopped 5-window coupe with 1936 Ford rear fenders. The taller rear fenders made sure the rear could be lowered a bit more than the stock rear fenders allowed.


Appleton spotlights look good on the closed cars of this vintage. In the forties one spotlight on the driver’s side pointed to the rear was common. Later the trend was for dual spotlights turned down in a traditional manner.

Body modifications often included filling the deck lid and door handles. Smooth or louvered hood sides gave a cleaner look to the front-end. These cars really lend themselves to a chopped top and many closed car ’33-4 Fords were chopped. The roadsters would sometimes get a DuVall windshield and the cabriolets a chopped windshield with a Padded Top.




All three photos above show that even 1933-34 four door sedan’s were customized back in the day. This sample is perfectly chopped and restyled by John Dennis.

Some of the more radical examples of these customized cars might have been channeled and the running boards were removed when raising the fenders on the body. Sometimes a different grille such as a Brewster was added, but most customizers preferred the ’34 grille.

These two years of Fords gave the custom fans lots of options and the results were “easy on the eyes”. Rick Dore reminded us how good they look as customs when he unveiled his mint green ’33-4 roadster a few years ago. Although filled with modern billet parts, Rick Dore’s Ford sure had a full custom feel. He used a set of 1935-36 Ford rear fenders to get the car really low in the rear. The car was obviously inspired by the Wes Collin’s 1934 Ford Roadster.



Rick Dore debuted his 1934 Ford Custom Roadster in 2005. Although much more modern in appearance, it still is evident that the Wes Collins roadster built in the early 1940’s was the inspiration for Rick Dore’s version. (photos by Dave Lindsay)

Hot Rod, Custom or a little of both the ’33 and ’34 Fords definitely have “the look!
We hope that more of these cars will be built as customs in the future and hopefully this article and images will help some to get motivated building a customized 1933-34 Ford in the near future.






Jamie Barter 34 Ford




Jamie Barter has shared a few more of his early photo collection with us. This time a series of photos of a customized 1934 Ford Roadster taken during WWII.

Jamie found these four negatives at an recent (summer 2015) eBay auction. And they show an early customized 1934 Ford Roadster. So far Jamie, not anybody else who has seen these photos has been able to identify this nice ’34 Ford Roadster in these photos. So if you know anything about it, please let us know. One of the first things you notice on this ’34 Ford Roadster is the V-windhsield. It is hard to tell from these photos if the owner/builder used an v-windshield from another car, or if it was home made to fit the 34 Ford cowl. We do know that it looks really good on the car. The top, possibly a modified soft top to fit the V-windshield, but perhaps it is a custom made padded top, hard to tell. Another Custom touch are the removed running boards and the slightly modified fenders where the running boards used to be. The “double” front bumper is something we have seen before, another real early custom touch.

CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-05Images from the eBay auction show the original negatives and inverted samples.


CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-02This side view photo shows the nice rake of the V-windshield and that there was no filler panel made after the running boards were removed.


CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-04“Double” front bumper, fog lights, and a really great looking V-Windshield.


CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-03This rear 3/4 view shows that the rear bumper did not have the double up section added. It does show that the passenger side has the custom made side window curtain installed.


CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-01In this photo we have a good look at the License plate with the “V” tab attached to the upper right of the plate. This dates the photos of the car to somewhere between 1941 and 1944.


Thank you Jamie for sharing another nice set of early photos, very much appreciated. A nice, perhaps a bit rough around the corners 1934 Ford early Custom. It makes me wonder when it was actually built, possibly even before WWII. It also makes me wonder what happened to this nice 1934 Ford Roadster. A car with a V-windshield like this but have been noticed. These photos show one again that also the 34 Ford was used back in the early days as Custom Material, and not only for Hot Rodding.


(this article is made possible by)



Memo Ortega 34 Ford


Besides Custom Cars Memo Ortega also worked on a few Rods. He built and painted Mike Evans car in the mid 1970’s. The Memo Ortega 34 Ford stories.

[box_light]Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. In 2014, 80 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the Memo Ortega Stories in the Memo Ortega Files on the CCC[/box_light]
On June 8th, 2014 the second Annual Memo Ortega Car Show in downtown Pomona took place. One of the cars showing up at this years event was a 1934 Ford Memo worked on and painted back in the 1970’s. And guess what, the car looked as good today as it did back then. Mike’s ’34 Ford is still wearing its original Memo Ortega paint job, shining as bright like as it did almost 40 years ago. Seeing the car at his Car Show brought back many fun memories for memo… We leave it here to Memo to do the talking.

By Memo Ortega

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s hard for me to remember every car I did in the 70,’s, but here’s one I sure can remember. Mike Evans and his wife Kathy had asked me to keep an eye out for a ’34 Ford 2-dr sedan. One day we went to this car show in our ’37 Chevy together with Chayo Olquin. He had this real neat ’48 fleetline he had bought from Roger Squires out of Torrance Ca, (thats Howard Gribble’s aka “Kid Deuce” home town). The show was at Knots Berry Farm in Buena Park Ca, we were walking around when I spotted this car body sitting on a trailer it was a ’34 Ford 2-dr, just what Mike and Kathy wanted. I went over and did a little rappin with the owner and got his number. Latter that day I called Mike and he got all jazzed up. We decide to go and take a look at the car in Corona Ca, where the owner lived. When we got there, we knocked on the door and knocked… finnally the guy comes to the door and we tell him what we are here for. He tells us I’ll be out in a minute. So we waited and waited… after a long time the guy comes out, “can I help you?” Gezze I can’t belive this, here we’ve been waiting all this time… and turns out this guy’s tv program is finnally finished, so he can help us… now can you belive this!After wheeling and dealing, Mike ends up buying the ’34. The guy had allmost everything for the car… and despite the doubts we had about this guy he even deliverd it to Mike’s home… that was a plus.

CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-01When Mike took the car to Memo, it was fairly complete, but still needed a lot of work to get up to mike’s and Memo’s standards. Mike’s two sons loved to help out Memo.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-02Memo did a lot of work on the Firewall, recessing the center, filling all unneeded holes and make it as smooth as possible.
Mike had me do all the body work on the Ford. We then installed this trunk section behind the rear body panel. When all the body work was done Mike and Kathy asked me to paint the car. We went to the paint store where me and Kathy picked the two tone colors. I painted car, and right then she did not like the colors! I told her wait till im done with it. When I was done with the paint job she could not belive how neat the colors came out… boy were they happy! One day Mike and me we were coming from cruising around and stopped by Joe Lassalettes (sp) place in Covina, first time I meet joe. He sure liked my ’37 Chevy I had back then, the way it looked an my paint job. Joe fell in love with my car.

CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-03We added a special Potter trunk to the back of the car. The piece had a hard life and needed quite a bit of work to meet our standards. The mustache and sideburns were the rage back then.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-04Behind the Potter trunk I added a smooth spare tire cover. To make this all happen I also had to extend the bumper brackets.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-05With all the body work done the body was primered I assembled the car for the first time. Mike actually drove it around like this for some time.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-06Then it was time to take everything apart and get the body sanded smooth and ready for its final paint.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-07In the paint booth…




CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-08Mike’s 34 on one of the many trips we took, this one up into the mountains. My ’37 Chevy sits behind the Ford… you can see it better in the next picture.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-Chevy-70s-02Both the ’34 Ford and ’37 Chevy are typical ’70’s cars.
I’ll tell a little bit about Joe. Joe, and his partner big Stan Johnson were drag racing champions in the 60’s. They ran C. class in there 40 Willys coupe, they won the ’65 winternationals an bakerfield the same year… how cool is that! I know it has nothing to do with customs, but this is part of my cruzing around, Joe is still my friend.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-Chevy-70s-01The kid pollishing the rear wheels on my ’37 Chevy is a young Dale, one of Mike’s sons. Dale and his brother Mickey were allways helping us. Mike’s ’34 is in primer sitting in the back.

Mike’s ’34 in 2014

At my resent show, Mike brougth his 34, that car still has the same paint job I did in 1976. I was asked by Marve Coley, owner of a nice green Custom Merc, how manny coats of clear had I sprayed on the 34 when I painted the car back then. I told him, no clear at all! “WOW, that paint is so shinny for being more than 30 years old!” Thank you Marv, I said to him, this paint job looked still like the way I did my paint jobs back then! I hand rub them till perfection.

The photos below are taken at the Memo Ortega Car Show in Downtown Pomona on June the 8th, 2014. Mike’s ’34 Ford Sedan still looks exactly as it did when Memo built and painted it in the mid 1970’s. BTW that’s Memo’s 37 Chevy parked next to it, the same one as the two tone blue car in the photos above.



CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-11Memo Ortega posing proudly with Mike’s ’34 Ford. It’s hard to believe the paint job on this one is almost 40 years old, and still looking so good today.



Good thing is… Mike allways carries a camera even back then so now we can see some work I did back then. I don’t think I have seen these 1970’s photos ever before.








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