Tony Rando 1939 Ford

 

Tony Rando 1939 Ford

 

Tony Rando showed his channeled and chopped 1939 Ford at the 1952 Oakland Roadster show. That is about the only thing we really know about this stylish Custom.



The first time I saw a picture of Tony Rando’s 1939 Ford was when Automotive Designer Chris Ito shared some photos taken at the 1952 Oakland Roadster show with me many years ago. It was a rather dark snapshot cutting of the rear and the passenger side fender off in the frame. But there was something about this car that I liked. The hood was extremely sectioned, very similar to the Doug rice 39 Ford Coupe, the grille was left stock, bumpers changed with the all time favorite ribbed ’37 DeSoto units. Double Appleton’s, chopped windshield, ripple disk hubcaps… and that was about all could see in this dark snapshot. Fortunately the photographer had taken the photo in such a way that the show card was very visible and I at least knew the owners name was Tony Rando from San Fransisco, and that he was a member of the Hill Toppers Car Club.

I searched for the car in other photos I had of the 1952 Oakland Roadster Show, but no luck. The owners name also did not bring me anything more. For a brief moment I thought that I might have seen the car in progress in the first Barris Kustom Techniques book. On page 26 and 27 the sectioning of a Ford hood is shown for owner Slim Messick. But after looking a bit better the hood on Slim’s Ford is sectioned less than the one on Tony’s Ford… bummer.

Cover of the 1952 National Roadster Show in Oakland. The only place were we have seen Tony Rando’s ’39 Ford Convertible so far.
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From the May ’52 issue of Hot Rod magazine. It shows that the heavily sectioned hood required the front of the hood to be reshaped, and now has a really nice curved shape.
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In January 2012 Jamie Barter sends me a scan he made of an article in the May 1952 issue of Hot Rod Magazine about the 1952 National Roadster Show in Oakland. One photo in the article showed Tony Rando’s beautiful ’39 Ford. And even though it was a rather small printed photo, it showed the car a lot nicer than the one snapshot I had from the Chris Ito Collection. This really was a very nice proportioned Custom. It reminded me a lot about the Ralph Jilek 1940 Ford Convertible created by the Valley Custom Shop. Tony’s being a bit more “vintage” styled, while Ralph’s Ford looked more modern. But both extremely nicely proportioned.

One thing that I was unable to see in the nap shot, was that the main body was not sectioned on Tony’s Ford. The body was channeled over the frame, the running boards were removed, and as far as I can tell the rear fenders remain in the stock position on the rear quarter panels (Unlike the Valley Custom Ralph Jilek Ford which had a sectioned main body). The front fenders on the car were raised a lot, it looks like the top is no level, or slightly higher as the belt-line of the car. Most likely this meant that the lower portion of the front fenders had to be extended down at the rear to meet the bottom of the body. The much sectioned hood must have taken quite a bit of work to get reshaped to fit right with the raised fenders and grille.

The first time I saw Tony’s ’39 Ford was this dark snapshot from the Chris Ito Collection. I really liked everything I was able to see in this photo, and the cars vision stuck in my mind ever since.
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The car has a relatively high stance, especially for 1952, but it looks very proportioned on the car. Wide white wall tires with ripple disk hubcaps are used that suit the car as perfect as they can be. The windshield is chopped, but not a whole lot, which fits right in place with the stance. All the trim has been shaved from the body, handles removed and there is not even a stainless rock shield on the rear fenders. The rear wheel opening is covered with a tear drop shaped bubble skirt. The stock bumpers are replace with the ever popular ribbed ’37 DeSoto bumpers. The interior looks to be done in two colors, a light and a medium color. The car was shown at the ’52 Roadster show without a top.

In another photo taken at the ’52 Roadster Show we can see another small portion of Tony’s Ford in the background on the far right, behind the little flag.
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Enlarged section of the Hot Rod photo above, gives us the partial side view of Tony’s Ford.
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Ever since I have been looking to find more info Tony Rando’s ’39 Ford. It is a very nice car, so perhaps it could have been featured in one of the magazines, but no luck. And everybody I have asked about the car, and the owner could not tell me anything more. The May ’52 Hot Rod magazine photo appears to be the only time the car was published, as far as we know. Possibly the fact that the owner was from San Fransisco and not from the Los Angeles area, where all the magazine publisher were at, might have something to do with it.

The Barris shop created besides the one for Slim Messick, another car that has a lot of similarities with Tony’s Ford. The shop did a ’39 Ford convertible for Mickey Chiachi around 1947-48. This car was also channeled, had its front fenders raised, the hood sectioned, the windshield chopped and ran ’37 DeSoto bumpers. Very similar, yet still different, not the same car. Mickey’s Ford had a far less sectioned hood. Both cars were also very similar to the two cars Art & Jerry created at their Olive Hill Garage. So it is obvious that the style was very popular from the mid 1940’s till the early 1950’s, and the variations in the details and amount of chop and sectioning were unique for each of them.

Mickey Chiach’s Barris Restyled ’39 Ford parked at the Barris Compton Ave shop around 1948. Similar in styling, but with several different details… not the car I was looking for.
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I’m still very much interested in seeing more pictures of Tony’s ’39 Ford Convertible. It is perhaps my personal favorite from a series of ’39 Fords styled in a similar way. If any of our reader has any more information on Tony’s 39 Ford, or even better some never before seen photos. Please let us know… Thank you.

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Eldred Nelson 39 Ford

 

ELDRED NELSON 39 FORD

 

This unusual full size padded topped 1939 Ford Convertible was built by a young Campbell Ca student in 1949. He did all the work himself after school at his fathers shop. Eldred Nelson 39 Ford



Eldred Nelson built himself this very nicely done 1939 Ford convertible while he was at Campbell High in 1949 and 1950. The car is quite unusual because of its stock height padded top. We do not see to many of those on Custom Cars. The common practice was to have your windshield chopped a couple of inches, then the upholstery shop would tackle the lower padded top. But not for Eldred, he decided he like the top to be stock height, and enjoy the view from the windshield and side windows at full size.

Eldred’s father had a trucking company in Campbell California (Close to San Jose in Northern California). His father taught Eldred how to weld at age 13, and a few years later he bought himself a 1939 Ford convertible… and over a period of two years, 1949 and 1950, Eldred turned the Ford into his dream Custom.
He removed the running boards, added sections to the fenders both front and rear where the running boards used to mount to. Then he hand shaped a panel to fit under the main body that would cover the frame rails. The panel was flared into the both front and rear fenders. The two piece hood was welded solid, and all the trim and ornaments of the hood were shaved in the process. Only the hood belt line trim stayed in place, but was shortened about 50%.

ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-06Front photo shows the smoothed hood and use of 1940 Ford headlights and ’49 Plymouth bumpers. 
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At the back all the handles and emblems were also shaved, and a set of teardrop shape bubble skirts were mounted on the rear fenders. 2 1949 Plymouth front bumpers were used to replace the much thinner stock units. The new rubbed bumpers gave the car a nice long and low look. The stock headlights were replaced with 1940 Ford units, but at the rear the teardrop shaped taillights from the ’39 Ford remained. The suspension was modified to get the car a few inches lower to the ground. Eldred bought a set of Lyons aftermarket Custom hubcaps and mounted them together with a set of black wall tires on the car.


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Eldred went kind of wild on the dashboard. He took out the complete center section and filled it with a smooth panel. He also welded the glove box door solid and smoothed out the complete dash, leaving only the two main gauges and the clock from the glove box door in place. Below the dash, in the center he created an extended panel that would house the controls he had removed when he smoothed the main dash. The whole dash unit looks now ultra smooth. He did all the gas welding, filling and leading himself, after school at his fathers shop. Eldred had Quality Machine in San Jose do the all the engine work. He mentioned that that was the lace where all the local hot Rodder’s went for machine work.

With all the body work finished and everything smoothed Eldred painted the car in a nice light blue DuPont lacquer with the help of his father, and once finished he drove the car to C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland for a complete custom upholstery and padded top. Eldred remembered he had to pay about $400.- for the complete upholstery job.

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ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-07Eldred replaced the steering wheel with an 1948 Ford unit, and added a set of Spotlights.The C.A. Hall Auto Tops shop in Oakland California did the padded top and interior in very nice wide rolls.
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ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-03Eldred standing proud with his custom ’39 Ford Convertible. This photo gives a good look at the wide and soft rounded pleats on the door.
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ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-02The ’39 Ford dashboard was heavily customizing. The center console was removed and a smooth panel molded in place. The glove box door was also welded shut, and the whole unit was smoothed.
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Eldred met his future wife in the car and drove it to San Diego for their honeymoon in 1951, and in 2016 they are still together after 65 years. Eldred sold the car in 52 for $900. Then for $900 he bought an almost new 51 ford for his growing family. He remembers that the guy who bought it was from So Cal, but he was not sure where. He never saw the car again, and he has no idea what ever happened to it after that.


ccc-eldred-nelson-39-ford-hall-ca-mapEldred built his 1939 Ford while he lived in Campbell California (blue pin), close to San Jose.
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Special thanks to Pat Lash for sharing the story and photos and Andrew Figueroa for the scans.





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Billy Powell 39 Ford

 

BILLY POWELL 39 FORD

 

The goal was to create an early Custom Car, one that could have been built shortly after it was driven from the showroom floor. Styled as an Early Custom with everything as period perfect as possible.


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Billy Powell loves Custom Cars, and not just any kind of Custom Car. He is passionated about the very early Custom Cars. Those cars that shave set the standard back in the early 1940’s. Custom Cars that were driven straight from the dealer to the Carson Top Shop to have the windshield cut a few inches and a padded top installed. Customs with mildly lowered suspensions that matched the new lower top and gave the whole car better overall looks. Cars that were custom restyled in a matter of a few weeks before they could be driven on the roads again. Those early Customs from the pages of the Dan Post books, and the photo albums of the old timers, those are the Customs that Billy likes the best.

CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-01This is how Billy’s 1939 Ford Convertible looked like when he bought it, a very nice restored stocker.
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When Billy came across this wonderfully restored bone stock marine blue ’39 Ford convertible his brain immediately started to visualize it as an early Custom. And when he was able to make a deal on the car he waisted no time in shipping the car to Desert Hot Springs in California where David Martinez runs his Martinez Industries Co. Specialized in Custom upholstery, period perfect Padded Tops and Coachbuilt body work. Billy had been working together with David on a few previous projects. So he knew David would totally understand what he meant when he asked for an early style period perfect custom interior and padded top.

It was decided that the shape of the padded top should flow with the shape of the body and the new ’37 Lincoln skirts that Billy had found for the car. The original Carson Top Shop tops were made on a jig and have a more upright rear portion of the top. Which is great for more space inside the car, but the outside shape sometimes interferes with the flowing shape of the car. Bill Gaylord also created padded tops, and his tops were flowing much nicer in the back. He usually cut the rear bows a lot shorter than the Carson shop did. A blend from both styles was used on the top that David created for the Ford.

CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-02Billy asked David Martinez to create a unique, luxurious, period looking interior for his convertible, but left the design over to David. The oxblood red color naugahyde with the simple pattern looks absolutely stunning and fits the theme of the car perfect. Front bench on the left and the rumble seat on the right.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-03David Martinez combined oxblood red naugahyde with mohair to create the right period look. The carpets are matching oxblood red German wool, with naugahyde piping. The steering wheel and dash were color matched to the mohair color.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-22David also upholstered the rumble seat in that beautiful oxblood red Naugahyde.
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David removed the original top and frame, and chopped the windshield 3 inches. He used the original front bow of the soft top and created new bows and everything else that was needed to create the period perfect padded top. David also modified the rear fenders to make a set of ’37 Lincoln fit flush with them. A very subtile great looking Custom detail. The paint on the restored Ford was in great condition, so David had the paint color matched and blended in the paint on the windshield and rear fenders where he had performed the body work. The front of the car was lowered using a 3-1/2″ dropped axle, and the rear was brought down with modified leafs. The car received new shocks all around.

Next job for David was to create an all period perfect looking custom interior. Billy had settled for an oxblood red colored beautiful patterned naugahyde for the main upholstery. And the satin finish would be accompanied with the luxurious feel of a slightly different shade oxblood red mohair. The surface texture difference of both these materials really enhance each other. And even more so with the few chrome plated and bone colored parts used in the interior. David used  a design inspired by the stock interiors from the late 1930’s early 1940’s. Nothing wild, just a perfect match for the rest of the car. The seats were done in the oxblood naugahyde with piping and buttons from the same material. For the side panels David combined the naugahyde with the velvet with some nice piping and chrome accents. The arm rest alone are a work of art.

CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-17David Martinez taking the ’39 for spin around Desert Hot Springs, California after he finished the car.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-16Driving around in the desert made David feel like he was driving this period perfect Custom in the early 1940’s.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-19The nice vintage setting makes the Ford look right at home. When the car was at David’s shop it still had the white wall tires it came with when Billy bought it. Those were later replaced with period 16” Firestone bias ply blackwall tires.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-18This could as well be an early 1940’s photo…
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The idea for the whole car was to create a very luxurious feeling of an upscale car from the lat 1930’s early 1940’s. Using only the oxblood colors with a few chrome and bone colored accents really help with this feeling. And the use of the oxblood velvet on the top really helps making it feel very luxurious inside Billy’s ’39 Ford. David had some paint color matched to the upholstery material and painted all the metal parts in the interior. The end result was a very classic, high-end custom interior. When the car was completely done David took it out for a spin to see how it all handled… perfect. He drove around making some nice period photos of the car before it was time to ship the car back to Billy in Texas.

Upon arrival in Texas Billy had already ordered a set of Firestone 16 inch bias ply blackwall tires for the ultimate early 1940’s look. And he topped it off with a set of beauty rings and Single bar flipper hubcap. The en result was exactly how he had envisioned it. A period perfect custom cars that had been driven straight from the showroom floor to the Carson Top shop (or similar) for a cut windshield, sharp Padded Top and luxurious all custom interior…  And then driven back home perhaps a few days later…   Mission accomplished!

CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-20Billy wanted a padded top that was a cross over between something the Carson Top Shop and Bill Gaylord could have done. The Carson tops were always a bit more squire at the back, while the Gaylord top had more flow, with a lower rear bow.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-04Apart from the flush Lincoln skirts, the chopped windshield, padded top, lowered suspension and flipper hubcaps, the car remains virtually bone stock.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-05Beautiful birds eye view shows the beautiful lines of a stock ’39 Ford, enhanced by the chopped windshield and flowing padded top.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-08Rear quarter view shows the great flow of the top and how it matches the flow of the body.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-07Close up of the modified rear fenders with the flush mounted ’37 Lincoln fender skirts. David blended in the paint after doing the body work on the fenders and windshield. “You can’t tell its blended in, so nice”. The blue dot taillights were on the car when Billy bought it.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-14A better photo of the interior in bright daylight shows the great color and surface texture difference of the naugahyde and mohair. Combined with a little chrome and some bone colored plastic makes the perfect period look.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-13David upholstered the headliner in mohair for a more luxury feeling.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-23The engine compartment is super clean and the car is still running on 6 volt, and everything electrical works as it should.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-24The motor in Billy’s ’39 Ford is an all original (restored) 90 HP- 221 Cubic Inch flathead motor, 3 spd manual trans with all original drivetrain. It runs and drives flawless.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-11Rumble seat.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-10Another rear quarter view showing the wonderful lines of the padded top, the flush skirts and the flow of the body together with the top.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-vintageJust for fun I situated Billy’s convertible in a vintage color slide.
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CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-09Close up of the David Martinez padded top.
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Letting go

After having to make a very hard decision between Billy’s ’35 Ford Roadster project and this completely finished ’39 Ford convertible, Billy decided the ’39 Ford needed to go. This way he had the space, time and funds to create a dream custom out of his ’35 Roadster. In July 2016 the car was sold to Blake Burwell, the new owner in Texas.


CCC-billy-powell-period-39-ford-21The reason for Billy to sell the car is the ’35 Ford Roadster in the back of this photo. Billy simply had to choose between the ’39 and the ’35 Ford, and the ’35 won and can stay and will be turned into a period perfect Custom. A set of flush fit teardrop shaped fender skirts have already been added.
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The Details on the ’39 Ford Chopped Padded Topped Convertible

  • 1939 Ford deluxe Convertible Mild custom with Carson style top, great running original 90 HP- 221 Cubic Inch flathead motor, 3 spd manual trans, all original drivetrain. (1939 Ford Deluxe Convertible Coupe 91A-76number produced: 10,422)
  • Car has been lowered in front with a dropped axle 3-1/2″, rear leafs removed with new shocks all around.
  • New 16” Firestone bias ply blackwall tires, with 16” national flipper style hubcaps and beauty rings.
  • Still a 6 volt car, everything electrical works, rumble seat still in car, beautiful inside and out with a new custom Martinez Industries Interior, flush mounted ’37 zephyr skirts, 3″ chop on windshield with new Martinez industries Padded style top, absolutely stunning car!
  • No trim removed from the car and the body has not been modified other than the flush mounted skirts and windshield being chopped.
    Paint is in really good shape, no rust, no dents or dings in car.
  • Floorboards are solid, and this car is in excellent shape with no issues at all, daily driver car!


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