Jim Roten 52 Ford

 

JIM ROTEN 52 FORD

 

Jim Roten Acquired his 1952 Ford Convertible in 1954. He started customizing it right away. Over the next few years the car developed in a wonderful styled Mild Custom.



By Jim Roten


Jim Roten from Chico California has been¬†into custom cars since he was a teenager. In 1954 Jim bought an slightly used 1952 Ford Convertible, and of course he could not leave it alone and started to do some mild restyling right away, to improve the looks of his new ride.¬†Jim Roten has a keen eye when it comes to Custom Restyling, he would be come close friends with Chico Customizer Riley Collin’s for which Jim did a lot of design work in the 1950’s. Riley Collins was also responsible for the more serious Custom Restyling on Jim’s 1952 Ford that would be done in the mid 1950’s. Jim took plenty of photos along the way to document the changes made to his Ford from 1954 till around 1956.


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1952 Ford Version One

CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-01Jim with his near new 1952 Ford in 1954. Mostly stock, but there are some custom hubcaps and accessory bumper guards, and many custom dreams.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-02All the emblems and handles were still in place.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-03A little later the hood was nosed,the bumper guards removed and stock grille was replaced with a 1953 unit with custom center piece.
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1952 Ford Version Two

After driving the car around with just a few small Custom Restyling touches it was time to get a little more serious. Jim had his friend Riley Collins in Chico remove all the emblems, trunk handle and side trim on the rear quarters. As was the norm for most Custom Restyled cars in those days, the fresh body work was covered in primer and the car was ready for more cruising. Jim’s white car had dark gray primer spots for some time, it was cool to drive the car like that, it showed you were working on your car, improving its looks.¬†Back in those days¬†most people¬†proceeded on a custom build only as they¬†could afford it, which was usually a series of small steps at a time. Throughout the process the¬†cars were used as daily transportation.

CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-04The stock taillights lenses had been replaced with 1956 Oldsmobile Starfire units.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-05Jim replaced the moon hubcaps with¬†1956 Oldsmobile hubcaps. Here Jim’s in progress Ford is parked behind his¬†friend Joe Navarro’s¬†Chevy Hard-Top. Primer spot parade…
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-06Joe Navarro¬†Chevy Hard-Top with primer spots shows it was really common to drive your car around like this for some time. .¬† It too, was in the early stages of customizing by Riley Collins.¬†Notice that Jim’s Ford has a slight tail dragging stance, while his friends Chevy has a slight forward rake (California Rake).
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-07A little more work was done, but it still was not time for a full paint-job yet….
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-08Some more fine tuning on the molded headlights, new 1953 Ford spear on the rear quarter and now it was time to get the interior and new top done Bill Luckenbill did the interior work as well as the really great looking Carson-type folding top in white canvas.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-24Looking good.. and almost ready for paint. Only the door handles needed to come of and then the car was ready for it first copper paint job.
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CCC-jim-roten-chico-lancers-plaqueJim Roten was a member of the Chico Lancers Car Club.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-09By now the door handles were shaved and Riley Collins painted the car in a wonderful copper color.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-10Jim also added a set of fender skirts at this time, and the taillight rings were molded to the rear fender for an smoother look, similar to that of the front fender / headlight.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-12Some time later Jim added 1956 Dodge grille bar teeth to the grille, added white pin-striping an replaced the hubcaps with 1954 Mercury units to which he added center bullets. Jim Also added a second spotlight on the passenger side of the car.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-13A good look at the Bill Luckenbill interior and the Carson-type folding top.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-14Close up photo shows the 1956 Dodge grille teeth added to the grille bar and the pin-striping on the hood and front fender.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-15Only one color photo remained of this version of the car.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-11October 1956 ooops…. time for some more custom restyling.
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1952 Ford Version Three

Before the accident Jim’s Car had all the emblems and door handles shaved. It had solenoid-operated doors and deck lid. The headlights and taillights were frenched. Taillight lenses were 1956 Oldsmobile Starfire. For the new updated version Jim took his Ford of course to his friend Riley Collins who would round the hood¬†corners and fabricated a new¬†grill surround and molded splash pan. A new¬†floating grill was made up from ’53 Studebaker grill bars with turn signals for the top portions. These two units were neatly freched into round rod shaped openings. An¬†1952 Oldsmobile center bar was used on the bottom of the opening. To the grille bar Jim added¬†1956 Dodge grill teeth. Forward side trim on the doors came from a 1956 Pontiac.

The rear quarter panels were reshaped and teeth from a 1954 Mercury were used.¬†The side trim on the rear quarters comes from a 1953 Ford. The hubcaps for this version are 1956 Oldsmobile again. The smaller spotlights were replaced with real Appletons. The car was lowered all around about four inches. And when it came time for¬†paint, Jim was inspired by Geore Sein’s Barris Kustoms restyled 1932 Ford 5-window coupe. Paint job was done by Riley Collins in nitrocellulose lacquert¬†two-tone copper¬†and¬†lime gold.¬†Customization was completed by July 1957.

CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-16Riley Collins¬†with Jim’s Ford.¬†He was preparing the car at an auto show¬†shortly after he¬†finished it in Copper and lime gold ’53 Ford in the summer of 1957. Jim had already joined the Navy by then.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-17Wonderful lines on Jim’s Ford created by the custom side trim and body work. It really shows Jim design skills.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-18Notice how nice the side trim follows the shape of the new top. Jim also added new bumper guards to the bumpers for the final version.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-19Jim’s Ford was for both shows as well as regular road use.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-20This final version has the fender skirts removed again, which gives the car a more sporty look.
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-21Good look at the new grille in Jim’s Ford. ’53 Studebaker bars on the top, ’52 Olds bar on the bottom with 56 Dodge teeth. The new rounded hood corners have the same radius as the headlights.¬†
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CCC-jim-roten-52-ford-conv-23Jim Roten with his 1952 Ford final version in April 1957.
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Not too long after the car was¬†completed in¬†July 1957, Jim enlisted in the US Navy¬†and soon after that he sold the car. Jim¬†was only 17 years old when I¬†acquired the car and 20 when it was sold.¬†He has no idea what happened to it after that, and its¬†present day whereabouts are unknown. Hopefully one of our readers might know more about Jim’s old 1952 Ford and knows what happened to it after 1957.
Click HERE to see more of Jim Roten’s amazing Collection.




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Al Twitchell 52 Wagon

 

AL TWITCHELL 52 WAGON

 

This mild Custom Wagon that makes it on the cover of a ’54 Rod & Custom helped me refine my taste in custom cars.



[dropcap]A[/dropcap]round 1985,¬†I was still very much developing my taste in Custom Cars, I came across 10 small size Custom Car magazines at a car show I visited. This was the very first time I hold one of these small size early/mid 1950’s Rod & Custom magazine in my hand. Not many of these ever made it out to the Netherlands, so I had never really thought I would be able to find them here. But there they were, in a box underneath a table at the swap market section of this car show. There were a couple of Rod & Custom magazines, one Custom Cars magazine, an issue of Honk and a Car Speed & Style magazine.¬†Magazines ranging from 1954 till 1959. When I took them out and placed them on the table to take a closer look I noticed the sellers started to smile. After looking at them really quick with my hands still shacking, excited about my amazing find, I asked the seller how much for all ten. I expected an price way beyond my budget, (I was still in school back then and had very little money to spend) but the seller told me he was very happy somebody finally showed interest in these magazines. He had carried them to swap meets fro several years, and nobody ever looked at them. He made me a price for all 10 magazines I could not refuse. The seller was happy since he did not have to take them back home again and I was on top of the mountain with my first ever small size custom car magazines.

One of the Rod & Custom magazines from this set was the October 1954 issue, the one with the baby blue 1952 Ford Wagon on the cover. For several¬†years after this I was not able to find any other old custom car magazines in the Netherlands so these 10 were all I had and I read them over and over again, and its content formed my taste in customs in a big way. So this Baby blue ’52 Ford Ranch Wagon built and owned by Al Twitchell played a role in the Custom Cars I like today.


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Back in the 1980’s, my taste in Custom Cars was still developing, and I liked the much wilder Custom Cars much better, in fact for many years I could not understand why this almost stock looking ’52 Ford Wagon was chosen to be the Cover Car for this October issue and have a full four page feature inside. Don’t get me wrong, I did like it, but I thought every issue back then deserved a full wild Custom on the cover… I have learned a lot since then.

My guess is that one of the reasons for R&C magazine to put Al’s conservative Custom on the cover was to show that you did not need not have a full Custom, with a load of body work to make it into the magazines. And that car owners could do some of the milder body work and aftermarket parts adaption themselves, at home. This would be something good for the Magazine advertisers who advertise products for the customizers at home, so everybody was happy.

CCC-al-twitchell-52-wagon-11-wAl’s ’52 Custom Wagon parked next to a stock one.
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A couple of years ago¬†“mrspeedyt” shared some of his fathers old photos on the HAMB. To my surprise ¬†a couple of those showed a¬†series of snapshots of Al’s 52 Ford Wagon. I recognized the car immediately as the R&C cover car, when I saw the photos. Turns out¬†“mrspeedyt” was Al¬†Twitchell’s son. WOW.¬†I message him that his father’s ’52 Ford had been a huge influence in the style of Custom Cars I like today.Sadly his father had passed away in November 2010, so I was never able to tell him this in person.

Al Twitchell¬†was born and raised in hollywood. His¬†family moved to from maine to California¬†around 1920. Al’s¬†interest and employment was the ‘body shop’ until 1955. Besides doing some custom work for clients and his own cars he did primarily repair and paint work on cars. Al built several Custom Cars for¬†himself, this 1952 Ford was the last one he built.¬†After this Ford and being on the cover of R&C he kinda lost interest in building customs. But he would allways enjoy looking and talking about Custom Cars.

CCC-al-twitchell-52-wagon-10-wThe Dark blue section around the windows makes it looks like the top of the Wagon was slightly chopped.
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Al’s Ranch Wagon

The car was a mild custom with some really nice touched done by Al at his own body shop. Al already had a family with three kids, so the Wagon was chosen for its practicality. The car had all the right Custom touches that were designed in a way to improve the lines of the car, not just to customized it. The front of the car was modified with and reshaped hood which included a ’54 Ford lip, and a hammered out hood scoop. The grille surround has ’54¬†chrome trim added and the grille was built from ’54 Pontiac center piece, ’53 Ford parking lights and ’54 Ford grille wrap around end pieces. Instead of shaving the complete hood clean of all the emblems, al added the letters WAGON on the hood. The side was modified with ’54 Ford side trim, 1953 Mercury chrome strips on the rear quarters.¬†The rear of the wagon was modified with¬†54 Olds taillights¬†and the¬†tailgate¬†was modified by removing the license plate brackets and using vertical strips of a ’54 Pontiac wagon. The car was moderately lowered and a set of¬†’54 Chrysler hubcaps was mounted on wide white wall tires.¬†Al painted his wagon in a light blue with dark blue on the window posts.The photo makes the car look even better with the really great stuff going on in the back ground.


CCC-al-twitchell-52-wagon-09-wThe wagon was used as daily transportation for the Twitchell family, also during many road trips and family vacations as this snapshot show.
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CCC-al-twitchell-52-wagon-08-wA good look at the hammered out hood scoop, the molded in headlights and the hood lip. 
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CCC-al-twitchell-52-wagon-07-wComparing Custom and Stock, with molded in taillight pods and ’54 Olds taillights and same year olds wagon tailgate trim. The difference the dark blue section makes is also very good visible in these photo. Notice the cut out in the rear bumper to mount the license plate in.


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CCC-al-twitchell-52-wagon-04-wSide trim is from a 1954 Ford, the three side “scoop” chrome trims look absolutely in place on Al’s Wagon.
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The end result result is an very attractive mild practical custom, that looked good enough to make it on a magazine cover. The car showed me that even subtile modification can make a difference, and that you do not need to go wild all the time to create a stunning Custom.



The R&C article

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CCC-al-twitchell-52-wagon-12-wBesides talking about Al’s ’52 Ford, the R&C article talks about the Station Wagen in general to when the first station wagon was created in 1911.
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