Porterville 1950 Mercury

PORTERVILLE 1950 MERC

Who knows more about this mystery 1950 Mercury that was photographed in 1958 in Porterville California. The car was later found in San Diego.


UPDATED April – 11 – 2018



In July 2017 Derby Ahlstone from California send me some photos of an vintage 1950 Custom Mercury that a friend of his father considered to sell. He asked is I had seen this Mercury before, and knew more about its history. At the time I did remember seeing a few photos of a similar Mercury sitting in a garage with some boxes on top of it, but I could not find it in my archives. So I send a message to Anthony White, (the best source to go to if you have a Custom 49-51 Mercury that you like to know more about the history), asking if he knew more about the car.

Anthony sure knew more about the car, he recently had found an old High-School Yearbook photo showing the same Mercury in the late 1950’s that was shared by 46-to-64 on Instagram. It turned out to be a photo of a Del Simpson’s Service Station in Porterville Ca (between Fresno and Bakersfield) that showed a few cars, most likely of friends and or from the owners of the service station. One of the cars sure was the chopped Mercury from the photos Derby had send. The photo was shared by 46-to-64 on Instagram and came out of a 1958 Porterville High Shool yearbook.

46to64 Intagram post.
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Derby was very excited about the new information that the photo showed that the car was at least from 1958, and more likely even older than that. And that he now had a location the 1958 owner was located. Derby decided to buy the car from his late fathers friend, and shared some more information with us to see if we can find out some more info on the car’s history. Derby plans to restore the car back to how it used to be, but would like to know a bit more about it. All he has right now is the one photo from 1958, and of course everything on the car itself. So far we have not been able to find out more about who owned the car, and who was the original builder From what we can see in the photos it appears to have been restyled in the early to mid 1950’s, and was perhaps updated a bit here and there over the years.

The photo as it appeared in the 1958 Porterville High-School Yearbook.
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Close up of the Merc shows a little more of the details, and also the primer spots on the doors. The other dark sections is shadow from the late or very early in the day photo.
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This is all we know about the car.
The car was purchased by the previous owner (friend of Derby’s father) in 1971 in San Diego. From what has been told then the car had sit outside from 1967 till the moment it was sold. The guy, who is a Mercury guru stored it inside a barn where the photos in this article are taken at as well. Derby remembered seeing the Mercury every time him and his father went to visit the friend. And each time Derby asked his father to see if he could buy the Merc, but the friend never wanted to sell the car, until 2017. The previous owner has never been able to find any history of the car from before the time he bought it, only that it had been stored outside from 1967. The car came without an engine and there is still no engine in the car as it is today. The former owner figured all the work on the car was done in the late 1950’s.

This is how the car sat in the summer of 2017 in the garage of the previous owner.
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Frenched stock headlights, molded grille surround and splash pan and rounded hood corners. Lavender and light metallic blue paint are the colors the car was painted last. But we do not know when. It appears the car might have been painted white when it left the factory. And most likely it was primer white in the 1958 photo.
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The car was very dusty after having sit in the garage since 1971. But it was all there the same as how it was put in there.
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Narrowed 1955 DeSoto grille.
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Spotlight mounting brackets on the chopped A-pillars.
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The top was chopped, with the drip rails removed, a technique often used in the early to mid 1950’s. The sharp body line below the rear window was retained after the chop, most of the times this line was smoothed in the early years. The B-pillars were angled forward during the chop and the door rear top and bottom corners are rounded. All handles were removed (in the ’58 photo we can see primer spots were the handles used to be), the hood was nosed and the trunk decked. The grille shell was molded to the fenders and the hood corners are rounded. The stock grille was replaced by an narrowed 1955 DeSoto grille. The headlights are frenched, most likely using the stock Mercury headlights. The taillights of the Mercury were removed, the holes filled and the stock lenses placed lower on the rear fenders and molded in using hand made molded in surrounds for a smooth frenched look.




The chop on the car looks to be expertly done with all the fit and finish work done very well, including the chopped working vent windows.
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A look at the back shows the lowered taillights, straight corners on the trunk, nice flowing roof after the chop, with the character line below the rear window still in place.
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Close up of the nicely molded in and lower mounted stock 1950 Mercury taillights.
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A better look at the flow of the chopped top, the nice shape of the rear quarter window, angled forward B-pillar and rounded door corners. The rear quarter panels are not molded to the body. Notice the location of the door push button.
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Close up of the rear quarter windows, which are still pivoting, and the shaved drip rails.
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Quarter window at the passenger side.
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An very unique feature on this Mercury is that the body was actually channeled over the frame. Something we often read in the old magazine, but was actually very seldom done on the car. But this Mercury really was channeled. Not an easy task on the Mercury. The interior was done in pink and white and has some characteristics that indicate it could have been done in Tijuana, Mexico. Especially the rear bench is shaped unique and upholstered in a very particular way. The steering wheel, or what is left of it, is most likely added later, and so are the extra gauges below the stock dash.  The car had Dual Spotlights with interior handles (not the Dummy kind). The side trim appears to be 1955 Buick, and on both sides of the car a bush button to open the doors was located between the top of the side trim and the door character-line, a rather unusual spot for this, since most of the time these buttons were hidden as much as possible. At this point it looks like the car might have been painted a lavender, as well as a light metallic blue.

Interior photo showing the amount the body was channeled over the frame.
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Pink/lavender painted dash with later added steering wheel and extra gauges. Notice the unique upholstery on the engine and drive shaft tunnel.
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Custom rear seat with unique upholstery… what is left of it.
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Pink upholstery.
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Rear quarter interior panel.
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Closer look at the pink upholstery.
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White or perhaps light gray carpet with pink piping.
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We, and especially Derby would love to know more about the history of this Mercury, where was this car restyled, and by whom? And who was the owner of the car, originally, or when the 1958 photo was taken, and what happened to the car after that. How did it end up in San Diego? If any of our readers has seen this car before, or knows more about it, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to know and share the information with the Derby, the car owner, and add it to this article.



UPDATE April 2018

From Derby

“First I want to thank many of you that spent the time to help me search for the history about this car.
I was able to correspond with Barry Simpson Sr. who is 2nd from the right in the old B&W photo, he was the son of the owner of the gas station. He owned the Corvette next to him (not bad at the age of 20!). Anyway, the gentleman next to him is Audie Galloway who owned the Mercury in 1958. He worked at the Gas Station and is the one standing next to Mercury. He did pass away in 98. Barry also mentioned that there was a “The Mad Russian” in the area who used wire hangers for welding rod and no bondo/lead‚Ķ (implying that he was quite the craftsman), but did not know if this “The Mad Russian” worked on the car or not.

The Mad Russian” or “The Russian” did the body work in Strathmore, California. Apparently he was quite the craftsman and was known to hammer weld the seams. As a side note, William John Vukovich Sr was a Serbian American automobile racing driver who lived in nearby in Fresno. He was also referred to as “The Mad Russian” although he was actually Serbian. Unfortunately, he passed away racing at Indy in 1955. Perhaps a relative of his had a body shop… So if anyone knows the name of this person or shop he worked at would be much appreciated.

For now, Barry does not remember much more. Unfortunately, it looks like Audie passed away in 1998. I have tried to reach out to Linda/Lynda Galloway (either his daughter or wife), but no luck yet…

I believe that the Owner between Audie Galloway and the person I purchased from (Merle Fourez) is Louis Anthony LaVorin Sr. from Spring Valley, CA (San Diego area). Unfortunately, he passed away in 2013 at the age of 95 (and his wife as well). I have reached out to his relatives, but no returned phone calls… My guess he purchased in early 1960s then sold in 1977

So the question is does anyone know of Audi Galloway or a Russian Body Man based in the Porterville area in the 1950-60s? It would seem like Barry and the Russian (if he did the body work) would have gotten some attention at car shows back in the day…


Derby found this photo in the 1957 Porterville High School Yearbook which states that Marty’s Upholstery (Marty Martin) did the interior work. It appears that Marty’s is in business today being run as a side business by a son of one of Marty’s employees from the 1950s. Still waiting to hear back, in case he has any additional new information about the car.
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The owner I purchased the car from found the inside front door panels. Pretty cool, even has the letter “A” sewn in and electric window switches still in tact. Also matches the photo from the yearbook.
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“My Plans For the Car – Now that I have this car (along with other projects), I need to find the time, space, and money (like all of us car guys) to move forward. My initial thought is to get it running as-is (keeping the dust/dirt on the car as long as possible). Then eventually do a full restoration back to how it was done originally (I am hoping, eventually, I figure that out).
Thanks Again Everyone!”

Map of California highlighting Porterville where the car was photographed in 1958 and San Diego where the car was found in the early 1970’s.
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Derby Ahlstone is no stranger when it comes to restoring historic Custom Cars, Derby owns and restored the Coachcraft created Paul Plannette 1939-40 Mercury Roadster.
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Anthony White Collection

 

ANTHONY WHITE COLLECTION

 

Anthony White, Pin-striper extraordinary, historic Custom Merc owner, collector of vintage photos and walking Custom Car encyclopedia, an introduction.



I have been in contact with Anthony White for many years… well on the computer that is. We “met” for the first time on the HAMB where he was one of the die-hard custom car guys. One of the guys that always shared his knowledge in word and pictures. I soon found out that Anthony was an authority when it came to historic Custom Cars, both from the 1950’s and especially from the revival of the 1980’s and 90’s. His knowledge of especially the east coast cars from this last period is astonishing. If somebody asked a question about a specific red Merc that he had seen at an 1986 show, then Anthony would reply with the name of the owner, the builder, the body modifications… and a little later if at all possible a photo to proof it as well. Anthony loved everything Custom Car, and absorbed as much as he could, and best of all he shared everything he knew and had, with everybody who wanted to know about it.

Over the years we have stayed in contact, and for the last couple of years mostly on Facebook, when he shares photos from his huge collection, pictures of his latest incredible fine, straight and detailed pin-striping jobs, and all kinds of Custom Car trivia. A new facebook post from Anthony is always a pleasure.
Now its time to pay some attention to Anthony White here on the Custom Car Chronicle. In this article we will highlight a few of the many photos from his collection, and share some info on the historical Custom Merc that was owned by his family since 1985. We will share much more of his photo collection on the CCC-Forum, and will continue to update that with new material when Anthony shares it on his Facebook or Instagram pages.

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-11Anthony White with his Frank Maratta ’49 Mercury¬†original built in 1956.
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Anthony White was born in NYC¬†and¬†raised in Rockland county New York. He lived in¬†South Florida for 6 years until 2009 and now he lives¬†in New Jersey.His¬†interest for Custom Cars started in kindergarten when his¬†mother bought him a copy of the book¬†“Grease Machines“.¬†His¬†father sam Anthony with the book and started to read in it as well. He¬†started telling tales of his mild custom 49/50 Mercs he had when he lived in Washington Heights NYC.

Anthony read the book cover to cover, over and over again. He noticed the¬†creativity in the restyling and terms like nosing, decking and his use of ’55 DeSoto side trim captured his¬†attention immediately! His Custom Car brain-data-base was starting to take shape back when he was a little kid.¬†Shortly after that, (at age 7) Anthony¬†was taken to Lead East where he¬†met Barry Mazza and Bob Nitti and the Kustom Knights. These Custom Car hero’s were all very impressed with young Anthony’s knowledge of Custom Cars and were all very eager to help him any way they could from then one. Anthony remembered that at one point ath the Lead East show he yelled at his mother, “Look mom, a Barris Merc with fadeaways” Of course, it wasn’t.


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Anthony continued to visit as many east coast Custom Car shows as he could, and started to take as many pictures as his allowances allowed him to. He kept every single photo he has ever taken. He also started to buy the magazines that covered Custom Cars and at each show he went to he tried to find the old guys who could tach him more about Custom Car history. He also¬†was introduced to¬†one of the most knowledgeable Kustom Historians on the planet, Mr Ray Soff of Saddle Brook N.J. and they would become good friends. Years later Mr Ray Soff’s incredible photo collection would help Anthony identify the family Custom Mercury.


I never forgot a single true 50s/60s style KUSTOM I’ve ever seen. I remember every curve of every modification of every car I see and have since childhood




The Frank Maratta Remington ’49 Mercury

To give the family something to enjoy at the Kustom Car hows shows, which had become like religion for the White family, they bought an old chopped Custom Mercury in 1985. They knew it was an old custom car, but nobody knew anything about it, who had built it, or when. ¬†Anthony¬†had seen a picture of this car in an old magazine when the car was first built in 1953 as a mild custom, but he could not proof it was the same car, since the car was now¬†chopped. Not too long after the car was bought the had taken it to a Kustom Knights picnic.¬†While Anthony was browsing thru a¬†pile of Ray Soff’s old pics¬†he spotted the family Mercury among the photos.¬†Anthony¬†was then able to verify what he¬†already suspected, that it was the George Remington car from Astoria, Queens in NYC with certainty. The funny thing was that Ray was very well aware of the photos he had, but did not know it was the White family Merc until Anthony pointed it out.


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The car was done first as a mild custom car with DeSoto grille and spare tire cover on the back, typical for the east coast style. The car like this was featured in Car Life magazine in February 1954. It was this magazine that Anthony had seen it for the first time.¬†The photos had already been taken in 1953, since later in 1953 the car was crashed in a New England sanctioned road race. George Remington took the damaged car to Frank Maratta’s body show in Hartford Connecticut in 1953. Over a period of time Frank turned the ’49 Mercury in an great looking full¬†Custom. He did the collision work, rounded the hood corners with a large radius,¬†Chopped the top¬†Did the tail lights which are 4 frenched stock lenses¬†and painted it bright gold. The car’s restyling was inspired by the Ayala brothers built Wally Welch Mercury. (Anthony once found several Wally Welch Mercury clippings in the material he had received from George Remington.)¬†


The car was finished in 1956 and showed at the¬†1956 Hartford Autorama. Frank had painted the car gold, possibly inspired by the lime gold on the Ayala built Wally Welch Mercury. But George Remington never liked it, so he repainted it ’56 Chrysler maroon as soon as he picked it up from Maratta. George hold on to the car until 1972 when he¬†sold it¬†to Ed Soffco, who put a 445 engine out of a ’37 Chevy gasser in the car. ¬†When the White family bought the car in 1985, it was owned by John Burgess. When¬†John¬†owned the car he got hold of some of the color photos of the mercury in red. He later donated them to Anthony. Back in 1985 John was aware of the name¬†Frank Maratta, but at the time he did not know who he was, and that he was the builder of the car. So Franks name was not mentioned when the White family bought the car. Much later when Anthony talked to John¬†again¬†the puzzle was coming together.

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-19This photo was taken at the 1956 Hartford Autorama. Frank Maratta from Hartford Conn. had recently finished the 1949 Mercury and painted it gold. It was like this how it appeared at this show. 
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-02This was a pic taken by George Remington in the mid 60’s of his Merc. The color was 56 Chrysler maroon which was immediately done after picking up the car and hating the fact that Maratta painted it gold!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-13Anthony tracked down Mr George Remington, the original owner of the  Merc, and he drove to his house when I was 15. The man showed up in the same customized Volkswagen bus that he got rid of the Mercury for in 1971. He gave Anthony the 2nd place cup that the car won in the Hartford Autorama! George Remington sitting in his old Merc and a young Anthony standing.
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The White family found¬†the Mercury in ’85 when Anthony was 11 years old. Can you imagine what that must have been for a kid who was to full of Custom Cars, to have an historic Custom Merc parked in the garage. After having enjoyed the Mercury for many years it was time for a rebuild in the early ’90’s.

In 1991 the car was sub-framed by Barry Mazza, and the 455 Olds (which came¬†out of a straight axle ’37 Chevy) was removed and replaced with a small block. In¬†2002 -3 David Adamski (Slag Kustom) did a lot of work on the car. He makes and repairs the splash pan and does some painstaking structural repair in his free time.¬†Bob Falco did patches on the door and quarters to fix some of the rot on the car.

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-10This is how the Merc looks in 2016, wearing black primer… for now.
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After moving to Florida, where he stayed for 6 years Anthony did not work much on the Mercury. The only work he was able to do during this time was on the engine bay and some bodywork on the nose. Anthony did all the body work on the engine bay, smoothed out all the panels and painted it the bay in Barcelona red. In 2010, Anthony was back in New Jersey, when Russ Montelbano dedicated himself to the car. Russ is owner of North Jersey Kustoms and he really came to the rescue. He want over everything mechanically, making sure it is road worthy before countless hours of bodywork and dealing with decades of previous owners mistakes. His work ethic and ability to make what was so hard for Anthony seem easy. The car is now in black primer and all back together, and perhaps more important, back on the road! Russ will be resuming work on the car before long, with finally a gloss color on the body again.




The photo collection

Over the years Anthony has searched for, and found many old photos of custom cars. He has his own collection of photos that he took from a very young age at the Custom Car shows he visited with his family. He also traded material with other collectors and friends. And the best of it all, he loves to share it. Anthony loves to share his passion for Custom Cars, his knowledge and he hopes to inspired others to do the same, and be inspired to create better looking Custom Cars. When we asked Anthony if he made notes on the photos he took and others that are part of his collection he said… “No, I memorized everything”. Amazing!¬†

CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-05This wonderful pic was introduced to me by one of the most knowledgeable Kustom Historians on the planet, Mr Ray Soff of Saddle Brook N.J. It was taken outside of Tony Bruskivage’s North Jersey shop in the early 60’s. The car is in South Florida now. I last saw it 8 years ago as an unfinished street machine with flared wheel wells, a few lifetimes from what you see here!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-08If it looks like Herb Gary and it smells like Herb Gary, it most likely be. But right now wer are not 100% sure. Anthony is still checking for more info on this beauty.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-12This is Anthony’s person¬†favorite photo¬†from all the photos¬†shared with¬†the world! He¬†got it from the man you see pictured, Mr Bob Barkoff of New Jersey. Bob would chop the top not too long after this photo was taken. The car later known as “Bob’s Chopper” was the first chopped Merc Anthony¬†would see in person! When he saw the car it¬†was owned by Sammy DeJohn. Bob now has a candy magenta 51 and you can almost tell the same guy owned both, 55 years after the pic was taken!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-09This was my friend Harold Olsen moments before I met him when I was 11. After He heard that I knew that Vern Lacey, Joe Wilhelm and Rod Powell worked on his famous 54 Buick, I got introduced to Gene Winfield, Rod Powell, The Alexander Brothers and Les Pratt in the next hour!! What a day that was at the Lead sled Spectacular in 85. R.I.P. Harold!!! What a wonderful friend you became!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-14Anthony¬†at age¬†9…
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-04 This 57 Olds was a wild old Kustom that I photographed at the 1990 James Dean run in Gas City Indiana in 1990. The car was owned by Chuck Reeves.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-03Anthony took this picture in Springfield Ohio in 1985 at age 11. He never saw the car again!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-06This wonderful old Kustom from Va. captured my heart in Gettysburg Pa in the late 80’s. The guys with the car didn’t have much information. Since then, I’ve seen it on the net in the Maryland or Pa area with a patina 53 DeSoto grille in it but have yet to talk to the owner in person.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-07This was a beautiful 50 Merc chopped by Terry Rielly and when this pic was taken, owned by Joel Scheipe, then of Elmont NY. It is being redone today by Lugwig Kustoms in Pa.
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Anthony sees a lot of great Customs at the cars shows he visits, both for fun and for striping. He always takes plenty of photos of the cars at the shows and shares the most interesting with his friends on his Instagram and Facebook pages. It is one of his ways to share his passion for Kustom Cars, and share the style and details he enjoys best. He also loves to discuss every Custom Car in detail, and what was done to it, and what should have perhaps done to it. Anthony is a walking Custom Car dictionary. His knowledge of Custom Cars their history, who build them, what happened to them and where they are now is just beyond believe.


CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-18Anthony¬†loves Bob Mishko’s 49 Ford 4-door¬†with a coupe roof because it carries the short door coupe idea from 41-48 into a 49-51 model! He¬†has seen this treatment done on Mercs and it didn’t work nearly as well. Bob came up with a successful phantom body-style that never existed!
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-01This Merc, owned by Tommy Delv was clearly influenced by¬†Larry Lorenzo’s¬†famous chopped Merc convertible! Tommy is a Kustom nut who still has the little scooter I striped for him and his dad when he was 11.¬†The chopped Merc on the right is Anthony’s¬†Frank Maratta built ’49.
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The Anthony White Photo Collection is way to big to be shared here on the main CCC-Site, so we have opened an thread on the CCC-Forum where we will be sharing the photos from his collection. We will add material to it over a period of time, and continue to do add new material when Anthony is sharing more. Both from his vintage collection as well as the most interesting material from the Custom Cars he captures these days.¬†The sign below will bring you to the CCC-Forum-Post with the Anthony White Photo Collection. Enjoy…
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Anthony’s Artwork

At 15, Anthony began a mission to do the most tasteful technically perfect Pinstriping possible. He has done thousands of jobs in a style rooted in the early kustom scene but as organic and technical at the same time. His super straight extra thin lines are legendary.

According to Anthony he¬†was really a Custom Car artist, he¬†was an illustrator or at least he¬†thought he¬†was, then 15 years ago he was diagnosed with¬†Multiple Sclerosis which changed everything. He¬†only did two¬†drawings out of his¬†head in the past 6 years. He mentioned “Maybe it’s lack of practice because I’m in pretty good shape considering”.
We have seen several of Anthony’s drawing and they are really fantastic with lots of little restyling ideas, the Custom Car builders can find¬†inspiration from for many years to come.


Pinstriping is my trade and it has driven me to the brink of insanity but Kustoms are my passion and my obsession


CCC-anthony-white-Collection-photo-17Anthony striping a Thunderbird trunk.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-illustration-01Anthony created this from memory, with no reference material 2 years ago.
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CCC-anthony-white-Collection-illustration-02Anthony designed this car for a friend… if she was a car in her past life!
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My best memories are discussing builds by top guys and seeing cars influenced by our discussions



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