1955 Thrifty Parking Lot Show

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55 THRIFTY PARKING LOT

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1955 Hot Rod and Custom Car show held at the new Thrifty Drug Store on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.

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Original article from August 09, 2018, updated August 26, 2019.

In the 1950’s it was very common to organize Hot Rod and Custom Car shows at the local parking lots large public facilities as drug stores, stadiums etc. The parking lots were huge easily accessible and it was easy to rope off a section for the show. One of the most famous of these parking lot Shows was a show with high end custom cars held at an Los Angeles Thrifty Drug store in May 1954 which we covered in this CCC-Article.

Since we did that article I have been collecting photos of outdoor parking lot car shows I came across to add to this what I hope to become a series on parking lot car show articles. Several early and mid 1950’s magazines had a few photos taken at these parking lot shows which I had not been able to identify until I came across an article on the Hot Rod Magazine Article featuring some really great photos taken by Rick Rickman.

One photo in particular stood out to me. A picture taken at a Thrifty Drug store in May 1955 showing the Hirohata Mercury, in it later lime gold paint, Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury and Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford. And while drooling over that photo I realized I had seen a few more photos taken at the same location, and now I was able to place them all at one May 5th, 1955 event held at the Thrifty Drug Store at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. And, perhaps just as important. The photo caption from the Hot Rod magazine article explained why these car shows were held at the Thrifty Drug Show… and how it was possible that all these high end Custom Cars were at this and the 1954 show.

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This was taken at a show at a Thrifty drug store on May 5, 1955, at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Hollywood Blvd. From right to left we can see, Bob Hirohata’s 1951 Mercury with the new (after the Running Wild movie shoot) lime gold paint job, and door mounted mirror, Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury (both by Barris), next to Dave’s Merc is Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford restyled by Bear Customs, and next to that we can see the top and a few other small details of what most likely is the 1948 Mercury of Cliff Rackohn (thanks Anthony White for identifying that one) Behind Bob’s Ford we can see a ’46 Chevy panel truck with roof rack, which was most likely used by Rick Rickman to make the overhead photos.

From the Hot Rod magazine article

Three rolls that Rickman logged into Petersen’s in-house lab on May 9, 1955, as “Thrifty Drug NHRA Show” mystified archive divers for decades. In our July 2010 issue, founding HRD editor David Freiburger published six pages of parking-lot pictures, including one showing NHRA’s third employee and Drag Safari organizer, Chic Cannon, with an L.A. sheriff’s deputy. Left unexplained were who organized the event, and why, and how a gathering of so many famous hot rods, race cars, sport specials, and especially customs apparently never made HRM or its sister magazines.

In 2013, Cannon’s autobiography answered the first two questions: “Since I had some experience organizing car clubs, Wally gave me the position of [NHRA] National Club Advisor. My cousin, Art Crawford, was in marketing … and had Thrifty Drug Stores as a client of his. They were developing new shopping centers all over Southern California, and Art asked me to help promote the grand openings…. So in 1954 and ’55, I organized about a dozen car shows.” As for why at least two were thoroughly photographed on Petersen film but never made print, Chic’s insight leads us to suspect that Rick’s assignment came from NHRA president Wally Parks—not his HRM boss and editor, also named Wally Parks.

Possibly the photo lab supplied sets of prints, only, to NHRA and/or Chic’s cousin for promotional purposes, while the negatives were filed, as usual, with the publishing company.

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Close up of the Hirohata Mercury which was at the 1955 show with the new lime gold and organic green below the Buick spear paint. The color was changed, because it needed to be updated after having been on the road for a few years, but also because a darker hue would show better on camera for the Running Wild movie. Most likely the Mercury was still owned by Bob Hirohata, but he did sell it in 1955. Notice both the hood and trunk are open, and the public can come very close to the cars, even touch it.

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The Dave Bugarin ’51 Mercury and Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford a bit more close up. It must have been an amazing sight to see these high quality, magazine featured and show award winning Customs lined up in the parking lot.

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Here’s a shot of the other side of the parking lot. Possibly taken from the roof of the Hovey 1946 Chevy panel truck we can see in the top photo. In the foreground are Dave Bugarin’s ’51 Merc, next to the Hirohata Merc, and unidentified chopped padded top early 40’s Chevy and two more light colored customs I have not been able to identify. On the other sied are three drag cars including the Sparks & Bonny Willys and on the far right we can see the front of the pale yellow Chuck Porter truck. It is amazing to see that people could walk up to the car and even touch them.

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Close up of the Hirohata Mercury and Dave Bugarin Mercury, both Barris Kustom Shop creations.

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Taken from the same high location as the previous photo, but taken at a different angle shows Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford the best of all the known photos shared from this event.

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Show officials checking out the Hirohata Merc.

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The Ayala/Barris Bettancourt Mercury also made an appearance.

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Also taken from the roof rack, but now facing the opposite direction from the photos shown earlier. This side of the parking lot had more of the Hot Rod entries. The only car I recognize is the ’34 Ford with the padded top which was owned by Earl Schieb or possibly his son, Al at the time.

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Slightly different perspective.

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Mild custom line up on the road side.

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Mild Mercury Hard-Top with ’53 Pontiac Wagon taillights.

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Subtle touches on this early 50’s Chevy convertible.

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Love the super smooth rear end of the 1952 Chevy fastback, especially interesting are the taillights in the Kaiser over-rider. ’51 Ford Sedan looks good with the Pontiac grille bar and smoothed hood. Simple, but very effective.

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Many thanks to the Petersen Archive for sharing these amazing photos on the Hot Rod Magazine website. And hopefully many more from those 3 rolls of film that Rick Rickman took in 1955 of this event will be shared. And hopefully more of the 1954 and perhaps any of the other events held at the Thrifty parking lot will be shared. With such top cars in attendance at these outdoor events it would make sense if many more photos were taken. By professional photographers, as well as by car owners and those who came to look at the cars at these free Custom Car Shows. If any of our readers know about more photos from these events, or know more about the events themselves, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle.

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There were quite a few photos of this customized Muntz with Hemi engine. I guess Rick Rickman realy liked it, or perhaps planned to do a feature on it?

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Awards

David Zivot send us two photo of a Trophy from his Personal Collection.
“This trophy from my personal collection
was awarded to the 2nd Place winner at a Thrifty Drugs grand opening less than a week earlier than the show from this article. It appears that the Thrifty and Alexander’s Market sponsored show (in cooperation with the NHRA) was held one street over on Sunset & Vermont, at the Barnsdall Shopping Center.
It would be very interesting to discover which customs were in attendance at this show, and who won this 2nd Place award.”

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These photos, the awards and the notes from the Hot Rod Magazine article that there were a series of Car Show held at the Thrifty Drug Store parking lots across LA makes me really wonder how many of these shows were held in 1954-55. And how they were advertised. So far I have still not been able to find any announcement for these shows. Possibly announcements were made in the local news-paper, or perhaps posters were made that were distributed at the local hang-outs? Who knows more?

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1954 aerial view showing the parking lot where the ’55 Car Show was held.

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Lopez 41 Ford Magazine prepped

 

LOPEZ 41 Ford Magazine Prep

 

In the old day, before Photoshop, photos were retouched by hand. Using fine brushes or airbrushed details were added or backgrounds deleted.



This photo of the Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford, used for a magazine print comes from the Barris Kustom Collection. It is a great sample that shows how photos were retouched, or prepped in any other way for magazine or book printing. Today, photos get retouched digitally, using Photoshop, or similar photo editing program on the computer. But before there were desk top computer this retouching was done all by hand. By skilled craftsman who used fine brushes with many shaded of gray, white and black to fine tune black and white photos. Often photos that were going to be used in magazine or book printing had to be enhanced in a way to make sure the image looked the best in print form.

Printing techniques were not as high-tech and detailed as they are today, resulting in that photos needed to have a higher contrast to begin with to make sure the end result would not turn out as a black blob in case of black and white printing. This photo of the Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford, which was actually owned by Danny Lares when this photo was taken is a wonderful sample. It shows how photos had the back ground removed, to high light just the subject car. The background was “simply” painted white with water thinned paint. Water thinned paint was used to ensure the photo could go back to original simply by rinsing it in water.

Photo from the Barris Collection with the hand painted white background still in place.
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This ’41 Ford sample photo shows how the background was “taken out” with the white paint, and also shows how some of the details were slightly enhanced using subtile lighter color fades added using an airbrush. Details like this made sure there would still be some details left after the printing process, especially important with dark painted cars like the Lopez Ford which was dark green, but appeared more like black in every black and white photo.

Techniques like this were developed in the early 1900’s, and continued to be used until the Computer made its entry in the graphic world in the mid 1980’s. This particular photo has several markings which makes it hard to figure out when the retouch and background removal actually happened. The photo clearly is old, and looks to be from the mid 1950’s. But on the top right it can be read that the photo was planned to be used in Street Rodder magazine from May 1982. The “Outline” lettering looks like it dates back to the 1950’s. So possibly the photo was used with the car set free from the back ground several times.

Outline was written down as instructed by the art-director, to make sure the prep people at the print shop would know what to do with the photo.
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Close up details shows that the Sam Barris chopped rear quarters were not followed exactly by the artist who applied the white paint. But, in his, or her defense, making these brush strokes with the back ground of the photo still visible is not easy.
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Over time the water diluted white paint dried up to where it started to crack. making it look really beautiful.
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The details of the outlining are far from perfect when you look at it close up, but ones the photo was prepped for reproduction and printing plates in the rather course grid were created it all looked just fine.
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The original photo of the Lopez Ford was so dark that it was hard to see the door lines. So a light mist was airbrushed separating the door from the rest of the body
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The rear fender shows some added highlight fading at the top, and at the lower section on the fender skirt.
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I have not been able to find the actual magazine printed version of this set free Jesse Lopez / Danny Lares ’41 Ford, there is one similar that was used in several early publications, but that shows the car with the short hood trim, no Barris crest and single bar flipper hubcaps.


The is the only similar, but different photo of the Jesse Lopez Ford I could find that had been set free from the background. It is however a good sample to show how the end result looked like. This one was used in the Dan Post Blue book of Custom Restyling.
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What happened to Panoramic Ford

 

WHAT HAPPENED to PANORAMIC FORD

 

One of the Custom Car Icons the Buster Litton Panoramic Ford has been lost for many decades. Perhaps this new info will lead to the answer to what happened to the Panoramic Ford.



With the help of Rob Radcliffe who interviewed Buster Litton and Don Schaedel, original and second owner of the car, about the Barris/Cerny restyled 1949 Panoramic Ford, we have created a two part article here on the CCC in 2015. With all the unique information Rob and me had gathered we were able to get an accurate history on this Iconic ’49 Ford Hard Top written down. We shared some never before seen material that was shared by Buster Litton and Don Schaedel, and were able to trace the history of the car back to 1957.

The Panormic Ford when Buster Litton owned the car.
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In 1957 Don Shaedel, who had owned the car since the early summer of 1954, traded the Hard-topped Ford for a sectioned Shoebox and never sees his beloved custom again. Despite all the efforts we have not been able to find any trace of the cars after 1957… until September 24th 2018.  That day I received an email from Claudia, who had seen the articles on the Buster Litton on the Custom Car Chronicle and clearly remembers the car from 1960-62 time frame.

At that time Claudia was 12-14 years old she new this guy named Darrel Wienkuaf  (Update correct spelling is: Daryl Weinkauf) from Pipestone, Minnesota. Claudia was friends wit Daryl brother Curtis, and she remembered the car here friends older brother had from 1960 till around 1962. She remembered the details on the car clearly, since she really liked it, and remembered the Barris Crest still being on the car, and the hard-topped roof. She has no idea what happened to the car after 1962.

I have tried to find out more about Darrel Wienkuaf (as Claudia spelled it) but perhaps it is spelled Weinkauf (which very much sounds like a German name) from Pipestone, Minnesota. But so far I have found nothing. So I hope that perhaps some of our readers know people from that erea, or perhaps know more about a possible car scene in Pipestone, Minnesota or surrounding area in the early 1960’s. Hopefully we can come up with some more info on the Panoramic Ford being owned by Darrel from 1960-62, and possibly what happened to the car after that.

The Panoramic Ford when Don Schaedel’s owned it parked on the drive way at his home in Lynnwood, Ca.
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Update October 02, 2018

Larry Pointer did some digging after reading this article, and this is what he came up with.

Daryl Eugene Weinkauf, born 29 July, 1938. Son of Arnold and Hazel, living in Sweet, Pipestone County, Minnesota in 1940, He was listed in the census as about l year old, with a brother, William age 2 1/2. I fount a South Dakota marriage for Darryl and I believe a Janice… 18, September, 1958, in Hughes, Pierre County South Dakota. BUT, a divorce in California from a spouse Janice J., 28 December 1984, San Bernadino.
The Find-A-Grave website listed his death, 27 May, 2015, age 76. He is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside County, Califorinia.

On the Panoramic lead, I found Daryl E Weinkauf on the Camp Pendelton, CA US Marines muster rolls from July 1956 through January 1958. This puts him in California at about the time he could have seen that Panoramic Ford, and then purchased it and took it back to his parents’ home in Pipestone, by the time that your source Claudia would have seen it there.

 

On Instagram Joe Bronco did some digging as well.

Joe was able to get in touch with the son of Curtis Weinkauf, the boyfriend Claudia mentioned. The son talked to his father Curtis to ask about the car, and he could not remember much about it at this moment he for sure did not know what happened to the car after his brother sold it. But he would ask as around some more, perhaps some other family members might know more about it. Curtis mentioned that the time frame might be slightly off. So hopefully we will get more input on that as well. At this moment he thought there were no photos of the car, but they will be looking. Hopefully some family snapshot might show it.
Lets keep our fingers crossed.

 



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Timeframe on the Panoramic Ford

  • 1950-1951 first owner Allen Anderson takes his 1949 Ford Coupe to the Barris Kustom shop to have them build a full custom out of the car. Allen requests the top to be chopped and turned into a hard-top style.
  • 1951 the Barris Kustom Shop, most likely Sam Barris, create one of the best looking chops ever done, on Allen’s Shoebox. They also install one of the 1951 Studebaker front fenders
  • 1952 Buster Litton buys the unfinished project from Allen Anderson.
  • 1952 Buster hires the Barris shop to finish the started work on the car an has them create the custom grille.
  • 1952 Buster brings the car home after the Baris shop has finished the work and painted the car with primer.
  • 1953 Buster takes the car to George And Carl Cerny’s shop to have them restyle the rear of the car to match the work on the front.
  • 1953 painted in a wonderfull deep coco rust lacquer by Doug Anderson, who worked at the Cerny shop.
  • 1954 adding Ford accessory bumper gards up front and modified Kaiser bar with exhaust thru the bullets on the rear bumper.
  • 1954 adding Barris crests.
  • 1954 February, winning awards at the Motorama and National Roadster Show.
  • 1954 May-June selling/trading the car to Don Schaedel. Don gives Buster his mildly customized 1951 Mercury Convertible in trade for the Ford plus some cash.
  • 1954 Don removes the front Ford Accessory bumper guards since he felt they where to tall for the car.
  • 1957 Don trades the Panoramic Ford for a sectioned Shoebox Ford, and looses track of the Panoramic Ford soon after that.
  • 1957 – 1960 We have no info on where the car was during these years.
  • 1960 – 1962 Daryl Weinkauf from Pipestone, Minnesota owned the car.
  • 1962 and up We have no info on the cars wear-about after 1962

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If anybody knows anything more about Darrel Wienkuaf or Darrel WeinKauf from Pipestone, Minnesota. Or does know anything about a car scene from this area in the early 1960’s. Please let us know. We would love to get in touch with people who know more about the Panoramic Ford during this period, and possibly find out what happened to it. Please Email Rik if you can help us with the search from this long lost Iconic Custom Car. Thank you.





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1947-48 Buick Gaylord Tops

 

1947-48 BUICK GAYLORD TOPS

 

Bill Gaylord created a couple of stunning looking super long chopped padded tops for 1947-48 Buicks that completely transformed the looks of those cars. A closer look.



I was browsing thru some old photos to get some inspiration for a Digital Restyling project I was working on when I noticed the really long padded top, and especially the long rear quarters on the Buick in the opening photo from the Bill Gaylord Collection. It made me think of the Ben Mario and Don Vaughn Buick’s that were restyled at the Barris Kustom Shop, and both had similar shaped, but with panoramic rear window, Gaylord padded tops. It also reminded me of the padded top Bill Gaylord did on George Barris his personal 1942 Cadillac, which had the same huge rear compartment that he covered with full length padded top with beautiful flowing shapes.




Bill Gaylord was a true artist when it came to smooth flowing shaped padded tops, and there was a reason that the Barris Shop took many of their streamlined Customs to Gaylord, instead of the Carson Top Shop. Carson was known for their slightly more boxy padded tops, very nice, and perfect on certain type of Customs. But when it came to the mid to late 1940’s GM cars, like the ’47-48 Buick’s in this article, the Gaylord Kustom Tops shop was THE place to go to.

Stock 1947-48 Buick Convertible at the Gaylord Kustom Top Shop, possibly waiting to get the windshield chopped and a full padded top done. This photo shows the car with the stock folding top, and how the car original has a rear quarter window. Which makes the full length padded top look so special on these. The car is not the same one I think as the one below, notice the spotlight on the stock one, and non on the one chopped below. That is Bill’s personal chopped ’49 Merc behind the Buick.
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Chopped windshield, super sleek Gaylord padded top, lowered suspension and smoothed hood. All that is needed to make this Buick look super nice, and a mile long. I wonder if the owner perhaps saved up to have more work done at a later stage, as in shaved door handles, frenched headlights…
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Close up of the chopped padded Gaylord top. Perfectly shaped, with beautiful flow of the rear of the top and the just right angle of the B-Pillar.
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This is such a great photo showing Bill Gaylord’s personal ’49 Mercury with the chopped top still in progress, Ben Mario’s Barris restyled ’47 Buick with none buffed paint, or perhaps primer? with the top still at stock height, and Bill Gaylord’s personal ’41 Ford with super low padded top behind it.
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Close up of Ben Mario’s Buick from the photo above.
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Different photo, taken the same day as the one above shows the satin finish of the paint job on Ben Mario’s Buick. The guy all the way on the right looks a lot as a young George Barris.
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Ben Mario’s ’47 Buick was restyled at the Barris shop as a none chopped custom at first. The custom interior was done by Bill Gaylord. This photo of the car was taken later when the paint was completely polished, and a cover was added over the rear seat.
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Later the windshield was chopped on Ben Mario’s Buick and Bill Gaylord created a beautiful super long padded top with panoramic rear window.
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Ben Mario’s 1948 Buick photo that looks to be taken at the Hot Rod Show at the Los Angeles Armory, most likely in Jan 1950. Notice that the sign behind the car reads Barris Kustom Shop Bell. In March 1950 the Barris Shop moved to the new Lynwood Location.
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Barris and Gaylord advertised combined in Motor Trend magazine and the Ben Mario Buick was used to illustrate Bill’s Interior Skill’s and the Barris Shop’s body work and design skills. Sadly Bill Gaylord went into the military right when the magazine with this ad hit the newsstand, so there was nobody at the shop to welcome any new customers responding to the ad.
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Don Vaughn’s Barris  Restyled ’47 Buick. Notice the very round shape of the rear of the side window opening. Very different that the light colored Buick at the start of this article.
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Don Vaughn’s ’47 Buick might was very similar styled as Ben Mario’s Buick. And there are some stories around that mention the the Mario and Vaughn Buick’s are the same car. So far we have not been able to find any evidence for that, but the resemblance sure is remarkable.
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Close up of the Gaylord Panoramic rear window he added to the chopped padded top. The glass was made from shaped plexiglass.
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The flow of the top into the trunk is so nice on these Gaylord tops. They enhance all the Barris Restyled elements very well.
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This possibly is the Ben Mario or Don Vaughn Barris / Gaylord restyled 1948 Buick. The photo was taken quite a few years ago, and we do not know where it is, or who owns it. But the rumor is it is the original Barris Restyled Buick with the Gaylord created padded top frame in place. The one odd thing about the car in the photo is that it shows a door handle in place, which was shaved on both the Mario, and Vaughn Buick. Hopefully the future will bring more info on this mystery.
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The Japan – How to build a Custom

 

HOW TO BUILD A CUSTOM The Japan

 

The Barris built 1952 Mercury hardtop known as The JAPAN was featured in a series of step-by-step stories on building a custom. The three and a half month restyling project resulted in a beautiful TOP TEN mild custom.


By Tom Nielsen



By 1955 the custom car craze had spread across the nation. Many “would be” customizers had been reading magazines like Rod and Custom , Car Craft, Hot Rod and others where they were getting ideas for building their own customs. However, many of these young customizers lacked the opportunity or resources to take their cars to a well-known custom shop like Barris Kustoms in California.


1952 Mercury from the original sales brochure.
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George Barris took the Mercury to his favorite location, the house on Abbott road, not too far from the Barris Kustom Shop for a photo-shoot.
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The 1955 “How to Build a Custom” series in Car Craft magazine by George Barris provided photos and instructions on performing some of the “basics” of building a very desirable mild custom. Granted there had been lots of “how to articles” in the magazines before on various and assorted modifications. What was special about “How to Build a Custom” was that it took the reader through the process of restyling from beginning to the finished car in an eight-part monthly series.

The ’52 Mercury hardtop was owned by Tom Jeffries and he brought it to the Barris brothers for the customizing in 1954. Car Craft magazine first shows the car in a story titled “Installing Side Trim” in the August 1954 issue. The story mentions that Tom Jeffries Mercury will be featured in a complete step-by-step form from the time it rolled into the shop until it is driven out in all its glory. The pictures in the story show an almost completed car with the Barris emblem on the front fender.



Car Craft had been planning to do a “how to do it” custom series and probably reached out to George Barris. The ’52 to ’54 Fords were becoming popular for customizers at the time of the articles. George Barris in Volume 1 Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s said, “The ’52-’54 Fords and Mercurys quickly became popular cars to customize and we chopped a number of them.” This one would be a mild custom but represented a model of a car that was currently popular in 1954-5 when the articles were published. It was interesting to note that the first magazine article in the series mentioned that this body style was similar to Mercury’s ’52 to ’54 and ’52 to ’54 Fords as well. It was important to show that these modifications were applicable to a wide range of cars. The series of articles featured many modifications such as shaving the door handles, removing trim, frenching the head and taillights, smoothing bumpers, etc. that could be done on any make of car.

In writing the “step-by-step” articles for Car Craft George Barris stresses how much money the reader could save by doing the work themselves. In the final story he mentions that the custom work took 3 ½ months at a cost of $1300. He goes on to say that $800 of that total was in labor which you could save if you did the work yourself.




I had to laugh when he mentions that frenching the headlights at a shop would be a $20 to $25 job, but you could save that if you did it on your own. However, in 1955 twenty-five dollars was a chunk of money for some young guys!

Style wise the modifications to Tom Jeffries’ Mercury were tasteful, fresh, and unique for that era. The taillights from a ’51 Fraser seem to fit the top of the rear fenders perfectly, while the ’54 Olds side trim turns down and mimics the dividers in the 1952 only, three-piece rear window. The air scoops added to the hood and rear quarter panels were a nice touch. The smoothed rear bumper with exhaust tips complements the pleasing ¾ rear view. I always liked the photo used at the beginning of part 4 with that same view.

I also think the’54 Chrysler hubcaps, which hadn’t been used a lot on customs in this era, were a good choice. The grille bar restyling along with the molded opening and painted lower bumper make an understated, very clean look. Along with the modified scoop and frenched headlights the front end restyling shows very well on the May 1955 Car Craft cover and in the April 1955 feature, “The Japan”.

One of the most dramatic changes to the car were the addition of the ’52-53 Lincoln grille teeth (These teeth are sort of “hidden” below the bumper on the stock Lincoln) in the smoothed grille opening. This created a much more aggressive front end on the car.
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Stock 1952 Mercury front 3/4 view from the original Sales Brochure.
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The color pictures of the eighteen coat lacquer job look outstanding. Copper rust metallic and gold bronze metallic were the colors selected by Barris and the owner. Although, it wasn’t until part three of the series before the readers finally got to see it in color on the cover. That picture doesn’t really show how outstanding the two tone paint job really was.
Sometime later the Mercury was selected as “Ten of the Best” by Car Craft magazine. The owner was listed as Tom Jeffries and his $1500 custom. However, when the feature on “The Japan” was printed the owner was listed as Nobby Miyakawa. Maybe he purchased the car shortly after it was finished from Tom Jeffries?

The crew at the Barris Shop painted the Mercury in what George Barris described as Copper-Rust Metallic and Golden-Bronze Metallic. This is one of the two color photos I have ever seen on this car.
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The ’52 Mercury “the JAPAN” was also part of the Barris Display at the 1954 Petersen Motor Revue & Motorama at the Pan Pacific Auditorium.
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There is no way of knowing how many cars were restyled using the information and techniques shared by the Barris Kustom shop in these articles. My guess is that the series was very informative to both other shops and to the “do it yourself” customizers working at home. I tend to think that a number of cars were modified using some of the techniques shown in the Car Craft step-by-step customizing series.

I don’t have any information on Nobby Miyakawa and how long he owned the car. As I mentioned earlier the owner was listed as Tom Jeffries when the series began, so at some point Nobby became the owner and must have been the inspiration for the Mercury’s name, “The Japan”.

The April 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine had a full four page feature on the Mercury. And on the following spread the first installment on the Her’s How: Building a Custom article was started with another 4 pages.
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The second spread of the feature article, and the two spreads introducing the How To article starting with frenched headlights.
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August 1954 Car Craft issue showed how the side trim was created.
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A few of the covers of Car Craft magazines that had parts of the How To features of the Mercury.
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The May 1955 issue of Car Craft showed the front section of the Mercury in color on the cover.
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The biggest question though is perhaps what happened to the beautiful ’52 Merc known as “The Japan”? It wasn’t seen in the magazines much after 1956, it just disappeared? Maybe one of the readers knows more about where “The Japan” Mercury ended up?

Epilogue: I have long been a fan of this particular ’52 Mercury custom and the series on it in Car Craft about its construction. I want to thank Rik Hoving for preparing a file of information and pictures on the Jeffries/ Miyakawa custom car which I used to write this story.









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Cliff Rackohn 1948 Mercury

 

RACKOHN 1948 Mercury

 

One of the more elegnat Customs to roll from the Barris Kustom Shop in during its hay days was the 1948 Mercury Restyled for Cliff Rackohn.



Before we start about this beautiful Barris Restyled Mercury I want to mention a few things about the name and the year of the car. In the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 1950’s Volume 2, the name of the owner of this Mercury is spelled Cliff Rockohn and the year of the Mercury is marked at 1947. In the April 1951 issue of Motor Trend Magazine, as well as the Trend book Custom Cars #101, there is a different spelling of the name Cliff Rackohn, in both the small article as well as in the For Sale ad, and the car is labeled as an 1948 model. I will keep the 1951 Motor Trend spelling of the name, as well as the year for the car to be the most accurate.

’48 Mercury Coupe restyled by the Barris brothers for owner Cliff Rackohn from South Los Angeles. This Mercury is one of the late 40’s, perhaps early 1950’s restyled cars at the Barris Shop that had its fair share of publicity, and one that survived on the Custom Car scene longer then most others created during the same period. Yet, the Mercury is not often mentioned in the more recent Custom Car publications.





So far I have not been able to find a date on when Cliff’s Mercury was first created. The first time it was published was in the Motor Trend issue from April in 1951. Meaning that the car had to be finished around two month prior, February ’51. Around this period the Barris Shop was extremely prolific and a lot of cars were created at the shop. Some were very well documents, others, like Cliff’s ’48, was not. A few elements, like all the molded body panels, the bumper guard taillight and most of all the not rounded top corners of the trunk and rear fenders indicate that the car might have been mostly built around 1948-49. After that it was more common to round off sharp corners.

Cliff was a member of the Kustom’s Los Angeles. This frontal photo shows the beautiful peak on the hood extending all the way down to the grille and how extremely well and elegant the ’48 Cadillac grille looked on this Mercury.
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The overall lines, the perfect speed-boat stance and wonderful long hood make this ’48 Mercury one very elegant Customs.
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The Barris shop created many ’41-48 Ford based Customs, but relatively few same year Mercury based Customs. And that while, as Cliff’s car clearly illustrates, the three inch longer front end of the Mercury’s lend themselves to the perfect tail-dragging Custom. the long nose does not only give the impression of having a more powerful motor, but the proportions, especially with a heavy chop, really benefit from the longer front end. How much the top was chopped is hard to tell, like usual the early publications were often far from accurate with their tech info. And numbers were often exaggerated to make the cars looks even more special.

According the Barris Technique book Cliff’s Mercury was chopped 4 inches in the front and 8 inches in the rear. MotorSport magazine and Trend Books Custom Cars #101  mention 6″ and 8″ and Car Craft magazine a full 8 inches. The chop is pretty heavy on the car, but 6 inch removed from the front might seem to be a little to much. But the difference from to more in the back does sound more accurate than the 4 inches difference from the Barris Book.

The chop on Cliff’s is beautifully proportioned, and reminds me a lot about he chop Sam Barris would later perform on Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury. With its distinctive forward rake on the B- Pillars and super smooth C-Pillars. Clearly an experiment by the Barris brothers who usually kept the B-pillars straight on their chops. The shape of the door frame and roof shape on Cliff’s Mercury remind me of some of the super smooth and flowing padded tops coming out of the Bill Gaylord shop. But just as on the Quesnell Merc, the rear quarter window front corners seem to have some trouble finding the right direction when looked at from certain angles. But I have to say that the forward pillars sure help with the speed-boat look, and make it look going fast, standing still.

Notice the mud-flap below the front fender.
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In 1951 Cliff entered his ’48 Mercury at the Montebello tent show. Together with Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford, Jesse Lopez. 41 Ford, Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury, Snooky Janish 1941 Ford, Gil Ayala 1942 Ford and a fee more not in this photo the car formed the Custom Section at this unique show.
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Typical for the late 1940\s early 1950’s the Barris Brothers removed the running boards, and the door skin was extended down. The rear quarter panels was treated the same way. All four fenders were welded to the body, and the seam smoothed with lead for that desirable one piece look. The very busy stock Mercury grille was removed and the body panels reshaped for a much cleaner front. A more elegant and more expensive looking ’48 Cadillac grille was chosen to fit the new smoother front ,and it turned out to be the perfect look for the Mercury. The lower section of the front, which is separate on the 46-48 Mercury’s was molded to the new front end along with the splash pan. The front of the hood was extended down into the new section above the Cadillac grille and the Mercury peak on top of the hood was reshaped at the front to end in a point just above the Cadillac grille, making it look like the peak flows into the center vertical grille bar. This all leads to one of the best custom front-end designs created by the Barris Shop.

There was a small feature on the Mercury in the April 1951 issue of Motor Trend Magazine, showing two photos, including one with Cliff posing with the car.
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A closer look at the Motor Trend 1951 photos. A well dressed Cliff posing with his fantastic looking ’48 Mercury.
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And taken at the same location this nice higher point of view 3/4 look at the Mercury. Very nice angle photo showing the car in all its beauty.
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The headlight rings were molded into the front fenders for a smooth look and the headlights very slightly recessed. The door handles and all emblems were shaved and the side trim shortened on the hood, which was a typical Barris Trademark. At the back the splash-pan was molded to the body, just as on the front, and the taillights plus fender trim was shaved and all holes filled. The bumpers remained the stock units front and rear. But at the rear the Barris crew modified the bumper guards to accept some hand made laminated Lucite taillights. The finishing touch was a set of long 1941 FoMoCo fender skirts, a set of Appleton Spotlights, Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide wall tires (6.00:16 ).

The information from the interior comes from the Motorsports magazine. The front seat was pirated from an 1942 Chevy, allowing to be seated 3 inches lower than stock, which was very welcome with the much lower top. The interior was upholstered in tan cowhide pleated and rolled. The headliner was done in grey imported English wool, and the floormat was made of deeply-piled green rug, which matched the lacquer dash trim. Which makes me wonder if the original color of the Mercury was perhaps green when Cliff Rackohn original owned it?

The car was offered for sale in the same April 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. The $6000 invested in the car to built is was a lot of money back then. Notice the spelling of the name Cliff Rackohn. Perhaps Cliff had signed up to go to the War in korea… like so many other guys in the Kustoms Los Angeles Club. Hopefully one day we will know.
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New owner in 1952

In the January 1952 issue of Motorsport magazine There was a two page + feature on the Mercury. According the article the car was then owned by Dave Clickman of Southern California. According the article the the car was chopped 6″ in the front and 8″ in the rear with new sheet metal added from the top of the trunk to the bottom of the rear window, creating a smooth transition. The frame was z-ed in the back and the front was dropped with a 2.5 inch dropped front end. The article also mentioned that the hood was chopped 5 inches, which would technically be a section job, but that is clearly not the car on this Mercury. And that all body panels are molded together and leaded to form one smooth body. It also mentioned that the skirts used once belonged to a ’48 Buick, another false “fact” since the skirts are ’41 Ford Mercury units.

The article mentioned that the car was painted 25 coats of Arctic Blue lacquer by Gram Brothers of West Los Angeles. The engine was rebuild by Ray Brown, a famous Hot Rodder. The Cylinders were bored to 3 5-16″ and a 1950 Mercury crankshaft of 4″ stroke was employed. The 275 Cubic Inch engine utilizes Jahns 3=ring racing pistons with high domes.  It had Edelbrock heads two carb intake with two 48 Stromberg carburetors.

January 1952 issue of Motorsport magazine. Scans provided by Jamie Barter.
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Beautiful rear 3/4 view from a higher point of view shows how gorgeous this Mercury was. From this angle the top works the best. The sharp top corners of the trunk might indicate that the majority of the work was already done on the car around 1948-49.
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The interior was done by Bill Gaylord in a tan colored leather, green carpets.
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This photo shows that by the time Dave Glickman owned the car the rear has been raised a few inches.
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This photo shows the bumper guard mounted taillights a bit better.
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When Dave Cickman owned the car the car ran 3T 609 1951 California plates.
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Dave drove the Ray Brown rebuilt flathead engine to a best time of 87.70. Not bad for a heavy leadsled.
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Third owner

In the August 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine the Mercury was featured again. This time the car was even more on a forward rake, and the fender skirts have been removed. The owner by then was listed as John Logg of Hollywood, and the Mercury described as a 1947 year model. By now the car was dark maroon, and there is some color movie footage of the car at the 1957 Coachman Car Club high-Shool car show. After this we have not been able to find info on the car. Where it went, or what ever happened to it. If you know more, please let us know.

The Mercury was owned by John Logg when it was featured in the August 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine. By then the rear had been raised, and the fender skirts removed for a completely new look.
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John Logg was a member of the “Streaking Deacons” and used their club tag on the front bumper.
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Screen shot of a color 8mm movie made at the Coachman Car Club Motorcade Car show in 1957. The footage was filmed by Bob Stephenson who was Coachman Club member, and it is so far the only color images we have of the car. By then it was painted a dark maroon.
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This was a slowly moving from left to right shot so thee screen shot was rather blurry. But still very interesting to see that the car was shown with its hood up, showing off the Ray Brown Flathead engine.
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So far this has been the last photo I have been able to find on the Rackohn Mercury. The car looks still very much like the original version, only it has a different stance, and by now the Sombrero hubcaps have been replaced by some more modern hubcaps 9possibly Olds Fiesta hubcapa. This photo was used in the Trend Book #143 Restyle your car published in 1957.
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1942 Ford Twins

 

1942 FORD TWINS

 

In the late 1970s Iggy Bara sets out to recreate the Barris Restyled Anne DeValle 1942 Ford. Later he comes across the original Barris Custom, and is able to buy it.


In the summer of 2008 Iggy left a message on my website about the Anne DeValle 1942 Ford restyled by Barris. He mentioned that he now owned that car. WOW….   I emailed Iggy and we started to communicate a bit, it was clear from the beginning that Iggy was not a computer guy, and the emails were always short. But we stayed in touch for some time and he shared several photos of the actual Barris Custom and the clone he started in the early 1980’s. Iggy became very enthused when I found out that the Anne DeValle 1942 Ford, which was photographed after 1956, was originally restyled for Marcia Campbell in 1950. And that there were some photos of this version of the car, which looked much more original and cleaner than the later Anne DeValle version. Iggy decided to restore the original Barris Custom back to his 1950 version of the car. In the meantime he had sold his 1942 Ford Anne DeValle version clone to a friend, to raise money for the restoration of the original one


CCC-Marcia-Campbell-42-Ford-08-WThese two photos show the car when Iggy found it in the early 1980’s. The molded-in front fenders and the front sheet metal including the grille and all other parts were in the barn behind the car.
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We stayed in touch off and on until 2013, He had mentioned that his friend, who had bought the clone had passed away and how he was trying to get the car back. The last time we had contact was in September 2013, he send me an email that he would get back to me as soon as he had more information on the projects. After that I have tried several times to get in touch, or find out what happened to Iggy and the projects, but so far no luck. I have very little information about Iggy, I know his name was Iggy Bara, and that he lived about an hour out from Wooster, Ohio, but thats all. I hope somebody on the CCC will see this, and perhaps will be able to tell me more about Iggy and what happened to him and the 1942 Ford twins.  I was really looking forward to see the Marcia Campbell ’42 Ford being restored back to its 1950 configuration… and the dream of seeing it side by side with the Anne DeValle cloned version would be absolutely amazing.




The 1942 Ford Twins
Iggy had been into Custom Cars for as long as he can remember, he owned several over the years, and in the late 1970’s perhaps early 1980 he came across a 1942 Ford Coupe and decided to acquire it create a clone of one of his most favorite Customs, the Anne DeValle 1942 Ford restyled by Barris. Anne’s Ford was never really featured in any magazine, but there were several photos of it in the later 1950’s Custom Car Annuals and other publications. He gathered all the parts he would need for the car, including the Olds grille and bumpers. And slowly he started to recreate the Anne DeValle Coupe. Chopping the top 5 inches in the front and around 7 in the back. While the clone was in full progress Iggy went to a car show in Wooster, Ohio in the early 1980’s. Here he met Mr. Herman, and while talking Custom Cars Mr. Herman mentioned that he owned an old Barris Custom ’42 Ford… Soon Iggy realized that this must have been the original Anne DeValle Ford that he is now building a clone from.

The black car is the recreation Iggy started in the late 1970’s And the light gray primer one is the original Barris Kustoms restyled car.
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Not long after that Iggy looked up Mr Herman, and a deal was made, and he brought home the original Barris Restyled Anne DeValle 1942 Ford. Iggy now had two identical 1942 Fords in his garage. This was totally amazing, finding the original car of the clone you have been working on for the past couple of years. The Clone was pretty far along, in black primer, and Iggy decided after a while he should sell the clone to raise some money to pay for the restoration on the original Ford. He ended up selling it to a friend. At this point we are unsure if the car was further completed as what we can see in the photos. Fortunately Iggy took some photos of both of the cars parked in front of his garage, and we can only dream this set up can be repeated one day with both cars completely finished. the clone as the Anne DeValle version in Siera Gold, and the original as the Marcia Campbell version in dark blue.

After Iggy had taken the original car back home he was pleasantly surprised to see all the work he had done on his recreation was very close to the original car.
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The only real big difference was that the original Barris Custom had the rear window chopped, while Iggy had left it stock height on the recreation.
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Side view of the Iggy Bara recreation of the Anne DeValle Ford, with the original car behind it. This photo makes me wonder about the comments from the neighborhood.
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As can be seen in this photo, the car still needed a lot of work done. The Barris extended rocker panels were badly rusted on both sides. The long 1941 fender skirts were replaced with shorter 46-48 units on the DeValle version, both sets were missing when Iggy bought the car.
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The original Oldsmobile grille that Barris had installed in late 1949 was still with the car when Iggy found it.
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Iggy almost had the recreation road worthy when he decided to sell it to his friend.
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By the time Iggy let his recreation go he had installed the Olds bumper and grille to the car. I sure hope a photo like this can be made again in the future, and now with both cars completed.
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Iggy sure nailed the look of one of Barris’s finest Customs on his recreation.
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Iggy never had a good photo of the interior when he was doing the recreation, so that still was in need of a lot of work.
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The Marcia Campbell photos that were later found showed the dash really well and can be used to help restore the original one and shape the recreation as well.
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Top photo shows the Anne DeValle version of the car photographed after 1956. The bottom color photo shows the original Marcia Campbell version of the car photographed by Marcia Campbell in 1950.
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If you know more about Iggy Bara, or know what happened to the original Barris Restyled Marcia Campbell 1942 Ford, or the clone Iggy was building. Please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to find out the current state of these projects. More on the Marcia Campbell / Anne DeValle 1942 Ford can be found in the CCC-Feature-Article.



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A Day at the Barris Shop

 

A DAY AT THE BARRIS SHOP

 

The August 1953 issue of Rod and Custom magazine  had a beautiful feature on a day at the Barris Kustom Shop. Lets take a closer look at this and see some never before published photos.



I was born in 1967, in the Netherlands, far away from where most of the Custom Car History originated. I’m way to young to have been able to walk around in the famous Custom shops from the 1940’s and 1950’s, my favorite Custom Restyling period. When I came across some old R&C magazines at an Dutch Classic Car show decades ago I was in 7th heaven. Many years later I came across some of the early Hop Up and R&C magazines, one being the 4th issue of R&C, August 1953, one of my all time favorite R&C magazines. This issue had an whopping 6 page article on an Saturday at the Barris Shop as part of the new Barris Korner series.

It was for me the first time I was able to get a better view of how the Barris Shop looked like, and worked, and how it must have been for the guys back then to work at this shop, or hang out there on a Saturday afternoon. The lead-photo of the article, taken across the street from the Barris shop is one of my all time favorite photos taken at the Barris Atlantic Blvd shop. To me it is pure magic, and I have always hoped that one day some more, or at least better photos would surface of this photo, or photos taken the same day.

The openings photo from the August 1953 R&C article. What a sight! This photo alone must have had an impact on a lot of people back in 1953, and really ever since. The Barris Kustom Shop, where all the Custom Car magic took place.
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Unpublished photos.

In December 2017 my good friend and CCC contributor Tom Nielsen, mentioned he had a few more photos taken at the Barris Shop, and was wondering if I could tell him a bit more about these photos. It turned out that Tom had several photos from this same Saturday photo shoot with George Barris as that was used in the August 1953 issue of R&C. But Tom’s photos had never before been published. They must have been outtakes. The photos Tom has in his collection are copies from copies from the original photos, and at this point it is impossible to find out where they originally came from. But we know that they were all taken with George Barris his camera, most by George himself, and others, where we can see George in, were taken by somebody at the shop.

One of the guys fooling around in the driveway. I wonder if George was standing on the roof of the building across the shop, or perhaps he used a ladder?
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My new all time favorite Barris Shop photo is this one, from ground level showing the fantastic Customs lined up in front of the shop, and the rest of the activities going on.
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Close up of the photo shows: from left to right Mystery parked in-progress Ford, Dick Meyer 1953 Ford, Snooky Janich 1941 Ford, Jerry Reichman 1950 Mercury 4-door, Dale Marchall 1950 Mercury, Jim Collins / Don Vaughn 1947 Buick, Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy.
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Sam Barris showing how an Barris Accessory Hot Rod fender would be mounted on his Model A roadster. The majority of cars done at the Barris Shop were Customs, but they were also very capable to do Hot Rods, as this and several other photos taken this day show.
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I really love this photo as well, not only because it shows three fantastic Barris cars, but also since it shows the corner across the street from the Barris shop, where an other iconic photo was taken which we have used for another CCC-Article. Dale Marchall is mounting his Kustoms Los Angeles brass tag to his in progress mild 1950 Mercury Custom. Behind it is Jim Collins 1947 Buick (formerly owned by Don Vaughn), and next to that is the Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy.
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In the R&C article we can read that Sam Barris (left) and George (right) are discussing plans for the Chet Herbert Bonneville Streamliner with Harry Lewis. Harry was hired by Barris to design and help create race cars at the Barris shop. This never before published photo was taken from a slightly different angle than the photo that ended up in the R&C article.
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Dicky Meyers is prepping this Model A on ’32 Ford rails Hot Rod for paint in a corner of the original building. Very interesting how they use news paper to tape off the engine bay preventing over-spray. The wheels and tires were covered by old rags. Notice the meters on the wall behind the car.
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1949-50 Lincoln coupe mildly restyled stopping at the Barris shop, possibly for a quotation on repairing the damaged front, and possibly further restyling?
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The R&C article describes a bit how a typical Saturday at the Barris shop looks like, at least part of it. We have heard stories from some people that the info in this article(s) is mostly correct, but very often they leave out the part that later at night they all went out to some of the famous places to hang out, go to dances, trying to hook up with the girls. have the most fun possible. According to some chasing the girls and trying to get them impressed with their automobile was one very important reasons for having a Custom Car.



Published photos

The article is done really nice and literary walks us true the shop as if the reader was to visit the shop himself. Starting outside the shop then going on to the drive way, or parking area, and then into the shop, the office first, then the work places int he original building and then on to the former Filbar Furniture building Barris had added to the shop not long before these photos were taken. The only thing that could have made this already perfect article would have been with a floor plan drawing…. I have thought about creating one, but at this moment I have not enough information to actually do one that I know is accurate enough.

The 6 page article in the August 1953 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. One of the very best Barris Kustom Korner articles, and this article alone must have boost sales on the magazine enormous.
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More stories on Saturdays at the Barris Shop
Jack Stewart was good friends with George Barris and spend a lot of time at the Barris Kustom Shop at Atlantic Blvd. George Barris finished his mostly Ayala restyled 1941 Ford in 1951. Jack mentioned that George loved to paint cars, and very often used the more quite weekends to stay at the shop mixing paint and spraying the many coats of lacquer to get the deep lustrous paint jobs the Barris Shop was so well known for. George painted Jack’s ’41 Ford during the weekend as well. Jack brought his car over on Friday, and when he showed up at the shop on Monday it was all done and looking amazing. Which, according to Jack was somewhat amazing, since the paint booth at this Atlantic Blvd shop was far from ideal with a dirty dusty floor. Jack always mentioned to George he might as well paint the cars outside. But George was still able to turn out amazing paint jobs at this shop.

In the early days of the Barris Shop, George was single (just as jack) and he would be at the shop most of the time 7 days a week. But especially the Saturdays were very busy at the shop. The Saturday all the car owners were off from their regular job, and would go over to the Barris shop to help out with their cars at the shop. The more work the owner could do on their own cars, the lower the bills would be.

Tommy Thornburg polishing the Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy. Parked next to is is the old Don Vaughn 1947 Buick, and peaking out over the rear of the top is an Henry J Custom. If we only could see this picture in color…
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Nick Matranga on the left discussing the options how to fix the damage done to the rear of the Snooky Janich 1941 Ford.
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Jim Collins from Gardena, California had recently bought the beautiful Barris restyled 1947 Buick convertible with Gaylord padded top from original owner Don Vaughn.In this photo Jim is cleaning the car, and we can see the back of Dale Marchall’s 1950 Mercury with custom taillight pods and primer painted sitting next to it.
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Bob Lund 50 MercuryFrank Sonzogni working on Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury. In the background we can see the model A roadster getting ready for paint, and outside we can see a small portion of Jerry Reichman’s in progress 1950 Mercury 4-door.
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Jack also remembers many Saturdays he spend at the Barris shop with a lot of the guys from the original Kustoms Los Angeles club. The shop was a hangout place for the club, and everybody got together there, hang out for some time and then would go out together that Saturday night. Jack had good memories hanging out at the Barris shop with his good friend Doug Anderson (aka dog face) who owned a Custom 1939 Ford convertible with chopped padded top. And Jack Cordkill who owned a 1938 Ford Chopped Coupe, Dick Fowler was also a guy that Jack hung out with when he turned up at the Barris shop. Dick also owned a chopped 1938 Ford coupe, the one with the Packard grille, that Kurt McCormick now owns. Jack was also good with Bill Ortega who worked at the Barris shop part time and as well as at the parts department at an Lincoln Mercury dealer.

The Saturdays were always a lot of fun, where everybody helped on the projects, getting cars ready to hit the road on Saturday night, or prep them for a show the next day. Jack had very good memories about him and George driving George his cars to the parties, Jack never drunk much, so he usually ended up driving George his cars back home early in the mornings on Sunday. But this was perhaps a year or two before these photos were taken. During that time Jack also hung out with Marcia Campbell who hung out at the Barris Shop on Saturdays during the 1950-51 period. Jack remembered that Marcia was very well accepted at the shop by everybody. It was still very unusual for a girl to hang out at a Custom shop, but she fitted right in with the rest of the clan. Marcia always had here camera on hand, and shot a lot of photos at the shop and took the guys to nice locations to take photos, which she would develop and print, and then brought them over as a gift for the owner (and a copy for George Barris) the next Saturday.

Jack mentioned that the guys hanging out at the shop on Saturday were mostly the same guys each week, mostly pretty much the local guys, but when there was going to be a special event, or a special show, then Kustoms of Los Angeles club members from all around would gather at the Barris shop to drive to the event together. Jack proudly mentioned that very often he was leading the parade, just because his windshield had been cut into the roof a few inches, allowing him to see the stop lights. The rest would then just follow along.


Tommy Thornburg who owned a Barris restyled 1947 Studebaker Custom Convertible can be seen here cleaning the Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy. Perhaps Tommy’s Studebaker had not been finished at this point, or perhaps he agreed to take the Ernst Chevy to the show for Barris. Larry Ernst was from Ohio, and was most likely not in California when this picture was taken.
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Jim Collins cleaning his 1947 Buick Custom at the Barris shop to have it all Tip-Top for the show the next day.
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A low angle view of Dale Marchall mounting the Kustoms Los Angles tag to his 1950 Mercury, getting the car ready for the Pasadena show the next day. The old Don Vaughn Buick is sitting behind it.
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Sam Barris (left) and George (right) with Harry Lewis taking about the plans for the body on the Chet Herbert Streamliner, which will be created at the Barris Shop.
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Bob Johnson aka “Jocko” sanding the freshly applied primer on the rear fenders of Mr petersen’s 1952 Cadillac convertible. The car would later be painted Metallic Fuchsia Orchid.
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Frank Sonzogni working on the grille on Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury using a 1951 Frazer grille bar, later three 1951 DeSoto grille bars would be added to this as well.
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1929 model A roadster on ’32 Ford frames getting ready for a new paint job. Old rags were used to cover up the tires while Dicky Meyers is cleaning the body.
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George Barris often used 1/25 scale plastic promo-model cars to give a quick impression of how a car could look. This helped him as well as the client in making decisions on the modifications, as well as on the colors. In this photo George shows some new paint on an Oldsmobile model for Jack Nethercutt’s 1952 Oldsmobile that looks to be almost ready for paint.
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Sam Barris putting together a brand new 1953 Cadillac Coupe deVille that had been just painted off-white at the paint booth at the back of the Barris shop.
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Different angle of Nick Matranga talking to Snooky Janich (named “Little” in the R&C article) to see how they can fix the dent in the trunk that happened the day before. Notice that the Snooky Ford had already been outfitted with the ’39 Chevy taillights by then. The R&C article stated that the Barris Shop always kept the paint formula of all the cars they painted. But as far as I know, in case of damage, they usually decided it was time for a complete new paint job.
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Lloyd Jensen working on a sectioned and turned convertible Henry J, seen here figuring out how to make the Kaiser taillights to work with the Henry J rear fenders. This car came from Iowa to have the Barris shop perform their magic. Not sure if I have ever seen the finished car. The Henry J was sitting just outside of the furniture building entrance.
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Ralph Manok working on a scoop set into the Cadillac front fender that was added to this 1941 Buick that came all the way from Ohio. We are still trying to find out who was the owner of this car, and what ever happened to it.
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John Manok working on the chopped top of Earl Wilson’s 1947 Studebaker four-door that later would be known as the Grecian.
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Frank Sonzogni is a full time motorcycle officer during the day, and is working part time at night and in the weekends at the Barris Shop. In his spare time Frank is working on his personal  car, a 1950 Mercury which he can be seen working on in this photo. Sanding away on the freshly leaded chopped top.
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George Barris posing with a Jaguar Xk120 which he is Restyling as his own personal driver.
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Sam Barris talking to the owner of the ’29 Model A Roadster about using the new Barris Aftermarket Accessory Hot Rod cycle fenders.
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Dating the photos
So far we have not been able to confirm the date of the Saturday these photos have been taken. None of the photos have a date on it as far as we know.  The Barris Korner article featuring these Spend a Saturday at the Kustom Shop photos was published in August 1953, which means the photos and text must have been submitted at least two month prior to this, and more likely even longer. Most likely the photos were taken in the first couple of month of 1953. There is one more hint about a possible date given in the R&C article, which mentioned that the next day, Sunday, there was going to be a car show held in nearby Pasadena. All the cars were cleaned and detailed for this show. So far I have not been able to find out what this show was for sure, but a good chance is that this was the Pasadena Auto Show and Reliability Run held on Sunday April 19, 1953. The 1952 Pasadena Auto Show (the first annual the previous year) had some high end Customs and Rods attending, plus it had a two page article in Hot Rod Magazine. So this could very well be the show the guys were preparing for on Saturday. (More info and photos on the ’52 show can be found in the CCC-Nick Matranga article.) If it was indeed this show, then the Saturday these pictures were taken was April 18, 1953. But I’m not 100% sure.

Flyer for the 1953 Pasadena Auto Show and Reliability Run.
(Courtesy of Bob Rhoades / Renegades Car club.)
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Special thanks to Tom Nielsen.




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1947 Ford Mystery Barris Custom

 

1947 Ford MYSTERY BARRIS Custom

 

Nick Maneri from New Jersey was the owner of this 1947 Ford Custom for three years. The car was last seen in 1978. He would love to find out where it is today.



Nick Maneri from Norther New Jersey owned this 1947 Ford Custom from around 1966 till 1969. At the time custom cars like this were pretty much out of style in Northern New Jersey, or anywhere else for that matter. Most guys were in to the muscle cars, but Nick liked the custom and bought it. At the time he bought it it came with the information that it was originally from California and that the Barris Shop had something to do with it. It was not known how and when the car had gotten to New Jersey. Nick has been looking for the car’s whereabouts for years, and still hopes that the car is still around today. Perhaps hidden in a garage, or redone as Hot Rod/Street Rod.

When Nick’s son Nick (Jr) contacted me many years ago and send some photos of his fathers car with the question if I had seen it before… There was a  pictured in one of the Don Montgomery books. And even better it came with a little bit more information. The car was owned by Clyde Bengiola from New Jersey, and he had bought it as a damaged car, and that it was painted blue. In the book he mentioned that the car was originally built by Barris and had been shown in New York in 1951. No previous owners name was given. But there now was a little bit more information. When Clyde owned the car the car was still wearing fender skirts. Nick bought the car from Clyde in 1966.

This is, so far, the earliest photo we have of the car. Taken at the 1951 Indianapolis Custom Auto Show. The car still has California plates on it (1950 tag). A stunning looking custom that looks like it was done around 1948-49 at the Barris Shop. We hope to be able to find more photos of this car when it was still in California, and hope to be able to find info on the original owner who had the Barris Brothers restyle the car.
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Close up of the front shows the stock headlights, reshaped front body work to accept the ’48 Cadillac grille. Smooth aftermarket hubcaps on wide white wall tires. Shortened hood side trim, chopped windshield and small spotlights.
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Later we came across a color photo of the car on the cover of an 1953 Motorsport magazine, which proofed that the car had been blue before, as stated by Clyde. When I had the photos Nick had supplied on my website Custom Car enthusiast Barry Mazza recognized the photos from a car he saw several times on some of his road trips. The first time he saw it the car was owned by Clyde Bengiola and he saw it at the Sip and Sup on rt 10. Clyde owned a  shop on 202. Some time later he saw it again when it was sitting at gas station in Riverdale, and once again on a used car lot in Wanaque, where he took one photo of the car. This must have been in the mid 1970’s. And the last time he saw it at a Gas station in Hacketstown while on his way to Pennsylvania, this was in 1978 and the car still looked good. So there is good hope the car is still around.

The October 1951 issue of Motorsport magazine had the ’47 Ford on the cover, in color showing the dark blue paint. These photos are most likely taken before the then owner was involved in an accident with the car. Bob Laurie was listed as the owner of the car.
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Photo shared on facebook by kustomrama was labeled as ’47 Mercury, but most likely this is the same car, a ’47 Ford and Richard Korkes had repaired the damage car for new owner Clyde Bengiola. (Note the same license plate as the photo below)
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Don Montgomery included this photo of the ’47 in his Authentic Hot Rod book. Clyde Bengiola supplied the photo and the information on the ’47 Ford he owned for some time. Clyde, from New Jersey had bought the car in damaged condition. It was a chopped padded top custom with skirts, a Cadillac grille and spotlights. It was midnight blue and had a 3/4 race flathead engine. The photo above shows the car after it was repared. Clyde also mentioned that the car was built by the Barris Bros. and was displayed in 1951 New York show. We can see that the car in the photo was repaired with Cadillac headlights. We cannot see if there was any rear quarter trim. Possibly the repair work was done by Richard Korkes.
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While I always keep an eye out for Lost Customs everywhere I do more research it took me many years before something new came up on the Mystery Barris ’47 Ford. My good friend Geoff Hacker had bought a wonderful photo collection with photos from the early 1950’s Indianapolis Auto Shows. And included were some really nice Custom Car photos. One of the photos, taken by the Frank Jones Studio in Indianapolis at the 1951 Indianapolis Custom Auto Show showed an early version of Nick Maneri’s 1947 Ford convertible with chopped padded top. The car still had its 1950 California license plates on the car. Sadly the photos did not come with any written information, so we still have no name of the then owner, nor any additional information of where the car came from in California. The great thing about this Indianapolis Custom Auto Show photo is that it proofs that the car originally came from California. A step closer to solve this mystery.

When Nick owned the car in 1966 the car had been in an accident damaging the rear. This is the reason why there is no rear quarter trim on the car. The ’54 Cadillac headlights were nicely molded into the front fenders. Not sure who did this work. Perhaps Korkes.
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By then the car is dressed up with a set of 1957 Plymouth cone hubcaps. And the stainless rock shield on the rear fender has been replaced with an black rubber unit.
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About the 1947 Ford

The car has a chopped windshield and chopped padded Carson Top. Nick still has the original Hauser’s Carson Top tag, which he took out of the car before he sold it. The front end was customized with an 1948 Cadillac grille. All fender were molded to the body with a rather small radius. The taillight pods were shaved and the stock taillights were moved down and frenched into panel under the deck lid, just above the rear bumper, and closer together. On the original version as how it came to the east coast the headlights were left stock, later a set of ’54 Cadillac headlights was molded into the front fenders. Originally the car had a race flathead, but by the time Nick owned the car he replaced it with an modified dual quad 283 Chevy engine. It still had the Ford transmission and Columbia overdrive rear end. The car was painted Metallic blue when Nick sold it in 1969, and the car only had 40,000 miles on the odometer.


Closer look at the rear shows the stock taillights in the panel below the trunk, and the smoothed trunk, the trunk corners were not rounded.
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A bit fussy photo, from Nick’s snapshot album.
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Time-frame on the 1947 Ford.

  • 1948 – 1950 Restyled at Barris for an unknown owner.
  • 1950 – 1953 Driven from California to New Jersey by unknown owner.  (Perhaps Bob Laurie who owned the car in 1953 bought it in Ca, and drove it to NJ) Around this time possibly some damage to the car was repaired by Richard Korkes
  • 1953 – 1966 Owned by Clyde Bengiola
  • 1966 – 1969 Owned by Nick Maneri
  • 1969 – 1978 owned by unknown owner(s)
  • 1978 – Last seen by Barry Mazza in Hacketstown NJ.

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Barry Mazza took a photo of the car while it was sitting on a used car lot in Wanaque, NJ in the mid 1970’s.
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The last time Nick saw his old Ford was in 1969 when it was sitting on a used car lot in Kinnelon NJ. Nick has been looking for the car for many years now, so far no luck. But the fast that Barry Mazza still saw it in 1978 and that the car was still looking good. This gives Nick hope that the car has been saved, and is still around today.  Perhaps further customized, or perhaps hot or street rodded. Hopefully somebody will recognize the car from these photos, and if you do, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle and email, and we will pass it on to Nick.




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Barris Mystery Parked Car

 

BARRIS MYSTERY PARKED CAR

 

In 1994 I saw a Mystery Car in the background of one photo taken at the Barris Shop. The shape of the top intrigued me, and I wanted to know more about it. 23 years later I have found several more photos of the car, but I still do not know much about it.


For as long as I can remember liking Custom Cars and the history of Custom Cars I have been fascinated by old photos showing Custom Cars. Not just the real subject matter of these photos, like the subject cars, people or shops, bet perhaps even more in the objects that just happened to be in the background of these photos. The quest to find out about the Mystery car in this article comes from this fascination for all the stuff that goes on in the bacround of these photos, and especially those taken at the famous Custom Car Shop in the 1950’s to mid 1950’s.

The first time I spotted this photo was in the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book, where the car appeared in the background, being parked in front of the Barris Atlantic Blvd shop when the photographer snapped some photos of the two 1948 Chevy Coupes being created for the Highschool Convidential movie. I scanned the photo, cropped it and saved the scans in my Mystery Barris Customs folder on my computer.

The first time I spotted the Mystery Car was in this photo that was used in the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book published in 1994. I loved the Highschool Confidential twin Chevy’s in the forground, but what was that other car in the background, sitting in front of the shop wall, just behind the Chevy on the right? (photo taken ca 1956)
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Enlarged section of the photo gives us a little more details. With the wrap around rear window, the pointy chopped quarter window and teardrop shaped rear fender it looked like a 49-50 Chevy Coupe perhaps? I was intrigued!
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From what I could see in that one photo, the car looked very interesting. Possibly based on a ’49-50 Chevy Coupe with an unusual wrap around rear window. Some time later I came across a few more photos that showed more small portions of this mystery Custom Coupe. I was now able to tell that the car was not a Chevy, as I had thought previously, but rather a ’41-48 FoMoCo based Coupe. And I noticed that the car must have been parked there, in front of the shop for quite some time. It made me wonder if it perhaps was a shop employees personal project-car. Perhaps the employee had thought he could work on the car after work, but found it hard to find the actual time to do make actual progress. Or perhaps  it was one of those projects that was started for a client, and the client lost interest, or perhaps had been drafted to Korea?

Later, in several of the Kustom Technique books a few more photos showed up with the same car in the background. This photo is nice, since it also shows the abandoned sectioned Ford Victoria parked all the way to the left in this photo. The Sectioned Victoria would be discussed in on of the Technique books (no 1), but the Mystery Car was never mentioned. (photo taken ca 1956)
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A close up showed that the car was not a Chevy as I thought before, but more likely based on a ’41 -48 Ford or Mercury long door Coupe.
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Another car featured in the Barris Kustoms Technique No. 1 , a chopped ’54 Ford showed one photo with the mystery car in the background. And this time I was able to see the front fenders and windshield. Undoubtedly this car was a based on a ’41-48 FoMoCo body, and the front fenders look to be late 40’s early 50’s Oldsmobile units mounted very high, almost level with the belt-line onto the body. (photo taken around 1954-55)
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Another piece of the puzzle came from a photo in the Barris Kustoms Technique No.3 published in 1997. In one of the photos showing and almost finished Earl Wilson’s 1947 Studebaker four door “Grecian”, parked in front of the furniture shop next door to Barris, I could see that the car had ’48-’49 Cadillac rear fenders and taillights added. Interesting! (photo taken around 1953-54)
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Lyle Lake’s ’52 Buick finished in its first (and best looking) version parked next to the Barris Shop. Thru the open garage door and office door at the front we can spot a small portion of our Mystery Custom. This photo was taken around 1956. 
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Another photo taken at the shop, around 1954-55 shows part of the car at an 3/4 view.
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Close up shows that the car had a really great looking chopped top, with a fantastic flow, the panoramic rear window must have looked amazing if it had ever been installed.
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In late 2006 Barry Mazza came to the rescue… well sort of. He send me this great color photo of our Mystery Barris Custom, sitting with the sectioned Ford Victoria on the side of the Barris parking lot, just across the large shop doors. This was the first time I had a good view at the complete car. 
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Enlarged section of the photo shows that the main Ford body was sectioned, the Cadillac rear fenders mounted high on the rear quarters with the top of the fenders level with the belt-line. The front Oldsmobile fenders are installed, but the door panel work was started, with a tubular structure welded to the Ford door, but without the outer sheet metal. The top on the car looks very interesting with the pointy rear quarter window and panoramic rear window. The rounded corners on the door and the whole feel of the top could indicate this might have been an older custom at the shop for a make over… perhaps.
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Barry Mazza had been sharing his wonderful Custom Car Photo Collection with me, and one day Barry had emailed me a few more. Exited, as I always was when I got some new material from Barry, I opened the email attachments and found among some other great pictures an absolutely fantastic color photo, showing the Mystery Custom parked at a different spot at the Barris Shop. In this photo the mystery car was parked next to the neighboring building, right across the large doors from the shop. It was parked next to the sectioned Ford Shoebox Victoria that the Barris shop had started for a client, and who never came back to the shop to pay the bill or for more work done to the car. In the end Barris repossessed it, trying to find somebody interested in the project but nobody apparently was, and according George Barris that Vickey was scrapped. This color photo for the first time showed the complete car in one picture.

I now had a really nice look at this car, and I have to say it looks really interesting and well proportioned. From this photo I was able to tell the ’41 – 48 Ford body, most likely a long door coupe, had been sectioned, before the Oldsfront fenders and Cadillac rear fenders had been crafted to it. They never got arround to do the door panels with the oldsmobile door sheet metal, but they had created a tubular frame for it. The photo showed that the chopped top had a really nice profile, the rear quarter windows had an unusual (for that model) pointy shaped rear quarter window, but that the pointy rear corner worked really fantastic with the wrap around rear window. In none of the photos I have seen the car has a hood, so I guess they also never got around to create that. But if they had, it must have been a scratch built hood, possibly modeled after the 49-51 Ford hoods, in a similar way as was done on Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford.

The photo taken for Life Magazine hows the Ford and how the body was sectioned with a rough well in the center of the door panel. It also shows the tube welded to the top of the door, just below the belt-line, most likely to use as a guide for mounting the Oldsmobile door panels, fender extensions. The sectioned Ford Victoria can bee seen sitting next to the neighbor house in the background.
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The last photo’s I came across – not the last time-frame wise, but actually from late 1952 – are from a Life Magazine photo session. The car can be seen in this photo (it actually can be seen in  few photos from this series) still parked in front of the shop, close to the front wall of the main building. This photo shows clearly how the body had been sectioned right across the door panel on the Ford body. An indication that the sectioning was done with the new Olds Fenders already in mind, the Olds fender panels would hide the rough sectioning job.

December 7, 1957 “the worst day in Custom Car History”, fire at the Barris shop destroyed many custom cars including another mystery Ford Coupe. In the background we can see that our Mystery Car is still parked against the next-door building.
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The Famous 1955 Chevy “Aztec” in primer, ready to get painted with the Mystery Custom and the sectioned Victoria in the background.
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The Barris Aztec a sectioned and chopped ’55 Chevy pick-up and along side the Junior Conway ’50 Ford at the Barris Shop, and in the background on the left side our Mystery Car. This photo was most likely taken after the shop fire, but I’m not 100% sure, it could also have been taken earlier in 1957.
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This photo was taken in the summer of 1958 by Lloyd Willey (according the Rodder’s Journal Scrapbook) We can see Junior Conway’s ’50 Ford, and the car in the front is a wild Custom Merc Barris was creating for “the Twins” On the left side we can see that the sectioned Ford Victoria is still parked in the same spot, and just in front of it we can see the Olds fender of our mystery car. So in the summer of 1958 the car was still at the Barris Shop, untouched.
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This photo of the Barris shop was taken around 1960, shorty before the Big Barris Kustom City was put up in the front. It shows that both the sectioned Ford Victoria as well as our Mystery Custom are now gone. 
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At one point when I started to think about this mystery Custom my mind wandered off to another famous custom car, one that has a lot of similarities in its restyling. the Frank Monteleon 1941 Ford. I knew it could not be the same car, but Frank’s car was also based on an older model, from 1941, to which newer fenders and complete sides had beed crafted. The Monteleon Custom was started a bit later than our mystery Custom, so perhaps seeing this mystery Custom parked in front of the Barris Shop might have inspired Frank to do his ’41 Ford… who knows.

We know that the Sectioned Ford Victoria, which was parked next to our mystery car for at least a year, perhaps longer, was eventually scrapped (According to George Barris). Is the same sad thing happened to our mystery Custom? In photos from around 1960 and newer the car is gone… and we all know that at this time, the late 50’s early 60’s, the interest in older cars was not very big. Everybody wanted to have more modern cars to start with. Mild Customs were the rage, and nobody really was interested in these full customs based on old cars, especially in a far from finished state.

The Frank Monteleon 1941 Ford does show some similarities with our Mystery Car. It is based on an older model, 1941 Ford, and had newer Oldsmobile fenders and a wrap around rear window added. Perhaps Frank’s car was inspired by our Mystery Custom… 
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Dating the photos of the Mystery Car

Over the years I have come across quite a view photos that showed this mystery Custom. Many things about this car intrigued me, and one of the things was that it was sitting left alone at the Barris Shop for many years… why? With the help of all the photos I have tried to figure out how long the car has been at the Barris Shop, untouched.

Parked in front of the shop

  • The oldest photo I have noticed the car on comes from the Life Magazine photo shoot. This must have been in late 1952, and more likely early 1953.
  • Earl Wilson 1947 Studebaker Grecian was first published unfinished in August ’53 R&C A similar unfinished Grecian can be seen in one of the Life Magazine photos. The finished Grecian was published in July 1954 Motor Life magazine.
  • 1954 Mercury Chimbo (Bobby Yamazaki) taken in most likely late 1954, early 1955
  • Highschool confidential cars were created in 1956
  • Lyle Lake 52 Buick uses ’56 Lincoln hubcaps, photo taken in late ’55, early ’56.

Parked along side the shop

  • Barris Fire in December 7, 1957, car is sitting next to the neighboring building.
  • Summer 1958 Lloyd Willey trip to Barris photo. (Last known photo)

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Over the years (23) I have been looking for more info on this car, I have asked numerous people if they remember anything about this mystery Custom at the Barris Shop. So far nobody knows anything. Some remember the car from sitting at the shop, but none of them had ever asked about the car, it just sat there. I hope that with this Custom Car Chronicle article I will  be able to find out any more about this car. Who was the owner, what was the plan for the car, and why was the work stopped, and perhaps most of all, why was it parked at the Barris Shop from 1953 till at least the summer of 1958. If any of you knows anything more about this mystery FoMoCo based Custom with very interesting chop, panoramic rear window, and many other interesting feature, then please let me know. I would love to find some more pieces to this Custom Car History puzzle. Please email Rik if you have any more information about this car, who was the owner, what were the plans for it, and what happened to it.

I think the car had a lot of potential, what was done was already very pleasing to the eye, and I can imaging the car with the door panels in place sitting nice and low with a slight speed-boat stance and dark organic paint, wide white wall tires and Sombrero hubcaps. It would have been a stunning car.. perhaps something that could be recreated today…



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