Lou Allen 1947 Buick

 

LOU ALLEN 1947 BUICK

 

Art Chrisman created many cars in his long career. But not many people recognize him as a Custom Car builder. Lou Allens 1947 Buick shows he was actually really good at it.

By Jeff Neppl and Rik Hoving


A couple of years ago, in 2012, Jeff Neppl was spending some time with Art Chrisman which had become a good friend of Jeff. Art was always sharing his stories from the late 40’s and early ’50’s with Jeff, and told him how had done his fair share of Custom Restyling on customer cars during that period. Something not too many people know about it, and think mostly Race Cars when they hear the name Art Chrisman. One of the cars he restyled was particularly nice, Art mentioned, it was an 1947 Buick he did for a guy named Lou Allen. That got Jeff very curious, so he asked Art to tell him more about that Buick. Art took out one one of his old photo albums and showed Jeff a couple of photos of the Buick he was talking about. And it sure was a beautiful Custom, just as Art had mentioned.

Art mentioned that the Buick was a huge hit at the 1951 Petersen Motorama show, and he took out two faded color photos taken at that 1951 show showing Lou Allen and his wife or girlfriend with the car. The fact that the Buick had been at the 1951 Motorama Show really got Jeff on the edge of his chair.

At first Jeff thought he never had seen any photos of that Buick before, and thought it was kind of odd for such a beautiful car to have disappeared somewhere in the early 1950’s. It made him wonder about the car and the more he thought about it, the more he realized he had seen a Buick with so many similar details. After some time it dawned on Jeff…. it must be that Buick with the rather high stance in one of the Barris books. He looked up the Barris Technique books, and found the 1947 Buick in Volume #3. The car must have been later modified by the Barris Kustoms Shop for new owner George Sinamark. There is no doubt about it, the car that has been listed as the Barris Restyled George Sinamark Buick was actually restyled by Art Chrisman for original owner Lou Allen.


Front view of Lou Allen’s Buick back in 1951. We don’t know were the photo was taken. 
[divider]



When Jeff shared me the story Art had tole him, and showed me the photos and how it was show at the 1951 Motorama show, I remembered that Geoff Hacker had just shared a 1951 Motorama promotional movie on his Youtube channel and while watching that beautiful documentary earlier, I had spotted a Buick Custom towards the end of the movie.  I looked at the movie another time, and sure there it was. The Lou Allen, Art Chrisman restyled 1947 Buick. The movie clip showed some more of the cars original details, which also helped confirm the identify it as the George Sinamark Buick.

Cropped photo gives us a better look at the modified Cadillac grille, the molded splash pan, frenched headlights and modified hood. Notice how low that top is.
[divider]



Art used a set of 1948 Cadillac rear fenders and rear bumper and grafted those to the Buick. The rear fenders were molded into the body and the original Buick fade away fender panels, which are separate from the factory, were also molded to the body. Everything was leaded for that ultra slick, smooth look. At the front Art used the ’48 Cadillac front bumper, but the ’48 Cadillac grille did not look good enough on the Buick, so Art modified a 1949 Cadillac grille, which is wider and looked more modern, and installed that into the smoothed front of the car. He also frenched the headlights into extended front fenders, the 1948 Cadillac splash-pan was modified to fit the Buick body and molded to the front of the car. The Buick hood was welded solid, the center trim removed and anew mild peak added along the length of the hood from the center of the windshield all the way to the center peak of the Cadillac grille.

The windshield post were chopped several inches. The padded top was most likely done by Bill Gaylord. The Barris write up mentioned that, and the looks of the top sure indicate that Bill created it. The top was styled in such a way that the rear quarter windows were part of the padded top, completely filled in, which made the car look very long and smooth, but must have created a huge blind spot, especially with the super small rear window. In the Motorama photos we can see that the upholstery on the interior was done in red and white. the interior was done by California Auto tops. The dash panel was chrome plated, as were the interior door tops, which gave the car a very luxurious feel.

Beautiful front 3/4 view of the Art Chrisman build Lou Allen 1947 Buick.
[divider]


Movie stills from the Petersen 1951 Motorama promotional movie shows a few shots of Lou Allen’s ’47 Buick.
[divider]


Lou Allen and his girl with the Buick in the Pan Pacific Auditorium at the 1951 Petersen Motorama Show. Notice the white sand, or perhaps rock salt that was used to make the car look even better.
[divider]


Lou’s girlfriend or wife posing with the Buick at the 1951 Motorama show.
[divider]




Lou Allen 1947 BuickThis is how the original color photos of Lou Allen’s ’47 Buick look. They were taken around 1951 and are badly faded and yellowed.
[divider]




Further restyled by Barris

that the The Buick was featured in George Barris’s book Kustom Car Techniques of the 1950’s Volume 3 as a Barris Custom. The owner of the car was George Sinamark, and the text explained how the car was built at the Barris Kustoms Shop. There was no mentioning of Art Chrisman, nor Lou Allen as being the original builder and the original owner of the car. The two page feature wrongly mentioned that the car uses 1949 Cadillac rear fenders/taillights and rear bumpers. Those items actually came from an 1948 Cadillac. Only the grille incorporated by Art Chrisman comes from a 1949 Cadillac.

The photos used in the Barris book are all taken by George Barris in front of his favorite location The House just a few blocks from the Barris Shop. The book mentioned that George Sinamark was from Pasadena California. We have asked around, but so far nobody has been able to tell us any more about George Sinamark, or the time this car was owned by him. Also unsure is if he bought it from Lou Allen directly, or if there have been other owners of the car between Lou and George Sinamark. We do know that George was the owner of the car around 1955, when George Barris took the photos of the car in front of “The House”. Photos that have been uses in print for the first time (as far as we know) in the 1957 Custom Cars Annual., and later one small photo in the 1961 Custom Cars Annual.

Lou Allen 1947 BuickGeorge Sinamark from Pasadena posing with his 1947 Buick freshly finished by the Barris Custom Shop. The photo session was at “The House” on Abbott Rd in Lynnwood, a few block from the Barris Shop.
[divider]


Lou Allen 1947 BuickThe rear quarter view shows the beautiful lines on the possibly Gaylord padded top. It also shows how nice the ’55 Pontiac side trim follows the ’47 Buick front fenders. It makes you wonder who came up with this combination.
[divider]



When the car was further modified at the Barris Shop there was not a whole lot done to it. The Barris Shop added a very unusual 1955 Pontiac side trim, flipped upside down and from side to side. The Pontiac trim followed the Buick fade away fenders really nice and was used to separate the Charcoal-light-metallic used on the main body, and the copper below the side trim. It also looks like the rear of the car was raised a little over the original lowering job done by Art Chrisman. Barris also added the 1955 Buick hubcaps to replace the single ripple smooth disk aftermarket hubcaps used on the original version of the car. Other than that the looks to be virtual the same as the original version.

Lou Allen 1947 BuickA good look at the California Auto Tops created interior done in red and white with white piping. The dash and door tops are chrome plated and so is the steering column.
[divider]


Lou Allen 1947 BuickSide view photo of George’s Buick appeared in the 1957 Custom Cars Annual. 
[divider]


Lou Allen 1947 BuickAlso from the ’57 Annual comes this low angle front 3/4 photo of the Buick. It shows that the car had an unusual slight forward rake at this time.
[divider]


One small photo of the George Sinmark version of the Buick appeared in the 1961 Custom Cars Annual. Sadly we cannot read the year tag on the License plate, but more than likely it was from 1955. In 1956 the California License plates changed to a yellow base plate, and 1954 had red year tags. The car was wrongly marked as a 1942 Buick.
[divider]


George Sinmark was born 15 Jan 1924 in Burlington, Colorado. His family moved to Los Angeles area at some point after 1942 when he registered for the draft. He passed away in Sacramento in 2008. And we have no idea what happened to the Buick.


Special thanks to Luke Karosi from Kustoms Illustrated Magazine for scanning the Art Chrisman photo.



[divider]

(this article is sponsored by)

CCC-sponsor-ad-kustoms-illustrated-2016-01


[divider]




.

1+

A short drive in the Hirohata Mercury

 

A SPIN IN A CUSTOM CAR ICON

 

Hirohata Mercury owner Jim McNiel, asked me to jump in the passenger seat of his Mercury for a short drive. It put an instant HUGE smile on my face that lasted for days



[box_light]
This article was original created in 2013, but with the passing of Jim McMiel on May 7, 2018 I thought it would be nice to put this article on Jim and driving the Hirohata Mercury back on top. RIP Jim McNiel.
[/box_light]

In 2010 the plan was developed to gather the very best historical custom cars, that were still around in the US, to be part of a special exhibition at the 2011 GNRS. I was invited to be one of the four organizers of this Customs Then & Now exhibition. The whole experience was mind boggling, something I will never, ever forget in my life. The “road” towards the event was special. In my mind’s eye, I could visualize the building getting filled with all the cars and people we invited from all over the US. When it was time to fly to California, a couple of days before the show, I had a hard time getting any sleep at night. Once arrived in Pomona, I saw the first historical custom cars that had already arrived. Cars like the Barris-built Dick Fowler 1938 Ford coupe, and several others, with more customs arriving every hour. I was in heaven.

On Thursday morning, set-up day before the show, I was walking from my hotel to the AHRF parking lot, towards the Fairplex building, when I spotted a long trailer with the side door opened a few inches. I immediately recognized the ice green color on the car inside: The Hirohata Mercury. So, I walked over and talked to the driver, to see if Jim McNiel was around as well. “They will be here any minute”, he said. And sure that was the case. It was really great to see Jim again, after we had met earlier at the Sacramento Autorama Mercury Gathering in 2009. We talked for a bit, and then he had to unload the car. He parked it in a nice spot at the parking lot, so I could take some photos.

Jim stepped back, and let me alone with the car for some time. I walked around it, followed every line on the car, took as many photos from every possible angle I could think of, and absorbed every little detail about this car. I had seen the iconic Hirohata Merc before in Sacramento, but seeing the car in natural light and being able to walk around it with nobody else to bump into, was an extremely nice and privileged experience.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-01-WThe extended front fenders and hood lip create a perfect balance for the long chopped roof line.
[divider]


The Hirohata Mercury is the Custom Car that comes to mind when somebody says the word Custom Car. At least it is to me, and I know this is the same for a lot of people. the Hirohate Merc is THE historic Custom Car icon. And the car was sitting there in front of me with nobody else around it. If I close my eyes I could hear Sam Barris and his team hammering away on the body. I could almost feel the excitement in the Barris Shop, when the car was finally assembled, and the team saw what they had created. I could almost see the huge smile on Bob Hirohata’s face, when he took it for the first spin around the block. I was in Custom Car Heaven before the show had started, and I did not even realize that – for me – the best thing that very day, still had to come.


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-14-WThe rear 3/4 view shows show all the lines from the Buick Side trim, the chopped top, the curved side windows, custom made scoop and reshaped character line flow together .
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-03-WThe custom made parking lights add extra width to the front of the car. The hand made lip on the front wheel opening matches the one of the flush fitted fender skirt at the rear.
[divider]



Jim had made an appointment with a photographer from Sweden for a photo-shoot. Together they decided the best location for the shoot would be on the other side of area where we were standing. Then Jim asked me if I wanted to take a seat in the car, when he drove to the location…

Eh… Yes please!

Jim McNiel invited me to sit, and drive inside the Hirohata Mercury! Instant smile on my face. I made sure, I put my back-pack and try-pod extremely safely on the floor, in order not to damage anything, and carefully sat on the green and white tuck & roll front seat. Jim got in the car behead the steering wheel, and started the engine. It ran flawless, and the sound of the Cadillac engine was music to my ears. I looked around absorbing every little detail like the hand made laminated dash knobs, (which Bob Hirohate made himself, and which are still in place), the Von Dutch pin-striping on the dash is amazing, extremely fine and detailed, and weird above all. I also noticed the V-butted windshield, the chrome garnish around the windshield, the green hand made fuzzy rear view mirror “warmer” that Jim’s wife Sue, made so many years ago. The green and white headliner- which is still the original that the Carson Top Shop made in 1952, the slightly cracked Monterey steering wheel, and Jim holding it, slowly turning to maneuver the car thru the parking lot. It felt the car was floating, Jim drove slow and seemed to enjoy every second driving his baby.

I tried to imagine how it must have been driving this car back in the early 1950’s. The car probably just stopped traffic, and had people turn to take a second look when it was passing by back then.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-05-WNotice the relaxed position Jim has in the car. This photo also shows the slightly cracked -unrestored- Monterey Steering wheel. Jim added the bullet steering wheel center when he was unable to find the original accessory badge.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-06-WEven Jim has a great smile on his face, and he can jump in the car and take it for a spin whenever he can.
[divider]



On the short trip on the parking lot, people turned their head when they heard the soft rumble from the Cadillac engine, realizing something special was driving by. And then the large eyes, and instant smile on the faces when they realized what they saw. An experience I will never forget, and the smile it caused on my face never disappeared throughout the duration of the show.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-13-WHere we can see the V-butted windshield, Sue’s hand-made mirror warmer, and the unrestored dash with the Von Dutch pin-striping.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-08-WBob Hirohata also created the laminated knobs for the Appleton Spotlights.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-07-WClose up of the intricate Von Dutch pin-striping “this is the City”. Notice the cracked off-white paint on the glove-box lid and dash. This is the original paint that was added in 1952.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-12-WOriginal Carson Top Shop created headliner, and detail work round the curved side windows.
[divider]



When Jim parked his car, and we got out, I noticed one other detail I had never seen before on the car. I had never really seen the custom made dark green lucite piece, that Bob Hirohata made for the door garnish moldings. I noticed it, because the sun light made it look really fantastic when I opened the door to get out.
We drove the car for only a small distance, perhaps a little more than half a mile, but this was a trip inside the Hirohata Mercury… an unforgettable experience!

After making some more photos of the car at the new location, I thanked Jim for the unforgettable experience, and went to toward the main building. Jim and I were talking throughout the weekend, whenever we bumped into each other. He seamed to have a great time at the show.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-02-WMy own personal favorite angle of the Hirohata Mercury. This photo also shows the sectioned bumper guards at the front only covering the bottom part of the grill.
[divider]


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-04-W


I know the short drive was “only” at the parking lot of the GNRS, but to me it was more like a drive in early 1950’s Los Angles…. Very similar to these Photoshopped images I created shown below.










(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-41-merc


ccc-shirt-sponsor-ad-kustoms-la-01


<



.

1+

Kustoms Sacramento Jacket

 

KUSTOMS SACRAMENTO JACKET

 

Unique Kustoms Sacramento Car Club Jacket from the 1950s.



Chip Chipman send us a link for a really unique Kustoms Sacramento Jacked offered for sale on ETSY by Vintage on Hollywood shop. I had never seen a Jacket with a Kustoms Sacramento crest, let alone a Kustoms Sacramento crest at all. I knew about the Customs Sacramento Club, with Customs written with a “C”, but I had never seen it being written with a “K”, and being used as club logo on a jacket. This means that this Kustoms Sacramento club must have had multiple members.


The back side of the jacket with the beautiful embroidered Kustoms Sacramento and crest.
[divider]


George and Sam Barris were originally located in Sacramento, and George learned the Custom techniques from local body man including Harry Westergard. We know that George and Sam build their first Custom Cars while still living in Sacramento, and we have heard the stories about the first club started in Sacramento. Kustoms Sacramento was started before George moved to Los Angles around 1943. And when George moved to Los Angles he formed the Kustoms Los Angeles club there. We know that George had a Kustoms Los Angeles plaque on his 1941 Buick shortly after the war. The Kustoms Sacramento club kept going after George had left Sacramento.

Unique is to see that the crest shape is very similar to the one Barris used, but lacking all the detail inside. The jacket is offered as being a 1950’s Vintage jacket, and most likely it dates back to 1952, or younger. There is very little information known on the Kustoms or Customs Sacramento Car Club(s). In fact I know of only one Custom Car that had a Customs Sacramento plaque on it, that is the 1947 Cadillac Dick Bertolucci (from Sacramento) created for Tony Sestito. (shown at the end of this article)

On the front of the jacket the name Boyd was embroidered… who is/was Boyd? And what kind of Custom did he drive?
[divider]




[box_light]

Description as given on the Vintage on Hollywood Etsy page

1950’s Vintage ‘Western Sportswear’ Black Chain Stitched ‘Capital City’ Car Club Gabardine Ricky Jacket.

This jacket is Good vintage condition with minor signs of wear, a few very small holes and pulls throughout and very very minor sun fading across shoulders, nearly unnoticeable. (See photos)

Strong fabric, vibrant colors, and the chain-stitching is also in great condition, no fraying or loose threads, with the exception of a spot of discoloration. The satin lining is fully intact and also in good condition.

This jacket has a great metal zipper, two flap pockets, original buttons, and a small amount of shoulder padding.

Measurements:
Shoulder to Shoulder: 18”
Underarm to Underarm (Across Front): 21 1/4”
Outer Sleeve Length (Shoulder Edge to Cuff Edge): 23 1/2”
Top to Bottom Length (From Neck Fold): 24 1/4”

[/box_light]

[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


The big questions are:

  • When exactly was the Kustoms Sacramento Club formed.
  • When was this Kustoms Sacramento Jacket created, most likely in the 1950’s, and after 1952?
  • Who was Boyd, the original owner of this jacket, and what car did he drive?
  • Where Kustoms Sacramento and Customs Sacramento the same club?
  • Who else were members of the Kustoms Sacramento Club?



If you have any answer to these questions, or know more about this jacket, or the Kustoms Sacramento Club, then please send Rik an email, we would love to add the information to the Custom Car Chronicle website for everybody to enjoy.

Tony Sestito 1947 Cadillac restyled by Dick Bertolucci had a Customs Scaramento club plaque in the early 1950’s when it was photographed.
[divider]


[divider]




(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01




.

0

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.
[divider]


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.
[divider]



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.
[divider]


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.
[divider]


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.
[divider]


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.
[divider]


The original Oldsmobile grille that Barris had installed in late 1949 was still with the car when Iggy found it.
[divider]


Iggy almost had the recreation road worthy when he decided to sell it to his friend.
[divider]


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.
[divider]


Iggy sure nailed the look of one of Barris’s finest Customs on his recreation.
[divider]



[divider]

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.
[divider]


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.
[divider]


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.
[divider]


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.



(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01




.

0

Customizing with early Cadillac Tail Fins

CUSTOMIZING CADILLAC TAIL FINS

When the 1948 Cadillac introduced the all new Streamline rear fender Tail Fin it was quickly adapted by the Custom Car World. Adding Cadillac Tail Fins gave your car an instant Classy look.


From the early beginnings of Custom Restyling the high end cars as Packard, La Salle and Cadillac’s have provided key elements to restyle, and upgrade lower end cars as Chevy, Buick and Ford models. Using Cadillac and La Salle grills as shown in our Vertical Custom grille article is a good sample of this. In the early years of Customizing some taillight of these high end cars were used as well, but when the 1948 Cadillac was introduced in late 1947, its totally uniquely streamlined fish tail shaped rear fender-taillight combination was an instant hit among Customiziers. The distinctive Cadillac rear fender shape with its upwards flow towards the end fitted the streamlined shape most Custom Builders were after perfectly.

Early Design sketches for the 1948 Cadillac’s show the first hints of the later approved design of the Cadillac Tail fin that was introduced in late 1947.
[divider]



The distinctive Cadillac Tail-Fin shape started to develop in 1941. GM styling vice president Harley Earl took a group of senior stylists, including Frank Hershey to Michigan’s Selfridge Field, to see a remarkable new aircraft. To Lockheed Model 22, better known ad the P-38 Lightning. The P-38 was an imposing and unusual sight, with its cockpit in a narrow pod between two turbo-charged Allison V12 engines, mounted in distinctive twin booms with short vertical fins. It was this line from the nose of the plane to the tail of both booms that would be the inspiration for the 1948 Cadillac lines.

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was the main inspiration for the General Motors design team under supervision of chief Harley Earl. Many elements, including the tail fins were eventually incorporated in the production model of the classy and exclusive looking 1948 Cadillac.
[divider]



Frank Hershey, then the head of GM’s special projects, developed various design studies, incorporating P-38 themes with rear fenders that had simulated chrome air intakes and stubby fins with integral taillights. In 1945 the Cadillac team had just started work developing the all-new 1948 models. The renderings and scale models that emerged over the next four months from the studio all sported P-38-inspired fenders and Tail-Fins, the fins added a rakish touch to a handsome car. For the 1948 model year, Tail-Fins adorned the rear of Cadillac cars for the first time. The Tail-Fin would grow in popularity for the next decade and a half. They finally reached their apex in 1959.

In the early days when these Caddy parts were still new, complete rear fenders, including taillights and bumpers, were ordered straight from the Cadillac dealers, and later these parts were highly sought after at the local junk yards. Using the complete Cadillac rear fender on some cars, and only cut off rear sections on other cars transformed the customized cars completely. The Cadillac parts added both optical as well as real length to the cars they were used on. Plus it disguised cars even further, making many people think the cars were based on a more expensive Cadillac.

Not only the tail fins of the ’48 Cadillac were highly desired by the late 1940’s Custom builders, the Caddy also offered a wonderful grille, dashboard, steering wheels, side trim and even more popular than the tail fins, the Sombrero Hubcaps.
[divider]



The complete ’48 Cadillac Rear fenders assembly looked particularly good when used on ’39-’51 cars that had teardrop shaped fenders to start with. The shape of the Cadillac fenders were perfect for the streamlined Custom Car look. The overall teardrop shape with large radius soft flowing ends fitted perfectly in the molded in look the Custom Builders were after. And the flip upwards tail fin and light were the absolute icing on the cake. Using the Cadillac Tail Fin on your custom meant that your car looked more high end, longer, and lower in the back. All elements Customizers were after.

These are the three type of taillights we are concentrating in this article (Plus the aftermarket units, not pictured here). The ’48-50 units are nearly identical, with an additional chrome trim piece below the lens for the ’49-50 units. The ’51-’53 units have the clear back up light underneath the red lens, with additional chrome trim. The red lens on the this unit is more square on the top. The fender tail is pretty similar for the ’48-53 units, but the rest of the fender changed very much after the ’49 model.
[divider]



In this article we will concentrate on the use of the 1948-53 Cadillac taillights and rear fender fins as being used on Custom Cars from the Golden Era from the late 1940’s till mid 1950’s.



Publications

In the late 1940’s early 1950’s Car magazines were blooming, and helped spread the popularity of Customizing. The magazines were mostly published by California based publishers and the cars featured in these early magazines were mostly local CA cars. Motor Trend was one of the early magazines that started to feature Custom Cars, and getting your Custom Car inside, or even on the cover of MT was a big thing. But perhaps even more important than the personal publicity these magazines spread the good looks of these early Custom Cars all over the US. When the Custom Builders started to use the 1948 Cadillac rear fenders and taillights, the magazines soon followed with featured on Custom Cars using this new trend. The February 1950 issue of Motor Trend had the Barris restyled 1947 Buick for Ben Mario on the cover. A really beautiful glamor photo taken an a golf course showing the beautifully restyled Buick in all its beauty, and especially showed off the use of the 1948 Cadillac rear fenders. A new National trend was born.

From 1948 on Custom Car Builders started to use the Cadillac taillights and rear fenders on their Custom Cars. And magazines soon started to feature Custom Cars that used these Classic looking tailfins. Motor Trend Magazine and the Custom Cars Annual from 1951 showed the Cadillac tailfin being used on the magazine covers which helped generate this popular Custom Car trend.
[divider]


From the 1951 published Trend Books first Annual Custom Cars #101 booklet.
[divider]


The 1951 edition of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling was the first of the Post publications that mentioned the use of the Cadillac Tail Fin’s and lights. The write up was not illustrated with photos or graphics.
[divider]


The April 1952 issue of Motor trend mentioned that the use of Caddy tail fins had become standard Customizing trends!
[divider]




Cad Fins on Full Customs

We do not know who it was that used the first ’48 Cadillac rear fender on a Custom Car, or when this was done. But my guess is that as soon as the ’48 Cadillac hit the dealers the minds of the Custom Builders must have started to work overtime. We know that Jesse Lopez already put an order in for a ’48 Cadillac after seeing an advertising ad, even before the car had hit the dealer. The same thing might have been the case with the beautifully designed rear fender/taillights combination on the ’48 Cadillac. One of the early Customs that had a set of Caddy fenders installed was Ben Mario’s 1948 Buick. And already very nice car stock from the factory, but with those long, slightly more bulbous rear fenders with the airplane tail fin the car became absolutely stunning. The soft round edges of the sides of the rear fender when you looked at it from the side, and the long vertical lines when you looked at it from the rear were elements that made the design of these Customs with Caddy Tail-Fins really special.

The Barris Shop used the complete rear fenders of an 1948 Cadillac on Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick Convertible. The earliest photo’s of Ben’s Buick show ’49 California License plates. We are not sure if this was the first Caddy Fin’s used by Barris, but it sure was an early one. The Caddy rear fenders completely changed the cars appeal. Making it look much more high end than the stock Buick ever did. Barris also used a grille, front and rear bumper and set of Hubcaps from the ’48 Cadillac.
[divider]



The rear fenders of the Cadillac were longer than most of the rear fenders of the cars they were used on. Sometimes the fenders were moved forward onto the quarter panel, compared to the stock fenders. Other times extra length was added to the rear with molded in splash pans. The Cadillac fenders looked the best if they had been molded to the body, with a nice large radius, making them appear they were carved from warm butter. Usually the fenders needed to be modified a little to fit the quarter panels, and at the back there the rear fenders met the main body often some sheet metal work was required.

Famous Custom Builders the Barris and Ayala brothers had a strong bond with the Cadillac rear fenders. Both shops createdCustom Cars styled in a way the Cadillac Tail-Fin rear fenders would adapt to very good. There are multiple samples of those n this article. The Caddy rear fenders could be used in two different ways. One as a complete unit, and two just the Tail Fin section cut off and installed on the to be restyled car. This last version most often was used on the lower-end GM model from 49-52.

When Don Vaughn later owned the ’47 Buick, some updates and changes were made, including the addition of a set of ’51 Cadillac taillights. The rear bumper remains the 48-49 model.
[divider]


This low angle photo of  Don Vaugh’s Barris Buick shows how nice the Cadillac rear fenders and taillights look on the Buick. The full fade away front fenders complement the shape of the rear fenders, and the flow of the Gaylord Padded top and smoothed trunk is accented with the upward flow of the tail-fin. Custom Car design at its very best.
[divider]


The Barris shop also installed a set of ’48 Cadillac rear fenders on this ’41 Buick convertible. To make the Caddy fenders work with the Buick body the front section of the fenders, and the rear/top portion of the rear of the Buick had to be reshaped. Sadly there are no photos found of this car as a finished custom, but judging from these in-progress photos it must have looked stunning.
[divider]


These photos taken at the Barris Kustoms Atlantic Blvd. shop show how the ’48 Cadillac rear fenders on the ’41 Buick convertible shown above were later modified with round rod to be able to french a set of ’51-53 Cadillac taillight lenses for an even smoother look.
[divider]


The Ayala brothers Gil and Al were are also known for their use of Cadillac tail fins on their Custom Car creations. Gil used a set of complete ’49 Cadillac rear fenders and rear bumper on his 1940 Mercury. The full fade away front fenders matched the lines and shape of the Cadillac rear fender beautifully, and the lines of the chopped top, and smooth flowing trunk were nicely accented by the upward flip of the tail-fin. The extra height of the tail-fin, combined with the heavy looking rear bumper made the rear of the Mercury look even lower than it was, perfect for that desired speed-boat look. The Ayala’s used an image of the Cad-fin Mercury on their promotional material for year, helping the popularity of this Custom technique.
[divider]


For Hank Griffith‘s 42 Ford, the Ayala’s created a set of full fade away fenders using a set of 1950 Cadillac doors and of course the rear fenders and rear bumper. The rear quarter panels needed quite a bit of work to adapt the longer and flatter ’50 Cadillac rear fenders. The result was a much modern modern looking custom.
[divider]


The unknown builder of Hank Rains 1941 Ford also used a pair of Cadillac fenders and taillights to upgrade the Convertible. A set of ’48 Caddy fenders, lights and rear bumper were modified to fit the ’41 Ford body. The new rear fenders changed the look of the convertible dramatically, making it look much longer, lower and classy.
[divider]


Harry Westergards used a set of ’48 Cadillac Tail-Fins and lights on Al Laurel’s 1941 Cadillac. The were a perfect companion for the full fade-away front fenders, and brought a bit of extra styling and movement to the rear of this mile long Custom. Harry used a set of ’47 Cadillac bumpers, which suited the car better than the ’48 bumpers would have.
[divider]

The lower range GM cars from 49-52 are a natural for an Cadillac rear fender/taillight update. Many aftermarket taillights ended up on those, and in this case the white ’49 Chevy of Vern Gillingsprud had a set of ’49 Cadillac fins and taillights installed.
[divider]


The installation of 1949 Cadillac tail-fins and lights on Bill Passavanti’s ’49 Chevy shows how the Caddy components are a natural fit on these cars. The shape of the rather high trunk on these Chevy’s make much more sense with the Cad-fins. Bill’s Chevy  also show that the Caddy lights work very nice without the use of the Caddy bumper as well. All body work on Bill’s Chevy was done by Paul Atwood’s body shop.
[divider]


Another gorgeous sample of using the complete ’49 Cadillac rear fenders on a Custom is on the Jim Skonzakes 1949 Buick. Everything on this car is restyled just right, and the Caddy Tail-Fins give the car that extra bit of classy styling and extra optical weight in the back.
[divider]



Not all cars looked good with the Cadillac Tail-Fin rear fender taillights option. The otherwise very popular cars to customize, the ’49-’51 Mercury and the flat side bodied ’49-’51 Fords were not as suitable as other brand cars. The already high stock rear fenders looked a bit to high with the addition of the Cadillac fin, also the distance from bottom of the taillight to the bumper was to long to look very elegant. However there have been several Shoebox Fords and ’49-’51 Mercury’s that used the Caddy Tail-Fin.

Carlos Jenkins 1950 Ford coupe is perhaps the best known sample of the flat side Shoebox Fords that used Caddy Tail-Fins. The car was build in 1953 and is till around today.
[divider]


Another car that did not lend very well to the Caddy Tail Fin use was the very popular to be customized ’49-51 Mercury. Again the high rear fenders made the Caddy find looks out of place, and they were not enhancing the body lines of the Merc. There are however a still a few customizers that tried to use them on the Merc.
[divider]


Doug Thompson ChevyDoug Thompson used a set of 51-53 Tail-Fins and taillights on the 1950 Chevy he restyled for Larry Cochran. Doug’s creation is know as one of the very best uses of Caddy taillights on a the more recently restyled Customs.
[divider]




Mild Customs

It is remarkable how many mild Customs ended up with the Caddy Tail-Fin treatment back in the late 1940’s to mid 1950’s. It was an relatively easy modification for a body shop to perform. If the owner of the car had found an wrecked Cadillac on the Junkyard, they would cut off the back of the rear fenders, and take them to the local body shop. Here they would cut the part to fit the fender, weld it to the rear fender, body worked it and matched the paint with the rest of the car. The end result made the car look like a Cadillac from the rear, and very welcome upgrade, for a relative low prize. It makes me wonder how many ’48-’50 Cadillac could be found in your local junkyard back in the early 1950’s that still had their taillights or rear fenders in place.

’48 Cadillac lights and Tail-Fins were adapted to his ’49 Chevy Fleetline, with shaved trunk. This nice on the road picture was taken around 1951. and shows a sample of how many 49-51 Chevy’s where updated with Caddy taillights.
[divider]


Master Customizer George Cerny used a set of ’49 Cadillac Tail-Fin’s and lights to update his daily user 1949 Chevy four door.
[divider]


Another sample of the use of ’49 Cadillac fins and lights on a ’49 Chevy Fleetline. The factory accessory bumper ends are a nice option to reduced the height from the stock bumper to the now much higher position of the Caddy taillight.
[divider]


Kevan Sledge recently came across this 1950 Chevy Fleetline super deluxe with ’51-53 Cadillac Tail Fins installed. The story goes that these taillights were installed when the car was near new by a custom shop in Sacramento. Other than the rear fenders the car is basically stock.
[divider]




Cad Fins on Sports Customs

The Cadillac Tail-Fin option was not only popular among the Custom Car crowd. The Sports Car Builders also saw the potential of the Art-Deco shaped Tail-Fin’s and taillights. For the Sports Custom scene the aircraft inspired fins were very welcome adding instant speed and style. Some Sports Car builders took the taillights even a bit further and installed a third find and light in the rear dead center of the cars trunk. Creating even more the feel of an aircraft.

Lon Hurley’s 1946 Cadillac based Sports Custom uses a complete rear fender assembly of an 1949 Cadillac.
[divider]


Two unidentified Sports Customs using Cadillac taillights and rear fenders. The Cadillac units gave these Sports Custom instant class and style.
[divider]


Perhaps better named obscure Custom than Sports Custom, Warren Dorrill 1949 Ford Coupe “The Shark” used no less than three 1948 Cadillac taillights housed in home made fins. There were quite a few Sports Customs that used a third Cadillac taillight mounted as fin on the trunk.
[divider]




The Aftermarket

The Cadillac Tail-Fin design was also well present in the aftermarket speed and dress-up shops. Several companies made bolt on versions to imitate a Cadillac fin, while others created cast brass rear fender fin extensions complete with working taillight assemblies, or even die stamped fins. Options that could be bolted on, or welded for an more finished appearance. There were quite a view options available, since making your lower range car look more like an high end Cadillac was big business in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Companies like J.C. Whitney. Honnest Charlie, Cal Custom, Eastern and many more offered these Cad Type Tail Fin taillight assemblies.

Two different type of aftermarket Cadillac Tail Fin inspired aftermarket items. Most of these were used on either “Mild-Customs”, or “Dress-Up-Customs”.
[divider]


1950 Ford with polished aluminum aftermarket fender fins, which were obviously inspired by the ’48 and up Cadillac Tail-Fins. These were bolt on dress-up items available from several aftermarket companies.
[divider]


Cad Fins were cast brass finds that could be welded to the rear fenders and came with working Cadillac lookalike taillights. This aftermarket product was very popular, but require some expert tools to be installed, plus a new rear fender paint job. This one was advertised by Auto Accessories Company in Los Angeles.
[divider]


The same product was also available from Eastern Auto, as well as others. I have seen many snapshots of all kind of late 40’s and early 50’s cars using these aftermarket parts being used. The shape of the fin was slightly different and the actual taillight slightly smaller than the real Cadillac find and taillights. 
[divider]


Just two samples of these molded in brass aftermarket fins and taillights. These two photos also illustrate that the Tail-Fins work better on the Chevy on the left, than they do on the Shoebox on the right.
[divider]


Beautiful ’49-’50 Chevy Hard-Top with a set of the brass Cad Fins added. The assembly works particularly well because the rear bumper was dressed up with accessory bumper ends, extending the corners so the long vertical line of the rear of the fender is less obvious. The wide whites and Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps complete the theme.
[divider]



Restyling with Cadillac Tail-Fins is still being done today. Even though it might not be as easy to do, as it was in the late 1940’s early 1950’s, when you could just order a set of rear fenders and taillights from the local Cadillac Dealer, or cruise over to the Local Junkyard. I still see the new generation of Custom Car builder look for the Cadillac Rear fenders and taillights and use them on their Period Perfect Customs, or new customs insfluenced by the Custom Car Icons from the past, mixed with new ideas.



(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01






.

1+

Dragone Custom Car Auction

 

DRAGONE CUSTOM CAR Auction

 

Dragone Auctions teamed up with Lime Rock Racetracks to organize their Classic Car Auction at the 2017 Vintage Festival


From Dragone Auctions

The Lime Rock Auction 2017:

This year Dragone Auctions has teamed up with the great Lime Rock Racetrack for their 35th year of its Vintage Festival where they celebrate the history of speed and the automobile. With 4 days of vintage racing, the festival wraps up the weekend with an incredible Concours located right on the racetrack where it features significant collector cars from around the country. The Dragone auction will be taking place during the Concours on Sunday September 3rd at 11 am and will be located right in the center of the Concours adding a whole new element to an already outstanding event. The Dragone sale, with an incredible number of NO RESERVE cars, will be featuring many great and interesting cars, but most notably:

Dragone is well-known as a diverse and experienced company with a lot to offer. The incredible knowledge and expertise we have gained over the years is invaluable – far more significant than anything that can be offered by the big “show” type auction companies that sell cars without a care for (or an honest assessment of) the car’s condition. Dragone takes pride in our work and in the cars that we sell, and we enjoy what we do. There is nothing more satisfying than to know that we have provided the antique, classic and vintage car world with our knowledge, expertise, and (of course) significant motorcars and restorations, and we will continue to do so for years to come. dragoneauctions.com

This Dragone Auction has besides a long list of amazing cars also a few Custom & Movie/TV Cars listed that we will be highlighted here on the CCC. (All info from Dargoon Auctions website.)

Auction will be held.
Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 11:00 AM


​LIME ROCK PARK
60 White Hollow Road
Lakeville, CT 06039




The Barris 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado
Mannix Roadster

George Barris, “The King of Kustomizers” as he is referred to today is considered one of the greatest customizers of all time. Unlike many of the other great customisers and hot rodders of the 1950’s and 1960’s, George capitalized on his talents, selling his creations to movie stars and television and movie production companies leading to some of the most iconic custom movie and TV cars of all time including the Batmobile, the Muster Coach and many many more.

Considered to be one of the best looking cars created for the big screen by Barris, this 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado “Mannix Roadster” created for the hit 1960’s television show “Mannix.” The car was originally built for the series in 1967 and was used for the first two seasons of the show. When Barris first built the car for the 1967 season, he took a brand new stock 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado and cut the roof off, eliminated the back seat and made a custom tonneau covering the rear compartment making it into a two seat roadster. He then gave it a custom interior complete with a rotary telephone and secret hidden gun compartment. In the first season the bottom of the car was painted black and the headlights had sealed beams in them.

George Barris on the left and actor Mike Connors on the set of Mannix.
[divider]


[divider]


Screen shots from the Mannix Roadster in the TV show.
[divider]



For the second season of the show in 1968 Barris took the car back, changed the headlights to the Euro style halogen inserts, changed the bottom part of the body to red and redesigned the seats and added the heated seat feature with small vents for the heat to come through. The car is currently in the exact same original condition that it was when it left the show in 1968 with original paint, upholstery and accessories including its original rotary phone. After it left the show in 1968 the production company sold the car to Charlie Woods who was an amusement park developer from New York. He was building the “Gaslight Village and Amusement park” in Lake George, New York at the time where he put the car on display in 1973 along with the Greta Garbo Duesenberg, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (movie car) and an assortment of other Barris customs including the Munster Coach, the Little Red Wrecker and Bob Hopes golf cart. Upon the closing of Charlie Woods Gaslight Village the car was sold through the Kruse auction of the museum in the late 1980’s to its most recent owner who immediately put it on display in his own private Museum located in Bristol Tennessee where it was on display with the 1928 Porter touring car from the show “My Mother the Car” also built by George Barris, and the “Rickshaw Taxi” another Barris custom built for the 1970 Worlds Fair in Tokyo, Japan.

The car is also featured on the cover of book “Cars of the Stars” by George Barris himself and Jack Scagnetti. This is a wonderful and rare opportunity to own a significant Barris custom that has a great history, an incredible design and a car that even “The King of Kustomizers” himself was extremely fond of. More info on the Mannix Roadster on the Dragone Website.

The Mannix Roadster was also offered as 1/25 scale model car kit from PMC.
[divider]


This is how the Mannix Roadster looks today.
[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]




1950 Chrysler Imperial  by D.M. Nacional

Sedanca DeVille

When custom coachbuilders come to mind, the great French, Italian and German coachbuilders are the few that really stand out, but there was another coachbuilder in Mexico that was making some really stellar bodies on American car chassis between 1950 through 1955 named D.M. Nacional. Founded by a Mexican business man by the name of Ruiz Galindo Jr. who had a love for cars and especially custom coachbuilt cars after a trip he had taken to Europe where he experienced some of the great French and Italian coachbuilders of the time. American cars were the most common in Mexico at the time and parts were most abundant so American chassis made the most sense. Cost for the D.M. Nacional custom bodies ranged from $3000 to $6000 dollars exclusive of the cost of the chassis, which was quite a bit of money considering a new Cadillac at the time was around $7000. Ford’s, Mercury’s and Chryslers were the most popular chassis used and Ruiz Galindo would make the car to the customer’s specifications. For example, he once added six ash trays in a car for a Chicago business man, a wealthy student ordered a car with leather book cases and a radio fan had a car built with no less than three radios inside the car. Much of D.M. Nacional’s designs were very much inspired by the great European designers and these design cues can be seen in many of their bodies.

The 1950 Chrysler Sedanca DeVille when it was first created at the D.M. Nacional shop.
[divider]



This brings us to one of D.M. National’s most interesting and stylish coachbuilt cars, the 1950 Chrysler Imperial “Sedanca DeVille”. This particular car by D.M. Nacional is a wonderful example of how European inspiration was instilled into D.M. Nacional’s designes. The front fenders sweep all the way back through the rockers into the rear fenders, just like Saoutchik of Paris. It has a low and long roof line with a removable front section like a sporty and proper European custom Sedanca would have and a very graceful and sweeping rear deck that really gives it a spectacular look.

Even though there were quite a few D.M. Nacional customs commissioned during the time it was in business, little to none of their creations still exist today which is why it is such a treat to see a real D.M. Nacional custom coach built car in person. Not much of this cars history is known other than it is believed to have been originally commissioned and built in 1950 or 1951 and was finished in a sporting yellow and black paint scheme with a green interior and an original photograph can be seen of the car sitting in front of the D.M. Nacional building upon its completion. It was much later purchased by its current owner in Connecticut from its previous owner over 30 years ago. The car has been sitting since then and is presented in its current condition complete with its original D.M. Nacional body tags and its original custom fixed landau bars. Although it is in somewhat tough condition, it would be an incredibly interesting and wonderful car to restore and bring back to its original magnificence. Any concours would be enamored to have this car present on their show field. A true piece of coachbuilding history, and possibly the only D.M. Nacional left today. More info on the D.M. Nacional Sedanca DeVille on the Dragone Website.

This is how the Sedanca DeVille looks like today.
[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


[divider]




The Barris 1928 Porter Touring Car From

My Mother the Car

Authentic George Barris Kustom Industries custom car
Featured in the 1960’s TV show “My Mother the Car”
From the Harrah’s Auto Collection



As the undisputed “King of Kustomizers,” George Barris who began chopping, channeling, and lowering cars at a very early age and just when television crossed over from black & white to color in the 1960s, George Barris was the man that Hollywood called on when a custom TV car was required. Indeed, many of Hollywood’s most famous detectives, crime fighters, movie stars, and musicians all called on the great George Barris for their custom car needs. Through the years Barris masterfully created some of the most iconic television and movie vehicles of all time like the famous Batmobile, Munster coach to name a few. Thus, when producers introduced the concept of a television show featuring a talking car with a mind of its own, they naturally turned to George Barris to create it.

[divider]



The debut of “My Mother the Car” aired on September 14, 1965, starring Jerry Van Dyke who played the role of attorney David Crabtree and his 1928 Porter Touring car featured the antics of David Crabtree who buys a used and dilapidated 1928 Porter touring car. The car turns out to be the reincarnation of his deceased mother, voiced by actress Ann Sothern, she talks to him through the car’s radio. The car is subsequently restored and becomes the basis for the show’s antics. The “hero” or star car came from noted actor and hot rod builder Norm Grabowski. Starting with a 1924 Ford Model T hot rod, the studio modified the car with an extended engine compartment, Model A Ford wheels, a brass radiator with the “Porter” script, running board-mounted spare tire, and an outboard fuel tank. Early in preproduction it was realized that a second car would be necessary to create the special effects needed for the show. The studio contacted Barris and the stunt car was finished in record time. Barris and his crew built the stunt car with the ability to hide a driver and give the illusion that it was driving itself through an elaborate system of levers and mirrors. With both the cars ready to go, production got underway with 30 episodes filmed for the season.

Screen shots of the car on the TV show.
[divider]



Offered here to the collector of unusual and unique vehicles is the actual stunt car built by Barris for “My Mother the Car”. Barris’s custom work is all over this treasure from yesteryear and it’s also a Hollywood car that still retains its special features. The hot rod phaeton look is pure 1960s complete with a side mounted spare tire and triple diamond rear windows in the convertible top. Power comes from a 283 cubic-inch Chevrolet V-8 engine mated to a Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission. The interior is the original pleated Black vinyl and the hidden driver remote location in the rear is still intact and in operable condition. The amazing ingenuity of Barris and his crew is clearly evident in the steering system and telescopic lens that allows the rear driver to see the road ahead. There may be other hot rods, but there is no other car that carries the unique features of this Hollywood icon. When production ended, Barris sold the Porter to the Bill Harrah Auto Collection where it was displayed, until going to another museum in Tennessee. The result is that this Porter has very few miles on it and was recently cosmetically refreshed and is now ready to see the open road once again.

Sadly, “My Mother the Car” ran for just one season, before being relegated to television history. Its creator, Allan Burns went on to create a series of critically acclaimed shows including; The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and later collaborated with others to create Room 222, Taxi, and The Simpsons. The concept of a talking car laid the foundation for another show called Knight Rider and once again, George Barris was called upon to modify a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am for crime fighting antics. Very few cars carry the provenance of being a George Barris custom and a television star, but this 1928 Porter is a car that represents an opportunity to acquire something unique and special and is sure to be the only one at the show. More info on the Mother the Car Porter on the Dragone Website.

The car how it looks today. Inset photo shows an AMT 1/25 scale model kit of the car.
[divider]


[divider]


[divider]




The Barris Ricksha Taxi

Unique one-of-a-kind build
Unrestored original
Featured at the 1970 Tokyo World’s Fair

In the 1970s, when something out of the ordinary was needed in the custom car world, the man to turn to was the great George Barris. Batman and Robin found this out rather quickly, as they fought crime every week in one of Barris’s custom cars. When the Munsters needed a new family coach, it was George Barris who supplied it. Even “The Monkeys”, used a George Barris custom built car based on a GTO platform. In the era of the 1970, Barris’s cars were seen all over, as he supplied custom creations to just about every Hollywood TV show. So, it was that when the organizers of the 1970 World’s Fair needed something unique, they contacted George Barris who created the “Ricksha.” Wild, different, and outrageous are just a few words that begin to describe this custom-build, as Barris’s team pulled out all the stops to make something that had never been seen before.

George Barris with the Ricksha Taxi in front of the North Hollywood Barris Shop. Inset shows a 1/20 scale MPC model kit of the vehicle.
[divider]



The basis for the build was to create George’s version of an Osaka Taxi for the 1970 World’s Fair. The result was a fully operational and functional three-wheel vehicle powered by an enormous engine. A hand built chassis of rectangular tubing incorporated a swinging third yoke for the super strong front-wheel steering apparatus. Steering was through a tiller that is a simulated Scimitar sword that operates a power-assist unit for steering. The shock absorbers were spring loaded and adjustable to handle the weight and the frame was a strengthened “Z” design that held it all together, with a Chevrolet rear-end, which put all the power to the ground.

This “Risksha,” was a trike like no other in the world. The added features of the Rickshaw are found in the visual cues that are mounted on every angle of this unique build. Starting at the front, its single wheel is a slotted 1960s style rim with a quarter fender over the top. The radiator is covered by an Asian rice hat. A sculptured three-headed dragon air-cleaner covers the 400 cubic-inch Chevy V-8 engine, with a “spaghetti noodle” header system that is a marvel of design. The interior and folding top are fully upholstered and all gauges are chrome bullet shaped. The unique steering system has just the sword and a statue of Buddha graces the rear. Clearly, there is nothing that isn’t unique about this incredible custom and it’s a vehicle that can be looked at over and over in amazement. More info on the Ricksha Taxi on the Dragone Website.

The Ricksha Taxi was also name the Rickshaw Buggy as we can see on the Barris Sticker Cards from the 1970’s.
[divider]















.

0

Calnevar Chromesides Hubcaps

 

CALNEVAR CHROMESIDES

 

Aftermarket company Calnevar produced a smooth concave shaped White Wall replacement beauty ring. They named a chrome plated version Chromesides.



During World War II there was a restriction on rubber, which was all needed for military use. The tire production for civilian cars almost came to a halt and the production on the very popular white wall insert tires stopped completely. White Wall tires were impossible to get for a number of years around the end and shortly after WWII. Several aftermarket companies came up with a solution for this. A smooth somewhat concave shaped all metal beauty ring painted white that would fit the wheel around the hubcap. The effect was nice, although not quite the same as a real white wall which would be several inches outside of the cars wheels, while the new accessory item was wheel size 15 or 16 inches.

For a number of years these alternative white walls were used on quite a few cars, as well as Custom Cars. At one point around 1946, as far as I have been able to find out, these metal rings were also offered with chrome plating. One of the aftermarket companies that produced these items was Calnevar from Los Angeles California. They advertised their version of this alternative white wall option as the Calnevar Whitesides, and the chrome plated version was named Calnevar Chromesides. Both were offered in the Calnevar Dress-Up / Doll-Up wheel covers line of products.

Full page Calnever magazine ad from around 1947. The Doll-Ups Chrome and Whitesides are shown separate, as well as combined with several of their hubcap offerings.
[divider]


The Doll-Ups Chrome and Whitesides were offered in 15 and 16 inch and came with backsides to fit different brand wheels.
[divider]



So far I have only been able to find any documentation on these chrome plated sings from the Calnevar company in one of their late 1940’s magazine ads. But several other other companies who also produced the white wall version, created a chrome plated option as well. well known aftermarket hubcap company Lyon named their chrome plated version the De Luxe Steel model. A similar product was also offered by National and Paul Perfect Fit.

There are quite a few 1940’s photos of cars using the white painted version of these beauty rings, but the chrome plated versions is rarely seen. In fact so far I have only found two photos of the same Custom Car that uses a set of these Chromesides beauty rings mounted. The car was restyled by the Barris shop around late 1947, and two photos of the car appeared in two of the Barris books. On this really great looking ’40 Mercury convertible with chopped padded top and ’48 Cadillac grille these Chromesides were combined with a set of ripple disk single bar flipper hubcaps creating a totally unique look. Almost like a mix between a Cadillac Sombrero and the single bar flipper caps. Ever since I have noticed this combination on this car I have wondered why this was not used more often, back then, and even today.




The only car I have been able to find using the Calnevar Chromesides was this Barris Customs restyled 1940 Mercury convertible with padded top and ’48 Cadillac Grille.
[divider]


The car was restyled really bautiful with all smooth and molded body work including smoothed running boards. The smooth Chromesides trim ring works beautiful with the Ripple Disc, Single Bar Flipper Hubcaps.
[divider]


Close up of the Chromesides combined with the Ripple Disc, Single Bar Flipper hubcaps, what a beautiful set up.
[divider]


The white version of these dress-up parts are rather common, and offered for sale at swap-meets and internet auctions quite frequently. The Chrome plated versions are also still around, most of the time brand new in the box never being used. But they are a bit harder to find that the white painted versions. Christer Ehrling from Sweden send me a photo of a set he bought several years ago on eBay. He mentioned they were created from a little thinner metal than regular hubcaps, but once mounted they look very good and should work really well combined with a selection of hubcaps for an unique Custom look. Hopefully we will see some of these on some 1940’s styled Custom Cars in the future. Something a bit different than the regular ribbed beauty ring and flipper hubcap… Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the ’40 Mercury restyled by Barris shows how great the Chromesides can look.

Johnny F Cliche shared some photos of a set of Chromesides he had in his collection. This particular version was made to fit the 1948 Chevrolet’s.
[divider]


Instructions on how to use the Calnevar Company (Calco) Chromesides.
[divider]


Low angle photo of the Calnevar Whitesides gives us a good look at the shape of these rings.
[divider]



Close up of the chrome plated trim ring, this is the Paul Perfect Fit produced item.
[divider]


I also came across a set of chrome plated rings offered by Paul Perfect Fit.
[divider]


Backside of the Paul Perfect Fit trim-rings.
[divider]


Details of the Paul Perfect Fit trim-ring box.
[divider]


The Paul Perfect Fit product was created by the Paul Machine Tool & Die works in Chicago, Illinois.
[divider]


Magazine ad for the Lyon “whitewalls. The white version sold for $6.95 for four, and the De Luxe Steel version for $9.95 for four around 1947.
[divider]


The Lyon version of the chrome plated trim ring has 8 small square slots on the inside of the ring that will be covered by the actual hub cap.
[divider]


Christer Ehrling send me this photo of a set he is going to use on his car. The one on the left is the Lyon version of the chrome plated ring. The one on the right is the same ring mounted on the wheel with a Stock Ford hubcap added. A ripple disk flipper hubcap is larger and will overlap more of the inside ring.
[divider]


If you know of any other 40’s built Custom Cars that used the Chromesides trim rings, or if you plan on using them on your own Custom Car, please let us know. This is an unique restyling feature that I think would look really amazing, and since it has been seen very rarely it will set your ’40’s style Custom really apart.






ccc-shirt-sponsor-ad-kustoms-la-01

(This article is made possible by)





0

41 Chevy 3-Window

 

41 CHEVY 3-WINDOW Mystery Custom

 

1941 Chevy Coupe with chopped turned 3-window top, 1946 Chevy grille and complete smoothed body. Another Mystery Published Custom Car.



[box_light]
Over the years I have come across a lot of Unidentified Custom Car photos in the early Custom Car Publications. Mystery Customs that appeared in just a single publication, and sometimes even in multiple magazines or booklets, but always laking any info on the original builder or owners name. In this series of articles I will be showing some of these Mystery Published Custom Cars, and hopefully the extra publicity will lead to some more information on these cars.
[/box_light]




1941 Chevy 3-window Coupe Custom.

The first time I saw a picture of this ’41 Chevy Custom was possibly the last published photo of the Custom. It was in the Barris Kustoms Technique of the 50’s Volume 2 book published in 1996. On page 13 there is a great photo taken at the Barris Compton Avenue shop showing this Chevy with white wall tires, listed as a ’42 Chevy – which it might be, instead of a ’41 – parking in front of the Barris shop with a ’41 Ford convertible Custom in the driveway. The photo caption mentioned that some work on the car was done at the Barris Shop… which is very plausible. The car really has this beautiful early Barris look and feel. There is no mentioning about the owners name in the Barris book.

Later when I found an original copy of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling published in 1951, I spotted another photo of what I think is the same Chevy. The photo in the Dan Post book showed the car with a nice profile photo parked in front of an used car dealer when it had black wall tires. There was no photo caption in the Dan Post book. Later I found out that the same photo was also part of the first time the Blue book was published in 1949.

From the 1946 Custom Styling Manual published by Edgar Almquist.
[divider]





From the 1947 published Speed and Mileage Manual published by Edgar Almquist.
[divider]


It turned out that the more photos I found of the car, the further I went back in time with the publications I found it in. I bought a Speed and Mileage Manual by Edgar Almquist first published in 1947. It had a single photo of the Chevy, a nice front 3/4 view and in the photo the car had white wall tires, and the paint looked to be a bit lighter than in the Barris Book photo.  The same photo was also used in Custom Styling Manual and Custom Streamlining published by Edgar Almquist in 1946. In this earliest published photo the car was listed as a ’41 Chevy, but no builder or owner name was mentioned.

In 1947 Dan Post published his California Custom Car Photo Album booklet. The Chevy was shown in the booklet with no less than 5 photos. 4 of these photos show the car with white wall tires, and one with black wall tires. A side view photo was used on the cover, a front 3/4 view with the car in a lighter color on the back cover, and three more on one page inside the booklet. None of these photos had any photo captions, nor photo credits.


The front and back cover of the 1947 published Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album booklet used two photos of the Chevy.
[divider]


Dan Post devoted 3 photos of the Chevy on a full page in his ’47 published California Custom Car Photo Album booklet. I think that all these three photos, which have the background cut off, were taken at the Barris Compton Avenue shop.
[divider]


The photo shown on the cover of the Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album shows the full side view of the car taken in front of the Barris Compton Ave shop. The photo is taken the same day, with the ’41 Ford Convertible peaking in above the Chevy hood, as the one shown in the Barris Techniques book. Wish a bit more of the back ground was shown in this photo, most likely taken in 1946.
[divider]


This is the only rear view photo I have been able to find. It shows how the trunk was shortened at least a foot at the top, the fenders are molded and blended into the body, and the rear window looks to have been cut down and made into a three piece unit (possibly Cadillac rear window cut down?) The rear bumper looks to be a ’46 Chevy unit.
[divider]


On the back cover of the Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album this photo of what I think is the Chevy was used. It shows the car with black wall tires, and a lighter paint job. But otherwise identical to the darker colored photos. The photo looks to be a collage of the car cut from the background and pasted into the palm tree nice building photo.
[divider]


The only other photo I have found of the car so far comes from the internet in the very early years. I have no idea where it came from, but it shows the car in the dark paint, with white walls parked next to what I think is an early version of the Var Martin’s 1941 Buick with full fade-away fenders Custom restyled by the Barris Shop.



The Chevy

The Chevy is a really beautiful restyled 3-window Coupe. Unsure if the car tarted out as a ’41 or 42 model. The top was chopped with a really beautiful flow on the rear of the top. It looks like the rear of the top is still located in the stock position, not moved forward like we see a lot in more preset day builds. This allowed the builder to create a really beautiful flowing line on the top. The rear quarter windows are filled in for an ultimate smooth look. Filing in quarter windows of 5-window coupes, and even on sedans was a very popular Restyling technique used in the early days, the mid 1940’s. In the early days the most commonly Custom restyled Custom Cars, especially in California, where it all started, were based on convertibles and received chopped padded tops originally designed by the Carson Top Shop. These tops had the rear quarter windows filled in and a super smooth flow at the rear of the top. I think that a lot of early Custom Restyler’s liked this look, and when they chopped a coupe body filling in the rear quarter windows seamed a natural for them to obtain this favorable look. Later this filled quarter window look was reused on the twin ’48 Chevy’s restyled by Barris for the High-School Confidential movie in 1957-58.

The rear window was either replaced by a three piece Cadillac unit, or home made. Plus it was cut down in the chopping process, unlike what was more common later on to just lay it forward to match the new roof shape, but kept its original height. The new small “mailslot”  rear window is perhaps another inspiration things fro the popular Padded tops, which mostly had very small rear windows as well.

This profile photo of the  Chevy was first shown in the Dan Post Blue book in 1949. It shows the car with black wall tires and dark paint in front of an unknown Used Car Lot. Not sure when the photo was taken.
[divider]


Photo from the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s book. The photo caption in the book is: Also photographed outside the Compton Avenue shop was this ’42 Chevy coupe which had its top chopped, the door posts kicked forward, and the rear side window blanked. The running boards were molded as were the headlights. Notice that the hood was shaved and had its side trim removed and that we’d installed flat, extended fender skirts. The grille was from a ’46 Chevy.
[divider]



The fenders were welded to the body and flared into the body for that beautiful one piece molded look. All the trim and handles were shaved and the hood was relieved of its center strip and side scoops. The  front end was modified to accept a brand new at the time of the build ’46 Chevy grille and the bumpers front and rear were replaced with ’46 Chevy units. At the back the trunk was shortened at the top, not sure why this was done. The stock taillights were used and everything was smoothed. The car had tear drop shaped fender skirts added, and used smooth aftermarket hubcaps with beauty rings.

The car looks and feels like an early Barris Restyled car, the Barris Technique book mentioned it was done, or at least partly done at the Barris Shop. This is the only written info we have on the car, and since it was photographed in front of the Barris Shop around 1946, it is most likely a Barris Created Custom, but who was the owner? and what happened to the car. Also when was the car the lighter color, before the dark paint, or after? and what about the white walls versus the black walls Which one was earlier?

The Chevy Coupe parked next to what I think is an early version of the Var Martin Barris Restyled ’41 Buick. What a fantastic sight to see these two chopped 3-window coupe early Customs sitting side by side. Unusual for these early customs, (around 46-47, and possibly both restyled by Barris) is that both customs have no Appleton Spotlights installed.
[divider]



Quite a view photos of this car have been published, and most of them in early publications, but none of those I have found shed any light on the history of this car. If any of the CCC readers knows anything more about this Mystery Published Custom Chevy, please email Rik at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to know more about this early Custom Car, and be able to put a name to this well published Custom.







ccc-shirt-sponsor-ad-kustoms-la-01

(This article is made possible by)



0

Tony Rando 1939 Ford

 

Tony Rando 1939 Ford

 

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



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

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

Cover of the 1952 National Roadster Show in Oakland. The only place were we have seen Tony Rando’s ’39 Ford Convertible so far.
[divider]


From the May ’52 issue of Hot Rod magazine. It shows that the heavily sectioned hood required the front of the hood to be reshaped, and now has a really nice curved shape.
[divider]



In January 2012 Jamie Barter sends me a scan he made of an article in the May 1952 issue of Hot Rod Magazine about the 1952 National Roadster Show in Oakland. One photo in the article showed Tony Rando’s beautiful ’39 Ford. And even though it was a rather small printed photo, it showed the car a lot nicer than the one snapshot I had from the Chris Ito Collection. This really was a very nice proportioned Custom. It reminded me a lot about the Ralph Jilek 1940 Ford Convertible created by the Valley Custom Shop. Tony’s being a bit more “vintage” styled, while Ralph’s Ford looked more modern. But both extremely nicely proportioned.

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

The first time I saw Tony’s ’39 Ford was this dark snapshot from the Chris Ito Collection. I really liked everything I was able to see in this photo, and the cars vision stuck in my mind ever since.
[divider]



The car has a relatively high stance, especially for 1952, but it looks very proportioned on the car. Wide white wall tires with ripple disk hubcaps are used that suit the car as perfect as they can be. The windshield is chopped, but not a whole lot, which fits right in place with the stance. All the trim has been shaved from the body, handles removed and there is not even a stainless rock shield on the rear fenders. The rear wheel opening is covered with a tear drop shaped bubble skirt. The stock bumpers are replace with the ever popular ribbed ’37 DeSoto bumpers. The interior looks to be done in two colors, a light and a medium color. The car was shown at the ’52 Roadster show without a top.

In another photo taken at the ’52 Roadster Show we can see another small portion of Tony’s Ford in the background on the far right, behind the little flag.
[divider]


Enlarged section of the Hot Rod photo above, gives us the partial side view of Tony’s Ford.
[divider]



Ever since I have been looking to find more info Tony Rando’s ’39 Ford. It is a very nice car, so perhaps it could have been featured in one of the magazines, but no luck. And everybody I have asked about the car, and the owner could not tell me anything more. The May ’52 Hot Rod magazine photo appears to be the only time the car was published, as far as we know. Possibly the fact that the owner was from San Fransisco and not from the Los Angeles area, where all the magazine publisher were at, might have something to do with it.

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

Mickey Chiach’s Barris Restyled ’39 Ford parked at the Barris Compton Ave shop around 1948. Similar in styling, but with several different details… not the car I was looking for.
[divider]


I’m still very much interested in seeing more pictures of Tony’s ’39 Ford Convertible. It is perhaps my personal favorite from a series of ’39 Fords styled in a similar way. If any of our reader has any more information on Tony’s 39 Ford, or even better some never before seen photos. Please let us know… Thank you.

[divider]

[divider]





.

0

Neferteri Part Eight

 

NEFERTERI Part Eight

 

Herein, our Forrest Gump embarks on a quixotic crusade in search of elements from the Golden Age of the Classics.



Larry Pointer found himself a survivor of Y2K, retired, a widower, and a more or less empty nester.  He needed a project.  In this series, he shares his passion for all things “Streamline Moderne”, and how it all turned into a 13-year labor of love, to create “Neferteri“, his custom Diamond T truck.

By Larry Pointer with Rik Hoving


Neferteri, Part Eight

Forlorn is about the best could be said of my 1936 Diamond T grille shell. No Art Deco waterfall grille in shiny stamped sheet metal graced its open maw. But that’s not a bad thing. Frankly, I wasn’t a fan of that historic hiccup, before the Cadillac of trucks morphed its face for the Forties into a 1938 Buick on steroids. The 1936-37 grillework definitely was Art Deco, but more like the face of a drive-in speaker than any rolling sculpture.

From left to right; 1937 Diamond T, 1938 Buick grille, 1948 Diamond T grille 
[divider]


Drive-in Speakers, common items for those who crew up with the drive-in theater’s. (many younger viewers never have seen a drive-in movie.  Sad)
[divider]



Instead, I had borrowed Gordon Buerhrig’s 1935 facelift for the struggling Auburn flagship to grace my own Art Deco dream. What better streamline concept truck than a marriage between Auburn and Diamond T? For help in scale and proportion, I threw myself on the tender mercies of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum. There, archivist Jon Bill came to my aid. With stretched dimensions in hand, I was off and running. I had the WHAT of what I needed; the HOW still continued to elude me.

Original 1936 Diamond T grille shell I started with.
[divider]


1935-36 Auburn grille…
[divider]


Example of grille surround created from large diameter tubing by Barris Kustoms on the left and using some smaller diameter tubing by the Valley Custom Shop used on Jack Stewart’s Oldsmobile “Polynesian”.
[divider]


If George and Sam Barris and the Valley Custom boys could create their grille surrounds in exhaust tubing, it was the way forward for me. First though, I needed an inexpensive mock-up. Quite by accident I discovered the cardboard tubing inside Christmas wrapping rolls was exactly the same diameter! And a lot cheaper to whack into the required lengths, angles, and curves I envisioned. Once it was laid out and adjusted to the Diamond T height and width, I was ready for Darryn Waldo to pass over the real steel for cutting and ticky-tacking.

Christmas wrap tube on the left turned out ideal to mock up my new grille surround before I bought the actual metal tubing and had it bend in shape. On the right you can see the roughed in exhaust tubing clamped to front of my Diamond T shell.
[divider]



The handsome expanded stainless screen of bygone days was no more. Scott Clark showed me an alternative, though. And it stood literally in my face on a daily basis as I went in and out of his shop. The behemoth Peterbilt tractor-trailer rigs sported a frontal grillework that was almost a dead ringer for that sported by the Auburn boat-tail speedster. After a few visits to repair shops and salvage yards, I was able to score one that hadn’t played block and tackle against a four-legged foe, or worse.

Peterbilt truck with the stainless screen I used in building my “Auburn” grille. The Kenworth truck on the right shows the style of bars and “teeth” I carved down for my grille.
[divider]



The center bar and teeth I was able to clone from yet another 18-wheeler. This time the vertical aluminum grille bars of a Kenworth. It didn’t take long for me to gain a deep appreciation for the values of an open faced file, in the task of whittling down the pieces for the three cross bars of the Auburn’s trademark dental work.

Buzz Franke studying the bare shell and how to incorporate the new panels and exhaust tubing surround. On the right photo we can see Buzz Franke forming a template for bottom of the shell.
[divider]


The finished tubing grille surround now tacked to the 37 Diamond T shell.
[divider]



Yet, that all turned out to be the easy part. The Auburn’s vertical face was straight, and raked back to a jaunty angle. Jaunty hardly described the bulbous bustle nose of the Diamond T shell. Buzz Franke stepped in to direct the match-up of this odd couple. His studied eye in fabrication was a clinic in customizing, a privilege I never will forget, rest his soul. Finally, to achieve the crowning touch, Ron Tesinsky drug out his English wheel to create the cap of the structure. It came out much like a big brother to the iconic 32 Ford grille shell, as well as that of Buehrig’s classic Auburn.

Close up of the lower grille section, piecing together the shell with the tubing. On the right Buzz with partner Jerry Lafountain checking alignments.
[divider]


Lower piecework, adapting tubing to original grille shell on the left and on the right the Grille is now ready for fabrication of top of shell.
[divider]


Shaped rod clamped in place to determine form of top of shell, followed by Paper templates in place for shaping top of grille shell.
[divider]


Ron Tesinsky with completed grille shell, bare metal. Ron shaped all the sheet metal on the grille surround with English wheel. On the right, grille back home on stand.
[divider]



I was so proud of what we had done, I built a stand for our bare metal “sculpture”, and stood it in my bedroom.

Until…., well… Two years later Dotti and I were married. It was no contest. Neferteri moved out to the shop. A girl thing, I think.





Fast forward to 2013. That bucket list we all carry. Wishful thinking. Without Dotti, much of my bucket list only would have remained a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” wish list. Dotti was on family history quest, and we planned out a trip, retracing back her family’s migration West to Montana. Well, along the route through Indiana…umm, almost on the way…was Auburn, and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. After a short detour, I found myself standing in front of that very Mecca of Classic Car celebrants. Soon, I was shaking hands with Museum archivist Jon Bill, the very man who, a decade before, had helped me scope out the dimensions I needed in creating Neferteri’s “Auburn” grille. That day stands out as one of those “most memorable” moments of Life’s special treasures. And to have Jon request images of Neferteri for the Museum archive was…beyond words!

Me in front of ACD Museum, 2013. and on the right Me, on the left, with Jon Bill, on the right, archivist at ACD Museum who ten years before, in 2003, had helped me come up with conversions to adapt the 1935-36 Auburn grille dimensions to the larger Diamond T grille shell.
[divider]



As I looked back over the progression of the project, visions of perk charts danced in my head. Jack Whittington had started the wiring, and in tidy Air Force style, he ran wires through lengths of brake line tubing to hide them. The idea to hide the fuse box inside a kitchen toaster masquerading as an Art Deco heater under the dash was, well, my idea. John Stroble took on the brakes. And Darryn Waldo came to the rescue in configuring the air conditioning components to avoid defacing my firewall mural space.

Air conditioning? You ask. Didn’t the Diamond T have individual roll out windshields? And cowl vents down on the sides, in front of the doors? Yes… but. Dotti surprised me with the gift of a complete Aftermarket system. In another compromise, the new hidden hinges Darryn had scored meant the cowl vents had to go.

The solution that we worked out was to run hoses under the firewall and floor to a mounting position behind the seats, on the extended floor board. Venting then later could face forward, beneath a raised platform behind the seats and through a console between the seats, as well as up and over the door frames to that above-windshield glove box panel, via pvc piping.

AC unit on bare floor of Neferteri.
[divider]



But that would be later. Actually, years later. Thirteen years and counting; I still don’t have the system charged, nor the defroster vents louvered in above the windshield. My bad. But is a custom ever done? Really DONE done? Those roll out windshields are working really swell, though.

Jack Whittington, who wired Neferteri on the left, and John Waldo and father Darryn Waldo crimping AC hoses on the right.
[divider]



How to build an extended cab? I still had the poster board pattern I had used to saw out my 10 gauge floor. Scott Clark had salvaged some heavy duty bakery racks, and I glommed onto one. I surgically removed its base on wheels, to then began assembling parts and pieces of the four C. A. Tilt truck cabs I had purloined. To align the parts and hold everything in position, I built a cage of braces in bracketed ½” tubing. It looked like a Rube Goldberg cartoon, but it did the job.

Top left shows the Bakery rack frame I used parts from for cab gurney The other two photos show the stock cab on bakery rack gurney.
[divider]






Buzz guided me on extending the cab length. One set of quarter panels were sliced vertically behind the stamped door frame. Another set was cut parallel to these, but 4” back. For backing, we tacked a narrow strip behind the cutline to hold the pieces in line, then I slowly welded up the long seam.

Buzz Franke studying cab extension. Extended and reinforced to hold its shape cab on gurney.
[divider]



Quarter windows. With tried-and-true poster board, I cut out several variations of shapes for the quarter windows I wanted. Standing back, I studied each, with a door clamped into position for proportioning. Then, to create window openings consistent with those of the doors, I actually used doors as donors. Each quarter window surround is made up from the rear portion of a pair of door window frame elements, left and right, set facing each other and welded in the middle.

Quarter window template.
[divider]


The center back panels of the cabs I had gathered all were worse for wear. I sliced out the best beltline, then added new sheet metal panels above and below, attached to a 1/2” square tubing frame on the inside. At this juncture, everything was pretty much held together with C-clamps. Perhaps the best advice I received along the way was, “You can never have enough C-clamps.”

Diamond T’s had a small, square rear window. In my humble opinion, they looked more like they belonged on an orchard tractor than the Cadillac of trucks. In stark contrast, all of the classic cars of the era sported long and narrow rear windows. They just spoke “elegance” to me. So, I cut up what rear window frame stampings I had, and built my own long, narrow, elegant rear view. Then I centered and welded them into that new flat sheet metal I’d grafted into the rear of the cab.

From left to right on the top; Original Diamond T back panel,  1/2″ tubing inner framework for new cab back panel, back panel with template for new rear window. The picture on the bottom shows the back panel installed with new much wider rear window opening.
[divider]



Welding. The roof was next. I sorted through the roof panels and selected a pair least ravaged by the collateral damage that came with time in service. You know, hay bales, logs, amateur hip-hop dancers. One panel was sliced off, just above the new quarter windows in my cab. The second panel was laid up from the rear alignment. I picked a line of consistent loft in the sandwiched panels and cut a horizontal slice down through them together, from one side of the top to the other, to create an extended top. As with the vertical quarter panel extensions, I cut out a narrow strip from the leftovers, for support beneath the seam. Thanks to the genius who invented Cleco pins! Welding the seam across that roof expanse was made much easier.

By now, the cab gurney had given way to actual construction onto the floor base plate now securely bolted to the chassis. Running boards were next. That lattice framework beneath the floor included outriggers that, as well as for catching shins daily, now served for attaching the running boards. Again, each running board was extended lengthwise, thanks to the sacrifice of a second set of boards for the added length.

The extended cab is now back on the frame with the fender installed we could extend the running boards to fit the longer cab. (This photo was taken prior to 3/8″ rod drip rail replacement)
[divider]



Thanks to Charles Tilt’s cab of assembled parts, I was able to adjust individual panels at will. To finally attach the extended roof, I trimmed and clamped it down for final welding. At this point, a little “chopping” was in order. The stock Diamond T cab rose up rearward into an annoying peak at the rear. From a side view, this uphill slope really disrupted any “streamline” flow in styling, front to back. It had to go away. I pulled the roof down in back, and trimmed it off at the dripline. Tilt also had made the drip channel a separate piece, tacked into a wooden header strip inside. Following this alignment, the Diamond T stampings were now fully replaced with a molding I bent to form with 3/8” rod.

Roof extended, rear 3/4 view with the new drip rail in place. On the bottom an aerial view, extended cab, with seams filled.
[divider]



More welding. Lots and lots more welding ahead. I was becoming a frequent flyer to the local welding gas supplier.

Up front, the original Diamond T roof panel had been bolted to the top of the cowl, through the A posts and below the windshields. A length of welting was sandwiched between the metal panels to eliminate squeaks. Here was my opportunity to suck the roof down a bit more, and wipe out the ugly gasket distraction interfering with that coveted “B-17” flow of the windshield lines I so admired. While I was at it, I formed a Duvall Vee piece for emphasis, bottom center between the windshields. I continued the Vee theme in striking a sharp line down each A pillar to taper into the belt molding at the cowl. Duesenbergs, Packards, Marmons, and best of all: the Stutz Monte Carlo. The classic cars of the period all had that wind slicing aircraft/speedboat look I wanted Neferteri to share.

1930 Stutz Monte Carlo.  This is the A pillar bottom shape I wanted, as it flows downward and forward into the beltline extending out into the hood panel.
[divider]


Close up, original cab A pillar.
[divider]


Close up, Duvall-like center pillar piece.
[divider]


My reshaped A pillar (A little ahead in sequence, I only had a good image of it already in paint!)
[divider]



Stylin’! That 2003 drawing was beginning to emerge in 3D. I was on a roll! And I was only six years into the build. The words of my uncle Willis whispered in my ear, “You don’t holler Whoa in the middle of a horse race.








Next, we will clean up those front fenders, attach the doors, and streamline the scene behind the cab…. Stay tuned.













(This article is made possible by)

jamco-sponsor-ad-602-01




.

0