Going for a Cruise

 

GOING FOR A CRUISE

 

Iconic Barris Kustoms cruising the streets of Lynwood California in the early 1950s. Lets take a closer look at this unique photo.



One of those early photos that makes me want to go back in time and actually see these early 1950 Custom Car Icons drive by… on their way to a local, or not so local car show. George Barris used this amazing photo is his Kustom Techniques of the 1950’s Volume 3 book. It was used pretty small, around 4″ wide, but it made a huge impact on me… and I know on a lot of people. Why?

We are so used to see the Golden Age Custom Cars posing in nice locations, or at indoor or out door shows. But very seldom do we see a photo capturing these Customs driving on the street, let alone with no less than three iconic Customs driving taking off at the stop sign in one single photo. We are no so much used to snap as many digital photos as we like. Not only from the car shows we attend, but also from the trip we take to get there. I took hundreds of photos each trip I take with my good friends from the Kustoms Denmark club from Denmark to Sweden. And we are getting more an more used to¬†see the modern day Custom Car cruising to the car shows, or just for fun. But back in the 1940’s and 1950′ taking photos was still rather costly, and I guess they just did not think anybody would be interested in the road to the car shows.

Thats why this photo of the Louis Bettancourt Mercury, the Panoramic Ford and the Chuck DeWitt Ford with padded top and an unknown Barris ’46-48 Ford Coupe is liked so much. This photo takes us back in time, lets us cruise with the fantastic Custom Cars of the early 1950’s we all¬†admire so much. Seeing these Custom Cars in their natural habitat is something really special. It is unknown who took the photo, and even when exactly it was taken. I estimate it was that the photo was taken in either late 1953, but more likely early to mid 1954.

ccc-going-for-a-cruise-barris-photoWe don’t know who actually took this amazing photo, and from which car. Some of the mysteries of those old photos that we most likely will never find an answer to. But we do know that whoever took this picture captured a wonderful scene, which is still being talked about 60 plus years later. The photo captured the rear side windows in place on the Buster Litton Panoramic Ford, a rare sight. Notice the people on the side wall all staring at the Customs.
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George Barris wrote this about the photo in his Technique book:

“I don’t remember where we were going or when but this was Kustoms of Los Angeles on a typical Sunday outing. After meeting up at the shop, the group, which in this photograph consisted of Louis pulling out into traffic in his ’49 Mercury, Buster Litton in his ’49 Ford and behind him Chuck DeWitt in his ’50 Ford, head out for a car show somewhere in L.A.”

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 ccc-going-for-a-cruise-lynwood-location
The location where the take off photo was taken seen from the Barris Kustoms Shop.
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The 4 Kustoms of Los Angeles Cars appearing in the Cruise photo

 

CCC_Louis_Bettancourt-Barris02Louis Bettancourt 1949 Mercury restyled by the Ayala’s later redone by Barris.
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CCC-don-schaedel-panoramic-ford-a-01Panoramic Ford restyled by Barris and George Cerny, originally owned by Buster Litton, later by Don Shaedel.
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-via-custom-color-rhkChuck deWitt 1950 Ford convertible with padded top restyled by the Barris Kustom Shop.
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ccc-going-for-a-cruise-ford-coupeMost likely this 1946-48 Ford long-door Coupe restyled by Barris for an – so far – unknown owner.
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ccc-going-for-a-cruise-ford-coupe-02The same ’46-48 Ford Coupe from the Line up photo in front of the Barris Kustoms Shop photo.
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ccc-going-for-a-cruise-lynwood-map-03The photo was taken close to the Barris Shop across the street on Atlantic in Lynwood on the the corner of Elmwood Ave (red dot). Right across the street from the Barris Shop.
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ccc-going-for-a-cruise-line-up-at-barrisFour of the Kustoms of Los Angeles club member cars we can see in the Cruise photo are also captured in this photo taken at the Barris Atlantic shop. Possibly this photo was taken prior the one taken at the stop light.¬†We can see the following cars in the picture from L-R: Nobby Miyakawa 1952 Mercury ‚ÄúThe Japan‚ÄĚ, Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford convertible, Louis Bettancourt Ayala/Barris 1949 Mercury, Buster Litton‚Äôs Panoramic Ford, Tommy Thornburg‚Äôs 1947 Studebaker, and the¬†unknown 1946-48 Ford Coupe with the Plymouth ribbed bumpers we can see on the far left of the Cruise photo.
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George barris could sadly not remember where the trip went to. One thought is that the photo was taken on May 14, 1954 and that the guys were going to the one day free car show at the Thrifty drug store on Rodeo Rd and LA Brea. 3 out of 4 of the cars we can see in the Cruise photo also appear in the famous Parking Lot Photo at the Thrifty drug store. And 4 photos from the line up at the Barris shop above appear at the Thrifty store show. (The only thing with this photo is that the Panoramic Ford was most likely already owned by Don Shaedel, since he can be seen in the photo cleaning the car. But we do not know for sure who owned the car in the Cruise photo) Since all these guys were all in the Kustoms of Los Angeles Club, we know they cruised a lot together and hung out most of the weekends driving to local shows, or drive-ins. Again we most likely will never find out, but its just nice to examen these pictures and day dream about them.


CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-colorizedParking lot show held on May 14, 1954 at the Thrifty drug store parking lot. In this picture we can see 4 cars that also appear in the Barris shop line up photo: Tommy Thornburg’s 1947 Studebaker, Buster Litton’s Panoramic Ford, Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford convertible, Louis Bettancourt Ayala/Barris 1949 Mercury (on the far left showing only the front fender, hood and front bumper).
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ccc-going-for-a-cruise-barris-photo-02In one of the Kustoms of America magazine ads George Barris used this photo of another show attended by some of the Kustoms Los Angles club members. Tommy’s Studebaker, Louis ’49 Merc, and The Panoramic Ford and possibly the Chuck DeWitt are in this photo. Another possible goal for the Cruise photo trip. Sadly there is no other info known about this photo. It was used very small in the ad, hence the poor quality.
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Especially with the stories we have heard about the guys in the Kustoms LA club. Stories like in earlier years when Jack Stewart was still driving his Ayala/Barris 1941 Ford, how he always had to lead the cars on their way to a car show, or out of town up to Balboa or other places. Jack’s Ford had its windshield cut up into the roof, and he was the only one that had a good vision on the stoplights. So he always lead the way. Jack also told stories about him and George Barris driving back from car shows or dances together in one of their Custom Cars. How Jack was driving while George was sleeping on the passenger seat, and Jack stopping at each gas-station to splash some water on his face to stay awake. How some of the guys also stopped at the gas-stations to see if they could get some free gas left over in the hose, by pulling it up high at the pump.¬†How the Kustoms of LA club members drove up in a convoy to¬†Big Bear were they rented a cabin and spend the weekends with the guys and their girlfriends. All great stories, but sadly so far very few photos have surfaced of these events. That is why this one photo of the Kustoms of LA guys going for a cruise is so important.




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41 Chevy 4 Door

 

41 CHEVY 4 DOOR

 

Two snapshot of a really nicely done 1941 Chevy 4 door restyled in the mid 1940s.



I think it was around 2010 when I bought a few snapshots with some mild early customs restyled California cars at¬†an eBay auction. One of them was a bit fuzzy side view of a nicely done 1941 Chevy four door sedan. This photo was the only one that had a name written on it. Jay Foreman was written in blue on the bottom of the photo border. I assume that Jay is the guy in the photo, and most likely the owner of that nice early/mid 1940’s restyled Chevy. No other info was given with the photos when I bought them, so I do not know where in California this photo was taken, not when. But judging the things I can see in the photo I assume that the photo was taken in the early to mid 1940’s. Black Wall Tires with single bar flippers most likely mean somewhere between 1942 and 46.¬†The position of the Appleton Spotlight with the glass towards the back was something that was done more in Northern California than in the South.


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ccc-1941-chevy-4-door-40s-photo-05Jay Foreman proudly standing with his cool Chevy.
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A couple of years later I found another photo of the same car at another eBay auction. This time from a different seller, and when the snapshot came in the mail, I knew for sure that it was the same car, taken in the same location. What are the odds. This second photo shows the Chevy from the front 3/4 and Jay was not in the picture this time. This photo shows how nice the car really is. It also shows that the car was fitted with two Appleton Spotlights, and not one as could have very well be the case judging the side view snapshot.

The more I studied the photo the more I liked the car. And even though it is mildly restyled, there still had to be done a substantial amount of work to get it to look this good. The hood and side trim were removed, all four door handles were shaved, holes filled and everything smoothed. The front of the hood was smoothed and the hood ornament was removed. The car was lowered a bit and most likely an early 1940’s Cadillac fender skirt was modified to for the Chevy fenders. The car was dressed up with a set of single bar flipper hubcaps with beauty rings, front and rear, Dual Spotlights¬†and¬†Dual antennas mounted on the cowl and bend to flow better with the windshield of the car. The car was painted in a light¬†color. The first snapshot with the guy in the photo shows that he must have been really proud of the car. And I sure can understand why. It looks really good.

ccc-1941-chevy-4-door-40s-photo-01The second photo of the Chevy is actually a really nice photo showing the car from the front 3/4. it really shows how super nice this car is. Smoothed hood and shaved doors really make this car look very cool.
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ccc-1941-chevy-4-door-40s-photo-02Close up of the front shows the cowl mounted and bend antenna, the pointed forward Appleton Spotlights, the ripple disk flipper hubcaps and beauty ring and the smoothed hood side, and accessory bumper ends.
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ccc-1941-chevy-4-door-40s-photo-03Close up of the rear shows the smooth doors, and the Cadillac fender skirts.
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I think these photos are really interesting, since they show that in the early/mid 1940’s people were customizing four door cars, and they even went as far as removing the door handles¬†for that ultimate smooth look. A technique¬†that was much more common to do in the later parts of the 1940’s and early 1950’s, especially on four doors. I would love to find out more about this car, and the owner. Hopefully somebody will recognize Jay Forman’s name, or perhaps the location

Both photos are 5.25 x 3.5 Inch (130 x 90 mm)

ccc-1941-chevy-4-door-40s-illustrationA Stock 1941 Chevy four door from an 1941 advertising print.
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Memo Ortega Stories Part 30

 

PASO ROBLES SHOW

 

Memo Ortega recently came across some more of the photos he took at the late 1980s Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms show.



[box_light]Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2015, 80 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the¬†Memo Ortega Stories¬†in the¬†Memo Ortega Files¬†on the CCC[/box_light]


Memo’s Flashback

Cruising to East Los Angeles

Remembering some of my early cruising days back in 1951, ’52, with my old 37 Chevy. A car I¬†will never forget.¬†I did a lot of work on it to my liking, thats wats customizing is all about. When I¬†got the car I¬†was 14 going on 15, years old and I just wanted a kool kustom to kruze them wheels off… which I sure¬†did. I filled the door handles and truck-lid, and installed ’40 studebaker tail-lites on my rear fenders. I made me some plain side hood panels also, and installed some ’40¬†Ford headlites on my front fenders, and eventually painted it metallic green. An of course I¬†lowerd the heck out of it. It was so low that at one time I¬†got stuck on the railroad tracks.¬†Theres a lot more that I¬†did on this car, check it out in one of rik’s early Memo Ortega Stories.

I¬†grew up in La Verne, Ca where one of the older krusers told me about a kustom shop in East Los Angeles called the Ayala bros. He¬†mentioned that¬†maybe one of these days you might want to go over there, and check it out since you like our kustom cars…¬†¬†The older kruzers in my neighborhood¬†had some neat kustoms… those were the ones that gave me the kustom bug.¬†Well I¬†told one of my friends if he would like to kruze over to East LA with me on a Saturday to see if we could find that¬†Ayala’s Kustom Shop, since I¬†had never been there before. Yeah lets kruze there he had¬†never been to east LA either. So comes Saturday and we just took of to East LA,¬†even if we did not know where the place was, we had no address, no nothing.¬†When we got to East LA, we asked at this auto shop for directions. ¬†Turned out the guys in the shop knew about the Ayala’s¬†and¬†told us where it was.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-johnny-rosier-iceJohnny Rosier gave Memo a picture of an old restyled Ford pick up truck he used for his Ice deliveries.
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Well we met Gil¬†an his brother Al¬†an they really liked my ’37 Chevy. From that moment¬†on we went to that East LA shop¬†pretty often on Saturday afternoons.¬†We got to see kustoms there but we never bothered the workers in the shop,¬†mostly we talked to Gil, he was always nice and we became friends.¬†One other guy I¬†remember from the Ayala Shop was Johnny Rosier¬†he would later get a ’53 Mercury that was done at the Ayala shop. We got to know him a little better, he was kool, took time to talk with me an my friend, two young teen kids instrested in kustoms… he liked that. He allways asked us how come u guys come way out here to East LA, that’s real far from where you¬†guys come from. Because we like krusin¬†we always said! ¬†¬†His car merc so was kool just seeing him leave the Ayalas shop was a huge¬†plus for us…¬†Just one of my many great memories from the 50’s.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-johnny-rosier-53Johnny Rosier later had this 1953 Mercury hard-top that was restyled at the Ayala Shop. It was a really beautiful car with an amazing paint job. I remember clearly how Johnny slowely took off at the Ayala shop to go for some cruising on Saturday nights.
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Paso Robles WCK show

I recently came across some more photos we took at our 1980’s visits to Paso Robles how. This was such a great show, great memories. So back to Paso Robles Part 2.¬†I know the Paso¬†Robles West Coast Kustoms car shows are no more, but so many of us still remember them… awesome times we all had there. Never to be forgotten!¬†So many of us out there met and made so many new friends were made that we still talk to and together we remember those were neat times in Paso Robles.¬†¬†So many cars to look at. This show I went there with¬†my G.M.C.¬†chopped truck which I had just painted in two tone blues. The first time¬†I went¬†there it was in black paint (I see that one of the pictures I found was with the truck painted black). Now the truck lives¬†in japan with the Pharaohs Car Club with Junichi last time I¬†heard.

Later on the show was moved to Down Town Paso, where it was even better and the night kruzin was the thing to do.¬†On some of these photos you¬†can see one of my grandsons posing with¬†some cars, good memories from back in the 1980’ss. Nowadays the show continues in the town of Santa Maria, Ca,

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-14This lavender metallic 44-48 Ford chopped coupe looked really clean.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-13Primered ’51 Merc with chopped top with original rear window, and recessed tube kind of grille.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-12Ford Victoria in light blue primer with lots of work done on the front. It looked good.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-11The “Mini Merc” ¬†first time I saw the Volvo Amazon based custom. Was really interesting to see, great custom, to bad its gone.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-10So many great cars there, I really loved these 80’s Paso Robles shows.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-09Very slick looking chopped Chevy Hard-Top in metallic black with silver top and black tires.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-08This blue primers ’51 Merc with 50 rear window looked really good to me. He came all the way from Washington.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-07This one was from earlier when I took my GMC truck (in the background) when it was painted all black. Thats my friend Richard Crawford aka “Thinnman” with his ’55 Chevy low rider panel wagon.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-06Buick mild custom. My GMC is in the back painted two tone blue by now.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-05Loved this wild 51 Merc.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-04Unfinished chopped mid 50’s Mercury in pink and lavender primer… Wild.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-03’57 Chevy bumper with custom bullets and 53 Chevy grille on wild looking50 Merc. I really like the large radius hood corners…¬†
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-02Paul Bragg showed up with his stunning ’49 Mercury in two tone olive green. Thats my grandson kneeling in front of it, he loved it also.
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ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-01Bill Reasoner had brought his personal 1951 Mercury named “Cool 51). Beautiful car, that bill and his wife sitting on the right side of the photo. I heard Bill’s old¬†Merc is now also in Japan.
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Dan Landon First Car

 

DAN LANDON FIRST CAR

 

A found snapshot of Dan Landon and his 1949 Chevy put more than a¬†huge smile on my face…



In the decades that I have been researching the history of Custom Cars, and been searching for Custom Car related photos I have come across numerous spectacular photos. Both in printed material as well as originals. And then so every now and then, out of all those amazing photos, you come across one single¬†photo that for some reason really hits you. Just that happened when I recently received an email from Thomas Taylor including a small, low res scan of a snapshot showing Dan Landon next to his famous Ayala/Barris 1949 Chevy Custom. Thomas¬†mentioned that he had found the photo posted¬†on the Landon family’s ancestry page and that is was titled ‘Dan and his first car‘.

I have always enjoyed snapshots of customs cars… perhaps even better than staged photos, just because they show the cars in their natural environment. It makes it easier for those who have not been around those cars in the 1940’s and 1950’s to see and feel how it really was. This snapshot with Dan Landon next to his Chevy is just that, a wonderful snapshot showing any ordinary day with Dan and a friend. Perhaps they were getting ready to go to a car show, or had jut returned from one. Or perhaps they were about to go out for a cruise to a local drive in, or a weekend out into the mountains with the rest of the Kustoms Los Angeles club members like they did freaquently. Who know… Its just nice to day dream about the setting of the photo.

But one thing that really grabbed me about this photo is the title the person who posted gave the photo… “Dan and his first car”. Dan is no longer with us, he passed away in 2010, so we cannot ask him about this photo, or the fact if the Chevy was indeed his very first car. I’m not even sure if it really was his first car, perhaps it was, but since he was born in 1931, he was at least 18¬†years old when his Chevy rolled from the factory. Its unknown if he bought the car brand new, or used. But all that does not really matter to much for this.

The idea of this young guy in his early 20’s owning a stunning 1949 Chevy custom created by some of the top custom shops of the time. The idea that this was his first car, and that 60 plus years later people are going wild over a snapshot they find online. People who are still discussing a car that¬†Dan owned in the early 1950’s in all its details. Analyzing what all had been done to the car, getting inspired by it to create their own personal restyled car.



ccc-dan-landon-chevy-first-car-photoThe photo that was shared on the Landon family¬†ancestry web page. ‘Dan and his first car’. Of course not realizing that this very snapshot would be shared all over the world over 60 years later!
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At the time when Dan had the Chevy built, he most likely just wanted to have a¬†great looking custom car, just as his friends. A car he could use to pick up girls, cruise the drive-ins, and show at the major California Car shows. Getting your car featured in the magazines was a HUGE bonus, but dreaming your car would inspire people decades after the car was first built… I do not think Dan had ever thought about that. ¬†I have never met or talked to Dan Landon when he was still alive, so I do not know if he stayed in touch with the scene. But I sure do hope that he was aware how much this car means to the Custom Car world. How much impact it had back then, he most likely knew that, but also how much is still means today, and how many people still get a huge smile on their face if they look at picture of this Chevy.
Not bad for His First Car.

Thank you Thomas Taylor for sharing this great snapshot.

If you want to see more photos of Dan’s breathtaking 1949 Chevy Custom, then check out this CCC-Article we did some time ago.


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50 Ford The Capri Found

 

50 FORD THE CAPRI FOUND

 

Richard Gregg rebuild a 1950 Ford Coupe into a chopped and sectioned pick-up shop truck as a rolling advertising for his Ricks Body shop in Sacramento. Tony Gomez bought it, and plans a full restoration.



In 2013 Tony Gomes mentioned to me that his father had found a really cool photo album about the Capri, a 1950 Ford Custom Pick-Up. Three years later, it must have been fate, Tony is able to buy the actual car that was in this photo album.

Tony announced the GREAT news on his Facebook page on September 20, 2016.

 

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By Tony Gomes

“So, I just bought this car Its called “The Capri” built in 1957 it’s been in a barn for 40 plus years. A Big fat Thank you to my Buddy Boogie Breiz who called me and says my Bosses Father has a truck like The Shampoo Truck, which we had in the shop at the time.¬†I¬†said “REALLY” is it for sale? And he said ” Yes“.

The following week I met up with a fellow Portagee Rich, we walk down to the barn, he opens the door and there it is buried in mud, windows down flat tires, but complete. Later that¬†weekend it was in my shop!¬† I just sat there for like 3 hrs, and geeked out on it and was asking myself what the **** happened just now. The plan is to restore it back to when it was first built by Mr Gregg, Candy Red and all. Not to mention my father 2 years ago bought the complete photo album build book of this car in Angels Camp randomly and the old registration from the 70’s says it was owned by a fellow who lived in Livermore on Xavier Dr in 1994 I lived you guessed it in Livermore on Xavier Dr. Crazy !!!

Thanks everybody who helped me get this and secure it you all know who you are and thanks Thanks to my father Dennis Gomes for the support ur the Best Pops. ”

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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-barn-01As found…
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-10Tony Gomes picking up Richard Gregg’s Pick-Up.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-08Delivering the car home, at Tri Auto Glass in Pleasanton, California.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-gbThis is how Richard Gregg’s The Capri 1950 Ford Shoebox Pick-Up was first finished in 1958.¬†
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-11Most of the car remains the same as we know it fro the late 1950’s photos, but the¬†headlights were changed in 59 along with the Caddy grille insert. Tony¬†held a ’57 Chevy headlight bezel in the opening, and it looks like the body work was not changed, other than the extra hole for the bottom light.¬†The bumper guards are also an later addition.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-03The original headliners… has seen better days.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-04Tony’s father in the car, reliving his younger years. Its amazing how he first finds the personal photo album of this car, and several years later his son Tony ends up with the real thing.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-07Taillight details. The car is now in gray primer, but several sections show all the lead work and everything is hammer welded and dollied Amazing workmanship thru-out!
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-05The dash is still all there with original paint and all the original stripping from 1958.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-09The original candy apple red paint is still visible in the door jambs. Unlike what the old magazines say, the car was Candy Red with Gold outlines and white stripping.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-12Parked next to the other famous Shoebox Pickup in the Tri Valley Auto Glass shop.
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The Album

In 2013 Tony Gomes send me a few photos of an Photo Album made from the building of the 1950 Ford The Capri. Owned and built by Richard Gregg who operated Rick’s Body Shop in Sacramento, California. Tony’s father happened to talk to a guy in his home town, and the discussion came to Custom Cars. The guy said “I have something really nice you might be interested in” And came out with this amazing photo album tittles 1957 Capri. It turned out to be the personal album / scrapbook from Richard Gregg about the 1950 Ford Pick Up shop Custom he created around 1957-58.

The album shows the whole progress from start to finish of the Capri.  It also contains every show entry form signed by the promoters, every program, letter between Mr. Gregg and the promoters , news paper articles about The Capri and countless magazine articles and original photos taken of car through out its history. It even included swatches of the vinyl used in the car.
And several years later after Mr Gomes finds this book, his son Tony ends up with the real car…. WOW!


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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-01A¬†stock 1949 Ford Coupe in front of Richard Gregg’s Rick’s Body Shop in Sacramento California before the work begins. It would take Richard one and a half year spare time to complete his rolling advertising shop truck.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-02The rear portion of the top has been removed, the remaining top section chopped and the main body cut and sectioned.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-04After the sectioned and chopped main body have been welded back together.
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bla

ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-03Front fender work with raised wheel openings, addition of 57 Chevy headlight surrounds, and new much smaller grille opening. The hood still needs to be pan-cacked.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-05This in progress photo is really interesting, it show how Richard created the pick-up bed around the round tubing base he welded inside the body. And how he rolled the former fenders and quarter panels to match the bed shape.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-found-01The Capri show sign, Richard in his shop truck and the beautifully done interior with home made seats.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-cc-coverRichard’s The Carpi 1950 Ford Shoebox pick-up made it on the cover of the October 1959 issue of Custom Cars Magazine.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-cc-spreadInside the October 1959 issue of Custom Cars magazine the car was featured with 5 photos on one spread. Great advertisings for Rick’s Body Shop. Roling advertising, just as Richard had intended when he planned the car.
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ccc-richard-gregg-50-ford-capri-1964In 1964 the Capri 1950 Ford Shoebox Pick-Up was owned by Charles Bliss of Freemont, California. The headlights are now changed to quad units, new wheels with narrow white walls added and the horizontal grille bars are replaced with a cadillac grille. 
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We will share update photos of the car when the restoration project will start.
Stay tuned…



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Hirohata Merc Clone Going West

 

HIROHATA MERC CLONE GOING WEST

 

John DAgostino and his Silent partner acquire the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. The story behind the deal as told by John DAgostino.


A few weeks ago we reported in our News Flash article that John D’Agostino and his silent partner had bought the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. We also mentioned that John is planning to travel a lot with the car so that people all over the world can enjoy this great Custom. Which¬†means¬†a lot to a many Custom Car enthusiast around the world, since this clone changed a lot of people when it was first shown by Jack in the 1980’s, long before the original Hirohata mercury was “found” and restored. We asked John to shed a bit of light on how he got Jack Walker to let go of his pride and joy. Lets take a look at the story John send us, accompanied with some of the photos he took.




By John D’Agostino

It all started at the 2016 KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” in Salina, KANSAS on July 27th, 2016. Several weeks before this show, my partner commissioned me to build the Hirohata III recreation. I did not want to make this happen, so I talked to Jack (Walker) at the Leadsled Spectacular show about selling his Mercury with the intentions of me displaying it at car shows around the World. Jack¬†was hesitant at first but I kept on him all weekend for his decision. I also had my partner talk to him about our plans that we may build one. I feel that why build another whereas the Hirohata recreation is probably the most famous Merc ever built and has been shown in 100’s of shows around AMERICA since debuting at the KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” on July 4th, 1985.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-01This is the last photo John¬†took of Jack Walker’s Doug Thompson built Hirothata Mercury clone¬†in Salina, KANSAS, 2016 before his¬†trip to Missouri.
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This is without a doubt the BIGGEST Kustom news in a very long time. The news of the Jack Walker “Hirohata” recreation was instantly Worldwide history to Kustom fans everywhere. Now I feel it is time to let the World see the “Hirohata” recreation for the first time starting in 2017. After the deal was sealed after many telephone calls to Jack, my partner¬†(To be disclosed at a later date)¬†drove our rental car to¬†Belton,¬†Missouri¬†to close the deal.¬†The car was purchased on August 28th, 2016.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-02Arriving at Jack Walkers home, shortly before entering Jack’s showroom.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-03Jack showing John around in his “office” with an incredible amount of car memorabilia, of which a lot has to do with either the real Hirohata Mercury, or Jack’s recreation.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-04Handshake confirms the deal….
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-05The paperwork makes it official.
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When Jack Walker opened the door to his AMAZING showroom I knew immediately that my childhood dream would come true and the car would now live in the west. The deal was made for a undisclosed amount between us three ONLY. I can still remember seeing the ORIGINAL Barris built Hirohata Merc in many magazines when I was a child. It is definitely my favorite Merc of All time.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-06John D’Agostino sitting for the first time in the¬†Hirohata Mercury clone¬†which he now co-owns.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-14One of the things that set the recreation apart from the original Hirohata Merc is the body color painted dash with no striping, while the original has a white painted dash, with pin-striping by Von Dutch.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-08Jack Walker and the “silent” partner.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-09More handshaking for the historic records.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-10Look at all the cool stuff hanging on Jack Walkers showroom walls.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-11Jack Walker¬†walking around his Hirohata Merc Clone for the last time…
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-12John also took some close ups of the memorabilia on the wall of the Showroom that caught his eye. Singed painting of GeorgeBarris at the Barris shop with the Hirohata Mercury created for the 50th Autorama.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-07Mamie Van Doren signed photo to Jack.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-road-tripAfter the deal was made with Jack in Missouri, John and his partner went back home to California…. ROADTRIP…
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After a 4 day trip back to CALIFORNIA we decided to remise and spend the night at the Historic¬†RYDE Hotel¬†in Ryde, CALIFORNIA on the Delta waterways. This hotel is a Art Deco place where many celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable etc… stayed since being built in the mid 1930’s. What a way to end a storybook tale of the “Road to the Hirohata” !

Kustoms Forever, Johnny D’.



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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-15September 13, 2016, The Doug Thompson/ Jack Walker created Hirohata Mercury¬†clone is getting loaded for the long journey West to John’s home in Discovery Bay, California. Jack Walker (seen on his back) saying good-bye to the car for the last time.
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The Mercury will soon arrive at his new home in sunny California.
We will keep you posted about this and John’s plans with the car here on the Custom Car Chronicle.


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Historic Customs USA Road Trip P4

 

HISTORIC CUSTOMS USA Road Trip Part 4

After spending some time with Gene Winfield, the guys are now on their way to Hot Rodding Mecca El Mirage, and the Los Angeles Roadster Show.



In early July 2016 Ronnie Lindblom and Micke Hedberg left Sweden for their dream road trip in the USA. Both guys had bought an historic custom in the month prior to this trip, and along the way the idea had grown to fix up their cars and make a road trip of a life-time.¬†After 11 long days and nights working on their cars, they finally had them ready to hit the road. You can read about the first 11 days of their journey in Part One,¬†about¬†the first time on the road for the cars in Part Two¬†and a their visit to Gene Winfield in Part Three of this series.¬†After spending the night at¬†Dave McCain place the guys are now¬†all ready to go for another trip. One they had been looking forward a lot… having a spin with their historic Customs on the dry lake beds of El Mirage.

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-06After having had a nice breakfast, the guys are ready to hit the road to the El Mirage. 
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-07They only had a quickly drawn map from Gene Winfield and no GPS to rely on to make it to El Mirage. Ronnie was in front en soon took a wrong turn, they were now going in the wrong direction.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-01It took Mike several miles before his ’36 Ford was door to door with¬†Ronnie’s Merc. Now he could¬†tell him that they where going¬†the wrong way! The Merc has a lower rear-end ratio than the Ford, so it moves faster. And as long the engine was cool, Ronnie wanted to go fast!
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-09After they stopped to check directions it was time to let the pressure out of the Merc in the only shadow they could find in the dessert.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-06According the Gene Winfield map they needed to find a T-crossing. Eventually they found it, as well as¬†the fist sign that the Swedes were on the correct road to El Mirage…. Yaheee!¬†While the guys took¬†a brake and some fresh water for both the cars and the guys at this point, they¬†got company from a state police man. He stopped, to check out the cars, and ask if we need anything and if everything was fine. They told him the whole story, which he enjoyed, then, he wish them a good luck on the rest of their journey, and took off again.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-07The only sign of life in the dessert was this liquor store. The guys stopped for some water but the owner did not want to give them nothing. So they just hit the road again.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-08Home of SCTA… magical road sign, and first view of the dry lake on the left.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-09After some help form a local friendly old guy the Swedes found the way to their first stop for the day, visiting George Callaway who lives at the end of the lake bed.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-05Arriving at George Callaway‘s shop.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-10They had a great time at mr George Callaway. Lots of stories and a great tour at his yard. A very nice person to hang out with.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-04The sign say it… time to go… see the lake bed.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-11Leaving Mr Callaway for a spin on the El Mirage Dry Lake.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-12Ronnie took off in his Mercury as soon as they had arrived.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-13The guys made it, for the first time, El Mirage, and with two historic customs, that could have driven around here on the lake in the 1940’s, early 1950’s. A real magical moment.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-16The guys¬†enjoyed¬†the wide¬†emptiness for a some time and visualize their historic customs surrounded everything that happened during¬†an late 40’s SCTA¬†meeting at this very location.¬†¬†They took plenty¬†of photos of¬†their¬†customs at this historic Hot Rod scene, and now¬†it is time to take the cars for another spin on the lake bed.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-17Ronnie in his ’39 Mercury enjoying the dry lake with the top frame removed.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-19Hot Rodder’s dream come true.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-21Ronnie with his 1939 Mercury convertible. 
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-22Time for Micke to take his ’36 ford a spin so that Ronnie can snap some pictures of it.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-23Wonderful cracked dry lake bed with Micke in his ’36 Ford going for a spin.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-26One last photo, and its time to leave El Mirage and drive up to Los Angeles.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-27One more¬†stop to take a last look at the dry bed and snap a picture with the SCTA sign. The guys say goodbye to El Mirage¬†for now…¬†they¬†will be back!!
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Lets cruise down to LA!

ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-at-lars-la-01On the freeway to Los Angeles and later to Pomona where the Los Angeles Roadster Show will be held the next day.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-28O, yes LA traffic.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-19The guys checked into a motel for a good night rest, and capture this sweet view from the motel door.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-29Some night cruising around town is hard to beat.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-at-lars-03Despite all the troubles they had the¬†guys¬†reached their ultimate goal and¬†made it to Pomona in time for the 2016 Los Angeles Roadster Show. The guys felt really fantastic, and they parked the cars in the parking lot for a few “We made it” photos. Not long after that Kipp Winward Lined up his beautiful full custom ’36 Ford 5-window coupe. He’s a great guy.
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The cars at the spot at the swap meet. They had made some posters telling some history of the cars, and asking the audience tfor help filling in the empty spaces in the history. And Yaheee they did get some new info they had hoped for.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-30Cruising at the LA Roadster Show.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-32After leaving the LARS the guys needed to get gas one more time to make it to the shipper. Suddenly this fellow (right) shows up. Mr Memo Ortega. Memo had spotted the cars at the gas station, recognized them from the CCC Forum, and managed to make a U turn in to the gas station. Memo was really happy to unexpectedly bump into the Swedes, talk to the guys about the trip, and check out the cars.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-31Busy Los Angeles afternoon traffic. Heading down to the shipper in Compton, the final destination in the US.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-33After a long trip and very long hours they finally arrived at the gate at the shipping company in Compton. Petter Dahlstöm at So Cal Classics took care of the transport to Sweden. Petter is a really great contact and a great helper and very professional.
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ccc-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p4-34Before the cars would be loaded into the sea-container, the guys made sure all their extra parts, tools and other stuff were packed in the trunk and inside the cars. The, it was time to say goodbye to the cars and get back to the airport for their flight back home to Sweden. 
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After all the paperwork was handled by the shipper, the cars were loaded into the sea-contaier and send off to their boat ride From the US to Sweden. After 6 long weeks the cars arrived in Sweden, save and in great condition at the end of August 2016. Next plan is to get the cars completely restored as closely how they looked when they were first finished in the early 1940’s for Ronnie’s ’39 Mercury, and in the early 1950’s for Micke’s ’36 Ford. We will make sure to cover the restoration of both cars here on the Custom Car Chronicle.

A big thanks for Ronnie Lindblom and Micke Hedberg for sharing their amazing road trip story with us here at the CCC. I hope everybody has enjoyed it was much as we have. 

Go back to Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3




(This article is made possible by)

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Hudson Joe Collection Part 4

 

HUSDON JOE COLLECTION Part 4

 

Hudson Joe has been collecting old Hot Rod and Custom Car photos for many year. Great material from the 40’s and 50’s. The Hudson Joe Collection Part 4.



Hudson Joe from California has a passion for old things and historic photos of Hot Rods and Custom Cars. He has been collecting these photos for many years. Finding them at estate sales, swapmeets and just finding them in the trash. In the second part of sharing Joe’s Collection we show you some more photos from the¬†Harlan Frazier, aka Mac Frazier¬†collection. Harlan is an old Hotrodder from Burbank, California. He¬†had some cool Hot Rods and Custom Cars in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and he became good friend with Joe. Mac will be 90 this year (2016) and he gave his collection of photos to Joe, because he knew Joe would appreciate them much more than anybody else he knew. Harlan is still looking for more material in his collection. He keeps saying he has many more… so hopefully he will find them sooner or later. Lets take a look at some of the material Joe has shared with us this time.

Photos taken at the dry lakes in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.¬†Most of these shots of the Muroc and El mirage dry lakes were taken by Harlan himself. If any of you recognize locations, or cars in the pictures, please let us know so we can add some more names to the pictures. ¬†Enjoy….

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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-03Eddie Miller Lakester.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-05This Modified might be one driven by Ed Harding, not sure… Notice the chopped padded topped GM car parked in the background.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-02Chuck Quesnel’s¬†1927 Ford Model T lakester with track nose and belly pan. Notice the DeSoto bumper on the ’37 Ford on the far left.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-24That is most likely Chuck Quesnel with his 1927 Ford Model T lakester with track nose.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-07The¬†Floyd Clymer’s Motorbook Special arriving at the lakes.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-27Kenz and Leslie 777 Floyd Clymer’s Motorbook Special with the fender skirts removed.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-28The Hill-Davis (City of Burbank sponsored) streamliner.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-06Mickey Thompson’s Bantam coupe.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-15Lee Chapel The Tornado Streamliner.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-08Unidentified 27 T with full belly pan and streamlined nose.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-20Same car now with the nose in place.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-09Alex Xydias’s So-Cal Special based on a 315 gallon P-38 wing tank.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-10Bill Waddill’s Crosley-bodies C-Competition Coupe all the way from Flint Michigan.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-11This mild Shoebox was¬†Harlan drive to the dry lakes…
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-14Ok here is a priceless picture of Stuart Hilborn racing his streamline injected dream.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-22Looks to be the Rob Rufi Lake Racer on the trailer.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-29Ed¬†Iskenderian ’24 Model T.
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CCC-hudson-joe-collection-p4-31Karl Orr brought his circle track racer to the lakes, and¬†it looks to be¬†George Rubsch’s¬†“Skip-it” in the background.
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Thank you Joe and Harlan for sharing these great pictures.


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Hudson Joe Collection Part 3

 

HUDSON JOE COLLECTION Part 3

 

Harlan Frazier owned some pretty nice rides in his life. For this article we concentrate on his Model A Pick Up. Thanks to Hudson Joe for sharing his collection. The Hudson Joe Collection Part 3.



Hudson Joe from California has a passion for old things and historic photos of Hot Rods and Custom Cars. He has been collecting these photos for many years. Fining them at estate sales, swapmeets and just finding them in the trash. Joe also got a series of photos from some of the old Hot Rodders he knows. One of them is Harlan Frazier, aka Mac Frazier, an old Hotrodder from Burbank, California. Harlan¬†owned some cool Hot Rods and Custom Cars in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and he became good friend with Joe. Harlan¬†will be 90 this year (2016) and he gave his collection of photos to Joe, because he knew Joe would appreciate them much more than anybody else he knew.

For this third¬†article on the Joe Hudson Collection we concentrate on some really great photos of Harlan’s Hot Rod Pick Up he owned in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. An 1928-29 Model A pick Up truck Hot Rod that changed quite a bit over a period of several years. From a wild fender less and hood less Hot Rod with wire wheels¬†in the early 1940’s¬†to a more subtile, very well proportioned full fendered Hot Rod in the later parts of the 1940’s. At first an older rear portion of the pick-up boy was used with the more sweeping back. Later a ’29 Model A squire type back was added to the car. Harlan loved to take photos and experimented with¬†his Hot Rod and Custom Car photos for several school projects. We are very glad he took so many photos back then, to give us a great look at the cars from the Burbank California area in the 1940’s and early 1950’s.

CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-17Harlan and his future wife in the roadster. Even though the fenders were removed the side panels remained on the car.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-11Harlan on the left and his brother behind the wheel.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-07Harlan chopped the windshield and added a ’32 Ford grille. Notice how this photo was mirrored by mistake.¬†
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-09The same negative was used for this print, another school experiment.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-03Only one, very much faded color photo is left of Harlan’s Pick-Up.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-10Dual carb intake.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-20This pic of the roadster pick up with a black background was another of Harlan’s photography class project. He took a ton of pics and added funny stuff in the back ground.
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Fendered Pick Up

CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-06Full fendered and a stock hood and a fresh coat of primer. Harlan also replaced the wire wheels with 1940 Ford steelies with 40 Ford hubcaps and beauty rings. The three guys in the roadster are Harlan his brother and good friend.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-05Harlan’d pick up os now mostly painted, except for the hood, which he planned to modify. A friends mild ’36 Ford sedan is parked next to it.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-04Harlan’s pick up with to of his friends cars in the late 1940’s.¬†
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-08Side mounted spare tire also has the¬†’40 Ford Deluxe hubcaps. The engine has been nicely detailed and some chrome goodies have been added.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-121949 photo show the car when work was done on the hood and after Harlan added the license plate to the front.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-13Harlan’d Pick Up in good company.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-01The Pick Up was completed later in 1949 with a one pice hood top, and modified sides. The pick up looked really stunning. 
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-02The big & little black wall tires and a dropped front axle gave the car a perfect stance.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-16Harlan mounted the license plate on the tailgate, and on each side he added 38-39 Ford teardrop taillights. He did not use a bumper on the rear.
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CCC-hudson-joe-colletion-p3-15Harlan also took a picture of this good looking very similar pick up as his own. This one has a differnt flathead engine with some nice chrome goodies.
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Ayala Body Shop

 

AYALA BODY SHOP

 

The Ayala Body Shop on East Olympic Ave opened in 1945. Gil Ayala would keep this shop open for around 40 year, at the same location, crating Custom Car Magic. A closer look at the shop.



In this article about Gil Ayala’s Auto Body Works shop I want to highlight the shop itself, not so much the complete history of the Gil and Al (Albert) Ayala, and the Custom Cars they have created. It¬†is¬†the place of birth of these Ayala Custom¬†Cars¬†that has me fascinated from the very first time I heard about Gil and Al Ayala. The place where the two brothers created Custom Car History and Automotive Art. How did they work, how did this shop look like, was there anything on the walls that inspired them, and how did their work days look like? Over the years I have gathered as much information about the Ayala shop as I could, but I have to say there is very¬†little known about the actual shop. The Ayala work has not been documented very well, at least not as good as for instance the Barris work and their shops. It appears that Barris understood the importance of what they were doing very early on, and tried to document it for the future… or perhaps it was just documented for creating more business at the time. In any event, the fact is that the Barris work was documented well and much has been published about it back in the day as well as in the present time.


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The Ayala work, as in work in-process and even finished Customs has never been very well documented. Over the years fortunately more and more photos have surfaced, but there is a still a lot we do know only very little about. Fortunately some of the people, like Memo Ortega, who where at the Ayala shop back in the ’50’s are sharing their stories lately.¬†Stories and memories that shed a bit of light on the mysteries surrounding the Ayala shop. Its hard to believe that a shop that produced a great number of Custom Cars from mild to wild, famous to unknown, over a long period of time. A shop that according the stories was always filled with cars and people, has not been photographed more than what we have been able to see so far.

In my research I have not been able to find one single photo that shows the complete shop, the building. Only parts of the shop show in the background of photos taken of the cars parked or worked on in the parking area at the shop. Hopefully this CCC-Article will generate some more info from people who have visited the Ayala shop during the long period it was operated by Gil Ayala. Info as in more stories, or more photos from the cars created, or showing more of the shop, the people at the shop, or perhaps even inside the shop. Lets take a look at what I have been able to find out and compiled about Gil’s Auto Body Works over the years… and hopefully more new info will show up for a part two.

CCC-ayala-workshop-early-pictureEarly photo, from the mid 1940’s, not to long after the shop was opened,¬†shows just a small corner of Gil’s Auto Body shop. It shows¬†the tall,¬†single¬†pole sign on 4074 East Olympic Blvd. (Olympic blvd is on the left side of the photo) The tall building on the right is the school on Eastman Ave. It appears that the small building for the House of Chrome has not yet been build at the time this photo was taken. The car in the pics appears to be a mildly restyled 1942 Buick.
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Gil’s Auto Body Works

In 1945, 20 year young Gil Ayala opened his Gil’s Auto Body Works shop on 4074 Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. Gil’s two year¬†older brother Al Ayala join him at this shop a few years later as the shop’s lead metal man. At first Al was working full time at Gil’s shop, but Al was already married and had two kids, demanding a steady income. Al later would work at a local Chevrolet dealer and worked part time during the evenings¬†and¬†weekends for Gil. As needed Al would work full time for a stretch of time at Gil’s shop. Besides Al there have always been other employees at the shop, most of them worked there part time.¬†Gil Ayala was the all round guy, he could really handle all the work in the shop.

CCC-ayala-workshop-house-of-chrome-01This photo was taken between 1948-50 and shows¬†the¬†building on the corner of the property at Eastman Ave and Olympic Blvd. Its address was 4084 East Olympic Blvd. Gil rented the building¬†to the House of Chrome. The House of Chrome 1940 Ford shop truck was of course customized by the Ayala’s, and had all kinds of chrome goodies. The Coupe on the right of the photo is parked on Eastman Ave, with the door of the separate school building behind it. The cars driving just in front the the trucks top are on Olympic Blvd.
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It was the design work ‚Ästand most of all ‚Äď mixing paint and painting cars what¬†really got Gil going. Gil loved to mix new paints, combining toners and metallics to come up with new, magical, colors. Discovering how paint would change over different base coats creating mile deep paint that changed colors when the curved bodies would hit the light. Al Ayala was the metal master¬†at the shop. Both Gil and Al were responsible for the design’s of the cars. In the Golden years of Customizing, from 1948 to 1955 the shop was mainly creating custom cars and an occasional Hot Rod, but later on Gil started to do more an more regular fender bender, muffler and insurance work, since the real custom work started to dry up, and the bills needed to be paid. But mixing colors and painting cars always remained the focus for Gil, and he would continue doing that for many decades. Later he would paint a lot of exotic cars, Porsches, Rolls Royce’s¬†plenty of Corvettes etc. Gil¬†was well known for his high quality paint work. Al Ayala left the shop somewhere during the 1960’s, but Gill remained working on cars at the same shop up into the 1980’s. Al passed away in 1987, and Gil in 1991.

CCC-ayala-workshop-guys-in-shopAl Ayala on the far left with two unknown guys next to him. Sitting on the car with the cap looks to be Dick Lugo who worked with Al on the 1953 Lincoln in the Hot Rod magazine article. Gil Ayala is smiling behind the steering wheel of the Model A Roadster inside one of the shop spaces. 
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Advertising

Gil did advertise his Gil’s Auto Body Works in the 1950’s. I have been unable to find any advertising from the 1940’s and also nothing from the later 1950’s and up. Not sure if he advertised during that time or not.¬†The ads I have been able to find from the early 1950’s all use Gil’s chopped and fade away fendered ’40 Mercury with Cadillac rear fenders, a side view photo taken at the Gil’s shop. Gil advertised in Motor Trend magazine, a few show programs and speed publications, but was never a regular, and only a hand full of ads have been created as far as I have been able to find out. Gil relied more on the returning customer, word by mouth advertising, and just doing high end guaranteed custom work.

CCC-gil-ayala-1940-mercury-04Gil’s Auto Body works ad that uses the 1940 Mercury photo. This particular ad comes from the July 1950 issue of Motor Trend magazine.
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CCC-gil-ayala-1940-mercury-ads-02Two more variations on the ad using the same photo. The ad on the right shows that the Mercury was sitting next to the House of Chrome building when the photo was taken.
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The Major of Olympic Boulevard
According the stories we have heard the shop was always crowded, both with cars as well as with people. Especially later in the day and in the weekends a lot of people would visit the shop. Memo Ortega remembers that him and his friend(s) drove¬†35 miles from their home in LaVerne Ca, just to see what was going on it the Ayala¬†shop on Saturdays. Memo would talk to Gil and they would become friends. Memo ended up buying Gil’s¬†1942-46 Ford Coupe¬†in 1959. Memo remembers that the shop floor was always dirty with lead grinds, paint and pieces of metal. A lot of work was done in this shop, and everybody was always hard at work. From time to time Gil stepped out to talk to some of the visitors. But if Gil was busy painting a car, he would be completely concentrated on that. According to Memo Ortega Al was a very nice gentle guy, but not so much of an talker, he worked hard, and it showed he loved what he was doing. Gil loved to talk. His nickname was “the Major of Olympic Boulevard” he knew everybody in the neighborhood, and loved to be kept in the loop of things going on.

CCC-ayala-workshop-wally-welch-03Also in the late 1940’s a Du Pont Duco-Delux Automotive painting sign was added to the tall vertical sign on Olympic Ave. This sign was added to the pole on the inside of the property. The original Auto Body works sign was¬†on the road side of the pole.
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CCC-gil-ayala-1940-mercury-05Gil’s 1940 Mercury parked parallel with Olympic Ave under the tall Auto Body Works sign.
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Many employees over the years. In Pat Ganahl‘s Rodder’s Journal Ayala stories he mentioned a few names of people who worked at the shop. A Japanese metal guy doing really good work (but his name was not remembered), Manual, who did paint there for some time, and Ruben Palazuelas, also doing paint work. Dick Luga did metal work. Memo also remembers there were more people working on the cars in the years he visited the shop. But he sure did not remember any of their names.


 

CCC-gil-ayala-1942-ford-06Gil’s 1942-46 Ford Custom Coupe next to the tall Auto Body Work’s sign. The car is parked parallel with Olympic Blvd, which is on the right.
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Bicycles
During the mid and later part of the 1950’s customizing your bicycles¬†became big with the kids. Gil and Al were pretty much aware of this fad, perhaps because Al’s own kids were doing the same, or just what they saw in the neighborhood. Al had created a special jig which he used to reshape the bikes front fork so the bikes would sit lower… One guy remembered he had to pay $3.- to have Al do the fork work for his bike. Gil also would paint the kids bicycle frames, sometimes using left over paint from the cars he had painted. How great would it be if one of those bikes would still be¬†around today. Or how great would it be if somebody had some photos of some of these bikes created by the Ayala’s…

CCC-ayala-workshop-wally-welch-011950 photo from the Wally Welch Collection shows Wally’s 1941 Ford having its fenders molded to the body. In the back ground part of the Shop building, with the weirdo head and the 4074 number painted on the front. The Head is actually part of the Auto Butchers logo. It was used on T-Shirts, jackets and like here on the wall.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-wally-welch-02Work being done outside on Wally Welch his ’41 Ford. In the background on the top right we can see the bottom section of the DuPont Gil’s Auto Body Works sign.
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CCC-gil-ayala-1942-ford-08In the late 1940’s, early 1950’s there was a truck dealer across the street from Gil’s shop. Here we can see Gil’s 1942 Ford coupe parked at the shop with a view on Olympic Blvd with the truck dealer in the background.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-padded-top-hot-rod-zivotThis very interesting photo was shared by David E. Zivot. It shows that the Ayala’s did work on Hot Rod’s as well, notice the fade aways door hinges on the coupe. This photo was taken towards Olympic Ave with the Truck dealer across the street. I have not been able to find out anything about the¬†’41 Ford with heavy chop, padded top, molded rear fenders and no front end, but behind it we can see a small section of Gil’s ’42-46 Ford coupe.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-wally-welch-05We can see what is most likely the same 1941 Ford chopped convertible as we can see in the previous photo in this Wally Welch photo. The mystery convertible is parked parallel with Olympic with its back to the shop wall (same location as were the famous Jack Stewart Ford primer photos were taken).
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CCC-ayala-workshop-jack-stewart-01Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford parked with its back towards the shop wall in the same, but a bit closer to Olympic Blvd position as the ’41 Ford convertible in the previous photo. The truck dealer in across the street just to the right of what we can see in this photo.
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CCC-gil-ayala-1942-ford-07Facing east, looking down on Olympic Blvd we can see an unknown person smiling in front of Gil’s 1942-46 Ford in 1949. A ’46 Mercury coupe is sitting just below the Gil’s Auto Body Works sign. By 1949 the Du Pont sign was added to the pole.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-motor-trend-photoThis Famous Motor Trend Cover shot was most likely taken from the roof of the body shop, about where the 4070 number was written on the wall. The camera faces towards Olympic Avenue, and just below the shadow of the lantern in the top left the edge of the drive way on Olympic can be seen. Notice that three of the guys in the photo are wearing¬†“weirdo” T-Shirt.
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May 1953 Hot Rod Magazine

The May 1953 issue of Hot Rod magazine had a four page how to article about extending the rear fenders of and brand new 1953 Lincoln Capri. The work was performed by the Ayala shop. Photographer Felix Zelenka and Hot Rod staff writer W. G. Brown visited Gil’s Auto Body shop in East Los Angles and documented how Al Ayala and Dick (Richard) Lugo at the shop performed the work. This is a very rare how-two article documented at the Ayala Shop. Unlike the Barris and other shops it was not common for the magazines to visit East LA to see the Ayala Masters at work. But fortunately we have this Hot Rod magazine article that shares us a few nice photos of the guys working in the Ayala shop.


CCC-ayala-workshop-hot-rod-article-01Four pages were used to document the Ayala work.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-hot-rod-article-02The opening photo of the article shows the Lincoln sitting on Olympic Blvd next to the House of Chrome shop window. In the back we can see the roof top of the smaller building attached to the school on Eastman Ave.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-hot-rod-article-04


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CCC-ayala-workshop-hot-rod-article-05Dick Luga on the left and Al Ayala on the right inside one of the shop spaces.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-hot-rod-article-06Dick adding some lead to the extended ’53 Lincoln rear fender. All the way to the top left we can see the cabin/front of the flamed GMS Gil’s Auto Body Works shop truck.
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Some memories about the shop

Charles Canales¬†“As a teenager working at a car wash down the street from gil’s body shop. It was in the late 50’s. gil would bring his cars to have them wash almost every day. I¬†got the chance to see and wash so many of those great custom cars. I¬†remember that great looking candy apple t-bird with the gold fins.”

Mr¬†Rodriguez¬†“Louie Bettancout is my Nino¬†and I remember Louie Ayala Mercury¬†from the¬†magazines.¬†My dad new Gil Ayala well and had Gil paint my Stingray type bicycle the same color as my nino’s Merc, scintillating green¬†gold. Pop had some of the parts show quality chrome¬†plated. I didn’t like the color at first,¬†but it grew on me. I rode the bike to school in 5th , 6th, 7th grade. St. Benedicts school Montebello.”

Walter Leeman¬†“When I was striping out of the House of Chrome, I worked outside in the area between the building and the big driveway in Memo’s drawing. Mostly after school and on Saturdays.”

Memo Ortega¬†“The house of chrome. we used to call it the house of goodies. Every time we went there so many things we wanted to buy. Me and my buddys got our first set of Appleton spotlites there.¬†I¬†wonder if the current owner of the property knows what went on in this corner lot. Gil’s 1942-46 Ford used to sit next to the House of Chrome shop… for years. It was still there when I was able to buy it from Gil in 1959.”

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CCC-ayala-workshop-road-runners-movie-02In 1952 the Movie Road Runners shot a few scenes at Gil’s Auto Body Works. It shows the main character’s Roadster driving¬†on Olympic Ave, turning into the shops’ drive way giving us a little bit of a feel how it was back then. Sadly not much of the shop, or other cars can be seen in the footage. ¬†A few movie still shows Gil’s Shop sign and the Hot Rod owner driving to the shop.
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A new sign
Somewhere during the early or mid 1950’s Gil had a huge shop sign made on the corner of Eastman Ave and Olympic Blvd. at the side of the small building that was used by the House of Chrome. The sign was sitting on two large poles and had a huge square section for the sign. Above the square section¬†were four round sections with the 4074 numbers on it. Below the square section a muffler shaped section was made, most likely to get some extra attention to that part of the business.¬†¬†We do not know what was on the sign originally, but the photo below, from the Rodder’s Journal second Ayala article shows what was still on it around 1970. This sign is still on the building today.


Ross Ruiz found this wonderful ad in the 1959 Los Angles Cathedral High School Schoolbook.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-sign-office-rjThe only photo I have seen of the big sign next to the House of Chrome building was used in Pat Ganahl’s second Ayala story in the Rodder’s Journal (#40). The photo from the Greg Sharp Collection shows Ruben¬†Palazuelas painting Big John Mazmanian’s 1970 Cuda Funny Car candy red outside! The badly faded and flaked sign advertises “Speed Equipment and Body Works = Painting” plus an barely visible side view image of Gil Ayala’s 1955 T-Bird. Below the big sign that rested on two large poles is an smaller sign in the shape of a muffler. This sign is still there today.
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CCC-boulevard-night-movie-stripSeveral scenes in the Boulevard Nights movie from 1979 was shot at Gil’s Auto Body Works. Gil was still operating the shop at the same location during that time. These movie stills give us a nice look at the shop.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-gil-ayalaGil Ayala at his Auto Body Work shop.
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Location

Gil’s Auto Body Works was located at 4074 East Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles, which was considered not to be part of the good side of town. It was not a bad part of town then, but the location most likely was the main reason why the Ayala cars and the work inside the shop was not covered more in the LA based car magazines in the golden years of customizing.

At we can see in Memo Ortega’s layout¬†of the shop it was subdivided into several separate sections. At least two spaces specifically for doing body work, a sanding and masking section which was bigger than the body work spaces. Most likely since painting cars was high on the list of the shops clients. And sometimes cars came in just for a new paint-job. There was a separate paint booth, and a small storage room and office. The small building on the corner of the property was put there in the later part of the 1940’s And was rented out to¬†the House of Chrome. A chrome accessory shop of course had a lot of customers coming in, which most likely was good for business of the body shop as well. Since the clients would all see the beautiful customs being worked on and coming out of the shop. ¬†In the mid ’50’s the House of Chrome moved to a bigger location on Beverly Blvd. and the space was then used by Gil for various activities over the years.


CCC-ayala-workshop-drawing-memo-03Memo Ortega drew this layout of Gil Ayala’s Auto Body shop as he can remember it from the 1950’s. (Notice that this drawing is flipped compared to the aerial photos below.)
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CCC_House-Chrome-Bird-48-WThis rather low res and fuzzy aerial image was taken in 1948 and comes from the HistoricAerials.com website. It shows the small House of Chrome building in the top right of the property, and the main shop building(s) on the lower and left part of the property.
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CCC_House-Chrome-Bird-10-WIn 2010 the original shop buildings were all gone and the whole property with the exception of the House of Chrome building changed into a parking lot.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-map-los-angelesGil’s Auto Body Works on East Olympic Blvd was not really all that far from for instance the Barris shops, yet it was still in the “wrong” part of town.¬†
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CCC-ayala-workshop-2012-01Custom Car enthusiast Jeff Neppl drives by the old Gil’s Auto Body Works location regularly, he took this photo of the old House of Chrome building and the old Sign which are both still there, in 2012. The photo was taken from South Eastman¬†Avenue, and the street on the right is East Olympic Avenue. It shows that even the muffler shaped lower section is still in place.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-2012-02Also taken from South Eastman Avenue this photo shows most of the parking lot that was once the Ayala Work Shop.
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CCC-ayala-workshop-2015-01In 2015 Jeff Neppl was able to get onto the former Gil’s Auto Body Shop property and take a photo from the other side of the former House of Chrome shop. This photo is about the same angle as one of the first photos in this article with the House of Chrome 1940 Ford. The two electrical poles and the school building are still there.
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I hope you have enjoyed this trip back in time to Gil’s Auto Body Works shop, and hopefully this article has shed a bit of light on the Ayala Shop. I wish there was a lot more to tell, and especially to show of the shop building, inside and out. And I really hope that this article will help some others to share their stories about the shop, and perhaps even some never before seen photos of the shop might surface. If that will happen I will make sure there will be a part two of the Ayala Body Shop here in the Custom Car Chronicle. If you have any info on the Ayala shop, or perhaps photos to share that have not been included in this article, then please email Rik¬†here at the Custom Car Chronicle so that we can add the info to this article, or use it in a part two.


Resources and more info

  • Hot Rod magazine, May 1953
  • Motor Trend magazine,¬†April 1950
  • Rodder’s Journal, articles by Pat Ganahl issue #39-40
  • The Jack Stewart Ford, book



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