Chuck DeWitt Ford Clone Debut

 

CHUCK DEWITT FORD CLONE

 

At the 2017 Custom Car Revival show in Indianapolis the long awaited Chuck DeWitt Convertible Ford Clone made its public debut.


Its debut has been rumored for several years, and a few weeks ago Kevin Anderson, on of the organizers of the Custom Car Revival car show in Indianapolis, announced that the Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford Convertible Custom Recreation would be at the 2017 show. Earlier today Walter Leeman shared the first photos of the car he took at the event, or actually at the day before the event. And the rumors started to spread fast. Some say the car is the original Barris Kustoms created Ford created for Chuck DeWitt in the early 1950’s. Other just know it is not and that the really beautiful car is actually a RECREATION, or as some call it a CLONE based on photos from the original Barris Custom.

I’m very excited to finally be able to see outdoor photos of the Recreation of the Chuck DeWitt Ford, which is one of my personal favorite Barris Customs. I think the owner Pat Orsillio did a really great job on recreating this Custom Car Icon, and sharing it with the public for everybody to enjoy. It would have been fantastic if this was indeed the original Barris Kustom, but the recreation is the second best thing. I personally am very happy that there are so many people into recreating the long lost Custom Car Icons in the last few decades.
Some more info and photos can be seen in THIS article we did on the Chuck DeWitt Ford on a trip to Bonneville in the early 1950’s. The Custom Car Photo Archive shows many more photos of the original Custom Car Icon.

So far I have only been able to find two photos of the DeWitt Recreation, but as soon as I find more I will update this article.

Barry Mazza took this photo many years ago of the Chuck DeWitt Convertible Recreation project.
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Front 3/4 view shows the custom made grille opening and grille. The grille itself was actually recreated by Barry Mazza some time ago for a different car, a Merc, and later found its way to the builder of the DeWitt Ford.
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Arriving at the Custom Car Revival, the first time out in the open at a public event for the car.
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What an amazing Line-Up, takes you right back to around 1954. The Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford Convertible recreation, with the restored Barris Kustoms restyled Snooky Janich 1954 Ford, and the Sam Barris 1950 Buick.
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Comparing the Recreation with the Original Barris Kustoms created 1950 Ford.
Since there sadly is some controversy about this car being a Clone or the Original Barris Custom it is a good idea to share the differences of the two cars based on old Barris photos and new photos taken by Walter Leeman. Thanks to Rob Radcliffe to the images.

From this view we can clearly see the differences in the shape of the padded top, quarter windows. Position of the Appleton Spotlights, the location of the Barris crest, the position of the scoop teeth and vent windows. Hard to tell, but if you look careful you can see that the shape of the scoops in the rear quarter panels is different as well.
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In this photo from the front of the car we can see the differences in the grille opening, the sides of the molded in tubular shape is much more upright on the Barris creation. The grille is different as well since Barry, who created the grille actually for somebody else to be fitted to his Mercury, had to use different parking lights, The originals use Studebaker units, which have rounded corners on the outside. These photos also show the difference in scoop shape, and location of the scoop trim, and position of the Appleton Spotlights, and Barris crest compared to the side trim.
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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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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 “The Japan”, Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford convertible, Louis Bettancourt Ayala/Barris 1949 Mercury, Buster Litton’s Panoramic Ford, Tommy Thornburg’s 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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Bonneville via Custom

 

BONNEVILLE via CUSTOM

 

In 1953 Car Craft editor Dick Day joined Chuch DeWitt on his trip in his Barris Custom 1950 Ford convertible to the Bonneville Speed Trials. Custom Car Road-Trip, Bonneville via Custom.


Taking  a long road trip in a full Custom Car has always been something special. We know that most of the Custom Cars – up to the rise of the major car shows in the mid ’50’s – were often used for daily transport, and also for the longer trips. I have heard personal stories of Jim Skonzakes who took his ’41 Ford convertible and ’49 Buick full customs on trips all across the US and several times from Dayton Ohio to Los Angeles. Jim also drove the Jack Stewart Ford from Los Angeles to his home in Dayton. Jimmy Summers drove his full Custom 1940 Mercury all over the place together with his friend Doane Spencer in his famous 1932 Ford Roadster. We have heard about Marcia Campbell driving here ’42 Ford Coupe long distances, and many more stories that were told about these long full Custom Car road trips back in the ’40’s and ’50’s. Great stories about these guys and girls driving their dream cars, enjoying the cars in their natural habitat. Sadly only very few of these stories were  published back in the time these trips happened. The most famous road-trip story in a full Custom Car must have been the Kross Kountry trip in the Hirohata Mercury as it was published in the October ’53 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. This published stories most likely inspired many young guy to go on similar road trips with their friends and Custom Cars.

One other published Road-trip story in a full custom that made an impact, but is often overlooked these days was in the December ’53 issue of Car Craft Magazine. Car Craft Associate Editor Dick Day documented a road trip he took with Chuck DeWitt and a friend in Chuck’s Barris Kustoms created 1950 Ford convertible from Los Angeles to the ’53 Bonneville Speed-Trials. A 1600 miles round trip documented in 6 pages, with some nice on-the-road photos of Chuck DeWitt’s beautiful Fuschia-Orchid-Metallic painted Carson topped convertible.

Chuck DeWitt’s 1950 Ford Convertible was restyled at the Barris Shop in ’52-early ’53. According the Barris Kustoms Technique book Chuck had already replaced the stock Ford engine with a hopped up Mercury unit and he had driven the car up to 118 mph before he took it to the Barris brothers for the full Custom treatment. Chopped windshield, ’53 Pontiac taillights in modified wind-splits, custom grille surround, typical Barris built grille, custom side trim using ’52 Buick and ’53 Olds component, a beautiful deep organic purple paint job and a white perfectly shaped padded top by the Carson Top Shop.



The Car Craft Article

CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-car-craft-articleThe December 1953 issue of Car Craft Magazine 6 page article on the trip from Los Angeles to Bonneville in the Barris Kustom Shop built Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford full Custom.
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Bonneville via custom

– Transcript of the December 1953 Car Craft magazine article –

By Dick Day

What happens when you take a radical customized car away from it weekly mooring at the local drive-in, and head it out onto the open highway for a sixteen-hundered mile trip? These weremy personal thoughts as I slid into the plush interior of Chuck deWitt’s beautifully restyled ’59 Ford convertible and departed for the Bonneville National Speed Trials.

As I sat wondering what experience lay in store for use, considering the car’s roadability, comfort and the reception it would receive from the neighboring states, CHuck began relating some of the car’s technical points. The body itself has undergone some very extensive alterations by the Barris Custom Shop of Lynwood, California. The top has been  chopped three and three-quarter inches and replaced with a beautiful white padded Carson type lid. Inside, the little jewel is one mass of soft airfoam, covered with black and white rolled and pleated leatherette upholstering, which at the time was providing itself most comfortable. A quick overall summery of the car could be it has the distinction of being one of the “Ten Best Customs in the Country”.


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Our first stop for gas proved to be a ritual that was to follow us throughout the entire trip. It was the question and answer routine that every radical custom owner goes through with the average gas station attendant and his assistants. It runs like this: “Where’s the gas filler spout? How come you got it positioned in the trunk? How do you get inside without door handles? What color paint do you call this? The most pointed comment of all referred to the ground clearance, which was four-and-a-half inches all the way around, “What happens when you drive over a piece of gravel?” Once back on the highway again, we checked out the added weight necessitated by the trip and figured that the already taxed suspension was supporting approximately seven hundred punds. This included the passengers, as limited amount of camera and clothing gear and thirty gallons of gasoline. A third of this weight was towards the rear of the car. Chuck has installed in the rear deck compartment a thirteen gallon auxiliary tank for just such trips as this. When combined with the stock tank’s petrol capacity, the car is able to travel an average of Five-hundred miles without stopping for gas. This for non-stop purpose works out wonderfully, but for a car that has been drastically lowered, the extra pounds of the gas added to the rear of the car, can spell the difference between a comfortable ride and one that feels as though the body was bolted to the rear axle.

CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-trip-03Chuck De Witt’s Ford at one of the stops during the trip.
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We negotiated about every type of road surface conceivable, except possibly one of a muddy nature (thanks, but no thanks). The car responded differently with each one. On a smooth surface the car’s response to bottoming was nil, but herex as larger amount of rocking and pitching from side to side was encountered at speeds in excess of fifty miles per hour. This action could be suppressed considerably, in Chuck’s case, by installing a sway bar at the rear of the car to counteract the radical side sway ad spring twisting action. On a tar-strip road the car averaged out a ride nearly equal to that of any standard production model.

A twisty mountainous road, for approximately thirty-five miles, was under construction and proved one of the most interesting roadability tests of the entire trip. The surface was of a granite gravel substance, just about ready to receive its asphalt top coating. To add a little incentive to the whole bit, a highway construction truck pulled in behind us at the summit. To stay in front of him we had to average a good fifty-five miles an hour or otherwise we’d be forced to eat dust from his rear wheels. Rocks being trown back could easily have damaged the paint on the front of the car. Strangely as it may seem, this was the smoothest ride of the whole trip, but jst a bit clamorous. Small rocks and gravel were bounding off the underneath side of the car like bullets. When we reached the floor of the canyon and the pavement once more, we stopped to examine the lower edge of the body for damages. No dents were visible, but Chuck now owned to of the most beautiful sandblasted rear fender skirts that I had ever seen. The gravel had obliterated all paint from the lower leading edge of each fender skirt.

At this point of the trip we should have realized that all had done too well, for from her on the highway was simulated obstacle course for the custom’s suspension. The ride that we had been enjoying without any aches and pains for the last four or five hundred miles went sour. The road pattern went something like this: sharp turns with wrong cambers, straight stretches had tapers from the middle of the road down to the shoulder that made us think we were running on the outside of an amusement park motordrome. Then to test Chuck’s driving skill without the price of a nickel, every fifteen or twenty feet a small knoll or slight pocket would appear for either the left of the right side of the car to go skimming over or dive into. By placing one hand up against the headliner, the left leg around the steering column and stuffing the right foot into the heater I could retain my position without too much hassle. We didn’t mind this too much because we knew it could have been worse. I could have lost the freedoms of my right arm which would have been cut off our supply of cigarettes and matches!

At Bonneville the car attracted almost as much attention as the famous 256 mph Kenz streamliner. It also gave many out of state spectators their first opportunity to see a radically customized car in the flesh.

The return trip home was repetitious of the first eight hundered miles, except for a slipping fan belt that necessitated repairs shade tree style. From this point it was only a matter of hours ’til we were rolling into Los Angeles and the cross-country trip in one of America’s outstanding restyled custom cars was coming to an end. The big question was “did the custom fail for roadability?”

This writer interpretation could be summarized possibly like this: the roadability and comfort depended largely on the condition of the road and at what speed we were traveling. This particular cars’s handling qualities were below average because drastic sacrifices were made on the front and rear suspension units to lower it to the desired level. At the same time comfort was destined to suffer from the fact that the car bottomed easier. Lately there have been some revised devices for lowering a car to a maximum degree without sacrificing handling qualities, and bottoming troubles have proved practically nil. In the near future Car Craft will feature these stories in a step-by-step version of ho they were performed.

The question, “did the car meet with any reception”? is fairly east to answer. I ‘ve never until now, found anything that would attract the attention of a die-hard gambler at a hot die table, nor anything to sway the one arm bandit friend to pear away from a triple plum, but DeWitt’s Ford had ’em falling out the doors from one end of Nevada to the other.

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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-trip-02They made it to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the 1953 Speed Trials.
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-trip-barris-spreadThe Barris Kustom technique book shared this really great photo of Chuck driving the Ford in Las Vegas watched by a young kid on the side walk. Who knows seeing Chuck’s deep purple custom might have changed this kid forever…
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-trip-06Dick Day and Chuck made many photos of the Ford during the road-trip, some of them were used in Dick Day’s published article. This side view shows the low stance of the car and the beautiful shape of the Carson Top Shop created padded top.
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-via-custom-color-rhkFrom my own personal collection comes this rather faded and discolored photo taken at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1953. The deep purple paint must have looked absolutely stunning on the white salt.
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-via-custom-color02-rhkRear quarter view shows some of the people at the event taking special notice of Chuck’s Custom Ford. Notice the location of the antenna on the rear splash pan.
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-via-custom-color-trjThis is one of the best color photos of the Chuck DeWitt’s Ford that we know about. It was also taken at the ’53 Speed Trial event at Bonneville. It shows that the car sure made an impact with several photographers.
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Chuck’s Ford next to the Barris Kustom Auto bodies Chat Herbert “Beast” lakester.
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-trip-07Several more glamour photos were also taken to accompany the road-trip photos in the article. Some made it to the final cut, others not. This low angle front view gives us a great look at the well designed front end on Chuck’s Ford with the molded in round tube grille opening and unique Barris grille. Notice the Southern California letters in the windshield, a typical trend in the 1940’s and early 1950’s when the car owners proudly listed the school they were at, or went to. 
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CCC-chuck-dewitt-bonneville-trip-05Barris created the stunning looking rear of Chuck’s Ford using 1953 Pontiac taillights set into extended and reshaped wind-spilts. Both front and rear bumpers are 1951 Ford an use Kaiser overriders. The rear units were modified with exhaust tips in the bullets.
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I wish there were many more articles published like this Bonneville trip and the one of the Hirohata Mercury Cross Country trip to Indianapolis. Road trips in the 1940’s and early 1950’s with Custom Cars. Road trips with many snapshots taken during the trip. Snapshots from people admiring the cars along the trip, snapshots taken from the car capturing the experience these guys had back then. And of course the stories about the trip itself. If you have ever been on a long road trip in a Custom Car, or know about some of the old guys who took trips like this back in the 40’s or 50’s. Please let us know. We would love to hear them, and share them here on the Custom Car Chronicle in our Road-Trip section.

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Resources and more info

  • Car Craft, Magazine December 1953
  • Barris Kustoms Techniques of the 50’s, Book volume 2, 1996

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Thrifty Parking-lot Show

 

TRIFTY PARKING-LOT SHOW

 

In May 1954 the Lords Car Club organized a free one day outdoor Car Show at the Thrifty Drug Store in Los Angeles. The Customs they gathered for this event was the best of the best.



One of the most incredible photos of the Golden Age of Custom cars must be the birds eye view photo taken in 1954 at the Thrifty drug store in Los Angeles. This single photo shows no less than 12 top rate Custom Cars and four more Hot Rods parked together at a free outdoor show. The photo was professionally taken from the roof of the Thrifty drug store on Rodeo Rd and LA Brea on May 14, 1954. All the cars are as good as Crystal clear and sharp, and we are able to see them from an angle we usually don’t see.

The first time I saw this photo was in an Hot Rod magazine July 1989, but only very little could be seen because the lay-out artist had covered all the cars with captions and other inset photos. Fortunately for use more people must have noticed the photo and notified the R&C team about this. In the December 1989 issue of R& C they published a nice large black and white print of this amazing photos and identified most of the cars in the photo. Later I came across the same photo on the back cover of the 1955 Custom Cars annual… but there it was also partly covered and rather small.

CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-colorizedFor the Rodder’s Journal #33 I created a series of colorized old black and white photos of Custom Cars, the piece the resistance was this overview photo of the outdoor car show at the Thrifty drug store parking lot in 1954. It took me nearly a month to add all the color to this intense photo.
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When I started working on a series of colorized photos for the Rodder’s Journal back in 2006 this parking lot photo came to my attention again. How great would it be to see this old black and white photo in color?! I discussed the possibilities with the RJ team, and they provided the high res scan made from the Greg Sharp Collection photo. To be able to see this photo in high res with all the details on my computer screen was a real treat. It took me a while to figure out all the colors on the car and had some help from Greg Sharp and a few other people who remembered the cars from back in the early 1950’s.

We do not know much about the show other than the things we can see in the photos and the amazing thing that over the years information was shared that at least two of the trophies give at this show survived. One for the Chuck DeWitt Shoebox by Barris and the other for Jack Stewart’s MG restyled by George Cerny. We also know that the Lords Car Club from Wilmington, Ca hosted the show and that the Thrifty Drug Store was the sponsor of this one day free in cooperation with the NHRA show. In our research we have not been able to come up with any kind of advertising or promotional material for this show. But looking at the high quality cars at the show the information for it must have been spread well.
Lets take a closer look at the cars that were at the show with cropped images from the original photo, and with the information we have gathered on the show. Some of the cars are hidden quite a bit by other cars so we used some other photos to show them a little better.



Identifying the cars on the parking lot

In the right row from top to bottom:


CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-earl-bruceEarl Bruce’s 1940 Ford coupe
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-fuzzy-luscariFuzzy Luscari’s 1940 Ford pickup
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-bob-mcneilBob McNeil’s black Chuck Porter-built 1932 Ford three window coupe
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-29-roadsterUnidentified 1929 Ford highboy
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-pere-bantaJack Pere and Lou Banta’s red track nose model T Ford
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-hirohataBob Hirohata Barris built 1951 Mercury. Click HERE if you want to read more articles on the Hirohata Mercury
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-ray-moreRay More’s 1952 Ford which would later get a wonderful Larry Watson paint job in maroon and gold outlines
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-jay-johnstonJay Johnston’s cream and orange version of his 1949 Ford
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-bettancourtKaiser bumper over rider and front section of the Louis Bettancourt 1949 Mercury restyled by the Ayala brothers and later redone by Barris.
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Right row from top to bottom:

 

CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-thornburgh-02Tommy Thornburgh’s 1947 Studebaker convertible built by Barris.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-don-carroll-02Don Carroll’s 1949 Ford convertible built by Gaylord.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-jack-nethercutt-02Jack Nethercutt’s Barris built 1952 Oldsmobile. (inset color photo from the Jack Nethercutt collection)
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-buster-litton-02Buster Litton – Don Schaedel Barris Kustoms / Cerny built 1949 Ford “Panoramic Ford”. Click HERE if you want to read more about the Buster Litton Panoramic Ford.
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Chuck DeWitt’s Barris built 1950 Ford convertible

The Chuck DeWitt 1959 Ford was awarded with a first place award at the Thrifty parking lot show. We only know this because James Washburn was given a box of trophies by a friend one day. His friend had bought the trophies at a Garage sale in Richmond Ca. for a buck a piece. His friend did not have a use for them, but remembered James asking him that whenever he would come across old car related stuff as trophies etc and the price was right to get them for him. He went over with a box with trophies, James was not home so he left the box on his porch, and he forgot about them. It took James two month to find out who had given them to him. By then his friend could not really answer any of James questions about what else there was at the garage sale.

The only thing he did remember was that the garage sale was held by family members who’s grandfather had passed away and the attic was cleaned. Included in the box was at least one other trophy that had the name Chuck DeWitt engraved. So most likely all the trophies from this garage sale once belonged to Chuck and were the trophies won with his purple Barris Restyled 1950 Ford convertible with padded top. In the box there was also a trophy from this May 1954 Thrifty Drug Store Parking Lot Show… making us believe that Chuck won first place with his Shoebox at this show. We have tried to find out if the grandfather in the garage sale might have been Chuck deWitt, but so far we have been unable to verify this. Or perhaps the car was once sold to a new owner and the trophies went with the car?

CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-chuck-dewittChuck DeWitt’s 1950 Ford convertible by Barris. Click HERE if you want to read more on the Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford Coupe.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-dewitt-trophy-02The trophy from James Washburn’s collection and an inset photo of Chuck’s Ford taken at a different outdoor show.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-dewitt-trophy-03Close up of the photo-etched tag on the trophy. Los Angeles County, Auto Show Saturday May – 15 1954 Sponsored by Thrifty Los Angeles Rodeo Rd. andLA Brea. In Cooperation with NHRA “Dedicated to Sadety”.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-jesse-lopezJesse Lopez 1941 Ford Coupe created by Jesse and Sam Barris, when this photo was taken the car was owned by Danny Lares. After Danny had bought the car he had Barris add longer pieces of hood side trim and the Barris Crest.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-53-fordThe last car in this row is an unidentified mild customized 1953 Ford coupe. I have colorized it dark blue in the color photo, but I have no idea if that was the cars actual color.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-sportscustomAll the way on the top of the photo parked at the curb I spotted this unidentified Sports Custom. 
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The other side of the parking lot

Most of the focus on the Thrifty Drug Store 1954 Parking lot show has always been on the photo taken of the right side of the parking lot. This was the section were all the famous cars were parked. But the photographer also took at least two photo facing the other side of the parking lot at the event. And this allows us to see that the show was held at most of the side section on the Rodeo side of the complex. This photo also shows that the Lords of Wilmington Car Club, who hosted the car show, had a small booth set up in the center of the event section of the lot. This section of the parking lot has the “less famous” cars on display. Although there is a nice, unidentified, early 1940’s Chevy convertible with chopped padded top and a Barris Custom Merc on that side. Also the Shadoff Special Streamliner can be seen under the “Free” sign, the Drifters 1935 Ford with open hood and open drivers door in the middle of the photo.

CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-other-side-01The first photo from the “other side” was most likely taken earlier on the day. At least one car that we can see in the other photo is missing, and it also seems to be a little less crowded.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-other-side-02This photo looks to be taken a little later on the day. Some more people are looking at the cars and what is very interesting is the lower section of the Shrifty sign on the top left part of the photo. The Dark colored Mercury in the center of the photo next to the Lords club booth appears to be Dale Marchall’s 1950 Mercury restyled by the Barris Shop.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-dale-marshallDale Marshall 1950 Mercury by Barris Kustoms.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-lords-car-club-02The Lords Car Club of Wilmington, Ca hosted the event which was sponsored by the Thrifty Drug Store. In this photo of the booth we can see several of the trophies to be given away at the end of the event, and some kind of magazines, or perhaps flyers. 
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-bannerSadly the two part banner is flipped over half way. But we think that the banner said “Free Auto Show Today”.
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Jack Stewart MG

When I visited Jack Stewart together with my friend Palle Johansen on the Jack Stewart Research trip in 2010 I photographed some of the trophies he still had from his 1941 Ford, his MG and his 32 Ford. Some of the trophies that belonged to his 1941 Ford were photographed in details, but the others not. Later when I wrote the Jack Stewart Ford book and wen I looked over the photos a bit better I noticed that one of the trophies that I did not shot in detail was from the Thrifty Car show. I recognized it from the Chuck DeWitt trophies. When we visited Jack for the last time in 2013 I asked him about the trophy and if it was perhaps from the MG. Jack could not really remember much from the show, but when I told him a little about the Thrifty parking lot Show he mentioned that he must have been there with the MG. The trophy is engraphed with “2nd”, but Sadly he could not remember anything else about it. Non of the photos taken at the event show Jack’s MG, although there are two MG’s visible in the “other side” photos, and a section in between the two photos is not covered in any of the photos.

CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-jack-stewart-01Jack’s MG custom restyled by George Cerny and the trophy Jack had saved all these years. Click HERE if you want to read more about the Jack Stewart MG.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-jack-stewart-02I digitally stretched the etched tag from Jack Stewart’s trophy to give us a better look at it.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-mapThe location of the Thrifty store where the Car Show was held in May 1954.
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-stillMovie still from a drive thru Los Angeles in 1954 shows the Thrifty store and sign from Rodeo Rd. (Thank you Rob Radcliffe)
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CCC-54-thrifty-parking-lot-show-current-locationThis image from Google maps shows that the corner of Rodeo Drive and LA Brea is still a shopping area. At the former Thrifty drugstore there now is a Rite Aid Pharmacy. But the Thrifty sign structure on the corner is still there today.
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There are many amazing things about this one day free outdoor car show. The few photos that have surfaced of the show, the fact that two of the unknown number of trophies given out survived. And above all the amount of high-end Custom Cars gathered for this event. Can you imagine how it must have looked when the show was started, or even better ended, when all these amazing custom cars were started and driven from the lot, to cruise the LA streets on the way home. That must have been one amazing sight.



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