A Trip to Custom City

 

A TRIP to CUSTOM CITY

 

In the 1940s and 1950s there were several second hand Hot Rod and Custom Car lots around. Custom City was one of them. John Hellmuth shared some color slide taken at the lot in 1955.



In the summer of 1955 the Hellmuth family from St. Louis decided to make along road trip to see some relatives out in California, to visit the grand opening of Disneyland, and for their sons¬†Bob and John to see some Hot Rods and Custom Cars on the street. They took their family’49 Dodge Wayfare, loaded in their¬†luggage, four kids,¬†Mom and Dad¬†and took road 66 down to California. It took them 5 days to get there, enjoying the scenery and some Hot Rods along the way.

After arriving at their family in Culver City John and his brother Bob took the car and started to drive around to find Hot Rods and Custom Cars, those cars they had seen in the magazine. While cruising around in Los Angeles they came across the Custom City Car Dealer specializing in Hot Rods and Custom Cars not to far from LAX. The stopped the car to check out all the candy in the dealer lot. The owner was a nice guy, and let them hang around, check out all the cars and take as many pictures (color slides) as they wanted.

The first color slide that John shared was this one of the Custom City advertising chopped T and a series of Hot Rods and Custom Cars parked in line on the lot. To bad we cannot see more of the signs in front of the lot on Manchester Ave.
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The Custom City used Hot Rod & Custom Car lot was located at 1414 Manchester Ave. in Los Angles. Assumably this shop used to be the well known D & B Auto Sales on Santa Monica Blvd. In 1954 original owner of this lot, Don Britton, had sold it to Marv Gelberg and Park Dana who renamed it Custom City. The Custom City on 1414 Manchester Ave., the one we can see in this article was mot likely related to the one on Santa Monica Blvd. D & B used to advertise their business in the local papers and national magazines, but from the Custom City lot we have not been able to find any advertising so far.

On the Custom City lot there were a number of great looking cars the day Bob and John Hellmuth visited it. Good looking cars by todays standards, probably selling for relatively little money in 1955. Just because they were considered outdated… which was especially the case for¬†the Custom Cars in the lot.

Close up of the great¬†looking chopped T Coupe with ’32 Ford grille, white wall tires, red wheels with ’50 Merc hubcaps. Painted white and used as Custom City advertising. Probably rolling as well as parked in front of the lot towards Manchester Ave.
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My personal favorite photo is this one showing a beautiful mid 40’s styled restyled 1941 Mercury convertible with chopped padded top.¬†
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Parked next to the ’41 Mercury is another chopped Mercury Convertible with padded top, this time a ’39 Mercury (no vent windows) with its rear window flap removed. The dark green ’40 Ford two door sedan in the back looks very nice as well.
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Close up of the 41 Merc shows the unusual shortened side trim, smoothed hood and what appear to be 53 Mercury hubcaps. Other modifications are the 46 Ford bumpers, the chopped windshield with padded top with three piece panoramic rear window. This was a very fine Custom, possibly slightly updated (hubcaps, and sans fender skirts) along the way, but in 1955 this style custom was very much out of style. I wonder how much the asking price was, and what ever happened to it. 
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Parked next to the white chopped T Coupe from is this 1932 Ford ex-cabriolet turned roadster. Even back in 1955 this was a hot looking Hot Rod. The all black ’32 Roadster with ¬†red steelies and white wall tiers looks stunning as well. Don’t forget to look at the cars in the back row.
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Close up on the ’32 Cabriolet shows that it has some very nicely done body work required¬†to make the DuVall windshield work with the cowl. The license plate has ’53 tags on it. Makes me wonder if it has been parked here since 1953.¬†
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Ardun powered heavily chopped pale yellow ’32 Ford Coupe. Perfectly styled and proportioned. Makes you wonder why it was not parked out on the front row, where everybody could see it from the street.
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The one car that the brothers recognized from the magazines was this ’53 Studebaker restyled by the Valley Custom Shop. It was parked on the front row, on the other side of the entrance of the lot.¬†
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Zooming in on the cars in the background sow another mid/late 40’s styled ’41. This time an ’41 Ford convertible with smooth chopped padded top, ’49 Plymouth bumpers and lavender paint. The ’32 Ford Chopped coupe parked next to it looks very modern with its headlight bar missing.
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Close up on the ’53 Studebaker “Stude Italia” created by the Valley Custom Shop in Burbank for owner Stan Mashbum. Those Studebaers came from the factory already beautiful, but the Valley Shop was able to make it looks even nicer. Two¬†years after it had made the cover of Motor Trend magazine is was on the Custom City Second Hand Lot!
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Locations of the Custom City lot (red pin) the D & B Auto Sales in Hollywood, Valley Custom Shop, and for additional distance info the Barris (Atlantic Blvd) and Ayala shops.
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1936 Ford sedan for sale in 1949.

 

A STUNNING UNKNOWN

 

Mark Murray has been sharing some amazing early custom car photos with the Custom Car Photo Archive for some years. This collection of photos used to belong to his grandfather, who took photos of the cars he saw on the street and at some car shows and car lots while he lived in Long Beach Ca in the 1940’s and 1950’s



This article was updated Feb – 12 – 2015

He took some photos of some amazing cars at the lot of the famous D & B Auto Sales used car lot.¬†This car lot was specializing in Custom Built Cars and Hot Rods, located at 8221 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood, California. Don Britton owned the company. They usually had a very nice selection of second hand Hot Rods and Custom Cars, and Mark’s grandfather took some photos there on several occasions when he visited the place.

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For this feature we would like to highlight one car at the lot. He took two photos of this very special 1936 Ford sedan. We don’t know anything about this car. There’s no owner name, not a name of the builder, even the color of the car is unknown. The photos are mere snapshots with a telephone pole stuck in front of the car and a 1940 Ford blocking the side, so they are not even great photos. But every custom car enthousiasts feels this car is a wonderful example of the style of custom cars from the late 1940’s. We’ll show you why.

02-Mark_Murray-36FordSedanThe rear end of the car was completely molded into a single piece. Fenders were welded to the body and a custom splash pan was blended from the body and fenders to the 1947-48 Ford bumpers. Notice the addition of the 41-48 Ford gas door in the drivers side rear fender.
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The license plates on the car are from 1949, so more than likely the car was built built shortly after WWII. Starting with a sedan model as a full custom car is rare nowadays, and must have been rare back in the 1940’s as well. Coupes and convertibles were favorable because of their much more appreciated lines. However that sure did not stop the owner of this sedan to built his (or have it built) dream custom. The work on the car looks like it’s been been done by a very good craftsman or shop. Everything is very well balanced and each modification is enhancing the lines and other modifications.


01-Mark_Murray-36FordSedanThe photo from the front shows the molded in Chevy headlights, custom made and molded in splashpan and smooth hood sides. The chop is very well balanced with the rest of the body.
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The top has been chopped several inches, and the spare tire cover lowered to fit behind the rear bumper. The fenders both front and rear have been molded to the body using a rather sharp blend. The fenders were welded to the body and the seam filled in, but not rounded like we are so used to on the customs from the era.This gives the car a very smooth but still sharp look. A set of most likely 1940 Chevy headlights are molded low into the front fenders. Both on the front and rear, new splash pans were created and molded into the body. These were molded in with a much larger radius than the fenders and make the pans flow out from the body very nicely. A set of 1947-48 Ford bumpers were installed front and rear. The original taillight pods were removed, the rear fenders smoothed and we cannot find any evidence for new taillights. But perhaps they are installed under the rear bumper and out of site for the photographer. Most likely a gas filler-door from a 1941 Ford was used on the side of the rear fender.
At the front the stock grille remained in place. It looks like the hood was smoothed and the trim on it removed. The hood sides are smooth aftermarket units.

The car was lowered with what looks like a bit of a speedboat stance set on wide white wall dressed up with Lyon hubcaps. A set of round Spotlights was installed and in the photo showing the rear we can see the spotlight has been turned up, most likely after somebody wanted to have a look at the engine.
The asking price was $950 or perhaps $955, its hard to read in the photo. It was at least more expensive than the 1940 Ford convertible sitting next to it.


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Ever since we first saw these amazing photos taken at the D&B lot we have had a soft spot for this 1936 Ford sedan Custom Car. It just looks so right, it makes you wonder what color it had, dark for sure, but was it black or an perhaps an maroon, or organic green? There’s always the hope that one day somebody will recognize the car and can tell us a little more about it, or perhaps knows what happened to it.



Update February 2015.

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The article above was published here on the CCC in June 2013. We have had some messages from people who really liked the car and how it was customized. But sadly nobody recognized it, or could tell something more about it. A few weeks ago a CCC-Reader send us some old snapshots he had found online. And two of those photos showed this same 1936 Ford sedan. Sadly he could not remember where he had found the photos. So hopefully somebody will rcognize these, and let us know who shared these originally. Perhaps then we will be able to find out something more about this really great looking chopped 1936 Ford Sedan.

It looks like the photos were taken during the same year, 1949 as the photos taken at the D&B Auto Sales lot. The license plate and year tag appear to be the same. I’m not sure if these two new photos were taken before the car was put up for sale by the original owner, or after by a new owner. Hopefully we one day will find out. The only thing different on the car are the motor cycle taillights mounted on the back of the rear bumpers. Possible those were removed when the car was in at the D&B lot. We later found out that these photos now belong to the¬†Zeke Carrillo Collection.

If you know anything about the 1936 Ford in these photos, please let us know. Email Rik



CCC-36-ford-chopped-sedan-zeke-04The new photo of the ’36 Ford shows the small motorcycle taillights mounted behind the rear bumper.
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Update 2 February 2015.

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Two more images of this 1936 Ford Sedan were send to us. Apperently they were offered on ebay some time ago, and are now part of the Zeke Carrillo Collection. One of these photos shows that the car only had one motor cycle taillight mounted on the rear bumpers. I think it is really amazing that so many photos survived of this really well done but unidentified Custom.  Thanks for sending those photos Jamie.



CCC-36-ford-chopped-sedan-zeke-02Only one motorcylce taillights is mounted on the drivers side of the car. The molded in fenders and splashpan look very clean in this photo.
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CCC-36-ford-chopped-sedan-zeke-05This photo shows the very nice body work on the moldedd in Chevy headlights and the splash pan.
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CCC-36-ford-chopped-sedan-zeke-06The four photos of the 1936 Ford from the Zeke Carrillo Collection.
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