Eldon Gibson’s 1940 Oldsmobile

“The Boulevardier”

By David E. Zivot

This is a most intriguing and nicely turned out custom. I first noticed it on an old Dean Batchelor California streets 1941-42 poster in my collection, as well as an early, in fact the very first issue of Rods & Customs from May 1953. Both featured fantastic photographs by Dean, a member in good standing of the “Throttle Stompers” out of Burbank. This 1940 Oldsmobile “C” body 4-door Torpedo parked languidly at the curb really stood out as a fine example of pre-War craftsmanship.

The May 1953 issue of Rod & Custom magazine showed the two photos of Eldon Gibson’s 1940 Oldsmobile for the first time.

When invoking the term “pre-War”, I mean any and all tasteful restyles that were accomplished from let’s say 1935 to August 1945, when hostilities ceased. Not just those built or modified before February of 1942. I make this point as the nature and style of this modified Oldsmobile was not uncommon during the latter half of those ten years. Especially from 1940, when most major auto manufacturers were now providing some very smooth, well-proportioned, and shall I say streamlined examples.


Dodge and DeSoto convertibles for 1940, of course the ’40 Fords and Mercuries, ’41 Buick and Cadillac, ’41 Ford, ’42 Chevy, were popular, and suited for properly thought out restyling. Even some Zephyr and Continental models, also including some Packard and Nash, were also modified with good results. Restyling and modifying, although less common, and in some instances restricted during the War years, was still being pursued, particularly on the West Coast.

Eldon Gibson’s Boulevardier at the curb in Burbank, CA, would have been just as at home at the curb in Manhattan, NY

It is this specific ’40 Oldsmobile 90 series of Eldon Gibson’s that I find appealing. I don’t know for certain if Mr. Gibson purchased it new, or perhaps he was the second owner, that got it at a substantial discount, owing to the purported fire damage that may have affected the interior and roof area, prompting the subsequent cut top and other minor but esthetic modifications. It could also be highly probable that whatever fire damage occurred might have only affected the bargain price, leaving plenty of dough for Eldon to proceed with the remodel he always had in mind. He may have been an employee at Modern Motors in Glendale, where the Olds was sold new. Or perhaps a friend tipped him off as to the car’s availability and later arranged for the work to be done at the dealership body and paint dept. This is mostly conjecture, of course.

Subtle and sophisticated.

What remains is that this near new Oldsmobile “Custom Cruiser” (official GM nomenclature for this model) ended up in the hands of one or more very skilled body and fender men that had the expertise and eye for a symmetrical and properly proportioned cut down top. The car has what Rik Hoving rightly defines as “balance”. In addition the difficult to accomplish top, which has the A-pillar leaned back, rear sail panels also slightly leaned forward, and I’m betting mostly metal finished with the minimum use of lead. A nominal all around lowering is evident, partial shaving of the hood, center strip and mascot, leaving only the Olds coat-of-arms intact. There might be evidence of the drip rails having been shaved, although difficult to determine from the few and extremely poor photographs that are available for examination. The rear deck was shaved, as were the chrome wind splits from the top of the headlight nacelles, chrome or polished stainless rear fender gravel shields have replaced the molded rubber ones. These and the tear drop fender skirts (same as ’40 Buick) were actually available direct from the dealer, as were the deluxe front grille guard and single driver’s side Lorraine spot. Even the notorious “Hollywood Flipper” hubcaps were offered in some of the more progressive dealer accessory displays. When this car was done, there were no restrictions on white wall tires, yet Eldon wisely stayed with black walls. Lastly, the only other minor mod would be the removal of the OLDS lettering from the grille. One would presume that the diecast front license plate frame proclaimed: “Modern Motors Burbank”.

Close up of the front.


Most commentary on this Oldsmobile have averred that the paint scheme was a stock dark blue/medium blue two-tone. I once had a discussion with Neil Emory, whose notable restyled Dodge ragtop was also featured in the earlier mentioned Batchelor poster, about the Oldsmobile. He remembered the car while attending Burbank High, and definitely recalled a two-tone dark and medium green paint job. There was another fellow residing in the Glendale-Burbank area that told me some fifteen years ago that the car still existed, and that he laid eyes upon it at that time. He relayed that the current owner told him that he “will keep it forever, and don’t inquire if it’s for sale”. Be that as it may, Eldon Gibson’s pre-War custom Olds will forever remain on my short list of favorites.

Beautiful stock 1940 Olds 90 series with dealer added skirts
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Albrecht Goertz 40 Mercury

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ALBRECHT GOERTZ 40 MERCURY

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Albrecht Goertz of Los Angeles, California designed a European influenced 1940 Mercury based Coupe in late 1939. Later Albrecht would become world famous designing BMW cars.

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The 1940 Mercury during final construction in late 1939. Obvious in this photo are the hand made body, the use of modified Mercury front fenders and Lincoln rear fenders with factory flush skirts.

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Albrecht Graf von Goertz, was born on January 12, 1914, the second son to an aristocratic family in Germany. His parents were Else and Rudolf Graf von Schlitz gen. von Goertz und Freiherr von Wriesberg. Albrecht and his two siblings grew up on their parents’ estate near Brunkensen (Lower Saxony), about 40 kilometers south of Hanover. At the age of five, he discovered a passion for cars that would last all his life. Goertz began designing cars from his youth.

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Francis Griffen, the builder of the car posing with the nearly completed car. The convertible in the back is an Auburn that was apparently owned by Gary Cooper, who wrecked it and the two bodyshop owners purchased it and repaired it.

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In 1934 he went to London and in 1935, Goertz applied to the American embassy at Grosvenor Square for an entry visa to the USA. In the autumn of 1936, he left Europe for New York City.

A distant relative in New York helped him when he first arrived, but soon the young Count relocated to Los Angeles. To earn a living, Goertz worked at a car wash, in a factory for aircraft engines, and at a flight service. The car aficionado watched with great interest the emerging Hot Rod era and grasped the opportunity in 1938. Goertz rented a garage and showroom located on Rodeo Drive and began to modify Ford Model A and B models. In 1939 he designed his first complete car on a Mercury chassis. the mostly new body for his car was done by Francis Griffen, who owned together with a co-worker, a very small body shop in Glendale, California. Goertz named his curvy two door coupe the “Paragon”. The car was exhibited at the 1939-40 San Francisco World’s Fair.

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Albrecht Goertz posing with the nearly finished Paragon.

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The finished Paragon Custom Car shows influences from European Coachbuilders with its flowing lines and curved dip on the belt-line.

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We do not know much about the body shop that was owned by Francis Griffen and a co-worker. And also not much on what was used on Goertz Custom Car. The only published information we have been able to find is that it was based on a Mercury frame. But how the body was constructed, if it was all hand made, or if body panels from other cars have been used, other than the Mercury front fenders and Lincoln rear fenders we do not know.

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Two small blurry images show the car in the early 1940’s.

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Front 3/4 view shows the beautiful falling down roof shape, the what appears to be Mercury windshield, rather flat body sides, and a very pointy hood. Beautiful styling.

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Later the car was repainted in a darker color, Here Albrecht Goertz poses with his car while in service.

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This photo appeared in the 1949 edition of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling. It shows the set in license plate , the really small rear window and use of Teardrop taillights, most likely from ’38-39 Lincoln, but they could be Ford units as well. The license plate looks to be a California 1945 unit.

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The front of the car shows the 1940 Mercury headlights, reshaped fenders and bumpers The grille was as far as we can tell home made in a homemade surround.

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The Albrecht Goertz Mercury was used in all 1949 and up editions of the Dan Post Blue book, as well as in a few other early 1950’s publications. And that is also the last we have been able to find out about the car. We have no idea what ever happened to this unequally restyled Mercury. The car had both coachbuilt as well as Custom Car influences and helped boost the automotive design career of Albrecht Goertz.

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Overview of the 1939-40 San Fransisco Treasure Island Fair were the Mercury was displayed for some time.

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The car was displayed at the 1939-40 San Francisco World’s Fair, but so far I have not been able to find any photos or movie footage of the car at this event. My guess is that a car like this in 1939-40 must have caused quite a stir. Somebody must know more about it…. Lets hope this article might lead to some more info about the cars history and whereabouts.

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Albrecht Goertz, who had worked for three famous designers by 1953, soon set up his own design business. Through his contact network, he got to know Max Hoffmann, BMW’s general importer in America. Hoffmann knew of BMW’s plans to build a big sports car and encouraged Goertz to contact BMW in Munich. Goertz sketched an awesome vehicle and quickly won the bid. In less than 18 months, he designed the BMW 507, the car that celebrated its world premiere in the New York Waldorf-Astoria hotel in 1955. At the same time, Goertz designed an elegant coupe that was also available as a convertible: the BMW 503. This four-seater debuted with the BMW 507 at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show, where both automobiles caused a sensation. Even today, the BMW 503 and the BMW 507 are considered absolute dream cars. Sporty, elegant and also cultivated, they represent the core attributes of a BMW car.

Albrecht Goertz at work at the BMW design department.

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Special thanks to Keith Griffin for supplying some of the unique images from his fathers collection.

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1945 San Francisco Customs

 

1945 SAN FRANCISCO CUSTOMS

 

Northern California had a very active Custom Car Scene back in the 1940s. Bruce Heather shared some photos of unequally Restyled Nor-Cal Customs from 1945 with us.



Bruce Heather shared some really interesting pictures of Early Customs from his Collection with us. The photos was all taken around 1945 in San Francisco, and where given to Bruce by Harry Costa. Harry Coast is the owner of a channeled, chopped and padded topped 1941 Ford with raised fenders that has been a show winner in the California Bay era since the mid 1950’s. Harry still owns the car in 2018.

The Custom Car in Nor California, and around the Sacramento and San Francisco, Bay area has been together with So-Cal a very important place in the history of the Custom Car. Southern California, and especially Los Angeles was perhaps the best known area for Custom Restyling. The better weather had a lot to do with this, plus the fact that the early car magazines were mostly published from Los Angeles, therefor it made perfect sense to feature mostly local cars. These So-Cal Customs were perhaps of that better documented, more photographed than in other places.

Nothern California did house some of the very best Custom Builders. Harry Westergard, Les Crane, Dick Bertolucci, Hall Auto Tops, and George and Sam Barris came from there before they moved to Los Angeles during WWII. All these fine creative builders in Northern California had a huge impact on the scene, and in the last couple of years more and more pictures from this Nor-Cal Scene have surfaced.

The first photo shows a very interesting ’36 Ford Cabriolet. Interesting restyling includes, narrowed running boards, reshaped fenders, ’38 La Salle grille mounted low on the filled in front section. The lower half of the grille was split in half and placed along side the main grille. Chopped windshield with an non Ford windshield added. Lowe angled b-pillar padded top, single bar flipper hubcaps and custom script on smooth hood sides.
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1938-39 Ford Coupe milder custom uses smoothed and filled in hood sides, aftermarket sealed beam headlights, ’37 DeSoto bumpers, single bar flipper hubcaps, Appleton Spotlights and fender skirts with Buick skirt trim added. Anybody recognizes the building in the background?
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Mild Street Custom 1936 Ford Coupe with a bit lowered suspension, teardrop fender skirts and single spotlight.


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1939 Ford Convertible

There were four photos of the same 1939 Ford Convertible in the collection Bruce received from Harry. A very interesting Custom, with a lot of Custom Restyling and and a lot of body work. Most of the Customs created in the early to mid 1940’s were rather mild, with minimal amount of body work to get the right result. But there were a few exceptions that might have set the bar for the future generation of Custom Cars. We know that Harry Westergard created some heavy body worked customs in the early-mid 1940’s. George Barris was very much influenced by what Westergard did, so he took the heavy restyling style to Los Angeles. This ’39 Ford however is restyled by an unknown body shop or Customizer, in a way that shows whoever created it sure had some sense of styling, and creativity.


Front 3/4 view shows the removal of the running boards and special below the body panel to hide the frame rails.
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The whole body is smoothed in a very unique way. The complete belt line has been filled in from the hood all the way to the back of the car. The fenders have been molded to the body, the running boards have been removed and the fenders extended down to fill the section where the running board used to be. A filler panel was created to fit under the body to hide the frame rails. The stock grille was removed and a filler piece created that would allow a bottom section of a 1940 Dodge grille to be installed. he headlights were replaced by body color painted 1940 Ford units.

The windshield frame was chopped a few inches, and a medium colored padded top with very nice flowing lines added.  The flowing lines of the padded top make me feel that the tom might have been done by Hall of Oakland. The two part stock hood was welded solid and completely smoothed. At the rear a lot of effort was done to create an ultimate smooth body. The molded in fenders have a very smooth transition due to the molded in belt-line.

The grille looks to be the lower section of an 1940 Dodge grille set into custom reshaped front sheet metal. The Bumper looks to be a 1942 Packard unit with 1942 Studebaker bumper guards added.
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Rear 3/4 view shows the beautiful lines of the ’39 Ford with its smooth rear end, flowing lines of the medium tint padded top and chopped windshield frame.
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The trunk or rumble seat was welded shut and smoothed creating one large body panel for the complete back of the car. The only details are the set in license plate and the stock teardrop taillights. The stock bumpers front and rear were replaced with what looks like 1942 Packard bumpers mounted a bit closer to the body than stock. At the front 1942 Studebaker bumper guards were modified to fit the Packard bumpers. The rear one was left smooth.

The photo from the rear shows that the fenders were molded to the body, and the complete trunk, or rumble seat cover was welded and smoothed to make it completely smooth.  square hole with very small radius corners was cut into the rear for a behind glass set in license plate. The rear bumper also looks to be 1942 Packard, but no bumper guards were used.
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Typical for the era the door handles remained on the car, also typical are the single bar flipper hubcaps and black wall tires due to the rubber shortage during WWII. The car was painted in a dark color, and most likely turned heads were ever it went. Most likely daily transportation for its owner. These are the only photos I have ever seen of this car, I have checked all my early publications, but there is no photos of it anywhere as far as I can tell. Any of our readers knows more about it?




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Marvin Lee 42 Chevy

 

MARVIN LEE 42 CHEVY

 

Marvin Lee of Pasadena California Restyled his 1942 Chevy Fleetline AeroSedan when the car was brand new in 1942.



1942, the last year the major US Car Companies brought out a new car model. Production stopped around February that year, and it would not be until after WWII, in 1946 before they would start production again, and introduce new cars. Everything a Hot rod and Custom Car guy would need to turn their every day driver into a hopped up or Restyled driver was rationed, all tools, supplies and most man (and woman) were needed for war production.  This however did not stop Marvin Lee, from Pasadena to restyle his brand new 1942 Chevy Fleetline AeroSedan. The 1942 model was most likely produced in late 1941.

1942 Chevy Fleetline AeroSedan from the factory brochure.
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The car is relatively mildly restyled, with its most obvious modification the filled in rear quarter windows, and the removal of most of the car’s chrome. The end result of the car is one of the best know “ration customs” and despite the early year, we can be very fortunate that several photos of the car have survived. Many thanks to Dean Batchelor and Spencer Murray for taking those photos and hanging on to those all these years.

The side profile of Marvin’s Chevy shows the nice lines of the top after filling in the rear quarter windows. And to make it work as good as it does, the drip rails were removed, and the rear top door corner was rounded to follow the shape of the door side window.
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Marvin Lee’s 1942 Chevy was a typical Custom for the WWII period. Created with the limitations of the time. There was rubber shortage, so there were no white wall tires available, chrome plating parts was not an option either.
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The real unique details about the Marvin Lee Chevy is that the car was nearly completely de-chromed. With that it was way ahead of its time. Most Customs from the early 1940’s still had most of their chrome, with perhaps some hood and trunk pieces removed, but on Marvin’s Chevy all the side trim was removed, and even though the door handles remained on the car, they were painted body color to make them less obvious. It does look like the stance of the car was not changed much, perhaps it was lowered a little, but not much. Due to the restrictions the car had black wall tires, possibly the stock units from the factory. And it looks like it was dressed up with some early single bar flipper hubcaps.

We do not know if Marvin did all the body work on the car himself, or if a local Pasadena body shop might have done the work. David Giller mentioned Marvin had worked at Coachbuilding shops in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s as mechanic and painter. Filling in the rear quarter windows, removing the drip rails and rounding the door top corners are not easy tasks. Especially if there where no tools, or supplies available as they used to be. We have heard stories that body shops collected and melted down fishing sinkers to use for body work. Perhaps that was what was used on Marvin’s Chevy as well.

From this rear 3/4  photo we can see how smooth the body was done. The shaved trunk, removal of most of the chrome and flush factory accessory skirts make it look ultra slippery. The car ran on black wall tires, since there were no white wall tires available, or perhaps it was by choice to make the whole effect even more dramatic.
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Dean Batchelor wrote a 3 page article in the May 1953 issue of Rod & Custom magazine about Pre-War Customs, and included 2 pictures of Lee Marvin’s Chevy.
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The only photos we have been able to locate of the car are from around 1942, nobody seems to know what happened to the car after that. Due to the time the car was created, it was never featured in any of the magazine, but the images taken in 1942 were used multiple times in different publications as a sample to show how Custom Cars during WWII looked like.

If any of our readers knows anything more about Marvin Lee’s Chevy, has more photos off it, or knows what happened to it after 1942, please send us an email so that we can add it to this article.



About Marvin Lee

by David Giller

Marvin Lee was a longtime Hot Rodder and had a background in Customs too. I did some research and found he worked at the famous Bohman & Schwartz Coachbuilders (Pasadena) in 1938 as an Auto Painter, and in 1940 at D’Arcy Coachworks in nearby Alhambra as an auto mechanic. I suspect he could have done the custom work on his Chevy himself. He later also ran fast cars at the Dry Lakes and Bonneville Salt Flats. In 1949 at El Mirage dry lake he had the streamliner entry with a Class record at 153.545 mph. Marvin Lee went to Bonneville in 1950 with a new enclosed body streamliner using a Horning GMC six. One of the first full body enclosed cars at Bonneville. Also called The City of Pasadena. That car spun and flipped at 230 mph. Only minor injuries to the driver “Puffy” Puffer because the car was so well constructed. Story is that Lee gave up on streamlined cars after that. I didn’t know until recently that Marvin Lee was one of the founders of The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) along with Wally Parks.

Marvin Lee was later involved with new car dealerships in the Pasadena area. Died in Newport Beach in 1994 at 80 years of age.

Marvin Lee’s 29 Model A, which burnt complete and a color photo of the City of Pasadena in 1950. Marvin Lee is bending over the car with his red and white sweater.
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Left to right are: Bill Spalding, Wayne Horning, Marvin Lee and Tom Spalding. (from Tex Smith’s Hot Rod History Book One by Tom Medley)
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My college roommate, Dave Graham, was from the Pasadena area and in 1956 or 1957 we were over at the Pasadena City College campus on Colorado Boulevard. Adjacent was a Bob’s Big Boy Hamburger restaurant. Dave noted the used car lot next to Bob’s and said it was Marvin Lee’s lot. Lee sold customized cars, all stick shift and well known by the local young car guys. Dave said he was sometimes known by the local car guys as “Starvin Marvin”. This specialty sale lot much the same as the famous Andrews and Evans dealership in Burbank which, oddly enough, was also next door to a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant on San Fernando road. Marvin Lee’s lot was at 1650 E. Colorado, the main street through Pasadena. I have been by there many times over the years.

By my experience, these two specialty dealerships usually had a good inventory of clean later model cars, mostly Ford or Chevy, with various levels of customizing – from just a nice set of Glasspak duals, lowering and chrome Moon wheel covers (no flippers) to some cars with additional quality repaint, pin striping, custom tuck and roll interiors, often other special body work and more. Then there were the occasional full customs by Barris and other shops, maybe earlier show or magazine feature cars plus a couple of finished Hot Rods – Roadsters and Coupes. A real candy store to young guys with some saved first job money to spend. Or just a cool free car show.

Dave Graham had a custom 1950 Mercury while we were roommates and he later decided to live at home in San Marino and drive over to school. He then had a very nice slightly custom 1957 Chevy two door coupe.
I should ask him if he bought it from Marvin Lee or if Marvin ended up with the Custom Mercury.

There were several ads like the one shown in this article in the Pasadena Star News paper from 1956 though 1960. Some advertising about the lot and customizing of the cars for sale and others listing some stick shift cars for sale.
My guess is he established the “Custom Car Lot” about 1954 or so. In 1951 he was a salesman at a Pontiac dealer in Pasadena and also in 1949. By 1963 appears he was at other Pasadena new car dealerships like Cadillac, possibly as the owner or a partner. Have not found any car business information for him after about 1966 but he still lived in Pasadena.

This is an ad ran by Marvin Lee in the Pasadena Star-News Oct 25 -26 1957. Sorry it is hard to read.
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The Phantom Corsair

After doing the research on the Marvin Lee ’42 Chevy and Marvin’s personal History David Giller could not help think about the 1937-38 created Phantom Corsair for the Heinz family. And how, in a way, similar this car looked like Marvin’s Chevy. Here are some thoughts about this from David.

History of the Early Custom Car

An extraordinary special, one off, custom car of the prewar period was the “Phantom Corsair” designed by owner Rust Heinz of the Heinz Foods family. This on a Cord front drive chassis. I saw this car at Harrah’s museum many years ago and I think also on special display at the Pebble Beach Concours about 1990 or so. Spectacular car and design and unlike anything else up to that time. Lots of photos on this car on the internet or perhaps you have some file photos or even an earlier article on it. When I compare the Marvin Lee Chevy custom details to the Phantom Corsair I see real similarities, especially the closed top line and angle, the fitted skirts, lack of body chrome and impact of the black color.

Maybe just wishful coincidence. Except….

The Phantom Corsair was built by Bohman and Schwartz Coachworks in Pasadena in 1937-1938. Marvin Lee was employed at Bohman and Schwartz in 1938, listed as an “Auto Painter”  there in the Pasadena City Directory. So very possibly, or likely, he was the original painter and did metal work on the Phantom Corsair. Did it influence his 1942 Chevy Custom?

Best Regards,

David Giller




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Light Color Early Customs

 

LIGHT COLOR EARLY CUSTOMS

 

Most of the time we think of dark painted cars when we think Early Style Custom Cars. But there were actually quite a few light color Early Customs. Lets take a closer look.

I guess that when somebody asks you to visualize an early Custom, from the late 30’s up into the lat 1940’s, you most likely end up seeing a dark painted Customs in your head. During these Early Golden Years of Custom Restyling the dark deep organic paints, perhaps with a hint of bronze metallic powder dominated the scene. Colors based on dark hues from General Motors, mixed with darker toners, and clears, applied in multiple coats to create extra depth were often considered trade marks for some of the best known builders. These dark and deep colors enhanced the new body lines, showed off the excellent body skills these crafts man had. These dark colors were a perfect way to show off how perfect they were in blending body panels, every flaw in the body work would show up with these mirror gloss dark colors if not absolutely perfect.

But there were exceptions… There were a good number of Early Customs that were painted with light colors. I think that using lighter colors on early Customs has its origins – as many other elements in the history of Custom Restyling – in the Coachbuild or Exotic High-End cars. Quite often. These early coach build and high-end cars had very bright vibrant Colors, to set them further apart from the showroom models. The same thing could ave been done with early Custom Cars, the light, bright colors made them look even more different that the mostly dark colored cars that came from the factories. Clark Cable’s ’35 Duesenberg is one of the most famous light colored cars that comes to mind.

Clark Cable’s 1935 Duesenberg, a huge car, looked even larger with its light color.
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And perhaps Hollywood had something to do with the lighter colors as well. A few of the early Custom Restyled Sports Customs created specifically for the movies were light colored as well, as this Topper movie car for the movie featuring Constance Bennett and Cary Grant.
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For me personally I have always thought that the Custom Cars from my favorite era, the late 30’s up to the late 40’s looked the very best in very dark deep organic colors. But for the past couple of years I have started to really enjoy some lighter colors on these early customs, both from vintage photos’ as well as for more current creations clearly inspired by the original early Customs. The ’36 Ford Roadster created by Altisimo and the 37 Chevy created by Paul Cepeda and a few years earlier a beautifully mild early 440’s styled ’39 Mercury convertible are just a few samples of recent created light colored Early styled Customs that have made a huge impact.

The Wes Collins / Al Marx 1934 Ford roadster with DuVall windshield and Padded top was originally painted black, but in the later part of the 1940’s repainted in a light color, making the car look a lot taller.
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Perhaps the best known light colored early Custom Car is the off white painted chopped ’36 Ford for Bob Pierson.
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During the restoration of the Jimmy Summers / Bob Fairman ’36 Ford Coupe the team found what they think is the light color that can be seen in the black and white photos we know of this car. One of the very few samples of actual light colors used on the early Customs that have survived. We will be showing these samples when the progress on the restoration of the Fairman Ford continues. (1942 photo.)
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Frank Sandoval’s 1936 Ford Coupe looking fantastic in a light color.
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Late 1940’s photo shows 1936 Ford 5-window coupe with the rear quarter windows filled in, narrowed grille and 1940 Ford headlights mounted on the front of the modified ’36 Ford fenders. And painted in a light color, making the car look classic, and taller than it really was.
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Unidentified ’36 Ford Roadster with V-Windshield, removed running boards with stainless panel covering the frame, DeSoto bumpers and a light painted body with dark accents on the door tops, possibly to make it look like a “dip”. (1947 photo.)
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Jim McKinley’s ’36 Ford Coupe must have looked stunning with its 20 hand-rubbed coats of light cream lacquer and contrasting fire engine red grille, wheels and backs of the DeSoto bumpers.
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This heavily chopped ’36 Ford Sedan went thru several versions, first one done in the later part of the 1930’s was with dark paint and a white canvas covered top. Later, in the 1940’s the car was redone with a metal top, and new light colored paint. This photo was taken during, or shortly after WWII.
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Jay Everette’s 1936 Ford four door with chopped top and filled in rear quarter window.
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In an phone interview Jesse Lopez ones told me that when he was working with Sam Barris on his 1941 Ford Coupe he thought about painting the car in his all time favorite color, light pale yellow. And he was very serious about actually painting his to be iconic Custom Car that color. But in the end, he decided to got the more common, route and find a dark organic color. Imagine what might have happened if Jesse had painted his car in a light color. The Coupe was very well known in the late 1940’s up into the mid 1950’s. Could have had the car just as much impact with the light color, or perhaps it could have resulted in many more light color painted customs in the later part of the 1940’s…. who knows.

Sadly we do not have many early color photos of these light colored Custom Cars, so we do not know much about which colors or hues were used, or if special effects as bronze or silver or even pearl powders were involved. We know that all these special products were available at the time., so it is quite possible that the Custom Car pioneers experimented with these products. But more than likely these lighter colors were mostly based on factory colors, perhaps specially mixed to suit the car even better.

Unidentified 1937 Ford convertible with dark colored chopped padded top, set in license plate, and bubble skirts.
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Another unidentified ’37 Ford convertible with chopped windshield, smooth hood sides, Appleton Spots, lowered stance, custom hubcaps and white wall tires looked very good with a light paint job. The tarp on the back indicates the top might have been white.
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Restyled ’37 Ford coupe made into a pick up in 1938 when the car was brand new.
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This photo is very interesting since it shows an ’37 Ford four door convertible with aftermarket Auburn style exhausts coming out of the hood sides. This indicated that the owner was looking for an more exclusive look for his chopped convertible. Perhaps that was also the reason for his choice of a light color on the main body, and a dark color for tthe top and above the belt line.
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I really love this photo of this ’38 Ford convertible on the streets in the 1940’s. light paint, light padded top, white wall tires… Classic.
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Very similar restyled ’38 Ford convertible as the one above, but it is a different car photographed during WWII.
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’39 Ford convertible with chopped windshield, teardrop skirts, black wall tires, single bar flipper hubcaps, ’37 DeSoto bumpers.

Coachcraft build 1940 Ford in 1940 with a mostly hand build body which was painted in a light color, that might have been silver.
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Mildly restyled 1940 Mercury Coupe that might have even been its stock color, possibly Sahara Tan.
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Another Coachcraft restyled car is this 1941 Cadillac with later grille and beautiful fade-away fenders, V-Windshield and padded top had a very classic look enhanced by its light color.
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1941 Cadillac owned by Paul Dallmeier was restyled in the late 1940’s, and updated with a light color in the early 1950’s. Light color on a huge car making it look even bigger.
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Unidentified custom ’40 Chevy convertible with chopped padded top and wide hand made grille looked really good painted in an unknown light shade.
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Possibly based on a 1942 Nash Convertible, this unidentified wild custom was also painted in a light shade. But since the Carson top looks lighter, the color has to be darker than white.
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Al Twitchell’s 1941 Plymouth is one of the few color photos were have found of the early restyled Customs with light colors. Al did all the work on the car himself, including the light baby blue paint.
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This 1940 Chevy 4-door is a milder custom, but still has some very nice body work going on with the shaved doors and removal of trim. Unsure is if the original light color was touched up on the body worked sections, or if the owner choose an an all new, light color for his custom restyled Chevy.
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From the Julian Alvarez Collection comes this light colored beautiful mildly chopped Lincoln.
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Chopped windshield, white padded top by Gaylord’s and light painted, most likely factory stock color that was matched on the windshield and hood.
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One of the cars that really got me into appreciating the light colors on early customs is the Murray 1939 Mercury mildly restyled convertible. Which was very inspirational, and refreshing to me after being used so much to all the dark organic painted customs.
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Two other cars that were done recently that got me inspired for this article are Paul Cepeda’s 37 Chevy painted pearl pale yellow, and the ’36 Ford restyled by Altisimo. The later one being more traditional, but Paul’s Chevy very inspiring because it is a coupe.
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Ohio Early Custom Cars

 

OHIO EARLY CUSTOM CARS

 

Dayton Ohio has been a huge Custom Car scene from the very early beginnings. In the 1940s young guys took trips to California to learn all about the latest Customizing trends.


In the past ten or so years I have talked with Dayton Ohio’s Jim Skonzakes (aka Jim Street) about the Custom Car scene in California, as well as the to him local Dayton Ohio Scene. Jim Explained that he and some of his friends traveled from Dayton to Los Angeles several times a year to absorb the Custom Car scene on the West Coast, and bring back home the original West Coast style of Custom Cars. Some even bought local Californian Custom and drove them home to Dayton, others replicated the style as they had seen it.

A recent article in the Rodder’s Journal issue 78 by Curt Iseli around the Jim Walker photo Collection, reminded me about some of the stories Jim Streets had told me. And it especially reminded me about a series of old Dayton Ohio photos of local Custom cars I had come across many years ago on ebay. When I met Jim Street for the first time in 2010 he showed a photo of an 1941 Ford Convertible he build in the mid/late 1940’s. When I saw the beautiful 1948 photo of the car, I told Jim I had seen pictures of his car before. (I never realized it was Jim’s though) Jim looked at me strange and said how, and were? the car had never been shown or features in a magazine. I told him that I had seen it as part of a series of photos on ebay, and shows him the sample I had saved. He remembered quite a few of the cars in the photos of the collection. But since I visited Jim about the Jack Stewart Ford, and we were on a tight time scheduled, we did not discus it any further.


A series of mildly restyled Dayton Ohio based Customs from the late 1940’s, early 1950’s.
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In later conversations Jim always mentioned how much he loved the Custom Car scene in California, and how much he would have loved to move there. But his parents business prevented him for making the step. So he had to settle visiting the Sunny State a few times a year.

When looking at the photos I had saved from the decade old ebay auctions and the photos in the Curt Iseli article on the Rodder’s Journal #78 (highly recommended). I keep wondering about the style of these early Dayton Ohio Customs. How close the style of these 1940’s and very early 1950’s created Customs are. Hoe much the Ohio Customs look like those created in California, where the style was born and developed.




Very nicely done 1940 Ford convertible with chopped windshield and matching padded top. Removed running boards and aftermarket stainless rock shield on the skirted rear fender. Hubcaps is missing.
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Low mounted Lincoln Zephyr taillights and Custom Bumpers look good. Jim Street told me that some guys drove their restyled cars to have the padded top made in California, but others used local upholstery shops for it. Jim preferred to have the work done in California at first.
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This coupe with heavily restyled front end looks to be based on an 1946 Plymouth.
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I have always wondered, and sadly I have never really asked this to Jim when he was still alive, how the Ohio Car enthusiast found out about the Custom Car Scene in California. This was long before the first Car Magazines would start writing about Custom Cars. I have always wondered if perhaps WWII might have had something to do with it. Perhaps some Ohio guys were shipped off to California to do their military or Navy training there. Or perhaps car crazy guys brought photos of their Custom Cars along with them when they were shipped overseas and showed them around. to the other guys. Inspiring guys from all over the US, including Ohio. And when the guys made it back home after the War they would start building cars based on what they had seen in these photos. Or perhaps start making the trips to the West Coast to see the Custom Car scene in person. its just a theory, not sure if it happened that way or not.

It does look like there were quite a few people from other States that made the trip to the California, to check out the Custom Car scene there. And just as it is today the Ohio, and especially the Dayton Ohio has a very strong bond with Custom Cars. These early photo’s show that the California clean Custom Restyling ideas were copied pretty close. I wonder if any of our readers from the Dayton Ohio Are remembers any more stories of the guys making the trips to California. Or perhaps driving up and then returning with a Custom.




Typical Street Custom on the streets of Dayton Ohio… Mildly dressed up.
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’39 Ford Convertible with removed running boards, but without a filler panel under the body, so the frame is now exposed. The spare tire is perhaps more Dayton Style than California. Making this Custom an interesting mix in styles.
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The windshield was chopped and it looks like the working soft top was modified to fit the new lower profile. The headlights appear to be aftermarket sealed beam units. Single bar spinner hubcaps on black wall tires.
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Not all the Customs in Dayton Ohio were influenced by the smooth and clean California Style. As this early 10’s GM Coupe with La Salle grille shows.
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A mix of styled is evident in most of these cars in this set of photos as well.
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1939 Ford looks to have extended down quarter panels and doors after the running boards were eliminated. ’46 Chevy bumpers and again an visible spare tire.
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Mildly restyled Lincoln with Ford bumpers, and simple cleaned up and dressed up ’41 Ford Convertible.
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Just as in California the ‘convertible models were very popular with the custom crowd. 1939-40 Ford convertible with the running boards removed, rock shield on the rear fenders with teardrop skirts. The one of the right has ’41 Ford bumpers and both cars had large mud flaps on the front fenders to keep the paint damage to a minimum.
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Really nice looking with the shaved body, newer bumper, right stance, with wide white wall tires and Custom Hubcaps.
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Classic looking street customs with just the right amount of touches to make them look really interesting. These Dayton Ohio photos could have been taken in California as well.
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1939 Ford Coupe, shave trunk custom hubcaps, teardrop skirts and a bit lowered suspension. Parked in front of Brandy Body Shop. So far no info has come up about this body shop, and if it was responsible for this car, and perhaps more in this series of photos.
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Full Custom 46-48 Ford convertible with chopped windshield, padded top, lowered, smoothed, frenched headlights, grille made from 1951 Pontiac components and ’49-50 mercury bumpers. A very well done Custom looks to be photographed at a local Dayton Ohio race car event.
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The 46-48 Mercury seamed to be rather popular with the Dayton Custom guys as well. Several mildly restyled samples are included in this series of photos. And I have to say these cars do look really great with the right amount of Custom touches.
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’46-48 Ford and mercury Custom Convertibles both have the perfect speed-boat stance.
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Beautiful Californian style Ford Convertible with all the right late 1940’s touches.
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Jim Skonzakes (Street) was fortunately to have a good job at his parents dry-cleaning business, o he always had some money to spend allowing him to have some really cool cars from the mid 1940’s and up. The ’41 Ford Convertible was built in Dayton, but his ’49 Buick was created mostly at the Barris Shop during one of his many trips to California.
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Jim Skonzakes ’41 Ford was both radical and subtle. Extended down doors and rear quarter panels to fill the space from the removed running boards, ’46 Chevy grille and overall smoothing. We will do a full feature on this car at a later date. Jim drive this car several times from Dayton to Los Angeles
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The ’47 Ford sedan convertible on the bottom must have been created from a four door sedan with a convertible cowl. The top two customs show that removing the running boards was very popular in the Dayton area in the later part of the 1940’s. Just as it was in California.
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Oddly restyled 1948 Chevy sedan with the top cut off and a new windshield added. Cut down doors with an unique paint job is far from the typical California look. The Cord on the bottom is nice and subtle.
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A ’41 Ford Sedan mild custom in progress. Notice that the hood trim was cut, but the holes had yet to be filled.
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Close up shows the 1951 Ohio Plates. The half moon chrome headlight covers was an aftermarket product that was especially popular outside California.
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The owner used a smoother 46 Ford bumper at the back. I wonder if it ever was finished with nice gloss paint.
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’48 Ford convertible with some mild restyling. The taillights were removed, and holes filled, ’48 Chevy taillights are now mounted below the trunk. Side trim has been removed and Spotlights added.
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The trip from Dayton Ohio to Los Angeles was around 2500 + miles on mostly two lane roads back in the 1940’s and early 1950’s when these guys took those trips.
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Channeled 36 Ford

 

CHANNELED 36 FORD

 

Another Mystery Custom is this channeled 36 Ford that probably was restyled by Don Clark. The car has been owned for over 30 years by Doug Hall, and it now in the 3 Dog Museum in Pennsylvania.



This is one of those cars they has been on my mind for a very long time. It clearly is an old Custom Car that was either done in the 1940’s or in the early 1950’s. It is best known from the time it was owned by Doug Hall who drove it around for over 30 years in California and showed it at Paso Robles and other well known Car Shows in the 80’s and 90’s. I have been trying to find out as much info on this one as I could, but most people I asked about the car, do recognize it, have seen it in person, but do not know anything about its history… another mystery custom.

So this is not a complete story… and hopefully with the help of the Custom Car Chronicle readers we will be able to find some more puzzle pieces in the history of this Custom ’36 Ford.

Update May 22, 2018.
With the help of Anthony White and “Stilo 1971” we have been able to add a bit more history to this car. Some parts are still a bit vague, but we are getting there.


The ’36 Ford with ’40 Ford front end how it looked in the early 1990’s.
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At the rear we can see the removal of the character-line that extended from the original belt-line, how the rear fenders were molded to the body, and the use of 1940 Ford bumpers and 38-39 Ford teardrop taillights.
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I first learned about this Custom convertible in the 1990’s, when it was owned by Custom Car enthusiast Doug Hall who owned the car for many years. He drove the car to many California Car Shows in the 1980’s and 90’s, and I had seen it in a few of the magazine features on the shows he drove the car to. To me the car had this beautiful, 1940’s look painted metallic copper orange with white padded top, white wall tires and what appear to be home made large size single bar flipper hubcaps. The car had that nice kind of rough look to it, the pure feeling that those early Customs have. With the sectioned ’40 Ford front end, the removal of the “delicate” ’36 Ford belt line, which made the body sides look more aggressive. Not much was mentioned about the car in the publication I saw it in, only that it was an older custom.

A couple of years later I came across a old photo of a the car in the Don Montgomery book Hot Rods as they were. The car’s features are so distinctive that this must be the same car in the photo provided by Dr. Bob Atol. The photo caption in the Montgomery book did sadly not mention anything about who owned it, or who had created it. Then later I came across a photo of the car in the Spring 1963 issue of Popular Customs magazine. The car has changed a little since the early 1950’s photos, but was still very recognizable. The photo in the Popular Customs magazine showed two show signs with the car, and most likely these would mention the owner at the time, and perhaps even the builder, but sadly I have not been able to read any of the the text on the signs.

The best info on the Ford Custom o far comes from the 2012 published book East vs West Showdown book done by Joseph Alig & Stephen “Spike” Kilmer. In the book it was mentioned that Dr. Robert Atol (the same person who provided the early 1950’s photo for the Don Montgomery book) knew the car very well, had driven in it many times and was good friends with the guy who build the car in the early 1950’s.

According to the book the car was built by Don Clarke a perfectionist from the Pasadena Ca. area. He created the car for his own personal use are regular car. And he later sold it when he moved on to another passion.




The Early versions

The earliest photo we have been able to find of the ’36 Ford is this one from Dr. Bob Atol, used in the Don Montgomery book “Hot Rods as they were”. It shows that the car around 1952-53, was sitting on motor cycle front tires, had no louvers in the sectioned hood, used a ’40 Oldsmobile bumper with what appear to be ’46-48 Chevy bumper-guards, a dark color painted lower hood section, which continues on the two side grilles. the car had small size spotlights mounted on the A-pillars. Sadly the photo caption did not say much of the car, or who owned it, and created it.
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About the Restyling.

The car started live as an 1936 Ford Convertible, or Cabriolet. The body was channeled over the frame, and the body top section was cut off at the belt-line. The top of the cut down doors were reshaped and rolled to become the new, much lower top of the doors. The top hinge had to be moved down a few inches. The rear quarter panel tops were reshaped and the trunk metal welded in the new lower position. The character line from the belt-line all the way to the back of the car was eliminated in the process. The complete front of the car was removed and the cowl, hood and front fenders of an 1940 Ford were crafted on. The cowl had to be sectioned to fit the new lower body.

The hood was sectioned a few inches to fit the cowl, in the process the two hood halves were welded together and a slight peak was added. The belt-line was removed from the rear of the hood so that it would flow nicely with the new body shapes of the rest of the body. The front wheel openings were raised to make sure the front wheels could still turn. All four fenders were welded to the body and molded in to create one smooth body shape. 1940 Ford running boards were adopted to fir the ’36 Ford rear fenders. According Dr Atol all the metal work was done flawless all hammer welded metal, with nearly no lead used. The photo caption in the Don Montgomery book mentioned that the car had a set in license plate back then. Either this info was incorrect, or the hole was later filled. When Doug Hall bought the car there was no set in place on the back.

The windshield of the car was chopped a few inches and a padded top was created for it. Dough Hall, who would own the car from the 1970’s always thought it was an original Carson Top, but there is no proof for that since there never was a interior tag in the interior. The oldest photo shows that Don Clarke finished the car with 1940 Oldsmobile bumpers detailed with 1946-48 Chevy bumper guards. Below the ’40 Ford headlights some parking lights were mounted, which were oddly mostly covered by the ’40 Oldsmobile bumpers, perhaps indicating an earlier version with a different bumper up front? The photo also shows that the car used narrow motor cycle tires in the front, we are not sure why this was done. The rear fenders were dressed up with teardrop shaped bubble fender skirts, and small cone shaped moon hubcaps and small size Spotlights complete the restyling. We have no idea how the interior was finished.



Owned by Doug-McNaughton

Some time in the early to mid 1950’s Doug McCaughton from Alhambra Ca. bought the ’36 Ford. We are till working on the details and exact times, and hope to fill in this part of the information soon. Doug shared some photos with Stilo 1971 that showed that car with the early parking lights below the headlights, and some new 46-48 Ford bumpers added. At that time the car was partly in primer, but the distinctive dark color on the side grille followed over the hood sides is still there.

Doug owned the car for a good number of years, and at one point in the late 1950’s early 1960’s the car was damaged at the front in an accident. Doug redid the front end and ended up painting the car in a nice baby blue.

The earliest photos Doug had in his album appear to come from the first half of the 1950’s. The car is partly in primer now, the bumpers have changed to ’46-48 Ford units, but the dark paint detail on the side grille and hood sides is still the same as we can see in the photo from the Don Montgomery book.
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A bit closer on the above photo shows a ’49 Mercury in the drive way that was owned by Doug’s father. Doug had a sales receipt in his photo album for a ’49 Mercury that was dated Marc 28, 1956. That might mean that this photo was taken around 1956.
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Working on the repair of the front end of the car in July 1960. One day Doug fell asleep while driving the Ford, causing the damage.
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Apparently at this time Doug also decided to create a lift-off top for the car. Looks like he as using a coupe, or sedan top from a donor car. None of the photos we have seen so far shows the top in place. Another things we hope to get more info on soon.
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McCaughton posing with his freshly redone ’36 Ford convertible with ’40 Ford front end. Notice that there are no hood louvers. Those were added later.
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3/4 front view of the baby blue version. This is the same version as how it appeared in the Spring 1963 issue of Popular Customs show below.
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A rather bad quality photo, but it is interesting since it shows the white and light blue interior with dark blue carpets. It also shows that there is no set-in license plate at the back at this time.
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Doug McCaughton proudly showing his scrap-book with the ’36 Ford photos in 2018.
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Photo in the Spring 1963 issue of Popular Customs. By then the car had changed a bit, the bumpers were replaced with 1940 Ford units, the fender skirts had been removed, the running boards upholstered, the spotlights removed as well as the front fender mounted parking light. The car had been repainted.
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Doug Hall owner for 30 years

In the early 1970’s Doug Hall was able to buy the ’36 Ford from an collector in the Pomona Ca. area. The car looked amazing, but did not come with any info on who had owned it before the collector, or who had originally created it, and when. From what we have heard the car was in very good condition when Doug got it in the early 1970’s. But Doug thought it sat a little to high, so he lowered the suspension and did some work on the ’51 Oldsmobile engine that was in the car when he got it. Doug also added new fender skirts and Appleton Spotlights. Since the last photo from the 1963 publication the hood had been louvered, most likely to make it easier for the Olds engine to cool. At this moment we are unsure if the car was already painted bronze, but as far as we know it was. Doug would drive the car frequently and enter it at several California car shows in the 80’s and 90’s.

I have added this photo of a near stock ’36 Ford convertible to be able to compare the Custom version with.
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Side profile shows how low the car is, with the channeled body, the cut down ’36 Ford doors and rear quarter panels, the sectioned ’40 Ford hood and radiused front fenders. The windshield was chopped just the right amount for the optimal proportions with the padded top.
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It is amazing that they were able to get that ’51 Olds engine to fit the super low car.
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This is how most people remember the ’36 Ford… parked with the hood open at the 1980’s and 90’s California outdoor events.
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Doug Hall drove the car regularly, and its low profile looked stunning on the road.
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3 Dog Garage

After having owned the ’36 Ford Custom for over 30 years Doug Hall decided to let go of the car. With the help of a car broker the Custom found a new home at the 3 Dog Garage privately owned museum in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. The car has been part of their collection ever since, and is on display in the same shape as it was when Doug let it go. The car is however starting to show its age. The trunk had a dent, and the peak of the hood on the front is also dented.

This is how the Don Clarke ’36 Ford is now sitting in the 3-Dog-Garaga in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. The car is well used, I guess very much like the Custom Cars looked back in the 1940’s when these cars were the only way of transportation for most owners. (Along the way the front of the hood was dented)
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This photo shows the reshaped rear were the wrap around belt line had been completely removed from the back as well. It also shows how nicely the fenders were molded to the body. And it shows another dent.
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Interior uses a modified ’36 Ford dash with bold white pin-striping. Not sure when the race car type steering wheel was added.
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When Doug Hall bought the car it came without the teardrop skirts that were on the car originally. (but already missing in 1963) Doug added an aftermarket lipped skirt and lowered the suspension for an more dramatic look.
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A closer look to the huge diameter single bar flipper hubcaps. They appear to be handmade units, but I have no idea when they were made, or by who.
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If you have any information on the Don Clarke 1936 Ford, or perhaps some old photos from pre 1970, that would shed some more light on this mystery Custom, please Email Rik Hoving here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to add any new information to the story to make it as complete as possible. Thank you.


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Altissimo 36 Ford Roadster VENUS

 

36 FORD ROADSTER VENUS

 

Brandon Penserini from Altissimo Restoration in Napa California set out to create his ultimate Hollywood Style 1936 Ford Roadster. Starting with an 5 Window Coupe he used his excellent skills to create this award winning Venus Roadster.


( Sponsored Article )

In the summer of 2016 I saw a few photos of Brandon Penserini’s 1936 Ford project for the first time. Brandon owns the Altissimo Restoration Shop in Napa, California and he had recently finished Scott Robert’s beautiful Olive green 1954 Mercury. A Custom I helped pick the color for, which was beautifully matched by Altissimo. So I was really looking forward to see any new projects coming from Brandon’s Shop. The photos of the ’36 Ford Roadster Project really caught my eye because of the combination of Nash grille and DuVall style windshield. An absolutely beautiful combination, which I had never before seen combined on one car. Plus Brandon mentioned several times on his Instagram account that the car would have a lot of Hollywood Style Art-Deco influences…. I could not wait for new updates!


Brandon had some beautiful glamor photos taken of his ’36 Ford with some beautiful Napa area backdrops creating a very much Hollywood style setting. This low angle front 3/4 view shows how beautiful all the styling elements used on Brandon’s 36 Ford come together. The light cream color was very much inspired by some of the ’30’s Duesenberg’s and Cadillac’s created for the rich and famous.
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Over the following month I followed the progress of Brandon’s ’36 Ford online, and saw it getting shaped from once a 5 window coupe parts project to a stunning looking ’36 Ford Roadster with many one off Custom Restyled elements. Slowly Brandon shared more and more details of the car he was creating for himself in his spare time at the shop. The car was going to be created as if it had been restyled for perhaps an Hollywood movie star back in 1937. As if it had been ordered from one of the Coachbuild companies so Bohman & Schwartz, or Darrin, or perhaps from early Custom Car Icon, George DuVall. Brandon mentioned several times that the goal was to debut the car at the 2017 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona California. In late 2016, just weeks before the show it was clear that Brandon had to work many late nights to be able to get the car finished in time for the show. But he did make it in time, and the car debuted at the 2017 GNRS and was a HUGE success with the crowd.

During the creation of “Venus”, which is how Brandon named his project ’36 Ford Roadster, he tried to use as many vintage and period parts as possible. All in an extreme high concourse quality manner. He sourced the perfect color braided wires for all electric wiring, he hand made wire looms, and the all hand made wood dash with hand machined brass dash knob bases is absolutely stunning.



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FOR SALE

Brandon has decided to let go of his dream car 1936 Ford Roadster “Venus“, so that he can concentrate on a next project.

This is your chance to own a totally unique, extremely well crafted Hollywood style Concourse Quality ’36 Ford Roadster Custom.

Asking Price: $60,000 obo

Contact Brandon Penserini for more information and offers.

Phone: 707-225-4714
Email Brandon

Altissimo custom paint & restoration
120 Tower Rd. #3
Napa, CA 94559

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Lets hear from Brandon Penserini in his own words how he created this stunning Hollywood Style Custom ’36 Ford.

Venus started her life as a 1936 Ford 5 window. The body was neglected and was partially disassembled, presumably abandoned for a parts car until my friend picked it up for a project. He accumulated many original parts- many original FoMoCo. But plans changed when I convinced him to trade the car to me, as it was destined to become an Early Custom Car, resembling what would have been done during the 1930’s.

Rear quarter view by Trent Sherrill shows the extended rear fenders, hand made early style fender skirts, reshaped De Soto bumper, the “gentelman’s trunk above the regular trunk, and the spare tire cover which also houses the gas filler.
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Beautiful bird’s eye view photo showing the cockpit with the hand made wood dash, the home made V-Windshield and the Plante upholstered interior. PearlCraft in Australia did their magic on the pearl finish on the ’37 Ford Banjo Steering wheel, the gauge cluster and dash knobs.
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Some of the styling of this ’36 Ford was inspired by its bigger cousins, namely Packard, Duesenburg, and the larger Chryslers and V16 Cadillac Roadsters of the same era. In the 1930’s owning a full time “open car” was a pure luxury. Most Custom Roadsters did not have tops, as they were intended to be a fair weather only car and were likely one of many in the owner’s collection. The body of the ’36 Ford was very short in comparison to the Packard or Cadillac roadsters, which would prove to be the biggest challenge of the build. The result of Venus is a stunning, Bohman and Schwartz inspired 30’s styled roadster-a believable example of what would have or should have been done when coachbuilding was at it’s peak.

All of the sheet-metal, body and paint was done at Altissimo Restoration– an award winning shop, who does well at both a concourse setting and Custom Car Show scene. They win top honors every year and are especially praised for their paint work. They have won the highest honors, including the Bailon award, Custom of the Year and countless other awards including best of show, best paint and high scores at Pebble Beach.

Chris at Plante Interior did the beautiful in style upholstery in mahogany leather. The trunk of the car is done in the same style.
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Pearl wrapped 37 Ford Deluxe steering Banjo steering wheel and dash knobs. The dash’s instrument cluster was inspired by a ’36 Mercedes and has a pearl insert and utilized a 1934 Plymouth gauge cluster. The dash itself was handmade from Claro black walnut burl by Brandon. All of the bezels were made in house as well out of brass stock and turned and polished to perfect.
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Altissimo chopped the top off and created a Packard/DuVall style Custom Roadster windshield frame, which was hand made. The cockpit area was created by ending the body at the first style line, which lowered the profile and gave a sleeker silhouette and creating an illusion of a longer body. Essentially, the body line rolls into a bathtub style surround and a beautiful and seamless entry into the interior of the car. There is no channel, seal or glass to disrupt the flow of the body. Also, added was a second truck, which in 35 Cadillac called a “gentleman’s trunk”- a small trunk behind the cockpit, where the gentleman might store his ladies coat and purse.

The rear fenders were lengthened and both front and rear fender peaks were accentuated. Custom fender skirts were made, as well as Cadillac inspired louvered hood sides. The grill and surround is a ’40 Nash, the fender halves were molded to create a one piece nose, like the Duesenburg. The taillight are ’37 Chrysler on Plymouth stanchions. The exterior trunk handle was fashioned by hand. The wheels were finished with custom made baby moon flippers, similar to a 1934 Cadillac V16 roadster. The ribbed bumpers are original DeSoto, re-arched to match the 36’s contours and custom brackets made to sneak them close to body. The spare tire cover has a flipping hubcap that accommodates the fuel filler neck to disrupt any external body lines.

Stunning stitch work in beautiful leather by Chris Plante at Plante Interiors. Notice the beautiful finished wrap around section on top of the doors and dash.
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Brandon wanted to have as much Custom made as possible for the unique Coachbuild feel. He hand made the walnut dash and hand turned brass switch bezels for this unique one of a kind “Venus” dash.
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1937 Ford Banjo steering wheel beautiful restored, re-plated chrome and with that sparkling pearl detail finish by PearlCraft.
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Moving to the interior, one instantly notices the pearl wrapped 37 Ford Deluxe steering wheel and dash knobs. The dash’s instrument cluster was inspired by a 36 Mercedes with a pearl insert and utilized a 1934 Plymouth gauge cluster. The dash itself was handmade from Claro black walnut burl. All of the bezels were made in house as well out of brass stock and turned and polished to perfect.

The interior seats panels and all of the trunk areas were custom made and covered in a mahogany colored Italian leather. On the floor, you’ll find Lebaron Bonney’s wool, with edges bound in the same leather and custom floor mats. Both trunks are finished to the same quality as the cockpit. All interior work completed by Chris at Plante Interiors.

Photographer Trent Sherrill has the perfect feel to capture each car he photographs in its essence. Model Adriana Modabber poses with Brandon’s Hollywood style Custom ’36 Ford to give it the just perfect movie star feel.
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Brandon found a pair of ’37 Chrysler taillights and mounted them on Plymouth stanchions to create the perfect taillights to fit to the extended rear fenders of his ’36 Ford.
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The narrow 1940 Nash grille was flipped upside down to work better with the lines of the ’36 Ford. The grille surround was hand shaped and welded to the fenders for a much smoother look. The enhanced peak on the fenders, the v-shape of the Nash grille and the V-Windshield all work together for the well balanced Custom. The headlights are stock ’36 Ford, but mounted a little lower on the fenders.
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All of the bright-work and chrome plating was done by Sherm’s Custom Chrome and Plating, in Sacramento. Venus rolls of BF Goodrich Silvertown bias plies and is powered by a beautifully balanced and restored Ford Flathead 8BA in front of a Ford C-4 Automatic Transmission. Under the hood, you’ll find a Power-Gen alternator, a single black Stromberg, custom cloth wiring loom and ignition wires- everything is tidy and in show condition. It has a functioning choke, lots of copper and brass accents and a unique ignition wiring loom wrap.

Venus is stunning inside and out. She can be driven, shown or displayed in a winery, showroom or collection. While she was intended to be a custom from the 1930’s, using all period parts where applicable, she was built at a concourse level. Venus has been featured in Kustoms Illustrated, Traditional Rod and Culture, on the cover of Gasoline Magazine and shot for two others. In addition, she has won Best Paint, Custom D’elegance, and finalist for Custom of the Year.

Extended rear fenders, custom early styled fender skirts, Chrysler taillights, re-arched De Soto bumper and home made brackets for the just perfect bumper to body gap.
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Beautifully balanced and restored Ford Flathead 8BA. Power-Gen alternator, a single black Stromberg, custom cloth wiring loom and ignition wires- everything is tidy and in show condition. Not shown in the photo is the Ford C-4 Automatic Transmission.
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The Venus in its natural habitat. (Deadend magazine photo).
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This photo shows how the rear De Soto bumper was reshaped a little to work better with the spare tire cover and extended rear fenders. The new Roadster like body line created by Brandon flows perfectly around the cockpit.
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Any angle on “Venus” is breathtaking, but the front 3/4 view like this is my personal favorite view of Brandon’s ’36 Ford. Everything just works so wonderful from this angle.
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This dead-on front view shows how elements work together, from the v-shaped flipped upside down ’40 Nash grille, the ribbed De Soto bumpers, the Custom hood sides and the V-Windshield with the custom hood trim. Notice the turn signals sitting behind the horn grilles.
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Venus at its 2017 Gran National Roadster Show debut.
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Eric Reyes Lettering, Striping and Custom Painting created the stylish Show Sign for Venus.




How Venus was created

The Brandon Penserini Altissimo ’36 Ford Roadster was created from an ’36 Ford 5-window Coupe. Designed and build by Brandon as if it could have been restyled at one of the famous Coachbuilders in the later part of the 1930’s. Possibly for an Hollywood celebrity who wanted something ultra classic and stylish to cruise the beautiful sunny California roads back in the day. Brandon’s 1936 Ford Roadster named Venus was created at Brandon’s Altissimo Shop. It was Brandon’s personal project worked on mostly by himself in his spare time at the shop. But Brandon likes to thank several people for their support and help during the project. Special thanks go out to; Scott and Holly Roberts, John Aiello, Chris Plante, Rich Olivier, and the rest of the Penserini family.

This is how the project started, a ’36 Ford 5-window parts car project. Nice, but not really what Brandon had in mind.
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The project started with some frame work, and then it was time to remove the 5-window coupe top from the belt-line up. Brandon hand shaped a new roadster style cockpit surround.
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The cockpit surround was hand made from sheet metal styled after the ’36 Ford Roadster, but also at more high end roadsters which had a more wrap around surround. Notice the nicely finished door ends. In this photo the cowl section still had to be shaped.
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The flipped upside down ’40 Nash grille, new surround, Chevy hood sides and home made v-windshield mocked up.
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The hand made v-windshield with matching hood trim, and lots of vintage details thru-out the creating of Venus.
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All body work on Brandon’s ’36 Ford was metal finished till perfection before the primer was added.
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During the light cream paint process.
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The baby moon flippers, inspired by the early v16 Cadillac roadster are all made in house and beautiful plated at Sherm’s Custom Chrome.
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The engine in Brandon’s ’36 Ford is beautiful detailed and period perfect and painted dark brown to match the interior color
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Fresh plating from Sherm’s ready to get installed on the freshly painted Roadster. Each car created by Brandon’s Altissimo’s Shop gets an unique plaque installed on the firewall.
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Brandon completely hand made the ’36 roadster dash. Custom walnut burl, chrome and brass bezels and a 1933 Plymouth cluster.
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Perfectly styled and balanced ’36 Ford Roadster… VENUS.
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FOR SALE

Brandon has decided to let go of his dream car 1936 Ford Roadster “Venus“, so that he can concentrate on a next project.

This is your chance to own a totally unique, extremely well crafted Hollywood style Concourse Quality ’36 Ford Roadster Custom.

Asking Price: $60,000 obo

Contact Brandon Penserini for more information and offers.

Phone: 707-225-4714
Email Brandon

Altissimo custom paint & restoration
120 Tower Rd. #3
Napa, CA 94559

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Illinois Mystery Custom 40 Ford

 

ILLINOIS MYSTERY CUSTOM

 

Very interesting Custom 1940 Ford Convertible restyled in the very early 1940’s in Illinois. Who was the builder, and who owned this Tail Finned Convertible.



Over the years I have written a lot about Early Custom Cars, the importance of them, and how these early Custom Cars have influenced the style of Custom Cars we see today. Articles based on old snapshots, family albums, photos of cars I found online and photos shared by friends and CCC-Members. I have noticed that in my article, especially on the Early Customs Cars I most often use photos of California based Custom Cars. Generally we accept that the Custom Car, as we know it, was born in sunny California, and because of that the majority of the Early Customs Cars were created there. Possibly the year round good weather also allowed people to take more photos of the cars they owned, or saw on the street, making sure the California Custom Cars were better documents than those in other States.

Even early on there were Custom Car enthusiast that created Custom Cars in other states as well. Possibly influenced by photos shared by West Coast family or friends, or perhaps from trips to the West coast. And more than likely also because Car enthusiasts outside of California had the same urge to own cars styled after the European Couch-build cars, or those from Movie Stars from California, that might have appeared in national magazines or news papers. I always enjoy when new old photos of early Customs surface, and it might be even more sepcial to find new interesting and nicely restyled early Custom Cars from outside of California.

This article is about a series of photos I came across on eBay, over a period of years. The first ones I came across in 2012, and then another on in 2015, 2016 and one a few month ago in 2017. It was not until I send the last one to a friend that I all of the sudden realized I had seen the car before and went on a search in my digital Car Files. I found 7 photos of the same car, all offered on eBay in different auctions. The oldest one, from what I can tell in the pictures was taken in 1941, and in other photos I can make out a 1943 Illinois license plate.

The oldest photo of the car shows a 1941 Illinois license plate. The car has black wall tires (at least on the front) and a black top, in this photo it was impossible to see if it was a padded top of working soft top. The line on the side of the body looks to be a 3D side-trim, but could also have been painted on.
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About the Ford

So far I have not been able to find anything on this car. None of the photo came with any info on who could be the owner or the builder of this car. So hopefully this Custom Car Chronicle Article will lead to some more information on the car. The only things I know about this car is from what I can see in the picture.

As mentioned the oldest photo shows an 1941 Illinois License plate. It is one of the later photos I came across. It is where the two guys are working on the car with the hood open. Could this perhaps be at the shop that created the car? In this picture we can see that the car has a chopped and laid back windshield. The soft top bows were cut down and reshaped to fit the chopped windshield, and they managed to create a really nice flowing working soft top. the running boards have been removed and a filler panel to cover the frames below the body has been added. The lower rear section of the front fenders have been reshaped.And the rear fenders have the hole left from the running boards filled and a stainless rock shield was added.

In 2016 I came across this nice snapshot showing the ’40 Ford at the beach (Possibly at lake Michigan). There was no info on the photo, and I cannot see any license plates in this photo. No way to correctly date this one, other than 1941 or newer due to the 1941 Cadillac in the photo.
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In this snapshot we can see a military guy, that could possibly be the owner of the car, together with his girlfriend, or wife. The car now has a 1943 Illinois License plate, and the front tires look to be black walls, while the rears appear to be white walls. This photo shows the peeked hood and v-shaped grille to match the shape of the hood really well. I came across this photo in 2012.
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What is especially nicely done on this car is the grille. At first I though it was a modified 1940 Chevy grille, or perhaps 1940 Buick, but after I compared the grille with the other photos I have I came to the conclusion that the grille must have been either completely hand made, or created from 1940 Buick parts, but a lot of work was put into it to make it work with the Ford hood and fenders. The stock Ford bumper has been replaced with 1937 De Soto units.

The rear of the car shows a very nicely and elegant done shark fin. Most likely influenced by something seen on European Coachbuild cars, or perhaps it was Batman influenced. The car also had a nicely set in license plate in the trunk, just below the fin. This photo, as well as the one above show that the top was actually a cut down working soft top. Notice the angle on the windshield frame. Taillights are stock and the gas filler is on the stock location.
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This is the most recent photo I came across, in 2017. A military guy getting in, or stepping out of the ’40 Ford. It shows a later year steering wheel, front black wall tires and white walls in the rear, indicating that this must have been in, or shortly after WWII.
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The car has been mildly lowered all around and the stock hubcaps have been replaced by Single bar flipper ripple disk hubcaps. At the rear an interesting shark find has been added to the center of the trunk. Something like this I have seen on several European Coach-build cars, so most likely this was influenced from those. Or another thought is that perhaps the Batman Comics might have inspired the builder. Below the fin they added an set in behind glass license plate. The exhaust was modified to dual pipes, and at the rear the stock bumper was also replaced by an ribbed 1937 DeSoto unit.

Possibly taken in front of the house the owner lived in. This snow covered photo makes it look like the top is covered with light material, but it could also be just snow. It shows the car with fender skirts added. And it also look like the side trim, or painted on effect has been removed. It is also the only photo that shows the car had a single spotlight. The car parked behind the Ford on the left side appears to be an 1942-48 Oldsmobile.
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Another photo in the show from the back. The snow has covered up the set in license plate completely. Dual exhaust pipes under the ’37 DeSoto rear bumper.
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I really would love to know more about his car, who was the owner, and who was the builder. And since the car is looking so good, were there more Custom Cars created by this builder? Hopefully some of our readers will know more. Please contact us if you know more about this Early Illinois Custom, or perhaps you have other photos of other Custom Cars that you like to share here in the Custom Car Chronicle.




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Bob Fairman 36 Ford Restoration

 

BOB FAIRMAN FORD RESTORATION

 

After sitting in a field left to the elements for year. The iconic Bob Fairman Jimmy Summers chopped 1936 Ford with fade away fenders is finally getting restored.


In the Spring of 2009 some photos of the Jimmy Summers / Bob Fairman 1936 Ford Custom sitting all rusted away in a field in Ohio, were shared on the internet. It was big news at the time that another early Jimmy Summers created Custom Car had survived. Even thought it seemed to be in a very poor state, left over to the elements for years, it was still amazing to see. And we all wondered how this once trend setting Custom could have been in such a state all the way on the other side of the US, from where it was created.

How the Jimmy Summers Ford sat in a field in Ohio in 2009.
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In the full Story on the Bob Fairman Ford on the Custom Car Chronicle we did in December of 2016, we have gathered as much information as we were able to find. And it was quite an amazing story. The best part of the story was that the car was eventually pulled from the field and that it was destined to be restored. Good New! But then years of silence about the Fairman Ford, some people said that the restoration had started, others mentioned it was just sitting, but inside, not deteriorating any further. Then in October 2016, the rusted remains of the Ford plus a few gathered parts were offered for sale here on the CCC. Due to legal issues the then owner had to stop the sale, and the car “disappeared” from the radar again. Legal issues sometimes mean, we will never see it again.

This is how the Bob Fairman ’36 Ford originally looked like back in the early 1940’s.
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On October 19th 2017 we received an email from Jim, that he had some great Custom Car News he wanted to share with us. Very excited, we had to wait another day to find out what this Great Custom Car News was. The News was that the Bob Fairman 1936 Ford restyled by Bob and Jimmy summers in the late 1930’s or very early 1940’s has a new owner, and that the restoration of this iconic Custom has started..




We let Jim tell the story.
“So after trying to buy this car for years, I was finally able to close the deal and acquire it. It is rough for sure but very much restorable. One of the coolest things about it is that the car is way more complete than anyone thought.
Included with the car were the original bumpers, front fenders, hood tops and sides, nicely preserved original chrome garnish moldings (apparently stored indoors), and the original fender skirts.

Upon finally getting it in our possession we were able to discover some of the coolness, like the fact that Jimmy removed and smoothed out the body bead that surrounds the rear bustle of the car around the trunk And the way he fabricated the original door poppers which are still amazingly intact. The amazing craftsmanship of Summers work is absolutely outstanding.”

This is how the Bob Fairman/Jimmy Summers 1936 Ford sits in October 2017. All the parts that came with the car put back together for the first time in many years. A set of new wheels and white wall tires mounted give a good feel for how it once looked.  As Jim mentioned there is a lot of rust, and a lot of metal is gone, which will take time to restore. But its not impossible, and the good thing is it is far more complete than he had thought.
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The ’41 Ford bumpers have the chrome plating completely stripped from being in the field for so long. This photo shows how the fade away panels are separate units bolted to the body panels, just like the original fenders, and not welded and molded in like most customs had.
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Close up shows the restyled work from Jimmy Summers and Bob Fairman on the character lines, and how the rear license plate was set it. The plate most likely sat in a small box mounted behind the opening.
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It feels so amazing to see the car back on its feet again, and knowing that the restoration team will do its magic to make it look just like it did when the car was freshly restyled  75+ years ago.
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Close up shows the reworked front fenders and ’37 – ’38 Ford headlights that were added. The front section of the drivers side hood has been completely rotten away, and will need to be replaced.
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This photo of the car that Jim send gave me goose bump all over… It is so good to see the car back again. Most of the lower sections of the fade away fender panels are gone as well, but it can and will all be fixed according to Jim.
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Lots of rust on the drivers side door fade away panel. The lower sections were sitting in the dirt for a number of years. The restoration team will try to keep as much from the original car as possible during the restoration.
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This is such amazing news, to see new photos of the Bob Fairman – Jimmy Summers 1936 Ford now owned by Jim who will completely restore the car to how it looked in the early 1940’s. See the car sitting of four wheels, with all of the remaining parts put back on the car again.  We cannot wait to see more progress on this Iconic Jimmy Summers Custom. Jim also mentioned that they found some of the original paint left on the inside of the car… So wild!

Thank you Jim for saving this historic Custom Car for future generations to enjoy, and to share it here on the Custom Car Chronicle.




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