CATS 48 CHEVY
Unexpectedly bumping into my Dream Custom Car on my first American Custom Car show during my 1994 USA trip
It was the early 1990’s, I was in my early 20’s living in Amsterdam the Netherlands. I had been very passionated about Custom Cars for about a decade and while it had been tough to find anything Custom Car related in the early years, things had been changed for the last few years. The Custom Car revival from the 1980’s had made it possible for me to find more and more material in the Netherlands. A few books had been published and an book store in Amsterdam carried several Custom Car related magazines. I had taken subscriptions to some magazines including Rod & Customs and loved avery Custom Car related feature in the magazine. I absorbed as much as I could and slowly the historic path of the Custom Car started to visualize in my head. You have to understand that all the 1950’s and 60’s magazines that you can buy now were not available for me at that time. Also there was no internet for the common people yet, so no google search to find any pictures or info on historic Customs.
I was very much into scale model car building and had started to get involved with an Tennessee based aftermarket company named Altered States. I started to create Custom Car related aftermarket parts for the 1/25 scale model car kits. Patterns of special hubcaps, taillights, side trim’s and even complete customized bodies that I would send off to the US so they could be cast in resin and sold on the US market. The owner of the company Chuck Mier and I had become good friends over time, communicating with mailed letters and sometimes on the phone (Long distance phone calls still cost a fortune back then).
Around 1993-94 I decided it was time for me to visit the US for the very first time, visit my friend Chuck and go to a Knoxville model car show to show some of my model cars, and to help promote my Custom Car model car parts. In the summer of 1995 I flew out to Memphis Tenn. stepped out of the plane and was surrounded by this hot damped humid blanket. I had never experienced this kind of weather, hot and humid… wow. I was picked up by some local Memphis model car friends and the next day we drove to Knoxville where they dropped me off at my friends place first, and later we went to the model car show that would be held the next day. It was really fantastic to finally meet Chuck and to go to my first ever big model car show. The trip was a great succes already and the four weeks in total would get only better. After the show Chuck took me on many rod trips showing me all kinds of fun stuff in Tenn. Chuck knew a lot of places where they had old cars in the fields which we all checked out. On one of our trips we went to Pigeon Forge, a rather touristic place. On our way there we noticed a few nice Hot Rods and Custom Cars. One of the cars I recognized from the magazines, it was BRS (Butch Rod Shop) from Dayton Ohio, they had this orange 1938 Dodge panel delivery shop truck. They were stopping for gas at the same station we just had some gas as well. We got out of the car and asked why they were in town and what all the other cars were doing and if there was some kind of meet or show going on in the coming weekend.
The BRS, Butch Rod Shop 1938 Dodge panel truck that we came across at the gas-station, and who would tell us about the next day Custom Car show. If we had not bumped into these guys we might have never found out about the show at all. I took these two photos of the BRS Shop truck at the hosting hotel parking lot.
Turned out there was a first annual KKOA Custom Car show organized in Pigeon Forge that weekend. Chuck had looked for car events to visit during my stay, and had not found anything interesting in the magazines. So this Custom Car show came as a complete surprise. We later heard they had not done a very good job on the communication and promotion of this first show. But apparently something had been written about it in a east coast custom car club newsletter, so fortunately for us quite a few custom car owners knew about the show. We asked for directions and even thought the show was going to be started until the next day, we decided to take a look anyway. WOW.. this was going to be my first ever US Custom Car show… I was very excited.
We found the locations, and as expected, nothing going on other than some officials and venders setting up. We drove off and cruised the main street in Pigeon Forge… when I all of the sudden saw something absolutely beautiful from the corner of my eye… it was just a split second, before my view was blocked off my a van we were just passing. I told Chuck to see if he could make a U-Turn as quick as possible since I thought I had seen an absolutely gorgeous Custom Car parked down one of the side roads. I think its a Chevy I had seen in an “recent” Rod & Custom Magazine. Oh boy if that is that car I think it is… After a while Chuck was able to turned the car and we drove back… I was on the tip of my seat, my head against the headliner to make sure I would not miss it on our way back. And there it was… The dark maroon teardrop shaped Custom sitting 200 or so yards from our street.
We drove up to the car and the closer we got… the more sure I was that my eyes had not deceived me, this was that stunning looking 1948 Chevy from the Rod & Custom Magazine. When I had received the December 1993 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine there was one photo inside that had jumped out to me. On page 20 there was a black and white photo of Glenn “The Cat” Patrick’s 1948 Chevy photographed at the NSRA Nats in Columbus, Ohio. And the car was absolutely stunning. Everything I could see in that small photo was absolutely perfect in my eyes. Custom Car Perfection…. and now I was going to be able to actually walk all around this car, check it out in detail and from every angle. And take photos of it… Oh boy!
I had studied that one R&C photo of Glenn’s Chevy for a long time, everything on that car was just so right in my eyes. The perfect amount of chop, the filling of the rear quarter windows, the use of the cleaner ’46 Chevy grille, frenched headlights, perfect stance and Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide white wall tires. I had never even thought about the possibility of seeing that car in person.
Glenn Patrick 1948 Chevy
When we came closer to the car it was cruising slowly to a parking spot close to section of town where a pick-up show was taking place that day. Glenn and a friend wanted to go and check out that show and were looking for a suitable parking spot where his Chevy could be parked and be seen by the people. Chuck parked his car close by and we got out, to go check out the Chevy. Of course I took my trusted 35 mm Minolta camera with me, but first I walked around the car, and stepped back and around it again to look at it from every angle. It was just so perfectly shaped. In the meantime Chuck started to talk to Glenn, asking him about the Chevy… and soon I would join. Chuck introduced me to Glenn as his friend and business partner all the way from the Netherlands.
Barris created two identical 1948 Chevy coupe customs for the High School Confidential movie. Filled quarter windows and a chopped top are similar to what Glenn did later, but the grilles on the Barris cars are different and so is the lack of white wall tires. Remember that these were movie cars, build in a matter of weeks and seen only in motion. One of the two cars was destroyed in the movie when it was rolled over in a race scene. The car was actually to heavy to roll over and was eventually dropped from a crane. The second car survived and is still around today.
On of the first thing Glenn mentioned about the car was that an 1948 Chevy Coupe, but that he had added the ’46 Chevy grille since he thought it looked much better. And how he was inspired by the High School Confidential Barris Kustoms created movie cars. He had seen the movie back in the 1950’s when it came out, and that car had had a lasting impact on him. Decades after he had seen the movie he came across a ’48 Chevy coupe and the plan came up to create his personal interpretation of the High School Confidential Chevy. Back then I had no idea how the original movie car looked like. Remember this was 1994, and the Barris Technique Books and the other Barris history books had yet to be published. Later in 1994 when I was able to get a copy of the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book I first saw the two movie cars Glenn had based his Chevy on. I like Glenn’s version better.
When we drove up to the place where I had seen that wonderful car from the corner of my eyes I found the Chevy I thought it was cruising slowly to find a parking spot. Seeing this car actually in person, and hovering slowly on the streets was absolutely magical.
Chuck checking out Glenn backing up into the parking spot. This was the first time I noticed the skull graphic on the fender skirt, I had never spotted that in the R&C photo. Not a fan of that, but the graphics were very popular in the early 1990’s. Glen spend a lot of time working on the door frame and getting it all to flow right and removed the factory stock indents.
Glenn had some magazines that showed some photos of the one original barris Chevies that had survived the movie shoot. He had studied all the lines on the car very carefully before he turned his 5-window coupe into the three window coupe by filling in the rear quarter windows. I think he succeeded very well in creating the perfect shaped heavy chop that gives the car a great, slight cartoonish feel. Glenn also decided to mold in the rear fenders for a more original Barris Custom look. The movie cars never had the rear fenders molded in. There was no need for that, since details like that would not show up on the movie screen. Glenn also smoothed the trunk, but left the chrome plated exterior hinges in place. A set of teardrop skirts match the shape of the rear fenders and the shape of the top. The two piece original hood was welded to a single unit, peaked in the center and relieved of all the emblems and trim for the ultimate smooth look.
After Glenn had parked the car we could take all the time we had to check it out. I was amazed how good it looked from every angle. Especially the filled in quarter windows made the car looks so streamlined and special.
Glenn did not like the grille set up on the movie cars very much, and also did not care for the over the top design of the stock 1948 Chevy. So he decided to back date the car with an more elegant 1946 Chevy grille. He lowered the suspension and added the correct size white wall tires and dressed the red painted wheels up with a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. The car was not sitting very low, with a very slight rearward drop which gave the car that wonderful hovering look it was was driven. Glenn bought a paint of Kustom Kraft dummy spotlights that were created by Bill Layman and are based on the shape of the Appleton S-112 spotlights that were popular in the 1940’s and early to mid 1950’s. The only difference is that these Spotlights have no interior handles and are therefor none-working. One everything was done Glenn painted the car in a wonderful shade of maroon.
It was one of the first cars, perhaps even the first car with correct shaped Spotlights. I had heard about the Appleton spotlights before, and seen them in photos, but never on a real car. Later I found out Glenn had used a set of Kustom Kraft dummy Spotlights. But those had the same shape as the Appleton S-112’s.
The shaved trunk, molded in rear fenders and molded Pontiac taillights with added blue dots looked so fine then, and still does today. Glenn used the ever popular ’49 Chevy license plate cover on a smoothed 48 Chevy bumper and large diameter exhaust tips.
Glenn’s Chevy also introduced me for the very first time to the perfect wheel tire combination for an late 1940’s early 1950’s styled Custom. It was like looking at art on a museum wall to me.
The day of the show we returned early to Pigeon Forge and it was really spectacular. Quite a few very nice Customs had already showed up early, and new cars arrived all the time. I could not believe the beauty on all these cars. We spend the whole day at the event, checking out the cars, talking to the owners, and making new friends. But for me the one that made the biggest impression and inspired me the most was Glenn’s 1948 Chevy. For me it represented everything I feel how a real Custom Car should look back then. My taste in Customs has changed, perhaps grown a little over the years, but overall I still think that Glenn’s Chevy is an extremely good looking custom, and I’m very pleased to have been able to see this car in person, be able to walk around it and talk to Glenn about his vision and how he created the car.
After having had some health issued Glenn decided in 2008 Glenn to let go of the car. The Chevy was bought by Jim Eckard from Glendale, Arizona who did a complete overhaul and added his own personal touches to the car. I had seen some photos online and to me the real simple beauty of the car is now all gone. The new owner added a lot of “Bling” as in 57 Cadillac hubcaps with painted bullets, ’59 Cadillac taillights, and a lot of totally out of place pin striping. Basically the cars beautiful lines are still all there, but now hidden by an overload of dress up. I did not want to show any photos of the car’s current state here since it takes away from the great impact it had on me in the early 1990’s. But if you want to see the car in its current state and read about the current owners ideas about the car then you can check out the Street Rodder Magazine ARTICLE on the Chevy on the Hot Rod magazine website.
I saw the car again in person in 2011 when it was at the Grand National Roadster show. But I was disappointed by all the added “bling” by the then current owner. I did not even take a photo of the car at the show. The car that made such an great impact on me in 1994 with its pure and simple lines was gone for me… In 2018 after the car had passed hands one more time the current owner has the car back For Sale again, and hopefully a next caretaker will bring the car back to the original “The Cats” 48 Style. To me Glenn “The Cat” Patrick had created the perfect 36-48 Chevy coupe.