Westergard classic 36 Ford

CLASSIC WESTERGARD FORD

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One of the finest Harry Westergard build early style custom cars is Jack Odbert’s 1936 Ford convertible.

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Original article from 2013, updated with Color Photo in July, 2020.

When I was about 20 years, I first saw a photo of Jack Odbert 1936 Ford convertible in the Best Hot Rods booklet (published by Facett Books in 1952). I totally fell in love with this one photo, that was shown in the chapter: “Album of Best Hot Rods”. The car reminded me of the bright yellow and white 1936 Ford, that Possies Hot Rod shop had built in the early 1980’s. The Best Hot Rods booklet listed Jack Odbert from Sacramento, California as¬†the owner. But the name of the builder was not mentioned.

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1952 photo of Jack’s 1936, shows the wonderful speedboat stance of the car. It also shows how all the custom elements on the front of the car work together to create an unique classic look.

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Many years later I found a copy of the 1957 Trend Books Custom Cars annual, and in this there was a small article called: “Remember when”. In this article, two more photos of this stunning 1936 Ford convertible were shown. The car had been build by the Granddaddy of Early Customizing: Harry Westergard. Something I had already assumed, but now it was confirmed. This 1957 Annual showed a dead on front and rear photo. Both new photos showed this was a very well designed, and grafted 1936 Ford Custom Car.

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The 1941 Oldsmobile bumpers have a lot more body than the original Ford bumpers. These new bumpers fit close to the body, and the stock cut out at the center fits the LaSalle grille perfectly. The long over-riders give the front extra height.

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The Oldsmobile rear bumpers are perfect for the back as well where the heavy end sections flow well with the Fords fenders. The chrome surround on the set in license plate help with the classic feel of the car.

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Recently, perhaps a year or so ago, I came across a copy of the July 1984 issue of Classic & Custom magazine. This magazine has a two page article on Harry Westergard, and shows a few photos of the custom cars he created. And two of the photos show Jack’s 1936 Ford indoors. One nice front 3/4 view, and one partly shot from high up, inside a car dealer showroom in Sacramento, where a small Hot Rod and Custom Car show was held.

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Overview photo of the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer showroom. In 1950 there was a small Custom car and Hot Rod show, and in this photo we can already see 4 or 5 padded topped customs. At least three of them can be identified as Westergard Customs.

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As far as we have found out, there has never been a real proper feature done on Jack Odbert’s ’36 Ford, not back in the day, and not recently. In fact I have never even seen any other photos of the car, other than the ones shown here in this article. We have not been able to get in contact with anybody who knows what ever happened with the car, or knew Jack Odbert or his car. To me Jack’s Ford is one of the best ever Harry Westergard customs. The classic thin, high nose, padded topped convertible, looks so much more classic, and expensive than the original Ford it was based on, ever looked.

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Bryan Rusk shared this snapshot of the ’36 Ford Cabriolet from the Donovan Welch Collection. 

We also do not know exactly when the car was built. Some of the looks indicate the car might have been just after WWII. The earliest photo we have seen of it is however from 1950, when it was photographed at a local Chevrolet dealer showroom car show in Sacramento. The newest parts we can find on the car, are from 1947.

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This photo was also taken at the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer. It shows the car with 1950 black letters on yellow plates. It also appears that the skirts have been decorated with 1941 Buick trim pieces. Note that the small diameter spotlights are pointing forward.

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Garry Odbert shared this wonderful color slide of the Jack Odbert 1936 Ford. The photo was taken at the Sacramento Autorama. Possibly in the 1954, or 1955. Look at the color!

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Lets take a closer look at the customizing Harry Westergard performed on this car.
Larry chopped the windshield frame, and had a padded top made for it. Most likely done by the Hall Top Shop. Harry removed the stock grille, reshaped the opening to accept a 1937 LaSalle grille. The grille looks like it was made for the car. Even the bull nose, and chrome trim on top of the hood looks so perfect with the grille. Harry added some unidentified – longer than stock – headlights, and modeled them half way into the front fenders. This in combination with the tall, and narrow LaSalle rille, gave the illusion that the hood is now much higher than it originally was.

New smooth hood sides replace the original louvered units. The former small grilles on the horn openings in the front fender were reshaped to accept 1947 Ford parking lights. The stock bumpers were replaced by 1941 Oldsmobile units. These bumpers have a wonderful Art Deco look, and the thick end sections fit the Ford fenders perfectly. Harry kept the tall bumper guards which fit perfectly with the LaSalle grille up front.

At the back, the stock taillights were removed, and replaced with what appear to be low mounted 1946-48 Ford units, or perhaps 1940 Chevy units. The rear panels below the trunk were modified to accept a set in license plate, which was detailed with a chrome plated surround. This surround echoes the shape of the mail slot window in the padded top. The suspension was lowered bit for the perfect ride height, and set of black wall tires were detailed with Sombrero look alike, after market hubcaps.
Harry added spotlights, but smaller than the regular Appleton S-122 or S-522’s. He also shaved all the handles from the body, and most likely installed electric door openings.

We now know that the color of the car was an ultra brilliant gold metallic. Hopefully this article will generate some more talks about this car, and hopefully some of the older enthusiasts know more about it. If we do find out more, we will add it to this article.

Resources and more info
Best Hot Rods, Facett Books 1952
Custom Cars annual 1957, Trend Books
Classic & Custom magazine, July 1984

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3+

1950 Sacramento Autorama

1950 SACRAMENTO AUTORAMA

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The Capitol City Auto Club, better known as the Thunderbolts organized a two day Auto Show in 1950. Held at a Sacramento Chevy dealer the show hosted 23 top class Customs and Hot Rods.

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Special thanks to Lawrence Fears.

The title of this article is 1950 Sacramento Autorama, which is not precisely accurate. But, many people refer to this small 1950 Auto show organized by the Capitol City Auto Club “Thunderbolts” as the first Sacramento Autorama. Hence the name of this article.

In 1950 Car Shows was still brand new. The first of these shows were held just two years earlier. The Sacramento Custom Car and Hot Rod scene was very active, a lot was going on, rod runs, street drag racing, and some of the countries leading Customizers had their shop in or around Sacramento. The Capitol City Auto Club better known as the “Thunderbolts” had a great number of high quality cars in their club. Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian was one of the club members and president of the club. He was one of the leading forces in organizing this first Sacramento Auto Show.

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The club members just wanted to know who had the nicest car among them. What better way to find out during a Car Show. Plus they really wanted to show off their cars, and not just at the local hang out places, but at a nice indoor event. The Capitol Chevrolet Company dealership at 13th and K Streets in downtown Sacramento had the perfect space for the show the members had in mind. In total the club brought together 23 cars this first show. And among these 23 cars there were some top Customs and Rods. The cars displayed at the show represented the high quality, and creative minds of the Nor Cal car builders. Custom builders Harry Westergard, and Dick Bertolucci were well represented at the show. Of all the Customs, many had been based on convertibles and all had Hall of Oakland Padded Tops. According different sources the two day show drew between 500 and 1000 visitors.

The show was held on November 4th and 5th, 1950. Saturday from 3:00 P.M. until 10:00 PM and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. until 10:00 P.M. The admission was 60 cent. The story goes that the entrance had to be kept below a certain amount, because otherwise everything had to be done official and Federal Amusement Tax would have to be paid. This first show was not about making money, it was about having a good time for the attendees as well as the visitors.

There were two trophies awarded.  One for Best Custom Car and Leroy Semas won the Custom Class with his 1937 Chevy. Burton Davis won the Best Rod with his 1931 Ford Roadster.

Rod Dust newsletter dated November 1, 1950. This was the issue that mentions the first Sacramento Auto Show in 1950.

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Local newspaper from Friday November 3rd, 1950 announcing the Sacramento Auto Show.

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On the top right we can see Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford,  #5 Lawrence Brocchini ‚Äô31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield, Vern Haversack 1927 Model T with track nose with #11,  #1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, and on the left is #19 Harold Casarang’s ‚Äė25 Model T. bottom right shows the #14 of Jack Odbert’s 36 Ford, behind it the engine and front of #15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford 5-window.

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Show overview

The nice thing about the Capitol Chevrolet dealer ship location is that there was a second floor, from where some nice overview photos could be taken. These overview photos show that this small show was jam-packed with the best of the best. Amazing padded topped Customs created by the countries leading Customizers. Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci. The photos taken at the two day show also show that the cars were actually moved around a bit during the weekend. Some cars were added, like the two ’32 Ford 5-window Hot Rod’s in the photo below. In some photos those two cars are missing.

The cars at the show were mostly local cars, but some came as far as Oakland. Hot Rod magazine devoted some space to the Sacramento Auto Show in the Januari 1951 issue. The feature included the beautiful overview photo (below) which showed the nation that Sacramento was packed with beautiful Custom Cars… just as well as Los Angeles, which was always much more represented in the early magazines.
I have been collecting photos and info on this show for many years, and all I have is included in this article. I know there is more out there, and hopefully we will be able to share more in the near future.

Overview of part of the Chevrolet Dealer Show illustrates the great number of Custom Cars invited to this show. A perfect balance.

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Same photo as above, now with numbers, perhaps somebody will be able to identify some more. We still need to know # A on the far left, # B on the top right center, and from car # C we know that that is Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury, but we do not have a show number. (The number – car – identification list is shown further down in the article)

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This overview photo was taken either earlier or late as the one above. The two ’32 Ford 5-windows are missing sitting behind the #14 Jack Odbert’s ’36 Ford.

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Custom Cars at the Show

The Custom Cars shows we have been able to identify were all top of the line, and are now mostly considered historical Customs. Created by Harry Westergard, Les Crane, and Dick Bertolucci. The Barris Brothers had already been moved south for a few years, so their work was not represented at this show. It is really remarkable that a great number of the Custom Car show entries are Convertibles with chopped padded tops, which were all created by C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland, Ca.

Unknown number for Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury restyled by Harry Westergard and Les Crane. More on Butler’s ’40 Mercury can be seen in this CCC-Article.
#2 Custom 1946 Chevy Convertible Butler Rugard restyled by Harry Westergard. (Listed in the program as Bob Ghilotti)
A little more clear photo of Butler Rugard’s ’46 Chevy Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard. Harry used a set of the Jimmy Summers fade away fenders on this Custom.
#4 1948 Johnny Lehman Mercury Convertible with padded top restyled by Dick Bertolucci. Most likely the Hall padded top of Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford is showing on the left of the photo.
Johnny Lehman’s Mercury seen from the back shows the ’49 Mercury bumpers and taillights. The top was done by Hall of Oakland. On the right we can see the ’37 Chevy Coupe from Leroy Semas. More on Johnny Lehman’s ’48 Mercury in this CCC-Article.
#4 Enlarged section of another photo shows another peak at the Johnny Lehman Mercury and behind that on the right showing a small portions of Mel Falconer’s 41 Lincoln.
#14 Jack Odbert 1936 Ford Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard with Hall Padded top. More on Jack’s Beautiful ’36 Ford in this CCC-Article.
#18 Mel Falconer /Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard with a then new metal top replacing the Hall padded top that was on the car originally.
#21 Mel Falconer 1941 Lincoln with 1948 Cadillac rear fenders, 1949 Mercury bumpers. Restyled by Harry Westergard, and the car is supposed to be still around, anybody knows more about this?
#23 Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy restyled by Harry Westergard. Leroy was the winner of the big Custom Car trophy at the show. One of the two trophies awarded at the show. More on Leroy’s Harry Westergard Restyled Custom can be seen in this CCC-Article.
Interior of Leroy Semas his ’37 Chevy Coupe.

Cars in the show
According the the information we have been able to find 23 car were entered. 14 of them we have been able to identify, hopefully some of our readers can help name the others that were at this 1950 Sacramento Auto Show. From the 23 cars entered at least 8 were Customs, high end Customs. Below is a list of the cars and numbers we have been able to identify.

1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster
2 Butler Rugard / Bob Ghilotti 1946 Chevy Convertible
3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose
4 ?
5 Lawrence Brocchini 1931 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield
6 ?
7 Herk Vigienzone 1924 Model T Roadster
8 Rico Squalia 1924 T Roadster.
9 – 13 ?
14 Jack Odbert 1936 Ford Convertible
15 Ronnie Brown 1932 Ford 5-window
16 – 17 ?
18 Mel Falconer / Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford Convertible
19 Harold Casarang 1925 Model T
20 ?
21 Mel Falconer 1941 Lincoln
22 ?
23 Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy Coupe

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The Program
The 8 page, text only First annual Auto Show program generously donated by David E/ Zivot shown below, has a list of all the people and cars that planned to be at the show. Most of the numbers in the program correspond with the numbers we have seen in the show pictures, but apparently more cars were added to the show after the Program had been printed. The Program only lists 20 cars.

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In early 2020 David Zivot donated a 1950 Thunderbolts First Annual Auto Show Program. The 8 page program has a list of the cars and people that planned to have their car displayed at the event.

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The Hot Rods at the show

The Thunderbolts Auto Club had both Custom Car as well as Hot Rod oriented members. The Sacramento erea has been big on Custom Cars from the early beginnings, but Hot Rodding was very popular as well, and the Hot Rod and Race scene grew bigger every year. The show displayed some of the best Hot Rods and Race Cars in the wide area.

#1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, the winner of the big Hot Rod award at the show.

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#3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.

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A better look at the Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.

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#5 Lawrence Brocchini ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield.

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The actual number 5 sign from the 1950 Sacramento Thunderbolts Auto Show, used on Lawrence Brocchini’s Hot Rod.

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#5 Lawrence Brocchini’s ’31 Ford.

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#15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford channeled 5-window coupe showing off its kilmont brakes. On the left is Johnny Lehman #4 ’48 Mercury and on the right we see the Buick trim on the skirts of Jack Odbert’s  #14 1936 Ford Convertible

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#15 Ronnie Brown posing with his channeled ’32 Ford 5-window Coupe.

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#19 Harold Casarang Oakland Roadster club member took his ‚Äė25 Model T to the Sacramento Auto Show.
January 1951 Hot Rod Magazine article on the show.

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Sources and more information

  • Garage Magazine
  • Classic & Custom Magazine
  • Don Montgomery books

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C. A. Hall Tops

 

HALL TOPS

 

When you lived in Northern California, and wanted a custom upholstery job or padded top created for your car, then you most likely ended up having the work done at C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland.

 

When it comes to Custom upholstery and padded tops in California there are only a few shop names that pop¬†up. The most popular shop¬†was the Carson Top Shop on Vermont Ave. Los Angles. Shop employee Glen Houser developed a non folding padded top for an 1930 Ford in 1935. It was the birth of the Carson top, however it was named that until much later. Another big upholstery shop name was¬†Gaylord who started a little later in the 1940’s in Lynwood, not to far from the Barris Custom Shop.¬†In the early 1940’s the padded tops became very popular among the Hot Rod and Custom Car crowd, and not only in Southern California. In North California, the city of Oakland to be precise, there was a guy named Calvin A. Hall who had a auto top and upholstery business since 1925. When the Hot Rodders and Custom guys found out about the special tops and tuck & roll interiors done in So California they wanted to have those done more locally as well.


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The Hall Top Shop came to the rescue an Calvin quickly figured out how to do the padded tops and create the interiors the guys wanted. And business was booming for the shop. The C.A. Hall Tops shop was responsible for most the the padded tops created in the Nor California era. The Nor Cal builders like Harry Westergard, Dick Bertolucci, Gene Winfield and early one also the Barris Brothers who sill lived in Sacramento in the early 1940’s all took their Customs to the Hall shop for a¬†padded top or¬†custom upholstery. Hall never advertised as much as the Carson Top Shop, Gaylord, Runyan and others did. We have only found a ¬†few Hall ads in some early 1950’s Hot rod show programs, but not in any of the magazines. This most likely is one of the main reasons the Hall shop name never became¬†as popular in the rest of the country / world as¬†Carson or Gaylord.

This¬†and the fact that Oakland was to far away for the So Cal based magazines to do an article on the Hall Shop is the reason that there is rather little known about the Hall Top Shop. As far as we have been able to find out, nobody has ever really interviewed Calvin A. Hall about his Top Shop, so all his information is most likely lost. Since the Hall name was not as important, it might have been left out in many magazine Hot Rod and Custom Car features as well. The shop did turn out really great work, and customers often came back for an update, or with a new car in need of a padded top or custom upholstery. For this article we have collected a number of cars with Hall Tops shop padded tops and interiors. Special thanks goes out to Ron Brooks, who owns a 1940 Chevy custom created in the late 1940’s with a real and very rare Hall top. Ron has been collecting info and material on the Hall Top Shop ever since he owns his Chevy. Ron has been so kind sharing a lot of his info and photos with the Custom Car Chronicle.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-03When Ron found¬†his 1940’s restyled 1940 Chevy it still had the original Hall top on it including a very rare C.A. Hall Auto Tops interior tag.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-02Fred Creller created the 1940 Chevy¬†in the late 1940’s and had the interior and padded top done by Hall. This photo is from 1950. (Ron Brooks collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-01These photos showing the top a little better were taken in 1959. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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About the Hall Tops Shop.

Calvin A. Hall¬†was born on December 11, 1901 in Mink Creek, Idaho to Andrew G. and Martha Lavine (Olsen) Hall, his father was born in Denmark, his mother in Utah, USA. In the early 1900’s the family moved from Idoha to Oakland, California. Calvin graduated from high school in 1918 and after having had a few small jobs he started to learn the trade of creating auto tops at¬†Victory Auto Painting and Top Co., at 901 E. 14th st., Oakland, Calif.

In 1925 Calvin A. Hall started his own business C.A. Hall and was located at 72nd and E. 14th, Oakland. CA. creating car tops. The small shop moved in 1927 to 901 E. 14th St. Oakland, CA. (the same shop is currently in use by Earl Scheib Paint & Body shop).
During WWII the Hall shop relocated to 3208 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA. The shop would remain on this location till it closed somewhere in 1965. The building is still standing today. Calvin A. Hall was married and had three children, none of them took over the shop, so when Calvin retired for the upholstery business the shop was closed. Calvin A. Hall passed away on January 28, 1979 at the age of 77.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-01This photo of this amazing 1938 Lincoln Custom with Hall padded top was found on the walls of the former Hall shop on San Pablo Ave. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-02Close up on the really well shaped and proportioned Hall padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-03We are not sure if Hall also updated the interior in the 1938 Lincoln, but more than likely he did the cover on the rear.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-36-ford-max-ferrisThe weather in Nor Cal is not ¬†always as sunny and warm as in So Cal, so often Hall was instructed to create the chopped padded tops for roadsters, with side separate window curtains¬†to make sure the driver and passengers would stay as warm as possible. This top and window flaps/curtains was created for Max Ferris’s Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford roadster.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-01George Barris created this 1936 Ford convertible as his own personal driver when he was working at the Browns Body shop and Harry Westergard in Sacramento. The padded top on the car was done by Hall in Oakland in a dark material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-02Close up of the Hall padded top which has seen better days. After the car was finished and painted George Barris took his 36 Ford¬†to Hall’s shop who re-covered it with white material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-chevy-01Harry Westergard restyled Pittsburg Ca resident Sal Cacciola’s 1938 Chevy convertible in his typical nose up narrow grille style. Sal took the car to Hall for the padded top. Inset is one of the very few ads Hall’s Top Shop ever ran.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-mercuryThis is another photo that was found in the old Hall shop building. It is an unidentified 1940 Mercury with unique exhaust tips true the rear fenders. Hall was responsible for the padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-41-Buick-paul-01Pierre Paul was a Custom Car builder from Oakland Ca, and he had the interior and padded top of his own personal 1941 Buick created by Hall.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-al-serpa-46-ford-02Gene winfield had his shop in Modesto California, and also used the Hall Top Shop quite a bit for his customer cars. This 1946 Ford was restyled by Gene in 1949 for owner Al Serpa. The traditional styled padded top was done by Hall. This photo was taken in 1950.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-benny-furtado-48-ford-01Gene Winfield also restyled this 1948 Ford for owner Benny Furtado during the same period as he did Al Serpa’s 1946 Ford. However Hall created a different style padded top for Benny’s Ford with open rear¬†quarter windows. Creating a much more open and light feel inside the car.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-02Herb Cattani’s Custom 1942 Buick also received an Hall padded top with open rear quarter windows, creating a wonderful shape.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-01A rare look at one of the Hall interiors in¬†Herb Cattani’s 1942 Buick shows a lot of soft leather tuck and rolls creating a very luxurious feel.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-01Dick Bertolucci from Sacramento restyled this 1947 Cadillac convertible for Tony Sestito. When it was time for the padded top and new interior the car was driven to Oakland for the full Hall treatment in 1953-54.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-02The latest trend then was to add full width wrap around plexiglass rear windows to the padded top. So that is what Hall created for Tony’s 1947 Cadillac. Close up of the wrap around rear window courtesy of Rod & Custom magazine.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-02Hall created the padded top on Sil Moyano’s 1935 Ford Phaeton. This photo comes from a feature on the car in a 1973 Street Rodder magazine, and we have no idea when the padded top was created, but more than likely this one dated back into the 1940’s.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-01The interior was done with relatively narrow tuck & roll in black, and the white top was also upholstered in black on the inside.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-invoiceHall’s Auto Tops invoice from the 1950’s with another rare ad from an July 1951 issue of Motor sports World.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-ad-01This ad was used in one the Oakland Roadster Show programs and shows an panoramic rear window padded top Hall created for a stock bodied Buick.
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Warren Gonzales 1950 Ford Convertible

Possibly the best publicity the Hall Auto Tops shop had for their interior and top work was with Warren Gonzales’s 1950 Ford Convertible. The shop worked on two versions of the car. The first time in 1953-54 they did a complete interior, and traditional styled padded top. The second time a year later they added more to the interior, to keep up with the demand for winning show points, and they redid the padded top in the latest trend with cantilever (over-hanging) rear portion. The July 1956 issue of Car Craft magazine had two color photos of the car on the cover, and four pages for the feature inside. The feature showed many photos of both the top and the wild interior.


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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-ford-03Warren’s 1950 Ford convertible was first done in a more conservative way with a “regular” style padded top created by Hall Auto Tops. The photo on the left is from the 1954 Oakland Roadster Show, and the one on the right from the 1955 show. By then the car had been completely redone with a wild interior and complete new cantilever padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interior-02The color photo of the Hall Auto Tops created interior in Warren’s Shoebox must have had a lot of impact. The interior was done in three tone leatherette, dark green, white and soft green. The same soft green was also used on the second version top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interiorC.A. Hall created the interior for Warren’s Shoebox with the latest in luxury in mind. The create a custom made semi-circle rear seat, which is divided by a large Hi-Fi radio speaker. On both sides of the bench a refreshment bar has been incorporated. A console has been created on the floor to house a small upholstered TV set. The seats back are reshaped both front and rear and are upholstered in a bolt design with rolls and pleats. The dashboard has been made “crash proof’ by adding padding and upholstery on the whole unit. The center was cut out to make space for a 45 rpm record player. A radio and Hi-Fi speaker have been installed in a custom build center console underneath the dash extending the front bench. The carpets are dark blue green and outlined with white trim.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-collageA few more samples of car with C.A. Hall Auto Tops  padded tops and or interiors.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-building-2016This is how the former C.A. Hall Tops Shop building at 3208 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, California looks today in 2016. (Google maps image)
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As mentioned in this article the amount of information on the Hall Top’s is limited. We have tried to gather as much information as possible and added as many photos that would mattered the most for this article. As always we would love to hear from you if you have any additional information about the Hall Auto Tops shop, or any cars that had the interior or tops created by this shop. If you have more info, please let us know, email Rik. We would love to add more info to this article and share it with Custom Car enthusiast from all over the globe. Thank you.

 

Resources

  • Ron Brooks
  • Coachbuilt.com,¬†Mark Theobald
  • Barris Kustoms Technique books.







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(this article is sponsored by)

CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob

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Pre War 38 Lincoln Custom

 

EXQUISITE 1938 LINCOLN

 

This exquisite padded topped 38 Lincoln Custom was restyled when the car was very new, perhaps even straight from the dealer. It has this wonderful early Custom Car look, a look fortunately getting back in style these days.

 
Some time ago I was in the progress of gathering material on an article about the removal of the running boards on early Custom Cars. I was researching the subject with some of the the photos I have in my files. I was planning to include a photo of this very nice 1938 Lincoln convertible, but since this car is such an amazing beautiful restyled car I decided to not include it in that article, but do a full CCC-Feature on the car. Not that I do know a whole lot about the car, but just because it is absolutely stunning and hopefully an full article might be noticed by more people, and hopefully one day we will be able to know more about this car. Let me share what I do know about this exquisite 1938 Lincoln.
 
 
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Several years ago, Ron Brooks from Castro Valley, North California, send me a couple of photos of some¬†very early Custom Cars. Ron had received some of them them in the 1990’s from an retired fireman who knew Ron was into Customs, and particular into Custom Cars with an C.A. Hall Top Shop padded top. You see, Ron owns an old Custom, a 1940 Chevy convertible with an original Hall top. The retired fireman came across these photos when he was in the old Hall shop, where he found this stack of old photos, which happend to be all Hall topped Custom Cars from the very early 1940’s. Ron has tried, but never was able to find out anything else about this Lincoln.
 

CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-08aSome of the photos Ron Brooks shared with me several years ago. Very nice early to late 1940’s Custom Cars in a clean early style I very much admire.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-01The first photo I saw was this amazing side view. What appears to be a photo taken by a professional photographer. Perhaps hired by the car owner, or possibly by the Hall Top shop to be able to use for promotional matters. The side view is stunning, with the chopped windshield, the removal of the running boards, the perfect stance and the wonderfully shaped rock shield on the rear fenders.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-05When I mentioned to Ron that I liked the ’38 Lincoln so much, he send me another one he had. This one taken from an higher point of view and with the top removed. Ron mentioned¬†that¬†the eucalyptus trees in the background have a¬†distinctive¬†Oakland/East Bay hills look!
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About the Lincoln

As mentioned in the into there is not really all that much we do know about this¬†beautiful¬†car.¬†We have no¬†name of the owner, no builders name other than that the car most likely had a padded top created by the Hall Top Shop in Oakland California. We also¬†do not know what ever happened to it. At first all we had¬†where two¬†amazing photos shared by Ron. But then in 2012,¬†Dave Welles of Seabright Hot Rods shared some amazing 1940’s footage taken at¬†Harper Dry Lake taken by his uncle Tommy Lorbeer with his brand new 8mm camera. The short movie¬†itself is already amazing, but when I watched it I got goose bumps when I saw this wonderful 1938 Lincoln with padded top cruise by over the dry lake. I recognized the car immediately… That is the same one as Ron send me, the one with the Hall top on it.¬†I took a few screen shots¬†to compare the two, and it sure was the same car. So now we knew that the Lincoln was a very early Custom, and that it was built between 1938 and 1940. The car appears only for a second or two in the movie footage… but it is amazing to see it driving. And even better is that we can see it a little from the front as well. Although very blurry we can see that it has a modified grille.

 
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CCC-38-lincoln-movie-still-01Movie still from the Tommy Lorbeer movie shows a modified grille in the Lincoln. Its hard to tell from this material if the grille was home made (quite common in those days) or if an exciting grille was used.
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The car has been restyled with on main goal in mind, improving its looks over the factory stock look. Not just to modify it to stand out from the rest of the cars. We have seen similar restyling done by shops as Jimmy Summers, Bistange brothers, Olive Hill carage, but also by shops specialized in coach building more exclusive cars. So my guess is that this Lincoln was brought to one of the Nor Cal coach building shops for an exclusive restyling.
 

CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-02I added these cropped sections of the photo to be able to take a closer look at the details. Possibly the car was dressed up with a set of Vogue wide white wall tires.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-03The rear fender rock shield is very nicely shaped, and the shape of the padded top is perhaps a bit more upright than we are used to from the later part of the 1940’s, but it fits this Lincoln absolutely perfect.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-06This photo shows the horizontal grille bars in the custom grille.
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The modifications we can see in the photos are all extremely well done, and in style with the rest of the cars line. Chopped windshield, very nicely shaped padded top, removal of the running boards, with an molded in panel to cover the exposed frame after the running boards where removed. Removed side tim, removed hood side trim. nicely shaped stainless or chrome plated rock shield on the rear fender, front fender reshaped at the back. Modified grille, one of Ron’s photos shows that the grille has horizontal bars, perhaps a 1940 Willys grille was used, but it could also be possible that a new smaller grille was hand shaped and chrome plated.The car was lowered all around and set on nice shaped wide white wall tires with single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings. The bumper at the front looks to be stock, but the shadow on the side view photo indicates that the rear bumper might have been replaced with an 1940 Lincoln unit which has the opened-up center section.

I have been able to find one other photo of a 1938 Lincoln that has similar modifications done to it. I do not think its the same car, but the resemblance of the two is striking. I found the photo online a few years ago, and compared it with the photos Ron shared right then. But this car has the stock grille, and an different shaped padded top and the stock trim still in place, and not stainless rock shield on the rear fenders (perhaps a rubber one, hard to tell). Perhaps the car in this photo could be an early version of the Lincoln taken in 1938-39. But more than likely there where two, and perhaps more of these that had similar styling.
 
CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-07Most likely a different 1938 Lincoln Custom with pretty similar changes than the Lincoln in the Ron Brooks photos. The black wall’s indicate that the photo was taken during or shortly after WWII.
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Hopefully this CCC-Article will lead to some more information about the origins of this well designed masterpiece. A beautifull car like this must have been noticed back then, and some people must know more about it. Even the camera man of that 1940 dry lake movie noticed its beauty. If you know more, please email Rik, so that we can add the info to this article. Many thanks go out to Ron Brooks for saving and sharing these amazing images.
 
 
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41 Ford Hall Topped Convertible

HALL TOPPED CONVERTIBLE

Roy Herman is the current caretaker of this early 1950’s built custom 1941 Ford. An original custom with rare Hall padded top.

From 1973 and up the history on this late 1940’s early 1950’s built custom is known, and documented with some photos etc. Roy Herman, who bought the car in 2011, has been desperately search for more history on the car. Where did it come from when it was saved from the crusher by Moe Miller in 1973. And who was the original builder/owner of this 1941 Ford convertible. The Hall top ‚Äď Hall was located in Oakland ‚Äď might indicate it was built in Northern California.

There is some information that the car may have been customized circa 1949-50 after having the front end damaged in a collision. People seem to remember the car in the early days but no one could remember the owners’ names, or has any photos to proof this. The car looks similar to other 41 customs of the period except for the, turned side-ways 1949 Buick taillight treatment. That is rather unique for the 1941-48 Ford.

CCC-hall-topped-convertible-04-WThese are the earliest photos Roy has been able to find of his Ford. The photos were taken in the mid 1970’s, when Moe owned the car and had started to restore it. The complete body was stripped down to bare metal as we can see here. Moe had added the four rows of louvres by now.

 

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The unrestored Hall top is still in place in these photos. Later the canvas and padded material would be removed and the former Hall’s Top Shop employee would red the top in the same way they did in the 1940’s and ’50’s. The C.A. Hall Auto Top tag below comes from the Ron Brooks collection.

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The car is an early custom with an 3 1/2 inch chopped windshield. Most likely after the front-end got damaged in the collision this was replaced with the front of an ’46-’48 front Ford. The fenders were molded and leaded to the main body. ¬†Door handles were removed and solenoid latches added. The Ford grille was replaced with an 1948 Cadillac grill and the surrounding sheet metal reshaped. 1949 Plymouth bumpers were added front and rear. And the most unique feature of this early custom are the 1949 Buick Taillights turned sideways, and molded into the rear fenders.¬†Hall’s Auto Tops created the padded top.The car was painted a bright metallic green when found with many layers of paint under that.¬†The 41 had no engine when found but was set up for a flathead with top loader trans and stock rear end.

 

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Timeline of the Hall Topped 1941 Ford

  • On March 24 1973, Moe Miller of San Jose CA, buys an old custom 1941 Ford Convertible from a local auto wrecker. It was on it’s way to the crusher.
  • Moe along with help from friends Dean Essex and Ralph Reyes restored the 41 over the next several years.
  • Moe had an original employee from Hall tops redo the top.
  • The car was painted 55 Buick Titian Red with black interior.
  • Moe installed a 48 Mercury motor and punched the hood louvers.
  • By the time the car was finished Moe had his own shop in San Jose called Valley Custom Auto Body doing restorations, custom work, and louvers.
  • In April 1980 the car was featured in Vol 1 No. 1 of Classic and Custom magazine, a new California publication.
  • The car appeared at the Oakland Roadster Show in 1980.
  • 1985 Moe sells the car to a friend, Richard Periandri, also of San Jose.
  • Richard kept the 41 till 1995 then sold it to Los Gatos Ferarri dealer Brian Burnett.
  • Apparently Burnett sold the car to someone¬†(unknown)¬†in Texas.
  • In 1998 it was sold at Barrett Jackson Auction in Arizona. The car was now painted a darker maroon and had a white and maroon tuck and roll interior installed. It also had the Crestliner steering wheel, fender skirts, and Thickstun engine parts installed. A buyer brought the car home to British Columbia, Canada.
  • Roy Herman, the current owner purhased the ’41 Ford in 2011.

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Top and bottom show the feature article featured in Vol 1 No. 1 of Classic and Custom magazine. The text in the article was not quite accurate. Since it mentioned  nothing about the car being an original custom. And listed Moe and his friends actually doing all the customizing.

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CCC-hall-topped-convertible-10-W Ron Brooks took this photo of the ’41 Ford at the Oakland Roadster Show in 1980.

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These two photos, above and below, were taken in the early 1980’s. Moe had added single bar flipper hubcaps by now.

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CCC-hall-topped-convertible-08-WMike Shelley took the two photos above at the 1988 Paso Robles show.

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In 1993 Andy Southard used a photo of the 1941 Ford on the back cover of his book Custom Cars of the 1950’s. In the photo credits he did however write that Moe Miller built the car.

 

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The photos above show the car as it sits now. When Roy bought the car it was repainted in a darker shade of maroon and the single bar flipper hubcaps were replaced by 1957 Cadillac hubcaps. Fortunately all the other details have been left intact, including the Spotlight and all other customizing elements. Obviously all previous owners after Moe have had the same passion for the car, and wanted to keep it as period as possible.

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CCC-hall-topped-convertible-14-WA good look at the modified 1946-48 Ford grille surround that was needed to make the 1948 Cadillac grille fit the front. 

 

CCC-hall-topped-convertible-13-WWonderful period upholstery, the original 1941 Ford dash and the Crestliner steering wheel

 

CCC-hall-topped-convertible-12-WA closer look at the turned side ways 1949 Buick taillights and the way the fender body line flows into the hand made and molded in taillight bucket. 

 

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CCC-hall-topped-convertible-18-WThis photo above, shows the Thickstun equipped  flathead engine. The set in shows how Moe used the 1941 Ford to promote his Valley Custom Auto Body shop business. The ad comes from an early Classics & Custom magazine.

If anybody recognizes the car, from the time prior to 1973. Most likely in California. Please let us know. Roy really would love to know the complete history of his car, and so do we. The most obvious features are the adaption of the 1946-48 Ford front sheet metal, the 1948 Cadillac grille and the best option to identify the car the side way mounted 1949 Buick taillights.

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Sal Cacciola Westergard Chevy

 

SAL CACCIOLA WESTERGARD CHEVY

 

This great looking 1938 Chevy Custom Convertible was built by Harry Westergard in the late 1940’s for Sal Cacciola from Pittsburg CA.



In 2009 James Bauwer send me some photos of an interesting grave stone he came across one day. The photos he emailed me showed a very nicely customized 1938 Chevy apperently once owned by John Sal Cacciola who passed away in June 1950. It was the first time I heard about this car or the owner, I had no idea about its famous origins.

Three years later Ron Brooks send me a couple of 1940’s custom car photos and included were two photos of a 1938 Chevy convertible. I recognized it immediately and knew it had to be the same car as on the grace stone. Now I was intrigued. The only thing Ron knew about the car was that the photos came from the Pittsburg, CA. area.
With this new material of this car and knowing were Sal had lived, I had a feeling the car could have been built by legendary customizer Harry Westergard. But at this time this remained only an hunch.



CCC-sal-cacciola-38-chevy-04Frank DeRosa shared these three small snapshot he had of Sal’s 1938 Chevy with the CCC.
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I contacted Gina DeRosa (daughter of famous Custom Car builder Frank DeRosa) since I knew they came from that part of California. I asked if she could see if here father, Frank, could identify the car. A day later Gina confirmed my initial thoughts that this was indeed a Harry Westergard original. Frank DeRosa immediately recognized it as his old friends Sal Cacciola‘s 1938 Chevy.

CCC-Sal_Cacciola_1938 Chevy01This was the first photo Ron Brooks shared and that got the whole identification process going. What an amazing photo.
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Frank De Rosa mentioned: In 1946 Sal took his 1938 Chevy Convertibleto Harry Westergard to have him built a unique custom in his well knows teardrop style. Harry modified the hood to accept a Packard grille, he made solid and smooth hood sides. A particular nice touch was when Westergard molded a set of 1940 Chevy headlights into the fenders which now visually extends the cowl/door character line all the way up to the grille.
Westergard chopped the windshield and had Hall Tops of Oakland CA. create the padded top. Westergard installed the spotlights, the foglights and a set of 1941 Oldmobile bumpers which he apparently liked very much since he used them on several of his customs. The spare tire cover was repositioned, placed a bit lower and at a slightly steeper angle to flow better with the rear of the car.


CCC-Sal_Cacciola_1938 Chevy02Profile photo shows the beautiful lines of the Chevy. The Chevy headlight line beautifully matches the Chevy character line on the cowl. Creating an optical fade away feel.
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CCC-Sal_Cacciola_1938 Chevy03 The Tombstone photo James Bauwer send me in 2009 that shows Sal’s really great looking Chevy. At that point I thought it was a 1937 model. It was clear to me that not to long after that photo of Sal with his Custom Convertible he must have passed away.
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CCC-sal-cacciola-38-chevy-05Sal’s Chevy as part of a collage in Frank De Rosa’s workshop.¬†
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Friends and competitors
The sad story is that the owner of the car died in another custom car – a 1946 Cadillac – on June 25th 1950, while driving the Santa Cruz mountains. Frank DeRosa knew Sal very well, they where friends (and competed in creating the best looking custom in the area). Frank was at Sal’s funeral in 1950.

We have no idea what happened to Franks wonderful Chevy since then. Sal’s family is looking to find the car, or more information about its current whereabouts. We have been in contact with the family, and sadly there is not much more known about the Chevy than what has been written in this article. Still we hope that one day they will be able to find some more photos of the car in the family photo albums. Or even better find out what ever happened to this wonderful Harry Westergard restyled 1938 Chevy.



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