41 Mercury Sedan Conv

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Digital Restyling the 1941 Mercury Sedan. Inspired by the Barris Joe Urritta 1941 Ford and Harry Bradley Designs 41 Mercury Sedan Conv.

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In 1949 Sam Barris restyled a 1941 Ford two door Sedan for owner Joe Urritta. The most exceptional concept of this car was that Sam turned it from a regular sedan to a convertible sedan, cutting off the top, adding a convertible cowl and doors and channeled the body over the frame creating an unique look. I have always really liked the Urritta Ford, which was also known as the “4 Foot Kustom”. And for many years I have been wondering why not more Sedans had been turned Convertible Sedans in the beautiful late 1940’s style.

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Side view of the original Sam Barris Restyled Joe Urritta 1941 Ford.

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In 1990 Car Designer and Custom Car enthusiast Harry Bradley set out to create an new age Custom based on the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford designs. A complete concept which included a brake down of the original car, how that was created step by step, to many design illustrations how the Bradley Tribute Ford would look like. An article with some of mr. Bradley’s concepts sketches appeared in an 90’s Street Rodder Magazine and made a HUGE impact on me.

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Harry Bradley created this beautiful side view of his Concept Tribute Ford with the top removed and an front/side/rear illustration of the original Joe Urritta Ford.

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Later Butch Hurley and Rod Powell were contracted to create a real car roughly based on the Harry Bradley Designs. That car was never meant to be an exact interpretation of the original Urritta Ford, nor the Bradley Tribute designs. Although very thrilled with the seldom seen gold painted Tribute Ford, I kept on wondering how a 41 Sedan might look with some of the Harry Bradley Designs incorporated, but still created as an late 40’s, early 50’s style Custom. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt that a longer wheel base ’41 Mercury Sedan might be an even better start for a project like this.

A little while ago I came across an nice side view image of an 1941 Mercury Sedan. (dead-on side view images are pretty rare, so I was very happy with this one, even though it was not as perfect as I had hoped for) Now my Digital Restyling of the Urritta/Bradley Inspired 1941 Mercury Sedan Convertible could start.

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Original photo I started with for the Digital Restyling.

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I wanted to create this car as how it could have been done back in the late 1940’s early 1950’s, but I wanted my version to be a little less radical as the Urritta Ford. Not channeled that much, and the hood not so much sectioned, to create a little more “practical” proportions. The ’41 Mercury hood always has the tendency to optically go down in the front, and to prevent this I decided to pie cut the whole body with more taken from the bottom of the body at the rear than the front during the angled channeling. There is no need to actually section the body, since the rear fenders will be raised, and the bottom of the body will be hidden by the fade away fenders.

The hood does need to be sectioned to fit in the new position, and will need to be sectioned a little more towards the back to get the right flow and slight nose up in the front look I’m after.

I cut off the top, and reshaped the tops of the body. I first added slightly curved up original convertible door tops and vent window’s but did not care for the look, so I decided to keep the tops level with the belt-line, and use different vent windows (49 Chevy in my case, but anything could made to work) I slightly angled the windshield back, to create a bit more optical speed.

I then set out to create the fade away fenders. I wanted to create full length fade-away fenders, unlike those used on the Urritta Ford which fade away into the doors. But I wanted mine to be less high than those on the Bradley Tribute Ford. I also wanted the bottom of the door to stop before the bottom of the body, leaving a small section of fender below the doors, making the door look a bit longer.

When I started on the roof shape I knew I had to make a lot of changes to the rear portion of the car. The rear of the body needs to be angled forward, the top of the trunk needs to be lowered, and the section from the belt-line up at the rear needs to be all reshaped. And to make this all work the best way, the rear top portion of the rear fenders need to be angled back and reshaped.

To create the look I was after I had to do quite a bit of work on the rear fender. the top portion was cut off, and moved forward, the rear portion was reshaped to create a bit more teardrop shape. The lower edge at the back was moved down a bit and at the front it was angled forwards towards the top. I have even thought about using an ’39-40 mercury fender to create the look I was after, but decided to work with the ’41 unit and just reshape it a lot. The character line on the fender was cut out and re-positioned to flow better with the fade-away fender line.

My original idea was to create one car with three different tops.
1 Original style padded top
2 Padded top with wrap around rear window
3 Metal top in a similar way as the Bertolucci created top for the Buddy Ohanesian 1940 Mercury.

But later I decided to change this idea a bit and create three different version, and not include the full metal top, but rather create a more streamlined hard-top looking unit using a wrap around window for that as well.

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Digital Restyling Versions

Late 1940’s Version

The first version I did was a car that could have been done around 1948. The car was update with ’48 Ford bumpers, Appleton Spotlights, shortened side trim on the hood, stock taillights re-positioned to flow with the fender line. single bar flipper hubcaps on wide white wall tires. I added a dark green color to this version, as a tribute to the original Joe Urritta Ford version.

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First version is how it could have looked around 1948.

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Early 1950’s Version

The second version I did was actually the version I had in my mind all this time. The one with the wrap around rear window which was inspired by the harry Bradley Sketches. I really wanted to see how this more traditional looking wrap around rear window would look on an padded top, very much as how Bill Gaylord perhaps might have done it.

I choose to leave the belt-line trim at stock length for this version, to create a bit more optical length. The hubcaps were updated to Cadillac Sombrero units, and the bumpers are created from 1947 Cadillac units from which the bottom part was sectioned, as well as the bumper guards. This was inspired from the Harry Bradley design, but incorporated as period units.

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Second version from around the early 1950’s.

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Mid 1950’s version

The last version is created as a Custom that could have been done around 1954 perhaps. The top was created using 1950 Chevy Hard-Top metal which was stretched and reshaped to fit the lines of the ’41 Mercury. I added a small scoop in the leading edge of the rear fenders and added three small teeth. The bumpers are still the sectioned 1947 Cadillac units, but now with the complete bottom section removed, and discarding the guards all together for a much more sleeker look.

The hubcaps were updated with ’53 Cadillac units on tired with slightly smaller white wall section. And the center part of the ’53 hubcaps are replaced with the centers of the Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. I added some teal paint to the main body and contrasting gold for the top.

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Last version (for now) as how it could have looked if created around 1954.

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The Harry Bradley Tribute

Below are a few of the many design sketched Harry Bradley created for his “Tribute” 1941 Ford design. His sketches inspired me a lot to create the car with the thin bumpers, wrap around rear window and full fade-away fenders. Perhaps one day I will create a Digital Version of the ’41 Mercury that is a lot closer to these Harry Bradley Designs than those I have done now. Time will tell…

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In progress photo of the Butch Hurley/Rod Powell creation from the Butch Hurley photo Albums.

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The finished Tribute Ford in gold paint.

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Joe Urritta 41 Ford

 

JOE URRITTA 41 FORD

 

Joe Urrittas 1941 Ford Sedan was restyled in 1949 by Sam Barris. No panel on the car was left untouched. The end result was a stunning looking Masterpiece.



The first time I heard about the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford was in the August 1991 issue of Street Rodder magazine. Harry Bradley had a wonderful article in that issue about the Tribute 1941 Ford. Mr Bradley’s contemporary interpretation of Joe Urritta;s famous Barris-built custom. The article was mostly about this really interesting design Mr Bradley had create, but it also showed one typical Harry Bradley illustration of the original Joe Urritta Ford showing the side profile, the front and the rear in one image. I love the new concepts in the article, but I fell in love with the illustration of the original Barris Custom. The text explained more about the original car, but there were no photos. I would have to wait a few more years after that before I was able to find a copy of the Trend book Customs Cars 101 in which two real photos of the car appeared. I was amazed that one of the photos had the two¬†Dachshund’s in front of them, just as in Mr Bradley’s Illustration. The two photos in the Trend book were amazing. This was such a wild custom car, with very interesting lines. I could not wait to find out more about it. (More about the Harry Bradley Tribute car can be found HERE.)

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-h-bradley-05The first time I saw something about the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford was in the August 1991 issue of Street Rodder magazine where Harry Bradley showed this illustration of the original car in his Tribute article.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-01This side profile, and one rear quarter view of the car appeared in the 1951 Trend Book Custom Cars. 
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The Joe Urritta Ford was created in 1949, and its amazing that the car was featured as much as it was. Making the cover of the July 1950 issue of Motor Trend must have been the highlight for the owner, as well as for Sam Barris who created the car.

According the stories that have been published about the car we fortunately do quite a bit about this car. Most publication state that the car was created in 1950, but it was actually built in 1949, and can be seen in primer, or unpolished paint at the 1950 National Roadster Show which was held in Oakland California from January 19 to 22.

Somewhere in 1949 Joe Urritta drove his 1941 Ford sedan from¬†Frensno, California to the Barris shop in Lynwood, around a 200 mile drive. Joe wanted to have his sedan converted to a convertible sedan with padded top, and it needed to be as low as it could get. At the Barris Shop it was decided that this would be Sam’s project and over the next couple of month he would create one of the wildest Customs the shop had ever created. The car has some styling cue’s from the Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford, as in raised fenders, heavily sectioned hood and fade away fenders.¬†Perhaps some ideas were “borrowed” on Joe’s Ford, but everything was¬†done so much different on Joe’s Ford.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-00Joe Urritta’s 1941 Ford was shown for the first time at the 1950 National Roadster Show held in¬†January that year.¬†We do not know for sure if the car was still in primer, or if the Barris shop ran out of time to polish the fresh paint. Perhaps the car was polished at the show after this photo was taken at set-up day?
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Sam started with cutting off the top completely. The doors were replaced with convertible door, and the top portion of the cowl was replaced with a convertible cowl so that the convertible windshield could be used along with the vent windows. The new belt line had to be reshaped to fit with the convertible doors, and to finish the rear section where the rear of the top used to be. The trunk was welded shut and the whole body was reenforced so that the body could be handled for the next step. Next up was channeling the body over the frame to get the car as low as possible. The floor was cut out, and the body was dropped over the frame until the perfect height was achieved. The rear of the body was dropped more than the front for the desired speed-boat look. New floor attachment point were welded in place at the new height and the floor was welded in the new much higher location. The running boards were removed and the bottom of the body was reshaped. The rear fenders were move up around 5 inches and rotated a bit to flow better with the design of the car. The top of the new fender location is about two inches below the top of the body.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-12A beautiful front 3/4 view of the Joe Urritta’s 1941 Ford appeared on the cover of the July 1950 issue of Motor Trend magazine. This must have been a great feeling for both the car owner Joe, as well as for Sam Barris who build it.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-11Explaining the Motor Trend cover photo on page five.
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With the main body and rear fenders roughly in position Sam decided the suspension needed to be lowered as well to get the car at the desired ride height. Sam reshaped the front spring added a dropped front axle, raised the rear crossmember, de-arched the rear spring and reversed the spring eyes. With the rear of the body in the right position Sam could move on to the front of the car. The front fenders where lowered from their stock position until the wheel opening fitted nice over the tire. The new location was much higher compared to the body than stock, this meant that the hood no longer would fit, and needed to be sectioned to fit the new fender location. The new much thinner hood now sits about two inches taller than the top of the front fenders. With the front fenders and hood all roughed in, it was time to create the new fade away fenders. Sam and joe had decided that the car would not have full fade away fenders, but rather shorter units fading into the rear portion of the doors. Sam most likely asked the California Metal Shaping company to create these new panels to save time.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-17The one page feature article on the car in the July 1950 issue of Motor Trend. The article credits Thomas J. Medley for the photos. However the bottom three were actually taken by Marcia Campbell.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-18Scan of an original photo proof from the Marcia Campbell Collection. This photo was used in the MT article, as well as in the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-10Cropped scan of the photo-proof. Sadly the photo proof is developed a bit lighter than the actual photo, washing out some of the details. The rear 3/4 view of the Joe Urritta Ford is my personal favorite. Notice the small bumper guard taillights and the Kustoms Los Angeles plaque hanging from the rear bumper. The rear window flap has been removed hence the large opening in the rear of the top.
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The new fading fenders were tacked in place and next up was the new front end. Sam had put a 1947 Oldmobile grille on top of the molded in front splash pan and reshaped the metal around it to flow with the cut down 1941 Ford front sheet metal. The headlight bezels were frenched to the body. The convertible windshield frame was cut down around 4 inches. With all the body wok roughed in place it was time to clean up things. All the fenders were molded to the body with shaped sheet metal and smoothed plenty of lead for that desirable one piece look. The character lines on all four fenders was welded solid and hammered smooth for an even more smooth look. Sam added a set of long 1941 Ford fender skirts and mounted 1948 Ford bumpers. The new body shape Sam had created looked nothing like the once two door sedan body anymore. The new low, long and sleek body looked amazing. The low hood and wonderful slight downwards point fade away fenders optically extended into the 1941 Ford fender skirts.

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-13The 1947 Old grille looks right at place in the lower than stock front of the car. I’m not quite sure that is going on with the 1948 Ford front bumper. In most of the photos it appears the ends are slightly twisted down. This front 3/4 view also shows that the chopped windshield appears to be to upright for the overall design of the car. On the other hand, this does give the car a nice early feel.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-14I really like the addition of the 1948 Studebaker Commander dash and steering wheel to the car. Due to the raised floor, which is very evident in this photo, the seats had to be modified a lot. The upholstery was done in Antique white with green piping and dark green carpets created by Marian Cottles from Sacramento.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-15Side view photo by Marcia Campbell shows how long the chopped padded top is and how it flows nicely into the reshaped rear section of the body. The 1942-48 Ford gravel pan at the rear was mounted higher and the rear bumper was also raised a bit from its stock position. 
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-16Dan Post used 4 photos of the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford, taken by Marcia Campbell, in the 1951 and 1952 edition of his famous Blue Book of Custom Restyling.
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A few major things still needed to be done on the car. The overall shape was not complete until the planned padded top was in place. And also the interior had to be completely redone. Now with a lot less space inside, due to the channeling. Sam had to modify the stock seats and get them ready for a new interior. Sam removed the stock Ford dash and made a 1948 Studebaker Commander dash to fit the car. The stock steering wheel and column was also replaced by a 1948 Studebaker unit. Sam installed push buttons to open the doors, and cut the vent windows to size, and created new window channels for the doors and rear quarter windows. The 1948 Ford rear bumper guards were modified to accept red plexiglas taillights. Then the car was primered and send of to Sacramento where  would handle the top and interior. The interior was done in antique white with green piping and a dark green carpet. The long padded top was created around the window frames Sam had created and flows really nice with the reshaped rear of the car. With the top completed the new shape of the Urritta Ford was really complete. The Barris shop painted the car in dark green metallic and finished it off with a set of Appleton spotlights, smooth hubcaps, and two Kustoms Los Angles plaques. The whole restyling had cost Joe $3600.-

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-01The low angle side view photo of the Ford with the two Dashunds is the most famous photos of the car. It show how long, low and extreme the car is, especially considering it was created mostly in 1949. Also interesting to see is the similar profile of the dogs compared to the car… tail-dragging.
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When Joe got the car back home he started to show it at several shows and since the car was a little more than just 4 feet tall it was named the 4 Foot Kustom. The car was quite different from anything else around at the time. Especially the fact that it had such a long padded top made the car really unique and stand out from the rest. Joe enjoyed the car for some time, according the stories he used it quite frequently and in late 1952, early 1953 he took it back to the Barris Shop for a new paintjob. This time the car was painted in a deep metallic maroon.



The 1953 Rod & Custom article

Not along after the car had been repainted, Joe decided to let go of the car and offered it for sale on the D&B Auto Sale lot on Santa Monic Blvd in Holliwood, Ca. The asking price was $1595.-

When the car was featured well over three years after it had been finished in the August 1953 issue of Rod & Custom the car had been repainted by Barris in a dark maroon. It also appears that the steering wheel and column have been changed, the door garnish moldings have been wood grained and a dash mounted rear view mirror has been added. The grille was updated by the removal of the bottom bar, and the center vertical bar was recessed so it was less obvious. It also appears that the front bumper was mounted higher on the brackets., most likely to make the front end a little less heavy. Most interesting is that all the article photos were taken at the D&B Auto Sales lost on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood.


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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-09For Sale at the D&B Auto Sales on Santa Monica Blvd. in Holliwood. The lost was specialized in second hand Hot Rods and Custom Cars. Quite a few famous and not so famous Custom Cars ended up on this or similar lots at one point in their life.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-08Side view photo from the R&C article shows the wonderful flowing lines of the extended from fenders and the molded in rear fenders.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-07Front view shows how extensive the front end was reshaped to make all the components work together. The from gravel pan is, just as the one on the rear from a 1942-48 Ford, and molded into the front for the desired smooth look. Notice how thin the hood has become after the channeling of the body. In the later version of the car the bottom grille bar has been removed to lighten up the front, and the center bar looks to be set back, to make it stand out less than on the stock Oldsmobile grille.
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The Rod & Custom article states the car’s height has been reduced to 49 inches, or slightly over 4 feet high. Hence the name 4-feet Kustom. When Harry Bradley¬†reconstructed the car in his study about the original car and the design of his “Tribute” Ford in the early 1990’s he came to the conclusion the car must have been a bit taller, 54.20 inches. A stock 1941 Ford is listed as around 68 inches tall.

 

CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-06The rear view photo shows the completely welded and smooth rear section of the car. Notice that the Kustoms Los Angeles plaques have been removed by now. The rear window flap has been installed again, and we can now see how small the rear window is.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-05The car has literally every body panel modified in some way making it one of the most extensive restyled cars in the early years. The keen eye of Sam and his brother George made sure that everything worked together well on this car as we can see in this photo. But I guess by 1953, this type of custom was unfortunately a bit outdated.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-03The interior photo from the R&C article shows the new steering wheel and column, dash mounted rear view mirror, and wood grained garnish moldings.
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It is unknown what exactly happened to the car after it was for sale on the D&B Auto Sale lot. At one point it has found a new owner, possibly more than one new owner, and suffered a hard life since then. Rod Powell mentioned that at one point he saw the car in very sad conditions at a used car lot / muffler shop in Freedom Ca. The car had been dismantled for mechanical work. Rod mentioned that he had heard that eventually the car was cut op, and its gone now. Such a sad end for such a great car.



Harry Bradley’s step-by-step analysis

Harry Bradely has been fascinated with the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford since he saw it for the first time as a teen ager in 1951. In 1990 he set out to design a “Tribute” version of the car. To fully understand the original custom he made 8 side view drawings, starting with an stock 1941 Ford sedan and ending with the side view of the Joe Urritta Ford. These step-by-step analysis drwawings¬†give us a fantastic look what Sam Barris needed to do in 1949 to turn Joe’s Sedan into his sensational full Custom. If you want to know more about the Tribute Ford Harry Bradley Designed, please check out the CCC-Forum Post I did about the booklet Harry Bradley created. And inspired version of the Tribute Ford was eventually created by Rod Powell and his team.


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Hopefully one day somebody will get inspired enough to recreate the Joe Urritta 1941 Ford, perhaps with a few improvements as a slightly raked windshield. It would be great if we could see some more 1930’s and 1940’s sedan based customs. The Joe Urritta 1941 Ford once again proofs that the sedans make great Customs.


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References and more info

  • Motor Trend¬†magazine, July 1950
  • Custom Cars¬†Trend Book No. 101, 1951
  • Rod & Custom magazine, August 1953

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(this article is sponsored by)

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Dave Crook 1958 Pontiac

 

DAVE CROOK 1958 PONTIAC

 

Dave Crook is perhaps best known for a few amazing Custom Cars he created together with designer Harry Bradley. But before he teamed up with Harry he created several Custom Cars on his own, including this wildly restyled 1958 Pontiac

 

By Dave Crook

I will start at the beginning when I bought the car. I was 18 yrs. old and¬†working at a Pontiac-Cadillac dealer in the Buffalo, N.Y. area as a body man’s helper and was driving my Hemi powered unfinished chopped ’47 Ford coupe.¬†A ’58 Pontiac came in wrecked and the owner decided to trade it in on a new car instead of repairing it. I was able to purchase it from the dealer in the wrecked condition and that was where it all started. I repaired the car and made it into a mild custom–nosed, decked, door handles removed, lowered, with a California rake, and painted it 53 Buick Tahitian Red. Sadly I could not find a photo of this first version of the Pontiac.

I drove it that way for a year or so. At that time I went to work for Ron Gerstner, who owned the big hotrod and custom shop in the Buffalo area. We had a deal that I could build the Pontiac there nights and weekends. He was also building a 34 Ford 3 window for himself. I owe Ron a lot because I really did not have all of the equipment needed at home at my parents house to build the car. I also learned a lot while working for Ron.
 
CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-01After driving the car for a year s a mild custom I decided it was time for a complete make over and started the project with chopping the top.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-02At¬†Ron Gerstner’s shop with several project behind my Pontiac.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-03With the chop finished and the glass installed again.
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I started on the car in November of 1961, 3 months before my 19th birthday. With all the restyling I had planned, complete new front and rear end of the car with my own design for the head and taillights, it took me 9 months to build the car to the primer stage. Most of the photos from the car in progress were taken in 1962. Some of them still show the 1953 Buick Tahitian Red I had painted the car with in its earlier stage. I drove the car that way for 3 months and then decided it was time to paint the car so that I could attend shows with it.
 
CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-06Early stages of the new front end on the car. Lots of bend round tubing and large diameter tubing for the angled quad headlights.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-07Same thing going on at the rear, round tubing and other left over material I could find to restyle the Pontiac the way I had it in my head. The rear trunk line has been raised and the corners rounded.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-08A bit fuzzy, but this close up of the taillight show how I created them using large diameter tubing cut on an angle and welded together to fit inside the cut down original Pontiac rear fenders. Still a ton of shaping and welding to do at this point.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-09More progress at the front. Sheet metal has been shaped and formed the new grille opening, and the new headlights are starting to take shape.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-10And the rear is also taking shape, with a lot of metal shaping and welding done. The surface rust shows that I was doing a lot of the work outside at the time.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-11Now the front end is mostly together the way I wanted it to be. The a-symetrical hood scoop still needs to be done. Notice how the dip between the two headlight buckets flows all the way to the cowl. 
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-05On a rainy day in the summer of 1963.
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I wanted to debut the Pontiac at the big Buffalo Hotrod and Custom Car Autorama in March of 1963, which was also the weekend of my 21st birthday. I painted the car in a lime gold candy paint, however this color was on the car only for a few month.¬†If you talk to any of the guys doing Kandy paint¬†during the early 1960’s they will all tell you the same stories.¬†With a gold under base, we were all having trouble with primer that was not thoroughly dry (over a month)¬†or bondo on the car would cause dark spots to show up where ever those spots were in two or three months. This being¬†my first¬†kandy paint job, I was unaware of this problem. In talking to my friends Mike and Larry Alexander, they were having the same problem.¬†In any event at first the paint job looked¬†stunning. I¬†was lucky enough to win Best Custom at¬†that show.
 

CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-29The Pontiac at the Buffalo Hotrod and Custom Car Autorama in March of 1963.
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Something happened at that show that I will never forget and will be forever grateful for. Mike and Larry Alexander were at the show with the Ford Custom Car Caravan and they offered me a job to come to work for them. I wanted desperately to take them up on their offer, but at the time, I was trying to get a job with the Fisher Body Division of General Motors and I did not want to accept their offer and then have to leave them if I got the job with GM, which I eventually did get. Larry, Mike, and I did become life long friends thanks to that chance encounter.
 
CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-30It was early March of 1963 in Buffalo, New York,¬†I was 20 years old and very¬†excited¬†when the photographer took these photos on an empty parking lot on a gray day for Car Craft magazine. Besides mostly black and white photos for an feature article a few color slides were also taken in case the car would make the cover… which it did.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-14As far as I know only the few color photos taken for the Car Craft magazine article are the only outdoor photos taken of the car in lime gold.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-15The Pontiac made it onto two covers in its short time it was painted candy lime gold. The photos used on the cover of the Speed and Custom magazine from August 1963 were taken at the Buffalo, New York show in March 1963. The Car Craft magazine showed two color pics of the car on the cover.
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Disaster strikes

A local college friend,  Eric Daulquist, who was on a great career path of his own, photographed the car and was able to get it in the July 1963 issue of Car Craft and on the cover of the August 1963 issue of an East Coast Magazine, Speed and Custom. After that it was on the cover of the February 1964 issue of Car Craft and it was picked as one of the 10 Best Customs of 1963. I drove the heck out of the car that summer and in August of that year I decided to repaint the car and take it to the National Champion Ship Drag Races and Autorama in Indianapolis, Indiana on Labor Day weekend. Since I had some problems with the gold undercoat on the lime gold paint I took no changes and sanded most of the paint of from the car and prepped the body for the new paint. Candy Apple Red.

When the car was done it was time to go on the road to the Autorama in Indianapolis, Indiana. While enroute somewhere in Ohio, in the middle of the night, one of my best friends, who was driving my other car, a Kandy Red 1960 Pontiac, fell asleep and ran into me at about 50 miles an hour. The ’58 was totaled from the doors back and the 60 Pontiac needed a complete front end. Thus the rebuild and re-design started, which I did in my parents garage.
 

CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-16This is how the Pontiac looked like after the accident… a very sad sight.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-17But…. the front was still looking good, time for a new design on the rear portion of the car. This photo shows how nice the Candy Red paint was on the car.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-18Not much left from the rear of the body after I had cut off all the damaged beyond repair body panels.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-19I added some late model rear fenders, redid the taillight very similar as on the previous version and hand made the rest from sheet metal and round rod. On the left you can see the repaired Candy Red 1960 Pontiac which my friend used when crashing into the 58.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-20aI wanted to do something completely new for the rear window. So I made this a-simatrical design matching the hood scoop.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-21aThe side view shows how radical the new rear window shape changes the looks of the car. The front wheel openings were modified and the stock side trim was removed and the holes filled.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-22aI added a scoop to the trunk and all the body work was nearly finished when I took this photo. On the right is my daily driver the Candy Red 1960 Pontiac.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-23aGood look at the new rear portion of the car with the wild redesigned rear window… which still needs to be made from green plexiglass at this point.
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Just about the time all the metal work was done, I¬†did get the job with Fisher Body. Thus, I¬†had to move to Detroit¬†and¬†live in an apartment. That meant no place to finish the car. That meant Ron Gerstner came back into the picture. I¬†took the car to Ron’s shop and would come home on weekends¬†to work on the car at his shop. He was a big help and did most of the work on priming and blocking the car to get it ready for paint. I then came home one weekend and painted the car. Then the¬†car sat for a year or so¬†because I was traveling most of the time with my job.

In 1966 I was permanently transferred to Denver, Colorado and I took the car with me. I used the car a little, but as you know, by 1966 the hotrod and custom thing was dead. That’s when I decided to build my chopped 1967 Pontiac Catalina 2+2. I drove the ’67 Pontiac back to Detroit in August of 1968 to our annual new model training and the chief engineer of Fisher Body wanted to show the car to Bill Mitchell (head of¬†GM¬†Styling). Long story short, Bill Mitchell¬†offered me a job at Styling as a Technical Stylist, which is one of the engineers in the design studio. I took the job with Fisher Body’s blessing. That was when I¬†started building my¬†1970 Firebird based on the Harry Bradley Designs and decided it was time to let go of the 1958 Pontiac.
 
CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-24With all the new body work finished it was time for an all new paintjob. Candy green with a gold fade in the center of the car.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-25The tubular grille I made for the previous version was replaced with a single bar unit created from shaped and chrome plated heavy sheet metal.
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CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-26And the rear grille opening had a similar single bar insert with the license plate a-symatrical placed in line with the scoops. The green plexiglass can be seen really well in this photo.
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I¬†sold the ’58 Pontiac to and old friend in Buffalo, N. Y. And to my knowledge the car is still in his family, but by now it is completely redone with an new interior and new paint in white with ice green fades.

 
CCC-dave-crook-58-pontiac-27Mikes Big 429 took these photos of Dave’s old Pontiac in the summer of 2015. The basic body is all still there, but the new paint job changed the look of the car completely.
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Dave crook finished his last car in 2013, another masterpiece this time based on the wonderful designs made by Harry Bradley. A full CCC-Article on this car be seen HERE.
 
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Harry Bradley Fantom Ford

 

SAM FOOSE AND HARRY BRADLEY

 

Automotive designer Harry Bentley Bradley designed, perhaps his most elegant Custom Car based on a 1949 Ford Sedan. Master-metal man Donn Lowe and Sam Foose recreated his designs in metal.

 
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen Harry Bradley designed this Fantom ’49 Ford he had FoMoCo designer Edsel Ford in mind. Harry Bradley has always admired the wonderful designs Edsel Ford created. Cars like the ’32, ’34, ’36 Fords/Lincolns and ’39 and ’40 Mercury’s. ¬†All these cars, especially toward the 1940’s had those wonderful long and tapered hoods, stylish roofs and amazing details on the side windows, often with chrome details. Mr Bradley thought Edsel’s designs were tasteful, understated and thoroughly inspired. With all this in mind Mr Bradley went to work, creating a Customs with all the styling elements of the earlier Edsel Ford designs, using all the basic ’49 elements, but refined and scaled down. Creating a car that perhaps Edsel Ford would have created for his own personal use.

Harry Bradley’s designs for the Fantom Ford appeared for the first time in 1983 when Street Rodder magazine used them in an article. When I saw them for the first time it was 1991, when a similar article with the same artwork by Mr. Bradley appeared in the Swedish magazine Wheels.¬†The article, two pages, was filled with amazing drawings, a ’38, a ’41, and this ’49 Ford were shown. I was shocked by its beauty.
 
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Donn Lowe

Getting back in time, master custom builder Donn Lowe from Oregon had seen the Street Rodder magazine article and fell in love with the design and decided to take the task on him to recreate Harry’s designs in metal. He contacted Mr. Bradley and many phone calls and sketches later Donn started the project based on a 1951 Ford, which he “downgraded” to a 1949 model. He started with the suspension getting the car to the right ride height. A ’72 Nova front clip was added and at the rear a Ford 9″ with drum brakes was installed. A full Airride system makes¬†sure the car can be lowered to the perfect stance. Donn continued with the chop. Mr. Bradley’s design asked for the removal of the section just above the belt line and the lower section of the top, leaned back A-pillars and leaned forward, and moved rearward C-Pillars. The B-Pillars would be completely removed at this point. With the top tacked in place Donn proceeded with the lower body. This needed to be pie-cut sectioned from 1 inch in the back, to 5 inches on the front. Just as the chop, not an easy task, but needed to come close to the original drawings.

Sadly Donn had to abandon the project at this stage. Fortunately for a good reason. His body shop work load was so big he just did not have the time for his personal project no more. The project sat for some time until another master custom builder, Sam Foose heard about¬†the project. Sam and his son Chip headed out to Oregon to buy the project. Sam had also see Harry’s illustration in 1983, and also loved the design. Donn’s already started project would be the perfect base for Sam. And Sam knew everything Donn already did, must have been perfect since everything Donn does is that way. And right he was.

CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-21-wThis is how far Donn Lowe got with the project. The basic shape is there, but there is still a ton of work ahead.
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Sam Foose

Sam Foose found his friend Jack Bernard interested enough in the project to financing the built, so Sam went ahead and finished where Donn had left off. First task was to finish the pie-cut sectioning. The main body structure had been sectioned but all the panels still had to be done. Sam was now also in contact with Harry Bradley and together they discussed a few changed on the car. Some minor details or fine tuning that were just not visible on the original illustrations, like the front to rear peaks on the fenders/beltline. But also more visible details as the narrowed grille bar and remaining of the stock taillights and wind split on the rear quarters. All changes where discussed and approved by Harry Bradley.

 

CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-20-wPaul Kelly captured the amazing lines of the Bradley Foose Ford. The forward rake in not really typical custom, but it works so well on this car.
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Sam finished the tacked in chopped roof. A lot of work to get the flow right. At the belt-line all new metal was formed to make the windows fit. A new, much thinner B-Pillar was created and window frames styled after the 1939-40 Mercury coupes was created to fit flush with the body. 1952 Ford headlights were molded into the front fenders but raised from its stock position. This was needed to make space for the grille surround. After sectioning the body 5 inches at the front the original grille surround had to be cut down and moved up to fit, and to be in balance with the reduced in height front of the car.

Harry’s original designs called for a custom made grille based on the original ’49 ¬†Ford grille, but cleaner, and smoother. Sam decided to use the original grille, but scale it down. The Horizontal bars were cut down at the end so that the whole unit could be moved back to fit flush with the surround instead of sitting on top and overlapping the surround on the original car. Scaling down the center bullet and surround was not so easy… or was it. Sam had looked at a 1951 Ford grille and came to the conclusion that the 1951 Ford grille usses two bullets on each side of the grille bar that is basically the same as the 1949 single center unit, but just smaller. So these 1951 Bullets would work perfectly for his scaled down 1949 Grille.

 

CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-08-wHarry Bradley’s design sketches as they appeared in the Swedish Wheels magazine. The side view images show the amount of work needed for the project. The rear vender view shows Harry’s original plan was to use stock shaped taillights molded into the body, and a reverse shaped wind-spilt. The last part did not make it on to the final version.
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CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-09-wNice view shows a stock and modified view next to each other. As can be seen Harry’s original version of the grille uses a smooth center bullet¬†and a smooth but still long grille bars.
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Sam had always really liked the wonderful peak of the 1949-51 Ford rear fenders, especially when cleaned up. So he decided to use this peak and run it down the complete length of the car. Starting at the top of the rear fender, over the rear quarters, doors and ending on top of the front fender in the dead center of the headlights. A very subtile touch many people will not see, but in fact it really ties the car together and adds elegance to the new belt line.

Next up where the bumpers. Sam used the stock bumpers and cut out the lower section in the center. The hole left in the bumper received a subtile lip, giving a hint to the 1951 Ford bumpers. A new metal section was shaped to fill the hole in the bumper,¬†this would later be painted body color with at the end custom made parking lights. At the rear¬†the same was repeated, only here¬†the end sections¬†are used for the exhaust tips. And these where of course also hand shaped by Sam. A few things were left on the body,reshaped wheel openings, molded splash pan’s and some jewelry. Sam hand made the new spear shaped side trim in brass. The spear is wide at the back and very pointy at the front, ver much as the new shape of the pie-cut body. The hood trim was also created from brass and Sam also hand shaped a hood ornament which is a scaled down version of the stock unit. Much more elegant.

CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-11-wWhen I first saw this front 3/4 view I could not believe how beautiful it was. I do like the wider an taller white wall tires Harry Bradley used on his illustration, better than what was used on the real car.
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CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-19-wIn the mid 1990’s I set out to built an 1/25 scale model of Harry’s Ford. At that time I started the project I had no knowledge the real car was going to be built. Later I found out Sam Foose was building it. I send Sam Foose a letter asking him all kinds of questions about the car. Several weeks later I received a letter back from Sam, three pages of text and illustrations explaining what he had done on the car.
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CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-16-wThe side profile shows the perfect balanced body top relation. The rake of the body due to the pie-cut sectioning, the angled back windshield. Everything is used to create instant speed.
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For the interior Sam cleaned up the original dash and the window garnish moldings were reshaped to fit the new side window openings. A custom console was created and Glide Engineering provided the seat base which Sam further modified to fit his needs and the rear bench was hand made. When everything was ready this all was upholstered in a wonderful gray mohair with leather accents by Gabe Lopez of Gabe’s Street Rods and Custom Interiors. Very much like a high end factory car from the 1940’s. ¬†The body was painted in a Mercedes blue green metallic named Fantom Green by Bill Anderson at the Foose workshop. A color that suits the lines of the car absolutely perfect.

 

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The interior of the Fantom Ford is classic understatement. The dashboard is smoothed, the glove box filled and painted light gray metallic. The seats upholstered in mohair like material with leather ascents. The Budnik steering wheels was said to be a temporary solution, but it has stayed in the car since the beginning. A cut down original 49 Ford wheel as original planned would have look much better.
 
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CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-13-w1951 Ford grille bullets are much smaller in diameter than the 1949 units, so that was used in the new scaled down grille. A set of original ’49 Ford hubcaps and beauty rings was used on gray metallic painted wheels. Over the years the exhaust tips have sagged a little. ther used to be a very small gab between the tip and the bumper. The photo does who the nice lip Sam added to the chrome portion of the bumper.
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The dead on front view shows the wonderful restyled and scaled down ’49 Ford grille. The floating bar sits now inside the chrome grille surroud. Hard to see is that the inside of the grille opening is painted light gray metallic, similar as the wheels and dash. This photo also shows the connection between the grille surround and the cut outs in the lower section of the bumper.
 
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CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-18-wThe rear view shows the bumper inset panel, which is bigger than the one created on the front. This way the panel lines up with the trunk lines, and there is more room for the exhaust tips. The sagged over time, exhaust tips making it look a little sad. It also gives us a good look at the body colored panel in the bumper, the stock taillight bezels with hand made smooth taillights and the peak on top of the rear fenders that flows all the way to the front fenders.
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CCC-harry-bradley-49-ford-07-wAnother photo by Paul Kelly shows the then owner Jack Bernard walking towards his car. It shows how low this car is.
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The Harry Bradley Fantom Ford is a very inspiring car, something totally different from the 1940’s and 1950’s styled Custom Cars we all love so much. Harry Bradley succeeded, in my eyes, to blend vintage styling with modern styling. Staying¬†with the original design of the car, and only improving on it. The smaller size white wall tires ‚Äď compared to Mr. Bradley’s original design ‚Äď make it look more modern than how Edsel Ford probably would have built it back then. But over-all I think that this is perhaps the best designed Harry Bradley car of them all. Of course with the fine tuning help of master craftsman Donn Lowe and Sam Foose.

 

 

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More info and resources

  • Wheels magazine, Swedish magazine July 1991
  • Rod & Custom, magazine February 1999
  • Custom Rodder, magazine March 2000

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Finding the Alexandria

h5>ALEXANDER BROTHERS ALEXANDRIA

Based on a 1955 Ford four door custom car designer Harry Bradley designed a wild shop truck for the Detroit based Alexander Brothers’ Custom Shop.

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In the early 1960’s Mike and Larry Alexander teamed up with Harry Bradley to create another uniquely restyled custom creation. Based on a 1955 Ford four door sedan and using parts from many other vehicles Harry Bradley designed the “Alexandria” for the shop. Quite a bit of time was spend on the project, and the overal shape was very clearly visable in the few photos that have since been published on this project. But no photos of the finished project. Simply because the shop never finished the car. In order to generate some money needed for a move into a new shop the project was sold and nothing of it was ever seen again.

Joey Ukrop has been discussing the Alexandria with Mike Alexander and decided to go on a hunt for it. Trying to find out what happend to the car after it was sold, and ultimately finding out if it is still around today.

Joe is sharing some amazing photos of the Alexandria from Mike Alexanders personal collection on the HAMB. Check out the HAMB article there and share as much as possible. Hopefully the right people will see it and hopefully more will be known about the car and its fate in days, weeks to come.

Two of the many photos from the Mike Alexander Collection shared on the HAMB.

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Dave Crook’s Latest Masterpiece

THE ULTIMATE ’69 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX

Master craftsman Dave Crook, and legendary designer Harry Bradley, have created another masterpiece again. David Crook finished this remarkable project a week ago. It is based on mr. Harry Bradley’s 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix design study.

I first heard about Dave’s new project at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show. Dave, and I have had quite some email contact in the past, but this was the first time we actually met. Harry Bradley, is famous for his many designs and the fact that just few of his amazing designs are realized. Dave Crook built a 1947 Ford, the so-called Job-One. This uniquely styled car was also designed by Harry Bradley. Therefore it was one of the cars, I selected to be part of the Customs Then and Now exhibition at the GNRS in 2011. I was very much looking forward, to be able to watch this master piece in person, be able to walk around it and watch every angle on this car. And, above all, I was looking forward to meet Dave Crook in person. And to talk with the man who’s work I have admired for many years. Dave’s 1947 Ford was breathtaking and Dave turned out to be an amazing guy. We spend a lot of time talking about the ’47 Ford, and all other projects he had been involved in, his work together with Harry Bradley, and of course his latest project. The 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Several publications had mentioned that Harry was retired and would not do any car design work any more. His last project was the 1940 Mercury “Afterglow” a design by Harry based on the famous Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury. Harry designed the car, both inside and out, with great care for every little detail. That car was built by Donn Lowe.
I very much regretted Harry Bradley’s retirement, since I have always been a great fan of Harry Bradley’s car designs. Especially his custom cars. Not your typical period perfect cruiser, but always inspired by the great icons of custom cars, combined with his unique style of details, lines and other elements. His car designs are sometimes considered as custom cars, but perhaps more as custom car design studies, or perhaps as visualized ideas from cars designers, who day dreamed about their dream customs when the cars were first designed.

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Back to Dave Crook and Harry. Dave confirmed the fact that Harry had retired. But he mentioned that when Harry and he were talking one day, and Dave mentioned his plans to do a new design study custom based on a 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix, Harry’s eyes started to twinkle. And after a while he agreed to get on board with one final design. This 1969 Grand Prix was something he had always dream about, ever since he was working at the G.M. Styling studio’s, when the 1969 Grand Prix was first designed back in the 1960’s. When the project was finished a week or so ago, Dave send Harry some photos. Harry responded: “This is the way the car should have looked back in 1969”. Of course Dave, and Harry had taken several liberties that you could not have take in a production vehicle.

Harry started sketching his dream Grand Prix and Dave started the process of recreating Harry’s sketches in 3D‚Ķ not the easiest task, but Dave has proven in the past he is very good in doing that.

A few of the modifications are:

  • Chopped roof, 2 inches
  • Leaned back windshield
  • Leaned forward rear window
  • Lengthened (10 inches) and reshaped at the back door
  • Removal of the quarter windows
  • Reshaped body panels
  • Hand made bumpers front and read
  • hand made exhaust tips
  • hand made headlights in chrome plated fiberglass, created from wood masters
  • Acrylic machined headlight lenses
  • custom made interior

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End result is a magnificent designers dream car from 1969. How the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix really should have looked like, with the help of master car designer Harry bradley, and shaped by master craftsman Dave Crook.

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The other two cars designed by Harry Bradley mentioned in this article are:

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