The Willis Horn Coupe

.

The Willis Horn Coupe

.

In 1941 Willis Horn from Marysville California purchased a Custom 1936 Ford Chopped Coupe from a Hot Rod Shop. Since 1973 it is owned by grandson Jeff Boone who is now looking to find out more on the cars history for a full restoration.

.

Jeff Boone from Live Oak, California, was given this early Custom Restyled 1936 Ford 5-window coupe as a gift from his grandfather back in 1973. Jeff was just 11 years old when his grandfather gave him the car. Information his grandfather might have told him about the cars history back then has been forgotten over the years. “Just a boy with hotrod dreams…”. At 11-12 years old the fact of owning your own Hot Rod, and getting it ready to drive overshadowed the historical facts. During 1973 and 1974 Jeff and his grandfather worked on the car for a coupe of month before putting it away in a barn. In 2017 Jeff is ready to bring out the car and start putting it back together how it used to look. With the restoration work now started he is looking into the history of the car, finding old family photos and asking family members what they remember about the car. Not much is known about it, so Jeff is hoping that sharing the car here on the Custom Car Chronicle might shed some light on the history of this early Custom Car. We will be adding more material and info to this article when we find it. Including some photos of how the car looks now and it being pulled from the bar is has been stored in since 1974.

Jeff’s grandfather, Willis Horn from Marysville, California (close to Sacramento) purchased the ’36 Ford back in 1941. Jeff was told the car was bought from a Hot Rod Shop, but nobody seems to remember which one, or even where, if it was local, or from further away. (Edit: we now know that the car was bought in Los Angeles in 1941, close to a place called Los Angeles Auto Auction, more about that further on in this article) At the time Willis bought the car it was completely finished as a Custom Car, with a unique chopped top with the rear quarter windows filled it, the b-pillars slanted forward, and the top door corners rounded. The car was painted green, and by the looks of the one black and white photo Jeff has found of this version of the car it was a dark shade of green. Jeff also recalls his grandfather saying he changed the hood sides and put the original louvered hood sides on the car cause the engine would put off too much heat inside the coupe… He never knew what type of sides were on the car when he first bought it?

.

When Willis bought the car back in 1941 the car was finished in green. He left it that color and added some advertising for his used car lot on the door.

.

Cropped image shows some more details. Appleton Spotlight point pointed forwards position, a typical early 1940’s feature. Flipped door handles, rear quarter windows filled in after the chop and rounded door top corner with angled forward B-Pillars. I think that this is the earliest sample of a round door corner on a Custom Car I have seen so far.

.

Stock ’36 Ford 5-window Coupe the Willis Horn coupe started out as.

.

Other restyling features on the car are a new grille shell with a 1939 Nash grille installed, double Appleton spotlight facing backwards in the photos we have of the car, a typical 40’s feature. turned around door handles, also a typical 40’s trick to make the door handle look more streamlined. Something discussed in many of the early restyling manuals from Dan Post and others. ’39 Ford tear drop taillights and teardrop bubble skirts, and a chrome plated dash inside. The chop obviously being the most distinctive feature on this car. Very unique, especially for the time it was built, when 3-window coupes much have been relatively easy to find. It was still decided to turn the 5-window coupe into a short door 3-window coupe. Unique about the chop is that the b-pillars are angled forward, and that the top door corners are rounded. Rounded Door Corners on a ’36 Ford are rare, and having them done back in 1941 even rarer. Perhaps the earliest sample of rounded door corners I have come across so far. The belt line fabrication and filled top look to have been done very well, indicating the work was done by a good craftsman.

Willis owned a Used Car lot in Marysville, California, since the 1930’s. He used the ’36 Ford, which always attracted peoples attention because of its unique and good looks, as rolling advertising for his lot. Somewhere in the 1940’s Willis repainted the car in maroon with cream on the main body below the beltline. The car was also used as the lead vehicle in the annual the Bok Kai parade in Marysville.

.

“This is my grandmother, Lola Horn standing next to the car after the sign was painted on the door…car was green when grandpa brought it home…”

.

The 36 pulling Willis Horn’s race car… This must be around 1949, shortly before the car was repainted.
Close up on the car from the previous photo.

.

In the late 1940’s, the car was repainted in maroon with cream on the lower main body.
Willis Horn(right) standing next to the car with one of his salesmen on the left.

.

.

According to Jeff his grandfather Willis Horn alway led the Bok Kai parade in Marysville, California. And ideal opportunity to promote his used Car lot. So far this has been the best photo Jeff has been able to locate of the car. It shows the Nash grille, the single bar hubcaps, and teardrop skirts. Notice the loud speaker on top of the car. Judged on the license plate and tag in the photo this one must have been made between 1948 and 1950.

.

Willis posing with one of the three race cars he had.

.

Willis (with hat) and a couple of his drivers.

.

Willis Horn, ready to race…

.

Herman Jenkins remembers

Jeff recently spoke with a good friend of his late grandfathers, Herman Jenkins about the ’36 Ford to see if more info could be found about the cars history. Herman remembered that his grandfather, Willis Horn, used to buy his used cars at the Los Angeles Auction Yard. he could not remember where that place was located in Los Angeles, but he did remember that the Hot Rod Shop where Willis bought the ’36 Ford was very close to this L.A. Auto Auction. So, now we need to find somebody who might remember where this Auto Auction yard was in Los Angeles, perhaps that will help find the Hot Rod Shop who built this ’36 Ford. If any of our readers knows more about this Los Angeles Auction Yard, where it was located, please email Rik Hoving.

Herman was in the US Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack and remained till 1947. When he was honorably discharged, he came home to Marysville and remembered that he and my Grandpa drove down to Los Angles and picked up the 1936 ford where my grandfather had a shop put a hotrod flathead motor and Three speed transmission which shifted on the column.
(Herman didn’t recall who or where my Grandfather purchased the car)

He said my Grandfather told him the car was originally black, then green, then blue and lastly, it was maroon.  He recalled the 36 had flat hood sides, but at some point, my Grandpa said it was too hot inside the car. He changed the sides to the original 36 ford hood sides so the engine heat could escape.

He also recalled going with my grandfather, on occasion, to North Beale Road, Marysville California   
(The road to Beale Air Force Base) Apparently it was the choice “drag strip” for my Grandfather!

Herman remembered one story vividly… a guy who drove up from Los Angeles in his ’49 Ford 2-door, just to race my Grandfather!  Herman said the LA guy says… I hear you have the fastest car in California!  My Grandfather, a bit modest, said my car’s pretty fast and pointed at the 36 custom. The guy looked, started laughing,(customs aren’t supposed to be fast) and said he had $50 to race that car!  Herman said your Grandpa says give me a minute, I’ll take that bet…  Herman says “your Grandpa blew his doors off” (laughingly)!!!

The guy was so upset he wanted a second chance, double or nothing. My grandfather told the Los Angeles guy he would even give him a head start…”when you leave, I’ll start”!  

Herman said…”I waved at the guy when we drove by”!  Your grandfathers car was fast!  When they pulled over, the LA guy handed my grandfather $100… Herman said they had a great laugh!  Herman had shared so many great memories with my Grandfather, that I couldn’t remember them all!  Unfortunately, On August 7, 2018 Herman Jenkins of Yuba City passed.
Not only was Herman my Grandfathers good friend, but I would like to think he was my good friend as well.
Truly yours
Jeff Boone

Herman also remembered that Willis bought new cars from a good friend in Los Angeles, Les Kelley. Les ran the famous Kelley Kar Company and Les Kelly Ford where Willis bought the cars wholesale and brought them to Marysville to resale at his own lot. Les Kelly Ford later moved to the corner of Figueroa and Pico in Los Angeles and becomes the largest used car dealership in the world.

.

Les Kelley Ford where Willis bought new cars at wholesale for his Marysville lot. (Photos from www.kbb.com/company/history)

.

In 1975 Jeff’s uncle, Willis Horn JR, helped  put a 327 Chev, a t350 trans and a 10 bolt rear end in the ’36. They did some body repairs with bondo in 1975 and the plan was to have the whole car painted 1936 Ford Maroon, but they got it in red oxide primer. At one point Jeff needed a new engine for his race car, so out when the 327. The the car with the fresh red oxide primer, went back to the barn till 5/25/2017.

.

This is how the car has been sitting for many years.

.

Clearing the rubble around it.

.

All cleaned up.

.

Jeff Boone on the left and his uncle, Willis Horn JR. on the right with the disassembled ’36 Ford.

.

A good look at the main body with the unique chopped top turned from 5-window to 3-window back around 1940 in Los Angeles, California. The treatment of the belt-line behind the doors and the angled forward B-pillar and rounded door top is really unique.

.

The bare frame of the ’36 Ford at the Standley Brothers Hotrod Shop.

.

Soda blasting at Standley Brothers Hotrod Shop in Yuba City, California.

.

The soda blasting revealed the body Jeff and his uncle added to the car back in 1975.

.

You can see the lead at the chop and rear quarters in some of the other photos as well. Back in 1973, when Jeff was 11, he used a rosebud tip on a torch to heat the lead and he removed a good portion of it. You can see where his uncle and Jeff tried doing some body work after the majority of lead was removed. “We know better today than we did in 1974!”

.

Over the last couple of years Jeff has been working on and off on the restoration to how it used to look, and hopefully he will come across more photos from the 1940’s how the car looked. Hopefully with the help of the Custom Car Chronicle readers he will be able to find out more on the cars original history from before his grandfather bought the car in 1941. If you know anything more about this ’36 Ford Custom ex-5-window Coupe, from pre 1973, then please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to add any new historic info to the article and help Jeff with the history of his car.

.

The car in bare metal ready for the Sacramento Autorama 2019.

.

Jeff Boone with the Ford at the 2019 Sacramento Autorama.

.

.

.

.

.

The Willis Horn Coupe will debut completely finished at the 2020 Sacramento Autorama.

.

(This article is made possible by)






.

7+

Joe Bailon Elton Kantor Ford

 

ELTON KANTOR FORD

 

Joe Bailons second major Custom Car was restyled for Elton Kantor based on a 1950 Ford Convertible. It would end up with the prestigious Oakland Roadster Show Elegance Award.



Joe Bailon always had his own ideas about styling, about what he thought the ideal Custom Car should look like. With his personal car, the 1941 Chevy Miss Elegance he had already shown the world a little bit about his unique sense of car styling. A combination of the smooth flowing Detroit car styling lines combined with unique, unexpected lines and intricate trim details. Miss Elegance already had all the typical Joe Bailon styling cues in it.

Joe Bailon’s second major Custom was based on an 1950 Ford convertible. Owner Elton Kantor from Oakland California took his near new convertible to Joe Bailon after being very impressed with Miss Elegance. Together with Joe the discussed the design possibilities, and decided that the car needed a. Hard Top look, with smooth flowing lines, longer and much lower appearance and a completely smoothed body highlighted in a super glossy dark colored paint job.

Probably the best viewing angle on the Kantor Ford is this slightly higher rear quarter view.All the lines of the car seam to work at its very best then. The original version is so smooth and vintage looking with all the trim removed.
[divider]



Joe set out to incorporate a ’51 Ford Victoria roof, welded that to the 4.5 inch chopped windshield frame, and at the back to the body sides. In the process the lower edge of the roof was moved forward a few inches. The c-pillars needed a lot of work to get the desired look. The back of a stock Victoria top is rather upright, which became even more evident after the chop. The stock three piece rear glass made it impossible to get the top to flow in the more swooping lines Joe and Elton wanted for the rear of the top. So it was decided to create a top with the perfect flow, an then hand made a new rear window to get everything right, instead being dictated by factory products.

Joe hand formed the rear of the roof from sheet metal until both were happy with the look. Then the new rear window shape was created into the new roof, and later fitted with plexiglass that was cut to size, heated and shaped to fit the new opening. The whole unit was dressed up with some aftermarket stainless steel strip, shaped to fit and screwed in place, a technique taken from upholstery shops who used the same technique for some of their padded top designs.

Color slide from the 1953 Hop Up magazine photo-shoot by Ralph Poole is a bit on the dark side, but I think it shows the color better than on the actual cover of the magazine.
[divider]


A detail photo showing all the restyling Joe added to the rear of the car, shortened trunk, added molded in continental kit, set in license plate in the reshaped lower panel, molded in splash-pan, and stepped extended rear fender with hand made taillights and the heavily restyled 1950 Ford rear bumper.
[divider]



Next up where the fenders on the car, both front and rear fenders were molded to the body, and to create the long and low effect the guys were after the rear fenders were lengthened with no less than 12 inches. Joe and Elton really liked the stepped panel below the trunk on Joe’s ’41 Chevy, so this design element was incorporated into Elton’s Ford as well. To make that happen the bottom of the trunk was raised around a foot and a new bulbous shaped panel was added below the new trunk line. The new lower body panel was molded to the splash-pan with a nice radius. Joe added a metal continental cover to the rear of the trunk, that starts at the bottom of the trunk and molded it into the trunk at a pleasing angle. The bulbous shape, below the trunk, was duplicated on the rear fenders with the lower section of the rear fended being extended more than the top. This lower section was next reshaped with round rod to form an taillight opening in which Joe later would add hand shaped clear red Lucite taillight lenses. While extending the rear fenders Joe had removed the stock wind-splits that lead to the stock Ford taillights the result was a completely smooth side of the car.

At the front Joe welded the stock headlight rings to the fenders and slightly peaked the top of the fenders. Joe had already nosed the hood, which enhanced the factory peak of the hood, and the new peak at the top of the fenders worked really well with the hood peak. Joe used two 1949 Mercury grille shells to form the new much smaller grille opening for Alton’s Fords. One was used in its regular place, the second one turned upside down and welded to the splash pan that was molded to the front fenders. This together formed a really nicely shaped smooth grille opening in the car, the hood center peak was repeated below the grille and into the splash pan for a nice uniform look. At the back Joe removed the factory stock outside hinges of the trunk and installed some inboard units. In the bulge below the trunk he created another inset license plate behind glass that he liked so much.

Detail shot from the front shows the molded in grille surround created from two ’49 Mercury grille shell’s, the grille created from round tubing, sheet metal and two bumper guard bullets. Notice how Joe molded in the splash-pan with a similar radius as the Mercury grille opening. The shaved bumper is unique for the time the car was build.
[divider]


Elton’s Ford had the perfect ride height, slightly lower in the rear for that attractive and desired speed boat look.
[divider]



All the outside trim was removed, including door handles which were replaced with solenoids. All the holed were filled and everything was completely smoothed. A set of ’49 Mercury fender skirts was modified at the bottom to sit level with the Ford body and reshaped to fit the Ford body contours.

With all the body work completed Joe painted the car in many coats of dark metallic blue paint. The car was lowered front and rear, to sit near level, and four wide white wall tires were mounted on the dark painted wheels that were dressed up with aftermarket smooth wheel discs.

The grille that Joe created for Alton’s Ford is another typical Joe Bailon trademark. With all the body so super smooth, Joe likes to add some super fine and wild details with the grille. He used two bumper guard bullets, sheet stock and tubing of different diameter to hand shape the unique grille. The whole assembly was welded together, smoothed and chrome plated before being installed as a floating grille bar in the new grille opening.

Another Joe Bailon trademark in the early 1950’s was the welded bumper bolts for the ultimate smooth bumpers. The Front unit is stock but smoothed 1950 Ford with the guards removed, and the rear is made from the stock ’50 Ford rear bumper combined with wrap around end sections, which enhance the already very long rear fenders even more. Joe also incorporated square exhaust tips in the lower edge of the rear bumper.


Custom interior was done in bone and black with black piping on the bone sections, and bone piping on some of the black sections. The dashboard was painted to match the interior.
[divider]


The color image used on the cover of the June 1953 issue of Motor Trend magazine was flipped horizontal so that the composition of the photo looked more attractive on the shelves in the book stores.
[divider]



[divider]


The interior was upholstered in bone and black with the dash board treated with the same colors to match the upholstery. A set of Appleton Spotlights was added as the finishing touch.

Alton’s Ford was a huge success at the 1953 Oakland Roadster show were it won the top award at the full Custom Glass, the equivalent of the National Roadster Award, but then for Customs. The car was in color on the cover of the July 1953 issue of Motor Trend magazine, which helped boost business for Joe’s body shop.

Alton Kanter receiving the award at the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show.
[divider]



New Owner Manuel Azevedo

After having enjoyed his new Custom Ford for a while, Alton was ready to move on, and offered his price winning Ford up for sale. Manny Azevedo, who also lived in Oakland and who ad seen the car at local shows bought the car. He enjoyed the car for some time and entered it in some more CA shows, then decided it was time for a round of updates. Around that time Manny visited Joe Bailon’s shop with the Ford and when leaving he backed up the car, and there was this metal pole he did not see. He hit it and damaged the complete passenger side of the car. Not good, but an perfect opportunity for a remake, and update.

The front of the car showing the damage.
[divider]

Manny backed up the car at Joe Bailon’s Shop and did not see a metal pole causing major damage to the passenger side of the car.
[divider]



Manny wanted to have a two tone solution for the car, and Joe came up with a new side trim created from 1954 Chevy side trim pieces and an unknown front section. The new side trim is slightly wider at the front then tapers very slightly towards the rear, creating instant speed. The new side trim also makes the bulge at the rear of the fender look right at place. Joe also modified the rear fenders, where he reshaped the original taillight opening and modified a set of 1954 Chevy taillights to fit inside these new openings. For this version Joe hand made a new set of fender skirts, nice long skirts that matched the lines of the fenders, and enhanced their length. At the leading edge, which was curved forward to flow with the C-pillar of the top, Joe installed three elegantly styled trim pieces.

After Joe repaired the damage on Manny’s Ford and with the new updates, the car is ready for the new Car Show Season. Photo taken at the Joe Bailon Shop.
[divider]


Color image by Spencer Murray used on the cover of the June 1955 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. By now Joe had repainted the car in metallic purple, with white inside the new side trim. Notice the contrast of the red painted wheels, and how the side trim made the car look even longer than it already was.
[divider]



The front of the car was also updated with the latest trend, hooded headlights. Joe created his own style of hooded headlight using sheet metal and round rod, for a unique look, and a styled that would become another of Joe’s trademark restyling touches. The hood corners had remained square on the early version, but were rounded with a nice large radius this time around.

Joe painted the car in a metallic purple and added white inside the side trim. The new side trim, and added white color added even more optical length to the car, than the previous version of the car. For this version Joe also added a bit of extra flash by painting the wheels bright red before installing a set of 1954 Oldsmobile hubcaps. The all redone Ford was featured and appeared in color on the cover of the June 1955 issue of Rod & Custom magazine.

Joe also modified the taillight openings to accepts 1954 Chevy taillights.
[divider]


Rear window was hand formed from heated plexiglass in a custom made opening. The trim material was the same as some of the upholstery shops used for rear windows in padded tops. The fit and finish looks a bit sloppy by today’s standards, but it sure did not stand in the way of winning some of the big Custom awards in the early-mid 1950’s.
[divider]


A better look at the modified taillight openings and 1954 Chevy taillights fitted into it.
[divider]


For the new version Joe handmade a set of fender skirts, with a functional scoop at the front and dressed it up with three little chrome plated teeth.
[divider]


A good look at the hood center peak that was extended thru the grille and also below the grille. Joe also rounded the hood corners for the new version, which made the front look more attractive than before. This front view also shows the all new above the headlights scoops.
[divider]


Joe Bailon’s Miss Elegance image used on the Bay Area Customs club plaque.
[divider]



These photos were taken by George Barris at Joe Bailon’s shop. Most likely the car was painted purple and lime by then.

Scanned from a 35 mm negative proof sheet most likely photographed by Frank Faraone, who was the staff photographer of the Oakland Roadster Show up into the early 1960’s.
[divider]



After that the car was repainted at least two more times. At one point the car was painted metallic purple with a lemon lime top and inside the side trim, which gave the car a nice classic look. So far we have not been able to find any color photos of this version of the car. The 1955 Oakland Roadster Show program lists the car with this color combination. Later in 1955 Joe repainted the car in bright red with white on the top and in between the side trim. The interior was redone for the newly painted version as well using white and red material. Manny had pet goldfish, and wanted to have a small aquarium below the dash which was created by Joe Bailon.

In 1955 Joe repainted the Ford in red with a white top and in side the side trim.
[divider]


Nice side view of the red and white version of the car.
[divider]


Manny showed his car in red at the first Monterey Carcapades Show. The show was organized  by the Slow Pokes Inc. C.C. of Seaside, Ca. and was held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in March 1956. The photo shows that the car now had a light colored headliner
[divider]


These two photos come from some movie footage taken at the 1956 Oakland Roadster Show, it shows the small aquarium Manny had installed for his pet goldfish. It also shows that the complete interior was now redone, and the dash was painted to match the rest of the interior.
[divider]


A better look at the interior and fish-tank Manny had installed. Notice the small fuzzy dice. hanging from the windshield divider.
[divider]


[box_light]

Ron Brooks provided a list of colors used on the Ford as how the car was listed in various Car Show programs. It shows that the car was repainted a few more times. (From most of the colors listed we have some proof, but from others like the Gold and Maroon and Purple and white we only have these listings.)

  • 1953 Oakland, Elton Kantor Blue paint.
  • 1954 Oakland Manual Azavedo Blue.
  • 1955 Oakland Feb. purple and lemon lime.
  • 1955 Sacramento Feb. purple and white.
  • 1955 Monterey March Red and white with red and white interior.
  • 1956 Oakland Gold and maroon with red and white interior.

[/box_light]



The ’55 Rod & Custom magazine article mentioned that Manny and Joe are contemplating a more modern grille update for the car. But so far we have not found a photo proof it this ever happened. Manny eventually sold the car to someone in the Bary Area and never saw it again. If anybody knows anything more about this Joe Bailon Ford after around 1957, please let us know, we would love to find out what happened to it after Manny sold it.



Special thanks to Bruce Heather.



(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01






.

0

Customizing with early Cadillac Tail Fins

CUSTOMIZING CADILLAC TAIL FINS

When the 1948 Cadillac introduced the all new Streamline rear fender Tail Fin it was quickly adapted by the Custom Car World. Adding Cadillac Tail Fins gave your car an instant Classy look.


From the early beginnings of Custom Restyling the high end cars as Packard, La Salle and Cadillac’s have provided key elements to restyle, and upgrade lower end cars as Chevy, Buick and Ford models. Using Cadillac and La Salle grills as shown in our Vertical Custom grille article is a good sample of this. In the early years of Customizing some taillight of these high end cars were used as well, but when the 1948 Cadillac was introduced in late 1947, its totally uniquely streamlined fish tail shaped rear fender-taillight combination was an instant hit among Customiziers. The distinctive Cadillac rear fender shape with its upwards flow towards the end fitted the streamlined shape most Custom Builders were after perfectly.

Early Design sketches for the 1948 Cadillac’s show the first hints of the later approved design of the Cadillac Tail fin that was introduced in late 1947.
[divider]



The distinctive Cadillac Tail-Fin shape started to develop in 1941. GM styling vice president Harley Earl took a group of senior stylists, including Frank Hershey to Michigan’s Selfridge Field, to see a remarkable new aircraft. To Lockheed Model 22, better known ad the P-38 Lightning. The P-38 was an imposing and unusual sight, with its cockpit in a narrow pod between two turbo-charged Allison V12 engines, mounted in distinctive twin booms with short vertical fins. It was this line from the nose of the plane to the tail of both booms that would be the inspiration for the 1948 Cadillac lines.

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was the main inspiration for the General Motors design team under supervision of chief Harley Earl. Many elements, including the tail fins were eventually incorporated in the production model of the classy and exclusive looking 1948 Cadillac.
[divider]



Frank Hershey, then the head of GM’s special projects, developed various design studies, incorporating P-38 themes with rear fenders that had simulated chrome air intakes and stubby fins with integral taillights. In 1945 the Cadillac team had just started work developing the all-new 1948 models. The renderings and scale models that emerged over the next four months from the studio all sported P-38-inspired fenders and Tail-Fins, the fins added a rakish touch to a handsome car. For the 1948 model year, Tail-Fins adorned the rear of Cadillac cars for the first time. The Tail-Fin would grow in popularity for the next decade and a half. They finally reached their apex in 1959.

In the early days when these Caddy parts were still new, complete rear fenders, including taillights and bumpers, were ordered straight from the Cadillac dealers, and later these parts were highly sought after at the local junk yards. Using the complete Cadillac rear fender on some cars, and only cut off rear sections on other cars transformed the customized cars completely. The Cadillac parts added both optical as well as real length to the cars they were used on. Plus it disguised cars even further, making many people think the cars were based on a more expensive Cadillac.

Not only the tail fins of the ’48 Cadillac were highly desired by the late 1940’s Custom builders, the Caddy also offered a wonderful grille, dashboard, steering wheels, side trim and even more popular than the tail fins, the Sombrero Hubcaps.
[divider]



The complete ’48 Cadillac Rear fenders assembly looked particularly good when used on ’39-’51 cars that had teardrop shaped fenders to start with. The shape of the Cadillac fenders were perfect for the streamlined Custom Car look. The overall teardrop shape with large radius soft flowing ends fitted perfectly in the molded in look the Custom Builders were after. And the flip upwards tail fin and light were the absolute icing on the cake. Using the Cadillac Tail Fin on your custom meant that your car looked more high end, longer, and lower in the back. All elements Customizers were after.

These are the three type of taillights we are concentrating in this article (Plus the aftermarket units, not pictured here). The ’48-50 units are nearly identical, with an additional chrome trim piece below the lens for the ’49-50 units. The ’51-’53 units have the clear back up light underneath the red lens, with additional chrome trim. The red lens on the this unit is more square on the top. The fender tail is pretty similar for the ’48-53 units, but the rest of the fender changed very much after the ’49 model.
[divider]



In this article we will concentrate on the use of the 1948-53 Cadillac taillights and rear fender fins as being used on Custom Cars from the Golden Era from the late 1940’s till mid 1950’s.



Publications

In the late 1940’s early 1950’s Car magazines were blooming, and helped spread the popularity of Customizing. The magazines were mostly published by California based publishers and the cars featured in these early magazines were mostly local CA cars. Motor Trend was one of the early magazines that started to feature Custom Cars, and getting your Custom Car inside, or even on the cover of MT was a big thing. But perhaps even more important than the personal publicity these magazines spread the good looks of these early Custom Cars all over the US. When the Custom Builders started to use the 1948 Cadillac rear fenders and taillights, the magazines soon followed with featured on Custom Cars using this new trend. The February 1950 issue of Motor Trend had the Barris restyled 1947 Buick for Ben Mario on the cover. A really beautiful glamor photo taken an a golf course showing the beautifully restyled Buick in all its beauty, and especially showed off the use of the 1948 Cadillac rear fenders. A new National trend was born.

From 1948 on Custom Car Builders started to use the Cadillac taillights and rear fenders on their Custom Cars. And magazines soon started to feature Custom Cars that used these Classic looking tailfins. Motor Trend Magazine and the Custom Cars Annual from 1951 showed the Cadillac tailfin being used on the magazine covers which helped generate this popular Custom Car trend.
[divider]


From the 1951 published Trend Books first Annual Custom Cars #101 booklet.
[divider]


The 1951 edition of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling was the first of the Post publications that mentioned the use of the Cadillac Tail Fin’s and lights. The write up was not illustrated with photos or graphics.
[divider]


The April 1952 issue of Motor trend mentioned that the use of Caddy tail fins had become standard Customizing trends!
[divider]




Cad Fins on Full Customs

We do not know who it was that used the first ’48 Cadillac rear fender on a Custom Car, or when this was done. But my guess is that as soon as the ’48 Cadillac hit the dealers the minds of the Custom Builders must have started to work overtime. We know that Jesse Lopez already put an order in for a ’48 Cadillac after seeing an advertising ad, even before the car had hit the dealer. The same thing might have been the case with the beautifully designed rear fender/taillights combination on the ’48 Cadillac. One of the early Customs that had a set of Caddy fenders installed was Ben Mario’s 1948 Buick. And already very nice car stock from the factory, but with those long, slightly more bulbous rear fenders with the airplane tail fin the car became absolutely stunning. The soft round edges of the sides of the rear fender when you looked at it from the side, and the long vertical lines when you looked at it from the rear were elements that made the design of these Customs with Caddy Tail-Fins really special.

The Barris Shop used the complete rear fenders of an 1948 Cadillac on Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick Convertible. The earliest photo’s of Ben’s Buick show ’49 California License plates. We are not sure if this was the first Caddy Fin’s used by Barris, but it sure was an early one. The Caddy rear fenders completely changed the cars appeal. Making it look much more high end than the stock Buick ever did. Barris also used a grille, front and rear bumper and set of Hubcaps from the ’48 Cadillac.
[divider]



The rear fenders of the Cadillac were longer than most of the rear fenders of the cars they were used on. Sometimes the fenders were moved forward onto the quarter panel, compared to the stock fenders. Other times extra length was added to the rear with molded in splash pans. The Cadillac fenders looked the best if they had been molded to the body, with a nice large radius, making them appear they were carved from warm butter. Usually the fenders needed to be modified a little to fit the quarter panels, and at the back there the rear fenders met the main body often some sheet metal work was required.

Famous Custom Builders the Barris and Ayala brothers had a strong bond with the Cadillac rear fenders. Both shops createdCustom Cars styled in a way the Cadillac Tail-Fin rear fenders would adapt to very good. There are multiple samples of those n this article. The Caddy rear fenders could be used in two different ways. One as a complete unit, and two just the Tail Fin section cut off and installed on the to be restyled car. This last version most often was used on the lower-end GM model from 49-52.

When Don Vaughn later owned the ’47 Buick, some updates and changes were made, including the addition of a set of ’51 Cadillac taillights. The rear bumper remains the 48-49 model.
[divider]


This low angle photo of  Don Vaugh’s Barris Buick shows how nice the Cadillac rear fenders and taillights look on the Buick. The full fade away front fenders complement the shape of the rear fenders, and the flow of the Gaylord Padded top and smoothed trunk is accented with the upward flow of the tail-fin. Custom Car design at its very best.
[divider]


The Barris shop also installed a set of ’48 Cadillac rear fenders on this ’41 Buick convertible. To make the Caddy fenders work with the Buick body the front section of the fenders, and the rear/top portion of the rear of the Buick had to be reshaped. Sadly there are no photos found of this car as a finished custom, but judging from these in-progress photos it must have looked stunning.
[divider]


These photos taken at the Barris Kustoms Atlantic Blvd. shop show how the ’48 Cadillac rear fenders on the ’41 Buick convertible shown above were later modified with round rod to be able to french a set of ’51-53 Cadillac taillight lenses for an even smoother look.
[divider]


The Ayala brothers Gil and Al were are also known for their use of Cadillac tail fins on their Custom Car creations. Gil used a set of complete ’49 Cadillac rear fenders and rear bumper on his 1940 Mercury. The full fade away front fenders matched the lines and shape of the Cadillac rear fender beautifully, and the lines of the chopped top, and smooth flowing trunk were nicely accented by the upward flip of the tail-fin. The extra height of the tail-fin, combined with the heavy looking rear bumper made the rear of the Mercury look even lower than it was, perfect for that desired speed-boat look. The Ayala’s used an image of the Cad-fin Mercury on their promotional material for year, helping the popularity of this Custom technique.
[divider]


For Hank Griffith‘s 42 Ford, the Ayala’s created a set of full fade away fenders using a set of 1950 Cadillac doors and of course the rear fenders and rear bumper. The rear quarter panels needed quite a bit of work to adapt the longer and flatter ’50 Cadillac rear fenders. The result was a much modern modern looking custom.
[divider]


The unknown builder of Hank Rains 1941 Ford also used a pair of Cadillac fenders and taillights to upgrade the Convertible. A set of ’48 Caddy fenders, lights and rear bumper were modified to fit the ’41 Ford body. The new rear fenders changed the look of the convertible dramatically, making it look much longer, lower and classy.
[divider]


Harry Westergards used a set of ’48 Cadillac Tail-Fins and lights on Al Laurel’s 1941 Cadillac. The were a perfect companion for the full fade-away front fenders, and brought a bit of extra styling and movement to the rear of this mile long Custom. Harry used a set of ’47 Cadillac bumpers, which suited the car better than the ’48 bumpers would have.
[divider]

The lower range GM cars from 49-52 are a natural for an Cadillac rear fender/taillight update. Many aftermarket taillights ended up on those, and in this case the white ’49 Chevy of Vern Gillingsprud had a set of ’49 Cadillac fins and taillights installed.
[divider]


The installation of 1949 Cadillac tail-fins and lights on Bill Passavanti’s ’49 Chevy shows how the Caddy components are a natural fit on these cars. The shape of the rather high trunk on these Chevy’s make much more sense with the Cad-fins. Bill’s Chevy  also show that the Caddy lights work very nice without the use of the Caddy bumper as well. All body work on Bill’s Chevy was done by Paul Atwood’s body shop.
[divider]


Another gorgeous sample of using the complete ’49 Cadillac rear fenders on a Custom is on the Jim Skonzakes 1949 Buick. Everything on this car is restyled just right, and the Caddy Tail-Fins give the car that extra bit of classy styling and extra optical weight in the back.
[divider]



Not all cars looked good with the Cadillac Tail-Fin rear fender taillights option. The otherwise very popular cars to customize, the ’49-’51 Mercury and the flat side bodied ’49-’51 Fords were not as suitable as other brand cars. The already high stock rear fenders looked a bit to high with the addition of the Cadillac fin, also the distance from bottom of the taillight to the bumper was to long to look very elegant. However there have been several Shoebox Fords and ’49-’51 Mercury’s that used the Caddy Tail-Fin.

Carlos Jenkins 1950 Ford coupe is perhaps the best known sample of the flat side Shoebox Fords that used Caddy Tail-Fins. The car was build in 1953 and is till around today.
[divider]


Another car that did not lend very well to the Caddy Tail Fin use was the very popular to be customized ’49-51 Mercury. Again the high rear fenders made the Caddy find looks out of place, and they were not enhancing the body lines of the Merc. There are however a still a few customizers that tried to use them on the Merc.
[divider]


Doug Thompson ChevyDoug Thompson used a set of 51-53 Tail-Fins and taillights on the 1950 Chevy he restyled for Larry Cochran. Doug’s creation is know as one of the very best uses of Caddy taillights on a the more recently restyled Customs.
[divider]




Mild Customs

It is remarkable how many mild Customs ended up with the Caddy Tail-Fin treatment back in the late 1940’s to mid 1950’s. It was an relatively easy modification for a body shop to perform. If the owner of the car had found an wrecked Cadillac on the Junkyard, they would cut off the back of the rear fenders, and take them to the local body shop. Here they would cut the part to fit the fender, weld it to the rear fender, body worked it and matched the paint with the rest of the car. The end result made the car look like a Cadillac from the rear, and very welcome upgrade, for a relative low prize. It makes me wonder how many ’48-’50 Cadillac could be found in your local junkyard back in the early 1950’s that still had their taillights or rear fenders in place.

’48 Cadillac lights and Tail-Fins were adapted to his ’49 Chevy Fleetline, with shaved trunk. This nice on the road picture was taken around 1951. and shows a sample of how many 49-51 Chevy’s where updated with Caddy taillights.
[divider]


Master Customizer George Cerny used a set of ’49 Cadillac Tail-Fin’s and lights to update his daily user 1949 Chevy four door.
[divider]


Another sample of the use of ’49 Cadillac fins and lights on a ’49 Chevy Fleetline. The factory accessory bumper ends are a nice option to reduced the height from the stock bumper to the now much higher position of the Caddy taillight.
[divider]


Kevan Sledge recently came across this 1950 Chevy Fleetline super deluxe with ’51-53 Cadillac Tail Fins installed. The story goes that these taillights were installed when the car was near new by a custom shop in Sacramento. Other than the rear fenders the car is basically stock.
[divider]




Cad Fins on Sports Customs

The Cadillac Tail-Fin option was not only popular among the Custom Car crowd. The Sports Car Builders also saw the potential of the Art-Deco shaped Tail-Fin’s and taillights. For the Sports Custom scene the aircraft inspired fins were very welcome adding instant speed and style. Some Sports Car builders took the taillights even a bit further and installed a third find and light in the rear dead center of the cars trunk. Creating even more the feel of an aircraft.

Lon Hurley’s 1946 Cadillac based Sports Custom uses a complete rear fender assembly of an 1949 Cadillac.
[divider]


Two unidentified Sports Customs using Cadillac taillights and rear fenders. The Cadillac units gave these Sports Custom instant class and style.
[divider]


Perhaps better named obscure Custom than Sports Custom, Warren Dorrill 1949 Ford Coupe “The Shark” used no less than three 1948 Cadillac taillights housed in home made fins. There were quite a few Sports Customs that used a third Cadillac taillight mounted as fin on the trunk.
[divider]




The Aftermarket

The Cadillac Tail-Fin design was also well present in the aftermarket speed and dress-up shops. Several companies made bolt on versions to imitate a Cadillac fin, while others created cast brass rear fender fin extensions complete with working taillight assemblies, or even die stamped fins. Options that could be bolted on, or welded for an more finished appearance. There were quite a view options available, since making your lower range car look more like an high end Cadillac was big business in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Companies like J.C. Whitney. Honnest Charlie, Cal Custom, Eastern and many more offered these Cad Type Tail Fin taillight assemblies.

Two different type of aftermarket Cadillac Tail Fin inspired aftermarket items. Most of these were used on either “Mild-Customs”, or “Dress-Up-Customs”.
[divider]


1950 Ford with polished aluminum aftermarket fender fins, which were obviously inspired by the ’48 and up Cadillac Tail-Fins. These were bolt on dress-up items available from several aftermarket companies.
[divider]


Cad Fins were cast brass finds that could be welded to the rear fenders and came with working Cadillac lookalike taillights. This aftermarket product was very popular, but require some expert tools to be installed, plus a new rear fender paint job. This one was advertised by Auto Accessories Company in Los Angeles.
[divider]


The same product was also available from Eastern Auto, as well as others. I have seen many snapshots of all kind of late 40’s and early 50’s cars using these aftermarket parts being used. The shape of the fin was slightly different and the actual taillight slightly smaller than the real Cadillac find and taillights. 
[divider]


Just two samples of these molded in brass aftermarket fins and taillights. These two photos also illustrate that the Tail-Fins work better on the Chevy on the left, than they do on the Shoebox on the right.
[divider]


Beautiful ’49-’50 Chevy Hard-Top with a set of the brass Cad Fins added. The assembly works particularly well because the rear bumper was dressed up with accessory bumper ends, extending the corners so the long vertical line of the rear of the fender is less obvious. The wide whites and Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps complete the theme.
[divider]



Restyling with Cadillac Tail-Fins is still being done today. Even though it might not be as easy to do, as it was in the late 1940’s early 1950’s, when you could just order a set of rear fenders and taillights from the local Cadillac Dealer, or cruise over to the Local Junkyard. I still see the new generation of Custom Car builder look for the Cadillac Rear fenders and taillights and use them on their Period Perfect Customs, or new customs insfluenced by the Custom Car Icons from the past, mixed with new ideas.



(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01






.

1+

Winfields Jade Idol Sold

 

WINFIELDS JADE IDOL SOLD

 

After having been the caretaker for many years Billy Belmont has just sold the Gene Winfield created 1956 Mercury Jade Idol to a Oregon based new owner.



On September 20th, 2017 the Gene Winfield created 1956 Mercury “Jade Idol” has been loaded onto a transported in Dedham, Massachusetts to be delivered at Gene Winfield’s Mohave Desert Custom Shop for a complete make over for its new owner. Billy Belmont has been the caretaker of the Jade Idol since the late 1980’s, when he bought the car from John D’Agostino. Billy has taken very good care of the car since then and had the car stored in a temperature controlled garage. The car could not have looked any better than it does. The Rodder’s Journal issue #75 featured a full page ad for the Jade Idol being For Sale. The Portland, Oregon based new owner decided he wanted to have the car, and despite the great condition the car is in, to go for a make over by the master, Gene Winfield himself.

The Jade Idol is now on its way from Dedham, Massachusetts, to Gene Winfield’s Shop in the Mohave desert in California. Here Gene will repaint the car in a fade paint job very similar to the first paint job he added to the sectioned ’56 Mercury back in early 1960.

The full page ad in Rodder’s Journal issue #75 The Jade Idol For Sale.
[divider]




A brief history on the Jade Idol

Leroy Kemmerer took his newly bought 1956 Mercury 2-door hard-top to Gene Winfield’s shop in 1958. He had Gene Winfield turn the car into a Custom Car Show stopper and had Gene do whatever he needed to do, to create just that. The car was sectioned 4 inches, had ’57 Chrysler New Yorker rear quarter panels added, with complete custom made front and rear. The body was all smoothed and when done, Gene painted it shades of candy green over pearl white with gold, black and probably some others dark shades. Gene had 7 paint guns all ready to go when he started the fade paint job, to create this unique feature. The car was a huge success on the show circuit.

Leroy Kemmerer with the original 1956 Mercury, before he took it to Gene Winfield’s shop.
[divider]



After touring he Jade Idol on the West Coast, where it won about every award possible, the car was taken to the east coast to be shown at all the major Custom Car Show there. There it was equally successful bringing a lot of Nation wide fame for Gene Winfield. On the way back to California disaster stuck when the trailer the Jade Idol was transported on flipped and the Mercury was badly damaged. Gene was not insure, so the repair work had to be paid by Gene himself. He replaced the damaged roof with a donor roof, and repaired all the other body damage and repainted the car. The repaired car is missing its distinctive Metal strips on the roof. Gene applied a new paint-job, but different from its original one.

The Jade Idol’s original fade paint-job by Gene Winfield. The car that made Gene the king of fade paint-jobs.
[divider]


The Jade Idol was very successful at the early 1960’s Car Shows.
[divider]


[divider]


After having toured California and later the East Coast the car was badly damaged when the trailer it was transported on flipped. Gene repaired the damage by removing the damaged top and replace it with a donor top. The rest of the damage was repaired and the car repainted with a new, but different fade paint job.
[divider]


The Jade Idol after Gene Winfield had repaired it.
[divider]



After the car had been repaired it was shown in California for about another year, then the car returned to Leroy who wanted to enjoy the car on the road. It turned out the car was not quite street legal according the cops who ticketed Leroy when he drove it around town. Changes where made and after a few year Leroy lost interest in the car and sold it for very little money. After that the history is a little sketchy until Rod Powell finds car at a body shop. Jerry Rehn ends up buying the car and together with Rod Powell the car was restored at Rod’s Salinas Shop. Rod Powell painted the car close to the original colors, but not 100% the same. Later Jerry sold the car to Bob Page, who had the car repainted with the colors the car is still in today. John D’Agostino owned the car for a short period in 1987, and made plans to have the car restored and redone completed into how the car originally looked at Gene Winfield. But before that happened John sold the car to Billy Belmont. Billy has been the caretaker of the Jade Idol ever since and kept it in pristine condition.

During its restoration around 1979 at Rod Powell’s Salinas Shop.
[divider]


1980, shortly after Rod Powell and Jerry Rehn had restored the car and Rod Powell had repainted it. The new paint job had less black on the sides, and less color sections added to the fading parts as the original paint Gene added.
[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


At the 46th Oakland Roadster Show.
[divider]


This is how the car looked after Bob Page owned the car and had it repainted. The new paint job was still a fade paint-job, but lacked the original dark and black sectioned.
[divider]


Studio photos by Steve Coonan when Billy Belmont owned the car.
[divider]


The Jade Idol sitting in Billy Belmont’s garage on September 20th, 2010, the car has just been sold to its new Portland, Oregon based Owner and getting ready to be shipped to Gene Winfield for a new Winfield fade paint-job similar to the cars very first Winfield paint-job. (Photo’s by Pete from the HAMB)
[divider]


Billy Belmont (right) with the Jade Idol, getting ready to drive it out of the garage.
[divider]


Billy Belmont on its way to the truck that will take the car to Winfield’s Mohave desert shop.
[divider]


[divider]


[divider]


Backing up to get in position to be loaded onto the truck.
[divider]


On the lift.
[divider]


California… here we come!
[divider]


And this is very much as how Gene Winfield will once again paint the Jade Idol wonderful shaded of green, black, gold and white. We will show the result as soon as we get the pictures from the restoration.
[divider]


Special thanks to John D’Agostino.




(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01






.

0

Customs at Milnes Richfield Station

 

NORM MILNES RICHFIELD Station

 

In the mid 1940’s The Thunderbolts Car Club of Sacramento used the Norm Milnes Richfield Station as their hangout. Some historical important Custom Cars were photographed at this location.



The birth of Custom Restyling took place in California, in Southern California to be more precise. Exact dates for when this happened, or even what city this took place have never been documented. And we will most likely never be able to pin-point down, other than it happened in Southern California, possibly even at different locations at similar moments around Los Angeles. The form of Custom Restyling, as we discuss it here on the Custom Car Chronicle, started in the early 1930’s and developed over the years. It also migrated soon after that, first mostly in California, the Bay Area around San Fransisco as well as around Sacramento soon became hot beds of Custom restyling, later followed by other States as well.





Sacramento, Northern California was particular important for the Custom Restyling as we know it. Metal genius and early Customizer Harry Westergard was from Sacramento, Duck Bertolucci and also Sam and George Barris lived there. Les Crane, another early Custom Restyler was from that area so there must have been something good in the Sacramento area water.

After WWII, in late 1945, several Sacramento area Hot Rodders and Custom Car guys including Harry Westergard, Norm Milne and Butler Rugard formed a new car club The Capotol Auto Club, nicke named Thunderbolts. They held meetings at Harry Westergards place, and later the Richfield Gas Station of member Norm Milne (and his brother) would be the clubs headquarters, and hangout. The gas Station was located at Broadway and 25th in Sacramento, not to far from where Harry Westergard then worked from. Norm Milne personal Custom was a 1938 Ford Convertible Sedan Custom that was restyled by Harry Westergard in the early 1940’s. Norm was one of the very few guys who had a camera, and took some pictures of the club-members cars from time to time. Without his photo nearly none of this important part of the Custom History might never have been documented, at least not photographic.

Norm Milne 1938 Ford on the right and Gene Garrett’s 1940 Ford on the left at the Richfield Gas Station that was owned by Norm Milne and his brother.
[divider]




Norm Milne 1938 Ford

Norm Milne’s 1936 Ford was a very early Custom, started in 1940, when Norm drove it to Los Angeles to have a chopped Carson Top installed. The Carson top Shop handled it all, including the chop of the windshield and the cutting and refitting of all side windows. Most likely the metal work was done by the Jarret Metal Works next door to the Carson Top Shop.

Some time after returning to Sacramento Norm had his friend Harry Westergard do the rest of the restyling. Harry reshaped the front of the hood and grille surround to make the 1940 La Salle grille fit the Ford. The Hood-sides louvres were filled and the sides are now completely smooth. The hood ornament shaved and the stock headlights rings were replaced with chrome plated aftermarket sealed beam headlights. At the back Harry set in the license plate behind glass, a very popular technique at the time. The car was lowered and a set of teardrop fender skirts added. The door handles remained on the car, and so where the running boards. Harry installed a set of bumpers, possibly from a Graham with custom bumper guards to make the Ford looks a bit more robust. The only two photos we know that exist of the car show it with the front sheet metal still in primer.

Norm Milne’s 1938 Ford Sedan Convertible with the front body work done by Harry Westergard still in primer. Parked in front of his Richfield station. This photo, as well as most others in this article was taken in 1947. Notice how the front bumper had three bumper guards? That is Gene Garrett’s ’40 Ford in the background on the left. Both cars had black wall tires.
[divider]


Cropped section of the leading photo shows Norm’s Ford parked inside the gas station. It is a very small photo, but as far as we know there are only two photos of this Harry Westergard Custom ever published.
[divider]




Gene Garrett 1940 Ford

We know Gene Garrett best of the ’36 Ford Convertible Custom Harry Westergard did for him around 1942-43. But Gene owned at least one more Custom later on. In 1947 he drove a 1940 Ford Convertible with chopped padded top. According the stories Gene, did just as his friend Norm, drive his car to Los Angeles where he took it the Carson Top Shop to have then chop the windshield and add the white padded top. We only have very limited photo material of this car, but as far as we can see in the photos the running boards were removed, the hood was shaved, made one piece and smoothed. The side trim was removed and at the back the trunk was shaved and a set in license plate was added to the lower end of the trunk. De Soto Bumpers were installed and the car had black wall tires in 1947.

Parked at the Richfield Gas Station looking good with is nicely shaped chopped padded top. I wonder which convertible or roadster sedan car is parked behind Gene’s Ford. It does not show up in any of the other photos taken at the Gas Station.
[divider]


The rear end of Gene’s 40 Ford shows in the photo of Norm Milne. This enlarged section shows the ’37 DeStoto bumpers as well as the set in plate in the trunk. It also gives us a good look at the odd three bumper guards on Norm’s ’38 Ford. I have no idea why that was done, and why it had two different units placed close on the passenger side, and only one on the drivers side? 
[divider]


Since photos of the Gene Gerrett 1940 Ford are so rare I have also included this snapshot of Gene racing the dray lakes. (Photo comes from the Don Montomery books Leroy Semas Collection)
[divider]




Mel Falconer 1939 Ford

We are fortunate that we have several Harry Westergard created Custom Cars still among us. At least 6 of them are still around, some completely restored, others in the process of it, or at least in good hands. One of them is the Mel Falconer’s 1939 Ford , that was later owned by Bruce Glenn when it became more popular in the 1950’s. There is one photo of the Westergard Restyled ’39 Ford taken at the Richfield Gas Station in 1947 that shows the car with its original chopped padded top. Later Harry would create a lift off metal top based on a ’38 Ford top which is still with the car today.

Originally restyled in the early 1940’s to what we see in the photo here, wonderful metal work on the nose of the car to be able to use the 1940 Packard grille that was chopped to get the right height. The headlights were replaced by painted ’40 Ford units, the bumpers replaced by ’37 DeSoto units and at the back Harry had set in the license plate behind glass, and later he would mold in the trunk completely. Mel’s ’39 Ford Custom is the only Custom in this series of photos, taken around 1947, that has white wall tires installed. Around 1947 the tires manufacturers were starting to produce white wall tires again. Its production had been stopped completely during WWII when the rubber was needed for the war. During the previous years only black wall tires were available, and during the war those were rationed as well.

Mel Falkoner’s Harry Westergard ’39 Ford looked stunning at the Richfield Gas Station. To bad the hubcaps was missing when this photo was taken.
[divider]


When I zoomed in on the back of the car I noticed a damaged teardrop shape skirt on Mel’s 39 Ford, and peaking just behind it is Gene Garrett’s ’40 Ford.
[divider]




George Barris 1941 Buick

Around 1947 George Barris was starting to establish a name as Custom Car builder in Los Angeles. He had moved from Sacramento to Los Angeles in 1943, and he still had many of his car-friends back in Sacramento. When he had finished his personal 1941 Buick Custom with full fade-away fenders he was very eager to show his Nor-Cal friends how far he has gotten as a Custom Car builder. He drove his Buick from LA to Sacramento to meet up with his friends at Norm’s Richfield Gas Station. We are not sure if George was able to show his personal Custom Buick to his master Harry Westergard during this trip. There are some photos of George with his Buick and some of his friends, but Harry Westergard is not in any of those photos.

George also used his Buick for long distance drives. This photo was taken in front of the Elmer Howard’s Body – Fender & Top Shop in Sacramento. The building on the right is Norm Milne’s Richfield station.
[divider]


This photo of George his Buick was taken facing away from the Richfield Station, to the right, just outside this photo is Elmer Howard’s Body Shop.
[divider]


After George had finished his new Custom he wanted to show it to his old Sacramento friends. Left to right Willis Schraeder, Jack Odberg, George Barris, Buddy Ohanesian, Bruce Glenn, Norm Milne and Mel Falconer. The friends were pretty impressed with George’s new Custom ride. The photo was taken in late 1947.
[divider]



Another one of the friends, this time a little closer. Jack Odberg kneeling, George Barris standing, Buddy Ohanesian kneeling, Bruce Glenn standing, Norm Milne and Mel Falconer both kneeling.
[divider]


Norm Milne in the center with his trusty camera, which he always had with him according the stories. On the left of the photo is Butler Rugard and on the right the master himself. Harry Westergard.
[divider]


Location of Norm Milne’s Richfield Gas Station at the corner of 25th and Broadway in Sacramento, California.
[divider]


[box_light]

Harry Westergard is always credited for creating the typical Westergard style Custom in the 1940’s. Basically a ’36 Ford-ish Roadster with a speed boat stance, chopped windshield white padded top smooth hood sides, De Soto Bumpers and a 1940 LaSalle grille. This image might not have been based on an actual car Harry Westergard has actually created, but more likely on an painting by Artist Robert Williams. Norm Milne‘s 1938 Ford is, as far as we know the only Custom Harry Westergard created that actually used the LaSalle Grille, as can be seen in this article. Harry more frequently used the Packard Clipper grilles.

[divider]

[/box_light]





(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01






.

0

Larry Watson Line-Up photo

 

WATSON LINE-UP Photo

 

6 wild and brilliant painted mild Customs, all painted by legendary Custom Painter Larry Watson. Lined up for this Watson Line-Up Photo shoot.



This amazing line up photo of 6 Larry Watson outline or panel painted Custom Cars was most likely organized for a magazine photo shoot. Several photo taken during this photo shoot have appear in various magazines including the 1961 Custom Cars Annual the Popular Customs Winter 1963 issue. The photo was taken most likely in 1959, perhaps late 1959. Possibly it was George Barris who took the photos. The photo, including several close up’s of Larry with his ’58 T-Bird taken at this location appeared in the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s Volume 4 book. The location, which so far I have not been able to identify was used for this, but also for several other photo shoots of Larry Watson painted cars. Most likely it was in the neighborhood where Larry had his shop in 1959, Rosecrans Blvd in Bellflower Ca. If anybody recognizes this location, please let us know.

The cars that were picked for this photo-shoot are (from left to right) John Busman’s 1956 Chevy, Unknown owner 1956 Mercury, Unknown owner 1956 Chevy, Jim Doss 1958 Chevy, Bob Mayfield 1959 Chevy, and Larry Watson 1958 Thunderbird. It must have been really fantastic for Larry Watson to see this line up of beautiful painted Custom Cars he had created. So colorful with outlines and panels enhancing the body contours and lines of the cars. Larry was still in the beginning of his long career, but the Rosecrans Blvd shop had already turned out a huge number of trend setting paint-jobs that had put Larry at the top of the field.

By looking at this Line-Up photo you can see that everything was well directed. With the guys all standing next to their cars. The cars are parked in such a way that most of them show up in the picture. The colors of the cars were evenly spread to make sure the contrast between the next car was as large as possible, making it work best for both color fill as well as black and white photography. And this last thing makes me wonder if this shot was also made on color film, since there are individual photos of most of the cars in this photo-shoot taken at this location in full color!

Lets take a closer look at the cars in this special All Larry Watson painted Custom Car Line-Up photo-shoot from 1959.

The Larry Watson painted Custom Car Line-Up photo from around 1959. Photo from the Larry Watson Personal Collection, original possibly taken by George Barris.
[divider]




1956 Chevy John Busman

John Busman was a good friend of Larry and Larry painted John’s 1956 Chevy several times. Shown in this photo the car was painted in candy purple and silver. This version of the car shows a brilliant combination of several styled blending into one cars paint-job. Larry combined his famous outlines with scallops and flames into one beautiful design. The silver outlines enhance all the body lines of the car, and make the body look slimmer. The fine silver painted flames were highlighted in pearl white to give them a 3D effect. The car was mildly restyled with shaved hood and trunk, lowered with white wall tires, Spotlights, Lakes pipes, as well as Bellflower tips at the back and Lancer Hubcaps.

Close up from the Line Up photo of John Busman’s 1956 Chevy.
[divider]


Printed color photo from the Popular Customs winter 1963 issue show John’s Chevy photographed at the same location as the Line-Up photo. The all white tuck & roll interior looks stunning.
[divider]


Another photo of John’s Chevy comes from the Larry Watson Collection and was taken at Larry’s Rosecrans Blvd Shop. It gives a better look at the paint colors. Notice that the body was only mildly shaved, the door handles remained on the car, and Larry even accentuated them with outlining them with paint.
[divider]




Unknown 56 Mercury

Unidentified smoothed ’56 Mercury with lowered suspension, lakes pipes and Bellflower tips and Dodge four bar lancer hubcaps with painted root beer centers. Larry Painted the body in a lime gold with wonderful candy root beer panels. Larry created a much larger outline around the body main character lines than he usually did and outlined this in another gold outline. The spotlights and a full white tuck&roll interior make this car a wonderful sample of late 1950’s customizing.

The unknown owner of the car is standing behind the Merc on the left side of the photo. Anybody knows who he is?
[divider]


A beautiful color slide was made of the Mercury during the photo-shoot. This very sharp photo shows the Mercury in all its beauty. The Mercury was still a mild Custom, although it had some more work done than John’s Chevy next to it. All the emblems and handles were shaved of the car, combines with the outline paint job and Larry’s excellent eye for design the car looks so much longer than when it had been painted in just one color.
[divider]


This snapshot is from my own collection and its very interesting, not only because it shows the Merc from a different angle, but it also hows Jim Doss’s ’58Chevy and Bob Mayfield’s ’59 Chevy in the background at the location. Not sure who took this photo, but more than likely one of the car owners, or possibly a friend that joined them to the photo-shoot.
[divider]




Unknown 56 Chevy Sedan

Many of the cars Larry painted in his career are sadly unidentified. They came to the shop, Larry painted them and the next day they were gone. Same thing happened with this great looking 1956 Chevy Sedan in white and candy teal-green outlines pinstriped in gold. The scallop on the trunk shows how genius Larry was. Hiding the trunk lock in the end of the scallop. Before Larry got to work on this one, the Chevy was mildly restyled with an ’53 Chevy grille with added teeth, removal of all emblems and door handles for an super smooth look, Lowered suspension, lakes pipes, three bar spinner hubcaps and Custom lenses on the taillights. One very smooth Sedan.

The unknown owner posing behind the Chevy on the far left of the photo.
[divider]


Snapshot from my personal collection shows the Chevy with the ’55 Merc and Jim Doss’s ’58 Chevy parked next to it at the Line-Up photo location. The addition of the older ’53 Chevy grille (or ’54 units) was a very popular option for ’56 Chevy’s.
[divider]


This photo of the unidentified Chevy taken at Larry Watson’s Rosecrans Blvd shop shows the brilliant design of the outlines on this car. The way Larry designed the layout the car’s body looks almost sectioned.
[divider]




Jim Doss 1958 Chevy

The ’58 Chevy in the Line-Up photo belongs to Jim Doss of Bakersfield, Ca. The car had been shaved of all its handles and trim including the fake rear quarter scoops. The front bulbous portion of the side trim was replacing with the rear portion. This gives an elegant feel to the side of the body that you really wonder why they had not thought about that at the factory. The rocker panel trim was also removed and to help lowering the body a set of lakes pipes was installed. At the back the taillight were replaced with a taillight unit from a 1959 Pontiac Catalina. The roof scoop was modified with the chrome trim removal and the addition of a small peek to the leading edge. The car was lowered and four bar lancers hubcaps were installed on perfect size white wall tires. All body work was performed by Walker’s Body Shop from Bakersfield Ca. – the home town of Jim Doss. Larry painted the car in candy green with lime gold outlines pinstriped in white. Jim’s car has been published a lot over the years, and is still one of the most recognizable and well known outline painted cars from Larry Watson.

Jim Doss in vertical striped shirt posing next to his deep candy green and lime gold ’58 Chevy.
[divider]


Published photo from the Popular Customs Winter 1963 issue shows the car at the same photo location as the Line-Up photo shoot.
[divider]


This photo of Jim Doss’s ’58 Chevy taken at the Rosecrans Blvd. Watson Shop shows how gorgeous the car is with the super slick outline paint job in candy green and lime gold.
[divider]



Bob Mayfield 1959 Chevy

Bob’s 1959 Chevrolet Impala was just as Jim Doss’s ’58 Chevy restyled by Walker’s Custom Shop in Bakersfield. Bob Mayfield also lived in Bakersfield, California. Bob’s Chevy had perhaps the most actual body work done to it from all the cars in the Line Up photo. The hood “eye-brows” were filled-in while extending the hood. All emblems as well as the door handles were shaved. The taillights were removed, new shaped metal added and two ’59 Cadillac taillights added on both sides, into custom made pods. The stock grille was replaced with an tube grille, very popular on mild customs at the time. A set of spotlights and side pipes were installed and the car was lowered by cutting the coils wide whites were added with Dodge Lancer four bar hubcaps with gold center on gold painted wheels. With the body work completed Bob drove the car to Larry Watson’s Rosecrans Blvd shop for a Pearl white paint job with flowing scallops in lavender and purple pinstriped in gold.

Bob Mayfield with his checkered shirt behind his Chevy.
[divider]


Snapshot of Bob’s ’59 Chevy at the Line-Up photo location. The paint style on Bob’s Chevy it totally different from all the other cars in the Line-Up. Very light, and elegant with a lot of “motion”.
[divider]




Larry Watson 1958 Thunderbird

The last car of the line up, all the way to the right is Larry Watson’s personal car, his ’58 Thunderbird. Shown in this photo is the second outline, or panel paint job on the car. In 1958 Larry bought his car brand new and drove it to be lowered at Lindy’s Muffler Shop, then next it went to Barris where Bill Hines shaved the door handles and ornaments. Bill DeCarr nosed and decked the car. Then Larry painted the car in the brightest silver platinum pearl. The ultra bright paint made the lowered car look to bolt, and it was way to bright. So Larry figured he could outlined all the body contours and then added Candy Burgundy over the pearl silver. The candy paint looked absolutely amazing, and the effect was just what the car needed. The car looked a lot thinner with the new paint job, and the thin lines of pearl silver accenting the body lines added an extra custom touch to the car. It was almost like doing Custom Restyling, but then with nothing more than paint. Larry pin-striped the candy burgundy panels in lavender, which slightly softened the hard edge between the silver and burgundy.

The custom paint that was available back in the later part of the 1950’s and early 1960’s was very bright, colorful, and the hues very brilliant, but most of these products were experimental and not tested very good. In fact Larry helped develop a lot of new custom paint products, and was testing material for his suppliers. It turned out that a lot of these early custom paints started to fade or crack after just a few month in the sun. This also happened with Larry’s ’58 T-Bird, so after half a year the Candy Burgundy had faded so badly, that he really needed to re-paint the whole car. But he thought about it and decided to add some more panels on top of the faded paint. He taped of the panels with 2 inch tape, and sanded the inside as smooth as he could, then added a fine silver base. Then taped off the outside half inch and fogged in candy grape. When he removed the tape the new panels had a 2 inch burgundy border (from the original paint job), then an half inch silver outline and the main panel was candy grape fogged over the silver. The paint job looked stunning and it brought Larry a lot of new customers who wanted a similar paint job on their cars. This is the version of the car that shows in the Line-Up photo.

Proud Larry Watson posting with his “Vino Paisano” 1958 Thunderbird.
[divider]


Close up of Larry with his ’58 T-Bird at the Photo-Shoot location. The color photo on the right, from a 80’s Hot Rod magazine publication, shows Larry’s car in color at the photo location.
[divider]


And here is a photo, to show off the colors a bit better, taken at the Rosecrans Blvd. Watson Shop.
[divider]



Can you imagine to drive by this location at the time this photo-shoot was going one, seeing all the wild brilliant colorful Customs outside in the sun gathered together at this parking lot. Or having to stop at a stoplight seeing these cars just leaving the scene, in a convoy back to Larry’s place, or up to the drive in for some local cruising.





(This article is made possible by)



ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01




.

0

Bob Armstrong 1940 Mercury

 

BOB ARMSTRONG 1940 MERC

 

Bob Armstrong from Alhambra California owned this nice looking 1940 Mercury Convertible in 1955.



Here is another bit of a mystery Custom Car that I would like to know some more about. I have a feeling that this car might have been build in the 1940’s by the way it looks. But so far all I have been able to find on the car are photos from around 1955. It started with one photo that was offered on ebay. I noticed the ’46 Chevy grille, smoothed hood and heavy bumper. My first though (only for a split second) was that it could be Buddy Ohanesian Westergard/bertolucci’s 1940 Mercury sedan convertible. But on closer inspection of the online photo I noticed that the car was actually a regular 2 door convertible and that there were no running boards.

The photo was offered without any information, and there was no date on the photo. The Mercury looked like it could have been done around 1946, when the ’46 Chevy grille and Olds Bumpers were brand new items. But on closer inspection of the photo I noticed that the cars in the picture were all waiting in line for their turn on the drag stip. And the car waiting behind the Mercury looked to be a ’53-54 Ford. So the photo must have been taken in 1953 at the earliest.

The first photo I came of this Mercury was on eBay. No info, no date, just a really nice looking Custom Mercury at an unknown drag-strip.
[divider]


Zoomed in I could see all the very nice details of the car. The front end of the car with the ’46 Chevy grille, modified hood, and Olds bumper looked particular nice. It looks like the car was pulled to the event judging the what looks like tow straps next to the bumper guards. The club plaque on the front bumper could not be read in this photo. I also noticed the emblem or something like that painted on the cowl.
[divider]



I checked my files for ’40 Mercury historic Customs and could not find it there… I saved the photo and did not think about that Merc for quite some time. Several years after the ebay auction the American Hot Rod Foundation AHRF shared a photo on their facebook page showing a side view of a Chopped padded topped Mercury convertible. I recognized the car from the eBay offering a few years earlier. The tall rear bumper, removed running boards and most of all the small thing painted on the cowl. I checked the eBay photo, and yes it sure was the same car. and the best thing of them all, the AHRF shared photo came with some good information.

From the AHRF facebook posting Bob Armstrong’s customized ’40 Mercury Convertible. He had come all the way from Alhambra, California to partake in a little racing at the First Annual NHRA Nationals in Great Bend Kansas (9/29-10/2/55).Under the hood was a potent ’48 Merc that enabled him to cop First in Class C Fuel Coupe and Sedan. His speed was 78.74 mph. Bob also established a National Record in the class with a speed of 90.54 mph. We guess the lead sled moniker doesn’t apply here.

The Josh Mishler AHRF shared photo showed the rear of the car with the padded top on. Very nice lines with the long wrap around Oldsmobile rear bumper, and round, post likely Pontiac taillights. The photo showed the same emblem painted on the cowl as the eBay photo. Notice how short the fender skirt is, necessary to not interfere with the Olds wrap around rear bumper. It looks like the car was jacked up and used different, larger? rear tires for the drag races.
[divider]



So now I knew that Bob Armstrong from Alhambra was the owner of the car, at least he was in 1955 when the AHRF shared photo was taken. The photo was shared to the AHRF by Josh Mishler, and belonged to his father. It looks like the first photo I had found of the Mercury was taken at a dragstrip in California, but I do not know where.

The third photo I came across that showed Bob Anderson came from the Hot Rod magazine (Rod & Custom) website. They shared a few photos from taken at the 1955 Petersen Motor Revue Show held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. (formerly known as the Petersen Motorama show) the photo did not come with much information: Here Are Some Examples Of Car Club Involvement. From The Hanging Banners It Looks Like The T Timer’s Had Five Chapters In California: Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, San Fernando, Santa Ana, And Culver City. The Road Rebels Displayed A Carson Topped Full Custom And A Nice Deuce Three Window.


The most recent photo I came across of Bob’s Mercury was taken at the 1955 Petersen Motor revue at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. The car was part of the Road Rebels San Gabriel display at the event.
[divider]



At first I did not recognize the Mercury in the pictures, but more recently I was looking at this picture again and noticed the Olds bumper, and ’46 Chevy grille. This must be the Bob Armstrong Mercury. I checked the other photos on file, and it sure was. Great, another photo of this really great looking Mercury Custom, another piece of the puzzle. But yet again a photo of the car from 1955, and not from in the 1940’s, when the car might have been restyled. So now we have three photos of this car, we have a name of the owner, Bob Anderson from Alhambra, Southern California, but still no information on who was the builder, and when it was restyled. If anybody recognized Bob Anderson’s Mercury, knows more about it, or about Bob, please email the CCC. We would love to know more about this Mercury Custom.


Zoomed in we can see a bit more details. Smoothed hood, all trim removed and although hard to see I think that the car had white wall tires on the rear now as well, something white is peaking out under the fender skirts, just above the 32 Ford hood. It appears that the rear fenders were protected by some sort of rock shields, perhaps rubber units.
[divider]




About the Mercury

What we can see in the photos is that Bob’s Mercury had the windshield chopped, a nice flowing padded top was created for the car with a slightly angled forward B-pillar. Mosre likely to have been done by Bill Gaylord’s shop and not one created from the jigs at Carson, which always looked slightly more boxy. The front fenders and hood were modified to accept the ’46 Chevy grille, and the work looks to have been done very nice. A splash pan was added to the front to make the ’46 Oldsmobile bumper fit the Mercury. The running boards were removed and filler panels added below the body to hide the frame. Both front and rear fenders were molded to the body and the taillights look to have been replaced by 1948-52 Pontiac taillights. The rear bumper of the ’46 Oldsmobile was also used. And because this bumper has very tall wrap around sections the fender skirts used on the car had to be very short, possibly some ’46-48 Ford skirts were shortened to make them fit this car. All the trim and handles were shaved from the body, and everything was smoothed before being painted a dark color. It looks like the car had Fiesta three bar spinner hubcaps installed in the eBay photo.

Some of the Road Rebels San Gabriel Car club members. Perhaps one of them is Bob Armstrong?
[divider]






(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01



0

Johnny Rosier 53 Mercury

 

JOHNNY ROSIER 53 MERCURY

 

Johnny Rosier worked together with the Gil and Al Ayala to turn his 1953 Mercury Hard-Top into a Magazine featured Custom Car with an unique style.



Johnny Rosier from Norwalk California was a young body and fender man working out of the California Custom Shop in Gardena Ca. who had a dream of this wild, yet mild ’53 Mercury Custom in the mid 1950’s. The plan was to work on the car himself as much as he could, but for the design and major construction of the car he turned to his friend Gil Ayala, owner of Gil’s Auto Body Shop in East Los Angeles. Johnny was a member of Gil’s car club the Auto Butchers ELA.

Front 3/4 low angle photo makes the upward front section of the side trim even more pronounced. Not a very nice flowing line with the rest of the car, but the trim sure got a lot of attention for the car. Notice how low Johnny’s Mercury was.
[divider]



Together with Gil Ayala Johnny designed his dream Custom based on the ’53 Mercury Hard Top he had bought. The plan was to get it very low, which needed the frame to be C-ed in the rear to make sure the axle would not bump the frame all the time. The front of the car was heavily restyled with an home made grille created from expanded metal. The metal sheet was shaped in an “L” shape with the bottom and top folded over for a very nice “factory” look and fitted the grille opening. This unit was chrome plated before it was installed. The lower portion of the Mercury grille was de-chromed and later painted body color. The stock Mercury bumper was cut up and only the outside pieces were retained. These were combined with 1955 Buick (or Cadillac?) bumper bullets which were welded and smoothed for a beautiful one piece look. A third bullet was added to the center of the grille and decorated with three Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcap flipper blades.

Color photo from the July 1956 Rod & Custom Cover. Such an amazing photo.
[divider]



The front fenders were reshaped at the front with round rod and sheet metal, so that a set of modified 1956 Packard headlights could be installed. Below the headlights a new stainless steel panel was shaped to fit inside the new extended fenders and meet with the bumper and grille. A set of square 1947 Chevy parking lights was installed in this stainless panel, just below the Packard headlights.The hood was up next, the Ayala’s removed the non functional Mercury scoop and shaped a new piece of metal to make the hump of the scoop flow into the front of the hood with a nice smooth line. In the top of the hood  6 small rows of each 5 louvers was added.

Close up of the ’56 Packard headlights in the heavily reshaped front fenders. Below it are the ’47 Chevy parking lights. Notice the pinstriping following the new body line created when smoothing the factory fake scoop.
[divider]


Buick bullet mounted in the center of the expanded metal grille. The Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcaps spinner blades are mounted to the Bullet. Auto Butchers ALA brass plaque mounted below it. Pinstriping by Von Dutch.
[divider]



All the door handles and other emblems were removed of the body, and everything was smoothed. The rear quarter panel non functional scoop was opened up and would later be detailed with a set of  chrome louvers from a 1955 T-Bird. The rear fenders were extended and a set of 1955 Lincoln taillights, including the stainless trim was installed. Below the taillights they installed a 1954-54 Cadillac bumper, that needed to be narrowed to fit the mercury rear fenders. The flow from the Cadillac bumper ended toward the Lincoln taillights works really well. A similar set up was used on Gil’s personal ’55 T-Bird.

For the side trim, which would be the base for the planned two tone paint-job, Gil and johnny used  ’55 Ford side trim for the horizontal sections on the door and rear quarter. The lower sections was made by slightly adjusting an 1955 DeSoto side trim. The most unique feature of the side trim was the upswept frontal section on the front fenders. The magazines from the mid 1950’s state that that piece of trim was pirated from an special chrome kit (aftermarket perhaps?) for the ’55 T-Bird. But so far I have not been able to positively ID that piece. If any of our readers knows where this up-swept section of the side trim originates from, please let us know.

Notice how the lines on the cars new body lines all complement each other. The angle of the front fender mimics the C-Pillar angle, the angle on the Lincoln taillights the windshield frame. The angle from the upward going front of the side trim mimics the shape of the back of the roof… perhaps.
[divider]


The rear of Johnny’s Mercury looks more impressive than the stock ’53 Mercury did, with its tall Cadillac bumper and reversed angle ’55 Lincoln taillights. The bumper taillight set-up reminds me of Gil Ayala’s ’55 T-bird.
[divider]



With all the body work done it was time for some paint. The first paint job was done in “black gold” a deep black with gold metallic added to it, with a lime gold on the top and inside the side trim. A really unique color combination which later helped get the car on the cover of the May 1956 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. The interior was also detailed with chrome plated speedo meter gauge, dashboard glove box door, speaker and window trim. The upholstery was done, according some of Trend Book Restyle your car from 1957 in black and yellow leather, which worked very nice with the exterior paint. Sadly we have not been able to locate any photos showing the interior of Johnny’s mercury.

The factory dummy scoop on the rear quarter panel was opened up to become functional, and was dressed up with the chrome louvers that normally are used on the front fenders of an 1955 T-Bird. (Who knows… perhaps these items came from Gil Ayala’s personal T-Bird, since they were shaved on his car!)
[divider]


Close up of the ’54-55 Cadillac rear bumper, ’55 Lincoln taillights and extended rear fenders. Very nice addition to the Mercury back.
[divider]



Johnny choose a set of ’53 Cadillac hubcaps to be used on his Custom Mercury, but to make them special he cut out the centers and replaced them with unknown centers. According the ’56 issue of R&C the center pieces were removed, gold plated and placed back in the hubcaps. But the photos of the car show that the centers are completely different than stock ’53 Cadillac centers… They looks a bit like ’54 Mercury hubcaps centers, but they are not… another mystery… Gil Ayala installed a set of Appleton Spotlights and Johnny’s Mercury was ready to cruise the street. The car as it was finished was featured inside and on the cover of the May 1956 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. According the R&C article the pinstriping on the car was added by non other than Von Dutch. Johnny added the polished brass Autobutcher ELA plaque on the front of the car.

Johnny’s ’53 Mercury was featured in color on the July 1956 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine, and had a three page feature in the magazine.
[divider]



Memo Ortega from La Verne Ca, used to hang out at Gils’ Auto Body shop during the weekends. He and his friends drove up to East LA to see what his friend Gil Ayala was up to. He saw Johnny and his stunning Mercury several times at the shop. This is how Memo remembers Johnny’s mercury. “When we used to go see Gil Ayala we always hoped Johnny would come by at the Ayala shop as well. Some times on Saturdays We saw Johnny with his Merc there. We got to meet him and talk cars with him. He sure was a kool guy with us. If I remember right, his car was black and gold at the time. Some times we would wait till Johnny was going to leave.  Just to see him and his merc go down Olympic blvd. His Merc looked so kool,. We never stayed long a the Ayala’s, we were teenagers then… just having fun so we had to keep on krusin all over with my ’37 Chevy.  Johnny always said ” You guys kruse all the way out here from La Verne? Man that’s far, but its kool! You guys are young”.



Second version

Not to long after Johnny’s Mercury was finished the paint on it was redone again. In the Trend Books Restyle Your Car published in 1957 two black and white photos appear of the car. It was mentioned that the car was now painted blue and gold. New scallops around the headlights and taillights can be clearly seen in the photos.

The March 1958 issue of Car Craft magazine gave us a look at the new paint job on Johnny’s ’53 Mercury. New Blue paint, scallops around the headlights (also around the taillights, not visible in this picture) and a gold, or perhaps copper plated grille insert.
[divider]



The March 1958 issue of Car Craft magazine had a beautiful color photo of the front section of Johnny’s Mercury on the cover. As promotion for an article on Custom grilles created from expanded metal. There was nothing on the Merc inside, but the cover photo showed the new paint-job in a green blue with gold inside the side trim and the roof. Possibly the gold remained the same from the first version. The newly added scallops were done in gold, and the expanded metal grille was now gold plated as well. The Autobutchers plaque was moved to below the rear bumper and a license plate was added just below the grille at the front. Other than that, no significant changes were made.

Johnny Rosier in his Mercury during a Car Craft photo shoot done by George Barris.
[divider]


The gold scallops around the taillights connect to the gold from the side trim section. Auto Butchers ELA is now below the rear bumper.
[divider]


Great close up photo of the Packard and Chevy headlight set up, as well as the bumperettes made up from the Mercury bumper, and the Buick bullet. The photo also gives us a good look at the customized hubcaps. Perhaps the bullet in the center is still ’53 Cadillac, and they added something around it?
[divider]


6 small rows of louvers are added to the hood. The hood was smoothed with the removal of the factory none functional hood scoop, and the raised section was extended forward and made to flow nicely into the front of the hood.
[divider]


Johnny’s Mercury was very low, just the way he loved it. According Memo Ortega the car looked amazing floating thru the streets of East LA. The extended fenders front and rear with new angles repeating the pillar angles of the top, works really well.
[divider]





The side view photo shows how the upward angle on the front section of the side trim points towards the peek of the extended front fender.
[divider]


Two page feature in the December 1957 issue of Car Craft Magazine.
[divider]



This 1957 and ’58 Car Craft photos are of the second and also the last version we have seen of Johnny’s Mercury. Nobody seams to know how long Johnny had the car after that, or what happened to his 1953 Mercury Magazine Cover Ayala Custom. If anybody knows what happened to the Johnny Rosier Mercury, please let us know.



Johnny Rosier Mercury Magazine Features…

  • Rod & Custom July 1956
  • Car Craft December 1957

 

Also shown in…

  • Trend Book 143 Restyle Your Car
  • Car Craft March 1958
  • Custom Cars March 1958
  • Motor Life July 1958 (selected for the 20 most outstanding Custom Cars readers vote that year)
  • Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual




Johnny Rosier was a welder and a ice man. His father owned an ice company in the 1940’s and early 1950’s, and Johnny used to drive his mildly customized ice truck around town making ice deliveries. But he loved welding so much he started to work on Custom Cars. Later in life Johnny Rosier was a welding Foreman for a steel company building sky risers. The higher the better, according to one of Johnny’s daughter’s he loved being up there. But he loved his cars to be low low low. According his daughter Johnny might have had one more Custom Car. She remembers he father showing here a magazine when she was a kid, with a car in rainbow Metalflake inside, or perhaps on the cover. But many decades later she can’t remember what it was.

Sadly all the private collection photos from Johnny’s Custom Car period are long lost. Johnny Rosier passed away in December 1997.



Johnny Rosier posing with his Restyled Ice Truck that he dressed up with Single bar flipper hubcaps, fener skirts, and Appleton Spotlights. Johnny gave this photo to Memo Ortega in the 1950’s.
[divider]










(This article is made possible by)







0

Ralph Weflen Sectioned 56 Ford

 

RALPH WEFLEN SECTIONED 56 FORD

 

Ralph Weflen a very skilled Custom Car enthusiast from Canada created this perfect proportioned Sectioned 1956 Ford Sedan in the back yard of his house.


One of the great Custom Restyling techniques used by Customizers to enhance the lines of the cars is sectioning. Sectioning is where an horizontal strip of metal is taken out of the body sides between the bottom of the body and below the windows. It is a technique often much more involving than the other major Custom Restyling technique Chopping the top. Chopping tops was and still is used much more frequent on Custom Cars than restyling by sectioning. When performed right sectioning a body can achieve ultimate body proportions. Often much closer to the design sketches done by the car designers and the artists who drew up illustrations of the cars for the magazine ads and sales brochures. Some of the most iconic Customs in history were sectioned, like the Ron Dunn Ford Shoebox, sectioned by the Valley Custom Shop, or the Jade Idol Mercury, restyled by Gene Winfield.

Jim Appleby has been sharing some really fantastic photos of mostly Canadian built Custom Cars from the later part of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Photos from his own collection shared on the Facebook Canadian Hot Rod history pages. He shared a number of photos of a sectioned Custom car that really grabbed my attention. It was an unusual car to section, a 1956 Ford Sedan. Jim mentioned that the car was owned and built by Draggins member Ralph Weflen from the Saskatoon, SK. area.

Draggins Spring ’62 car check showed Ralph’s Sectioned Ford parked next to a stock height ’56 Ford for comparison.
[divider]


This photo shows how much sleeker Ralph’s sectioned Ford looks compared to the ’56 next to it. Ralph’s Ford is partly in primer, and partly wearing a custom paint job showing the car was a mild custom prior the section job.
[divider]


This photo was taken in the Spring of ’62 at the Draggins car check. This photo gives us a good look at the great proportions of the Sectioned Ford. The car was lowered, but not to much. The hood and trunk were shaved and the door handles removed to keep the focus on the main body lines. Ralph had created a new custom grille created from drawer knobs.
[divider]



Notice the chrome tape on the scalloped and outlined top from an previous Custom version before the car was sectioned.
[divider]


It turns out that Ralph Weflen built his perfectly proportioned sectioned and further Custom Restyled 1956 Ford during the winter in his back yard. The work started around 1962 when Ralph had the car all together and in primer. Over a period of time the car was painted in blue and gray shades with stylish scallops to further enhance the body lines. More changes were made along the way, which included quad headlights and custom tunneled taillights. The full custom interior was also done at home, by Ralph… talk about a talented guy.

The first finished version of the sectioned Ford was photographed with Ralph holding the trophy at the Draggins 1963 car show. Notices how the well designed scallops enhance all the body lines. Ralph was not only a very skilled body man, and upholsterer, but he also had the eye when it came to design and overall proportions and themes.
[divider]


Side view taken at the 1963 Swift Current show. It shows that Ralph added upholstery to the wheel wells, and plated some of the suspension parts. Since the hood was open it is save to say the engine bay must have looked stunning as well. I really like how Ralph used medium wide white wall tires with simple Moon hubcaps and beauty rings, they work perfect on the car. The taillights look to have additional bullets added.
[divider]


The previous photos did not show the other new items for the car at this show, quad slightly canted headlights with peaked eyebrows. Another stunning addition to the already perfect custom.
[divider]


Close up of the chrome plated brakes and upholstered wheel wells.
[divider]


Ralph’s Ford at the 1964 Regals show sporting some new interior elements, oval headrest on all four seats, and the underside of the hood is now upholstered as well.
[divider]


For the 1964 Road Knights show Ralph made some more changes. The car was repainted completely, now with a more simple two tone paint job. on the main body. It looks like the roof, hood and possibly trunk remained in the paint from the previous versions, but the main body was redone.
[divider]


Nice rear quarter view show that this later version also has new Custom recessed taillights most likely based on 1961 Ford Fairlane units. The photo was also taken at the 1964 Road Knights show.
[divider]



According to Jim Appleby Ralph evetually sold the car and the subsequent owner decided to further modify the car. He wanted to widen the car, which he did, but when it came to fitting the windshield he could not get it done and the project was abandoned. What happened with the remains of this once stunning Custom is unknown at this moment. we hope to be able to find out more about it. Ralph Weflen’s Sectioned 1956 Ford Sedan is one of those so well baanced Custom Cars, it is amazing it never has been featured in any of the magazines (as far as we know). We are very glad Jim shared these photos so that the car can be enjoyed by all Custom Car enthusiast around now. The car was very popular locally, and now with the help of Jim Appleby the whole world can enjoy Ralph Weflen’s 1956 Ford in all its beauty.

 

Special thanks to Jim Appleby, Pat O’Connor, David Snell and Glenn Thomson




[divider]

[divider]




(This article is made possible by)





1+

1941 Plymouth Convertible

 

1941 PLYMOUTH Convertible

 

With the main focus on full Custom Cars, we might forget that back in the day the majority of the Custom Cars were very simple, mildly restyled cars. This 1941 Plymouth Convertible is a prime sample.



This article is about an 1941 Plymouth Convertible mild Custom, or Street Custom as they might have been called back in the 1940’s. The car was owned and most likely home customized by an unknown Californian owner. The photos in this article all come from separate eBay auctions, most likely (I forgot) from the same seller sold over a period of several years. Most likely taken from an photo-album found at a yard- or estate-sale. The opening photo showing the car from the front 3/4 was the first one I came across on eBay, and I really liked the photo so I placed a bid and won it. many month later I noticed one more, and that went on a few times. Perhaps they have been more sold before I found out about the my first photo, who knows.

1941 magazine ad showing the stock 1941 Plymouth convertible.
[divider]



I was born in 1967, so I do not know this first hand, but from what I have been told by the people who where there in the 1940’s, this Plymouth is a prime sample of how most of the Custom Cars looked like around town. Very simple bolt on Custom parts, like the Ripple Disk Flipper Hubcaps, the De Soto Bumpers, fender skirts and single Appleton Spotlight. And even the step further, suspension lowering, smoothing of the center grille section, the shaved hood, and trunk and the removal of the running boards with the filled panel below the body is something that could be done with simple tools in the drive way.  All these things combined you were able to create a unique look for your car, set it apart from all the cars in the neighborhood, and get the attention from the girls.

Mildly lowered front and rear, teardrop shape fenderskirts (possibly a factory accessory part), Appleton Spotlight and Ripple Disck Single Bar flipper hubcap 1946 photo.
[divider]


At the rear we can see the 1946 California silence plate, the use of 1937 DeSoto bumpers  with  unknown bumper guards. The trunk was shaved for a smoother look.
[divider]


This is my favorite photo of the car, also the first one I was able to find. Everything in this photo looks great, the car, the background. The front DeSoto bumper uses what looks like the ’41 Plymouth single bumper guard, and a set of very popular at the time amber fog-lights. Notice that the car only had one Appleton Spotlight (using two was illegal at the time).
[divider]



The photos of the car with the black wall tire are taken when the car had a 1946 California license plate on it. Those taken of the car with the white wall tires could be taken earlier, or later, hard to tell. The magazine add mentioned that the white sidewall tires are standard equipment, so most likely the white wall version photos are older, and shortly after WWII the tires had to be replaced and only black wall tires were available at the time. Perhaps an odd choice was to swap the stock, very nice looking bumpers for the older ribbed 1937 DeSoto bumpers It shows that back then these DeSoto bumpers were very popular.

Two more photos of the Plymouth, now with white wall tires as part of a photo test sheet. I have no idea who are the people posing with the car, perhaps parents of the owner, girlfriend? The white wall tires give the car a completely different look.
[divider]


Most likely the owner/builder posing with the car. By the looks of the bright paint and shiny chrome I think that this and the two others with the white wall tires might have been taken during WWII. The owner seams to be very proud of his ride… and it sure is a fine Street Custom.
[divider]




(This article is made possible by)








.

0