1950 Sacramento Autorama

1950 SACRAMENTO AUTORAMA

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

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Special thanks to Lawrence Fears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On the top right we can see Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford,  #5 Lawrence Brocchini ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield, Vern Haversack 1927 Model T with track nose with #11,  #1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, and on the left is #19 Harold Casarang’s ‘25 Model T. bottom right shows the #14 of Jack Odbert’s 36 Ford, behind it the engine and front of #15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford 5-window.

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Show overview

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

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

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

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

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

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Custom Cars at the Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Hot Rods at the show

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

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

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#3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.

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

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

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

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#5 Lawrence Brocchini’s ’31 Ford.

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

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

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#19 Harold Casarang Oakland Roadster club member took his ‘25 Model T to the Sacramento Auto Show.
January 1951 Hot Rod Magazine article on the show.

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Sources and more information

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

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1945 San Francisco Customs

 

1945 SAN FRANCISCO CUSTOMS

 

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



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

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

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

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


[divider]Last photo is another very mild street Custom. This time based on a ’39 Ford Sedan with what look like ’41 Buick skirts, pointed forward Spotlights and single bar flipper hubcaps.
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1939 Ford Convertible

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


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

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

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

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




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Joe Hocker 1936 Ford

 

JOE HOCKER 1936 FORD

 

The Hocker brothers Joe and Tom from Oakland California were both into Custom Car. Tom had the famous Barris Restyled 1940 Ford, and Joe a DuVall windshield 1936 Ford Phaeton.



Of the two Hocker Brothers Joe (Joseph) and Tom we are most familiar with Tom’s 1940 Ford restyled by the famous Barris Kustom Shop around 1953, and later updated around 1957. While doing research for the restoration of the Tom Hocker 1940 Ford, John Canepa came in contact with the Hocker family. Sadly Tom and Joe are no longer with us, but John was able to get some great information and pictures from Joe’s Hocker‘s widow and son Joe Jr. Besides some great snapshots they also shared some valuable information that helps John with the restoration on the Tom Hocker ’40 Ford.

During the conversation with the Hockers, John also learned about brother Joe’s earlier custom, his 1936 Ford Phaeton. Joe Jr. shared a few of the family snapshots of his father’s ’36 Ford and when John shared those with me I recognized the car immediately as the Joseph Hocker Ford that was entered at the 1951 National Roadster Show in Oakland Ca. For some strange reason I never made the link between Joseph Hocker with his ’36 Ford and Tom Hocker with his 1940 Ford Coupe, and never realized these were two brothers who were both into Custom Cars.

Tom Hocker with his chopped ‘40 Ford fresh from Barris Kustoms in ‘52. When John Canepa was asking the Hocker family for more info and photos of the Tom Hocker ’40 Ford they found this one, and many more, and they also came across the ’36 Ford images of Tom’s brother Joe. The car we concentrate on in this article.
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Tom’s 1940 Ford was a very well known Barris Custom, first painted Fuchsia Orchid, and later in metallic medium blue with scallops and later dual headlights. The was featured in many magazines, and in color on the cover. Joseph’s ’36 Ford was on the road a few years earlier, basically just before the major car magazines were published. So far we only had heard about his Ford from the 1951 National Roadster Show. And seen a few photos of the car from this show. We also had some info how the car had survived and is still around today as a semi restored car with dual cowl and dual V-Windshield. When John Canepa shared the Hocker family photos and the info he had gathered it all fell in place.

We are still trying to find out more about the early days of the Hocker Brothers and their Custom Cars. Finding out more about Joe’s ’36 Ford, when it was restyled, and who did the work on the car. Hopefully we will be able to get more details at a later date, initiated by this article. And if we do, we will update the info in the article.

Joe Hocker 1936 Ford

George DuVall designed and created the now famous DuVall V-Windshield for the SoCalif. Plating 1935 Ford in 1936. Even though the windshield was original designed for the ’35-’36 Fords the windshield really became popular after it was modified to fit the narrower 1932 Ford body. Over the decades the DuVall windshield has been used more on Hot Rods than on Custom Cars for which it was originally intended for. But there are a few samples of early Custom Cars that used the streamlined DuVall V-windshield. Joe Hocker’s 36 Ford Phaeton is one of them.

Joe Hocker with his 1936 Ford Pheaton with DuVall windshield and matching padded top.
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Julian Doty is DuVall’s nephew and was selling the windshields in the 40’s & 50’s. Most likely Joe bought the DuVall windshield from him.
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We are not sure if Joe ever saw the SoCali Plating ’35 Ford in person, or perhaps in one of the early publications. So we do not know if this inspired him to get the DuVall windshield, and shape of the Padded top in a similar way, but since the similarities are striking we do think the SoCal Plating Shop truck was an influence on Tom’s Ford. Julian Doty, who was George DuVall’s nephew, was marketing the DuVall Windshields in the 1940’s and 1950’s. So most likely Joe bought one of them from Julian, or perhaps thru a dealer.


What we do know about the Hocker brothers is that they were very creative, and skilled to do a lot of work on their cars them selves. But when it came to work they felt not comfortable with, like the majority of the body work, paint and interior, they went to the best on the market. Joe’s 36 Ford was never featured in any magazine or book, at least not in its original form. Which could have helped us with crucial information. At this moment the Hocker family could not remember if anybody else but Joe and Tom worked on the Phaeton body. Making the windshield fit the cowl, and other body changes, perhaps the Hocker brother did the work at their home shop, perhaps it was outsourced. The uniquely shaped padded top, with French curve, might have been done by the C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland Ca.

Joe and Gwen with the ‘36 Ford.
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Gwen Hocker, Joe’s wife, remembered a few things about Joe’s ’36 Ford ans shared those memories with John Canepa. Joe got his driver’s license when he was just 13 years old. Joe and his brother Tom worked on their cars on a dirt floor behind their small house. One day, when taking a trip in the ‘36 with the padded top left at home, they were caught in a rainstorm, and lightning struck the chrome dash while they were driving! In the early 1950’s Joe made a living from being was a handyman at an apartment complexes nearby where they lived.

Joe and Tom behind the ‘36 Ford. This side view shows the very steep angle of the DuVall windshield really well. It gave instant speed to the Ford.
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Joe installed a 1946 Semi-race Mercury engine with Edelbrock heads and manifold, Harmon Collins cam, Kong Ignition and ’46 Mercury transmission in the car. He modified the suspension to get the car a bit lower, but not as low as most other Customs from the same era. He updated the suspension with ’46 Ford hydraulic brakes. The stock bumpers were replaced with 1940 Oldsmobile bumpers front and rear. The stock hood sides were replaced with aftermarket smooth units, the hood ornament was replaced with a bull nose aftermarket piece for a smoother look. And the grille side pieces were chrome plated.

Joe shaved the door handles and with all the body work done, the car was painted with 25 coats of metallic maroon paint. Joe added 1939 Ford teardrop taillights to the smoothed rear fenders. In the 1951 Oakland Show Brochure it is listed that the car had Cadillac Hubcaps, but by the looks if it I think they are aftermarket look alike that are a bit less deep, allowing the stock Ford wheels to be used. The hubcaps look really great with the car with the wide white wall tires and no skirts in the back giving the car an European vibe.

The only rear view we have of the car is this out of focus snapshot. It shows the canvas covered spare tire, and the use of ’39 Ford teardrop taillights on smoothed rear fenders.
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Joe’s ’36 Ford on the right along with a few Friends cars.
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At this moment we do not know the full story on Joe’s Ford, what happened to the car from the time the snapshots in this article and those at the 1951 Oakland Roadster Show were taken, until the late 1960’s. Hopefully we will be able to update this article later with more info about this time. We do know, thanks to Ron Brooks, that in the late 1960’s, or perhaps early 1970’s Harry Morse owned the ’36 Ford, and he took it to Don Bridgeman (Don’s Body Shop) to convert his car to a dual-cowl body.

Wonderful front 3/4 view of Joe’s Ford with some of his friends cars next to it.
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The 1951 National Roadster Show

Until recently the only photos we had seen of Joe’s ’36 Ford were taken at the 1951 National Roadster Show, the second annual Roadster show in Oakland California. In the 1951 Show booklet the owner of the car was mentioned to be Joseph Hocker. The Roadster Show was a local show for Joe, but it meant that his car would become world wide known. Perhaps not right then, when it was shown, but it sure has been in the last few decades.

Overview photo of the 1951 Oakland Roadster Show shows Joe’s Ford with one hood side open to show of the mercury engine and the padded top in place.
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Close up of the photo above.
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This picture shows a hint of what is going on in the engine bay. It looks like Joe used plenty of chrome and polished parts to make the Mercury engine look at its best. The inset is the write up on Joe’s Ford in the 1951 National Roadster Show booklet.
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A double exposed snapshot showing the engine of Joe’s Ford.
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Custom Cars were well present at the 1951 Show.
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Side view photo taken at the show by Rudy Perez. It gives us a good look at the padded top.
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Joe’s Ford just visible on the right of this picture of the National Roadster Show award.
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The Dual Cowl 1936 Ford

In the late 1960’s or early 1970’s Harry Morse, of Castro Valley, California acquired the ‘36 Ford Phaeton Custom for a good price from a guy named Pete Paulsen. When Morse bought the car the car still had the original DuVall windshield and the Mercury engine and most likely all the other custom touches. (Pete Paulsen recently confirmed that the car he sold to Harry Morse was indeed the Joe Hocker Ford.)

Morse replaced the Mercury engine with a bone stock unit and had the interior redone in leather. The DuVall windshield was not stock, but it inspired Harry to do something special and create a dual cowl ‘36 Ford based on a General Motors design for a ’34 Cadillac he had always been impressed with. The second windshield was created using the original brass unit as a base, and modified it to fit the hand made second cowl, created by Don Bridgman. Don used a cowl of a ‘35 Ford Roadster parts car to create the second cowl. The brass cast unit was polished and plated. Morse kept the smooth hood sides, and added body color grille sides, stock hood ornament as well as grille extension Fultron trim pieces on the front of the hood.

July 1979 issue of Custom & Rod Ideas had a very nice feature on the ’36 Ford after it was own by Harry Morse, of Castro Valley, California.
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Custom &Rod Ideas opening spread. This bottom photo shows that the car has an fender mounted gas filler as well as ’39 Ford taillights. Both are most likely left from the original Joe Hocker version.
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Second spread showed some color as well, including the beautiful leather interior.
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In the early 1990’s Harry Morse sells the Ford to Mike Aahl, also of of Castro Valley. Mike has made a few small changes to the car over the years, including adding new wheels and tires and adjusting the stance a little to get it a little lower, perhaps more to how Joe Hocker had it in the early 1950’s. Mike still enjoys the car and it pops up at local car shows from time to time.

Taken a few years ago, now owned by Mike Aahl of Castro Valley, who has owned it for 25 plus years now. Mike has made a few changes to the car, including a stance adjustment, new white wall tires and steel wheels with 48 Ford hubcaps and beauty rings.
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Ron Brooks took this picture at a GoodGuys show a couple years ago.
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The George DuVall designed SoCalif Plating Shop hauler 1935 Ford was created in 1936. It might have been the inspiration for Joe to created his ’36 Ford.
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A ’36 Ford similarly restyled as the Joe Hocker Ford is the Tommy The Greek ’36 Ford. Often these two cars are mixed up. Joe’s Ford has stock fenders with running boards, four doors and had Olds bumpers, while Tommy’s Ford has reshaped fenders, removed running boards, skirts and Pontiac bumpers.
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Special thanks to John Canepa and Ron Brooks




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1947-48 Buick Gaylord Tops

 

1947-48 BUICK GAYLORD TOPS

 

Bill Gaylord created a couple of stunning looking super long chopped padded tops for 1947-48 Buicks that completely transformed the looks of those cars. A closer look.



I was browsing thru some old photos to get some inspiration for a Digital Restyling project I was working on when I noticed the really long padded top, and especially the long rear quarters on the Buick in the opening photo from the Bill Gaylord Collection. It made me think of the Ben Mario and Don Vaughn Buick’s that were restyled at the Barris Kustom Shop, and both had similar shaped, but with panoramic rear window, Gaylord padded tops. It also reminded me of the padded top Bill Gaylord did on George Barris his personal 1942 Cadillac, which had the same huge rear compartment that he covered with full length padded top with beautiful flowing shapes.




Bill Gaylord was a true artist when it came to smooth flowing shaped padded tops, and there was a reason that the Barris Shop took many of their streamlined Customs to Gaylord, instead of the Carson Top Shop. Carson was known for their slightly more boxy padded tops, very nice, and perfect on certain type of Customs. But when it came to the mid to late 1940’s GM cars, like the ’47-48 Buick’s in this article, the Gaylord Kustom Tops shop was THE place to go to.

Stock 1947-48 Buick Convertible at the Gaylord Kustom Top Shop, possibly waiting to get the windshield chopped and a full padded top done. This photo shows the car with the stock folding top, and how the car original has a rear quarter window. Which makes the full length padded top look so special on these. The car is not the same one I think as the one below, notice the spotlight on the stock one, and non on the one chopped below. That is Bill’s personal chopped ’49 Merc behind the Buick.
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Chopped windshield, super sleek Gaylord padded top, lowered suspension and smoothed hood. All that is needed to make this Buick look super nice, and a mile long. I wonder if the owner perhaps saved up to have more work done at a later stage, as in shaved door handles, frenched headlights…
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Close up of the chopped padded Gaylord top. Perfectly shaped, with beautiful flow of the rear of the top and the just right angle of the B-Pillar.
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This is such a great photo showing Bill Gaylord’s personal ’49 Mercury with the chopped top still in progress, Ben Mario’s Barris restyled ’47 Buick with none buffed paint, or perhaps primer? with the top still at stock height, and Bill Gaylord’s personal ’41 Ford with super low padded top behind it.
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Close up of Ben Mario’s Buick from the photo above.
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Different photo, taken the same day as the one above shows the satin finish of the paint job on Ben Mario’s Buick. The guy all the way on the right looks a lot as a young George Barris.
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Ben Mario’s ’47 Buick was restyled at the Barris shop as a none chopped custom at first. The custom interior was done by Bill Gaylord. This photo of the car was taken later when the paint was completely polished, and a cover was added over the rear seat.
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Later the windshield was chopped on Ben Mario’s Buick and Bill Gaylord created a beautiful super long padded top with panoramic rear window.
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Ben Mario’s 1948 Buick photo that looks to be taken at the Hot Rod Show at the Los Angeles Armory, most likely in Jan 1950. Notice that the sign behind the car reads Barris Kustom Shop Bell. In March 1950 the Barris Shop moved to the new Lynwood Location.
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Barris and Gaylord advertised combined in Motor Trend magazine and the Ben Mario Buick was used to illustrate Bill’s Interior Skill’s and the Barris Shop’s body work and design skills. Sadly Bill Gaylord went into the military right when the magazine with this ad hit the newsstand, so there was nobody at the shop to welcome any new customers responding to the ad.
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Don Vaughn’s Barris  Restyled ’47 Buick. Notice the very round shape of the rear of the side window opening. Very different that the light colored Buick at the start of this article.
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Don Vaughn’s ’47 Buick might was very similar styled as Ben Mario’s Buick. And there are some stories around that mention the the Mario and Vaughn Buick’s are the same car. So far we have not been able to find any evidence for that, but the resemblance sure is remarkable.
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Close up of the Gaylord Panoramic rear window he added to the chopped padded top. The glass was made from shaped plexiglass.
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The flow of the top into the trunk is so nice on these Gaylord tops. They enhance all the Barris Restyled elements very well.
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This possibly is the Ben Mario or Don Vaughn Barris / Gaylord restyled 1948 Buick. The photo was taken quite a few years ago, and we do not know where it is, or who owns it. But the rumor is it is the original Barris Restyled Buick with the Gaylord created padded top frame in place. The one odd thing about the car in the photo is that it shows a door handle in place, which was shaved on both the Mario, and Vaughn Buick. Hopefully the future will bring more info on this mystery.
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Jack Stewart Ford White Primer

 

JACK STEWART FORD WHITE PRIMER

 

In 1950 George Barris painted the Jack Stewart Ford in white primer after he had fine tuned the Ayala restyled coupe. In 2018, 68 years later, the car is back in white primer, and almost ready to hit the road.


On August 19, 2018, me and my 13 year old son were leaving the house early for our first real roadtrip together. We planned to visit my good friend Palle Johansen in Denmark, a good 6 hour trip, and visit the German city Hamburg on the way back the following day. Palle Johansen and I have been friends for many years, and the friendship intensified when Palle decided to become the new caretaker of the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford. An iconic Custom Car Restyled originally by Gil and Al Ayala in the late 1940’s and fine tuned and painted by Jack’s friend George Barris in 1950-1951.

It had been a few years since I had visited Palle, so I was looking very much to see him again, and Abe was really looking forward to meet him for the first time. Palle had been working on his ‘1947 Cadillac Custom Convertible mostly in the last couple of years, but the project was sort of halted due to some paint issues, and the Jack Stewart Ford had been on the backburner most of the time he worked on the Cadillac.

After our 6 plus hours drive up North, from the Netherlands to Denmark we had arrived in Palle’s home town and driving up to his block, when I was about to turn the last corner I told my son that he should look out for the white house at the end of the street… And when we did turn the corner, instead of seeing the white house we saw the light reflecting white paint of the Jack Stewart Ford parked in front of Palle’s white house… An HUGE smile grew instantly on our faces…. ( One that would last the entire visit )





We drove to the end of the street, and saw the white ghost Jack Stewart’s white primered ’41 Ford in all its glory…. I had not expected to see the car being parked on the road. I knew it had been painted white primer some time ago, but I had no idea Palle and his team had “secretly” put it back together again and made in road worthy. This was an amazing surprise for me, and of course for my son who, for the first time in his life, was looking at an original Custom Car from the 1950’s that had been created by the top shops of the time… And the car that had been the lead character in the book his father created a number of years ago… And which owner, builder an all other connected names had been mentioned frequently in the house, and where he had witnessed all the steps leading to the printed Jack Stewart Ford Book. And now he saw the car in the flesh.

The view we saw when driving up to Palle’s house… the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford in white primer, with temporary Danish License plates.
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White primer

When Jack Stewart had brought the completely Restyled, yet still unfinished ’41 Ford from the Ayala Shop in East Los Angeles to the Barris Shop in Lynwood in 1950 he asked George if he could try to get the car done for him in time for the annual Easter event at Balboa Island. A very popular event for young guys and girls, dancing and partying the long weekend. George worked hard, fine tuning the work the Ayala’s had done previously, rounding corners, reshaping fender lines, crafting taillights and pods for the to sit in etc.

But in the end George did not have enough time to actually paint the car, so he ended up painting the car in white primer, and that was how Jack took it to the Balboa Easter Weekend… And it looked really amazing in the bright white primer. Several photos of this version of the car were made back then, survived and were using in multiple publications since then. Quite possibly Jack owned and drove his Restyled Ford wearing white primer longer than when George Barris eventually painted the car in a copper bronze color.

Jack Stewart with his freshly white primer painted 1941 Ford in June 1950 at the Santa Ana Drags. This is how Jack drove it for a few month.
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It had always been Palle’s intention to go the same route when he was going to restore the car to how it originally looked. Do the complete restoration, and finish it in white primer, then drive it around for some time, before eventually pant it copper bronze. It was a common thing to do back the, have all the body work done on your car, add primer, and then drive it around for some time letting all the body work settle, and get all the bugs, if there where any come out and fix. At one time they, not sure who was first, really liked the idea of the white, or later color tinted primer. And by painting your car in primer first, have it on the road, and even in some shows you could later do the complete debut thrills all over when the car got completely painted. Double fun!

My son Abe shortly after he got out of the car and was ready to check out the Jack Stewart Ford in person.
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Smiling from ear to ear. There is still a lot to do, notice the cuts and uneven surface on the inside of the door jamb.
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The white primer on the car right now is however not yet the final primer. It was added to finally cover the bare metal, keeping it from rusting, and make it a bit easier to see what still needs to be done to the body to get it ready for final paint. And the white primer has made it very obvious that there is still a lot that needs to be done.

The plan for now is to get the car ready for the Danish version of the DMV inspection. Hence the grille opening and A-pillar mounted parking lights. Both will be removed again after the car has been approved for the road. Then when the car can be driven on the road legally the plan is to tackle all the issues still left, body work fine tuning as well as mechanical work. And while doing that, the car can still be driven around and enjoyed.

After checking out the car a bit, Palle said… “are you guys in for a short drive?”…. Oh yeah… we are. The car is not road legal, so we could only stay on the block he said. The Cadillac Flathead engine also needs some more work done to become reliable, and get a new air-cleaner than can be hooked up to the special carburetor allowing the air-cleaner to be mounted on the side, since there is no space for it on top with the channeled body and new low hood. But it runs, and the car can be driven.

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This was only the second time the Jack Stewart Ford was driven since the restoration got started. Man, what an experience.
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The white primer, chrome and the green tinted glass was the perfect mix. Notice the small turn signals that were added to the lower A-Pillars, where the Appleton Spotlights should be. This is needed to get the needed paper work to make the car road legal. With the papers in hand the Appleton’s will be replacing the lights later.
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When the car was originally Restyled the techniques used and demands for perfection were a bit different from today’s standards. The Custom Cars back then looked absolutely amazing, but most of them were r created to be looked underneath, inside behind panels, or shown with opened hood or trunk. Modifications as rounded corners looked perfect from the outside, but when you opened the trunk you would see that George Barris, in this case, used only sheet metal to fill in the body panel to create the new rounded corner, but there was no work done to make it looks factory finished on the inside, with a beautiful lip, like we are so used at today.

The idea is to keep most of the “flaws” on the car, make it look amazing from the outside, and in the cockpit, but retain the kind of rough around the edges standard quality custom work from the early 1950’s.

The flow of the fade away fenders and top are perfect… the white primer shows that off so much more than how I saw it last time.. in bare metal.
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The Stance still needs to be adjusted a bit… a little higher in the front, for that perfect speed-boat stance.
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The Bob Hirohata hand made taillights contrasted with the white primer. The white primer also revealed that the drivers side front fenders must have had some impact back in 1954 when the car hit a train. And it was never really fixed right, making the sides slightly out of shape. So some metal work will have to be done there to make the front fenders flow nice into the fade away door sections.
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Palle and I talked a lot about the car the day we arrived, he had driven it into his under the house garage / man-cave so we could check out all the details, while discussing the,details and remembering the good times we had when we were researching the car in the US in 2010. The next morning Palle had some appointments early in the morning, and would be back after a few hours. During that time I walked around the Ford, took pictures inside and out, took some measurements and most of all sat inside the car, behind the Mercury Monteray steering wheel and tried to visualize how it must have been for Jack and later Jim Skonzakes, to drive around in this car, driving around in the streets of Los Angeles, California, and Jim later i Dayton Ohio. Or ultimately how it must have been for Jim Skonzakes to buy the car from Jack, with the help from George Barris and then drive it in a couple of days from LA to Dayton. It was an amazing feeling sitting inside the car, knowing its history, siting on the same vinyl tuck & roll upholstered seats as Jack, Jim and later Bob Drake had done back in time.

After Palle had driven the car in the garage for the night it was my turn to sit in it… smiling… Good to be back “home” in the car. I would spend a lot of time just sitting there the net morning… day dreaming, and remembering Jack, and Jim…
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A view from the rear seat. The headliner and seats are still the originals from 1951.
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The vent windows now work perfectly with all new rubber.
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More rough work on the door jamb where some of the lead had to be removed to be able to get the doors aligned again. The dash and garnish panels were painted in 2013 by David Martinez / Billy Crewl in time to be shown at the 2013 GNRS. The interior panels are the original units from 1951, semi restored.
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The white primer makes all the rough body work stand out extra good. Some of it will stay, since it was like this when the car was originally finished. On the other hand, some will be smoothed, since multiple layers of primer and paint back then must have helped smooth out the body work in 1951.
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Parked in Palle’s garage… and getting the replica 1951 California License plate mounted. Really looking forward to the next phase on this project… registration, then slowly fixing the body and other things to get it on the road to enjoy.
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The Appleton S-522 Spotlights are patiently waiting to be remounted on the car again… soon I hope.
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Dreaming of going on another Road Trip with Palle Johansen… Now with the primer white Jack Stewart Ford. Reliving the times Jack Stewart, Jim Skonzakes and Bob Drake, all known previous owners had shared with us with huge smiles on their face.


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Cliff Rackohn 1948 Mercury

 

RACKOHN 1948 Mercury

 

One of the more elegnat Customs to roll from the Barris Kustom Shop in during its hay days was the 1948 Mercury Restyled for Cliff Rackohn.



Before we start about this beautiful Barris Restyled Mercury I want to mention a few things about the name and the year of the car. In the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 1950’s Volume 2, the name of the owner of this Mercury is spelled Cliff Rockohn and the year of the Mercury is marked at 1947. In the April 1951 issue of Motor Trend Magazine, as well as the Trend book Custom Cars #101, there is a different spelling of the name Cliff Rackohn, in both the small article as well as in the For Sale ad, and the car is labeled as an 1948 model. I will keep the 1951 Motor Trend spelling of the name, as well as the year for the car to be the most accurate.

’48 Mercury Coupe restyled by the Barris brothers for owner Cliff Rackohn from South Los Angeles. This Mercury is one of the late 40’s, perhaps early 1950’s restyled cars at the Barris Shop that had its fair share of publicity, and one that survived on the Custom Car scene longer then most others created during the same period. Yet, the Mercury is not often mentioned in the more recent Custom Car publications.





So far I have not been able to find a date on when Cliff’s Mercury was first created. The first time it was published was in the Motor Trend issue from April in 1951. Meaning that the car had to be finished around two month prior, February ’51. Around this period the Barris Shop was extremely prolific and a lot of cars were created at the shop. Some were very well documents, others, like Cliff’s ’48, was not. A few elements, like all the molded body panels, the bumper guard taillight and most of all the not rounded top corners of the trunk and rear fenders indicate that the car might have been mostly built around 1948-49. After that it was more common to round off sharp corners.

Cliff was a member of the Kustom’s Los Angeles. This frontal photo shows the beautiful peak on the hood extending all the way down to the grille and how extremely well and elegant the ’48 Cadillac grille looked on this Mercury.
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The overall lines, the perfect speed-boat stance and wonderful long hood make this ’48 Mercury one very elegant Customs.
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The Barris shop created many ’41-48 Ford based Customs, but relatively few same year Mercury based Customs. And that while, as Cliff’s car clearly illustrates, the three inch longer front end of the Mercury’s lend themselves to the perfect tail-dragging Custom. the long nose does not only give the impression of having a more powerful motor, but the proportions, especially with a heavy chop, really benefit from the longer front end. How much the top was chopped is hard to tell, like usual the early publications were often far from accurate with their tech info. And numbers were often exaggerated to make the cars looks even more special.

According the Barris Technique book Cliff’s Mercury was chopped 4 inches in the front and 8 inches in the rear. MotorSport magazine and Trend Books Custom Cars #101  mention 6″ and 8″ and Car Craft magazine a full 8 inches. The chop is pretty heavy on the car, but 6 inch removed from the front might seem to be a little to much. But the difference from to more in the back does sound more accurate than the 4 inches difference from the Barris Book.

The chop on Cliff’s is beautifully proportioned, and reminds me a lot about he chop Sam Barris would later perform on Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury. With its distinctive forward rake on the B- Pillars and super smooth C-Pillars. Clearly an experiment by the Barris brothers who usually kept the B-pillars straight on their chops. The shape of the door frame and roof shape on Cliff’s Mercury remind me of some of the super smooth and flowing padded tops coming out of the Bill Gaylord shop. But just as on the Quesnell Merc, the rear quarter window front corners seem to have some trouble finding the right direction when looked at from certain angles. But I have to say that the forward pillars sure help with the speed-boat look, and make it look going fast, standing still.

Notice the mud-flap below the front fender.
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In 1951 Cliff entered his ’48 Mercury at the Montebello tent show. Together with Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford, Jesse Lopez. 41 Ford, Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury, Snooky Janish 1941 Ford, Gil Ayala 1942 Ford and a fee more not in this photo the car formed the Custom Section at this unique show.
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Typical for the late 1940\s early 1950’s the Barris Brothers removed the running boards, and the door skin was extended down. The rear quarter panels was treated the same way. All four fenders were welded to the body, and the seam smoothed with lead for that desirable one piece look. The very busy stock Mercury grille was removed and the body panels reshaped for a much cleaner front. A more elegant and more expensive looking ’48 Cadillac grille was chosen to fit the new smoother front ,and it turned out to be the perfect look for the Mercury. The lower section of the front, which is separate on the 46-48 Mercury’s was molded to the new front end along with the splash pan. The front of the hood was extended down into the new section above the Cadillac grille and the Mercury peak on top of the hood was reshaped at the front to end in a point just above the Cadillac grille, making it look like the peak flows into the center vertical grille bar. This all leads to one of the best custom front-end designs created by the Barris Shop.

There was a small feature on the Mercury in the April 1951 issue of Motor Trend Magazine, showing two photos, including one with Cliff posing with the car.
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A closer look at the Motor Trend 1951 photos. A well dressed Cliff posing with his fantastic looking ’48 Mercury.
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And taken at the same location this nice higher point of view 3/4 look at the Mercury. Very nice angle photo showing the car in all its beauty.
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The headlight rings were molded into the front fenders for a smooth look and the headlights very slightly recessed. The door handles and all emblems were shaved and the side trim shortened on the hood, which was a typical Barris Trademark. At the back the splash-pan was molded to the body, just as on the front, and the taillights plus fender trim was shaved and all holes filled. The bumpers remained the stock units front and rear. But at the rear the Barris crew modified the bumper guards to accept some hand made laminated Lucite taillights. The finishing touch was a set of long 1941 FoMoCo fender skirts, a set of Appleton Spotlights, Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide wall tires (6.00:16 ).

The information from the interior comes from the Motorsports magazine. The front seat was pirated from an 1942 Chevy, allowing to be seated 3 inches lower than stock, which was very welcome with the much lower top. The interior was upholstered in tan cowhide pleated and rolled. The headliner was done in grey imported English wool, and the floormat was made of deeply-piled green rug, which matched the lacquer dash trim. Which makes me wonder if the original color of the Mercury was perhaps green when Cliff Rackohn original owned it?

The car was offered for sale in the same April 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. The $6000 invested in the car to built is was a lot of money back then. Notice the spelling of the name Cliff Rackohn. Perhaps Cliff had signed up to go to the War in korea… like so many other guys in the Kustoms Los Angeles Club. Hopefully one day we will know.
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New owner in 1952

In the January 1952 issue of Motorsport magazine There was a two page + feature on the Mercury. According the article the car was then owned by Dave Clickman of Southern California. According the article the the car was chopped 6″ in the front and 8″ in the rear with new sheet metal added from the top of the trunk to the bottom of the rear window, creating a smooth transition. The frame was z-ed in the back and the front was dropped with a 2.5 inch dropped front end. The article also mentioned that the hood was chopped 5 inches, which would technically be a section job, but that is clearly not the car on this Mercury. And that all body panels are molded together and leaded to form one smooth body. It also mentioned that the skirts used once belonged to a ’48 Buick, another false “fact” since the skirts are ’41 Ford Mercury units.

The article mentioned that the car was painted 25 coats of Arctic Blue lacquer by Gram Brothers of West Los Angeles. The engine was rebuild by Ray Brown, a famous Hot Rodder. The Cylinders were bored to 3 5-16″ and a 1950 Mercury crankshaft of 4″ stroke was employed. The 275 Cubic Inch engine utilizes Jahns 3=ring racing pistons with high domes.  It had Edelbrock heads two carb intake with two 48 Stromberg carburetors.

January 1952 issue of Motorsport magazine. Scans provided by Jamie Barter.
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Beautiful rear 3/4 view from a higher point of view shows how gorgeous this Mercury was. From this angle the top works the best. The sharp top corners of the trunk might indicate that the majority of the work was already done on the car around 1948-49.
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The interior was done by Bill Gaylord in a tan colored leather, green carpets.
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This photo shows that by the time Dave Glickman owned the car the rear has been raised a few inches.
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This photo shows the bumper guard mounted taillights a bit better.
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When Dave Cickman owned the car the car ran 3T 609 1951 California plates.
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Dave drove the Ray Brown rebuilt flathead engine to a best time of 87.70. Not bad for a heavy leadsled.
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Third owner

In the August 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine the Mercury was featured again. This time the car was even more on a forward rake, and the fender skirts have been removed. The owner by then was listed as John Logg of Hollywood, and the Mercury described as a 1947 year model. By now the car was dark maroon, and there is some color movie footage of the car at the 1957 Coachman Car Club high-Shool car show. After this we have not been able to find info on the car. Where it went, or what ever happened to it. If you know more, please let us know.

The Mercury was owned by John Logg when it was featured in the August 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine. By then the rear had been raised, and the fender skirts removed for a completely new look.
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John Logg was a member of the “Streaking Deacons” and used their club tag on the front bumper.
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Screen shot of a color 8mm movie made at the Coachman Car Club Motorcade Car show in 1957. The footage was filmed by Bob Stephenson who was Coachman Club member, and it is so far the only color images we have of the car. By then it was painted a dark maroon.
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This was a slowly moving from left to right shot so thee screen shot was rather blurry. But still very interesting to see that the car was shown with its hood up, showing off the Ray Brown Flathead engine.
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So far this has been the last photo I have been able to find on the Rackohn Mercury. The car looks still very much like the original version, only it has a different stance, and by now the Sombrero hubcaps have been replaced by some more modern hubcaps 9possibly Olds Fiesta hubcapa. This photo was used in the Trend Book #143 Restyle your car published in 1957.
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Channeled 36 Ford

 

CHANNELED 36 FORD

 

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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




The Early versions

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

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

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

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



Owned by Doug-McNaughton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Santa Monica 36 Ford 5 Window

36 FORD 5 WINDOW

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Beautifully styled 1936 Ford 5 window Coupe from the Santa Monica area. Created around 1940 and a total mystery.

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I appreciate Customized Cars from all era’s and brands, and each era, en perhaps even each brand, and model produced that one car that does something special with you. Your personal favorite of that time, or model. The 1936 Ford in this article is my personal favorite Custom from the late 1930’s, early 1940’s… when it comes to coupes. There are many others from this time I love, but this one is special. To me this car has helped shape and define the looks of the Custom Car. Improving of the appearance of the restyled car. Overall the early Custom Car period from the late 1930’s till the mid 1940’s is very interesting to me, since the Custom Cars created during this period are so pure, and so creative.

The first time I saw a picture of this so fine ’36 Ford 5-window coupe was in a book called Custom Cars & Lead Sleds from Timothy Remus, published in 1990. I showed a rather large picture of the car and I fell totally in love with the styling of the car. Later I found that Dean Batchelor who had photographed the car in the early 1940’s had used it in several of his stories on early Custom Cars. And the first time he had used it was in the May 1953 issue of Rod & Custom

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The photo of the mystery 1936 Ford 5 window Coupe that Dean Batchelor took in the very early 1940’s.

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The Car looked absolutely perfect to me, with its medium chopped top, removed running boards, ribbed cover to hide the frame rails, reworked fenders with stainless rock shields on the rear fenders. Teardrop shaped skirts, Single bar flipper hubcaps, and that really well done narrowed stock ’36 Ford grille with additional grilles added to the lower front fenders. Smooth hood sides and a two tone paint job. It looked so much more classy and perfectly balanced to me than the stock ’36 Ford it was started with.

At one point Dean Batchelor mentioned that the car had been restyled by Santa Monica Body Works, but in later articles he mentioned he had no idea who owned the car, nor who created it. And even though I have done a lot of research on the car and talked to a lot of people about it, I also do not have any leads on any more information on it. I did however find another photos of the car, once that most likely a little older than the one Dean took. And it shows the car a bit more from the front. Dean mentioned that he took the photo in the early 1940’s in Santa Monica on Pico, close to Ocean Ave. And he remembered that car was gray, or silver gray with maroon

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In the May 1953 issue of Rod & Custom magazine Dean Batchelor showed the photo of the ’36 Ford photographed in Santa Monica for the first time (as far as I know) Here he mentioned that the Santa Monica Body Works did the work on the car. In later articles where he used the same photo, he mentioned that he had no idea who did the body work on the car.

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About the Ford

I think this ’36 Ford Custom is extremely inspiring. It is very typical for the era, creative, no nonsense restyling for a car that most likely was used on  daily base. The car was lowered, but not as much as later in the 1940’s or 1950’s. The roads back then were not as good as today, and these cars did see a lot of road use. The chop is perfectly balanced when you compare it to the rest of the body and the higher stance. The front end of the car is what makes it really special.

The grille is one of the best on any 1936 Fords ever done. It looks like a simple narrowed unit until you start comparing. The top radius is larger than on a stock grille. Most likely the whole outer trim piece is hand made, and the body panel surrounding it hand made to flow nicely into the grille and smooth hood sides. Most likely the hood sides are some early aftermarket products from possibly Eastern Auto Supply Comp. That company started very early and created a lot of parts for the early Custom Car enthusiast

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Close up showing the really nicely done narrowed  grille and to side grilles mounted nicely alongside the main grille. Another very popular accessory in that period was the amber colored fog lights. Notice how the license plate frame had broken of on one site of the 1940 license plate.

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To ensure the engine would stay cool during the warm California drives and the lack of cooling from the solid hood sides, two new very elegantly shaped grilles were added just below the headlights in the front fenders. with only the two photos of the car we have it is not possible to identify if these lower grilles were hand made, or came from another car and made to fit the ’36 Ford. My guess, especially judging the new main grille surround, is that the lower grilles were hand made. The new narrow grille and smooth hood sides give the front of the car a much longer and taller look and feel. According the book “Forever Fords” by Lorin Sorensen, the two side grilles used on the car are shortened Lincoln-Zephyr grilles. (thank you David Giller for this info)

Another aftermarket part possibly is the ribbed cover used to hide the frame rails after the running boards had been removed. I have seen this same set up on at least one other ’36 Ford, and possibly on more. This includes the stainless steel rock shield on the front of the rear fenders. The lower section of the back of the front fenders were nicely reshaped  and the whole restyling of this created a much more sporty feel for the Ford

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A close up of the two tone paint job, and how nice the separation line follows the body lines.

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Close up showing the ribbed frame cover, reshaped front fender lower edge and stainless steel rock shield for the rear fenders.

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The top was chopped less than 3 inches I think. In these early days I have seen some chops with angled back windshield and rear window to make up for the height difference. But in this case the top looks to have been stretched to meet the new location of the pillars. keeping the proportions of the top similar to stock, just lower, more dramatic.

The car has a set of small diameter single bar flipper ribbed hubcaps. The ribbed section of the hubcaps ties the ribs on the frame covers as well as the grilles together, creating a overall theme for the car. Unusual for the Custom are the use of stock bumpers, even back in the early 1940’s it was rather common to upgrade on bumpers, or use more stylish units, but not on this car. and I have to say that the dip in the stock front fender looks really good with the narrowed grille. The door handles are also left in place, which was done a lot back then, since the solenoid openers had not found their way into the Custom Car scene yet

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This ’36 Ford Coupe uses the same ribbed frame cover and stainless rock shield, making me believe these are aftermarket parts. The ribbed cover could also have an LaSalle heritage, but aftermarket is my first choice.

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The only other photo I have ever come across shows the car a little more from the front so that we can see the narrow grille and lower grilles a bit Better. (I found a very small picture of a negative on an expired ebay auction many year ago, and was able to track down the owner who kindly shared a nice scan of the photo with us.)

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As the close up photos show the detail work on the car looks to have been done really well. All work looks very straight, and professionally done. I especially like the unusual two tone paint job. And hoe the separation line is wrapping around the windshield pillar. Typical for the era is the single spotlight mounted on the drivers A-Pillar

In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s there were more people who could have done the work on this car. But one name that pops up in my head when I look at the grilles on this ’36 Ford is George DuVall. He created beautiful grilles for some of the most trend setting Customs. Could he have had a hand in the restyling of this ’36 Ford 5 window Coupe? The restyled Ford also has a look we later associate with Harry Westergard. I hope one day we will find out. Hopefully in the near future somebody will recognize the car and be able to shed some more light on the cars history who the owner was, who build it, and what happened to it. The two photos used in the article is all we have ever seen on this car. If you know more, please send us an email, we would love to share more about this cars history here on the Custom Car Chronicle

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For the Rodder’s Journal issue 33 I did a series of Colorized Custom Car photos, this ’36 Ford was one of them. So now we have a bit of a feeling how the car might have looked in color back in 1940.

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Paul Bragg Restyled 53 Oldsmobile

 

PAUL BRAGG Restyled 53 Olds

 

Paul Bragg aka TinGuy from Paso Robles California creates a stunning 1953 Oldsmobile 88 for customer Ralph Bagdasarian from Fresno California.



Metal master and Custom Car designer Paul Bragg has created many subtle and not so subtle Custom Cars and Hot Rods in the last couple of decades. Some of these were complete finished cars, others where projects he did a certain amount of work on, usually chopped tops, or other specific Custom Body Work.His work is always stunning, both in execution, as well as in style and balance, with respect for the history, but often with a twist of his own imagination.

A good number of years ago Paul was asked to do his magic on a 1953 Oldsmobile 88 two door sedan for a client Ralph Bagdasarian from Fresno. A really beautiful car to start with, but yet rarely seen as full Custom. The plan was a full custom as if it could have been done back in the mid 1950’s. Chopped top, custom head and taillights, smoothed body etc.





Together with Ralph, Paul made a plan and some sketches for the car. The top needed to come down a few inches, and the large rear window would become a much smaller size rear window from a ’49 Chrysler 4-door. The rear fenders would be extended and a set of ’54 Packard taillights installed. The front fenders would receive frenched headlight on slightly extended fenders. to stay in balance with the rear fenders. Rounded corners, shaved handles and emblems, angled B-pillars and scratch built long fender skirts were all part of the plan to create one super smooth uniquely restyled Custom Car. Paul did the majority of the work on the car over a period of time and the body worked sections were sprayed with primer and guide coats to make sure they would be smooth enough for the final primer.

The car was delivered like this to Ralph in Fresno many years ago, and is still patiently waiting among many other project to get finished. Hope, fully one day we will see this Paul Bragg master piece all finished and painted on the roads of sunny California. Lets take a look at some of the photos Paul Bragg took along the way of restyling Ralph Bagdasarian’s 1953 Oldsmobile Custom.

Early stages of the chopped top. All the glass was removed and the A pillars had been cut the right amount to drop the top to the perfect height. The C-pillars were cut slightly more for a nice flow of the roof. The door tops had been cut off and removed for this step. And since the B-Pillars were going to be angled forward they were just roughly cut at this stage.
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Paul and Ralph did not care for the large rear window, so a smaller unit from a ’49 Chrysler 4-door donor car was cut and set in place to flow with the forward slid roof. This photo shows that the rear portion of the roof angles down to much and will need to have some work done to flow with the new rear window which is set in on a steeper angle. The C-pillar has been tacked in place at this stage.
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Paul used small straps of thin sheet meal to see how much of the roof needs to be replaced with hand shaped metal to get the right shape. Notice that during this stage the rear glass is still in place. This helps get the flow of the new top just right.
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The glass is now removed, the old paint stripped and more sections of the Oldsmobile roof, that did not flow right, are cut off and removed. Paul has just started to fill in the gaps with freshly shaped sheet metal between the roof and the ’49 Chrysler 4-door rear window surrounding metal. Notice that the new rear window is in the same location as the old rear window and the rear of the roof line has not been moved forward. This creates extra optical length and flow to the roof.
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Starting on the passenger side, Paul shapes the new sail panels on his English Wheel. Using paper templates and a lot of patience he gets the panels to fit almost perfect, only needing very little work, and small amounts of lead to blend in with the cars roof and donor rear window.
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The completed rear portion of the roof, all metal finished and the edged feathered in with a small amount of shaped lead.
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After the top was cut down several inches it automatically moves forward. To overcome this, you can either lengthened the door post so that the top portion of the B-pillar lines up with the door line again, or you can, as Paul and Ralph decided to do on this Olds, angle the B-post forward. To make it look even better it was decided to round the door tops and later to remove the drip rail.
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Paul took the Olds half way the process to one of the Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms events. This side view gives us a good look at how great the chopped top with angled forward B-pillars looks. (Ulf “Wolf” Christiansson took the photo)
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Later Paul started to further restyle the car with the addition of ’54 Packard taillights, which required the rear fenders to be extended and the top of the fenders to be reshaped. The tops of quarter panels were lowered towards the rear, along with deck lid aprox. 3 inches, to create a better flow. Paul also filled in the holes left from the door handles and gas cap at this point. The roof is now in primer with a guide coat to check for any imperfections. The car is now also mounted on a set of wide white wall tires that hep with the overall vision of the car during this process.
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This photo shows the restyled drivers side rear fender with the Packard light installed and the stock Olds rear fender on the passenger side. It also shows why the rear fenders had to be extended to be able to use these taillights. The point at the front of the taillight needs to clear the trunk. The splash pan was molded in, and the holes left from the trunk trim and handle have been filled.
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Drivers side rear fenders all metal worked and ready for primer.
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The angled forward B-pillar, rounded corners and shaved drip rail makes the top look very smooth. Notice how the shape of the rear quarter window is flowing with the shape of the top. New hand made long fender skirts are test fitted.
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Stepping back from the car we can really take a good look at the new wonderful flow of the chopped top, shaved drip rail and smaller rear window. The angles and shape of the Packard taillights work beautiful on the Oldsmobile.
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Paul also installed a set of Appleton Spotlights. Beautiful lines, perfect stance.
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Front fenders are extended with molded in Mercury headlight rings.
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The passenger side of the car gets the Packard Taillights in extended fenders treatment. (FLAT-TOP BOB picture)
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With all the fresh restyling in a coat of primer and guide coat. This is how the car was deliverd to the client, and this is the last update we have seen of the Oldsmoible. The car has very nice proportions, beautiful lines and I really hope the car will be finished in the near future.
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Rear quarter view shows the beautiful shape of the chopped top and the donor rear window.
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Barter Collection 36 Ford Cabrio

 

36 FORD CABRIOLET

 

Jamie Barter has shared a few more photo from his early photo collection with us. This time he shared 3 photos of a heavily restyled 1936 Ford Cabriolet taken around 1948.



Jamie found these three photos at an recent (autumn 2017) eBay auction. The three photos all appear to have been taken in the later part of the 1940’s The license plate tag on the car is from 1948 or 1949. The only information that came with these three photos was that the photos were probably taken near San Jose, Gilroy, Salinas area. No other information was given by the ebay seller. So far Jamie, nor anybody else who has seen these photos has been able to identify the ’36 Ford Cabriolet in these photos. It appears that the photos have been carried with the owner in his wallet for many years, looks like he was very fond on the car.  If you know anything about this ’36 Ford, please email Rik Hoving so that we can share the information here.

The car in the photos is a ’36 Ford that has been channeled over its frame and to witch ’40 Ford front fenders and heavily sectioned hood have been added. The running boards have been removed after the body was dropped over the frame to make the bottom of the body sit near level with the bottom of the fenders. The windshield frame has been cut down at least 3-4 inches, and a padded top was created to fit the new lower windshield. The sectioned 1940 Ford hood had its top portion cut out to create a new hood opening. The hood sides were modified to fit with the ’36 Ford cowl. The door and trunk handles have been removed, and a custom gas filler door,possibly taken from a newer car, has been added to the drivers side rear fender.

Possible the owner/builder posing with his ’36 Ford with ’40 Ford front fenders and hood. It looks like the firewall was fitted with a an engine turned panel. 
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It appears that the car is still under construction. Looking at these photos I think that the flat front bumper (brand unknown) is too close to the body to make it possible to install a ’40 Ford grille in the opening. Perhaps the owner was still trying to figure out what to do for a grille. Also interesting to see is that the front bumper mounts have been lowered, after the channeling, to fit the stock holes in the 1940 Ford front fenders. While at the back the mounts seam to have been left in the stock position on the frame, which made it necessary to cut larger holes into the body and mount the rear bumper – a 1941 Ford unit – higher on the body compared to a stock ’36 Ford rear bumper position. A set of black wall tires are used, an indication that the car might have been created during or shortly after WWII when white wall tires were impossible to get. A set of single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings are used to dress up the wheel.


With the raised ’40 Ford front fenders, sectioned hood and heavy chopped windshield the car has become very low in overall height. Hard to tell the brand and year of the front bumper, but it looks to have been flattened to fit the Ford bumper mounts. 
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Another interesting detail is the “sunrise” interior door panel upholstery. A typical Art-Deco feature seen in some coachbuilt cars. It appears that the dashboard was home made and upholstered with a flat panel with gauges added set into it. The steering wheel is a 1940 Ford unit. The rear quarter photo were we can see the car with the door open shows how much the body was dropped over the frame. It also shows that the panel created to cover the frame has a lot of road debris on it. Once the running boards were removed the road dust and rain from the road would find its way into the interior between the frame cover and the upholstery panel on the door.

It reminds me about a story Bob Drake told me about his road trips in the Jack Stewart Ford. That custom had the same situation, it was also channeled and door upholstery clamped against the frame cover was not enough to keep water from the road coming into the interior when he drove the car in wet conditions. He always carried several towels in the car which he would stuff in between the door and floor of the car to prevent the interior getting all wet and dirty. It sure looks like this ’36 Ford had a similar issue going.

The sunrise upholstery pattern give a very classic feel to this ’36 Ford Custom. The gas filler door and other body modifications indicate that the owner either was very handy and creative, or was able to spend some money on his dream car to have it built by a body shop.
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Close up show the engine turned fire wall panel.
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Close up of the sunrise door-panel upholstery, the padded dash with custom insert, and ’40 Ford steering wheel. 
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Close up of the rear shows the custom gas filler in the rear fender, the 39 or perhaps 41 Ford taillights sitting very low on the fender and what appears to be a ’49 license plate tag.
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I wonder if this ’36 Ford was ever finished with a nice gloss paint job, a new grille and possibly new front fender to clear the grille. There are pictures around from several ’36 Ford’s with ’40 Ford front ends grafted on, which was a common restyling method back in the 1940’s, but none looks to be similar to this one. Perhaps one of our readers will recognise this car, or perhaps the guy in the picture and shed some more light on this mystery Custom ’36 Ford.

Thank you Jamie to share these great Custom Car snapshots with us.



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