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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Fadeaway fenders

 

FADEAWAY FENDERS

 

One of the more extensive ways to Custom Restyle you car is to reshape the front fenders into full Fade-Away units. Creating a more elegant and exclusive looking car.



In our stories on the Custom Car Restyling History I would like to highlight one of the Restyling Techniques that drastically change the appearance of a whole car. A technique not easily adapted, and therefor also not used as often as other techniques. But when it was used, it was most of the time creating a unique improved look for that particular car. The technique is know as the Full Fade-Away fenders, or fadeaways. A restyling technique that was mostly performed in the early days of Custom Restyling up to the early 1950’s. It is also as style we fortunately still see being created on some Custom Cars today. For this article we will focus on the vintage Customs with Fade-Away fenders, but perhaps we will create another one using the more recently created samples. This article is also focused on the early style cars, with separate fenders. From 1948 and up the cars came from the factory with the fenders as part of the main body, and most cars already had a sort of Fade-Away fender line stock from the factory. Others, like the 1949-51 Mercury had a dip in this line, which was made into a Fade-Away line on some customs. This will also not be part of this article…

Several years before the Fade-Away fenders would become part of the Custom Car scene, car designers were already experimenting with the long sweeping lines of front fenders moving back all the way to the rear fenders. This created a much different look and feel than the cars people were used to see back then. Cars with separate front and rear fenders, functional units to cover the tires and keep the body clean. These new long fender lines make a car look much longer and lower, more elegant.  We do not really know who was the first to create these designs for the full fade away fender line, most likely this happened around 1934 for the first time, and became more used from 1936 and up.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-art-ross-34Art Ross created many amazing designs for cars in the 1930’s, 40’s and later. In 1934 he created this full Fade-Away fendered Duesenberg design proposal. (Images from The Art Of Art Ross)
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-alexis-de-Sakhnoffsky-36Alexis de Sakhnoffsky created this wild design in 1936 for a boat tailed v-windshield roadster with flowing Fade-Away fenders.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-bill-mitchell-38Bill Mitchell designed this stunning looking speedster with long, full fade-away fenders in 1938.
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The one-of-a-kind BMW 328 Mille Miglia ‘Buegelfalte’ was originally built in May 1937 as a standard-bodied car for Rudolf Schleicher´s Experimental Department at BMW. In autumn 1939, the car was dismantled at the BMW factory’s racing division and extensively re-engineered and used as the basis for even more streamlined bodywork in preparation for the 1940 season and the Mille Miglia in particular. To that end, BMW built both an aerodynamic coupé and this lightweight open roadster. Included in the new body work are wonderful full Fade-Away fenders. More info on this BMW can be found here. (thank you Bert Gustafsson for the tip)

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-bmw1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia ‘Buegelfalte’ was re-bodied in 1939 and recieved a wonderful streamlined body which included full Fade-Away fenders and fender skirts.
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ccc-fade-away-fenders-1940-alfa-pininfarinaPinninfarina created this stunning Alfa Romeo in 1940 with full fade-away fender and teardrop shaped bubble skirts.
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Another early produced car with the use of full Fade-Away fendered was the 1940 prototype created for the Chrysler Corporation by LeBaron. They named the dual cowl smooth full Fade-Away fendered car the Chrysler Newport. Coachbuilders from Europe where starting to designing and building cars with fade-away fenders as well. Around the same time the first Custom Car builders started to experiment with the fade away fenders also. Harry Westergard, Less Crane and Jimmy Summer were Custom Car pioneers who all get credit from being among the first to create the full Fade-Away fenders on a custom car.




1940 Chrysler Newport by LeBaron

1940 Chrysler Newport dual cowl phaeton, designed by Ralph Roberts from LeBaron and Alex Tremulis and created by LeBaron. It had breakthrough flowing lines with smooth, fluid fenders foreshadow the full envelope styles that would develop years later. Its beautiful, organic shape was subtly accented by  the elimination of the visible body seams necessary for all other cars with their bolted-on fenders. The Newport’s hood, deck, doors and fenders were completely smoothed, with no design-interrupting ornamentation. LeBaron’s devotion to a smooth, uninterrupted flow of the body panels extended to integrated rear fender skirts executed in the teardrop shape of the fenders, a flush cover for the top and even recessing the license plate into the deck-lid and covering it with glass. All touches that would later become the standard for many Custom Cars.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-chrysler-011940 Chrysler Newport dual cowl phaeton with full fade-away fenders.
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Documentation

In the early days, when some of the cars were restyled used in this article there where no magazines or books devoted to Customizing. But in 1944 and later the first publications appeared, and in these the Fade-Away fenders restyling technique was mentioned. Dan Post named it “Tack On” fenders, and with his books he most likely has inspired several customizers to add fade away fenders to their car or their customers cars.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-dan-post-bluebookThe Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling showed several Custom Cars with the fade-away fenders, and explained in the text how this was done. The image above shows a spread from the 1951 edition of the Dan Post book, and the technique is called Tack-On Fenders.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-02Another page in the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling showed two photos of an unidentified Convertible with an oddly styled grille and full Fade Away fenders. This car can be seen in all of the Dan Post books. The page also shows a nice side view of the Bob Fairman 36 Ford coupe with Jimmy Summers created fade away fenders. The photo on the right comes from my personal collection. I still have not been able to identify this car from the Dan Post books, no name, not even the brand car used. If anybody knows more, please let me know.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-hop-up-jan-53The Hop Up magazine from January 1953 devoted an three page article on the Fade-Away fenders. Photos and diagrams where used to explain how they could be created. The in progress photos show the 1941 Ford of Frank Monteleon getting full Fade-Away fenders installed at the Barris shop.
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1941 Cadillac “The Duchess”

Edward the Eighth, King of Great Britain, abdicated his throne in 1936 to marry the American, Wallis Simpson. The couple was henceforth known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. In 1938, England appointed Edward governor of the Bahamas. Close to the United States, Nassau proved a quick trip to New York City, where the pair kept a suite at the elegant Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue.

During their first stay in late 1941 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where the couple kept a suite, the Windsors received a car, based on a 1941 Cadillac, from one of their society friends, Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the chairman and CEO of General Motors. Delivered in the waning days of old coachbuilding and the Classic Era, “The Duchess,” as it became known, was one of the final, truly one-off, coachbuilt Cadillacs, as well as one of the most famous Cadillacs ever produced.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-duchessBeautiful lines of the coachbuilt 1941 Cadillac for the Windsors. The car could be seen in several news paper and magazine articles in the early 1940’s. Perhaps influencing some custom builders?
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Not a single body panel on the Windsors’ car matched any other 1941 Cadillac. The hood, trunk, fenders, fender skirts, roof, and doors were all crafted by hand, and all interior appointments were hand-fitted. The fenders were, and remain, the car’s outstanding feature. Beginning with a crest over the wheels, they extend and fade through the back of the body, forecasting Hooper’s future coachwork on Rolls-Royce. The streamlined appearance was so sufficiently striking that Buick would borrow the basic style of the design for its 1942 production models.

The car’s custom roofline, which dips between the windows to form a wide center post, would appear on the production 1942 Cadillac Series 60 Special. Other unique exterior features included the Windsors’ “W.E.” monogram and crown to the rear doors, unique stainless steel rocker moldings and drip rails, blacked out headlight and fog light trim rings, and the deletion of most chrome and excess emblems. On this car, Cadillac’s iconic Goddess hood ornament was plated in gold.




Info from: MorganMurphy

The Early Customs with Fade-Away fenders

One of the first known custom Fade-Away fender jobs is the 1940 Mercury owned by Butler Rugard. The Mercury was restyled by Harry Westergard when the car was brand new in 1940, It was restyled over a period of time, but we where told that the Fade-Away fenders was one of the first restyling that was done on the car. We do not know where Harry or perhaps Butler got the idea for the Fade-Away fenders from, perhaps they had seen it on some design sketches in a magazine, or perhaps they were just thinking along the same line as these designers, and just thought about ways to make the body on the 1940 Mercury look more streamlined.

The early cars, from the mid to late 1930’s that were used for the first Fade-Away fenders all have very round bulbous fenders. Fenders that perhaps do not really lend themselves to well the full fade away fender line. All of the early attempts show fading fender lines which have a very large radius, caused by the radius of the fender. Most of the early attempts also show that the width of the fade away section remains the same, and the end of the fender sits flush with the rear fender. Later we can see that the customizers started to experiment with slimmer fender extension, that were made narrower towards the rear, leaving the original rear fender line in place. The units that Jimmy Summer offered were of this type and created very elegant lines on the cars they were used. Sometimes the slimmer units were used in combination with chrome or stainless rock shields on the rear fenders. Personally I think that the later, 1941 to ’48 slightly more square fenders lend themselves to even more elegant Fade-Away fenders. The fade-away sections could be made to look a bit more crisp and slim and really made the car look a lot longer.

Another type of Fade-Away fender style we will not go into to deep here is the half fade away. Several early Custom Cars and cars created by the Coachbuilders extended the front fenders but made the panels in such a way that the fender line would fade away in the doors.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-westergard-02Butler Rugards 1940 Mercury is one of the first custom cars we know about with full Fade-Away fenders. Created by Harry Westergard and Les Crane most likely in 1940. More about this Mercury can be read in this CCC-Article.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-37-buick-01Another early Custom using the full Fade Away fender design was this 1938 Buick created for Richard Meade – who attended the fine arts college seen in the background of the photo. This Custom was created between late 1940 and early 1942 in the Los Angeles area. Besides having full Fade-Away fenders the car also has a raked windshield padded top, ’41 Buick taillights, ’42 Buick bumpers, custom hubcaps and teardrop skirts. Richard remembers the car being built by both Jimmy Summers and Coachcraft. The car appears in the earliest edition (1944) of the Custom and Restyle book by Dan Post.
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Jimmy Summers and Fade-Away fenders

Jimmy Summers and Fade-Away fenders have always belonged together. Jimmy was possibly the only Custom builder that ever offered an aftermarket kit for Fade-Away fenders. At least in our research we have not been able to found any other source for these. Jimmy’s product was called Fender Extensions and were specifically made to fit the 1942 to 1948 Chevy bodies. Two types were offered, one for the Aero Sedan and on for the convertible, coupe and sedan body styles. But more than likely these panels ended up on several other brand cars as well.

CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-01The Popular Mechanics article called They Tailor their own cars from May 1947 showed two very interesting photos of Jimmy Summers working on one of these Fender Extension kits.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-04Jimmy Summers Fender Extensions ad in a 1949 Hot Rod Magazine.
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Jimmy Summers ran this ad for the Fender Extension in the Hot Rod Exposition program book from 1949.
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1936 Ford coupe Bob Fairman – Jimmy Summers
Another very early Custom that had a set of full Fade-Away fenders was a 1936 Ford Coupe owned by Bob Fairman. Bob worked with Jimmy Summers and most likely the two worked together on this car. The top was chopped, the body dropped over the frame and the front and rear fenders raised. The front fenders where reshaped completely to accept 1937 Ford headlights and flow into hand made Fade-Away panel. The Fade-Away panels on this car are separate units that bold on to the main body, just like the kit Jimmy Summers would later sell. We do not have a date when this car was built, but the photo below appears to have 1942 license plates, and the newest parts used are the 1941 Ford bumpers. The Ford is still around today, although in very bad shape, it has been rusted in a yard since 1972. Bob’s 1936 Ford has been published quite a bit in the early publications, and most likely played on important role in the popularity of the style.


CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-03Photo taken in the early 1940’s show the rather bulbous full Fade-Away fenders on Bob Fairman’s 1936 Ford. The new fender lines looks a lot like the fenders used on the Jaguar XK120, but those did not come out until 1948.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-summers-05These photos are from Bob’s 1936 Ford taken in 2009 and 2010. The car had been sitting in a field for almost 30 years. It is even amazing that is has survived this long. The last info we have on it is that the present owner is doing all he can to save it. The Front fenders, not shown in the photo are supposedly stored inside the car. Although its heart braking to see these photos of the car in such a state, it also gives us a great look at how the fender extensions were used.
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1942 Buick first production car with Fade-Away fenders

The 1942 and postwar Buick Roadmaster was longer, lower, wider, and roomier than before, thanks in part to a three-inch-longer wheelbase. The Buicks for 1942 sported a complete restyling, which was highly unusual at a time, when most of Buick’s competitors offered only modest face-lifts of their 1941 designs for 1942.
New restyling included a new vertical-bar grille that would be carried over in modified form through 1954 and, on some two-door models, including both Roadmasters, and the “Airfoil”, front fenders that swept back all the way to the rear fenders. The 1942 Buick Roadmaster was the first production car to feature production Fade-Away fenders. Most other cars from that time could still be considered fat fendered with separate bulbous front and rear fenders. while the new Buick lines included a continuous sloping line of the fade-away from the front to the back of the car added a graceful, flowing appearance. Seeing these new 1942 Buick’s on the roads must have inspired many Custom Car builders during and shortly after WWII.


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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-06Bob Creasman chopped the top and channeled the body over the frame 4 inches of his 1940 Ford Coupe. In 1948 Creasman fitted his coupe with the full Fade-Away fenders. Notice that the sides of the Fade-Away panels sits flush with the rear fenders, making the fender sections look rather wide, especially when compared with the 1942 Buick pictured above.
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Ayala and Fade-Away fenders

Even though several more shops where known for doing great work on full Fade-Away fenders on Custom Cars, it was Gil Ayala’s shop that was recognized by it for the style, back then, and even today. While the fade away fender extensions created by Jimmy Summers where mostly bolt on units, it was the Ayala’s that were known for the wonderfully smooth fully molded-in version of the fade-away fenders. We do not know when the Ayala’s created the first Fade-Away fenders on their Custom Cars, we do know that Gil added them on his own personal 1940 Mercury in 1949. The shop did at least two more cars with full Fade-Away fenders, but more than likely there were more than that.

CCC-gil-ayala-1940-mercury-05Gil Ayala’s personal 1940 Mercury with full Fade-Away fenders, most likely created using panels from California Metal Shaping to make the work easier. The fenders extensions are blended in with the rest of the body and 1949 Cadillac rear fenders for an ultimate smooth and streamlined look. (1950 photo)
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-ayala-02The Ayala’s also created the fade away fenders on the Jack Stewart Ford, this was done in 1950 and the California Metal Shaping company was called in for help on shaping the panels. (1951 photo)
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CCC_Hank-Griffith-1942_Ford_01Hank Griffith’s 1942 Ford had a set of full Fade-Away fenders created by the Ayala shop. The Ayala’s used a set of 1950 Cadillac rear fenders and two front doors to create the Fade-Away fenders on this car. The new fenders made the car look much more modern, and streamlined. More about this car can be seen in the CCC-Article.
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Barris Kustoms and Fade-Away fenders

The Barris shop has created quite a few custom cars with full Fade-Away fenders. It all started with George Barris his own 1941 Buick Convertible which he bought after his 1936 Ford Over a period of time George restyled the Buick in one of the most amazing looking custom cars of the time. We have not been able to put an excact time on when the car was built, but most likely the fade away fenders were done around 1946-47. The car was completely finished in 1948. We also do not know if George used perhaps the fade away panels of the Buick, which could have been bought from the dealer, or perhaps at the junk yard, or if he hand fabricated the Fade Away panels by himself, or perhaps with the help of the Calfornia Metal Shaping shop. We do know that the car was a huge success, and Georg has mentioned he did several with similar fenders for a few customers.


CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-05Early version of George Barris his 1941 Buick with black wall tires, and cut down 1942 Cadillac grille.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-barris-02This is an very interesting photo of George his 1941 Buick in primer, after he had an accident with the car and after the repaint and some more restyling had been performed. This photo is interesting for many reasons, but especially because a similar styled full Fade-Away Custom can be spotted behind the Barris Compton Ave. shop on the far left side of the photo. This photo was taken in either 1948 or ’49.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-barris-01Another early Barris creation with full Fade-Away fenders was this 1941 Buick coupe done for Var Martin. This side view photo gives us a good look at the shape of the fade aways, which are slightly narrower at the back. The shape of the front fender basically dictated how much dip there would be at the end. Gorgeous lines on this one, who knows what happened to it?
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-decarr-01Bill deCarr build his own personal 1941 Mercury with a set of Full Fade-Away fenders creating one of the most beautiful full Fade-Away customs ever. Bill can be seen her with his freshly primered Mercury at the back of the Compton Ave Barris Shop. Notice how the fade away fender lines looks much slimmer than on the 1930’s models, and how high the rear of the fender extension sits on the body. Almost creating car model lines from cars that would come out the next year.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-04 The Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford had its front fenders raised before the fender extension was created. This rear 3/4 view is perhaps the most attractive for this car.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-westergard-01Harry Westergard created this stunning 1941 Cadillac with full Fade-Away fenderline and 1948 Cadillac rear fenders. The flowing fade away fenders are nice and crisp even though they have been molded to the rest of the body. There is a clear line between the fade-away sections and the rear fender, which create very interesting lines on the car. One of the very best Fade-Away fendered Customs ever done. The car is now owned by Custom Car Collector Kurt McCormic.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-photosSome more samples of Custom Cars with full Fade-Away fenders.Interesting to see is that not only coupes and convertibles recieved the full Fade-Away fender treatment.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-history-01Not everybody had the talent or money to create full Fade-Away fenders on their Custom Car. So the owner of this mildly customized 1941 Chevy Convertible created the fade-away fender line with paint. (Rik Hoving Collection)
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A close up look at the Fade-Away fenders

One of the reasons why we do not see a whole lot of Custom cars with Fade-Away fenders, from back in the early days, or currently built, is because they are quite complicated to create. The cars to which the fade away fenders are being added, have door hinges never designed to be used with fade-away sections. Creating the fade away section in itself is perhaps not really all that complicated for a body man, but making the door open and close with the new panels added is a different story. The section of the fade away fender located at the front of the door will need to move inboard on the fender section when the door is opened. Therefor this section needs to sit slightly lower than the fender section, or at least the edge needs to fit inside. We have chosen two samples cars to show this section up close. The first one, in bare metal is the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford created by the Ayala’s. While the photo are being made of the unfinished car it gives us a good look of what is needed to make this all work. The second one, the Harry Westergard’s created 1941 Cadillac uses a slightly different, perhaps more elegant way to make the doors open and close. For both and others we have to keep in mind that these are close up photos and the flow of the Fade-Away fenders will look much more natural from a normal distance.


CCC-fadeaway-fenders-ayala-03The fender extensions on the Jack Stewart Ford are created by the California Metal Shaping company and custom fitted by the Ayala shop. Looking up close we can see quite a gap at the line where the front fender ends, and the door extension starts, especially where both meet the rest of the body. Also noticeable is the way the door extension section is folded in a bit to make sure it will fit inside the fender section when the door opens. Keep in mind that a lot of fine tuning still needs to be done on this body.
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CCC-fadeaway-fenders-westergard-03The door line on the Westergard Cadillac is flowing differently than on the Jack Stewart Ford. The lines look much more factory here. Perhaps the fade away panels from a Buick were used, or perhaps the Jimmy Summers units were custom ordered. The restoration of this car did not reveal any of the secrets on how the panels were created.
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Butler Rugard Westergard Merc

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BUTLER RUGARD WESTERGARD MERCURY

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A very early Westergard customized 1940 Mercury survives several re-stylings over the years, gets restored to 1950’s specs and ends up in Europe.

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A little while ago we ran a short story on the Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury restyled by Harry Westergard. The story was about the car being for sale at a large auction in Greece. At the time the car did not find a new buyer. Recently the Greece owner contacted us to share some more photos of the car taken in Greece and to let us know the car is still For Sale. So we thought its time to do a full article on this unique early Westergard Custom, and perhaps find a new owner for the car who might even take it back to how it original looked when harry Westergard restyled it in the early 1950’s. The last restoration on the Butler Rugard Westergard Mercury, done by Jack Walker and team. The car was restored to a generic mid to late 1950’s version.

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This is how the Mercury looks now, photographed in sunny Greece in 2015.

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Lets go back in time first… to when Butler Rugard’s bought this 1940 Mercury Convertible brand new from the dealer.
Most likely being inspired by the GM design studies of the early 1940’s Butler started to have his brand new 1940 Mercury Customized right away. One of the people who he knew could handle the changes he had in mind was Harry Westergard. Butler took the Mercury to Harry to have him create full fade away fenders.

The story goes that the complete restyling was done over a period of time. Dick Bertolucci mentioned that some of the early work on this Mercury was done by Les Crane, who worked with Harry Westergard on a few projects. Each time Butler took the car back to Harry to have some more changes done to it. But as far as we know the fade-away fenders was the first restyling done by Harry.

There are different stories going around about the padded top on the car. One story is that Westergard chopped the windshield, and created a frame for a padded top, another story is that it was the padded top that was done by one of the famous shops very early on in the process. Westergard is credited for replacing the stock grille with the Buick unit. The hood has also been modified to fit the flatter Buick grille, but the typical Mercury side bulges on the hood are still on the hood sides in this version.

In the later version the bulge was removed and the body crease on the hood sides extended and wrapped around to the front of the hood. The car has 1937 DeSoto bumpers, and the stock 1940 Mercury headlights are still in place. This version used black wall tires and single bar flipper hubcaps. Jack Walker provided the Custom Car Chronicle with a very rare photo of this early version of Butler’s 1940 Mercury. De photo did not come with a dat, but this must have been in the very early 1940’s.

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Jack Walker provided this amazing photo. It shows the car in an early version when the hood sides and headlights were still stock. The car was then also fitted with 1937 DeSoto bumpers.

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He reshape the front of the front fenders and added Packard headlights to them. The team wanted to use a 1942 Buick grille, but since that unit is a lot thinner than the v-shaped Mercury grille the hood needed to be reworked considerably to make this all work. Harry reshaped the front of the hood, he tucked the lower section inward, to meet the new 1942 Buick grille. this all resulting in a dolphin like hood shape, a similar shape we can also see in some coach-built roadsters from those days. Although we are not sure if Harry might have been influenced by those, or if this is just a coincidence.

At the rear Harry installed 1940 Chevrolet taillights, vertical on slightly extended moldings and a set of tear drop fender skirts. The car was lowered with long shackles and a de-arched spring at the back. The car was dressed up with Lyons hubcaps on wide whites, 1941 Packard bumpers and a set of spotlights. The original flathead Mercury V-8 was kept in the car, but was dressed up with some early Hop Up speed parts as a triple-carb Offenhauser intake manifold with matching Offenhauser finned heads. We are unsure when Harry completed the car in this what we cal final version. But we do know that the car was shown like this at a Sacramento Car dealer show in 1950.

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Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury at the Sacramento Car dealer show in 1950.

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August issue of Custom Cars magazine showed the car in the letter section. Dark paint, no skirts and long lake pipes.

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It appears that Butler hung on to the mercury long enough to hand it over to his daughter Marie somewhere in the 1950’s. In the August 1960 issue of Custom Cars magazine, there is a small write up on the car in the “Mail Call” section. According this article the car was painted black then, had leopard fur upholstery on the inside of the padded top, a chrome plated dash, and leather upholstery. The photo showed full length lake pipes and no skirts on the rear fenders. It also appears that at least the rear bumper was replaced with a more wrap around unit.

Steve Bateman bought this 1940 Merc Conv. in 1973 in Isleton, Calif. from the Fernandez family (Butler’s daughter), he kept it for two years and then sold it to Ron Marquardt

The next update we were able to find, comes from the early 1980’s. The car is a dark color, but has now an new horizontal grille opening added. The padded top is re-upholstered in dark material. The lake pipes are gone and so is the front bumper. Black wall tires replace the classic white wall units from the previous versions.

According a small write up, the car had been in storage and had been restored when the photo was taken in 1982. Ron kept the car for the next 25 years and they cruised every summer. Most likely during this period the car was in an accident damaging the front and rear end of the car. The car was repaired with tunneled headlights and set-in, turned upside down, 1939 Ford taillights in the back.

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Dark paint, dark top, black wall tires and a new grille opening.

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The the car was painted white, the padded top was covered with white material, and a 1949 plymouth rear bumper was added on the back. The horizontal grille opening was filled with 1951-53 DeSoto grille teeth, and no bumper was used on the front. The original Spotlight have now been replaced with Dummy units. Chip Chipman photographed the car like this in August 2000.

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This photo and those below , (of the white version) were taken by Chip Chipman in 2000. The car was now painted white with a white covered top and a set of DeSoto grille teeth in the new grille opening.

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In the 1990’s, Ron advertised the car for sale in the Hemmings Motor News. Jack Walker, custom car enthusiast and collector of Belton, Missouri, spots the ad. Before he decides to buy it he is doing some research to find out if it is the real deal as the advertisement claims. Jack even asks George Barris, who recalls the car from the time he was learning the trade at Harry Westergards shop. So he advised Jack to buy the car sight unseen. Jack decides to buy the car and asks his friend Ed Guffey to team up with him on the restoration.

Dave Dolman in Verdon, Nebraska, was hired to do the bodywork restored. The body was n rather bad shape and needed a lot of work getting straight again.Once the body work was done Jack and Ed decided to paint the car Candy Apple Red. Not really the right color for this 1940’s custom. But the team decided to see it as a mid 1950’s redone version of the car. The modern engine was replaced with a flathead engine and the interior that came with the car was good enough to be restored. Bob Sipes redid the padded top.

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The Butler Rugard, Harry Westergard-built 1940 Mercury was invited to the prestigious Taildraggers on the grass exhibit at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concourse.

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At some point not too long after the Pebble Beach event Jack Walker and Ed decided to let go of the Historic Mercury and Ralph Whitworth’s aquired it for his Museum. Sadly the Museum plans came to an halt in 2009 and most of the collection ended up being auctioned. The Butler Rugard, Westergard Mercury ended up in the hands a new owner from Greece.

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When the car was part of Ralph Whitworth’s Museum the car was invited to the Mercury Gathering at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama. A historic event with the best and most historical Custom Mercury’s from all over the US.

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To Greece

Not long after the Sacramento show the Museum was closed and most cars in the collection auctioned at the special Icons of Speed & Style RM Auction. The car was sold for $75,000.- plus 10% auction fees. Far below the estimate. The new owner of the Butler Rugard 1940 Mercury takes it to his home in Greece after that.

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The Harry Westergard Butler Rugard 1940 Mercury as advertised for the Icons of Speed & Style RM Auction. Estimated to sell for $125,000 – 175,000 it eventually went for $75,000.- plus 10% auction fees.

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The Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury after it has been shipped to the new owner in Greece.

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In June 15, 2013 the car ends up at an COYS auction in Greece. However the car did not meet its reserve, it was estimated to bring: €80,000 – €100,000 ($124,208.00 – $155,260.00) and was not sold and went back to the owner who had bought it at the US Auction.

The Mercury at the 2013 COYS Auction.

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This photo, and the four below shows the car as it was in 2015, photographed by the then owner in Greece. The owner had contacted us to advertise the car for Sale on the CCC. Eventually around 2019 he is able to find a new owner for the car.

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The car today is still in the same condition as the Jack Walker team restored the car in. Odd, far from period perfect Candy apple red with red wheels and Packard baby moon hubcaps. A nice set of Lyons hubcaps, wide whites and a dark maroon or black paint job would do wonders for this car.

GOOD NEWS!
September 2019. The really great news is that the new owner has great plans for the car. The new owner, and his friends are very dedicated. First plan is to get it technically all in order so that the car can actually been driven, and driven safely. The next plan is that the car will most likely be shipped to the US at the end of the summer in 2020, possibly to attend some shows there. The new owner lives half of the year in Greece, and half of the year in the US. Then the later part of the plan is, and this is the most exciting part of it…. to have the car brought back to early 1940’s specs. Black paint, DeSoto Bumpers, just as how the car was initially created for Butler Rugard.

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We soon will be updating this article with more info, and current photos of the car.



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