Cousin Panyas Photos

 

COUSIN PANYAS PHOTOS

 

After looking for a long time Memo Ortega finally was able to get access to some old Custom Car related photos from his friends and family



[box_light]
Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2016, 81 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the Memo Ortega Stories in the Memo Ortega Files on the CCC
[/box_light]

Cousin Panya Photo Flashback

By Memo Ortega

You know how I have mentioned multiple times that I have a hard time to get old photos from people I know from back in the day. Some of those old photos are long gone, others might be in boxes at the attic. Well a little while ago my late cousin Panya’s son came across some of his father’s old photos and remembered me asking for them. He came over and brought me a few I know you guys would like to see. These snapshots from Panya’s album show his 41 Chevy, 49 and 50 Mercury. All mild customs. He also brought a photo of Panya with the last classic car he had before he passed away, a neat four door ’41 olds.

The first photo I saw showed Panya with his old ’41 Chevy four door. He got this ’41 after he sold his ’36 ford 2dr sedan that was a big hit where we lived in La Verne, Ca. Wish I had photos of it to show you, it was really nice. He bought his ’41 around 1947-48 this car was real cherry like it just came out of the factory. It was a dark blue and like the other guys around, he had to have it dragging tail. So he right away lowered the back with 4 inch blocks and raised the front a little to give it the speed-boat look that was real poplar at the time where we lived. Then he installed the one bar flipper hub caps, really made the car look good. And of course the long antenna from Pep Boys, that were so poplar back then, on the rear. He brought the license plate down to the rear bumper and some time later he had the tail lights removed and trunk filled in,¬† and he installed Harley motor cycle tail on the gravel pan that really looked good.

Panya all dressed up with his ’41 Chevy four door with aftermarket single bar flipper hubcaps.
[divider]



Then in ’49 or early ’50 he sold the ’41 an got himself a black ’49 Merc and of course right away he started working on it. There was three guys there in the barrio in La Verne, that got Mercs at the same time. Panya my cousin, the Pagluso brothers and my friend Ezeqill aka Enchilada. Acencio kustom guys thats how I got stung by the kustom bug. Well back to Panya’s ’49 Merc, he went and got a set of Appleton Spotlights and installed them that really made it look good then he took the car to have the kustom work done on it in LA. I did not see it for a whille it was either at the Ayalas or the Valley Custom Shop that did the work, I never asked him. I kinda figurerd that from seeing the other kustoms there in my barrio, meaning the part of town where I grew up. When he got it back from the shop it looked awesome as a semi kustom with awesome shinny black paint… beautiful. The sad part of this Merc is that one night Panya an his friends were coming from a dance and one of his friends drove the Merc. Somebody wanted to race them which they did. They crashed the Merc by the Pomona drags at the end of the long street.

Panya’s friend Shappo drives Panya’s 1949 Mercury that they mildly customized right off the dealer. The car was later crashed and he bought a new 1950 Mercury.
[divider]



After the merc was crashed he had it fixed but he didn’t like it after that. So then he got another Merc, a 1950 this time, and he got it all done again. Thats the one with the Olds grill and motor cycle tail lights on the rear guards. This 1950 Merc was painted a metalic light blue, it looked awesome. Way later he sold the ’50 Merc and got a ’38 ford 5 window coupe that was an other one he had kustomized also, so far I have not been abele to get any photos of this one. The last car my cousin Panya had was a maroon ’41 Oldsmobile he fixed into a really nice car before he passed about 2yrs ago, in 2015.

Panya’s 1950 Mercury mild Custom Cruiser in 1954. The car was Nosed, headlights frenched with ’52 headlights, grille shell molded in, an 1950 Oldsmobile grille bar installed and a set of Appleton Spotlights.
[divider]


At the back the Mercury taillights were removed, the emblems removed from the trunk and all holes filled for that desired smooth look. Two small motor cycle taillights were mounted net to the bumper guards.
[divider]


Panya’s Mercury was lowered a few inches and ran on wide whites with the stock smooth 1950 Mercury hubcaps.
[divider]


Looking COOL!
[divider]


Panya’s friend Shappo standing next to Panya’s 1950 Mercury. Notice that Panya had installed a set of lipped 1951 Mercury fender skirts, which were a must for your 49-51 Mercury back in 1954.
[divider]


Frank “Panya” Ortega Hernandez with his last Custom Car, a 1941 Oldsmobile, which he owned and enjoyed up into 2015 when he passed away.
[divider]




This and That

Since some time Memo is more active on Facebook and with the help of the Custom Car Chronicle’s Memo Ortega Stories Memo has become quite an well known name in the international Custom Car community. From time to time people share some neat photos and stories with Memo. We thought it was nice to share some of that here on the Custom Car Chronicle as well.

Memo shared some photos he got from Mario L. Moreno on Facebook. Memo’s old ’37 Chevy Four door Custom was used for some glamour photo-shoots which were used for a series of Ontario Valley Department Store ads.


[divider]

1980’s photo shoot with Memo in the background on the right.
[divider]



My old GMC Pick up… now in Japan.
We have done a full article on my GMC Pick-Up, and people all around the world are still reading the CCC-Article on it. From time to time people send me some stories that they have seen my old truck or sometimes they send me some old photos of how the car looks now in Japan.

Japanese magazine The California St. from the early 1990’s featuring the original version of Memo’s GMC Custom Pick Up.
[divider]


Spread one of two from the feature, shared by a Japanese fan.
[divider]


The second spread from the feature.
[divider]


After being bought by a new owner from Japan the GMC Pick Up was redone at the famous Paradise Road Shop. Some updates were made including an new paint-job.
[divider]


And new taillights tunneled 1959 Cadillac lights into the rear fenders.
[divider]


In front of the old Paradise road Shop.
[divider]


Finished for the new Japanese owner and displayed as part of the Pharaohs Car Club display some years back.
[divider]



Memo Chop Garage Projects
Memo has been doing some work on the 1941 Chevy Coupe for his friend Jerry. Memo chopped the top twice on the car, first rather subtle and when it was finished in primer Jerry took it home. Jerry then got inspired by an heavily chopped coupe at the GNRS and took his ’41 Chevy back to Memo to have him take out a some more, to get a very radical chop. Jerry wanted it very low, but in the end Memo and Jerry compromised and it was decided to take out another inch and a half. Less subtle than before, but still very much in proportion with the rest of the car.

Memo proudly standing with his freshly re-chopped ’41 Chevy for his friend Jerry. We will do close up on this Chevy at a later point.
[divider]


[divider]


Working on Jerry’s kustom and dancing while listening to Coldplay’s Viva la Vida on my garage big speakers from my i-pod.
[divider]


Memo has also been steadily working on his new personal ride… Ford F-100 with a lot of cool custom touches. More on that another time.
[divider]



Petersen Museum Low Rider Exhibit
A little while ago there was a nice Low Rider exhibit at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. Part of the show was an exhibition of work from the late Teen Angel. Howard Gribble invited me to go with him to the exhibition. It was awesome, lots of people there. They had som many great things there and I sure got a surprise when I saw they had one big poster they were selling at the exhibit. It was the one that Teen Angel did for the cover of his magazine with my ’37 Chevy on it. That blew me away! They printed 100 of these posters and they sold em all Friday when we went there. They had kept a few and asked me if I would put my name on the last ones they had.

They also sold out on the T-shirts with the same photo of my ’37 Chevy Teen Angel Art that was on the poster. That was so crazy. They said they did not have anymore of those for Saturday or Sunday, but they still had a lot of other teen angels shirts. On the photo below you can see this Teen Angel work shop they had recreated in the museum, and on the left, on the desk, you can see the yellow posters They had left. They were big posters.

Howard Gribble took this photo of Memo Ortega looking at the recreation of Teen Angels studio at the  art exhibit in LA which was set up by David DeBaca in early 2017.
[divider]


Memo Ortega points to original Teen Angel cover art that features the 1937 Chevy he owned when he was a teenager.
[divider]




(This article is made possible by)

ccc-rodders-journal-sponsor-ad-01




.

0

Remembering the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford

 

REMEMBERING the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford

 

In 1959 Memo Ortega buys the Gil Ayala 1942 Ford. Memo finished the car, paints it blue and enjoyed it for a few years. Here are some of his memories.


By Memo Ortega

The other day I was thinking about back in 1959, when I was the luckiest guy on the planet… It was on a Saturday afternoon when me and my friend krused over to the Ayala’s in East Los Angeles, to visit Gil’s Auto Body Works shop. I had been there many times before after I discovered the shop back in 1951. All these year I had driven my green kustom ’37 Chevy up to meet with Gil. This day was a special day, I remember we got there my friend said hi to Gil and was looking at some of the cars they were working at the time. I stayed there talking to Gil about Kustom Cars and how I really dug them, as well as all the work done by their kustom shop.

A few years back I spotted this kustom chopped ’42 Ford Coupe sitting next to the small building on the corner where the House of Chrome was. The car had been sitting there for about three years, if I remember correct. The House of Chrome was, just as Gil’s shop, also very popular. They sold all kinds of goodies for kustoms and hot rods, its where I got my first set of Appleton Spotlights.

Gil’s Ford parked at the Gil Ayala Auto Body Works shop in 1949. Not to far from where it was parked in this photo was where Gil left it sitting for some years until he sold it to Memo Ortega in 1959.
[divider]


Back to Gil…. when I had first seen this ’42 Ford Kustom I had asked Gil about the car and he told me he had started working on the dual head lites to give it a little different look, but he had not worked on it for a while, since they were always to busy at the shop. He just had no time to work on it. Back then I had asked him if he would sell me the car, Gil told me “If I sell the car, I will sell it to you. I know you will fix it to look good, like your ’37 Chevy… gimmie a little time to think about it”. Well this Saturday in ’59 turned out to be a Special Day… Gil told me he decided to sell me the car…. Talk about being happy!!! I was so excited. I asked him when can I pick it up. He told me when ever u want to, I will be here.

Well we left the shop, went krusin and I just could not get the Gil’s kustom out of my head. My friend was also very happy Gil was selling me the car, and he asked me when are you going to go get it? I told him it would maybe next Saturday. I was working at Matt Kolbert’s shop in Pomona at the time, so I my boss Matt for the day off. And I would have to find out if one of my friends had a trailer I could borrow. since I only had enough money to buy the car, not to rent a trailer on top of that. Well my buddy Johnny, who worked also at Kolbert’s had a friend (Big John) who had a big tractor trailer for hauling Orange Grove Tractors in the groves. He said we could use, and to come over next Saturday to pick it up. We also loaned Big John’s Chevy farm truck, a big two axle (not a semi though) and hooked the trailer on. We then went over to Gil’s Shop to pick the car up.


The only photo Memo has showing his friend Johnny, his boss Matt Kolbert and himself, back in 1953. Back then Memo already knew about Gil’s ’42 Ford, but had no idea he would end up with it some 6 years later.
[divider]



When we got at Gil’s shop and pulled into Gil’s parking lot, Gil noticed us and started laughing real hard. “Thats a big trailer you guys got there… but it’ll work!” We had to air up the tires on the ’42, they were near flat from sitting there for so long. We did the deal, I paid Gil, and they all helped us load the car on the trailer. And then we left. MAN was I happy! On our way back we got all kinds of looks from people staring at the car on the trailer, it took us a while to get back to Pomona, since we were real careful towing the car. We unloaded the car at Kolberts, and parked it next to the shop and left again to take the trailer back to Big John in Cucamonga at his Orange Grove. We thank him and left thinking what a GREAT day we had that day!

After having thought about Gil’s Ford the rest of the weekend I had to get up really early on Monday morning. I was real eager to see my new Kustom again. I was at the Kolbert shop before anybody arrived and stood there just starring at the car. I was thinking how mean it looked just sitting there. I then opened up the shop, by then my boss Kolbert came in, and so did mu buddy Johnny. They both gave the car once over look and they both liked it. My boss told me “looks like you’ll be busy working on it after work” I said “yep sure will… every time I get a chance

Gil Ayala’s old ’42 Ford with the quad headlights at an 1961 event at the Pomona Drag track.
[divider]


Gil had used Ford dual headlights in the ’42 Ford fenders. Memo Ortega finished the work and eventually repainted the whole car in Royal Blue.
[divider]


The Ford being driven at the parking lot back in 1961.
[divider]



First thing I did with Johnny’s help, was to try to get the car started. We jacked up the car and pulled the gas-tank plug off, got rid of the old jellowed gas (it looked like Jello). We had to pull off the gas-tank, clean it, and back it went. We poured new gas in and got a new battery for it. We also drained the old oil, got new oil and after a little while we got the engine going. It smoked heavy for a little while, then it got better and the engine sounded good. Then Johnny and I decided it sounded good enough to take it for a spin.¬† MAN that was good! The two 92’s were working good that was a big plus. It’s hard to remember every thing, since this was all such a long time ago.

Anyway, after getting the car drive-able, the first thing I wanted to do was get the headlites Gil Ayala had started finished. They turned out real good. I got the car all cleaned up, the interior was still the same as what Gil had in the car since the late 40’s. Tuck & roll, looked real cool. I started driving it and it was just so kool. The car had had lots of power, I really dug it. I kept driving it while I continued working on it. Me and some of my buddies were krusin with the car all over the place. The car ran fantastic and another big plus, the radio also worked. We took the car to Fairmont Park in Riverside at least twice, and we got some good looks as we krused around there. That was the place to go bumper to bumper krusin good memories from Gil’s kustom. Eventually I got the car all done, had the chrome re-plated and painted it a beautiful Royal Blue Bonito.

Illustration Memo created some years after he had sold the Ford.
[divider]



Thank you Gil Ayala for creating this mean kustom and allowing me to buy it from you. I have enjoyed it a lot during the few years I had it. May you rest in peace… The Ayala’s forever.



[box_light]

Gil’s ’42 Ford still around?
We have recently heard some rumors that Gil’s ’42 Ford is still around today… stored in a warehouse for the last 15 years. Apparently it was saved from a junk Yard in California, then brought to the East Coast of the US by a previous owner, and sold to the current owner in early 2002. We hope to be able to bring you more news about this in the near future.

[/box_light]









.

0

Gil Ayala Wild Bird Restored

 

AYALA WILDBIRD RESTORED

 

Gil Ayalas 1955 Ford TBird aka Wild Bird has been completely restored by Yarils Customs in Florida. New owner Bjorn Jansson takes it on a Kross Kountry Road Trip from Florida, to California.



In the mid 1950’s Gil Ayala Gil Ayala decided to built a Sports Car based Custom Car for himself. He found a 1955 T-Bird and together with his brother Al they discussed what all they could do to make it look better, more interesting, and more Ayala. They decided that both the front and rear fenders needed some more length to make the car look longer, lower and newer. At the front a set of mid 50’s Packard taillights were set into the extended front fenders. The whole front end of the car was reshaped. The stock bumper was removed and replaced with a two part unit of an 1955 Pontiac. Below these new bumpers a Studebaker lower grille pan was installed. The section below the hood and in between the two buper half was completely reshaped and an small oval grille opening created in the center. Al Ayala did most of the metal work on the car, and he continued with a new larger hood scoop created from sheet metal and round rod. In front of the hood a series of louvres were cut to help the engine breath a bit more.

The restored Wild Bird on the right and the Motor Life magazine cover feature Gil’s second version of the T-Bird on the left.
[divider]



To make the side of the car more streamlined than the rather ‚Äúboxy‚ÄĚ T-Bird, the two brotheres decided to install new more teardrop shaped mid 50‚Äôs Oldsmobile wheel openings, which changed the look of the car completely. The rear fenders were extended to accept a set of 1956 Lincoln taillights, which had a nice forward angle on them, making the top of the fender look very long and give the car some instant speed. Below the taillights the Ayals created some new bumperettes to stay in theme with the split front bumper. ‚Äô54 Cadillac rear bumper ends were modified to fit the Bird and the Lincoln taillights. The exhaust was rerouted to exit thru the Cadillac exhaust holes in the bumper ends. The section between the rear fenders and below the trunk was hand shaped from sheet metal and in the center a recessed section was made to fit the license plate. The hood and trunk were shaved and so were the emblems on the rest of the car, but Gil kept the door handles.

To make the the Bird really special Gil designed some rear fender extension, fins from round rod with pressed mesh inserts. The same material was also used to create a new hood scoop insert. On the hood scoop they added three large ‚Äúteeth‚ÄĚ similar in shape as the fins on the rear fenders. These mesh items were copper/gold plated.





The interior of the T-Bird was already very nice from the factory. In this car it was done in bright red with white pleated inserts. There was no need for a new interior. Gil painted the car a deep purple color that he mixed himself. Gil loved to mix new exciting colors, and was always experimenting with new paint. From the color samples found during the restoration we now know that the car was originally red from the factory. To give the purple more depth Gil painted the car with a black base coat first.

When working on the car Yaril found a patch of paint that had not been removed in previous repainting sessions. On the inside the window post all the previous paint coats of the T-Bird could be seen after Yaril had carefully sanded thru the layers. Factory red, followed by black base and “Easter Egg” purple. Then two sesions of gold with Candy-Apple-Red, one seams to be brighter than the other. (Perhaps Gil was experimenting with the best set up.)
[divider]



Later Gil’s wife Lucille told Gil the car looked like an Easter Egg, which was a good enough excuse for Gill to do a new paintjob on the car. This time around he painted the car a deep darker red over gray primer. This is the color we know from the May 1957 issue of Motor Life magazine. Walter Leeman did the wild pinstriping on the Buick at an Hollywood show when he was just 18 years old. Gil let Walter do what he wanted on the car, having the confidence it would be good.. and right he was.

Around 1960, ’61 Gil decided to change the Bird once more. The Packard headlights were replace with more elegant 1957 Oldsmobile headlights. The mesh fins were removed, and the hood was replaced with a new one that was modified by taking out the factory hood scoop for a more smooth look. Next up was a new paint job of Candy Red over a gold base. Chrome reverse wheels were installed on medium wide white wall tires, and for this version there would be no pin-striping. This last version is how the car was restored to. In doing so most of the Ayala performed body work could be retained.

Pat Ganahl showed this interesting photo of the last version of the car in his second part of the Ayala story in the Rodder’s Journal. It is this later version that the new owner Bj√łrn decided the car should be restored to.
[divider]



After that the Bird traveled around until Dan Ceullar from East Los Angeles find the car. At that point the car had been found abandoned and some people were selling off some of the parts before taking the rest to the junk yard. Dan heard about this old T-Bird Custom, went for a look and recognized the car right away. He bought the remains and was able to trace back a few of the parts, but the passenger door, the interior and the glass could not be found again. Not long after that Don decided to put the car up for sale, since he already had several other projects going, and Gil’s old Wild Bird needed a bit more work than he had time for.



Photo taken of the Wild Bird at the time Dan Ceullar owned the car around 2011.
[divider]

The car was sold to Jim B. and ended up in New Jersey on the East Coats of the US. Jim worked a bit on the car, and painted the car with red oxide primer to keep it save from the elements. In 2014 he decided that he would not have the time to restore the car the way it needed to be. So he offered it for Sale on the Custom Car Chronicle and on the HAMB. The car was still missing some parts, as the interior, glass and door. Asking price was $13,000 – $14,000 USD. In the autumn of 2014 Bj√łrn Inge Jansson found the ad for the Gil Ayala Wild Bird and decided this would be the perfect project for him. He bought the car and planned to have the car restored completely in the US, before taking it to his home in in Oslo, Norway.

One of the promo ads for the For Sale listings of the T-Bird on the Custom Car Chronicle.
[divider]



Bj√łrn choose to have the car shipped to Hialeah, Florida, where Yaril Quintana runs his Yaril‚Äôs Customs Shop. Yaril was going to do a full frame off restoration on the car. Over time Jaril and Bj√łrn searched for all the parts missing on the project, and the actual work on the project was started in 2015. A donor car was found which supplied the missing drivers door, glass as well as the fiber glass top. The original top had some major damage, and since the top was left stock my the Ayala‚Äôs it was decided the replacement top would would save a lot of time and money. The project progresses slowly for quite some time, but at the end of 2016 Bj√łrn decided it was time to get the car done, and a special cross country trip with the car was planned.


Yaril Quintana “I¬†will try my best to make this car as nice as it was in the 50‚Äôs without ‚Äúover doing‚ÄĚ the restoration, i know how important it is to keep it true to its roots. with that said the owner has decided to move forward with the second version therefore maintaining as much of Gil‚Äôs work as possible. this means we need more pics of this version! its a tough choice but its the right one.”

A few photos taken during the restoration at Yaril’s Customs. The whole process can be seen on THIS CCC-Thread.
[divider]



Yaril Quintana¬†“discussing with the owner, we concluded that this un-louvered hood is a hood Gil must have purchased during the second phase to eliminate the louvers on the first version, making it easier on him to only have to weld shut the scoop hole. it has lead work on it and the welding looks consistent with the other work on the car.”


In early March 2017 the restoration on Gil Ayala‚Äôs Wild Bird 1955 T-Bird was completed, and Bj√łrn had arrived in Florida to pick up the car and start his Kross Kountry in a Kustom road trip. His first stop will be the LoneStar Round Up event in Austin Texas on April the 7th, 2017. After that Bj√łrn will drive to Las Vegas were the car will be shown at the Viva Las Vegas event on April the 13th, 2017, then on to Los Angeles to meet up with some people, including some Ayala relatives. The end of the trip will be when the car will be left at the San Francisco¬†shipper where the car will be secured in a sea-container and shipped off to Norway.

Bj√łrn standing proud with the freshly finished Gil Ayala 1955 T-Bird “The Wild Bird”. Bj√łrn had just arrived from Norway, and had to get himself and the car ready for the Kross kountry Trip.
[divider]


Photo opportunely in front of the famous Colony Hotel on Ocean Drive in Miami Florida. The car looks amazing in sunlight, and on the road. Yaril and team at Yaril’s Customs did an absolutely amazing job on the restoration.¬†(Although the tourist in the background do not see how gorgeous the car is!)
[divider]


One the road to the LoneStar Roundup… the smile says it all.
[divider]


Made it to Alabama…
[divider]


and¬†Mississippi…



… and Louisiana, too!
[divider]


Bourbon street, New Orleans.
[divider]


Texas at last!
[divider]


After 18 hours on the road they finally made it to Austin, Texas.
[divider]


And they finally made it to the LoneStar Roundup… Yeah!
[divider]


Dan Ceullar (left) drove from LA to meet up with Bj√łrn and see the restored Wild Bird, Gil Ayala’s car he saved in 2011. Without Dan the Wild Bird might have been lost forever. Thank you Dan… What a great moment.
[divider]





Entering New Mexico on the way to California.
[divider]


White Sands, New Mexico.
[divider]


Arizona.
[divider]


Finally they reached California. Los Angeles next!
[divider]


At the old Gil’s Auto Body Shop location… EPIC.
[divider]


Bj√łrn Inge Jansson together with Lynn Ayala (Gil’s Daughter) and¬†Ralphy Morales¬†holding an unfinished copy of the Auto Butchers E LA fresh from the mold. Ralphy worked for Gil¬†& helped build the original Wild¬†Bird.
[divider]


Las Vegas, Nevada.
[divider]


After the Viva Las Vegas Show they drove back to Los Angeles, and then on to the end destination of this epic road-trip, San Francisco, California. From here the car will be shipped to Oslo, Norway, where Bj√łrn lives. Thank you Bj√łrn for this amazing journey in this historic Custom Car.
[divider]



Gil Ayala liked his ’55 T-Bird a lot and it must have been a very popular car at the time. In fact Gil decided to put an image of the car on the large shop sign next to the small building at his Gil’s Auto Body Works Shop. This photo was taken in the early 1970’s and by then the image had faded, but it you look carefully you can see the top, the rear wheel opening, rear tire and¬†fender fin of the illustration. The actual sign is still there in 2017, but sadly nothing is left for the original illustration.
[divider]




Remembering The Wild Bird

Bob Selva

Bob Selva is married to Gil’s wife’s Evelyn. Bob was around the Ayala shop a lot when¬†Gil finished the car.
It has been a long time ago, but Bob remembered that Gil and Al “fought” over the design of the car quite a bit and came to a final decision late at night at the shop. They started building it right away that night. Bob also remembers that he had a few drives in the car, it drove very nice, “a good ride in between a soft hard ride,like a sports car on the MG side”. The Bird was not Gil’s avery day car, he did use it, and a few friends and employees also used the car. But for every day use, going home in the evenings Gil did not use the bird. He rather used the Gil’s Auto Body Works shop truck and later Gil had a ’62 Cadillac¬†convertible also. Gil had painted the car a beautiful¬†Candy Apple Red.¬†Bob remembered one night that Gil, Bob along with their¬†wife’s went night clubing. When Gil Backed up the car in the dark¬†he hit a pole and chipped a piece of paint off the right rear fin. Gil went out to see the damage, saw the paint chip,¬†picked it up,¬†and the next day pasted it back on the car. “You could not tell if it was ever chiped”.

Memo Ortega

Gil’s¬†T-Bird… if I¬†remember right he got it a little latter after my friend Richard¬†Aguerrie had the Ayalas built his brand new ’55 Merc Montclair. Hard to remember the dates, but I remember when they were doing the taillights Gil¬†explayend a little how he was going to change it around.¬†One thing I¬†remember, he was thinking about building a couple of fins for the top of the quarter panels but at that time he didn’t know yet if he would do it.¬†Latter on he decided he would go for it, and after seeing the fins on it I¬†really liked the new fins.¬†Good memories from back then the Ayala’s sure did some great kustoms and the T-Bird was one of them. I hope the new owner installs the fins execly the way Gil¬†did¬†them at a later point.

Walter Leeman

I remembered I striped Gil‚Äôs T-Bird the this show in Hollywood. I don‚Äôt remember which show it was, but at this show Earl Bruce introduced me to Von Dutch while I was striping. Rattled me a bit! Gil made me a set of lowered A arms for my ’51 Chevy that I had in high school and he let me take one of his personal ’55 T-Birds out cruising one Friday night. Gil was always really nice towards me. When he redid the Bird I had joined the USAF and never got to see the second version and apparently he never had it striped by anyone else.




More photos of the Kross Kountry Road Trip can be seen on the Custom Car Chronicle Forum.








(This article is made possible by)






.

0

Memo Ortega Stories Part 33

 

SoCal SHOWS Part 5

 

More Flashback stories and more photos from the Memo Ortega files from the time Memo went to some of the famous West Coast Kustoms shows in Los Banos.



[box_light]
Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2016, 81 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the¬†Memo Ortega Stories¬†in the¬†Memo Ortega Files¬†on the CCC
[/box_light]

Memo Ortega Flashback

A¬†while back one of my friends had bought a pair of Appleton Spotlites, and ask me if I¬†could take them apart so they could be¬†chromed. He also asked me to take them to the chrome shop. “Yeah¬†I’ll take em apart, and take them to be chromed“. So¬†I¬†went to this chrome shop that I¬†had heard good things about. I¬†got there and there were two guys there. One was talking to the owner, and the other one was standing there, outside. He was about my age, he looked at me an said “by any chance are you¬†Memo that used to work at Kolberts Kustom Shop back in the early ’50,s in pomona”.¬†I¬†said “yeah im Memo”. He said “do you¬†remember me?”

I¬†looked at him “Oh dang, I do¬†remember you¬†now. You are¬†the one I¬†met at your¬†house when I¬†heard of you¬†installing aircraft cylinders on cars to make go low and high. One of my friends told me about that and I¬†did not belive him. Thats when we went over to you¬†house to see it with our own eyes. That was a long time ago back in 1950, we were so young lol.¬†I remember your¬†driveway was all full of oil allover the place.” He remembers… “Yeah I¬†sure had a big mess, and now everybody is doing hydro’s.”¬†We got to talking and¬†I¬†wanted to ask if I¬†could talk to him about another time about about his back in time working on them cars an maybe he could share some photos if he had. But he declined, so I¬†did not push it.¬†It seems he wanted to remain low-key. I¬†can¬†respect¬†that.¬†However he did take my number an¬†I’m still hoping he calls me. So I¬†will not mention his name here.

Wow… when I¬†left I¬†kept thinking, nobody was doing what he was doing back in early 1950’s. Lowering cars with aircraft cylinders, just a few years after WWII. I will never forget that day we went there to his house. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he will call me some day, and we get to talk some more.

Memo with the two freshly plated and put back together Appleton Spotlights.
[divider]




The Car Shows

Lingering memories of great times many of us had at Los Banos and Paso Robles with Richie and Penny at the West Coast Kustoms shows. When I found out they were gonna do a show in Los Banos I got very excited, and decided visit that show also, remembering how cool Paso Robles always was. We drove there with our kustom GMC. I liked it there a lot. There were some kustoms I had never seen, and met some old and made some new friends from all over. Of course I liked Paso better, since it was closer for us, we caravand there with our Knight Prowlers Club and had great times there in the past. Too bad Paso is no more, but it was great when it was held there. We will allways remember Paso.

But now we have the show in Santa Maria, we are all getting to like it more and more as we get used to it in Santa Maria. The fair grounds is not bad, plenty of parking space for the cars in the show, and the crusing at night is awesome with four lanes of cars going and coming back back and fourth. You¬†really have to keep you¬†eyes on track. So many cars to see. How kool is it that some of us are sitting down,¬†eating burritos or burgers or the smell of some of the guys cooking carne asada next to us… So awesome. The¬†first pictures, all 49-51 Mercs, are from Los Banos, and I also ad a few from some of the Paso Robles fun.

Enjoy

Your friends Memo and Rik




Los Banos Show

Cool 50 Merc wit heavy chop, burgundy metallic paint and slick flames.
[divider]


Very classic looking ’51 Merc with nice chop with the original ’51 rear window. De Soto Grille and super smooth black paint.
[divider]


This ’51 Merc was wild, typical for the late 80’s. Heavy chop, very small rear window, scoops on the rear of the top and on the front that had antennas in them. Sunken taillights and hand made fender skirts. Wild!
[divider]


This photo shows that the rear of the roof flowed right into the trunk, like a fleetline.
[divider]


I liked the Buick side trim and two tone pale blue paint. The headlights look to be handmade… I cannot remember what there were, but they looked cool with the rest of the car’s restyling.
[divider]


Black chopped coupe looks very nice with the dog leg removed from the fender line and nice pointy side trim.
[divider]


Dan McConnell’s Mercury had work done by Joe Bailon, Butch Hurley and Rod Powell. Beautiful Deep Purple paint job with Rod Powell subtile scallops. ’52 Ford bumper, De Soto grille and frenched Buick headlights with the perfect chopped top and shaved drip rails, this one was very nice.
[divider]


Bill Reasoner’s “Cool 51”. This one really has THE right look in my eyes.
[divider]




Paso Robles Show

Squeeg Jerger 1941 Ford convertible. This one was so good to see in person. Every panel has been changed on it and it has a very nice mix of styles.
[divider]


Cruise night at Paso was special… very special.
[divider]


I liked this ’54 Chevy Hard-Top a lot. Beautiful chop, extended skirts, white with green paint and some nice striping going on.
[divider]


Another ’54 Chevy that got my attention was this beautiful purple coupe looking soo fine.
[divider]




Still at it

Memo Ortega is still at it up in his 80’s. Howard Gribble took some photos of Memo at work re-chopping a clients ’41 Chevy Coupe. Memo had already chopped to top on it, and looked really good. But after a few week the client decided, being inspired by a radical chopped Chevy at the 2017 GNRS, that he wanted the coupe to be chopped more. So Memo took out another inch and a half. Looking forward to show more on Memo’ work on this Chevy at a later date.


[divider]




ccc-shirt-sponsor-ad-kustoms-la-01

(This article is made possible by)



jamco-sponsor-ad-602-01





.

0

Memo Ortega Stories Part 32

 

PASO ROBLES Part 4

 

More Flashback stories and more photos from the Memo Ortega files from the time Memo went to some of the famous West Coast Kustoms shows in Paso robles.



[box_light]
Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2016, 81 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the¬†Memo Ortega Stories¬†in the¬†Memo Ortega Files¬†on the CCC
[/box_light]

Memo Ortega Flashback

I remember this from way back, I think it was from around ’78, perhaps ’79. One day my wife Terry was washing our ’37 Chevy in the front yard¬†when¬†this girl was driving by in her car. She saw the ’37, and decided to stop and check it out.¬†She asked¬†Terry if it was her car, she said she saw it from the corner of her eye and she just had to stop and look at it.¬†They started to talk¬†and it turns out her grampa was this friend of my dad when they were in there teens! They lived close by in Claremont only up halve a mile from us. Before she left¬†she told Terry that her grampa was Manuel Gonzales and told here where they lived. When I¬†got home from work, Terry told me about this girl¬†stopping by and checking out our Chevy. Well that blew my mind, I¬†told Terry I¬†know him, her grand father, Manuel Gonzales, he used to be a friend of my dad when iI was a kid and his brother had a ’37 chevy 2dr sedan with Appleton spotlights and removed¬†running boards, shaved door¬†handles and a molded in trunk with single bar spinner hubcaps… Something¬†I¬†don’t forget.

Any way… I¬†went over to his house and knocked at the door, he was the one that opened the door, and I¬†told him who¬†I was and about¬†my dad. “Oh come in, sit down I¬†remember when u were a kid many years back” Manuel¬†said.¬†Of course he was much older now, I¬†had not seen him since way back in the 50’s. He was already a familly man back then.¬†¬†I told him that I allways wondered where they had moved too, and that if not for his granddaughter stopping by, I would have not known¬†he lived so close by. He told me a lot of stories from back then.

One story he told me I¬†never thought much about it untill yesterday (December 25th, 2016)¬†We were talking about familly history and cars. “Here’s one for the books” Manuel¬†told me… Back in 1937 my dad and two of his brothers had bought a brand new ’37 four door Packard Convertible and removed all the ornaments and door handles from¬†the car, much like the guys were doing in the 50’s, and it was painted a beautiful deep shinny black. Manuels brother was called “El Torro” which means bull in English, cause he was such a big guy. He said how they used to dress allways in suits like in the movies and would always park in front of the old pool hall.¬†¬†This story also reminded me about how all the guys I knew in La Verne back then were tagged with a special name, even me.¬†An mr. Manuel Gonzales was known as “Manuel El Chango” which means the monkey in English lol…

Funny I¬†never thought much about that untill yesterday Christmas day 2016. BAM¬†they had a¬†Custom Packard back then… like I¬†said never struck my mind untill we were talking familly history thought I’ll share this. And what’s even more funny… back in 1950 I would¬†park across the street frome the same pool hall in my ’37 chevy. Sadly I have no photos of all this, but I did come across another old photo that I thought I had lost forever. From the mid 1950’s at Matt Kolbert’s shop, where my good friend Johnny and me worked.

Johnny Maldonado left, our boss Matt Kolberts in the middle and Memo on the right.
[divider]


Another older photo I came across recently is one of¬†¬†one of my girls, Gina (Pattison) when she was young back in the ’60’s.¬†She is sitting on a¬†kustom chopper bike I¬†made for her back then. Pretty cool.
[divider]




The Car Shows

We have been to so many show over the years, with our ’37 Chevy, our GMC pick up and the Chevy we have now. Usually I took pictures at the show, or asked somebody else that was coming with us to snap some cars for me. Recently I have been hunting for those old photos, and I have found some of them back, in boxes, some I thought I had lost forever. Here are a fe of the great looking custom cars from the 1980’s and 90’s, the car shows we visited with our GMC. I will keep looking for more photos and I keep remembering more stories as well… so stay tuned for more in the future.

1954 Chevy sedan in pearl light blue with seaweed flames. was a really cool car.
[divider]


Roger Squires ‘Chevy photographed at our old Past Times Car Club back in time. This was¬†at the first West¬†Coast Nationals in Buena Park Ca. Chayo Olquin bought the Chevy from Roger and its him that is driving the car in the picture. It¬†was a great gathering of all kinds of cars, good times.
[divider]


At one of our drives up to a car show we spotted this abandoned old chopped custom short door 46048 Ford Coupe. It gad a caved it roof.. probably kids been jumping up and down on it. Sad! Wonder where it is today. 
[divider]


Beautiful ’51 Mercury Convertible with chopped padded top, De Soto grille and bumpers,¬†and a¬†metallic mauve paintjob.¬†
[divider]


Slick looking ’56 Chevy in candy red and silver with great looking fine scallops. As if it just rolled out of 1960.
[divider]


40’s Custom corner. With a nice ’41 Ford convertible with padded top in black primer. This one reminded me of the cars I saw back in the 1940’s when I was just a kid.
[divider]


Extra Chevy grille teeth in this ’53 Ford.
[divider]


Unchopped mild custom ’51 Mercury.
[divider]


Mikael Wallin’s Mini Merc, Custom based on a Volvo Amazone made to look like a Mercury Custom. This thing was wild. To bad its gone now.
[divider]


My grandson Will with a chopped and smoothed 1960 Cadillac.
[divider]

Dick Dean built this ’51 Mercury for Harry Mohoff, it would later star in the movie Book of Love.
[divider]


I really liked the ’58 Chevy scoop on the chopped top and the ’53 Buick side trim. I think Dick Dean also chopped this one.
[divider]


This Merc was spectacular. Frank DeRosa built i. and it was chopped, sectioned and a lot more body work done to it. That is Frank behind the Merc with the purple shirt explaining the car for the camera. I’m standing behind the Merc just over the A-pillars with my blue checker shirt drinking a coke and admiring all the work on the King of Mercs.
[divider]


More Mercs, one a four door with¬†typical 80’s slotted taillights. The other one withe molded in and painted bumpers.
[divider]


This was at a later Paso Robles show I think… just loved that angle chop on the Chevy Fleetline.
[divider]





My wife Terry (with Gina, from the chopper bike above, next to her) and me got some Custom Car Chronicle Shirts and wear them proudly.
[divider]








(This article is made possible by)



jamco-sponsor-ad-602-01





.

0

Memo Ortega Stories Part 31

 

PASO ROBLES Part 3

 

Back in the 1980s when Memo Ortega owned his full Custom GMC pick up truck, he went to several of the famous Paso Robles WCK shows.



[box_light]
Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2016, 81 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the¬†Memo Ortega Stories¬†in the¬†Memo Ortega Files¬†on the CCC
[/box_light]

Once again rock &¬†rolling back into the ’80’s in my kustom chopped GMC¬†truck with my radio casset player blarring out songs like… Buddy Knox Party Doll,¬†Connie Francis¬†Lipstik on your¬†collar, Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen, Dee Clarks, Hey Little Girl, and¬†of coarse Little Richard’s Tuti Fruitty.¬†Oh and I forgot Gene Vincent’s¬†Be¬†Bop¬†a¬†Lula……¬†ahhhhhh Kruising up the famouse highway 101 to the famous Sherwood Park in Paso Robles. We¬†got there 4 hours after¬†we left Montclair, Ca. and we were in¬†kustom haven.

The line to get into the park stretched way back, while we wait we can see a bunch of fine cars already in the park. This is so kool this line waiting for the park with all kustoms in front of us and more and more behind us, all waiting in line to get in. At the gate we are greeted by none other then Rich Pichette, one of the most awesome persons in my book, may he rest in kustom haven. Over the years I have mixed up some of my photos so in this batch we have Paso Robles photos as well as the Los Banos show both done by West Coast Kustoms.
Ahhh gone, yes, but not forgotten!




Dale Hollenbeck’s beautiful pale blue 50 Mercury.
[divider]


My trusty black GMC pickup parked with some beautiful Hot Rods and customs surrounding it.
[divider]


John Gimelli’s 1947 Ford convertible in beautiful purple with lavender-mauve flames.
[divider]


In Part Two I showed the front of this wild 1950 Mercury that is now owned by Sam Groenberg. The rear is just as wild as the front.
[divider]


John D’Agostino’s ’53 Mercury was built by Bill Reasoner, and had a really stunning candy red paint job.
[divider]


Bill Reasoner’s personal car that year was this great looking 1951 Mercury “Cool 51”.
[divider]


Another cool 51 Mercury was painted a super gloss black with DeSoto grille. 
[divider]


The chopped Shoebox sedan looked neat with the bright yellow and black paint, no skirts and a nice near level stance. The Chopped Caddy next to it was also very nice.
[divider]


Joe Bailon did Bud Malard’s 1950 Mercury, it was at the show in primer and would soon be painted pale yellow.
[divider]


The combination of the chopped top, black paint with candy purple scallops, DeSoto grille teeth, 53 Buick headlights and new front bumper made this 50 Mercury a real stand out.
[divider]





(This article is made possible by)



jamco-sponsor-ad-602-01



.

0

Memo Ortega Stories Part 30

 

PASO ROBLES SHOW

 

Memo Ortega recently came across some more of the photos he took at the late 1980s Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms show.



[box_light]Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2015, 80 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the¬†Memo Ortega Stories¬†in the¬†Memo Ortega Files¬†on the CCC[/box_light]


Memo’s Flashback

Cruising to East Los Angeles

Remembering some of my early cruising days back in 1951, ’52, with my old 37 Chevy. A car I¬†will never forget.¬†I did a lot of work on it to my liking, thats wats customizing is all about. When I¬†got the car I¬†was 14 going on 15, years old and I just wanted a kool kustom to kruze them wheels off… which I sure¬†did. I filled the door handles and truck-lid, and installed ’40 studebaker tail-lites on my rear fenders. I made me some plain side hood panels also, and installed some ’40¬†Ford headlites on my front fenders, and eventually painted it metallic green. An of course I¬†lowerd the heck out of it. It was so low that at one time I¬†got stuck on the railroad tracks.¬†Theres a lot more that I¬†did on this car, check it out in one of rik’s early Memo Ortega Stories.

I¬†grew up in La Verne, Ca where one of the older krusers told me about a kustom shop in East Los Angeles called the Ayala bros. He¬†mentioned that¬†maybe one of these days you might want to go over there, and check it out since you like our kustom cars…¬†¬†The older kruzers in my neighborhood¬†had some neat kustoms… those were the ones that gave me the kustom bug.¬†Well I¬†told one of my friends if he would like to kruze over to East LA with me on a Saturday to see if we could find that¬†Ayala’s Kustom Shop, since I¬†had never been there before. Yeah lets kruze there he had¬†never been to east LA either. So comes Saturday and we just took of to East LA,¬†even if we did not know where the place was, we had no address, no nothing.¬†When we got to East LA, we asked at this auto shop for directions. ¬†Turned out the guys in the shop knew about the Ayala’s¬†and¬†told us where it was.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-johnny-rosier-iceJohnny Rosier gave Memo a picture of an old restyled Ford pick up truck he used for his Ice deliveries.
[divider]

Well we met Gil¬†an his brother Al¬†an they really liked my ’37 Chevy. From that moment¬†on we went to that East LA shop¬†pretty often on Saturday afternoons.¬†We got to see kustoms there but we never bothered the workers in the shop,¬†mostly we talked to Gil, he was always nice and we became friends.¬†One other guy I¬†remember from the Ayala Shop was Johnny Rosier¬†he would later get a ’53 Mercury that was done at the Ayala shop. We got to know him a little better, he was kool, took time to talk with me an my friend, two young teen kids instrested in kustoms… he liked that. He allways asked us how come u guys come way out here to East LA, that’s real far from where you¬†guys come from. Because we like krusin¬†we always said! ¬†¬†His car merc so was kool just seeing him leave the Ayalas shop was a huge¬†plus for us…¬†Just one of my many great memories from the 50’s.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-johnny-rosier-53Johnny Rosier later had this 1953 Mercury hard-top that was restyled at the Ayala Shop. It was a really beautiful car with an amazing paint job. I remember clearly how Johnny slowely took off at the Ayala shop to go for some cruising on Saturday nights.
[divider]

 

Paso Robles WCK show

I recently came across some more photos we took at our 1980’s visits to Paso Robles how. This was such a great show, great memories. So back to Paso Robles Part 2.¬†I know the Paso¬†Robles West Coast Kustoms car shows are no more, but so many of us still remember them… awesome times we all had there. Never to be forgotten!¬†So many of us out there met and made so many new friends were made that we still talk to and together we remember those were neat times in Paso Robles.¬†¬†So many cars to look at. This show I went there with¬†my G.M.C.¬†chopped truck which I had just painted in two tone blues. The first time¬†I went¬†there it was in black paint (I see that one of the pictures I found was with the truck painted black). Now the truck lives¬†in japan with the Pharaohs Car Club with Junichi last time I¬†heard.

Later on the show was moved to Down Town Paso, where it was even better and the night kruzin was the thing to do.¬†On some of these photos you¬†can see one of my grandsons posing with¬†some cars, good memories from back in the 1980’ss. Nowadays the show continues in the town of Santa Maria, Ca,

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-14This lavender metallic 44-48 Ford chopped coupe looked really clean.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-13Primered ’51 Merc with chopped top with original rear window, and recessed tube kind of grille.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-12Ford Victoria in light blue primer with lots of work done on the front. It looked good.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-11The “Mini Merc” ¬†first time I saw the Volvo Amazon based custom. Was really interesting to see, great custom, to bad its gone.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-10So many great cars there, I really loved these 80’s Paso Robles shows.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-09Very slick looking chopped Chevy Hard-Top in metallic black with silver top and black tires.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-08This blue primers ’51 Merc with 50 rear window looked really good to me. He came all the way from Washington.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-07This one was from earlier when I took my GMC truck (in the background) when it was painted all black. Thats my friend Richard Crawford aka “Thinnman” with his ’55 Chevy low rider panel wagon.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-06Buick mild custom. My GMC is in the back painted two tone blue by now.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-05Loved this wild 51 Merc.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-04Unfinished chopped mid 50’s Mercury in pink and lavender primer… Wild.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-03’57 Chevy bumper with custom bullets and 53 Chevy grille on wild looking50 Merc. I really like the large radius hood corners…¬†
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-02Paul Bragg showed up with his stunning ’49 Mercury in two tone olive green. Thats my grandson kneeling in front of it, he loved it also.
[divider]

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-01Bill Reasoner had brought his personal 1951 Mercury named “Cool 51). Beautiful car, that bill and his wife sitting on the right side of the photo. I heard Bill’s old¬†Merc is now also in Japan.
[divider]


(This article is made possible by)

jamco-sponsor-ad-602-01




ccc-sponsor-ad-ccc-shirts-02



.

0

Bumper mounted taillights

 

BUMPER MOUNTED TAILLIGHTS

 

Bumper mounted taillights developed in a time when the trend was to shave and mold car bodies into a smooth sculptured piece of Automotive Art.



Removing the factory stock taillights from the fenders and creating new, usually smaller taillights units in or on the rear bumper is a Custom Restyling technique done a lot. Especially in the later part of the ’40 and early 1950’s this technique was very popular. It started very early in the history of Custom Restyling. The So Calif. Plating Co. trucks had very minimal¬†taillights. Some cars only carried one single taillight. I’m not quite sure if this in fact was legal at the time or not, but running only one taillight was something several early cars had from the factory, so more than lickely this was legal at least in the 1930’s till a point. The So Calif Plating Truck was driven after dark for sure. A lot of the races where the car was used as pull truck happened during in the evenings,¬†and the team needed to head home after the races. Of coarse the traffic was a lot lighter back then, but using only one taillight could not be called safe.

However the So Calif Plating Co. cars might have been an exception, most other early customs from the 1930’s and early 1940’s we have seen photos of use mostly stock taillights, or units swapped from other cars that looked better than the stock units. There are a few samples of customs from the early 1940’s that have the factory taillights shaved of completely, and new taillights created in modified bumper guards, but this style did not become very popular this early. Shortly after WWII the Custom Cars became smoother. Towards 1947-48 it became common to shave all the handles on the car, removed side trim and perhaps more important weld the fenders to the body and lead them in to create one smooth body shape. As part of this smoothing style the taillights were completely removed as well. So now the¬†body shops¬†had to find a good alternative for good looking taillights that did not interfere with the smooth body.

CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-socalplating-03A very early Custom Car, the 1935 Ford designed by George DuVall for the the So. Calif. Plating Co. had very minimal lights, both front and rear. The rear fenders were shaved of the original lights, and the large photo above shows the car with the unfinished rear bumper. The photo does not show any taillight at all. The inset photo shows most likely a single center mounted taillight in the center, just below the license plate.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-socalplating-01The other So. Calif. Plating Co. car based on a late 1936 Ford also has the stock taillights removed for that much smoother look designer George DuVall and the builder were after.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-socalplating-02I’m not 100% sure, but it does look like there is one, perhaps two (one on each side) motor cycle or other small lights mounted behind the tubular bumper, just below the left side of the license plate.
[divider]



From the late 1930’s the bike aftermarket was offering small teardrop shaped chrome plated marker¬†lights with orange, green, blue and red glass. Several different brands offered these lights.¬†Dixie, and¬†Guide¬†created some that looked really good. Somebody, and we do not know who was the first one, tried to use these small teardrop shaped motorcycle lights on the rear of a car. The lights looked really good mounted on the rear bumper, on the splash pan, or on the sides of the bumper guards. The only problem was the motorcycle lights were marker lights with only one bulb.¬†Memo Ortega¬†remembered that to make them work with the car they would find the smallest car taillights they could find, take it apart and modify the double bulb set up to fit inside the motorcycle teardrop light. It was always a very tight fit, but it could be done, and this way they could convert the lights for running and brake light.

As far as we have found out the use of these Motorcycle marker lights as taillights on Custom Cars was never written about in the early Restyling publications. It was just one of those restyling techniques you saw on another car, loved the look of that super smooth rear and adapted it to your own car.

[box_light]

Memo Ortega Flashback
I do remember the¬†motorcycle taillight¬†becoming¬†really popular around ’47-48. Some of the Vagabonds ran them, that the car club I was a member of in La Verne Ca.¬†Some of the guys used them on the gravel pan, and some bolted them to the bumper guards. At the time this¬†did not go to well with the law. The cops¬†always¬†came out with “they are to small“, “its not legal to run them“, “its not a factory taillight“, just to bust you.¬†But guys still ran them cause they were so cool looking. It also depended which cop you¬†ran into.¬†My friend Papitas brother ran them in his ’41 Ford, and my cousin Panya on his ’41. and also Enchilada used them on his ’37 Chevy kustom. I think the Pep boys Vagabond ’40 Merc allso ran them in my home town.

At one time I ran four of them right under the rear end¬†of my 37 Chevy. It¬†looked really kool untill one night.¬†I¬†was going to my sisters house, and this cop followed me right into her drive way… red lite on! He tells me “I’m¬†gonna give you¬†a ticket for those lites under your¬†car” he said they were illegal!¬†I¬†knew better at the time, since I was studying the California vehicle code book. You see I was thinking of joyining the California Highway Patrol, so I¬†knew it was not illegal to run the motorcycle taillights.¬†I told him to show me in the book where it said I¬†could run these taillights.¬†He looked, and looked… he could not find anything there! I told the cop…¬†next time you better¬†read your¬†book before¬†you stop somebody! For that he got really pissed… he got in his car¬†and¬†left.

[/box_light]




Documentation

The early Custom Car publications date back to around 1944. Dan Post’s publications describe a lot of different restyling techniques, but the bumper mounted taillight is a technique not mentioned until 1947.¬†The motor cycle taillights which started to be used around 1947-48 is not mentioned in any of the Post publications. In 1947 the use of 1946-47 Olds bumper guard ¬†lights is¬†the first time this technique is mentioned. From the 1949 Blue book Dan Post includes an illustration of the Olds bumper guard set up to show how this technique can be adapted. The Motor Cycle lights are mentioned in the Trend Book Customs Cars No. 101 publication from July 1951. Only as photo caption, even though the caption mentioned the style was Popular, it was not revered to in the main text.¬†The main text did mention the home made Bumper guard taillights, and the booklet showed photos of several good samples of the bumper guard taillights.

When the main Custom Car and Hot Rod magazine started their publications from 1951 the bumper guard taillights were shown and mentioned quite frequently. In the September 1951 issue of Hop Up magazine George Barris did a nice How To article showing how these great looking bumper guard taillights could be fabricated. Of course he hoped that the people would rather come to the Barris shop to have the shops expertise do them with much better quality.

CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-post-manual-47Dan Post Master Custom – Restyling Manual published in 1947.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-post-blue-bookDan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling published in 1949. (this scan comes from the 1951 edition.)
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-trend-book-101From the Trend Book No. 101 Custom Cars first published in July 1951.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-hop-up-9-51In the September 1951 ¬†issue of Hop Up magazine, George Barris showed in a two page article how the Bumper guard taillights were created. Most likely this article helped a lot of home customizers to create¬†a set of bumper guard taillights for their own cars in the early 1950’s
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-summers-merc-01Jimmy summers used an 1941 Lincoln rear bumper on his famous dark maroon¬†1940 Mercury.¬†He removed the center section of the bumper and created his own which would incorporate the license plate and two ’41 Ford taillights mounted next to the plate¬†in ’46.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-summers-merc-02In 1949 Jimmy still used the same set up on his car which was now painted green.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-guide-R8-50-1The GUIDE R8-50-1 was a very popular motorcycle marker light amongst car customizers. The shape was just perfect for the custom, and even mimic the shape of the Appleton Spotlights up front!
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-catalogThese marker lights¬†were advertised in the motorcycle brochures from the late 1930’s and 1940’s (this sample is a little less old) The marker lights only came with a single light bulb, and needed to be modified to work as driver and brake light.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-eastern-1951The teardrop taillights could also be bought from the car accessory shops. The 1951 Eastern Auto Supply Co. listed a set of chrome plated teardrop lights in their catalog. Sorry, but I was only able to find a very poor copy, the text reads; TEARDROP LIGHTS A real gem for use as tail light, back up light or exterior ligh. Rich chrome finish. Available with red or white lens. Specify color. 3″ long, 21/4″ diam. $3.95 pr.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-sam-barris-01Early photo of the Sam Barris 1940 Mercury shows that Sam used only one single motorcycle taillight on the driver side only.
[divider]


Sam Barris 1940 MercurySam Barris later removed the bumper guards, located the license plate behind the bumper, and mounted two motorcycle taillights on the bumper. Perhaps Sam had been ticketed for running only one taillight?
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-johnny-zaro-M02Johnny Zaro’s 1940 Mercury in 1948 uses two teardrop shaped motorcycle lights. Looks at the clean lines without the factory fender mounted taillights.
[divider]

 

CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-johnny-zaro-M01Close up of the Johnny Zaro 1940 Mercury taillight set-up.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-zaro-41-02In 1948 Johnny Zaro used motor cycle taillights on his George Barris created 1941 Ford convertible. The car was super smooth and everything was shaved and molded in. To keep these smooth lines they had decided to move the taillights to the bumpers. And to make them look as good as possible, they were mounted as low as possible. Later Johnny changed the taillights on his car, scroll down to see the update.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-40-ford-sedanWhile most of the cars used the motor cycle taillights close to the bumper guards, there are also some who preferred them more towards the outside of the bumper, in line with the fenders. Like we can see on his nicely smoothed and molded 1940 Ford sedan. 
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-hal-baud-oldsHal¬†Baud’s 1950 looked super slick from behind, with molded fenders, shaved trunk and the taillights removed. However it was very unique to still use the motorcycle taillights on this brand new car in 1950. Especially since the big trend was bumper guard lights.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-ohanesianNot all bumper mounted taillights were of the small motorcycle type. We have found a few samples of Custom Cars that used some largerversions of a round, most likely teardrop shaped taillights. Perhaps pirated from a late ’30’s car or something similar. The Buddy Ohanesian Westergard/bertolucci 1940 Mercury is a good ample of these larger bumper mounted taillights.
[divider]


There are also a couple of samples known where other small or thin type taillights are being used on the bumpers of Custom Cars. From the amount of photos we have been able to find this never became a real popular Custom Restyling Trick though. For this¬†some factory stock taillights, ’46-48 Chevy and Ford units were used mostly for this, were mounted on the bumpers. Holed were ¬†drilled in the bumper to allow the light fixtures to sit inside the bumper. The taillight would then mount nicely on top of the bumper. One of the best know sample of this style is the set up of the ’46 Chevy taillights mounted close to the bumper guards of the ’47 Buick rear bumper of the Anne De Valle ’42 Barris built Ford Coupe. This car was originally created for Marcia Campbell.


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-anne-devalle-01Anne De Valle ’42 Ford (Originally owned by Marcia Campbell)¬†was restyled with an ’47 Buick Special rear bumper. A¬†set of ’46 Chevy taillights was¬†mounted on the top portion of the new bumper.¬†
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-anne-devalle-02The only close up photo I was able to find to showing the Anne De Valle / Marcia Campbell taillight set up was this side view. This set up sure cleaned of the rear fenders, but it lacked the finesse of a custom made bumper guard set up.
[divider]




Bumper Guard Taillights

Around 1947-48 there is a shift in Custom taillight design. The motorcycle teardrop taillights are still being used. But if you wanted the latest trend you needed to create custom made bumper guard taillight. The ’46 Oldsmobile front bumper guards had integrated parking lights. This set up had clear glass, but everything else was already there from the factory. Somebody came with the idea to use this whole unit as bumper guard on the rear of a car, replace the clear glass with red glass and modify the lights for running and brake lights. This set up most likely was the first bumper guard taillight set up. We have no idea who was the first to do this, but 1940’s photos show many cars using this set up, so it became very popular.

CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-skonzakes-01Jim Street was a very creative Custom Car enthusiast¬†from Dayton Ohio. In 1948 Jim used¬†1946-48 Oldsmobile front bumper guards on his ’41 Ford convertible custom. Jim replaced the stock white glass with clear red plastic cut and shaped to fit, to create his first set of bumper guard taillights.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-skonzakes-02Jim Street’s 1941 Ford was a very nice ride in 1948. Californian style in¬†Dayton Ohio.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-nicholas_schlouchNicholas¬†Schlouch 1939 Ford was created in the late 1940’s. We do not have very good photos of the car from that period. But this photo taken in 1956 shows how the sluts in the bumper guards were cut out and filled with shaped clear red lucite. A light fixture was installed inside the guard. The orange bumper mounted lights are a later addition.
[divider]



The first real bumper guard taillights

In 1948 Jesse Lopez develops what we now see as the first ever Custom made bumper guard taillight. Together with Sam Barris he had customized his 1941 Ford long door coupe including a very smooth chop, shave trunk and molded in smoothed fenders. They had also removed the taillights and Jesse came up with the idea to incorporate the taillights in the 1946 Ford bumper guards they had just installed on the car. Jesse and Sam were very familiar with the motorcycle taillights and liked the look of them, but Jesse wanted the rear of his car to be even smoother than done ever before.


[box_light]

Jesse Lopez on Taillights
“Yes, I¬†was the first to build the taillights into the bumper guards, ‚ÄúI was good at doing plastic work and I got the bright idea to set them in the indentation of the bumper guard, about 1 3/4‚ÄĚ x 3 3/4‚ÄĚ, a small light fit into the back of the guard. I made the plastic formed and recessed to the shape with 1/8‚ÄĚ grooves cut inside with a triangle file to reflect. It‚Äôs easier working with plastic than metal.”

[/box_light]


Jesse was already experimenting with working with plastics during that time, and he knew the materials that were available at the time very well. He used clear red lucite and laminated several layers together to create one block. He cut out a section of the bumper guards that he wanted to become the actual light. He cleaned up the guard with files and and paper. He then carved the block of lucite in the same stepped art-deco shape as the Ford guard, and made it to fit flush with the metal guard. With the two parts not fitting perfect, he created a light fixture to fit inside the guard from behind.

He made a set up for running and brake lights, then the back side of the red lucite was cut, and cross hatch marking filed into it to make sure it would reflect the light from the bulbs better. Once ready the plastic was glued into the guard, and the lights installed from behind and the whole unit added the bumper. The whole set up looks dynamite, and soon the Barris shop would create dozens of custom made bumper guard taillights for their clients. The style would be used nation wide soon after the first cars had appeared in the magazine with this taillight set up.

CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-jesse-lopez-02Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford (the car belonged to Danny Lares when this photo was take) shows a wonderfully cleaned up body with molded fenders and removal of all handles and most of the trim. This photo shows how super smooth the rear end looks with the clean trunk and taillight less fenders. 
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-jesse-lopez-01Close up photo of the Jesse Lopez bumper guard taillights taken in 1950. It shows how the shape of the plastic follows the original stepped shape of the metal guard. This is a detail that is often overlooked when the style is replicated. Jesse really did a wonderful job on these back in 1948.
[divider]

The bumper guard taillights did become one of the Barris Kustom Shop trademarks. As far as I know none of the Ayala Customs that I’m aware of used this type of taillight set up. But there were other shops in California, and across the Country who would create this type of taillight. Over the years the texhnique developed and more and more different style of guards were used for this set up.

 

CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-zaro-41-03In 1949 Johnny Zaro had removed the motor cycle taillights from his car and the crew at BarrisKustoms had created a set of bumper guard taillights for his ’41 Ford. The style is slightly different than what was done on the Lopez Ford. The lights were slightly wider using the whole width of the guard, and they started more towards the top. This created a very nice stepped art-deco look.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-g-barris-caddy-49George Barris cut off the tips of the 1947 Cadillac bumper guards used on his 1942 Cadillac and replaced them with bullet shaped clear red lucite sections with light bulbs inside the guards. This photo from the Bill Gaylord collection was taken in 1949. More of George his Cadillac can be seen in the CCC-Article.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-matranga-mercAnother very famous custom with bumper guard taillight was Nick Matranga’s ’40 Mercury. The Barrises used ’46 Ford bumpers and guards on Nick’s Mercury and created similar taillights as those on the Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-barris-hocker-01George Barris took step by step photos of Sam Barris and Frank Sonzogni creating the bumper guard taillights for Tom Hocker’s 1940 Ford. How they cut the guards, the clear and red lucite, make the fixtures and install the units in the bumper. The photos above show the work done on the clear front units, the ones at the rear were done in clear red lucite.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-barris-hocker-02Although this photo of the Tom Hocker bumper guard taillights was taken after 1956, the set up was created¬†a few years prior. Tom’s ’40 Ford had a similar set up on the front, but then using a hand shaped clear lucite insert.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-ogden-buickThese¬†taillights¬†were created using ’50 Chevy guards on a Lincoln bumper on the Pisano/Barris Herb Ogden 1941 Buick.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-mounted-taillights-ogden-buick-02When Barry Mazza and friends redid/restored the Ogden Buick¬†the original bumper guard taillights were long gone. Barry recreated the Barris look using sectioned ’50 guards and clear red plexiglass hand shaped just like it was done in the ’50’s.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-barris-listIn the Barris¬†Hollywood Accessories Catalog from around ’53 the bumper guard taillight could be ordered as a kit. Since the note mentions that the price of the guard is extra we assume that the client either send in his own guards, or asked Barris to find a set specific for the clients car.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-barris-quesnel-01Before Jerry Quesnel started to chop the top together with Sam Barris he already had started to customize his 1949 Mercury. One of the things he had done was removing the stock rear fender mounted taillights and create new units in the bumper guards.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-barris-quesnel-02Jerry Quesnel’s 1949 Mercury in white primer after Sam Barris and Jerry had finished the chop. Notice how super clean the rear looks with no handles, emblem nor taillights on the body.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-pete-brockA totally unique taillight treatment was created by the Olive Hill Garage on Peter Brock’s 1941 Ford. A bumper created from Oldsmobile and Buick components had a set of small taillight tunneled into the license plate guard. The work was done in the early 1950’s
[divider]




Current State

The bumper guard and bumper mounted taillights had their peak in popularity in the later part of the 1940’s and first couple of years in the 1950’s. The increasing interest in period customs from the 1940’s in the last decade, has made this Custom Restyling technique popular once again. People all over the world are duplicating the bumper guard taillights. The most popular bumper are still the ’46-48 Ford¬†bumpers with their wonderful art-deco style guards. They are perhaps the “easiest” to be converted to this great looking taillight. But we do see many more guards being used, both to duplicate what we have seen from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, and ¬†new very creative solutions.

CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-recent-01A few samples from recent created bumper guard taillights from left to right: Bob Creasman 1940 Ford (restoration), Snooky Janich 1941 Ford (restoration), Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford (clone), Jeff Neppl 1950 Mercury.


The “modern” technique of creating new taillights using resin casting from¬†silicon rubber based molds has made it possible to create some very creative and beautiful new bumper guard taillight designs. The method is pretty simple in theory. You basically make a rubber mold of the outside portion of the bumper guard, cast a duplicate in clear red resin, cut a desired taillight shape hole in the metal guard, cut the clear red resin copy to shape and the basic lights are there. Of course the resin needs to be shaped on the inside and reflective material needs to be added, and the light fixture needs to be fabricated just like in the old days. But the resin, rubber mold technique makes it possible to be much more creative. And if needed you can cast replacement taillight lenses as well.¬†Matt Townsend¬†did a really great how to on this technique on the¬†HAMB.¬†Palle Johansen¬†created a beautiful set of home made bumper guard taillights for his 1947 Cadillac Custom Convertible and explained how he did it here on the¬†CCC-Forum.


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-recent-matt-01Matt Townsend from Townsends Customs & Hot Rods Riverside Ca has specialized himself in custom casted bumper guard taillights. A few samples of his work.
[divider]


CCC-bumper-guard-taillights-stardustBumper guard taillights at night (Stardust 1940 Mercury)
[divider]


[box_light]

Resources and more info

  • Barris Kustom Technique of the 50’s, books, (especially No.3)
  • Master Custom – Restyling Manual, Dan Post book, 1947
  • Blue Book of Custom Restyling, Dan Post, 1944-52
  • Custom Cars, Tend book published in 1951
  • Hop Up, magazine September 1951

[/box_light]




CCC-donating-sponsor-ad-03


[divider]

(This article is made possible by)

CCC-sponsor-ad-vintage-kustoms-01


[divider]




.

0

Richard Aguirre 55 Mercury

 

RICHARD AQUIRRE 55 MERCURY

 

After failing to buy a famous Barris Custom, Richard Aguirre buys a brand new 1955 Mercury and drives it straight to the Ayala Shop for some Custom work.

By Memo Ortega



There use to be a Barris car that was in the 1955 movie “Running Wild”. It was a chop 1951 Mercury with a Carson top belonging¬†to a guy who lived in Azusa, Ca.¬†Me and my friend, Richard Aguirre, went to a car show in Los Angeles, close to Beverly Hills, if I remember correctly. My friend liked the car so much he fell in love with it. We talked to the guy, it must have been the original owner, Fred Rowe, to see if he would sell the car. He went back and forth, yes and no. And finaly he said yes, come to my house next¬†Thursday, so we did and they agreed on a price. Richard¬†got the money together and we went back to the guy with the Merc, but then the¬†guy backed out, and aid he decided not to sell the car anymore.¬†Bummer….¬†and it broke my friends heart. He was all hyped up because we¬†were¬†almost about to ride back in a Custom Mercury. So we went back home, when Richards said…¬†enough of this, “lets go to the Mercury Dealer tomorrow”.

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-running-wild-mercRichard remembered the Fred Rowe from the Rod & Custom magazine when he saw it at the car show we went. There the guy showed the movie posters.
[divider]


The next day we went to the Mercury dealer, and Richard¬†bought a brand new 1955 Mercury Montclair, straight from the showroom, and paid cash for it. The next thing he said was… “were going to the Ayala Bros!” We drove up to East Los Angeles, to Gil’s Auto Body Shop¬†and Gil and Al give him a price for the work he wanted done for the car. They were happy that we took this brand new¬†car over there. They did not get to work on brand new cars back then.¬†The work they agreed to do on the car was to fill in the hood and the trunk and shave the door handles add door poppers, add custom skirts with a flare, Appleton spotlights and they suggested to repaint the work that was going to be done back to the factory color which was a light green and off white.¬†Kind of like a shell on a mercury and their suggestion was awesome.

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-55-merc-02Richard Aquirre with his brand new 1955 Mercury¬†Montclair shortly after the Ayala’s had nosed, decked it, removed the door handles, added custom skirts, and Appleton Spotlights. But before they had dropped it really low. That made the car look even better. Sadly we do not have any photos of that version of the car.
[divider]


CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-55-merc-03The hood was shaved of all the trim and emblems and touched up with factory paint. 
[divider]



After these pictures in this article were taken, Richard took the car back to the Ayala’s, to have them lower the car as low as they could.¬†The¬†Ayala’s ,¬†re-worked the A-frames,¬†tunneled the floor and inside drive shaft, modified the rear of the frame and springs. After that the car was really low, but still very drivable, and looked absolutely stunning. The¬†Ayala’s¬†also installed dual pipes on Richard’s¬†Mercury

 

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-55-merc-01This photo was taken a little later, and the rear was already dropped a bit more, which looked really good. Richard was also a member of the Vagebonds of La Verne, just like me, and he had the plaques on his Merc.
[divider]



When I was just starting with the Memo Ortega stories here on the CCC I was thinking about Richard again, and about his Mercury, and wondered if he was still around. I asked around a bit and found out he was still around,about 20 miles from where I live now. So one day me and Terry decided to go for a drive and see if Richard was home. He sure was, at first he did not knew who I was, but I recognized him right away. After a minute or so he remembered me, and this big smile came on his face. he was really happy to see me, and Terry, and so were we to see him again. We stayed there for a couple of hours, talking the good old time, and about the cars of course. I told him I was still building cars, and really never stopped doing that, he could not believe it.¬†I asked him if he had any photos of his ’55 Mercury.¬†He went to the back and came back a little later with these three photos, “you can keep them” he said. “Wow, thank you Richard“. I told him I would use them for the CCC stories and show the people about this other Ayala car… I now had the proof.

CCC-richard-aguiree-memo-ortegaMemo Ortega on the right with his old friend Richard “Kayo” Aquirre who he had not seen in a long time.
[divider]


It shows that not all Customs the big shops did back then were full customs. The Ayala’s did a lot of these smaller job cars. It kept the money flowing, and the bills paid for Gil and Al Ayala.

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-vagabondsVagabonds of La Verne club plaque.
[divider]




(this article is sponsored by)

CCC-sponsor-ad-kustoms-illustrated-2016-01


[divider]




.

0

Mystery Ayala 40 Mercury

 

MYSTERY AYALA 40 MERCURY

 

This 1940 Mercury chopped convertible was supposedly restyled by the Ayalas in the early 1950s. It was shown in the 80s, but what happened with it after that?



In January 2016 we did an article about Memo Ortega visiting a late 1980’s Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms meeting. Among the photos Memo shared was this very nicely done 1940 Mercury convertible, and Memo remembered talking to the owner of the car. The owner, Manuel Lopez mentioned to Memo that the car was an early 1950’s custom created by the Ayala’s.


CCC-gil-ayala-1940-mercury-04

Gil Ayala¬†opened his¬†Gil’s Auto Body works¬†at 4074 East Olympic Boulevard, East L.A. in 1945. Together with his brother Al Ayala they created¬†Custom¬†Cars during the golden years of Customizing and far beyond. In those decades they have created a pretty large number of cars. Some full Customs that made the magazines, several others that never did, and a lot of milder customs that never made it into the magazines, or local and not so local car shows. They were ordered by the car owners just to stand out from the crowd and be used for everyday use and weekend cruising. Gil and Al, nor any other employee of the Ayala shop ever took many photos of the cars they created. Unlike for instance George Barris who took photos of most every project that was ever produced at the Barris Kustom Shop. While we know about the history of a lot of the Barris Kustoms restyled cars, we only know about a relative small amount of the original Ayala restyled Custom Cars.

There must have been a lot of “unknown” Ayala Customs out there in the 1940’s and 1950’s… and later. What happened with all these cars, where are they, and what happened to the owners. Most likely a lot of the cars are long gone, and perhaps others were further customized or hot rodded in later years.
So when a possible unknown Ayala created Custom shows up, it is pretty exciting.¬†When Memo Ortega talked to the original owner, Manuel Lopez of the car, and claimed it was build by the Ayala’s, Memo never doubted the owners words. Memo knew Gil Ayala very well from back in the 1950’s, and even ended up with Gil’s personal 1942 Ford coupe in the late 1950’s. Everything Manual Lopez told Memo about the Ayala shop seamed to be exactly as Memo remembered it from the 1950’s.

When Memo showed me the photo of the car with four bar flipper hubcaps and the fender skirts removed I knew I had seen it somewhere before. But at the time I could not remember where. Recenly I was working on another article and came across the photo I remembered. Richard Crawford “Thinmann”, had taken a photo of the Mercury in the 1980’s as well. Back then the was still had single bar flipper hubcaps and fender skirts which gave the car a completely different look.

The Mercury has the running boards removed, and a filler panel installed to hide the frame. The hood was nosed and the windshield mildly chopped. The side trim is shortened at the front, 1937 DeSoto bumpers installed and the fenders are not molded to the body. Memo could not remember if there was anything special done to the trunk, most likely shaved, but he was unsure about anything else.

CCC-memo-ortega-80s-car-shows-12Memo took only one photo of the car back in the late 1980’s By then the owner had installed a set of four bar flipper hubcaps and removed the fender skirts which gave the car a completely different look.
[divider]



[box_light]

This is what Memo Ortega remembered from talking to the Mercury owner

About this neat 1940 Mercury Convertible. I talked to the owner of the Merc, he told me this was the first time he had taken the car out in a long time. He was from East L.A. (that sure got my attention immediately) I think his name was Manuel Lopez, he told me he has had this car since back in the early 50’s. He asked me what town I came from, I told him I lived in Montclair on the other side of LA. He then asked me if I had ever heard of the Ayala’s, since they did the work on his Mercury back in the early 50’s. I think he mentioned it was still in the original paint from back then. I asked him how he kepth it looking so good all those years. He said he rarely takes it out, and its always coverd up. He does not let anyone touch it but himself. That car sure looked good after all the years he has had it. The man was older then me, how neat to hear that.

[/box_light]

CCC-ayala-40-merc-convertible-mystery-02Richard Crawford took this photo in the mid/late 1980’s. The car then had single bar flipper hubcaps and skirts installed, most likely more like how it was original restyled by the Ayala’s.
[divider]


As Memo mentioned,¬†Manuel Lopez did not take¬†the car out very often, and as far as I can remember I have never seen this Mercury¬†apart from these two photos from the 1980’s. So what happened to it after these photos were taken? Where is it now? I hope somebody will recognize the car, or perhaps knows the then owner Manuel Lopez from East L.A., and knows more about the car, the story, or anything else. If you do know anything more about this possible Ayala Custom, please email Rik Hoving here at the CCC so that we can solve another Custom Car Mystery.



[divider]

(this article is sponsored by)

CCC-sponsor-ad-kustoms-illustrated-2016-01






.

0