41 Merc Fade-Away Convertible

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41 MERC FADE-AWAY Convertible

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1941 Mercury Convertible with full fadeaway fenders and chopped padded top. A Mystery Published Custom Car.

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Over the years I have come across a lot of Unidentified Custom Car photos in the early Custom Car Publications. Mystery Customs that appeared in just a single publication, and sometimes even in multiple magazines or booklets, but always lacking any info on the original builder or owners name. In this series of articles I will be showing some of these Mystery Published Custom Cars, and hopefully the extra publicity will lead to some more information on these cars.

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Original article from 2016, updated in April 2019.

The first “Published Mystery Custom” is an very nicely done 1941 Mercury Convertible with full fade away fenders, chopped windshield, padded top and somewhat odd looking Lincoln grille.
The first time I saw a picture of this car was on Pat Ganahl‘s “The American Custom Car” book. On page 24 of this book he shows this mercury Custom with taped headlights, windshield and race numbers on the side at one of the Russetta Timing Association events. It is unsure when this even took place, but most likely around 1950. Perhaps one of the contender lists would reveal an owners name for this 1941 Custom. Pat wrote in his book that the car was an Ford, but later I found more material showing that the car was actually Mercury based.

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Pat Ganahl writes this about the photo in his book: While customs were built more for style than peed, some did turn up at the dry lakes, where heavy weight wasn’t a hindrance and streamlining actually helped. This anonymous Postwar Ford with Lincoln grille, chopped padded top, and full fade-away’s was competing at Russetta Timing Association meet.

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The other place I have found photos of this Custom was in the 1951 edition of the Speed and Mileage Manual by Edgar Almquist. The first edition of this manual was published in 1947, but I’m not sure if this ’41 Mercury was already part of it then.

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The side view shown in the Almquist Manual shows the really fantastic Custom restyling of the car. The full fade away front fenders, the molded in rear fenders and shaving of all the trim. 
The second photo of the car shown in the Almquist manual gives us a better look at the low mounted Lincoln grille, the reshaped front section and the stock headlights rings. The Windshield was chopped, but very conservative, perhaps around 2 inches. The front bumper appears to be a 1942 Buick Special rear bumper with the guards moved closer together.

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The 1941 Mystery Lincoln looks to be a very nicely restyled Custom Car, most likely created by one of the top shops in the later part of the 1940’s or around 1950. The full fade-away fenders done this way, all molded to the body with nice leaded edges, was something both the Ayala’s as well as the Barris shops were well known for. The overall proportions are right on the money, and even though the Lincoln grille is now considered and odd choice, or perhaps better said not the most attractive, back in the mid/late1940’s they were used on more Customs and considered a high-end choice.

Around the late 1940’s a lot of full Customs were produced and there were not to many magazines out there that could or would published these cars. The owners and the Custom Builders did not take as many photos of their projects as we all would have liked. And even though this Custom Mercury did get published back then, there was no mentioning of the builder to help promote his business.

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In 2019 this photo of the Mercury was shared on Facebook. So far I have been unable to find out where the photo was taken and who shared it originally. If anybody knows more about the photo location, or who owns the photo, please let us know.

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Enlarged section of the photo shows that the car has 1948-50 California license plates when this photo was taken. Most likely with the unknown owner standing proudly next to the car. The Lincoln grille is considered an odd choice today, but back in the 1940’s it was used a lot.

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Colormelacquer shared a photos with us showing the same location of the photo above in 2019. Not too much has changed….

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From what I can see in the photos the newest parts used on the car are from 1947, Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. So this version of the car could not have been created before 1947. The padded top has a nice flow on the back and a straight B-pillars, most likely the same upholstery shop did a full custom interior for the car as well.

Who knows more about this rather nice 1941 Mercury Convertible Custom with full fade-away fenders. Who was the original owner, and who built it. Hopefully one of our readers remembers this car from back then, or has seen more photos of it. If so, please let us know and send Rik an email here at the Custom Car Chronicle.

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37 Cord Mystery Custom

 

37 CORD MYSTERY CUSTOM

 

This Custom 1937 Cord was bought by the previous owner in 1956 and he kept it till 2007. But so far there is no info on who Customized it prior to 1956. We need your help.



In the Summer of 2018 Bill Kile bought the 1937 Cord Custom you can see in this article. He had been very interested in if when he found out it was for sale and had been looking at it for some time and tried to come up with some history on the car to help him decide if he wanted to buy it or now. Even though he was unable to find any history, all the evidence he had seen indicated that the Custom Restyling on the car must date back to at least the early 1950’s and more likely even earlier than that. So in the end he decided to acquire the car and plant to restore it, over time, to how it looked as an original custom, or at least as close as possible, since so far there have not been found any photos of how the car originally looked like.

And here we have one of the reasons why we wanted to do an article on this Cord Custom… To see if we can help Bill find more info, and hopefully some old photos of this unique Custom. Back in the day most Customs were based on the more cheaper production cars, so a Custom Cord is a bit of a rarity. There were done more, and some even made it into the magazines. But with the rather high price on the Cords, they were not just for everybody a good base. If it turns out that the car has been Restyled in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s then most likely the owner who had the work done might have had some good money to spend on it. From what can be seen on the car the workmanship used in Restyling the car was very well.

The vents on the nose of the hood were a Cord dealer installed option to provide additional air flow to the radiator. Most likely these vents were installed when the car was first purchased.
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The 1937 Cord phaeton has been “mildly and tastefully” customized. The top of the doors have been cut down and beautifully reshaped with a “Darrin dip” to help with the roadster look. The cut-down doors are all metal, and there is no evidence of a large amount of fiberglass or lead. The rear seat has been covered by a hand made deck/cover to make the car a two seat roadster. The cover is made over a wood frame. The edge of the metal is nailed to the frame as was the case in many cars in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The deck lid is attached to the hinges that originally supported the lid that covered the convertible top. The car has no convertible top at this time. The door handles are removed. The license plate is frenched into the trunk.

At one point a two piece custom fiberglass top was made to fit the car. The front portion that mounts to the windshield and that covers the front seat area is still with the car, the rear portion is missing. It looks like it was in two pieces that were hinged together. The missing piece contained the rear window. Possibly the top was designed to fold and fit in the space under the rear deck. The back top corner of the roll up side windows have a large radius, that must have been modified to fit the new top. All the photos of Cords that I have show a square corner.


The license plates currently on the car are California plates with 2007 stickers, indicates that the car still might have seen some road time about a decade ago.
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The side view makes me wonder if the Custom, when originally restyled might have had white wall tires, and perhaps had a padded top that was later replaced with a more practical two piece fiberglass top. This photo shows how the cut down doors help with the streamline and flow of the Cord.
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A friend of the Bill, who has been in the car restoration business for 40+ years looked at the car. The custom work on the doors and the rear deck is very good. He is of the opinion that this work was done in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. The doors appear to have been reskinned when the “Darrin” dip was added. And most likely the door handles and convertible top hardware were shaved in the early 1950’s. The frenched in license plate was most likely done at that time. One can see the sheet metal patches that were fastened to the underside of the door skin metal to cover the door handle holes. If the handles had been removed when the doors were originally customized, the door handle holes would most likely not been made when the doors were reskinned.

Along with the car came some documentation that shows the car was purchased by a previous owner in 1956 in Burbank, California. Most likely the that the custom work was completed prior to 1956. The car was owned by the same gentleman from 1956 to 2016. Bill has corresponded with the gentleman’s son. He reported that the car was always garaged and mechanically maintained. He believes that all of the custom work had been done prior to his father’s purchase of the car in 1956.

The shaved door handles, custom made seat cover and set-in license-plate make the Cord look very streamlined and smooth.
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The seats may be the original seats from the Cord with new upholstery. The door upholstery is just as the seats not original. At this point Bill thinks the upholstery was done in the 1950’s.
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A closer look at the “Darrin dip” and the front of the custom back seat cover and its wooden frame.
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The banjo steering wheel is probably from a late 1930’s or early 1940’s Studebaker. The large hole in the dash is for the clock which came with the car. The smaller set of holes on the right is for the radio. The small crank on the lower right of the dash is for opening the right head light. There is an identical crank on the left side of the dashboard for raising the left head light. (Stock Cord)
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The engine is the original engine manufactured by Lycoming. 289 cu.in. The engine was originally fitted with a supercharger. The supercharger was removed and the engine is fitted with the non-supercharger intake manifold. The receipts that Bill has lead him to believe the engine was rebuilt in the late 1950’s.
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1937 Cord Model 812 Car serial number and body number indicate that the car was originally a phaeton with a back seat. The engine number stamped on the engine matches the engine number stamped on the car name plate. The engine number indicates that the engine was originally fitted with a supercharger. The supercharger was removed, most likely prior to 1956. Bill heard that the superchargers were problematic and that it was not uncommon to remove the supercharger.

The engine runs and Bill was able to drive the car on to the trailer to haul it home. He is rebuilding the brakes at the moment and will check out the drive train next. The body has some dents, but is in relatively good condition for an eighty year old car. The paint is in poor shape with many chips and scratches. The current plans are to put it back in good operating condition and drive it to local shows. A new paint job is planned after the mechanicals and electrical are sorted out. The good thing is that Bill does not plan to restore the car to original Cord condition. He will maintain the car in its current configuration and represent it for what it is, a Customized Cord.

The front fiberglass top section temporarily stored behind the seats.
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Sunken license plate, and the back portion of the back seat cover.
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The history of the car prior to 1956 remains a mystery. Bill has researched the Antique Automobile Club (AACA) library’s files on Cords and on coach builders in the Los Angeles area. He has found no pictures of customized Cords with the Darrin dip in the doors. Bill believe there were at least four coach shops in the LA area that were doing this kind of custom work in the late 1930’s. He has contacted the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum and they had no information on this particular car.

So, Bill is out of ideas for researching this car’s history, and hopes that perhaps one of the Custom Car Chronicle readers might know more on his Custom Cord’s history. I have checked in all my files, but have not find anything either. Lets hope somebody knows more, if you do, please sens us an email, and we make sure Bill will hear and or see all about it.



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Barris 1940 Ford Chopped Coupe

 

1940 FORD CHOPPED COUPE

 

In 2007 I first spotted this oddly styled 1940 Ford Coupe with a beautiful heavy chopped top and Barris Crest. It turned out to be another original Mystery Barris Custom.



Around 2007 I came across an 1940 Ford Coupe with heavy chop, DeSoto Bumper, and very ugly forward rake and Barris Crests on ebay. The seller claimed the car was built at the Barris Kustom Shop and that it was found in a chicken ranch in Yucaipa, CA. The more I looked at the small photos on this ebay auction the more details I noticed that made me feel that this could very well be a real Barris Custom. One that for sure came in the hands of perhaps not the right person to “restore” it. The car had a very much rock&billy 80’s Kustom identity crisis theme going on.

Big & Little white wall tires with Radar wheels, a very much out of place rake, going opposite directions with the really pleasing lines on the leaned back windshield and flowing chop. ’37 DeSoto bumpers with the stock bumper guards (rare) black paint and an overload of bright red pin-striping. But if you looked past all those odd out of place stuff, you could see a really well done, heavy chopped top, with all the elements of an late 40’s early 50’s Custom Car. With that in mind I looked at my Barris Photo Archive and soon found some photos of what must be the same car in progress at the Barris shop around 1950-51. Several photos of the heavily chopped 1940 Ford Coupe appear in the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s volume 1.

This was the first photo I saw of the car around 2007. I noticed the smooth flowing chop, shaved drip rails, rounded door tops, and Barris Crests.
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Barris 40 Ford chopped topThe April 1950 issue of Motor Trend magazine showed this early stage photo of the 1940 Ford Coupe. All the details match with the later photos.
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Ralph Manok working on the Ford at the Barris Atlantic Blvd Shop in Lynwood. The photos show him installing pre-shaped metal panels to form the sail-panels. The Barris shop used California Metal Shaping for this a lot, it saved them a lot of time, and the work was a lot cleaner this way. Notice that the trunk corners are not rounded.
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The book showed  6 in progress photos of this very same car at the Barris Atlantic Blvd Shop in Lynwood, were Ralph Manok works on the C-Pillars installing pre-formed panels created by California Metal Shaping, and leading around the rear quarter windows. All the details on the car in these photos are identical to the black painted car offered for sale on eBay in 2007. The Barris book did not mention an owner name, or if the car was finished or not, no info. Later I also noticed that the same car was sitting outside the shop, next to the abandoned sectioned 1951 Ford Victoria. By now the car’s body work looked to have been all finished and it had been covered in a dark primer. But there were bumpers or another details. It can be seen in several photos taken by the Life Magazine photographer visiting the Barris Shop around 1952. And it also shows up in a photo of two girls from Texas in a ’32 Ford Roadster parked in front of the shop. The Texas license plate is from 1953.

Later I came across one more photo of a heavily chopped ’40 Ford coupe with a leaned back windshield that I think is the same car in a very early stage. That photo was used on the April 1950 issue of Motor Trend magazine, and was possibly taken at the Barris Bell Shop, prior to moving to the Atlantic Blvd. shop in Lynwood. Also the Motor Trend magazine did not mention a name of the owner of the car.

Leading the rear quarter windows, and making sure the whole shape of the top flows well after the chop, removal of the drip-rail, rounding the door top corner and installing the custom shaped sail panels.
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The last photo of the ’40 Ford taken by George Barris showed the car in the paint area at the Barris Shop, getting ready for a fresh coat of primer after all the body work was done. This photo shows the molded in fenders, front and rear, the shaved trim and handles, the removal of the taillights and of course the heavy smooth chopped top.
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With the several photos showing the car sitting next to the Barris Shop in primer, along side with the abandoned sectioned 1951 Ford Victoria, and the Mystery 1941-48 Ford Coupe, it sure looks like the ’40 Ford in this story suffered the same fate, the owner might have ran out of money, or lost interest in the project, perhaps he left for Korea? The unfinished car was eventually pulled out of the shop, and set aside waiting for a possible buyer? In photos taken at the Barris shop after 1953, the Mystery 41-48 Ford can still be seen, but the sectioned Victoria, and the heavy chopped ’40 Ford are gone now. According the George Barris the Victoria was eventually wrecked, but nobody never mentioned the chopped ’40 Ford Coupe. So it looks like either the original owner eventually picked it up, or it found a new owner.

The big questions are

  • Who was the original owner of this ’40 Ford Coupe that took it to the Barris Shop for a Full Custom make-over?
  • What were the original plans for the car other than the molded fenders, the heavy chop, and the shaved taillights that we can see in the photos?
  • Was it ever finished after it left the Barris Shop around 1953-54?
  • Who found it in the chicken ranch barn in Yucaipa, CA. When was this, and how did it look then?


The ’40 Ford then showed up in a series of photos taken at the Barris Shop done for Life Magazine around 1952. This photo shows the Ford parked next to the Barris shop with the Chet Herbert’s “Beast” Bonneville streamliner in the front on a trailer. The Streamliner was at the Barris Shop to get a new body. The ’40 Ford is now in primer with all the body work completed as far as we can tell.
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A peak on the ’40 Ford thru the windows of the abandoned ’51 Ford Victoria.
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A look from behind shows that the drivers side bumper guard sits on an odd angle. Perhaps it had been hit while the car sat outside?
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Close up of the molded fenders on the ’40 Ford. The unfinished Victoria that was later wrecked according to George Barris is sitting behind the ’40 Ford.
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When this car was originally built in the 1950 – 1952 period, the Barris Kustom Shop was at their absolute peak when it came to Custom Car creativity, style as well as productivity. Around this time some of the very best Barris Customs were created. Think about the Matranga 1940 Mercury, Snooky Janich 1941 Ford, Jack Brumbach 1942 Ford, Jerry Quesnel’s ’49 Mercury, the Sam Barris ’49 Mercury. During the time this ’40 Ford was in the Barris shop George Barris finished the famous ‘1941 Ford that the Ayala’s had done for Jack Stewart. All these cars must have had an impact on the owner of the ‘1940 Ford, and with the radical chop the Barris crew did on his Coupe they must have had some spectacular plans to finish the car.

At this time, with the information we have we can only speculate about the original plans for the car. The chop done on the car is more extreme and streamlined than the one the Barris Shop later did on Tom Hocker’s 1940 Ford Coupe. My guess is that the plan was to get the car dropped very low to the ground, similar to the ride height of for instance the Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury. The bumpers would probably have been more heavier than the ’37 DeSoto bumpers the car later got. More something like 1946-48 Ford bumpers, or even more modern. The taillights were shaved of the rear fenders, that were molded into the body for that ultra smooth look. And more than likely they would have planned some bumper guard taillights for the car. Those were the big hit at the time. Wide white walls and perhaps the always popular Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps and a dark organic paint-job… I hope one day we will find out more about the original plans for this mystery 1940 Barris Custom.

In the foreground some guys are working on Frank Sonzogni’s 1950 Mercury, Sam Barris leaning against the building while tapping water for the wet sand on Frank’s Mercury. All the way on the right is the mystery 41-48 Ford sitting in front of the Barris Shop building. In the background we can see the ’40 Ford in primer, sitting next to the abandoned ’51 Ford Victoria.
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This is a small portion of a photo taken from two girls from Texas who drove their ’32 Ford Roadster to the Barris Shop for a make over. The ’32 has ’53 Texas license plates when this photo was taken. The ’40 Ford can be seen still sitting in the same place behind the small 11052 Atlantic Blvd building. On all later photos the car is gone.
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Resurrection

To me it looks like after the car had been found a new owner planned to rebuild the car as an early style Custom. A fully detailed flathead engine was installed. A set of original ’37 DeSoto ribbed bumpers, complete with original bumper guards was found and installed. Possibly to lower the car to a nice speed boat stance, perhaps with wide whites, fender skirts… The interior was kept mostly stock, stock dash, stock steering wheel. Everything so far fitted an early Custom Car theme. Possibly the project then was sold and somebody who decided to Hot Rod the car, perhaps making it look more “interesting” to be able to make a quick buck on it… The Barris crests on the car are most likely reproductions, but they sure helped me look into the history of this car.

I have no idea when or where the work on this version of the car was done, but I would love to know. I first saw the “finished” version of the ’40 Ford around 2007, when it was offered for Sale in California. In 2009 the car was auctioned at the Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson event, the car is now part of a private collection. The new owner has put wide white wall tires with single bar flipper hubcaps on the car and adjusted the stance to make it look at least a little more to how it was originally intended.

This was the first photo I saw of the car around 2007. All I could think about was “What were they thinking when they put that beautiful Custom body on a rake with the Radar wheels and out of place pin-striping”.
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The back was even worse with bold striping on the trunk, and even the top, and how about the spider web… But look at those smooth sail panels.
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Close up of the small side window opening and working vent window.
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I came across this side view some time after the ebay auction had ended, I have no idea if the car sold then or not. My first reaction when I saw this photo was to cover the wheels/tires and bottom with my hands to see the beautiful profile on the body…. WOW.
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Here is the information provided at the Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale 2009

Auction Scottsdale 2009
Reserve NO RESERVE
Status Sold ($84,700.00)

Year 1940
Make FORD
Model DELUXE
Style 2 DOOR HOT ROD COUPE

Lot #1238 – A 1940 Ford chopped coupe that was found in a chicken ranch barn in Yucaipa, CA. It was restored to preserve the Kustom features of the find including shaved drip rails and door handles, frenched head and tail lights, leaded molded fenders and 6 -7″ chop from the original Ford lines. Chromed Radir single ribbed wheels were added with chromed De Soto bumpers. Powered by a rebuilt Ford Flathead with original speed equipment and Offenhauser heads, Eddie Meyer custom intake, LaSalle 3-speed transmission and Lincoln brakes. The paint and striping was done by E-Dog of Riverside and interior by Kiwi Kustoms also of Riverside. Along the way of this project, the find was documented and authenticated by George Barris as a part of Barris Industries permanent collection. Not a copy. An original one-of-a-kind.

VIN 5259754
Exterior Color BLACK PEARL
Interior Color BLACK/WHITE
Cylinders 8
Engine Size 223
Transmission 3-SPEED MANUAL

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The pictures from the Barrett Jackson Auction were a little better and showed really well how bad the forward rake really looked on this car. It also showed that when the car was rebuilt the smooth rear fenders were butchered to install a set of frenched ’39 Ford teardrop taillights. Both the front and rear ’37 DeSoto bumpers have their original (behind the bumper) bumper guards.
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The stock 1940 Ford Dash was smoothed and painted gloss black and just as the exterior covered with bold red striping. The steering wheel and column are stock 1940 Ford units. The interior is done in black and white tuck&roll with black carpets.
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Fully dressed Flathead engine, and of course plenty of bold red striping on the firewall.
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The front 3/4 view photo from the Barrett Jackson auction was the best photo I had seen of the car. It made me decide to do a quick Digital Restyling image how the car could have looked when it had been finished in 1951-52.
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This is the last photo we have seen of the car, with new white wall tires, single bar flipper hubcaps and a bit better stance at the new owners private collection.
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How it could have been?

Thinking about all the possibility the owner had when this car was first created at the Barris Shop around 1951 I decided to Digital Restyled one of the Barrett Jackson photos to get a feel of how the car could have looked when it had been finished. I gave the car a dark blue new paint-job, added heavier 1946 Ford bumpers, wide white wall tires with Sombrero hubcaps. I modified the forward rake to a more appropriate Speed-Boat Stance, added teardrop fender skirts, Appleton Spotlights and a chrome trim from an ’39 Ford around the windshield. I think a version similar to this styling could have been the goal of the original owner, as well as the team at the Barris Shop. Hopefully we one day see a new owner go this direction with this car.

Digital Restyled photo: I gave the car  a better, nice speed-boat stance, wide white wall tires and Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps,  1946 Ford bumpers, Appleton Spotlights, skirts and removal of the red pin-striping.
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I hope that we will be able to shed some more light on this Mystery Barris Kustom Shop created 1940 Ford Custom Coupe in the future. Hopefully we will find somebody who knows where it went from 1954 till when it showed up again around 2007. And perhaps somebody knows what happened to this car after it was sold in 2009. If anybody can tell us more on this Mystery 1940 Ford, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to know, and share it here in this article. Thank you.




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Illinois Mystery Custom 40 Ford

 

ILLINOIS MYSTERY CUSTOM

 

Very interesting Custom 1940 Ford Convertible restyled in the very early 1940’s in Illinois. Who was the builder, and who owned this Tail Finned Convertible.



Over the years I have written a lot about Early Custom Cars, the importance of them, and how these early Custom Cars have influenced the style of Custom Cars we see today. Articles based on old snapshots, family albums, photos of cars I found online and photos shared by friends and CCC-Members. I have noticed that in my article, especially on the Early Customs Cars I most often use photos of California based Custom Cars. Generally we accept that the Custom Car, as we know it, was born in sunny California, and because of that the majority of the Early Customs Cars were created there. Possibly the year round good weather also allowed people to take more photos of the cars they owned, or saw on the street, making sure the California Custom Cars were better documents than those in other States.

Even early on there were Custom Car enthusiast that created Custom Cars in other states as well. Possibly influenced by photos shared by West Coast family or friends, or perhaps from trips to the West coast. And more than likely also because Car enthusiasts outside of California had the same urge to own cars styled after the European Couch-build cars, or those from Movie Stars from California, that might have appeared in national magazines or news papers. I always enjoy when new old photos of early Customs surface, and it might be even more sepcial to find new interesting and nicely restyled early Custom Cars from outside of California.

This article is about a series of photos I came across on eBay, over a period of years. The first ones I came across in 2012, and then another on in 2015, 2016 and one a few month ago in 2017. It was not until I send the last one to a friend that I all of the sudden realized I had seen the car before and went on a search in my digital Car Files. I found 7 photos of the same car, all offered on eBay in different auctions. The oldest one, from what I can tell in the pictures was taken in 1941, and in other photos I can make out a 1943 Illinois license plate.

The oldest photo of the car shows a 1941 Illinois license plate. The car has black wall tires (at least on the front) and a black top, in this photo it was impossible to see if it was a padded top of working soft top. The line on the side of the body looks to be a 3D side-trim, but could also have been painted on.
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About the Ford

So far I have not been able to find anything on this car. None of the photo came with any info on who could be the owner or the builder of this car. So hopefully this Custom Car Chronicle Article will lead to some more information on the car. The only things I know about this car is from what I can see in the picture.

As mentioned the oldest photo shows an 1941 Illinois License plate. It is one of the later photos I came across. It is where the two guys are working on the car with the hood open. Could this perhaps be at the shop that created the car? In this picture we can see that the car has a chopped and laid back windshield. The soft top bows were cut down and reshaped to fit the chopped windshield, and they managed to create a really nice flowing working soft top. the running boards have been removed and a filler panel to cover the frames below the body has been added. The lower rear section of the front fenders have been reshaped.And the rear fenders have the hole left from the running boards filled and a stainless rock shield was added.

In 2016 I came across this nice snapshot showing the ’40 Ford at the beach (Possibly at lake Michigan). There was no info on the photo, and I cannot see any license plates in this photo. No way to correctly date this one, other than 1941 or newer due to the 1941 Cadillac in the photo.
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In this snapshot we can see a military guy, that could possibly be the owner of the car, together with his girlfriend, or wife. The car now has a 1943 Illinois License plate, and the front tires look to be black walls, while the rears appear to be white walls. This photo shows the peeked hood and v-shaped grille to match the shape of the hood really well. I came across this photo in 2012.
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What is especially nicely done on this car is the grille. At first I though it was a modified 1940 Chevy grille, or perhaps 1940 Buick, but after I compared the grille with the other photos I have I came to the conclusion that the grille must have been either completely hand made, or created from 1940 Buick parts, but a lot of work was put into it to make it work with the Ford hood and fenders. The stock Ford bumper has been replaced with 1937 De Soto units.

The rear of the car shows a very nicely and elegant done shark fin. Most likely influenced by something seen on European Coachbuild cars, or perhaps it was Batman influenced. The car also had a nicely set in license plate in the trunk, just below the fin. This photo, as well as the one above show that the top was actually a cut down working soft top. Notice the angle on the windshield frame. Taillights are stock and the gas filler is on the stock location.
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This is the most recent photo I came across, in 2017. A military guy getting in, or stepping out of the ’40 Ford. It shows a later year steering wheel, front black wall tires and white walls in the rear, indicating that this must have been in, or shortly after WWII.
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The car has been mildly lowered all around and the stock hubcaps have been replaced by Single bar flipper ripple disk hubcaps. At the rear an interesting shark find has been added to the center of the trunk. Something like this I have seen on several European Coach-build cars, so most likely this was influenced from those. Or another thought is that perhaps the Batman Comics might have inspired the builder. Below the fin they added an set in behind glass license plate. The exhaust was modified to dual pipes, and at the rear the stock bumper was also replaced by an ribbed 1937 DeSoto unit.

Possibly taken in front of the house the owner lived in. This snow covered photo makes it look like the top is covered with light material, but it could also be just snow. It shows the car with fender skirts added. And it also look like the side trim, or painted on effect has been removed. It is also the only photo that shows the car had a single spotlight. The car parked behind the Ford on the left side appears to be an 1942-48 Oldsmobile.
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Another photo in the show from the back. The snow has covered up the set in license plate completely. Dual exhaust pipes under the ’37 DeSoto rear bumper.
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I really would love to know more about his car, who was the owner, and who was the builder. And since the car is looking so good, were there more Custom Cars created by this builder? Hopefully some of our readers will know more. Please contact us if you know more about this Early Illinois Custom, or perhaps you have other photos of other Custom Cars that you like to share here in the Custom Car Chronicle.




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41 Chevy 3-Window

 

41 CHEVY 3-WINDOW Mystery Custom

 

1941 Chevy Coupe with chopped turned 3-window top, 1946 Chevy grille and complete smoothed body. Another Mystery Published Custom Car.



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Over the years I have come across a lot of Unidentified Custom Car photos in the early Custom Car Publications. Mystery Customs that appeared in just a single publication, and sometimes even in multiple magazines or booklets, but always laking any info on the original builder or owners name. In this series of articles I will be showing some of these Mystery Published Custom Cars, and hopefully the extra publicity will lead to some more information on these cars.
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1941 Chevy 3-window Coupe Custom.

The first time I saw a picture of this ’41 Chevy Custom was possibly the last published photo of the Custom. It was in the Barris Kustoms Technique of the 50’s Volume 2 book published in 1996. On page 13 there is a great photo taken at the Barris Compton Avenue shop showing this Chevy with white wall tires, listed as a ’42 Chevy – which it might be, instead of a ’41 – parking in front of the Barris shop with a ’41 Ford convertible Custom in the driveway. The photo caption mentioned that some work on the car was done at the Barris Shop… which is very plausible. The car really has this beautiful early Barris look and feel. There is no mentioning about the owners name in the Barris book.

Later when I found an original copy of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling published in 1951, I spotted another photo of what I think is the same Chevy. The photo in the Dan Post book showed the car with a nice profile photo parked in front of an used car dealer when it had black wall tires. There was no photo caption in the Dan Post book. Later I found out that the same photo was also part of the first time the Blue book was published in 1949.

From the 1946 Custom Styling Manual published by Edgar Almquist.
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From the 1947 published Speed and Mileage Manual published by Edgar Almquist.
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It turned out that the more photos I found of the car, the further I went back in time with the publications I found it in. I bought a Speed and Mileage Manual by Edgar Almquist first published in 1947. It had a single photo of the Chevy, a nice front 3/4 view and in the photo the car had white wall tires, and the paint looked to be a bit lighter than in the Barris Book photo.  The same photo was also used in Custom Styling Manual and Custom Streamlining published by Edgar Almquist in 1946. In this earliest published photo the car was listed as a ’41 Chevy, but no builder or owner name was mentioned.

In 1947 Dan Post published his California Custom Car Photo Album booklet. The Chevy was shown in the booklet with no less than 5 photos. 4 of these photos show the car with white wall tires, and one with black wall tires. A side view photo was used on the cover, a front 3/4 view with the car in a lighter color on the back cover, and three more on one page inside the booklet. None of these photos had any photo captions, nor photo credits.


The front and back cover of the 1947 published Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album booklet used two photos of the Chevy.
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Dan Post devoted 3 photos of the Chevy on a full page in his ’47 published California Custom Car Photo Album booklet. I think that all these three photos, which have the background cut off, were taken at the Barris Compton Avenue shop.
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The photo shown on the cover of the Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album shows the full side view of the car taken in front of the Barris Compton Ave shop. The photo is taken the same day, with the ’41 Ford Convertible peaking in above the Chevy hood, as the one shown in the Barris Techniques book. Wish a bit more of the back ground was shown in this photo, most likely taken in 1946.
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This is the only rear view photo I have been able to find. It shows how the trunk was shortened at least a foot at the top, the fenders are molded and blended into the body, and the rear window looks to have been cut down and made into a three piece unit (possibly Cadillac rear window cut down?) The rear bumper looks to be a ’46 Chevy unit.
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On the back cover of the Dan Post California Custom Car Photo Album this photo of what I think is the Chevy was used. It shows the car with black wall tires, and a lighter paint job. But otherwise identical to the darker colored photos. The photo looks to be a collage of the car cut from the background and pasted into the palm tree nice building photo.
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The only other photo I have found of the car so far comes from the internet in the very early years. I have no idea where it came from, but it shows the car in the dark paint, with white walls parked next to what I think is an early version of the Var Martin’s 1941 Buick with full fade-away fenders Custom restyled by the Barris Shop.



The Chevy

The Chevy is a really beautiful restyled 3-window Coupe. Unsure if the car tarted out as a ’41 or 42 model. The top was chopped with a really beautiful flow on the rear of the top. It looks like the rear of the top is still located in the stock position, not moved forward like we see a lot in more preset day builds. This allowed the builder to create a really beautiful flowing line on the top. The rear quarter windows are filled in for an ultimate smooth look. Filing in quarter windows of 5-window coupes, and even on sedans was a very popular Restyling technique used in the early days, the mid 1940’s. In the early days the most commonly Custom restyled Custom Cars, especially in California, where it all started, were based on convertibles and received chopped padded tops originally designed by the Carson Top Shop. These tops had the rear quarter windows filled in and a super smooth flow at the rear of the top. I think that a lot of early Custom Restyler’s liked this look, and when they chopped a coupe body filling in the rear quarter windows seamed a natural for them to obtain this favorable look. Later this filled quarter window look was reused on the twin ’48 Chevy’s restyled by Barris for the High-School Confidential movie in 1957-58.

The rear window was either replaced by a three piece Cadillac unit, or home made. Plus it was cut down in the chopping process, unlike what was more common later on to just lay it forward to match the new roof shape, but kept its original height. The new small “mailslot”  rear window is perhaps another inspiration things fro the popular Padded tops, which mostly had very small rear windows as well.

This profile photo of the  Chevy was first shown in the Dan Post Blue book in 1949. It shows the car with black wall tires and dark paint in front of an unknown Used Car Lot. Not sure when the photo was taken.
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Photo from the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s book. The photo caption in the book is: Also photographed outside the Compton Avenue shop was this ’42 Chevy coupe which had its top chopped, the door posts kicked forward, and the rear side window blanked. The running boards were molded as were the headlights. Notice that the hood was shaved and had its side trim removed and that we’d installed flat, extended fender skirts. The grille was from a ’46 Chevy.
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The fenders were welded to the body and flared into the body for that beautiful one piece molded look. All the trim and handles were shaved and the hood was relieved of its center strip and side scoops. The  front end was modified to accept a brand new at the time of the build ’46 Chevy grille and the bumpers front and rear were replaced with ’46 Chevy units. At the back the trunk was shortened at the top, not sure why this was done. The stock taillights were used and everything was smoothed. The car had tear drop shaped fender skirts added, and used smooth aftermarket hubcaps with beauty rings.

The car looks and feels like an early Barris Restyled car, the Barris Technique book mentioned it was done, or at least partly done at the Barris Shop. This is the only written info we have on the car, and since it was photographed in front of the Barris Shop around 1946, it is most likely a Barris Created Custom, but who was the owner? and what happened to the car. Also when was the car the lighter color, before the dark paint, or after? and what about the white walls versus the black walls Which one was earlier?

The Chevy Coupe parked next to what I think is an early version of the Var Martin Barris Restyled ’41 Buick. What a fantastic sight to see these two chopped 3-window coupe early Customs sitting side by side. Unusual for these early customs, (around 46-47, and possibly both restyled by Barris) is that both customs have no Appleton Spotlights installed.
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Quite a view photos of this car have been published, and most of them in early publications, but none of those I have found shed any light on the history of this car. If any of the CCC readers knows anything more about this Mystery Published Custom Chevy, please email Rik at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to know more about this early Custom Car, and be able to put a name to this well published Custom.







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Barris Mystery Parked Car

 

BARRIS MYSTERY PARKED CAR

 

In 1994 I saw a Mystery Car in the background of one photo taken at the Barris Shop. The shape of the top intrigued me, and I wanted to know more about it. 23 years later I have found several more photos of the car, but I still do not know much about it.


For as long as I can remember liking Custom Cars and the history of Custom Cars I have been fascinated by old photos showing Custom Cars. Not just the real subject matter of these photos, like the subject cars, people or shops, bet perhaps even more in the objects that just happened to be in the background of these photos. The quest to find out about the Mystery car in this article comes from this fascination for all the stuff that goes on in the bacround of these photos, and especially those taken at the famous Custom Car Shop in the 1950’s to mid 1950’s.

The first time I spotted this photo was in the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book, where the car appeared in the background, being parked in front of the Barris Atlantic Blvd shop when the photographer snapped some photos of the two 1948 Chevy Coupes being created for the Highschool Convidential movie. I scanned the photo, cropped it and saved the scans in my Mystery Barris Customs folder on my computer.

The first time I spotted the Mystery Car was in this photo that was used in the Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s book published in 1994. I loved the Highschool Confidential twin Chevy’s in the forground, but what was that other car in the background, sitting in front of the shop wall, just behind the Chevy on the right? (photo taken ca 1956)
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Enlarged section of the photo gives us a little more details. With the wrap around rear window, the pointy chopped quarter window and teardrop shaped rear fender it looked like a 49-50 Chevy Coupe perhaps? I was intrigued!
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From what I could see in that one photo, the car looked very interesting. Possibly based on a ’49-50 Chevy Coupe with an unusual wrap around rear window. Some time later I came across a few more photos that showed more small portions of this mystery Custom Coupe. I was now able to tell that the car was not a Chevy, as I had thought previously, but rather a ’41-48 FoMoCo based Coupe. And I noticed that the car must have been parked there, in front of the shop for quite some time. It made me wonder if it perhaps was a shop employees personal project-car. Perhaps the employee had thought he could work on the car after work, but found it hard to find the actual time to do make actual progress. Or perhaps  it was one of those projects that was started for a client, and the client lost interest, or perhaps had been drafted to Korea?

Later, in several of the Kustom Technique books a few more photos showed up with the same car in the background. This photo is nice, since it also shows the abandoned sectioned Ford Victoria parked all the way to the left in this photo. The Sectioned Victoria would be discussed in on of the Technique books (no 1), but the Mystery Car was never mentioned. (photo taken ca 1956)
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A close up showed that the car was not a Chevy as I thought before, but more likely based on a ’41 -48 Ford or Mercury long door Coupe.
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Another car featured in the Barris Kustoms Technique No. 1 , a chopped ’54 Ford showed one photo with the mystery car in the background. And this time I was able to see the front fenders and windshield. Undoubtedly this car was a based on a ’41-48 FoMoCo body, and the front fenders look to be late 40’s early 50’s Oldsmobile units mounted very high, almost level with the belt-line onto the body. (photo taken around 1954-55)
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Another piece of the puzzle came from a photo in the Barris Kustoms Technique No.3 published in 1997. In one of the photos showing and almost finished Earl Wilson’s 1947 Studebaker four door “Grecian”, parked in front of the furniture shop next door to Barris, I could see that the car had ’48-’49 Cadillac rear fenders and taillights added. Interesting! (photo taken around 1953-54)
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Lyle Lake’s ’52 Buick finished in its first (and best looking) version parked next to the Barris Shop. Thru the open garage door and office door at the front we can spot a small portion of our Mystery Custom. This photo was taken around 1956. 
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Another photo taken at the shop, around 1954-55 shows part of the car at an 3/4 view.
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Close up shows that the car had a really great looking chopped top, with a fantastic flow, the panoramic rear window must have looked amazing if it had ever been installed.
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In late 2006 Barry Mazza came to the rescue… well sort of. He send me this great color photo of our Mystery Barris Custom, sitting with the sectioned Ford Victoria on the side of the Barris parking lot, just across the large shop doors. This was the first time I had a good view at the complete car. 
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Enlarged section of the photo shows that the main Ford body was sectioned, the Cadillac rear fenders mounted high on the rear quarters with the top of the fenders level with the belt-line. The front Oldsmobile fenders are installed, but the door panel work was started, with a tubular structure welded to the Ford door, but without the outer sheet metal. The top on the car looks very interesting with the pointy rear quarter window and panoramic rear window. The rounded corners on the door and the whole feel of the top could indicate this might have been an older custom at the shop for a make over… perhaps.
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Barry Mazza had been sharing his wonderful Custom Car Photo Collection with me, and one day Barry had emailed me a few more. Exited, as I always was when I got some new material from Barry, I opened the email attachments and found among some other great pictures an absolutely fantastic color photo, showing the Mystery Custom parked at a different spot at the Barris Shop. In this photo the mystery car was parked next to the neighboring building, right across the large doors from the shop. It was parked next to the sectioned Ford Shoebox Victoria that the Barris shop had started for a client, and who never came back to the shop to pay the bill or for more work done to the car. In the end Barris repossessed it, trying to find somebody interested in the project but nobody apparently was, and according George Barris that Vickey was scrapped. This color photo for the first time showed the complete car in one picture.

I now had a really nice look at this car, and I have to say it looks really interesting and well proportioned. From this photo I was able to tell the ’41 – 48 Ford body, most likely a long door coupe, had been sectioned, before the Oldsfront fenders and Cadillac rear fenders had been crafted to it. They never got arround to do the door panels with the oldsmobile door sheet metal, but they had created a tubular frame for it. The photo showed that the chopped top had a really nice profile, the rear quarter windows had an unusual (for that model) pointy shaped rear quarter window, but that the pointy rear corner worked really fantastic with the wrap around rear window. In none of the photos I have seen the car has a hood, so I guess they also never got around to create that. But if they had, it must have been a scratch built hood, possibly modeled after the 49-51 Ford hoods, in a similar way as was done on Jack Stewart’s ’41 Ford.

The photo taken for Life Magazine hows the Ford and how the body was sectioned with a rough well in the center of the door panel. It also shows the tube welded to the top of the door, just below the belt-line, most likely to use as a guide for mounting the Oldsmobile door panels, fender extensions. The sectioned Ford Victoria can bee seen sitting next to the neighbor house in the background.
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The last photo’s I came across – not the last time-frame wise, but actually from late 1952 – are from a Life Magazine photo session. The car can be seen in this photo (it actually can be seen in  few photos from this series) still parked in front of the shop, close to the front wall of the main building. This photo shows clearly how the body had been sectioned right across the door panel on the Ford body. An indication that the sectioning was done with the new Olds Fenders already in mind, the Olds fender panels would hide the rough sectioning job.

December 7, 1957 “the worst day in Custom Car History”, fire at the Barris shop destroyed many custom cars including another mystery Ford Coupe. In the background we can see that our Mystery Car is still parked against the next-door building.
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The Famous 1955 Chevy “Aztec” in primer, ready to get painted with the Mystery Custom and the sectioned Victoria in the background.
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The Barris Aztec a sectioned and chopped ’55 Chevy pick-up and along side the Junior Conway ’50 Ford at the Barris Shop, and in the background on the left side our Mystery Car. This photo was most likely taken after the shop fire, but I’m not 100% sure, it could also have been taken earlier in 1957.
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This photo was taken in the summer of 1958 by Lloyd Willey (according the Rodder’s Journal Scrapbook) We can see Junior Conway’s ’50 Ford, and the car in the front is a wild Custom Merc Barris was creating for “the Twins” On the left side we can see that the sectioned Ford Victoria is still parked in the same spot, and just in front of it we can see the Olds fender of our mystery car. So in the summer of 1958 the car was still at the Barris Shop, untouched.
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This photo of the Barris shop was taken around 1960, shorty before the Big Barris Kustom City was put up in the front. It shows that both the sectioned Ford Victoria as well as our Mystery Custom are now gone. 
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At one point when I started to think about this mystery Custom my mind wandered off to another famous custom car, one that has a lot of similarities in its restyling. the Frank Monteleon 1941 Ford. I knew it could not be the same car, but Frank’s car was also based on an older model, from 1941, to which newer fenders and complete sides had beed crafted. The Monteleon Custom was started a bit later than our mystery Custom, so perhaps seeing this mystery Custom parked in front of the Barris Shop might have inspired Frank to do his ’41 Ford… who knows.

We know that the Sectioned Ford Victoria, which was parked next to our mystery car for at least a year, perhaps longer, was eventually scrapped (According to George Barris). Is the same sad thing happened to our mystery Custom? In photos from around 1960 and newer the car is gone… and we all know that at this time, the late 50’s early 60’s, the interest in older cars was not very big. Everybody wanted to have more modern cars to start with. Mild Customs were the rage, and nobody really was interested in these full customs based on old cars, especially in a far from finished state.

The Frank Monteleon 1941 Ford does show some similarities with our Mystery Car. It is based on an older model, 1941 Ford, and had newer Oldsmobile fenders and a wrap around rear window added. Perhaps Frank’s car was inspired by our Mystery Custom… 
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Dating the photos of the Mystery Car

Over the years I have come across quite a view photos that showed this mystery Custom. Many things about this car intrigued me, and one of the things was that it was sitting left alone at the Barris Shop for many years… why? With the help of all the photos I have tried to figure out how long the car has been at the Barris Shop, untouched.

Parked in front of the shop

  • The oldest photo I have noticed the car on comes from the Life Magazine photo shoot. This must have been in late 1952, and more likely early 1953.
  • Earl Wilson 1947 Studebaker Grecian was first published unfinished in August ’53 R&C A similar unfinished Grecian can be seen in one of the Life Magazine photos. The finished Grecian was published in July 1954 Motor Life magazine.
  • 1954 Mercury Chimbo (Bobby Yamazaki) taken in most likely late 1954, early 1955
  • Highschool confidential cars were created in 1956
  • Lyle Lake 52 Buick uses ’56 Lincoln hubcaps, photo taken in late ’55, early ’56.

Parked along side the shop

  • Barris Fire in December 7, 1957, car is sitting next to the neighboring building.
  • Summer 1958 Lloyd Willey trip to Barris photo. (Last known photo)

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Over the years (23) I have been looking for more info on this car, I have asked numerous people if they remember anything about this mystery Custom at the Barris Shop. So far nobody knows anything. Some remember the car from sitting at the shop, but none of them had ever asked about the car, it just sat there. I hope that with this Custom Car Chronicle article I will  be able to find out any more about this car. Who was the owner, what was the plan for the car, and why was the work stopped, and perhaps most of all, why was it parked at the Barris Shop from 1953 till at least the summer of 1958. If any of you knows anything more about this mystery FoMoCo based Custom with very interesting chop, panoramic rear window, and many other interesting feature, then please let me know. I would love to find some more pieces to this Custom Car History puzzle. Please email Rik if you have any more information about this car, who was the owner, what were the plans for it, and what happened to it.

I think the car had a lot of potential, what was done was already very pleasing to the eye, and I can imaging the car with the door panels in place sitting nice and low with a slight speed-boat stance and dark organic paint, wide white wall tires and Sombrero hubcaps. It would have been a stunning car.. perhaps something that could be recreated today…



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