Joe Bailon Elton Kantor Ford

 

ELTON KANTOR FORD

 

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



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

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

Probably the best viewing angle on the Kantor Ford is this slightly higher rear quarter view.All the lines of the car seam to work at its very best then. The original version is so smooth and vintage looking with all the trim removed.
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Joe set out to incorporate a ’51 Ford Victoria roof, welded that to the 4.5 inch chopped windshield frame, and at the back to the body sides. In the process the lower edge of the roof was moved forward a few inches. The c-pillars needed a lot of work to get the desired look. The back of a stock Victoria top is rather upright, which became even more evident after the chop. The stock three piece rear glass made it impossible to get the top to flow in the more swooping lines Joe and Elton wanted for the rear of the top. So it was decided to create a top with the perfect flow, an then hand made a new rear window to get everything right, instead being dictated by factory products.

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

Color slide from the 1953 Hop Up magazine photo-shoot by Ralph Poole is a bit on the dark side, but I think it shows the color better than on the actual cover of the magazine.
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A detail photo showing all the restyling Joe added to the rear of the car, shortened trunk, added molded in continental kit, set in license plate in the reshaped lower panel, molded in splash-pan, and stepped extended rear fender with hand made taillights and the heavily restyled 1950 Ford rear bumper.
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Next up where the fenders on the car, both front and rear fenders were molded to the body, and to create the long and low effect the guys were after the rear fenders were lengthened with no less than 12 inches. Joe and Elton really liked the stepped panel below the trunk on Joe’s ’41 Chevy, so this design element was incorporated into Elton’s Ford as well. To make that happen the bottom of the trunk was raised around a foot and a new bulbous shaped panel was added below the new trunk line. The new lower body panel was molded to the splash-pan with a nice radius. Joe added a metal continental cover to the rear of the trunk, that starts at the bottom of the trunk and molded it into the trunk at a pleasing angle. The bulbous shape, below the trunk, was duplicated on the rear fenders with the lower section of the rear fended being extended more than the top. This lower section was next reshaped with round rod to form an taillight opening in which Joe later would add hand shaped clear red Lucite taillight lenses. While extending the rear fenders Joe had removed the stock wind-splits that lead to the stock Ford taillights the result was a completely smooth side of the car.

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

Detail shot from the front shows the molded in grille surround created from two ’49 Mercury grille shell’s, the grille created from round tubing, sheet metal and two bumper guard bullets. Notice how Joe molded in the splash-pan with a similar radius as the Mercury grille opening. The shaved bumper is unique for the time the car was build.
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Elton’s Ford had the perfect ride height, slightly lower in the rear for that attractive and desired speed boat look.
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All the outside trim was removed, including door handles which were replaced with solenoids. All the holed were filled and everything was completely smoothed. A set of ’49 Mercury fender skirts was modified at the bottom to sit level with the Ford body and reshaped to fit the Ford body contours.

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

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

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


Custom interior was done in bone and black with black piping on the bone sections, and bone piping on some of the black sections. The dashboard was painted to match the interior.
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The color image used on the cover of the June 1953 issue of Motor Trend magazine was flipped horizontal so that the composition of the photo looked more attractive on the shelves in the book stores.
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The interior was upholstered in bone and black with the dash board treated with the same colors to match the upholstery. A set of Appleton Spotlights was added as the finishing touch.

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

Alton Kanter receiving the award at the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show.
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New Owner Manuel Azevedo

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

The front of the car showing the damage.
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Manny backed up the car at Joe Bailon’s Shop and did not see a metal pole causing major damage to the passenger side of the car.
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Manny wanted to have a two tone solution for the car, and Joe came up with a new side trim created from 1954 Chevy side trim pieces and an unknown front section. The new side trim is slightly wider at the front then tapers very slightly towards the rear, creating instant speed. The new side trim also makes the bulge at the rear of the fender look right at place. Joe also modified the rear fenders, where he reshaped the original taillight opening and modified a set of 1954 Chevy taillights to fit inside these new openings. For this version Joe hand made a new set of fender skirts, nice long skirts that matched the lines of the fenders, and enhanced their length. At the leading edge, which was curved forward to flow with the C-pillar of the top, Joe installed three elegantly styled trim pieces.

After Joe repaired the damage on Manny’s Ford and with the new updates, the car is ready for the new Car Show Season. Photo taken at the Joe Bailon Shop.
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Color image by Spencer Murray used on the cover of the June 1955 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. By now Joe had repainted the car in metallic purple, with white inside the new side trim. Notice the contrast of the red painted wheels, and how the side trim made the car look even longer than it already was.
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The front of the car was also updated with the latest trend, hooded headlights. Joe created his own style of hooded headlight using sheet metal and round rod, for a unique look, and a styled that would become another of Joe’s trademark restyling touches. The hood corners had remained square on the early version, but were rounded with a nice large radius this time around.

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

Joe also modified the taillight openings to accepts 1954 Chevy taillights.
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Rear window was hand formed from heated plexiglass in a custom made opening. The trim material was the same as some of the upholstery shops used for rear windows in padded tops. The fit and finish looks a bit sloppy by today’s standards, but it sure did not stand in the way of winning some of the big Custom awards in the early-mid 1950’s.
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A better look at the modified taillight openings and 1954 Chevy taillights fitted into it.
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For the new version Joe handmade a set of fender skirts, with a functional scoop at the front and dressed it up with three little chrome plated teeth.
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A good look at the hood center peak that was extended thru the grille and also below the grille. Joe also rounded the hood corners for the new version, which made the front look more attractive than before. This front view also shows the all new above the headlights scoops.
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Joe Bailon’s Miss Elegance image used on the Bay Area Customs club plaque.
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These photos were taken by George Barris at Joe Bailon’s shop. Most likely the car was painted purple and lime by then.

Scanned from a 35 mm negative proof sheet most likely photographed by Frank Faraone, who was the staff photographer of the Oakland Roadster Show up into the early 1960’s.
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After that the car was repainted at least two more times. At one point the car was painted metallic purple with a lemon lime top and inside the side trim, which gave the car a nice classic look. So far we have not been able to find any color photos of this version of the car. The 1955 Oakland Roadster Show program lists the car with this color combination. Later in 1955 Joe repainted the car in bright red with white on the top and in between the side trim. The interior was redone for the newly painted version as well using white and red material. Manny had pet goldfish, and wanted to have a small aquarium below the dash which was created by Joe Bailon.

In 1955 Joe repainted the Ford in red with a white top and in side the side trim.
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Nice side view of the red and white version of the car.
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Manny showed his car in red at the first Monterey Carcapades Show. The show was organized  by the Slow Pokes Inc. C.C. of Seaside, Ca. and was held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in March 1956. The photo shows that the car now had a light colored headliner
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These two photos come from some movie footage taken at the 1956 Oakland Roadster Show, it shows the small aquarium Manny had installed for his pet goldfish. It also shows that the complete interior was now redone, and the dash was painted to match the rest of the interior.
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A better look at the interior and fish-tank Manny had installed. Notice the small fuzzy dice. hanging from the windshield divider.
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Ron Brooks provided a list of colors used on the Ford as how the car was listed in various Car Show programs. It shows that the car was repainted a few more times. (From most of the colors listed we have some proof, but from others like the Gold and Maroon and Purple and white we only have these listings.)

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

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



Special thanks to Bruce Heather.



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Joe Bailon Miss Elegance

 

BAILON MISS ELEGANCE

 

Joe Bailon turned this once wrecked 1941 Chevy Coupe into the show winning Miss Elegance, his personal Masterpiece.



Joe Bailon bought his 1941 Chevy Coupe, which had severe frontal damage on the right side from rear ending an Navy truck and paid $50.00¬† He removed the damages sheet metal and fixed the radiator fan and drove it home. He ordered all new front fenders and a hood, and when installing them he tarted to customized those right away. In the late 1940’s Joe chopped the top on the car around 3 and a half inches, and moved the rear of the top forward the same amount.



First Versions

The first version of the car had a regular chop, but with the rear quarter windows and the stock, but canted forward  rear window in place. At the front Joe had created a full width grille surround, and filled it with hand bend chrome plated rods creating vertical grille bars. Over time Joe created no less than 7 different grilles before he ended up with the one we are all familiar with. The front bumper was replaced with an 1946-48 Chevy unit.

This is the oldest version of Joe Bailon’s 1941 Chevy with the full width home made grille. Chopped with the quarter windows still in place and with the stock rear window and primer paint. Notice the pointing forward of the Appleton Spotlights, black wall tires and moon hubcaps.
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A little later Joe had added a new smooth front bumper and the car was now painted.
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Addition of a license plate surround inside the grille opening.
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Second Version

Joe added a set of 1941 Cadillac rear fenders to the car and molded them in. They are similar in shape as the Chevy units, but longer, which fitted the design Joe had in mind better. Around 1951 Joe redid the top and filled in the rear quarter windows, and create a wrap around rear window by extending the windows sideways around the corner of the top. The new rear window would be a three part unit with chrome dividers. A license plate was set at the back below the shortened trunk.

Joe had created a custom dash for a client and wanted to go a bit wilder for his own personal Custom. He started with black sheet metal top and bottom, welded together to which he welded gauge surrounds from the junk yard. He added a total of 13 gauges and 32 dash-knobs to the unique dash. The plan was to have the dash chrome plated, so all the work had to be done extremely precise and everything needed to be metal finished. It took Joe several month of spared time to create the dash. He spend $50.00 to have the end result plated, and then spend some more money to fill all the holes with Steward Warner gauges that were all wired by Joe and all of them lit up and worked. Amazing considering Joe always mentioned he had absolutely no idea what he was doing. The interior on Joe’s ’41 Chevy was upholstered by Joe’s second wife, who used a dark red velvet drapery material found at a surplus store. The interior looked very luxurious, enhanced by all the glitter from the Chrome dash. and window moldings.

Photo taken around 1951 shows that Joe now had filled the rear quarter windows, widened the rear window, extended the front fenders using 42-48 Oldsmobile fender units, added the ’41 Cadillac rear fenders, hood side bulges, and reshaped the grille opening and front of the fenders and added new hand shaped 3/4 inch round tubing grille bars.
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This photo comes from a baby book for Carolyn Jo Bailon born April 10, 1950 it shows the baby sitting on the primered front fender of Joe’s ’41 Chevy. Interesting is to see the hand-made hubcaps without the Studebaker ornament. That’s Joe Bailon on the left side of the photo.
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A little later shows the car still in primer, but now with the ’48 Studebaker stars added to the hubcaps.
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The first versions of the car had the stock short ’41 Chevy front fenders molded to the body, but later Joe added 1942-48 Oldsmobile door fender sections to the car and matted them to the Chevy units. This gave the car a whole new different look, longer and lower. At the same time Joe also added material to the front of the fenders, possibly from a late 30’s Cadillac adding a more bulbous section below the headlights. A half round cut out was made under the headlights and the headlights rings were molded to the headlight pod. This all created a unique new look. Joe further modified the grille opening, and narrowed it compared to the earlier versions. Then Joe hand bend 21 grille bars from round tubing, smoothed then before having them plated and then installed them into the new opening. A custom made splash pan was molded to the front of the car, and the center section, where the grille bars are, was made as a separate part and chrome plated.



Third Version

The car was primered once again and driven for some time. Then Joe was inspired by the 1948 Tucker cars, and decided to redo the rear fenders on his Chevy. He handmade the top and front portion inspired by the Tucker’s front and rear fenders. He included a hand made chrome plated mesh for the working scoop. At the back Joe created a new bumper made from a center section with end pieces combined from Studebaker bumper guards placed horizontal. In the bulge section he create the exhaust outlets, again with home made bars. Later in his career one of the things Joe Bailon would be famous for where his hand made round rod grilles and bumpers. It all started with his personal ’41 Chevy.

Joe was very much inspired by the design of the Tucker when he redid the rear fenders, Here we can see Joe adding new sheet metal to the top and front of the ’41 Cadillac rear fender.
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Now with the new shaped rear fenders with an air-scoop in the leading edge of the rear fender. Cadillac fender skirts and ’49 Ford taillight housings. This photo also shows the shape of the wrap around rear window and how Joe added a drip rail around the door. Also notice the shortened trunk and bulged section below the trunk leading into the molded in splash pan.
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Joe painted his ’41 Chevy in a home mixed maroon to which he added silver for some sparkle and painted it over a yellow base. The end result was a very nice brilliant and deep color. The humble beginning of what he later would develop into his famous Candy Apple red. Joe entered the finished car in the 1952 Oakland Roadster Show and won first place (National Award). At the time Joe’s car was nick-named “the Dashboard”. The name “Miss Elegance” was given to the car a little later.

Another photo from the Carolyn Jo Bailon baby book shows a crown Carolyn polishing here fathers freshly pained Chevy. Notice the molded headlights, with extended froward fender sections and molded in splash pan. The center section of the splash pan was a separate piece and was later chrome plated.
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Joe’s ’41 Chevy at the 1952 Oakland Roadster Show.
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Joe’s freshly bright maroon over yellow painted Chevy looked brilliant at the show.
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The unique hubcaps were created by Joe out of farm equipment plow discs made from made from heavy spring steel. Joe cut them to fit the 16″ wheels added two narrow grooved towards the end and had them chrome plated. Later Joe added 20, ’48 Studebaker front fender vent door ornament stars to it. The heavy metal of the disk made in necessary to torch the holes for each of the stars. The working knock-off in the center was also designed and hand made by Joe.
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Life Magazine did a series of photos taken at the Hot Rod show in the National Guard Armory in Los Angeles held at April 24-27, 1952. Beautiful detailed photos of the Hand made front of the car, and smoothed bumper.
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Not to many cars had their bumper bolts shaved back in 1951-52. But that is what Joe liked. Notice the reflection of the grille bars in the chrome plated section of the splash pan. Joe had picked up numerous awards with “Miss Elegance” already.
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I like how the Life Magazine photographer captured the audience expressions when they looked inside to see the velvet maroon interior and chrome plated home made dash with 15 gauges.
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Photo taken at the 1952 Oakland Roadster Show. Nita Nelson checks out the 13 gauges and 32 push-buttons on the Joe Bailon 1941 Chevy Miss Elegance. An news paper article in which this photo appeared mentioned the costs for the Dash alone was a staggering $1160.00
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Joe’s amazing all hand made dash created from sheet metal and gauge surrounds he found. All carefully welded together and metal finished over a period of several month of spare time. It cost him $50.00 to have it plated back in 1951.The steering wheel comes from a 1952 Lincoln.
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Close up shows that Joe hand made the shifter handle from clear Lucite.
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This photo gives a good impression how luxurious the interior looked with the maroon velvet upholstery on the seats’ side panels, and also the headliner. With chrome accents on the garnish moldings and of course the 13 gauge dash.
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Beautiful higher point of view shows the great lines of the Chevy. The front bumper is either a smoothed ’46-48 Chevy unit, or ’47 Oldsmobile.
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Fortunately we have a few color photos of the car from around 1952 showing the Joe Bailon added metallic dark red over yellow. The car must have been stunning to witness in person.
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This fade color photo is the only photo I was able to find that shows off the bulge in the rear of the body really well, just below the shortened trunk line.
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Side profile, we always need a side profile to show off the cars proportions. Beautiful lines, with it nice flowing chop, the Oldsmobile extended front fenders, longer ’41 Cadillac rear fenders with Tucker inspired front sections of the rear fenders. The low mounted ’49 Ford taillight pods give the rear even more optical length.
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The heavy chrome and maroon velvet upholstery gave the car a high end luxurious feel.  The added tool box in the door panel and chrome plated top of the shortened running boards add to that high end feel.
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Joe had been very impressed with set in license plated since he first saw one on Tommy the Greek’s ’40 Mercury. So he knew he had to have one on his own full Custom Chevy. The ’49 Ford taillight housed use hand shaped clear red Lucite lenses. The rear bumper is mostly hand made using Studebaker Bumper guards welded to a center bumper piece. The bulged guard section was cut to have the exhaust tips sit into.
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Joe Bailon offered his car For Sal in the November 1952 issue of Hop Up Magazine. Asking price was over $4,000.00. Quite a some of money for an 1941 model car at a time a lot of those that might have been interested were heading to Korea. Joe ended up selling the car for around $400.00 a year or so after this ad.
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Fourth and last Version

After Joe had not been able to find a buyer for the car he decided that for the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show he wanted to make a few more changes to the car.  The grille surround was modified to accept chrome plated bullets next to the toothed grille. Joe also modified the bulge he had added to the hood sides in 1951, the front bulge was cut off and reshaped to form a functional scoop. He once again painted the car in a brilliant dark red, and won prices with the car at the show again.

Photographed at the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show. By now Joe had modified the grille opening by adding space for two side bullets. And the front of the hood bulge was opened up to for a functional scoop.
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Customs Bay Area Car Club uses an image of the Joe Bailon Miss Elegance.
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Joe also won awards with the ’41 Chevy at the ’53 Oakland Roadster Show. less than a year after the show Joe sold the car for around $400.- (Which is in strong contrast with the worth 12.000 sign on top of the car)
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After having showed the car for 2-3 years Joe ended up selling the car around 1953-54. The car was once estimated to be worth $12,000.00, but only brought Joe around $400.00. Older Custom Cars, no matter how successful and or popular just did not bring much money around that time. And Joe needed the money and Dick Carter of “Dickering” used car dealer knew that and had the deal of his life he though. He offered the car for sale for a very high price and sat unsold for a long time at his lot. Joe remembers that he later saw the car in Hayward looking very bad with caved in roof. Later it went to a new owner in Castro Valley who repaired the roof damage, put an Hemi engine in it, removed the skirts, opened up the rear fenders so that huge racing tires would fit and drag raced it for some time.



[divider]The Miss Elegance is perhaps the best know car Joe Bailon created, the Chevy has crazed many of his business cards over the years.
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Later in the 1970’s the owner got in a divorce and the car was crushed, but not before the owner had removed the hand made hubcaps, chrome dash and bumpers. The dash board eventually ended up in Ed Hagerty’s junkyard, and after some of the gauges were taken Bill Reasoner ended up with it, and gave it back to Joe years later. Joe was in the process of making a copy of his Miss Elegance using the original dashboard. He has been working on it for many years off and on, but the project was far from finished when Joe passed away on September 25th, 2017. Hopefully somebody else will be able to continue the quest of recreating Miss Elegance.

This is the last known photo of the Mis Ellegance, not sure when it was taken, but the plates on it are pre-1956. At the time this photo was taken, after Joe had sold it, the paint was in very bad shape, but other than that, it looks to be still complete.
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Special thanks to Bruce Heather







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Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford

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Originally created for John Vara by George Barris. This radical full fade away fendered 1941 Ford padded topped Convertible is best known as the Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford.

Johnny Zaro is a well know name in the Custom Car world, his two Barris brothers restyled¬†Custom Cars¬†had a huge impact on the Custom Car world. Johnny’s Custom Cars have been well featured in the magazines and books back then, and in more recent year. Both Customs, a 1940 Mercury Coupe, and a 1941 Ford Convertible have miraculously survived all these years and have been fully restored by their new caretakers a number of years ago.¬†They now can be enjoyed for many more decades by enthusiast from all over the world. We will be featuring both these Zaro Custom Cars here on the Custom Car Chronicle, especially since both cars have played a big part in the history of the Custom Car.¬†This article is about Johnny’s second full Custom Car, “The MERC of ZARO” 1941 Ford Convertible full Custom, one of the wildest, of not the¬†wildest early Barris Custom.

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Robert Ruiz shared this photo of the ’41 Ford still¬†in progress. This is the earliest photo of the John Vara, Johnny Zaro Ford that we have come across, and was still owned by John Vara when this snapshot¬†was taken. According to Robert Ruiz, the writing on the back of the photo says “1948? Elmer’s muffler shop. It was my friends dad’s shop in L.A. 139 E.Manchester blvd.”

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This full Custom 1941 Ford Convertible is known as the Johnny Zaro Custom, since his name has been attached to it since 1948, and this is how the car was featured in the magazines and books ever since. But the car was actually built as a finished Custom Car for John Vara. Usually a historic Custom Car is named by its original owner (if known) but in this case the car is named by its second owner, Johnny Zaro, The Johnny Zaro 1941 Ford.

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First Version

George Barris built this 1941 Ford convertible-based custom for John Vara¬†in around 1947 perhaps early 1948. Most of the work on the car was done by George Barris. George had created his own personal 1941 Buick with full fade away fenders, and for John’s Ford they wanted to go even more extreme. Full fade away fenders on a channeled body with raised front fenders creating a totally unique look. Where most of the Barris Customs from this era had at least some sort of shiny trim on the body, John’s 41 Ford was free of any exterior trim or handles, apart from the chrome plated grille bars.

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1952 Ford Times magazine showed this photo of the Ford and named it the Barris-Vara car.

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According the 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine the car was channeled 8 inches over the frame which was modified with a straight rear crossmember allowing the rear to drop another extra 3 inches. The front axle was replaced with a dropped unit to get the front nice and low with a slight speed boat stance. To be able to steer the wheels after the channeling, the front fenders were raised to about an inch under the hood line. The bottom section of the hood sides were cut off completely and the the hood was welded to the raised front fenders. At the rear the fenders were welded to the body and using sheet metal the sharp edge was rounded with a nice radius. The trunk was shaved and combined with the molded in rear fenders the rear of the car looked super smooth.

With the new much higher position of the front fenders George set out to hand shape some sheet metal to form the full fade away fenders, creating a smooth line from the front fender’s¬†all the way to the rear fenders. With the sides all level, not showing the front edge of the rear fenders, like how it was done on the stock ’42-48 Buicks. This created an unique smooth looks for the sides. The molded-in shape of the rear fenders was repeated on the fade away fender as well as the fender to hood lines. Creating one smooth flow from front to rear. George decided to create a smaller hood opening, leaving the front portions of the hood with the front fenders. Another innovative idea helping with the overall smooth feel of the car. The headlights were frenched with molded in bezels.

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Take at the same location as the image above. This is how the car looked like in its first version back in 1948. Notice that this version of the car, most likely still owned by John Vara had a license plate on the front as well. (Colorized black and white photo.)

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From an early (late 40’s) Power &¬† Customizing Manual.

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When creating the full fade away fenders the bottom door line, which was on top of the running board on the stock Ford, was now all the way at the bottom of the body. The lower portions of the new body line was rounded inwards to give the lower edge of the car a nice finished look. To accentuate the long fade away fenders George Barris installed a set of his favorite long 1941 Ford/Mercury fender skirts.

A new grille opening was created and three 1948 Pontiac grille bars were modified to get the same width and installed into the new opening. A ’46 Ford gravel pan was installed at the front at the stock location compared to the fenders. A ’46 Ford bumper was installed and the new location made the front of the car looks far less low than it actually was. One a bit of a design flaw (in my eyes) is that the Pontiac grille bars appear to be dipping down a bit in the center, conflicting with the front bumper, which appears to be pointing up slightly in the center.

At the rear George created the very popular ‚Äď at the time ‚Äď in-set¬†license plate. A beautiful shaped opening with the license plate installed from inside the trunk, behind a piece of glass. A ’46 Ford splash pan was molded to the body. With all the body work smoothed George had created a super slick new body, and he did not want to add a set of taillights to it to ruin the overall shape. So he installed two tiny motorcycle taillights on each side of the ’46 Ford bumper guards. The windshield was chopped a few inches. According the early magazines it was chopped 4.5 inches, but I feel it could have been a bit less than that.

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Gene Winfield took this photo of the car after Johnny Zaro had bought it. By now the license plate on the front has been removed and curb feelers have been installed to keep the ultra smooth body sides from scraping the high Los Angeles curbs. Beautiful angle shows the real beauty of Johnny’s Ford.

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George Barris painted the finished car ¬†with¬†paint based on DuPont Polychromatic Maroon. George custom mixed it and added Venus Martin gold powder into the last layers for some extra sparkle. When the car was done it was send to Louis Chavez for the padded top. As for the interior there is some controversy about who created that. The ’51 Motor Trend magazine feature list Chavez as the shop who did the interior, the Barris book¬†and the Custom Cars Annual interview with Johnny Zaro from 2012¬†mentioned Bill Hilborn as the upholstery guy. The¬†interior was¬†done in red and white leatherette¬†and had a special shaped¬†rear bench with a small bar incorporated.¬†The carpet on the floor was wine colored.

The car was detailed with wide white wall tires, chrome beauty rings with full moon hubcaps and a set of Appleton Spotlights. During the final stages of the built Johnny Zaro had seen the car at the Barris Shop several times while being there with his ’40 Mercury. Johnny had fallen in love with the car and made a deal with the Ford owner John Vara. John ended up with Johnny’s 1940 Mercury Coupe, plus an extra $300.- and Johnny Zaro ended up with the freshly finished ’41 Ford. Johnny had to trow in the extra $300.- just because his ’40 Merc was a bit more rough around the edges than the Ford. But that did not really matter to much, Johnny Loved his new ’41 Ford. (In at least one early  publication (Ford Times Feb. 1951) the car is listed as the John Vara Ford.)

At the time Johnny was trading the car with the additional $300.- payment he did not have the money for it. He was in his very early 20’s at the time and not making all that much money yet. He loaned the money from his mother, but she also did not have enough. So Johnny and his mother went over to Seaboard Finance Co. in Huntington Park, and he borrowed the money from them. Later when he had trouble paying them back the company confiscated the car. The owner of the Soaboard Co. actually took the car home and drove it. Eventually Johnny got the car back.

In the interview that Justin Kudolla had with Johnny Zaro, Johnny mentioned that he remembered that one day when he was over at the Barris show¬†he saw how¬†George was trying to fit the fadeaway fender on one of the side of the car and the metal did not work with him the way it was supposed to do. George¬†got really frustrated. “He got madder than heck and he took a pick hammer and started punching holes in the fender! He was really upset!”¬†When Johnny visited the shop¬†the next day, George was welding the thing up, brazing it back together, and grinding down.

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Another Gene Winfield photo of the car taken on a trip into the mountains. Another beautiful angle showing the beauty of the super smooth and molded body lines. Kustoms Los Angeles plaque,¬†curb feelers¬†mounted on the fender skirts and the super small motorcycle teardrop chrome plated taillights. Notice that the hood corners are not rounded on Johnny’s Ford.

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Johnny added some personal touches to the car shortly after he had bought it. The dashboard was cleaned up, the base chrome plated and he created hand shaped wine colored red lucite panels to replace the stock plastic panels on the dash. Johnny also added some wine red lights on the dash that illuminated when the doors popped open. The Appleton Spotlights that had been added were customized with hand shaped laminated red lucite handles.

The doors on Johnny’s Ford are operated by solenoid pop-ups. The buttons were hidden under the doors on the outside and push buttons on the dash to open them from the inside. These buttons were only on the drivers side of the dash. Done especially so that the ladies could not open the doors on their own. Johnny also reworked the hood and trunk to have them hydraulic¬†operated. from switches on the dash.

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Small updates
Like most of the Custom Car owners, Johnny also made a few minor changes to his Ford along the way. Updates with newer parts that have become available since the car was first finished, or perhaps inspired by other fresh custom Cars. Johnny replaced the moon hubcaps with the smooth beauty rings (most likely a Calnervar product) with a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps. And the small teardrop shaped motorcycle taillights positioned next to the rear bumper guards had to make place for a set of bumper guard taillights. Handmade by, or supervised/inspired by Jesse Lopez into the 1946 Ford bumper guards. A beautiful art-deco shaped cut out was made and laminated clear red lucite was shaped similar to fill the hole.

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New bumper guard taillights and Sombrero hubcaps. Johnny needed special wood boards to enter the drive way at home without scraping the exhaust. Johnny’s car was low, very low.

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The mildly updated¬†version of Johnny Zaro’s Ford¬†was featured in Motor Trend December 1949. (Still looking for a better scan of this article… anybody? )

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Johnny Zaro with his ’41 Ford. Unlike a lot of other owners of padded topped Customs, Johnny liked to take off the top and cruise around topless in the beautiful SoCal summers.

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Johnny’s Ford at the Barris Compton Ave Shop in 1949.¬†

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George Barris used Johnny Zaro’s ’41 Ford in several of the Barris Magazine ads, as well as promotional photos at early Car shows. Shown here are two late 1940’s magazine and show program ads.
We are fortunate to have two color slides showing the original deep maroon color added by George Barris. This photo and the one below were taken after Johnny had installed the Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps.

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A look at the two tone interior. 

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The early version of the Ford used a 1948 Mercury steering wheel. This photo shows how nice the interior was done and also shows (if you look carefully) that Johnny added the letters “KUSTOM” on an angle to the red lucite dash panel. Also¬†visible¬†are the hand made laminated red lucite¬†Appleton Spotlight handles.

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Another top view shows the beautiful round and wide read pleats in the interior, as well as the special shaped rear bench.

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This photo is really nice, showing Johnny’s ’41 Ford and the ’40 mercury coupe, owned by his friends Al Andril. Al’s Mercury was very similar to his own Merc that he traded for the ’41 Ford.

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Tokay Beige Version

After some time Johnny wanted to make some more changes to the car and do a new paint job. A¬†new more modern grille for the car was created from a 1949 Pontiac grille. In the Motor Trend July 1951 feature, as well as in the Barris Kustom Techniques of the 1950′ Volume 3 is written that the grille was made up from ’49 Pontiac and Studebaker part, but as far as I can tell the grille is just a narrowed ’49 Pontiac, with the stock Pontiac grille bars below the top bar. The bottom bar is also a narrowed (center bulge removed) bar from a ’49 Pontiac. The grille never fitted very well, sitting lower on the passenger side than the drivers side. The ’48 Mercury steering wheel made place for a new Ford Crestline¬†steering wheel, and an accessory bar was added in between the front bumper guards. The George Barris suggested to paint the car in Tokay Beige which ‚Äď according to Johnny Zaro ‚Äď was a slight¬†pinkish tan. He mentioned that the color looked great at night, but during the day not so much.

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The new light paint and heavier grille gave the car a completely new look.
Parked at Johnny’s home with the new tokay beige paint. the grille was made from a narrowed and welded together ’49 Pontiac grille. The vertical grille bars are stock ’49 Pontiac and the lower bar sitting on the molded gravel pan is also from the Pontiac and narrowed the same amount, deleting the stock center bulge. Notice how the gap above the grille is much wider on the passenger side than the driver side.¬†

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Johnny drove the Ford around in Tokay Beige or for some time, and then decided to go back to maroon again. He liked the color much better on the first version. So George Barris custom mixed another batch of Maroon including the Venus Martin gold powder. Another plus effect of the new dark paint was that the bit poor fitting grille looked a lot better, with the dark paint hiding the slight gap above the grille on the passenger side. The new darker paint changed the look of the car again. But the new grille still made sure the car was more up to date than with the old three bar grille.

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Barris Bell Shop
Johnny’s Ford with the new Maroon paint on it at the Barris Bell Shop.

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The Zaro Ford was not only a great looking Custom Car, it also performer pretty well. Johhny Zaro mentioned in his Kuddola interview that the car hauled ass as well. When the car was first built it had the a regular V-8 engine, But later Johnny got a 3 and 5/16th bore, Weiand heads, a Spalding ignition, Howards cam, and an Edelbrock manifold. The new updated engine really went! In 1951 George Barris wanted to take my car up to the Oakland Roadster Show and offered to drive the car there himself. Johnny told him “No, not unless you put the car on a trailer and take it up there.” Johnny didn’t want to put any miles on the new engine, he just had the full engine put in the car. So, he ended up bringing a trailer and he took it up there. Johnny took a plane and flew to Oakland and after the show he drove the car back home to Los Angles, very carefully.

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George Barris took Johnny’s Ford to the 1951 Oakland Roadster Show. The trophies displayed with the car show that the car was well liked.

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Another unique color photos was taken by Walter Wyss at the ’51 Oakland Roadster Show. George Barris kneeling on the right, Jack Stewart hanging over the drivers side fender, Johnny Zaro polishing the hood and an unknown friend on the left.
Johnny’s Ford at another (unknown) show. Notice the large sign on the hood of the car.

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Johnny and Fay Zaro on their honeymoon with Johnny’s ’41 Ford nicely dressed up for the occasion.

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Johnny’s Ford was featured in color on the cover of the July 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. Inside was a one page feature on the car with photos taken by none other than Marcia Campbell.
Marcia Campbell loved to show the cars at full profile, giving a very good impression of the overall look of the car. I can’t help but wonder if a slight angle on the B-pilla of the padded top might have helped the overall flow of the car even more.

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Cover image of the Motor Trend Magazine. “Merc of Zaro” is not a far-fetched pun. John Zaro’s striking convertible is powered by a highly-tuned Mercury engine. The car’s attractiveness is completed here by beautiful June Burroughs of Glen Ellen, Illinois, pleasantly clad in a swim suit by Rose Marie Reid and accompanied by Bill Evans of Los Angeles Photo by C.A. Peterson.

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Fay, Johnny’s future wife, posing with the Ford.

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Selling the car

George Barris introduced Johnny’s future wife Fay to Johnny around 1951. He would cruise with Fay oat night on the little alleys, since cruising the main roads would attract to many cops who loved to ticket him for being to low, loud or whatever they could think off. When Fay and Johnny decided to get married Johnny decided to let go of the Ford, to be able to pay for a new house. He put the car up for sale on the D&B Auto Sales car lot¬†in Hollywoon. The lot was specialized in selling Hot Rods and Custom Cars. The Ford had not been on the lot¬†for¬†24 hours, when¬†it was stolen off of the lot. After some time the FBI called Johnny to mention they had found the car in Kingman, Arizona. The FBI was involved since it had become a¬†federal offense once the car got across the California border. Johnny and his soon to be father-in-law went down there. Turned out¬†a couple guys from Boston had¬†stolen the car, and they got stranded in Arizona when they ruined the motor. They¬†towed the car it back home to Marywood California. Johnny pulled the damaged engine and¬†put another full engine in it.

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Johhny’s Ford at the D&B Auto Sales on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. According to Johnny the car was not even on the lot for 24 hours when it got stolen.

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In 1952 a guy from Lincoln, Nebraska bought the car. The guy was still in college and after a while he send Johnny a letter that the car was doing fine, but that he tried to take it to college one day. But after everybody at school was all over the car he decided he could not use it as daily transportation anymore. Next thing we know was that in the August 1952 issue of Motor Trend magazine, Springer Jones of  Mitchell, Nebraska put up an For Sale ad.  The asking price was $2345 or best offer. We are not sure if Springer Jones was the guy who bought it from Johnny, since Johnny could not remember his name anymore.

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Ad from the august 1952 issue of Motor Trend magazine shows the Zaro Ford For Sale by new owner Springer Jones from Mitchell, Nebraska. 

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Updated by Russ Erlinger

From 1952 to 1953 at least one other person has owned the Ford, since in 1953 Russ Erlinger of Belleville, Illinois buys the Ford from an unknown person in Wyoming. This unknown person most likely bought it from Springer Jones. Russ used the car and at one point while him and his wife were driving the car he was involved in an accident. According the stories the car rolled over .

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The owner mentioned that he bought the car in 1953 off of used car lot in Illinois. He wrecked it like the photos show in 1954. And then rebuilt it. He told Kevin Fritz in 2019, that when he flipped it. His wife ended up inside the roof sliding down the road in the top. She did not get hurt. The padded top saved her.

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Over the years Russ restored the car, and made some small updates. The mot obvious updates are a set of¬†1949 Plymouth bumpers replacing the ’46 Ford units. He also added bumper guard taillights in a set of ’49 Plymouth guards. He raplced the Sombrero hubcaps with a set of ’53 Cadillac hubcaps, replaced the long ’41 fender skirts with shorter 46-48 units. It looks like he replaced the front axle with a slightly wider unit. Perhaps he used a 46-48 axle, which is a bit wider than the ’41 unit, or a more modern update. Russ also added an new grille opening underneath the bumper. It looks like he used a Studebaker pan for this, but its hard to tell. Most likely the new grille opening helps cooling the engine. in 2017 Russ still own the car and shows it to the public at local car shows from time to time. And the car still draws a crown where ever it goes.

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The Plymouth bumpers, ’53 Cadillac hubcaps changed the look of the car, but it still overall looks very much like how it looked back in the early 1950’s.

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The dash and possibly the¬†steering wheel have not changed since the early 1950’s. The chrome plated dash with clear red lucite is still all there, and so are the hand made Appleton Spotlight handles and even the “KUSTOM” chrome letters on the center of the dash.

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Close up at the front shows the addition of the ’49 Pontiac parking lights to the Pontiac grille, as well as the new grille opening below the ’49 Plymouth front bumper. The close up photo also shows that the passenger side of the grille is still not fitting the opening as well as the drivers side.

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At the rear¬†Russ Erlinger also added a ’49 Plymouth bumper, and created a set of bumper guard taillights into the Plymouth bumper guards. It appears that the rare long ’41 Ford/Mercury fender skirt have been replaced by the shorter 46-48 skirts during the restoration. To bad about the pinstriping, personally I feel the car would look far better without that.
The Johnny Zaro 1940 Mercury Coupe and 1941 Ford Convertible reunited. Both photos show the new grille opening below the ’49 Plymouth bumper, both added in the car latest restoration by Russ Erlinger,¬†really well.

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Johnny Zaro Ford also appeared in the Dan Post Books,¬†Motor Trend¬†magazine and the¬†Custom Cars Trend Book No. 101¬†back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.¬†The early publications of these photos of the ’41 Ford has played a huge roll in the development of the Custom Car. Several customs cars from all over the US have been influenced by the Johnny Zaro Ford. Well know Customs as the Jack Stewart¬†’41¬†Ford, and the Joe Urritta ’41 Ford have styling elements very similar to this car. It is a real blessing that the original car has survived, been fully restored¬†and can be seen at out door cars shows from time to time. But I do hope that in the future, possibly owned by a new caretaker, the car will be backdated to how it looked back in 1951. Dark maroon paint, ’46 Ford bumpers, Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps, and no pinstriping.

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1989 Oakland Roadster Show

 

1989 OAKLAND ROADSTER SHOW

 

Bob Dzemske and his son visited the 1989 Oakland Roadstershow and captured some of the many Custom Cars that were entered in the 40st Anniversary of the famous show.



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Bob Dzemske and his son Bob Jr. have been into Custom Cars for many decades. Bob has owned a a great stable¬†of Custom Cars over the year, and always took his trusty camera with him on his visits to the Custom Car shows from the 60′ and 70’s, as well as more recent years. Bob Sr and Jr. have shared some of the most interesting photos of their Collection with the Custom Car Chronicle. We will be sharing these in a series of articles, and hope you will enjoy these as much as we have. Special thanks goes out to Kustoms Illustrated Luke Karosi for scanning the photo.

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The late 1980’s were great for use Custom Car Enthusiasts. The Custom Car Revival was perhaps at its high point, and very exciting stuff was happening in the Custom Car World. Old Custom Cars were sought after, found, and restored.¬†New, very creative Custom Cars were created¬†by young new Custom Car builders, as well as by the Famous builders from the 50’s, as Frank DeRosa, Joe Bailon and Gene Winfield. At the 1989 Oakland Roadster show¬†Gene Winfield was honored as Builder of the Year and had no less than exciting Custom Car on the main floor. This¬†was the show’s 40’s anniversary of the show, and back then it was still held in Oakland. In 1997¬†the show would move to San Fransisco, and later to Pomona, where it is still held every year as the Grand National Roadster Show.

Bob Dzemske and his son went on a trip to the 1989 Oakland Roadster from Arizona. Some of their friends had mentioned the show would have some fantastic Custom Cars on display that year. Their friend Ermie Immerso also talked to them to come over for this years show so they could see his Track T Roadster competing for the AMBR award, which he won.




4 Gene Winfield Custom gathered to¬†celebrate¬†Gene as Builder Of The Year. Traditional styled ’47 Ford Convertible created by Gene Winfield. To the right of the purple¬†Ford we can see Gene Winfield’s Strip Star Show car and next to it Gene’s ’63 Buick Riviera.
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Gene Winfield ’63 Buick Riviera original created for Jim Noteboom and Randy Dunnaround 1964. Many years later the car was restored and entered in the 1989 Oakland Roadster Show.
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The Gene Winfield display with the¬†pearl pink 1951 Mercury for Pegasus and the chopped ’47 Ford¬†convertible. Notice there are all kinds of Winfield historic photos displayed on the floor next to the cars.
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The focus on this cropped picture was actually the big trophy winner Irmie Immerso’s Indy four-cam Ford Powered Pearl Orange Track T. But the fact that John D’Agostino’s 1940 Mercury Stardust¬†in the background had more people looking,¬†put a smile on my face.
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Since¬†Irmie Immerso, the winner of the Americas Most Beautiful Roadster award for 1989, was a good friend of both Bob’s I thought showing a photo of the car, even not a Custom, would be¬†appropriate.
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Rod & Custom magazine displayed the restored R&C Dream Truck at their booth.
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Ray Bozarth brought his beautiful ’51 Buick all the way from West Liberty, Iowa. The car was built by Merle Berg from the family four door sedan.
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Beautiful early 60’s styled ’56 Ford.
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The Ford had a full detailed pearl white tuck & roll interior, including a fully detailed trunk.
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Detailed engine bay with some more modern attention to detail to the engine.
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Channeled, sectioned and chopped ’39 Ford Coupe looked really nice with its bold ’49 Plymouth bumpers and wide white wall tires. The car was brought to the show by Marianne Robison.
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One of my personal highlight at this ’89 Oakland Roadster show was the Bill Reasoner built “Thee Forty One” for owner John Conley.
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Jerry Sahagon did the beautiful interior in dark and light green velvet combined with white Naugahyde. Even the trunk was fully detailed. The rumour is that Jerry deliberately “delayed” the work on the Padded top so that the car would debut at the Oakland show¬†without the top. This way¬†the full interior would be more visible.¬†
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John’s ’41 Ford has an amazing amount of work done, inspired by the work of the greatest builders from the 1940’s and early 1950’s The Ayala and Barris brothers. 1947 Buick fade away fenders were incorporated in the sides, the windshield chopped, front wheel opening radiused, and the fender skirts at the back hand made and flush mounted.
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At the front Bill Reasoner and his team reshaped the front of the Ford to accept an ’39 Buick grille and ’72 Jaguar headlights for the right effect.
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Another reason for the Dzemske’s to visit the show is to meet with old friends and have some good diners with them, including those organised by the show promotors.
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(this article is sponsored by)

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1950 Oakland Roadster show

 

1950 OAKLAND ROADSTER SHOW

In 1950 Al and Mary Slonaker organized the first Annual National Roadster Show. Mostly entered by Hot Rods, but the Custom entries in this show has always been legendary. Lets take a look at the Custom entries at this first Oakland Show.


There is something special about the Custom Cars being displayed to these early Hot Rod and Custom Car shows¬†from the very early 1950’s. The first couple of shows at the Oakland Exposition Building as well as the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles were Peterson held his Motorama show, as well as some early shows in Indianapolis. They all have a pure feeling, Custom Cars being displayed with the hoods and doors closed, just to be enjoyed for their exterior beauty, no distraction from out of this world displays, colored light for special effects. Pure about the cars, pure about the art of custom restyling.


CCC-1950-oakland-show-hot-rod-adHot Rod October 1949 issue announced the first Annual National Roadster Show. The full page ad only showed Hot Rods.
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In the late 1940’s the Hot Rod and Custom scene was blooming¬†like never before.¬†In¬†1948 the first Hot Rod shows had been organized which had a huge impact, and more an more smaller events were organized. During this time the Hot Rodder’s did not have a very good name with the general public. Driving too fast, drag racing on the streets and several heavy accidents had given them a bad name in the local news. A lot of car clubs as well as Hot Rod magazine were working hard to proof this bad reputation¬†was not based on the reality.

In 1949 Al and Mary Slonaker organized and International car exhibition at the Oakland Exposition building ¬†featuring¬†mostly Foreign¬†Sport Cars and exclusive automobiles. However not too long before the show date, the Slonaker’s were introduced into Hot Rodding. They really enjoyed the scene and saw how enthusiast the Hot Rod club members were.¬†They decided to include¬†a few Hot Rods and Custom Cars in one corner at this first car show organized in the Oakland Exposition building by them. Only around 10 Hot Rods and Customs were part of this 1949 show, but the crowd like these cars much better than the Sports Cars and exclusive Automobiles. So when the plan was developing for a¬†1950 show the Slonaker’s decided to build a show around just Hot Rods and Custom Cars, and ended up naming the event the NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW. One of the main reasons the show was named Roadster show, instead of Hot Rod show, was because there was still some negativity around the Hot Rod name from the common public. Posters and flyers were printed and handed out to as many hot rodder’s as the organizing team could find.

CCC-california-la-oakland-map-02The Kustoms of Los Angeles club had to drive around 500 miles from Los Angeles to Oakland. Back then Custom Cars were driven on a daily base so the guys drove their Custom Cars to the show, no trailers.
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Apparently at one point it started to look like there might only be Hot Rods and Race cars entering the show.¬†The Slonaker’s called George Barris to see if he would be interested in gathering a few of his Kustoms of Los Angeles club members to make the trip from Los Angles to Oakland. An around¬†500 mile trip for an 4 day event, which was clearly not doable for everybody. George Barris remembered how much good the 1948 Hot Rod Show in the LA Armory had been for him and his business. George¬†managed to get a few of the club members interested and they made the 500 mile trip. We know that Jesse Lopez and Ben Mario went with him from LA, and ¬†Joe Urritta brought his 1941 Ford, but unsure if he brought it straight from the Barris Shop in Bell, or from his home in Fresno, which is about half way from LA to Oakland. I have read that Barris brought six cars to the first Oakland Roadster Show, but so far I can only find evidence for three Barris Kustoms.

Some other Custom Car owners more local were contacted, so in the end there were some Customs at this very first Annual National Roadster Show, but by far the numbers the show would later attract. The first National Roadster show was held from Jan 19 till 22, 1950. I turned out to be a huge success. In the four days the show was open 27,624 spectators visited the Oakland Exposition building to see the 100 cars on display. This show did a lot of good things for Hot Rodding and Customizing. And the general public had now witnessed the high quality Hot Rods and Customs and placed these in a whole new perspective than the local news previously had done.

In the March 1950 issue of Hot Rod magazine there was a massive almost 5 page with a great number of photos feature article about the show. Sadly none of the photos were of the custom car entries at the show. The show would soon be named “Oakland” by a lot of people. Just because the National Roadster Show was just a too long name. Later in its life the show was renamed Grand National Roadster Show and is today best known¬†as GNRS.



The Location

The first National Roadster Show was held at the Oakland Exposition Building located across the street from the Oakland Auditorium, nearby beautiful Lake Merrit. The building address was:¬†Exposition Building, 918 Fallen Street Oakland 7, California. The Building was a nice size and could hold up to at least 100 cars. However I have heard from several people who attended the first couple of shows held at the Oakland Exposition Building that they revered to it¬†as the biggest little show. Pointing out that the building was soon to be considered to small for traveling from all over California, and further. But the quality of the cars was alway high, and the show was an magical event from the early days, and it would become to longest still running car show around. The Bay area had many Hot Rodder’s and Custom Car enthusiasts¬†with high quality cars, but the show always had a good number of cars from the Los Angles Area, and even from out of state from the beginning.

CCC-oakland-exposition-buildingThe outside of the Oakland Exposition Building. This photo it taken from the parking lot and was taken later in the 1950’s.¬†
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CCC-1950-oakland-aerial-viewAerial view shows the Oakland Exposition building in light blue with the large parking space out front. Lake Merrit is in the background, behind the white Oakland Auditorium.
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CCC-oakland-inside-sports-carsThis photo is NOT from the 1950 show, but rather from an Sport Car show from 1952. I have included it in this article because it really gives a great look at the inside of the Oakland Exhibition Building. 
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CCC-oakland-inside-hot-rodsThis is a photo that was taken at the 1950 National Roadster Show. There are no Customs showing at all, even though the photo shows a pretty large section of the building. Which says a lot about the amount of Customs versus Hot Rods show in 1950. I have included this Hot Rod filled photo to show how the building looked at the 1950 show, it gives a great overall impression.
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CCC-oakland-inside-crowdDuring the 4 day show a special team was building a Model A Roadster at the show. This photo shows the finished Hot Rod on Sunday, and how many people visited the show. Everybody was really impressed with the quality of the cars at the show. Something some might not have expected after all the negative news reports about the Hot Rodder’s.
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CCC-oakland-hubbard-booth-01Ben ¬†Hubbard’s Auto Parts had a team of four guys assemble the Model A Roadster at the show. I have included this photo here since it gives a nice feel for the back side of the building where the vendor booth were.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-photo-album-01Ron Brooks shared these rare a¬†snapshots from the 1950 Roadster Show. It shows Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford, (#204 – 414), Al Serpa’s 1947 Ford (#403) and Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick (#211 – 411). Ron received the photo’s from a friend who visited the show in 1950.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-program-tagThe 1950 National Roadster SHOW program with Miss California Jone Pedersen and race driver Freddie Agabashian next to the eight-foot trophy. Next to it the exhibition tag.
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In the last few month before the show the entries came in, some with photos, others not. A selection of cars was made to be included in the first annual show program From all the cars listed and shown in the program only 6 cars were Custom Car. From all these 6 cars, except the number 402 car, 1940 Chevy convertible from Bert Gericke we have been able to find some photos taken at the show. Possibly Bert could not make it to the show in the end, or his car was simply not photographed that much and photos of the car at the show have never surfaced so far.


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By the time the Show Program booklet was put together the organization had developed a kind of odd numbering system. If you look at the numbers the customs have assigned to it does not really make sense. Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford Coupe has a 200 number, which is for Street Roadsters. It appears that after the program was printed it was decided to give all the Custom Cars that entered the show would receive an 400 number. The 414 and 411 numbers on Jesse and Ben’s Barris Kustoms at the show¬†make me believe that is what happened.



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List of Custom Car entries at the 1950 National Roadster Show in Oakland (possibly incomplete list)

  • 204¬†– 414 Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford ‚Äď Jesse Lopez/Sam Barris
  • 206¬† Al Marx 1934 Ford
  • 209¬† Lon Hurley 1946 Cadillac
  • 211¬†– 411 Ben Mario 1947 Buick ‚Äď Barris Kustoms
  • 401 ¬†Vince Gardner 1947 Studebaker
  • 402 ¬†Bert Gericke 1940 Chevy
  • 403 ¬†Al Serpa 1947 Ford ‚Äď Gene Winfield
  • 404 ¬†1939 Ford Convertible ‚Äď unknown
  • 405¬† Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford ‚Äď Harry Westergard
  • # unknown¬† Joe Urritta¬†1941 Ford ‚ÄstBarris Kustoms

 

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50-oakland-program-jesse-lopez-41-ford50-oakland-program-al-marx-34-ford 50-oakland-program-lon-hurley-cadillac50-oakland-program-ben-mario-47-buick50-oakland-program-vince-gardener-studebaker50-oakland-program-bert-gericke-40-chevy

CCC-1950-oakland-show-barris-01George Barris posing with Miss California¬†Jone Pedersen on the right and aunt Edith on the left. Edith raised both George and Sam in Roseville Ca, after their birth mother had passed away when they were still young. The car behind them is Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick (#211 – 411) with a fresh chopped windshield and panoramic rear window Gaylord padded top. The padded toped car on the far right is Al Serpa’s Ford.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-gardner-studebaker-01Vince Gardner 1947 Studebaker (#401) with behind it a mystery custom entry with number 404. An unidentified 1939 Ford convertible. Non of the cars had any kind of display material used. Just parked on the floor with a rope around it. Notice the large amount of garbage on the floor. 
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-gardner-studebaker-02In 1950 the¬†Vince Gardner 1947 Studebaker most likely had the first ever plastic “bubble top” ever made. The car made a huge impact at the show.
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CCC-oakland-Ford-convertible-404The unidentified #404 1939 Ford Convertible sitting behind Vince Gardner’s 1947 Studebaker. If any of the readers knows anything about this car, please let us know.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-al-marx-34-fordAl Marx took his uniquely custom restyled 1934 Ford Roadster to the show #206. Al’s Ford used to belong to Wes Collins when it was painted black. The car was done as a full custom with a DuValle windshield, fender skirts, Lincoln bumpers an set in license plate. The interior photo shows the unique engine turned dash.
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50-oakland-show-lon-hurley-cadillac-01Lon Hurley created an uniquely styled Sports Custom based on an 1946 Cadillac with many 1948 Cadillac parts. He restyled it into a two seater with plastic wrap around windshield (#209).
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50-oakland-show-lon-hurley-cadillac-02The car looks very elegant and streamlined and Lon Hurley won the Most Spectacular Custom Roadster award with the car.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-al-Serpa-01Gene Winfield was from nearby Modesto Ca, and¬†made sure his latest custom, a 1947 Ford Convertible (#403) with Hall top for Alvin Serpa was displayed at the show. Al won the Most Spectacular Custom Convertible award with the car. On the right we can see the panoramic rear window in the Gaylord top of Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-Ben-Mario-02Ben Mario’s 1947 Buick (#211) was restyled by Barris and had just received a chopped windshield and new padded top by Bill Gaylord. Not sure why there are so many people in the car during the show. Behind the Buick on the far right of the photo we can see the Hall top of Alvin Serpa’s Winfield restyled 1947 Ford.
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CCC-barris-joe-urritta-41-ford-00Joe Urritta from Fresno, Ca, had Sam Barris restyled his 1941 Ford Sedan at the Lynwood shop. It looks like the car was either still in primer, or freshly painted and waiting to be rubbed to a high gloss. We have not been able to find the 1950 show number for Joe’s Ford. The car next to Joe’s ’41 Ford appears to be a padded topped 33-34 Phaeton, not sure if it can be qualified as a Hot Rod or Custom, this is the only photo I have seen that shows it.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-bruce-glenn-39-fordIn 1950 Bruce Glenn owns the 1939 Ford convertible (# 405)¬†with metal lift off hard-top restyled by Harry Westergard. Westergard¬†originally restyled the Ford for¬†Mel Falconer¬†and used to have a padded top. Next to Bruce’s Ford we can see the front wheel, fender and top from Ben Mario’s Barris Buick.
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Jesse Lopez’s 1941 Ford (#204 – 414) had been finished two years prior to the 1950 Oakland Show, and had never before been in any other show. Jesse would not put it into another show after it either. But later owner Danny Lares loved to show it around.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-05Jesse’s Ford looking really great at the show. Behind the car we can see Joe Urritta’s Ford sitting against the wall.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-08It appears that Jesse’s 1941 Ford was moved around a bit during the show. Here¬†the car¬†was parked¬†with its back¬†agains the wall and a kind of ¬†ugly wall on the sides taking way fro the beauty of Jesse’s Ford. The car behind the show board on the right is the Barris Restyled Joe Urritta 1941 Ford.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-07Back in 1950 the cars at the shows were drivers. Jesse’s Ford had been on the road for two year, and the dirty door jambs show that it was not a common thing back then to open the doors at the shows.¬†
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-barris-signsJesse Lopez had Custom Car no 414 at the show, but was listed as 204 in the program. It looks like at the show it was decided that all the custom entries should have a 400 number. The show cards at the early shows were all hand painted, and in the first couple of years each year card had a different design. Jesse also had an hand painted sign made, or perhaps it was done by Barris. 
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-barris-displayThe display methods of George Barris were still rather crude at this 1950 Show. A sponsored StaLube sign, a custom sign for jesse’s Ford, and a board with a couple of Barris Customs from the pages of Motor Trend magazine to promote the Barris Kustom Shop. Interestingly Jesse’s Ford is being described as being Styled by BARRIS KUSTOM SHOP Sam … George Los Angeles & Sacramento!
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Awarded Custom Cars:

  • America’s Most Beautiful Roadster
    • Bill NieKamp’s 1929 Ford Model A Roadster
  • Greatest Contribution to Auto Industry
    • second place: Barris Kustom Shop
    • Third Place, Vince Gardener, South Bend, Indiana
    • Fith Place, Lon Hurley, Long Beach
  • Most Magnificent Custom Roadster
    • Vince Gardner, South Bend, Indiana
  • Most Spectacular Custom Roadster
    • Lon Hurley, Long Beach
  • Most Magnificent Custom Convertible
    • Barris Custom Shop, LA
  • Special Division First Place
    • Jesse Lopez, Bell

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CCC-1950-oakland-show-awardsAfter the award ceremony all the winners get together for a photo-shoot. George Barris is kneeling with his trophies on the far left of the podium.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-06Jesse Lopez won First Place Special Devision with his 1941 Ford. Here Jesse is posing with Miss California and the trophies.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-03George Barris posing with the awards Jesse had won, with Miss California inside the car.
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CCC-1950-oakland-show-lopez-ford-02Close up of George Barris with the Special Devision trophy and Jone Pedersen inside Jesse Ford.
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So far I have been able to find evidence for 10 Custom Cars at the First Annual Oakland Roadster Show. I’m not sure if this is the complete list or if there were more at the show. There have been shared a nice amount of photos taken at this 1950 show, but most of the photos were taken of Hot Rods, and how only other Hot Rods in the back ground. The people who we talked to about the show could not really remember much about the show. And how many Customs there were. If any of the CCC-Readers knows more, please let us know.


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Special thanks to Ron Brooks for helping me a lot with this article.



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Resources and more info

  • Hot Rod Magazine, March 1950
  • Rod & Custom, magazine June 1989
  • Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s, books
  • Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s, book
  • The Oakland Roadster Show, book
  • The American Custom Car, book
  • Hot Rod Gallery, book
  • Custom Car Chronicle, website

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John Quintal 1956 Album

 

QUINTELL 56 ALBUM

 

Nor Cal Custom Enthusiast Ron Brooks has an amazing collection of Custom Car Historic material, and the great thing is, he loves to share it. This time Ron shares Swanx member John Quintals photo album pages from 1956 with us.

 

CCC-swanx-bannerThe original Swanx banner hand stiched in 1953. (From the Swanx Vallejo facebook page)
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Ron Brooks has shared some great material from Oakland Swanx Car Club member John Quintal 1956 Photo album with us. The scans were made of copied pages of this album, hence the bit blurry effect on some of the material. John created this album from the roads trips he, andhis fellow Swanx members made showing their cars in California. The photos shown here are all from 1956, and most of them come from the trip John and the guys made to Los Angeles when they visited the 1956 MotoRama show with their cars.

 

CCC-john-quintell-album-15The Oakland Swinx members…
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John Quintal owned a mildly customized in a nice 1940’s style¬†35 ford Roadster. There are no photos of John’s album at the LA Motorama show, so most likely he did not bring his own car to this event. The photo showing John’s Ford was taken at the 1959 Oakland Roadster Show, closer to home. Ron Brooks has heard many stories from the early/mid 1950’s Nor Cal car club members, and how they went on the road trip to the famous Los Angeles shows. Those trips where a real big deal back then. Hence the many snapshots taken, and the creation of the album. Lets take a closer look at some of the photos from John Quintal 1956 Album.

CCC-john-quintell-album-14Beautiful mild custom 1935 Ford owned by John Quintal at the 1956 Oakland show. The car has a chopped windshield, shaved handles, 1940 Olds bumpers and smooth hubcaps on white wall tires.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-18One of the pages of the album showing the guys in Hollywood, a car show vendor, and what appears to be a motel lobby.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-17Getting some new decals at on of the show vendors.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-02John’s album contained two photos of this really uniquely styled 1951 Studebaker at the LA MotoRama show.¬†Sadly there is no info given on who owned the car or who created it, and so far we also have not been able to find out anything about it. First time we have ever seen this car.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-06The almost track nose shaped grille opening fits really well with the shape of the front fenders. The hooded headlights and bumperettes all help to create a very unique Custom.
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CCC-john-quintell-albym-01
 

CCC-john-quintell-album-07The Album also contained two photos of the 1946 Mercury Coupe the Valley Custom Shop guys created for Bob Hoshiko.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-03The pink, white and dark gray 1941 Ford the Barris Kustom Shop created for Frank Monteleon is part of the Barris Kustoms Display wall in 1956.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-04Swanx member Ted Leventhal¬†posing with his¬†1950 Chevrolet convertible that was restyled by Emory Robinson’s Custom Shop. Mel Pinoli’s Body & Paint Shop added the green Candy Apple paint in 1955. Which is also known as the very first car painted in a transparent color which would later be known as as Candy Apple.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-05The gang “Swanx”. It looks like a few of the girl-friends or wife’s also joined the guys to Los Angeles.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-08Barris Kustoms restyled Cadillac Lemans show car. The listed value of $52,000 must have made a huge impact on John.. and most likely many people in 1956. Thats the Barris Wild Kat Pick up in the background.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-10John also included this snapshot of George Barris driving a Barris Kustoms painted midget on the same page which showed the Cadillac Lemans., although the markings indicate the photo was taken at a different show in Monterey, sadly we cannot read the year in the top right corner.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-11John’s album also included a number of photos from Hot Rod’s he liked included this ’22 T from Norm Grabowki. The “Lightning Bug” version. (marked as a 27, thanks Marcus Edell for the info)
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CCC-john-quintell-album-12The Sport Car and Fiberglass section of the show.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-13The guys getting some rest in the Worlds Most Comfortable chairs.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-19The album also included this full color post car from the TAPKITS company, showing Johnny Johnson’s 1951 Kaiser custom. Possibly a souvenir taken from the show.
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CCC-john-quintell-album-16The guys at the 1956 MotoRama show in front of the famous NHRA Trailer.
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Manny thanks to John Quital for creating this great Album and Ron Brooks for scanning and sharing it with us.
 
 
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(this article is sponsored by)

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CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob

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Gil Ayala at the 1951 Roadster Show

 

GIL AYALA AT THE 1951 ROADSTER SHOW

 

Lynn Ayala recently share some really great historic Custom Car¬†memorabilia¬†from her dad. Gil Ayala entered the¬†Ayala built¬†1940 Mercury at the 1951 National Roadster show in Oakland. Lynn’s mother went there with Gil and kept some souvenirs from that trip.



Gil Ayala’s Gil Auto Body Works at Olympic Blvd. in East Los Angeles has turned out a huge number of fantastic Custom Cars in the 1940’s and 1950’s and even long after that. Together with Harry Westergard, Jimmy Summers, Barris Kustoms and a few more they set the style in the early days of Customizing. Gil was never really much into promoting his work. His shop was relatively small, and he always had plenty of work. His advertising was the great work he did, and new customers would come in after seeing other clients Custom Cars. This is one of the reasons that there has not much been published about the Ayala Shop… at least not as much as for instance on the Barris Kustom Shop. It is also a reason why there are relatively few photos or other material left from the Ayala shop, or their cars.


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So each time we do find out more about the history of Gil and Al Ayala the Custom Car enthusiasts from all over the world get excited. The Ayala family has been sharing some great material with us and others over the past decade or so, and now Lynn Ayala is sharing more material. Lynn is actually working on something very special about the her father and the custom car world… It is not ready yet, but when the time comes it will be ready we sure will inform you about it here on the Custom Car Chronicle.


CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-mt-portretGil’s 1940 Mercury from the cover of the November 1950 Motor Trend magazine. The car was painted jet-black at this point. Inset photo is Gil Ayala.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-09I found this old postcard of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay bridge online.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-coversGil’s 1940 Mercury appeared twice on the Motor Trend magazine cover. First time as finished in yet-black on the November 1950 cover, and still unfinished and in primer on the October 1951 cover.
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The memorabilia Lynn shared this time are some scrapbook samples of the trip Gil Ayala and his wife  took to the National Roadster Show in 1951. Gil showed the 1940 Mercury that he had originally built for himself, but later sold to Richard J. Stickley from Hollywood, California. They showed the car at the Oakland Exposition Building show for the new owner. And they did very well, winning the Customs class with the car. After Gil had sold his 1940 Mercury he repainted the car in Devil Maroon for the Richard J. Stickley.


Note from Lynn

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Not only did my mom keep EVERYTHING from being alongside my dad & all his automotive adventures…..
she wrote down details as well.

Sometimes actually on the souvenirs lol.

These are from the Oakland Roadster Show in 1951 (now the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona) where he took 1st place!

I love how she writes that they were at Bob’s Big Boy from 1am-2am after landing at Burbank Airport. She’s still so proud of him & so am I.

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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-01Gil Ayala’s Parking pass.¬†
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-02Gil Ayala’s¬†door pass for the National Roadster show.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-03This is the backside of the Door Pass where Gil’s wife wrote: Oakland Roadster show – Oakland Exposition Bldg. Gil won 1st place with his 1940 Mercury (Devil Maroon) No. 406 2/24/26/ ’51 door Pass.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-05 CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-04The¬†Bob’s Big Boy match book where Gil and his wife had lunch after landing at the Burbank airport, on their way home. ¬†1-am,¬†February¬†26, 1951 after landing at Burbank Airport.
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CCC-oakland-exposition-building-01Photo from the Exposition Building where the National Roadster show was held. This photo is not from 1951 though.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-07From Ron Brook’s Collection comes this scan of the 1951 National Roadster show program showing Gil’s 1940 Mercury.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-06The short description on the 1940 Mercury on the show program mentions that the dash was painted purple with cream, but not that the car was now painted “Devil Maroon” as we can read it in the note on the door pass.
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CCC-national-roadster-show-1951-articleHot Rod Mechanics article on the 1951 Oakland Roadster show, a small photo of Gil’s 1940 Mercury appeared in the article.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-11The photo used in the Hot Rod Mechanics article¬†is the only “good” photo we have been able to¬†find of Gil’s 1940 Mercury at the 1951 Nations Roadster show.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-08In one other overview photo we can also spot the No. 406, 1940 Mercury at the show. Sadly the photo is a bit blurry and pretty dark.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-12One more photo of the 1951 National Roadster show that shows Gil’s 1940 Mercury is this one focusing on the Sam Barris 1949 Mercury. Parked behind Sam’s Mercury is Gil’s car.
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Sadly Gil’s, or actually Richard J. Stickley’s 1940 Mercury¬†vanished after the 1951 National Roadster show. We have not been able to find any information about the car after it appeared in the 1951 show. If you know anything more about Gil’s old 1940 Mercury, what happened to it after 1951, or if it is still around today hiding away in a barn, or garage. Please let us know, Email Rik. We would love to find out what happened to the car.


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Dick Read’s T-era – almost finished

 

ITCHING EXPERIENCE

 

In this last article on Dick Read’s Show Car, the T-era, we show you the second part of how it was created.



Go to part one, or part two of the Dick Rear T-era, Show Rod.

We let Dick tell the story in his own words.

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Thanks again for the interest in my Show Rod.
As to how I came up with the design, I sort of had 3 concepts in my mind. I wanted the nose to look sort of like a Ferrari Formula 1 car of the time, the body to have some sort of semi-fenders over the tires with the eye catch being a wacky roof line, and the rear end to show a spoiler which was just coming into NASCAR. All of these features had to be molded into one flowing design front to rear. I made a few sketches, although I wasn’t much of an artist, and just started cutting plywood at about 1 foot sections of the sketch. It then all just flowed together. I used a plaster over the wire mesh and that proved to be the hardest part just getting it sanded in to a smooth shape with some plastic body filler over that. It was a long job. The fiberglass mold needed to be 17/19 parts just to be able to get it to release from the plaster model. The mold was then bolted back together and the actual body was hand layed up inside of the mold. I can still remember the smell of the resin and the constant itching from the fiberglass. I think the whole process used more than 2 drums of resin. It was truly a learning experience for me, but when it was all done the wow factor of having done it was hard to explain to someone. When you do a large project like that personnel pride and the feeling of accomplishment lasts a lifetime. That was the feeling I had when you found the old car for me.
Dick Read


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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP2-01-WAnother look at the mold. This was actually build up from 17 or 19 parts which were screwed together. Without the separate parts it would have been impossible to to remove the single unit fiberglass body from the mold.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP2-02-WDick is carefully removing the front sections of the mold to reveal the fiberglass body.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP2-03-WDick taking his first “test” drive in the fresh out of the mold body… Huge smile on his face. After all the hard work the car is finally taking shape. Behind the body you can see the mold that created the fiberglass body. The seams on the body show where the separated mold sections were joint.¬†
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP2-04-WTesting the fit of the Buick engine.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP2-05-WAfter the body was all cleaned up and painted it was time start the assembly.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP2-06-WThe car nearly completely assembled at the Buick Pontiac dealership.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP2-07-WThe last photo before the car was completely finished and ready to be heading to the Oakland Roadster Show in 1969. In the background you can see the office space of the Buick Dealership from Dick’s father.
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Dick Read’s Show Rod – How it was created

 

HOW IT WAS CREATED

 

In the first article on Dick Read’s Show Rod we showed you how the car looked liked when it was competing on the car-show circuit. In this second article we show you how Dick created the car.

In the first article we first asked the CCC-Readers if they knew anything about the current whereabouts of the car. Show car collector and Custom Car and Hot Rod enthusiast Mark Moriarity contacted us that he knew more about the car. He informed us that the car was still around, and that he would contact the current owner. Contact information was swapped and now the original builder and current owner have now been talking on the phone. Dick will soon be visiting the current owner in Michigan and for the first time since 1970 be able to see his old dream Show Rod in person again.

Dick built the car in Hoopeston, Illinois where he could use a corner at the Buick Pontiac dealership operated by Dick’s father. Dick was able to use all the tools from the dealer ship thru-out the build.
Several sketches were produced before the final design was picked. From there the first task was to create the frame and get the front and rear axle located. Once the wheels/tires could be mounted it was time to get the body shaped roughed in using plywood panels cut to shape.The more rounded section of the body design were bend up from metal tubing and welded together. Brackets were constructed to hold the tubing sections in place on the wood structure.
 

CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-01-WAfter the frame was constructed and the front and rear axle mounted it was time to construct the plywood frame on which the custom body could be shaped.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-02-WEarly construction photo show the angled plywood panels which created the base shape of the body.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-03-WMore plywood was added to use for the roof construction, and some of the round sections, like the fenders were shaped out of metal tubing. One the shape was perfect everything was covered with wire mesh.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-04-WMost of the front end design was shaped from bended tubing which was welded to create the final shape. The metal rod construction was then attached to a wood base to hold it in place during the wire mesh shaping.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-05-WThis side view of the “cabin” gives a good view of the wire mesh shaped around the tubing and plywood. The whole structure is now taking shape and starting to look like the final car.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-06-WThe wire mesh was then covered in plaster, and sanded smooth until Dick had created the perfect shape. Then everything was painted. The pattern or buck for creating the fiberglass body was now ready.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-07-WThe rear of the plaster over wire mesh base from the rear.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-08-WNext step was to cover the whole structure with fiberglass which would eventually act as a mold for creating the car’s body.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-IP-09-WAfter the fiberglass mold was created over the structure wood and metal rod were fiberglassed onto the mold. This would create an ultra strong mold. Which was needed since the plaster/wire mesh/wood/metal rod structure underneath it needed to be removed without damaging the mold. After this the fiberglass body will be laminated inside this mold.


You can see the result in the third article on Dick Read’s Show Rod.
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Dick Read’s T-era Show Rod

 

LOST 60’s SHOW ROD

 

In the late 1960’s Dick Read from Hoopeston, Illinois designed and constructed his dream Show Rod. after showing it for two years Dick sold it and has never seen it again. Where is it now?

CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-01-WThe T-era was super detailed with a wonderful Buick Nailhead engine.
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Dick Read contacted the Custom Car Chronicle to see if we knew of the current whereabouts of his old Show Rod and if not if we could help him find his old car. Dick would very much like to know what happened to his car after 1970, or if it is perhaps still around today. In that case Dick would love to be able to get a chance to see if he can get his old car back home. So if any of our readers knows anything about Dick’s old car, please let us know.

[box_light]UPDATE November 26, 2013.
With the help of Mark¬†Moriarity the current owner of Dick’s old Show Rod was located in Parma, Michigan. Dick was able to talk to the current owner Rick and they talked for quite some time on the phone. Dick was extremely happy to learn his old T was still with us, and in perfect condition. And even better that he soon will be able to see it again for the first time since 1970. Now this it the kind of stories we love to tell and be part of![/box_light]

The car was built in Hoopeston, Illinois at the Buick Pontiac dealership operated by Dick’s father. Dick constructed a full size plaster/wood model first. From that he created a fiberglass mold, and then layed the body up inside the mold.
After working on the car for several month the car was debuted at the prestigious 1969 Oakland Roadster show. The car finished 1st in the roadster class, but Art Himsel’s car took the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award with his “The Alien” fiberglass dune buggy inspired Hot Rod.

After being showed in California Dick took the the car back to the midwest. There he showed it at Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and a few other places in 1969/70. The car always took best in show. The car’s name was the T-Era, (like tiara). Dick sold the car in 1970 to someone in the Detroit, Mi area who said they were creating a car museum. After that Dick never saw it back nor heard anything about it.

This article shows some of the many photos Dick has of his finished Show Rod. Next time we will show you how Dick created the T-era.

 

CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-010-WThe car parked in front of dick’s father’s Buick-Pontiac dealership.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-07-WThe car at one of the mid west Custom Car shows.
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CCC-Dick-Read-T-era-011-WThe car in winter time at Dick’s home.
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Read how Dick Read’s T-era Show Rod was created in the second article.

 

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