Westergard classic 36 Ford

CLASSIC WESTERGARD FORD

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One of the finest Harry Westergard build early style custom cars is Jack Odbert’s 1936 Ford convertible.

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Original article from 2013, updated with Color Photo in July, 2020.

When I was about 20 years, I first saw a photo of Jack Odbert 1936 Ford convertible in the Best Hot Rods booklet (published by Facett Books in 1952). I totally fell in love with this one photo, that was shown in the chapter: “Album of Best Hot Rods”. The car reminded me of the bright yellow and white 1936 Ford, that Possies Hot Rod shop had built in the early 1980’s. The Best Hot Rods booklet listed Jack Odbert from Sacramento, California as the owner. But the name of the builder was not mentioned.

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1952 photo of Jack’s 1936, shows the wonderful speedboat stance of the car. It also shows how all the custom elements on the front of the car work together to create an unique classic look.

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Many years later I found a copy of the 1957 Trend Books Custom Cars annual, and in this there was a small article called: “Remember when”. In this article, two more photos of this stunning 1936 Ford convertible were shown. The car had been build by the Granddaddy of Early Customizing: Harry Westergard. Something I had already assumed, but now it was confirmed. This 1957 Annual showed a dead on front and rear photo. Both new photos showed this was a very well designed, and grafted 1936 Ford Custom Car.

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The 1941 Oldsmobile bumpers have a lot more body than the original Ford bumpers. These new bumpers fit close to the body, and the stock cut out at the center fits the LaSalle grille perfectly. The long over-riders give the front extra height.

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The Oldsmobile rear bumpers are perfect for the back as well where the heavy end sections flow well with the Fords fenders. The chrome surround on the set in license plate help with the classic feel of the car.

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Recently, perhaps a year or so ago, I came across a copy of the July 1984 issue of Classic & Custom magazine. This magazine has a two page article on Harry Westergard, and shows a few photos of the custom cars he created. And two of the photos show Jack’s 1936 Ford indoors. One nice front 3/4 view, and one partly shot from high up, inside a car dealer showroom in Sacramento, where a small Hot Rod and Custom Car show was held.

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Overview photo of the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer showroom. In 1950 there was a small Custom car and Hot Rod show, and in this photo we can already see 4 or 5 padded topped customs. At least three of them can be identified as Westergard Customs.

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As far as we have found out, there has never been a real proper feature done on Jack Odbert’s ’36 Ford, not back in the day, and not recently. In fact I have never even seen any other photos of the car, other than the ones shown here in this article. We have not been able to get in contact with anybody who knows what ever happened with the car, or knew Jack Odbert or his car. To me Jack’s Ford is one of the best ever Harry Westergard customs. The classic thin, high nose, padded topped convertible, looks so much more classic, and expensive than the original Ford it was based on, ever looked.

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Bryan Rusk shared this snapshot of the ’36 Ford Cabriolet from the Donovan Welch Collection. 

We also do not know exactly when the car was built. Some of the looks indicate the car might have been just after WWII. The earliest photo we have seen of it is however from 1950, when it was photographed at a local Chevrolet dealer showroom car show in Sacramento. The newest parts we can find on the car, are from 1947.

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This photo was also taken at the Sacramento Chevrolet dealer. It shows the car with 1950 black letters on yellow plates. It also appears that the skirts have been decorated with 1941 Buick trim pieces. Note that the small diameter spotlights are pointing forward.

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Garry Odbert shared this wonderful color slide of the Jack Odbert 1936 Ford. The photo was taken at the Sacramento Autorama. Possibly in the 1954, or 1955. Look at the color!

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Lets take a closer look at the customizing Harry Westergard performed on this car.
Larry chopped the windshield frame, and had a padded top made for it. Most likely done by the Hall Top Shop. Harry removed the stock grille, reshaped the opening to accept a 1937 LaSalle grille. The grille looks like it was made for the car. Even the bull nose, and chrome trim on top of the hood looks so perfect with the grille. Harry added some unidentified – longer than stock – headlights, and modeled them half way into the front fenders. This in combination with the tall, and narrow LaSalle rille, gave the illusion that the hood is now much higher than it originally was.

New smooth hood sides replace the original louvered units. The former small grilles on the horn openings in the front fender were reshaped to accept 1947 Ford parking lights. The stock bumpers were replaced by 1941 Oldsmobile units. These bumpers have a wonderful Art Deco look, and the thick end sections fit the Ford fenders perfectly. Harry kept the tall bumper guards which fit perfectly with the LaSalle grille up front.

At the back, the stock taillights were removed, and replaced with what appear to be low mounted 1946-48 Ford units, or perhaps 1940 Chevy units. The rear panels below the trunk were modified to accept a set in license plate, which was detailed with a chrome plated surround. This surround echoes the shape of the mail slot window in the padded top. The suspension was lowered bit for the perfect ride height, and set of black wall tires were detailed with Sombrero look alike, after market hubcaps.
Harry added spotlights, but smaller than the regular Appleton S-122 or S-522’s. He also shaved all the handles from the body, and most likely installed electric door openings.

We now know that the color of the car was an ultra brilliant gold metallic. Hopefully this article will generate some more talks about this car, and hopefully some of the older enthusiasts know more about it. If we do find out more, we will add it to this article.

Resources and more info
Best Hot Rods, Facett Books 1952
Custom Cars annual 1957, Trend Books
Classic & Custom magazine, July 1984

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1947-48 Buick Gaylord Tops

 

1947-48 BUICK GAYLORD TOPS

 

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



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




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

Stock 1947-48 Buick Convertible at the Gaylord Kustom Top Shop, possibly waiting to get the windshield chopped and a full padded top done. This photo shows the car with the stock folding top, and how the car original has a rear quarter window. Which makes the full length padded top look so special on these. The car is not the same one I think as the one below, notice the spotlight on the stock one, and non on the one chopped below. That is Bill’s personal chopped ’49 Merc behind the Buick.
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Chopped windshield, super sleek Gaylord padded top, lowered suspension and smoothed hood. All that is needed to make this Buick look super nice, and a mile long. I wonder if the owner perhaps saved up to have more work done at a later stage, as in shaved door handles, frenched headlights…
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Close up of the chopped padded Gaylord top. Perfectly shaped, with beautiful flow of the rear of the top and the just right angle of the B-Pillar.
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This is such a great photo showing Bill Gaylord’s personal ’49 Mercury with the chopped top still in progress, Ben Mario’s Barris restyled ’47 Buick with none buffed paint, or perhaps primer? with the top still at stock height, and Bill Gaylord’s personal ’41 Ford with super low padded top behind it.
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Close up of Ben Mario’s Buick from the photo above.
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Different photo, taken the same day as the one above shows the satin finish of the paint job on Ben Mario’s Buick. The guy all the way on the right looks a lot as a young George Barris.
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Ben Mario’s ’47 Buick was restyled at the Barris shop as a none chopped custom at first. The custom interior was done by Bill Gaylord. This photo of the car was taken later when the paint was completely polished, and a cover was added over the rear seat.
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Later the windshield was chopped on Ben Mario’s Buick and Bill Gaylord created a beautiful super long padded top with panoramic rear window.
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Ben Mario’s 1948 Buick photo that looks to be taken at the Hot Rod Show at the Los Angeles Armory, most likely in Jan 1950. Notice that the sign behind the car reads Barris Kustom Shop Bell. In March 1950 the Barris Shop moved to the new Lynwood Location.
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Barris and Gaylord advertised combined in Motor Trend magazine and the Ben Mario Buick was used to illustrate Bill’s Interior Skill’s and the Barris Shop’s body work and design skills. Sadly Bill Gaylord went into the military right when the magazine with this ad hit the newsstand, so there was nobody at the shop to welcome any new customers responding to the ad.
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Don Vaughn’s Barris  Restyled ’47 Buick. Notice the very round shape of the rear of the side window opening. Very different that the light colored Buick at the start of this article.
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Don Vaughn’s ’47 Buick might was very similar styled as Ben Mario’s Buick. And there are some stories around that mention the the Mario and Vaughn Buick’s are the same car. So far we have not been able to find any evidence for that, but the resemblance sure is remarkable.
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Close up of the Gaylord Panoramic rear window he added to the chopped padded top. The glass was made from shaped plexiglass.
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The flow of the top into the trunk is so nice on these Gaylord tops. They enhance all the Barris Restyled elements very well.
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This possibly is the Ben Mario or Don Vaughn Barris / Gaylord restyled 1948 Buick. The photo was taken quite a few years ago, and we do not know where it is, or who owns it. But the rumor is it is the original Barris Restyled Buick with the Gaylord created padded top frame in place. The one odd thing about the car in the photo is that it shows a door handle in place, which was shaved on both the Mario, and Vaughn Buick. Hopefully the future will bring more info on this mystery.
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1937 Ford Customs

 

1937 FORD CUSTOMS

 

The 1937 Ford, along with the 1938 models were often considered the Ugly Ducklings from the FoMoCo. Yet they still were Customized, and with great success.



The 1937 Fords were introduced on November 6, 1936. Responsible for the designs was not Ford stylist Bob Gregorie, who was busy working on the new Lincoln Zephyr’s but rather the Briggs Manufacturing Company staff. This team worked under the leadership of John Tjaarda. the Briggs crew included Alex Tremulis, Bob Koto, and Phil Wright, all car stylists of considerable stature. Yet they team designed a series of models for the 1937 year that a lot of people consider (together with the ’38 Fords) as the most ugly Fords ever created.

One of the reasons the car was not very much loved for its looks might have been caused by a proportional issue. Henry Ford, personally ordered that the car’s overall length needed to be reduced from 182.75 inches to 179.5. Which might not sound like a lot, but can be seen as the same difference from a Ford to more classy looking Mercury. The shortening from its early concepts was enough to make most of the models look a bit stubby, and not as elegant as the original designs proposals had looked like.

The 1937 Ford came in a large selection of models, and they all looked great.
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Despite the fact that the ’37 Ford was considered not to be very attractive, the cars were still being custom restyled. Mildly restyled, with dress up accessories, or a bit more elaborate with chopped windshields and padded tops on the convertible models. The narrow and pointy grilles and molded in headlights of the ’37 Ford gave the car an sort of instant Custom Looks. So much that these cars did not really need a whole lot to already look more attractive. Lowering the suspension and chopping the windshields perhaps brought back the proportions the original designers had been looking for.

I have been collecting photos of Custom Restyled 1937 Fords for many years. This “Ugly Duckling” has a special place in my heart. In those years collecting photos I have found out that most of the Custom Restyled ’37 Ford were mild Customs, and unlike other year Fords, most were not treated with the full Custom treatments. There are a few exceptions, like the Glen Johnson Coupe, but in general the ’37 Fords were moderately restyled, just because that fits these cars so well. Most were Custom Restyled in the 1940’s and unlike other year Fords very few were treated as Custom Cars in the 1950’s.

In the research for this article I have also come across a lot of photos of old ’37 Fords as race cars back in the 1940’s, a lot of the ’37 Ford ended up being wrecked in races. Probably more so than any other year Fords.



1937 Ford Convertible Customs

Judging the amount of photos of Custom Restyled ’37 Ford’s I have come across I would say that the ’37 Ford Convertibles is the body style that was mostly restyled. Which makes sense since most of the Custom restyling on these cars was done back in the 1940’s, and at the time it was relatively easy and cheap to have your convertible chopped and an padded top build at the same top shop. At least it was much easier and cheaper than a Coupe of sedan. The convertibles were very popular in California, due to the year round great weather. If you moderately lowered the ’37 Ford convertible, added white wall tires, skirts in the back and a low chopped Padded Top with sloping profile I think the end result came close or even better enhanced the original design ideas from the team at FoMoCo.

Earl Bruce standing proud with his beautifully restyled ’37 Ford Convertible. ’41 Ford bumpers, chopped padded top, solid hood sides, early style single bar flipper hubcaps, skirts, wide whites, and a matching suit.
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Snapshot taken during WWII shows two lovely ladies posing with a chopped dark padded topped convertible with single bar ripple disk hubcaps, DeSoto Bumpers, Skirts, Spotlight(s) and chrome plated aftermarket sealed beam headlights.
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Very similar ’37 Convertible as above, with the same Custom Restyling, except this time the car was outfitted with a light colored padded top.
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Halliday family customized 1937 Ford convertible with mildly chopped windshield, padded top, wide white wall tires, single bar flipper hubcaps, single Appleton Spotlights  and 1937 DeSoto bumpers and exteneded headlights.
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This photo was taken in 1940 and shows a chopped ’37 Convertible with smooth hood sides, skirts, dual Appleton Spotlights, lowered suspension and custom hubcaps on wide white wall tires.
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Late 1930’s or early 1940’s photo by Dean Batchelor.
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Edward “Eddie” Littlefield was 23 years old when he owned this chopped, padded topped Ford in 1940. The photo was taken in Bend, Oregon where Edward lived. Ed had purchased the car from Ray Brothers Ford in the Fernando Valley, California at the corner of Van Nuys and Chandler Boulevards. Some accessories that came with the deal included the radio antenna, the OEM Ford spot light that cost $15.75 installed, Fog lights, a Silver finish Radiator shield to keep the heat in in the cool Oregon weather at $1.25, rear fender shields (we call them skirts) at $8.50 a pair, installed, a rear trunk rack at $7.50 and aftermarket wheel discs. Sadly the car was did not live long as a Custom. Eddie and his bud were making one of their L.A. to Bend trips and Ed got tired so his buddy slid behind the wheel while Ed was getting some shut-eye. The unthinkable happened and the driver fell asleep while the car left the road and destroyed itself. Luckily they both escaped alive. (from the www.ahrf.com)
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Dave Riddle shared some photos of his grandfather’s ’37 Chopped padded topped ’37 Ford convertible with smooth hood sides.
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Dave grandfather posing with his Custom Restyled ’37 Ford with 1940 Oldsmobile bumpers.
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Ford called this long topped Convertible the Club Cabriolet. Although most customs are based on the shorter top Convertible Cabriolet, these long topped car look really great with a chopped padded top, as this early 1940’s sample shows.
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1937 Ford mixed with an early Auburn Speedster for the ultimate Boat-Tail Custom.
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Around 1937 France Coachbuilder Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin moved to Los Angeles and the first car he created in Los Angeles was this beautiful ’37 Ford Roadster base on a Model 78 Deluxe.
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The Sedan convertibles and Phaeton models of the ’37 Ford were also seen a lot as mild and a little wilder Custom Cars. The cars were much more roomy than the ‘convertibles, so they were ideal if you drove around with friends, or even if you had a family. Just like with the regular convertible the chopped windshield and padded top option was the number one choice, judging the vintage photos. If restyled well, with the right proportions, as in lowered suspension, chopped windshield and padded top with nice round rear quarter corners these four door convertible sedans had a certain classic high end look, which was very desirable in the late 30’s early 1940’s. up to the mid 1940’s.

Unidentified ’37 Ford sedan convertible with chopped windshield, removed running boards with modified front fenders, custom made frame filler panel, stainless steel rock shields on the rear fenders, smooth hood-sides, wide whites and ripple disk hubcaps. Most likely a matching padded top was left home before going to the dry lakes where this photo was taken. Interestingly it looks like the car had a single pin-stripe at the beltline, something not commonly seen on early Customs.
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Steve Box took these two photos of a nicely done ’37 Ford Convertible Sedan in California in the late 1940’s. The car did not have a chopped windshield, but was outfitted with a non folding Padded top. It also had teardrop fender skirts (that were slightly to small to cover the ’37 wheel openings., smooth hood sides, ’37 DeSoto bumpers, Appleton Spotlights, smooth hood sides, lowered stance and sealed beam headlights. The taillights appear to be low mounted ’38-39 Ford teardrop units, or perhaps he just mounted complete ’38 Ford rear fenders.
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Very Classic and beautiful Custom Restyled 1937 Ford Phaeton most likely done in the late 1930’s, perhaps early 1940’s. It features a slightly lower stance, chopped windshield, with padded top, custom side trim, possibly from a ’38 Ford. small diameter single bar flipper hubcaps, fender skirts and white wall tires.
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’37 Ford Convertible Sedan owned by a Pasadena Ford dealer’s son photographed in 1940. At first I thought it might have been a later version of the photo above, but the shape of the padded top and the location of the side trim is different. This is a very nice ’37 Ford Custom though. with the chopped padded top, DeSoto bumpers, added  side trim, smooth hood sides and removal of the running boards.
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This ’37 Ford, photographed with 1940 California plates is the same car as the photo above. But this time it has a narrowed stock grille with the sides filled in. Interesting to see the new belt line side trim has been extended compared to the photo above to cover the grille side panels.
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1937 Sedan Convertible with chopped windshield, removed running boards with an Hollywood accessory kit to cover the holes and gaps left by the running boards.
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I came across this photo online many years ago. It was mentioned it was an ’40 Custom with chopped Carson top. Have not seen it since. I hope it got fixed, and hopefully the big and little tires were replaced with regular size tires for a more Custom feel how it most likely looked in the 1940’s.
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1937 Ford Coupes

Unlike the convertible ’37 Fords, most restyled ’37 Coupes remained un-chopped and were restyled only mildly, there are of course a few exceptions to this. I’m not sure why this was, perhaps most owners mildly restyled their ’37 Ford Coupes just to make them less “ugly”. And then obviously would not go all the way.  Previous year Fords were more often chopped and further customized, same goes with later years. I think it really is a shame not more ’37 Ford Coupes went with the full Custom treatment. With a proper chop I think these ’37 Ford could have looks very nice as full custom. Both in the 1940’s as well as in the 1950’s, then perhaps with more restyling going than the decade before.

1937 Ford Coupe transformed to pick up truck for the race track. The fenders were modified with new headlights at the front and extensions at the rear to match the longer bed. Smooth hood sides and and early Cal Custom ’37 Ford accessory hood trim piece. The car was originally Customized in 1938.
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Mildly dressed up ’37 Ford Club Coupe. The club coupe had longer sedan doors and therefor longer cabin and shorter trunk. This one looks nice with the white wall tires and early small diameter single bar flipper hubcaps.
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Regular ’37 Ford Coupe with lowered suspension with a bit more taken out of the rear. My guess is that it normally has a set of fender skirts installed to hide the stock rear hubcaps. On the front is has Custom hubcaps and solid hood sides.
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Regular Coupe with the running boards removed and an Hollywood Aftermarket kit to fill the holes.
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From the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling comes this unfinished chopped Coupe with the running board removed and the grille cut down till the bottom of the hood sides. The hood sided have been welded to the hood and the top portion, above the grille was filled in with new sheet metal, giving the hood an almost ’39 Ford look. The California License plate is from ’48-’50.
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This photo is from up in the mid 1950’s and showds an restyled, or perhaps better said dressed up ’37 Ford Coupe. Extended headlights with eyebrow rings, ’49 Plymouth bumpers, Running board trim made from ’56 Ford side trim material, custom side trim and a two, or perhaps three tone paint job.
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Glen Johnson 1937 Ford Coupe

One of the wilder Custom Cars based on the ’37 Ford was Glen Johnson’s ’37 Ford Coupe. Glenn was inspired to built the car when his friend Carl Gratz had bought a custom 1936 Ford 5-window coupe that used to belong to Tommy Jamiesson and Bob Campbell, with body work by Howard Fall. Glenn wanted to built something similar and used a 1937 Ford coupe as a base.

Glenn started to work on his car around 1947. He chopped the top 4 inches front and a little more in the back to give it a better flow. The panel between the trunk and rood was stretched to compensate for the now shorter top, and the A-pillars were leaned back a little. The running boards were removed and the body channeled over the frame until the bottom of the body sat level with the bottom of the frame. The front and rear fenders were raised and re positioned to compensate for the body drop and molded to the main body. New hood sides were fabricated to fill the now much smaller openings. Pieces of the original panels were combined with new shaped panels to form a single unit filling in the original top portion of the grille. This unit was later welded to the cowl. At the front Glenn heavily modified a 1947 Cadillac grille to fit the new lines of the car. The stock headlights were replaced with 1940 Ford units and a 1941 Cadillac front bumper was installed. At the rear a split bumper of a 1946 DeSoto was installed 46-48 Ford taillights were mounted on the splash pan just below the DeSoto rear bumper.

When the car was almost finished it caught fire and he lost most of the interior, and perhaps even more important all the lead worked. Glenn moved to Glendale and redid the car while he lived there. Glenn worked on the car from 1947 till 1951 using only primitive tools in his own garage and backyard and eventually finished it in ruby maroon. The car was in several magazines including the Restyle your car booklet from 1952, and the most important on the cover and with a long feature story in Hot Rod magazine of April 1952.

Early stages of the Glenn Johnson ’37 Ford Coupe.
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Glenn Johnson’s ’37 Ford coupe on the left sitting next to the car that inspired Glenn to start his. Glenn’s friend Carl Gratz had bought this early reatyled 1936 Ford 5-window coupe that used to belong to Tommy Jamieson and Bob Campbell. By now Glenn had mostly finished his coupe, which was in primer and awaiting final assembly.
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When Glenn was finished with his Coupe around 1951, the car did not look much like the ’37 Ford he started with anymore. The raised fenders, Cadillac grille, bumper and ’40 Ford headlights had completely transformed the cars looks.
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The car is now completely restored and part of the Joe Bortz Collection.
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Hank Heimbach owns this chopped ’37 Ford Coupe with filled grille surround and Packard Clipper grille, removed running boards and DeSoto bumpers. All the work on it was done the old fashion way Hank mentioned, so it more than likely started out as a Custom in the 1940’s. Sadly there are no old photos to proof it.
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1937 Ford Sedans

From all the 1937 Ford models (with the Woodies left out) the two and four door sedan models are the least often Custom Restyled. I have come across only a handful of snapshots showing the sedan’s Custom Restyled. Even less than cars from previous and later years.


The photo was taken in the later part of the 1930’s and the ’37 Ford sedan was already fully customized. Chopped and turned long roof coupe, smooth hood sides, removed running boards etc. More on this Mystery Custom car be found HERE.
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Late 1940’s photographed mildly restyled (dressed Up) ’37 Ford 4-door sedan with Appleton Spotlight(s), accessory bumper guards and single bar flipper hubcaps. Notice the square mirrors, very popular item for some time.
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A little fuzzy, but I could not resist to share this late 40’s color photo of this mildly restyled ’37 Ford sedan in this article. Wide whites, single bar flipper hubcaps, 48 Ford bumpers, smooth hood-sides, small spotlights, chrome plated sealed beam headlights and a nice dark red paint job. Love the owners outfit as well.
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Carl Kasprzyk used a ’37 Ford Sedan as the base for his Custom Restyled Show Car in the early 1960’s. The car was recently “found”.




Present day created Custom 1937 Fords

The 1937 Ford has gained a bit more popularity of the last few decades, but more as Hot Rod and Street Rod than as Custom Car. When I researched this article and did a google search for ’37 Ford or ’37 Ford Custom, it was chocking to see how few actual Custom Cars showed up in the search. And most that show up are based on modern fiberglass based cars, which have nothing to do with the Custom Cars we talk about here on the Custom Car Chronicle. Fortunately there are a few exceptions. Rick Dore used a ’37 Ford Coupe for a car he build for James Hetfield, and there are a few others that are currently in the works with an more traditional Custom feel. So hopefully more will follow. I think that these ‘s37 Ford Ugly Ducklings” can look very good as a nice period perfect 40’s Custom.

Rick Dore used a ’37 Ford Coupe as  base for his “The Crimson Ghost” Custom version created for James Hetfield. This one has a lot of body work going on including chopped hard-topped roof, reshaped fenders and molded in coke bottle shaped running boards, custom grille and head and taillights.
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I spotted this ’37 Convertible parked outside at the 2013 GNRS. Lowered, chopped windshield with chopped folding top, skirts, white walls with single bar hubcaps, custom side trim and rock shield on the rear fenders. Very much Custom styling, but the missing hood sides and louvred hood give it a somewhat Hot Rodded look.
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This one is actually a Photoshopped image. The car is a nice mildly customized ’37 Ford with wide walls and Sombrero hubcaps, skirts and the right stance, but I digitally added the chopped windshield and top, just to show how nice these cars can look.
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A few more Custom Restyled ’37 Ford snapshots, showing that even though the ’37 might not have been as popular as its predecessor, the ’36 Ford, it was still used as a Custom Base, both mild and wild.
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Bob Armstrong 1940 Mercury

 

BOB ARMSTRONG 1940 MERC

 

Bob Armstrong from Alhambra California owned this nice looking 1940 Mercury Convertible in 1955.



Here is another bit of a mystery Custom Car that I would like to know some more about. I have a feeling that this car might have been build in the 1940’s by the way it looks. But so far all I have been able to find on the car are photos from around 1955. It started with one photo that was offered on ebay. I noticed the ’46 Chevy grille, smoothed hood and heavy bumper. My first though (only for a split second) was that it could be Buddy Ohanesian Westergard/bertolucci’s 1940 Mercury sedan convertible. But on closer inspection of the online photo I noticed that the car was actually a regular 2 door convertible and that there were no running boards.

The photo was offered without any information, and there was no date on the photo. The Mercury looked like it could have been done around 1946, when the ’46 Chevy grille and Olds Bumpers were brand new items. But on closer inspection of the photo I noticed that the cars in the picture were all waiting in line for their turn on the drag stip. And the car waiting behind the Mercury looked to be a ’53-54 Ford. So the photo must have been taken in 1953 at the earliest.

The first photo I came of this Mercury was on eBay. No info, no date, just a really nice looking Custom Mercury at an unknown drag-strip.
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Zoomed in I could see all the very nice details of the car. The front end of the car with the ’46 Chevy grille, modified hood, and Olds bumper looked particular nice. It looks like the car was pulled to the event judging the what looks like tow straps next to the bumper guards. The club plaque on the front bumper could not be read in this photo. I also noticed the emblem or something like that painted on the cowl.
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I checked my files for ’40 Mercury historic Customs and could not find it there… I saved the photo and did not think about that Merc for quite some time. Several years after the ebay auction the American Hot Rod Foundation AHRF shared a photo on their facebook page showing a side view of a Chopped padded topped Mercury convertible. I recognized the car from the eBay offering a few years earlier. The tall rear bumper, removed running boards and most of all the small thing painted on the cowl. I checked the eBay photo, and yes it sure was the same car. and the best thing of them all, the AHRF shared photo came with some good information.

From the AHRF facebook posting Bob Armstrong’s customized ’40 Mercury Convertible. He had come all the way from Alhambra, California to partake in a little racing at the First Annual NHRA Nationals in Great Bend Kansas (9/29-10/2/55).Under the hood was a potent ’48 Merc that enabled him to cop First in Class C Fuel Coupe and Sedan. His speed was 78.74 mph. Bob also established a National Record in the class with a speed of 90.54 mph. We guess the lead sled moniker doesn’t apply here.

The Josh Mishler AHRF shared photo showed the rear of the car with the padded top on. Very nice lines with the long wrap around Oldsmobile rear bumper, and round, post likely Pontiac taillights. The photo showed the same emblem painted on the cowl as the eBay photo. Notice how short the fender skirt is, necessary to not interfere with the Olds wrap around rear bumper. It looks like the car was jacked up and used different, larger? rear tires for the drag races.
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So now I knew that Bob Armstrong from Alhambra was the owner of the car, at least he was in 1955 when the AHRF shared photo was taken. The photo was shared to the AHRF by Josh Mishler, and belonged to his father. It looks like the first photo I had found of the Mercury was taken at a dragstrip in California, but I do not know where.

The third photo I came across that showed Bob Anderson came from the Hot Rod magazine (Rod & Custom) website. They shared a few photos from taken at the 1955 Petersen Motor Revue Show held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. (formerly known as the Petersen Motorama show) the photo did not come with much information: Here Are Some Examples Of Car Club Involvement. From The Hanging Banners It Looks Like The T Timer’s Had Five Chapters In California: Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, San Fernando, Santa Ana, And Culver City. The Road Rebels Displayed A Carson Topped Full Custom And A Nice Deuce Three Window.


The most recent photo I came across of Bob’s Mercury was taken at the 1955 Petersen Motor revue at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. The car was part of the Road Rebels San Gabriel display at the event.
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At first I did not recognize the Mercury in the pictures, but more recently I was looking at this picture again and noticed the Olds bumper, and ’46 Chevy grille. This must be the Bob Armstrong Mercury. I checked the other photos on file, and it sure was. Great, another photo of this really great looking Mercury Custom, another piece of the puzzle. But yet again a photo of the car from 1955, and not from in the 1940’s, when the car might have been restyled. So now we have three photos of this car, we have a name of the owner, Bob Anderson from Alhambra, Southern California, but still no information on who was the builder, and when it was restyled. If anybody recognized Bob Anderson’s Mercury, knows more about it, or about Bob, please email the CCC. We would love to know more about this Mercury Custom.


Zoomed in we can see a bit more details. Smoothed hood, all trim removed and although hard to see I think that the car had white wall tires on the rear now as well, something white is peaking out under the fender skirts, just above the 32 Ford hood. It appears that the rear fenders were protected by some sort of rock shields, perhaps rubber units.
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About the Mercury

What we can see in the photos is that Bob’s Mercury had the windshield chopped, a nice flowing padded top was created for the car with a slightly angled forward B-pillar. Mosre likely to have been done by Bill Gaylord’s shop and not one created from the jigs at Carson, which always looked slightly more boxy. The front fenders and hood were modified to accept the ’46 Chevy grille, and the work looks to have been done very nice. A splash pan was added to the front to make the ’46 Oldsmobile bumper fit the Mercury. The running boards were removed and filler panels added below the body to hide the frame. Both front and rear fenders were molded to the body and the taillights look to have been replaced by 1948-52 Pontiac taillights. The rear bumper of the ’46 Oldsmobile was also used. And because this bumper has very tall wrap around sections the fender skirts used on the car had to be very short, possibly some ’46-48 Ford skirts were shortened to make them fit this car. All the trim and handles were shaved from the body, and everything was smoothed before being painted a dark color. It looks like the car had Fiesta three bar spinner hubcaps installed in the eBay photo.

Some of the Road Rebels San Gabriel Car club members. Perhaps one of them is Bob Armstrong?
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1941 Ford Mystery Convertible

 

1941 FORD MYSTERY CONVERTIBLE

 

1941 Ford Convertible with chopped padded top, solid grille insert used in Eastern Auto Supply advertising. A Mystery Published Custom Car.



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

The first time I saw a picture of this ’41 Ford Convertible with chopped padded top was in the Custom Cars annual from 1959. The Ford, a typical mid, late 1940’s Custom looked a bit out of place in the ’59 Annual. But it was part of an article about George Barris King of the Kustomizers, and used to illustrate the many years George Barris has been Custom Restyling cars. Some time after I had seen the front 3/4 photo of the car I bought a couple of early Motor Trend magazines. In one of them, the November 1949 issue, there was an half page ad from Eastern Auto Supply. In the ad there was a small photo of an ’41 Ford photographed from the front, with a solid grille panel used to illustrate the California Custom Accessories grille panels. I recognised the primer spots on the windshield frame and the background in the photo and knew it had to be the same car, taken at the same location as that of the ’59 Annual.

Over the years I have come across many more Eastern Auto Supply ads that use the same photos of the ’41, Also Barris Kustom used the same front view photo in their Hollywood Kustom Accessories catalogue. I also recognised the car  on the Barris Atlantic Blvd Shop wall when I did an CCC-Article on that some time ago. But sadly that has been all I have been able to find out about the car. I still have no name of an owner, any dates when it was built, and what happened to the car.


A front 3/4 view photo of the 1941 Ford convertible custom was used in the Trend Book 175 Custom Cars 1959 Annual. It was used as part of an story on George Barris. The caption mentioned pushbutton doors, but the car actually has door handles!
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The first time I have seen a photo of the Ford being used in the Eastern Auto Supply ad was in Feb 1948. This means that the car was most likely built around late 1947. When the photos were taken the windshield had just been chopped and the work had been covered in primer. The car had a straight pillar padded top. Other modifications were 1946 Ford bumpers, solid grille insert bolted in place (not molded), ’41 Ford/Merc fender skirts. Lowered suspension, shortened side trim on the hood. Chrome rock shield on the rear fenders, radio antenna, Appleton Spotlights, and single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings on wide white wall tires. Another indication this was an early custom is that there are no splash pans added to the car. A lot of the Custom accessories used on the car could have come from the Eastern Auto Supply Company, and possibly this car might have been a display case for Barris and Eastern in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. Interestingly the price of the solid grille panel for the ’41 Ford was $9.95 in 1948, the first time I have been able to find its listing, and it was still the same price in 1956, the last time I saw it listed.

Eastern Auto Supply Accessories catalogue from 1949.
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Eastern Auto Supply ad with the ’41 Ford from the November 1949 issue of Motor Trend magazine. The ad was place on the inside of the front cover.
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The ’41 Ford front image was used in early Hot Rod magazine ads as well. 1948 Hot Rod magazine ad on the top right, the large full page ad is from Hot Rod magazine in 1949. Perhaps this particular ’41 Ford was used as inspiration for the drawing 0f the ’41Ford on the cover of the ’49 Eastern catalog, which was later stylised and used as California Custom logo (Eastern Auto Supply was renamed California Custom in the mid 1950’s).
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The last sample of the ’41 Ford being used in the Eastern Auto Auto Accessories catalog I have been able to find was in the yellow paper printed 1956 catalog. The price in 1956 was still $9.95, the same price as the first listing in 1948.
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Barris Customs creation

One thing we know about this ’41 Ford Custom Convertible is that it was restyled by Barris at the old Compton Ave shop. The front 3/4 photo of the car was used in the 1959 Trend Books Custom Cars Annual in a story on King of Kustomizers George “Kustom” Barris. Sadly the photo caption in the article did not mention the owners name, or any other info that could lead to anymore info on this car. The same photo, as used in the CC ’59 article, was also used on the inspiration wall in the Barris Kustoms Atlantic Blvd shop in the early 1950’s. The way it was used looks like the photo was part of an display, perhaps used at some early Custom Car shows.


The Barris Hollywood Kustoms Accessories catalog from around 1953-54 carries a lot of products from the Eastern Auto Supply company, including the ’41 Ford Kustom Grille Solid Grille Panel, and it could be ordered in primer (how it was used on the ’41 Ford in the sample picture) or chrome plated. The Barris Shop charged $3.- more for the item than Eastern did!
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Inside the Atlantic Blvd Barris Kustoms Shop a photo of the ’41 was pinned on the wall. It is the same photo that was later used in the Custom Cars annual from 1959. And the same photo as we show below.
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The photo of the Barris Customs created ’41 Ford with chopped padded top, and a series of Eastern aftermarket accessories. The photo was taken at an unknown location that has been used several times for Barris Customs photo shoots. Since the front end photo taken of this ’41 Ford was used in an Hot Rod Magazine in early 1948, these photo of the ’41 Ford most likely were taken in late 1947.
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Close up shows the freshly chopped and still in primer windshield frame of the car. It also looks if the Eastern center grille insert is a different color, possibly the primer it came in from the store, and that the insert has been bolted in place, not molded in, like a lot of them done by the bigger Custom Shops were done.
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Since there are primer spots on the windshield from where the A-Pillars were cut and reshaped it might be possible that the Ford is still in its original factory color… a light color, but which one? Or possibly the car had already been repainted a custom color when the side trim was shortened? Hopefully one day we will know.
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Hopefully one of our readers knows more about this Barris Customs created ’41 Ford Convertible. Who was the owner? what happened to the car. If you have more info, or additional photos of this Custom, please email Rik Hoving here at the Custom Car Chronicle. Any information would be very welcome so that we can solve another Mystery Custom.

Thank you




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Carson Style 36 Ford

CARSON STYLE 36 FORD

David E Zivot wanted a California Top 1936 Ford Roadster Custom. Restyled in line with how the cars were built shortly after WWII. He was able to create this stunning example of the Carson Style Custom.


Š by Michelle M. Yiatras
Timechanic ™
(Original article from June 2011)


Carson Style

Like Clark Gable might have felt before the War started (joyfully married, with an Oscar) and after it ended (drinking with reckless abandon), when a fellow parked his stock roadster to enlist in the Good Fight, he returned with a heightened perspective. Although he may have made the ultimate sacrifices (a limb, a spouse, a brother or uncle), he didn’t sacrifice style. These designs were stirring deep inside and reverberated in many post-War customs that matriculated from the college of WW2. Upright men and women returned to shepherd a more dignified era.

Eddie Martinez at his workbench in the summer of 2011.
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Eddie Martinez is a funny old guy, and he was a funny young guy. When he was six and his Mama told him to put the scrap boot on the beans, he thought she meant in the pot instead of in the coal stove for fuel. So that night they had “frijoles a la zapata”. When you see him today (June 2011) in his mid-70’s shuffling like Tim Conway and sore arms wrapped in gauze like the Mummy, a lot of it is for dramatic effect. He wants you to feel a little sorry for him because he knows he’s a little annoying. Eddie (Darryl Starbird’s National Rod & Custom Car HoF) has been multi-awarded for his quick draw with the sewing machine. Eddie was always the go to when you wanted upholstery or a correct Carson style top.

Eddie’s business card from back in the early 1950’s.
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He furnished a myriad range including from his first ’40 Ford (Car Craft front page & Long Beach Best Upholstery) in the mid-50’s, Barris’ ’29 Ford Model A roadster “Emperor”, Ed Roth’s “Outlaw” & “Beatnik Bandit”, Larry Watson’s ’57 Cadillac Eldorado, Stone-Woods-Cook ’41 Willys Gasser, Dan Houck’s ’46 Ford convertible, to the Duncan Emmons Merc. So when the day arrived for Eddie to pass the torch over to custom and hot rod upholsterer, David Martinez (no relation), of Martinez Industries, there was definitely some fireworks. Eddie shuffled one way across David’s shop and out the door muttering, “I guess I’ll just go kill myself,” from the side of his mouth, and then shuffled back through with, “I forgot something.”

David Martinez at his Martines Industries shop.
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Martinez Industries was at the time the ’36 Ford was built, located in Gardena, CA. (now located in Palm Springs, CA.) David Martinez, supplanted from Indiana, is mid-30’s and yet has the sensibilities of a post-WW2 timer. Usually he’s at his bench or in the car’s trenches applying his reet pleats to the tune of Artie Shaw, Jack Benny, or Dragnet, echoing Philco radio shows, not Eminem. He’s clad in vintage coveralls and has an earnest eye and handshake. It’s no wonder that he and David Zivot would become fast friends.

John & Virginia Wolf  at El Mirage dry lakes in 1949.
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David Zivot acquired the stock 1936 Ford roadster from AHRF Pioneer, John Wolf of Sherman Oaks, CA. David & I visited John and Virginia several times at their original So-Cal home, surrounded by magnolia trees and hummingbirds, they’ve lived in since they first got married in 1950. They are vigorous and feisty in their late-70’s and regularly attend V8 Club treks. They still look as youthful as they did at the dry lakes when they began courting in 1948. John got the car from Ray Brown (another AHRF Pioneer). Together they built the ’46 Mercury V8 flathead displacing a 3 3/8” bore and 4” stroke, J & E forged pistons, Winfield SU-1A cam, block letter Edelbrock heads, Super-Dual intake, a pair of Chandler-Groves mixers, ’39 trans with Lincoln Zephyr gear set, terminating in a ’40 Ford rear end with 3:54 cogs.
All of which Zivot freshened up mechanically and made reliable as a daily driver.

Ray Brown and Bud M. (photo courtesy AHRF).
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Before any miles could be racked up, the car was invited to be part of the GNRS 2011 special display “Customs Then and Now”, as representative of an immediate pre-War/post-War California custom. Although the car was stock when David Zivot acquired it, the goal was always an authentic as possible, chopped, black lacquered, tear drop skirted, rolled and pleated, solid hood sided, Carson top padded, boulevard runner.

Restoration work, turning the Stock ’36 Ford Roadster into an 1940’s Custom Car.
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Zivot always admired what was once known as a “California Top”, “Which has its genesis in the 1920’s, when middle to upper income owners wanted a smooth, unbroken, contour on their flashy roadsters and cabriolets. This look necessitated that the top be a non-folding, removable as a unit affair, that set the look of these so equipped cars apart from others on the street. The popularity of this style of top reached its apogee in the immediate pre-War period, interrupted by the Second World War, and continued to be popular into the early 50’s. Some of the more renown and accomplished makers of these tops were Hall, Gaylord, Switzer-Fraizer, and of course Carson-Hauser. After diligent research, Eddie Martinez was one of the only craftsmen left who could make the top accurately, with the proper materials and profile.

Building the padded top frame with the just right shape for the ’36 Ford.
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Building the headliner first so that it can be easily worked on before the outside covering is added. The the frame gets covered with straps that will hold the padding.
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With all the straps added the padding is applied and shaped. 
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Padding is followed by the outside canvas beautifully stitched.
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Nearly finished car in dark gray primer, black wall tires with Single Bar Flipper Hubcaps and the finished padded top. Just like how they looked back in the early-mid 1940’s.
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After the body was painted super gloss black David Martinez created the two tone interior with nice wide and rounded 40’s style Rolled & pleated.
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This may well probably be Eddie’s last Carson top, and elderly illnesses interfered with him finishing this top he initiated. So David Martinez, proprietor of the metal fabrication and custom upholstery shop, was enlisted. He was the driving force in completing this Carson style top in a reasonable time, and it wouldn’t have happened if not for his intervention and assistance. You’ll recognize his work on Bugs’ ’35 Ford coupe “Ruby Deluxe”, Ralph Whitworth’s ’16 Ford Model T bucket “Trojan”, Piero De Luca’s ’31 Ford Model A coupe “Live Wire”, Von Franco’s ’22 Ford Model T roadster “Lightening Bug”, and Kurt McCormick’s ’41 Cadillac convertible “Westergard Custom”, among others. The venerable Kennedy Brothers of Pomona, CA, did the preliminary suspension work to bring the car closer to earth, filled the deck and door handles, and chopped the windshield down to a manageable height. The black lacquer job was the finale work of Zivot and Alan Brunson.

Rick Lefeldt ’36 Ford Roadster from 1946.
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David Zivot is unrelenting, “The Rick Lefeldt ’36 Ford Roadster built in 1946 in Modesto, CA, was a strong influence on the ’41-46 War Years style I was after. As Don Montgomery referred to it in Authentic Hot Rods, ‘This was a very desirable car.’ To build a traditional style car and stay true to the tradition is a distinction difficult to obtain and not always accomplished. The distinction is between proper customization and over customization. There are sins and omissions that are allowable and can be overlooked. However, base coat/clear coat paint is a cardinal sin, and the particular color one chooses to paint their car ought to mirror the photographic evidence of the period. No amount of Hail Mary’s can absolve these. Yet, I didn’t nail it 100%. This car was built to a standard rather than an ideal.”
Driving this car, or any type of vintage vehicle, in a modern town like Las Vegas (or Los Angeles), represents something that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s like trying to resuscitate the Rat Pack. “Especially one composed with American historical veracity,” Zivot is wistful, “The audience doesn’t get the references.”






GNRS 2011 Customs Then & Now

The 62nd annual Grand National Roadster Show (aka the Oakland Roadster Show), January 28-30 at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA, Building #9, featured 75 of the most significant historical custom cars in an exclusive indoor display, “Customs: Then & Now”, as the theme for this year. Rik Hoving was one of the organizers of this part of the event, contributing his tremendous graphic design and photojournalist skills to the array. Rounding up in attendance the likes of master builders George Barris, Jack Stewart, Dean Jeffries, Blackie G, Jesse Lopez, Hershel Conway, Gene Winfield, Greg Sharp, among others, including himself, to light up the room. The cars were dazzling jewels in the constellation of customs, the Frank Kurtis Tommmy Lee 37 Ford Speedster, Harry Westergard 32 Ford Roadster, Bob Hirohata 51 Merc, Kurt McCormick 41 Buick Roadmaster, Glenn Johnson 37 Ford Roadster, Mox Miller 58 Chevy Impala, Larry Watson 58 Ford T-Bird, Mark Morton 54 Merc, so many the room was sparkling.



Overview photo of Building N0. 9 at the 2011 GNRS Customs Then & Now exhibit.
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Organizing administrator, Axle Idzardi, invited David Zivot to display his 1936 Ford roadster with the custom Carson top to represent an accurate pre-War/post-War early custom of the WW2 influenced era. Besides diligently photographing all the exhibited cars for publication reviews and archives of the Show, Rik spent weeks in advance of the Show designing and constructing the brilliant and radiant graphic signage that graced the stages. The first thing one noticed was the two large banners that were in the front of Building # Nine. Those were huge photos, with the Show logo on them. He also created 24 ceiling hanging banners, 36” X 60”. All 24 were double-sided, specially selected by Rik to complement on one side an original Business Card, and on the other side one of the cars in the room. On Sunday afternoon the banners were auctioned as collectibles and the proceeds went to charity.


These Show events don’t manifest with a magic wand. We’re always grateful and astonished at the magnum opus as a result of marvelous effort in this case by Axle Idzardi and Rik Hoving. We trust they keep their cars in the race.

The ’36 Ford banners.
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David Martinez posing withe the ’36 Ford at the GNRS 2011.
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At the GNRS Customs Then & Now in 2011.
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Side view shows the really wonderful shape of the Eddie Martinez designed padded top. 
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TECH SPEC

Original Owner: David & Louis Zivot (car has been sold to new owner)
Occupation: Historian
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Designer: David Zivot
Engine Builder: David Z
Year: 1936
Make: Ford Roadster
Color: Tuxedo Black
Paint Type: Lacquer
Painter: Jeff Savage & Alan Brunson
Engine: 1947 284 cid Mercury, br 3 3/8” x str 4”; J & E forged pistons; Winfield SU-1A cam
Trans: 1939 Ford with Lincoln Zephyr gears
Exhaust: Cast iron Fenton with dual Porter mufflers
Intake/Carb: Original Edelbrock Super-Dual with 94 type carbs
Ignition: Modified Ford crab type
Rear End: 1940 Ford banjo 3:54 final drive
Suspension: Stock Ford transverse leaf
Brakes: 1940 Ford juice
Wheels: Original 1940 Ford steelies
Tires: 600 x 16 Firestone
Seats: 1936 Ford Coupe
Upholstery: Rolled & pleated Carson style; designed by David Z; laid out & executed by David Martinez Industries
Dashboard: Stock chromed
Steering Column: Stock column with 1937 Ford box
Gauges: Stock
Headlights: Stock
Taillights: Stock
Horn: Original Garvin air horns
Steering Wheel: 1936 Ford banjo
Body: 1940 Buick skirts; 1940 Olds bumpers; 1940’s Eastern Auto Accessory solid hood sides; Original 1940’s accessory bull nose; knobs all original 1930-40’s Bakelite

Michelle created this Carson Top Shop based car show sign for the 1936 Ford.
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1936 Ford Roadster Early Style Custom

Š by David E. Zivot
Timechanic ™



The ‘36 Ford roadster was never a plentiful commodity. Very seldom seen today, they were uncommonly encountered even during the 1940’s and 50’s. When featured in car oriented publications during those decades, the terms “rare”, “scarce”, and “not often found” were applied. Talking with fellows who are old enough to know (80+), ’36 Ford roadsters were coveted and well used whether hopped-up, warmed over, or customized. They say “well used” because rolling stock being hard to come by during the War years, and a couple years after, they drove the hell out of ‘em. Especially since they were light, easy to maintain, and thrifty. But most of all they were girl-grabbers. Stylish and sporty, and when lowered, smoothed, and customized, even more so.

Notice that the car’s stance is rather “high”, just as they were back in the 1940’s.
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I’d had a ’36 rag top in my past, but it was largely junk. My desire to have a really solid and straight one was complicated by the unfortunate fact that most of what you will find in the world today are not too far removed from the earlier one I had. I was close to giving up the chase when I was informed that a real hot rod guy by the name of Johnny Wolf might sell his. Now John Wolf is no ordinary early Ford V8 guy, and his roadster was no ordinary early V8. John has a long history of dry lakes, street, and Bonneville hi-speed runs. His hand at building flatheads that pour on the coals is equally legendary. So this roadster of his looks River Rouge stock on the outside. Under the hood is one of John’s Mercury flathead motors circa 1946, built by him and Ray Brown. Yes, that Ray Brown. The car was owned by Ray before selling it to John. Considering this remarkable pedigree, and that the car had this very hot flathead, I made the deal.

The round shape of the padded top flows nice with the shape of the trunk of the Ford.
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The 1940’s Eastern Auto Accessory solid hood sides make the car look so smooth.
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Now stock high-hat height Fords are not my way. So it was time for lowering all around, chopped windshield, solid hood sides, tear drop skirts, bullnose, streamline bumpers. A shave here and a shave there, and of course black nitro lacquer. The only other thing to do was the ultimate Los Angeles golden era touch. A Carson padded top. I mean Carson, because I wouldn’t have one that wasn’t as accurate and as clinically exact to the product that Glen Hauser was turning out from 1938-46. I wanted the type and profile seen just before WW2 and was in vogue until about 1947. It would only make sense to have a complementary 1940’s Carson style interior as well, right?

David Zivot studied countless old photos to capture the right mid 1940’s Carson Top Shop interior look. David Martinez was able to make it look a perfect as possible.
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This is a real Ford roadster that is set up the way they were done in California during the period 1940-47. From the City of Los Angeles proper, east to Pasadena, south to San Diego, heading west to Santa Monica, or north to Santa Barbara, this was the most desirable custom ride of the time, and represents the high end of that restyling. This particular approach is the most traditional, and yet timeless in its taste and appeal. ’36 Ford roadsters were few and far between even during the 40’s and 50’s, and were much sought after. Finding one of this caliber is even more improbable when considering the former ownership.

The two owners prior to me, Ray Brown and Johnny Wolf, both of whom are extremely well known and respected original California hot rodders, engine-chassis builders, racers, and inductees to the American Hot Rod Foundation. Ray Brown owned and drove this roadster regularly, then sold it to John Wolf, who also drove and maintained it impeccably. The built Mercury flathead motor and drive train are a result of their efforts. Anyone who knows these guys or does the research will attest to their skills at engine building and putting together old Ford roadsters. Ray Brown’s ’32 Ford roadster currently resides at the Peterson Museum (they paid $135,000 for it in 1999, valued at $350,000 today).

Michelle posing with the Ford.
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Other legendary talent had a hand in this car. Eddie Martinez built his final authentic Carson style padded top for this roadster, accurate in every detail and line. He had the expert assistance and quality workmanship of David Martinez, also a Carson top and upholstery specialist. David Martinez Industries was responsible for the exact replication of a 1940’s Carson or Gaylord interior, down to the proper carpet and contrasting binding. Plus a spot-on set of side curtains. As for the subject of California tops, they were also a very fashionable (and practical) addition to touring cars, phaetons, roadsters, and runabouts, in the U.S. during approximately the same period. It’s interesting that a motorist could acquire one through expensive coach maker and dealer sources, as well as do-it-yourself kits that the owner could assemble and install himself. I have seen evidence of these on all makes from Packard to Model T. Some appearing to be a facsimile of a folding top, while others look like later Carson style so-called padded top. Because of their construction, very few have survived for historical inspection. However they can readily be seen in the background scenes of silent films shot in sunny Southern California, featuring Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, and others.

David Martinez was also responsible for the spot-on set of side curtains for the chopped Ford.
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1940 Oldsmobile bumpers, Firestone 600 x 16 white wall tires, Hollywood flipper disc hubcaps with beauty rings on black painted ’40 Ford wheels.
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The short list of period approved modifications done, with attention to period essentials, and were considered must haves in the 40’s: lowered (pre-War) stance, chopped windshield and posts, removable padded top with headliner complementing upholstery, solid hood sides, bull nose grill, ’40 Olds bumpers, centered plate mount, smoothed deck and doors, ’40 Ford 16” rims with Firestone wide whites, Hollywood flipper disc hubcaps, ’40 Buick teardrop fender skirts, teardrop accessory sealed beam headlights. Hand rubbed black lacquer of course. Interior modifications and upgrades of the era include: ’36 Ford three-window coupe seat and seat frame (backrest lifts up for access to trunk area), chromed dash, banjo steering wheel. The two-tone rolled and pleated upholstery is done in the correct fashion of individually hand stuffed pleats and rolls with correct form and contour. Chassis, engine, and driveline highlights: ’40 Ford steering, original Ed “Axle” Stewart dago’ed (dropped) axle, tube aircraft type shocks front and rear, ’41 Ford dropped spindles and hydraulic brakes, ’40 rear end with 3:54 gears, ’39 Ford heavy duty 3 speed trans with early 26 tooth Zephyr gears. ’46 Mercury V8 flathead engine as built by Ray Brown and John Wolf to their usual specs: 284 cid, 3 3/8 bore, 4” stroke, J & E forged pistons, Winfield SU-1A cam, NOS early original block letter Edelbrock heads and early NOS Edelbrock super-dual intake manifold with a pair of NOS Holley 2110 carburetors. Ignition 59A 12127 crab style distributor. Original Fenton cast iron headers flowing into 22” Smitty’s. NOS original ’36 Ford radiator. The grill is perfect. Car runs very fast and strong, handles and drives well. This car was a low miles Ford, and retains all its original sheet metal and components that it was delivered with.


This roadster, was chosen from a very select number nationwide to participate in a limited gathering of famous, influential, or otherwise iconic customs, in a separate Building #9 at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show at the Fairplex in Pomona. This exhibit known as “Customs Then & Now”, organized by Axel Idzardi, Rik Hoving, Jeff Neppl and Luke Karosi, displayed these representative historic customs from the early 1940’s up to the 60’s.


I was able to get the result I wanted. Thanks to Jason & Joe Kennedy (chop & lowering), Eddie Martinez, David Martinez (top & interior), Alan & Carl Brunson (paint), Michelley, & lots of design and wrench work by myself. Bart Bartoni’s 1946 photograph of Rick Lefeldt’s epoch ’36 was a spectre of inspiration.







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Gardena Ca Mystery Merc

 

GARDENA CA MYSTERY MERC

 

This great looking 1939 Mercury Convertible with 1939 Buick Grille and Chopped padded top was built in 1947. Who owned it, and where is it now?



Don Schumacher from Long Beach California send me a few photos of an very interesting ’39 Mercury in November 2016. He mentioned that the photos were some scans he made of snapshots from the family album. And that this car was photographed at his father’s, Walt Schumacher’s Body Shop In Gardena California. One of the photos had some more info written on the back; Chopped ’39 Mercury, ’39 Buick grill 1947. He had posted the images on his Instagram before he shared them with me, and there somebody had suggested that it might possibly be an early version of the Jimmy Summers Mercury. He was wondering if I could help him figuring out any of the cars history and if it was indeed the Jimmy Summers Mercury before Jimmy channeled the car.

Even though the photo was taken at Walt Schumacher’s shop, Don did not know anything about it, and he was pretty sure the Mercury was a customs car, not his fathers personal Custom. Don was into all kinds of things, but not in this type of old cars, and never asked his father about the time he had his Body Shop in Gardena. He never asked him about the car he built, or this ’39 Mercury in particular… Don mentioned “Its not until people are gone that you wish you had asked more questions about their life.” So this ’39 Mercury in the family scrapbook is another great looking Mystery Custom.

ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-03-newThe front 3/4 view shows how nice the ’39 Buick grille was fitted to the smoothed ’39 Mercury front end. A lot of work went into this, reshaping the spotlight metal.
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ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-01-newThis photo taken a little further away gives us a good look at how well proportioned and restyled this car was. Created most likely by Don Shumacher’s father in his Body shop in Gardena California. The car appears to be freshly done, and about ready for paint.
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When Don asked me if this could perhaps be the Jimmy Summers Mercury, as he was told it might be, I was able to give him a firm NO very quick. The car in these photos is an ’39 Mercury with no vent window’s, while the Jimmy Summers Mercury is an ’40 Mercury. Also the chop in the windshield appears to be more on the Gardena Mercury, than on Jimmy’s Mercury. Plus the rear fenders are molded in on the Gardena Mercury, while those on Jimmy Summer’s Mercury are still separate units after the body was channeled over the frame and the fenders raised up into the body. And then there was the note on the back of one of the photos stating the photo was taken in 1947. Jimmy’s Mercury was finished in it first maroon color, all channeled and with the home made grille in 1946. So these photos are not of an early version of the the Jimmy Summers Mercury.

But what is the story about this really nicely done ’39 Mercury? Who owned it? was it Don’s father’s personal car, or did he built it for a customer? And what ever happened to the car. I do not think I have ever seen another photo of this Mercury before, or at least not from the front. I have never seen an 40’s built ’39-40 Mercury that had a ’39 Buick grille installed this way.


ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-02-newThe fact that there is a photo taken of the ’39 Buick grille in the ’39 Merc indicates that the builder was very proud of his work. And judging the photos we can say he can be very proud about it. The grille installment looks really well done and suits the car really good.
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The Mercury appears to have been very nicely restyled by a professional body shop. Especially the addition of the Buick grille and the way it was used was done by a skilled body man who also had a great eye. The two half of the Buick grille are separated by mild v-shaped center piece on a stock ’39 Buick, but they are butted together on this Mercury. And the surrounding metal of the hood and front fenders have been expertly modified to make the Buick grille look right at home. The hood has been shaved and the belt line trim has been removed completely, but the door handles are still in place. ’40 Mercury or Ford headlights replace the plain ’39 model headlights.

The windshield frame has been chopped, quite heavy. The low padded top looks to have a very nice flowing back portion. The rear fenders have been molded to the body, and possibly the fronts as well, but that we cannot see in the photos. A set of ’37 DeSoto ribbed bumpers replace the stock units and a set of teardrop skirts are used on the rear fenders. The car rolls on black wall tires wit single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings.

Has anybody ever seen or heard about this Gardena California based ’39 Mercury? Perhaps knows who owned in back in 1947, or knows what ever happened to it. If so, please let us know. We would love to solve the mysteries around this great looking mid early Custom Merc.



Updated November 18, 2016



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After we had created this article Don was all excited and went back to the family album to see if he could find some more photos that could help with the search on this Mercury. Sadly no other photos of the Mercury were found, but he did find a few other photos that we thought would be interesting to add to this article. Don was also able to rescan the Mercury photos a bit larger, so now the used scans are larger, and more crisp.
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Picking up a 40 Ford

Don send me a photo of his father with a 1940 Ford Coupe he bought brand new in 1940 in Detroit. They drove to Detroit in his friends ’39 Ford to pickup his ’40 Ford. Don thinks that maybe his father saved transportation charges that way, he was told he got it much cheaper that way, than when he would have bought it in California. They must’ve been flying to average 60 mph on those roads and going through towns before there was an interstate.


ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-00The photo album also contained this newspaper clipping in which Don’s father was mentioned for his speedy traveling from California to Detroit. 
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ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-01Walt Schumacher with his new 1940 Ford Coupe.
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The wrecked 46 Ford

Don also send me a series of photos of a 1946 Ford four door Sedan that his father rebuilt. The black ’40 deluxe coupe Walt had bought new had become impractical with the family growing.  So in late 1947 he bought a totaled rollover ’46 Ford four door. The pictures below are of the day he brought it home and looks like he was accusing what he had bought. Don mentioned it looked pretty scary to him, when he saw those photos again! Don thinks by then, late 1947, his father may have given up his shop, since all these photos of him fixing this car where taken at their home garage. The car got a new rear door, but all the other damage was repaired including the roof. That is amazing to me.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-01Walt Schumacher with the ’46 Ford wrecked Sedan he had just bought. 
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-02The car was a roll-over and the top was completely dented on both sides. And by the look of the doors the whole body was shifted as well.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-04During the roll over the rear passenger side door must have opened and bended in the wrong way.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-07Walt starting the process of restoring the wrecked sedan. Here he removed the badly damaged door. He decided that was the only part he could best replace with a new (second hand) door. All the rest of the damage was repaired by Walt.
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The last two pictures were taken in Clovis California . Apparently they took a vacation to see Don’s mothers sister. The car is still in primer in these last two photos. When Walt had finished the car later, all the side moldings were removed, it was nosed and decked and the license was frenched in to the trunk lid and covered with glass. Walt painted the car shiny black and mounted a set of whitewall tires and full wheel covers. It was the family car into the late 1950’s when Don remembers his sister took it over and would cruise the Clock, and Jerry’ bbq in Compton Ca.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-05All the body work was done at this point and the car could be driven again. During the repair work on the main body the stainless trim was removed, and the holes filled. Later the hood trim would also be removed.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-06This is the last photo Don could find of the Ford. The family album sadly did not contain any photos of the finished sedan.
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A friends Roadster

Don also came across two photos of an Hot Rod roadster from 1947. Don also has no idea who’s car this is. It looks to be a channeled model A with ’32 Ford grille and welded trunk. Interesting is the set in license plate, and V-windshield from a late 30’s, perhaps early 40’s coupe or sedan. Don thinks the car might have belonged to a friend of his father.

ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-01For some reason both Hot Rod photos are in bad condition… but at the same time that makes them perhaps even more interesting as well.
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ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-02Cropped section of the photo gives us a bit better look at the Hot Rod. Anybody ever seen this elsewhere?
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ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-04Chevy taillights mounted just above the exhaust tip. In the center is a recessed license plate behind glass. A real Custom Trick, but it was used on some Hot Rods as well.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-02Here is a photo of Don’s father Walt standing in the doorway of the shop probably same day as the Merc photos in 1947.
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(this article is sponsored by)

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The Carson Top Shop Part 1

 

CARSON TOP SHOP part 1

 

The birth of the Traditional Custom Car in the late 1930s was influenced by one big event. The design of the Carson padded top by Glen Houser in 1935.



The traditional Custom Cars as we know then had their birth in Sunny California in the later part of the 1930’s. The looks of these custom restyled cars developed during the 1940’s and around 1946-48 the style had reached near perfection. Custom cars in those years were restyled to reach the long, low road hugging illusion. These cars were restyled to reach an graceful effect of unbroken lines. These cars were created with eye for balance, using other brand parts to make the Custom to look better, more elegant, more exclusive, but always with near perfect proportions. The early restyling on cars were mostly based on convertible and roadster bodies. The windshields were chopped and smooth perfectly flowing padded tops were created to flow with the smooth lines of the cars. The Carson Top Shop located on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles had developed this padded top in 1935, and used it on a chopped custom for the first time in 1937. The look they achieved with that changed the look and feel for the custom cars from that time on. The Carson padded top would become very popular first in Southern California, later migrating to North California, and then to all over the US.

CCC-carson-top-shop-history-shop-earlyMid 1930’s photo of the Vermont Los Angles shop where Amos Carson started to work using the front section of the Vermont Auto Works shop. The window reads that Tops (convertible) are $10.-. The French tops advertised on the left window were more, but we do not know how much more. The shop window also shows that the shop already did seat covers as well at this time.
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Lets start at the beginning. The Carson Top Shop was established in the late 1920’s at the 4910 Vermont Avenue location. At this locations the Vermont Auto Works specialized in Auto painting, general auto repair, and body and fender work. Amos Carson, born in Utah 1971 rented the front of the shop and started his A. Carson Tops shop. Amos had learned the trade from his father who was a harness and saddle maker at first. Later when they moved to Salinas Ca. during the family opened a pool hall which was ran by Amos Carson.

In 1927 Amos closed the pool hall and moved to Los Angeles where the Top Shop was opened. The first couple of years the shop worked on regular soft tops and interiors. In 1930 Glen Houser started to work for Amos Carson. Glen had a soft spot for customizing and started to add custom touches to the model T and A’s that would be at the shop. Special convertible tops and other details, Glen Houser became a very important asset to the shop. And in 1935 he unknowingly gave himself a icon status when he designed and developed the first smooth non-folding, padded top. He named it the French top, since it was styled after the looks of some of the metal padded topped cars from French created couchbuild cars. According the stories the car for which Glen designed this padded top was a 1930 Model A roadster. Sadly we have never seen a photo of this car.

CCC-carson-top-shop-history-collage-01Just some of the many early Carson Padded topped customs in Southern California in the early 1940’s. The padded tops set the style for the early custom look. Most of the Carson padded tops were for chopped cars, but there were also some done for stock height cars.
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In 1937 early Custom Car pioneer Roy Hagy was working on a clients project. A near new 1937 Chevy coupe that had been in an accident destroying the whole top when it rolled over. After removing the damaged top, and repairing the windshield frame and belt-line Roy took it over to the Carson Top Shop to see if they could create a special made top for it. Glen houser created his french top especially for this 1937 Chevy, creating hand made bows and adding all the padding. We do not know if this car had a chopped windshield or stock height, but this customized car is said to be the first custom car to ever receive a Glen Houser Carson Tops Shop padded top.


After that it all went very quick the looks of this padded top fitted the custom restyled cars perfectly. The soft rounded profile fitted the looks of these cars so much better than the hard edged retracting rag- tops. Plus it was way more easy to make a padded top fit the lowered windshield of the convertible or roadsters than a working rag-top. Glen Houser’s signature padded tops were an hot item in Southern California in the late 1930’s early 1940’s. The padded top added more comfort than the regular rag-tops, protecting the driver and passenger from heat and cold, plus the tops were relatively easily removed (with two man, or a ceiling mounted hoist) for topless cruising.

CCC-carson-top-shop-history-baldwin-40-01A dark colored padded top was created for March Baldwin’s 1940 Mercury convertible. This photo is from 1944, but the car was restyled when the car was near new. The shape of the Carson top was a bit different in these early days.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-baldwin-40-02A better view at the early Carson Padded top. The rear of the top was more upright than later, and also the roll on the flap around the bottom was smaller than it was later on.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-39-fordUnidentified early restyled 1939 Ford convertible, with the running boards removed and shaved trim and handles. The dark colored padded top shows the early style smaller diameter roll at the bottom.
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CCC-carson-top-story-dan-post-bb-1949-01From the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling 1949 edition.
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A Carson top’s framework was mostly constructed from steel stock and hand-formed conduit. The shop tried to include the cars stock front bow, and possibly the stock rear bow if they were available for the car. The frame work was bolted to the stock convertible brackets. Aviary wire (finer than chicken wire) was attached to the frame work and and stretched burlap (jute) strips were added to form the base upon which the padding and cotton batting were affixed. Before the outside was completely covered the headliner would be created. This way the headliner could be easily attached to the frame work from the outside.

After the headliner was installed the cotton padding was added to the frame and molded to shape, followed by the top fabric, generally a fine pebble-grain Haartz cloth, or Nitrite-treated fabric was draped over the structure, cut to fit using carefully labeled templates, and the seams sewn on a worktable using an industrial sewing machine. The completed top was then stretched across the framework and permanently attached to it. The bottom of the top had an extra roll added concealing the snaps and hiding them from view. The top was then securely fastened to the windshield frame using the original top header bow and attached at the rear sides using two large bolts.

CCC-carson-top-shop-storyInside the Carson Top Shop in 1941. Look at all those wonderful customs lined up to get a chopped padded top. What an amazing photo.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-sp-handbook-49Write up on the California Carson Top in the 1949 Speed and Power Handbook.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-illustration-03Illustration from around 1948 in the Speed and Power handbook shows the read how the top was created and the materials needed for it. Interesting illustration but it did not give away all the details.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-halliday-40Bill Halliday’s 1940 Ford with a beautiful low Carson Padded Top.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-illustration-01In the 1949 edition of the Dan Post Blue Book of Custom Restyling two very detailed illustrations were used to explain how the Padded tops were created. The first illustration shows very well how the bows were created and how the original wooden front bow was reused.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-illustration-02The second illustration gives all the details on how the cover the frame work. It makes me wonder how many people actually created their own padded top using these illustrations. 
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The Carson Top Shop was not the only shop to create padded tops in the 1930. We know that the George Thomas Top Shop in Hollywood created a wonderful padded top for the SoCal Plating Co. 1935 Ford “truck” in 1935-36. The shape of the top very much reassembles the shape of the Carson Tops. Later more shops would create the padded tops especially for Custom Cars and Hot Rods. Shops as the C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland Ca., Runyan in Santa Monica Ca., Bill Gaylord in Lynwood, Ca., Eddie Martinez in Lynwood and several others. But it was Glen Houser at the Carson Tops Shop who made these padded tops popular. In fact so popular that the ‘Carson Top’ had become the generic name for all custom-built, removable, non-folding, padded, tops. No matter who had produced the actual top.

Glen G. Houser was born on December 7, 1907 in Nebraska, in the late 1920’s he had relocated to Los Angeles to become an auto trimmer. In 1930 he started working for Amos Carson, and in 1942 when Amos Carson passed away he took over the business. The shop would remain the same Carson Top Shop name, but the interior tag the shop added to each interior and top showed Houser’s name on it.

CCC-carson-top-shop-history-houser-tagThe Houser’s Carson Padded Tops interior tag. More about this tag can be read in the Upholstery Tags CCC-Article.
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With the padded tops become a most wanted product in the late 1930’s early 1940’s the shop had to think about simplifying the production. Glen Houser started to make patterns from everything he did. Wood patterns for the bows he had to create and cardboard templates for the fabric they used. Everything was standardized. Crawling in and out of the cars during the creation of the top was very time consuming, plus tiering. So Glen created special jigs for the most popular cars that came into the shop for the Padded Carson Tops. These jigs could be uses to create the frame work on, and to do all the upholstery work while standing up right. This saved a lot of work, and production would go up to about 15 tops per week during the peak in the 1940’s. It is estimated that the Carson Top Shop might have produced a total of 5000 tops from 1927 till the mid 1970’s. Mostly padded tops, but also custom made rag-tops in the early years. A staggering number of tops.

The “disadvantage” of all this automation was that all the tops did look alike, and there was not much room for special work. This is one of the reasons why the Barris Kustom Shop would later start work together with Bill Gaylord so that George could have him create better flowing tops, especially on the 1941-48 Fords.

CCC-carson-top-shop-glen-houser-01Glen Houser creating a padded top for a Jaguar using one of the shops special jigs.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-rob-houserRobert (Bob) Houser working on the inside of a new padded top. This photo is really great since it gives us a great look at the jigs the shop created to be able to create the padded tops off from the cars, making on them work go faster and easier.
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The Carson Top shop worked close together with the Jarrett Auto Works Shop next door. This shop would chop the convertible and roadster windshields, and if needed could perform other metal work as well. This allowed the customer to drive their stock automobile to the Carson top Shop, and pick up a complete Custom chopped padded topped automobile two or three days later. A complete chopped padded top would range between $125.- and $175.- depending on style and if the windshield had to be chopped.

Frank Caggino with his 1939 Mercury in 1948, freshly chopped by the Jarrett’s Auto Works and a new Carson Padded Top. Frank’s Mercury is still around today, and the current owner has saved the original Carson as well as the Jarrett Shop invoices.
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Carson Top Shop invoice dates January 27, 1948. The total bill for the Carson top was $169.75, and Frank added the $149.36 from the Jarrett’s Auto Work bill (below) to get a total of $318.11 for the complete restyling.
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Jarrett’s Auto Works invoice dated January, 28, 1948. Interesting is that the Jarrett’s Auto Works has the same 4910 South Vermont Avenue address as the Carson Top Shop.
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In 1949Frank had added white wall tires and drove the car with a new lowered suspension.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-jaguarThe good thing about the Carson Top Shop was that they did not concentrate to just Custom Car and Hot Rod work. They saw the potential in doing special padded top for the Sports Car market as well. That help get business going for a long time. Clark Gable ordered a Carson top for one of his Jaguar XK-120s, which of course helped the sales of this unit.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-glen-50-mercuryThe frame work is finished and tested on the car. It now is ready to go back on the jig where the layers of material will be used to form the top. The car is an unidentified 1950-51 chopped Mercury convertible.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-shop-1950This is how the Vermont Ave shop looked like in its heydays around 1951.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-business-cardsBusiness card from the Vermont Ave L.A. address on the left, and from the Grenshaw Blvd L.A. address from after 1954 on the right.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-1948-hrm-adThe Carson Top Shop used a nice ad in the very first issue of Hot Rod Magazine, January 1948.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-adsThe Carson Top Shop understand the importance of advertising and name image. They advertised from the beginning of the automotive magazines and kept doing that ever since. This image shows just a few of the ads they ran in the magazines.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-summers-merc-01Jimmy Summers had the Carson Top Shop create a padded top in light tan for his amazing 1940 Mercury in 1946.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-summers-merc-02The Carson top’s shape matched the lines of the Mercury very well.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-summers-merc-03Close up views of the top on the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury. 
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The shop offered several styled of tops, and there was also a choice in finishing material, at least color wise. The most popular material was the white canvas, but especially in the early years a lot of tan and black tops were produced. At first the only rear window option was a removable convertible mail-slot rear window. The rear flap around the rear window would be removed completely, or zapped to the headliner for better ventilation in the summer. Later the Carson Top Shop developed the “Coupe de Ville” style padded top. This top had a wrap around rear window done in shaped heavy or light-weight plastic.


CCC-carson-top-shop-history-coupe-deville-01The Olive Hill Garage created this channeled 1939 Ford convertible and the Carson Top Shop create de “Coupe de Ville” (wrap-around) padded top. The car was owned by Art Lellis, one of the two Olive Hill Garage shop owners. The car is still around today, but the top is long gone.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-coupe-deville-02Close up of the “Coupe de Ville” wrap around rear window which could be ordered with heavy or light-weight plastic formed rear windows. This style of top provided a much better rear view than the original mail-slot rear windows.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-ray-vega-38Most of the Carson Padded tops were created for convertible’s and roadsters, but the shop also did a good number of long four door convertible sedans and phaeton’s. This one was done for the Valley Custom Shop created 1938 Ford for Ray Vega.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-bartlett-hudsonEven though a lot of the Carson Tops were created for the FoMoCo cars, they where used on other brand cars as well. As this Bruce Bartlett photo of his Brothers Packard shows.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-blue-topThe Carson Top shop created the perfect looking padded top in dark blue for the Barris Kustoms restyled 1947 Studebaker for Tommy Thornburg.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-fred-rowe-51-mercFred Rowe’s 1951 Barris Kustoms created 1951 Mercury convertible received a beautiful styled padded top by the Carson Top Shop. The shop also did the interior for this car.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-bob-lund-51-mercThis Life magazine photo gives us a really nice look at the padded top Carson created for Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury with 1951 rear fenders. The car was another Barris Kustoms creation. This photo also shows the flap around the rear window that can be removed completely.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-collage-03A few more samples of mostly later padded tops done by the Carson Top Shop.
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In 1948 Glen Houser’s 18-year old son Robert (Bob) joined the Carson Top Shop. He started off welding the frames used to construct the superstructure of the multilayered Carson tops. Later on he did all the work needed in the shop. Glen Houser passed away in 1969, leaving the business to his son Bob. Bob would keep the business running for another 5-6 years, then he closed the shop and retired.

CCC-carson-top-shop-history-vermont-locationThe original building at Vermont Ave is still standing today (2016) Google maps image.
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CCC-carson-top-shop-history-crenshaw-locationThe original building at Grenshaw Blvd L.A. is also still standing in 2016. The inset image shows the shop around 1955. Google maps image.
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References and more info

  • Blue Book of Custom Restyling, book Dan Post
  • Speed and Power Handbook, booklet 1947-49
  • Motor Trend, magazine April, 1953
  • Street Rodder, magazine, April, 1989
  • Rod & Custom, magazine August, 1991 (The Carson Top Story by Greg Sharp)
  • The American Custom Car, book Pat Ganahl 2001
  • The Big Book of Barris, book 2002
  • Barris Kustom Techniques of the 1950’s, books
  • Rodders Journal, magazine issue 12
  • Coachbuilt.com, website

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There is a lot to tell about the Carson Top Shop, the Carson Tops, and interiors, in fact so much that we could not fit it all into one article. This first article concentrated on the shop, the padded top and its importance for the custom car scene.
In PART TWO we will focus on interior work and the latter 1950’s work the shop did.

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C. A. Hall Tops

 

HALL TOPS

 

When you lived in Northern California, and wanted a custom upholstery job or padded top created for your car, then you most likely ended up having the work done at C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland.

 

When it comes to Custom upholstery and padded tops in California there are only a few shop names that pop up. The most popular shop was the Carson Top Shop on Vermont Ave. Los Angles. Shop employee Glen Houser developed a non folding padded top for an 1930 Ford in 1935. It was the birth of the Carson top, however it was named that until much later. Another big upholstery shop name was Gaylord who started a little later in the 1940’s in Lynwood, not to far from the Barris Custom Shop. In the early 1940’s the padded tops became very popular among the Hot Rod and Custom Car crowd, and not only in Southern California. In North California, the city of Oakland to be precise, there was a guy named Calvin A. Hall who had a auto top and upholstery business since 1925. When the Hot Rodders and Custom guys found out about the special tops and tuck & roll interiors done in So California they wanted to have those done more locally as well.


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The Hall Top Shop came to the rescue an Calvin quickly figured out how to do the padded tops and create the interiors the guys wanted. And business was booming for the shop. The C.A. Hall Tops shop was responsible for most the the padded tops created in the Nor California era. The Nor Cal builders like Harry Westergard, Dick Bertolucci, Gene Winfield and early one also the Barris Brothers who sill lived in Sacramento in the early 1940’s all took their Customs to the Hall shop for a padded top or custom upholstery. Hall never advertised as much as the Carson Top Shop, Gaylord, Runyan and others did. We have only found a  few Hall ads in some early 1950’s Hot rod show programs, but not in any of the magazines. This most likely is one of the main reasons the Hall shop name never became as popular in the rest of the country / world as Carson or Gaylord.

This and the fact that Oakland was to far away for the So Cal based magazines to do an article on the Hall Shop is the reason that there is rather little known about the Hall Top Shop. As far as we have been able to find out, nobody has ever really interviewed Calvin A. Hall about his Top Shop, so all his information is most likely lost. Since the Hall name was not as important, it might have been left out in many magazine Hot Rod and Custom Car features as well. The shop did turn out really great work, and customers often came back for an update, or with a new car in need of a padded top or custom upholstery. For this article we have collected a number of cars with Hall Tops shop padded tops and interiors. Special thanks goes out to Ron Brooks, who owns a 1940 Chevy custom created in the late 1940’s with a real and very rare Hall top. Ron has been collecting info and material on the Hall Top Shop ever since he owns his Chevy. Ron has been so kind sharing a lot of his info and photos with the Custom Car Chronicle.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-03When Ron found his 1940’s restyled 1940 Chevy it still had the original Hall top on it including a very rare C.A. Hall Auto Tops interior tag.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-02Fred Creller created the 1940 Chevy in the late 1940’s and had the interior and padded top done by Hall. This photo is from 1950. (Ron Brooks collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-01These photos showing the top a little better were taken in 1959. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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About the Hall Tops Shop.

Calvin A. Hall was born on December 11, 1901 in Mink Creek, Idaho to Andrew G. and Martha Lavine (Olsen) Hall, his father was born in Denmark, his mother in Utah, USA. In the early 1900’s the family moved from Idoha to Oakland, California. Calvin graduated from high school in 1918 and after having had a few small jobs he started to learn the trade of creating auto tops at Victory Auto Painting and Top Co., at 901 E. 14th st., Oakland, Calif.

In 1925 Calvin A. Hall started his own business C.A. Hall and was located at 72nd and E. 14th, Oakland. CA. creating car tops. The small shop moved in 1927 to 901 E. 14th St. Oakland, CA. (the same shop is currently in use by Earl Scheib Paint & Body shop).
During WWII the Hall shop relocated to 3208 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA. The shop would remain on this location till it closed somewhere in 1965. The building is still standing today. Calvin A. Hall was married and had three children, none of them took over the shop, so when Calvin retired for the upholstery business the shop was closed. Calvin A. Hall passed away on January 28, 1979 at the age of 77.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-01This photo of this amazing 1938 Lincoln Custom with Hall padded top was found on the walls of the former Hall shop on San Pablo Ave. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-02Close up on the really well shaped and proportioned Hall padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-03We are not sure if Hall also updated the interior in the 1938 Lincoln, but more than likely he did the cover on the rear.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-36-ford-max-ferrisThe weather in Nor Cal is not  always as sunny and warm as in So Cal, so often Hall was instructed to create the chopped padded tops for roadsters, with side separate window curtains to make sure the driver and passengers would stay as warm as possible. This top and window flaps/curtains was created for Max Ferris’s Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford roadster.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-01George Barris created this 1936 Ford convertible as his own personal driver when he was working at the Browns Body shop and Harry Westergard in Sacramento. The padded top on the car was done by Hall in Oakland in a dark material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-02Close up of the Hall padded top which has seen better days. After the car was finished and painted George Barris took his 36 Ford to Hall’s shop who re-covered it with white material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-chevy-01Harry Westergard restyled Pittsburg Ca resident Sal Cacciola’s 1938 Chevy convertible in his typical nose up narrow grille style. Sal took the car to Hall for the padded top. Inset is one of the very few ads Hall’s Top Shop ever ran.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-mercuryThis is another photo that was found in the old Hall shop building. It is an unidentified 1940 Mercury with unique exhaust tips true the rear fenders. Hall was responsible for the padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-41-Buick-paul-01Pierre Paul was a Custom Car builder from Oakland Ca, and he had the interior and padded top of his own personal 1941 Buick created by Hall.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-al-serpa-46-ford-02Gene winfield had his shop in Modesto California, and also used the Hall Top Shop quite a bit for his customer cars. This 1946 Ford was restyled by Gene in 1949 for owner Al Serpa. The traditional styled padded top was done by Hall. This photo was taken in 1950.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-benny-furtado-48-ford-01Gene Winfield also restyled this 1948 Ford for owner Benny Furtado during the same period as he did Al Serpa’s 1946 Ford. However Hall created a different style padded top for Benny’s Ford with open rear quarter windows. Creating a much more open and light feel inside the car.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-02Herb Cattani’s Custom 1942 Buick also received an Hall padded top with open rear quarter windows, creating a wonderful shape.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-01A rare look at one of the Hall interiors in Herb Cattani’s 1942 Buick shows a lot of soft leather tuck and rolls creating a very luxurious feel.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-01Dick Bertolucci from Sacramento restyled this 1947 Cadillac convertible for Tony Sestito. When it was time for the padded top and new interior the car was driven to Oakland for the full Hall treatment in 1953-54.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-02The latest trend then was to add full width wrap around plexiglass rear windows to the padded top. So that is what Hall created for Tony’s 1947 Cadillac. Close up of the wrap around rear window courtesy of Rod & Custom magazine.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-02Hall created the padded top on Sil Moyano’s 1935 Ford Phaeton. This photo comes from a feature on the car in a 1973 Street Rodder magazine, and we have no idea when the padded top was created, but more than likely this one dated back into the 1940’s.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-01The interior was done with relatively narrow tuck & roll in black, and the white top was also upholstered in black on the inside.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-invoiceHall’s Auto Tops invoice from the 1950’s with another rare ad from an July 1951 issue of Motor sports World.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-ad-01This ad was used in one the Oakland Roadster Show programs and shows an panoramic rear window padded top Hall created for a stock bodied Buick.
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Warren Gonzales 1950 Ford Convertible

Possibly the best publicity the Hall Auto Tops shop had for their interior and top work was with Warren Gonzales’s 1950 Ford Convertible. The shop worked on two versions of the car. The first time in 1953-54 they did a complete interior, and traditional styled padded top. The second time a year later they added more to the interior, to keep up with the demand for winning show points, and they redid the padded top in the latest trend with cantilever (over-hanging) rear portion. The July 1956 issue of Car Craft magazine had two color photos of the car on the cover, and four pages for the feature inside. The feature showed many photos of both the top and the wild interior.


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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-ford-03Warren’s 1950 Ford convertible was first done in a more conservative way with a “regular” style padded top created by Hall Auto Tops. The photo on the left is from the 1954 Oakland Roadster Show, and the one on the right from the 1955 show. By then the car had been completely redone with a wild interior and complete new cantilever padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interior-02The color photo of the Hall Auto Tops created interior in Warren’s Shoebox must have had a lot of impact. The interior was done in three tone leatherette, dark green, white and soft green. The same soft green was also used on the second version top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interiorC.A. Hall created the interior for Warren’s Shoebox with the latest in luxury in mind. The create a custom made semi-circle rear seat, which is divided by a large Hi-Fi radio speaker. On both sides of the bench a refreshment bar has been incorporated. A console has been created on the floor to house a small upholstered TV set. The seats back are reshaped both front and rear and are upholstered in a bolt design with rolls and pleats. The dashboard has been made “crash proof’ by adding padding and upholstery on the whole unit. The center was cut out to make space for a 45 rpm record player. A radio and Hi-Fi speaker have been installed in a custom build center console underneath the dash extending the front bench. The carpets are dark blue green and outlined with white trim.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-collageA few more samples of car with C.A. Hall Auto Tops  padded tops and or interiors.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-building-2016This is how the former C.A. Hall Tops Shop building at 3208 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, California looks today in 2016. (Google maps image)
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As mentioned in this article the amount of information on the Hall Top’s is limited. We have tried to gather as much information as possible and added as many photos that would mattered the most for this article. As always we would love to hear from you if you have any additional information about the Hall Auto Tops shop, or any cars that had the interior or tops created by this shop. If you have more info, please let us know, email Rik. We would love to add more info to this article and share it with Custom Car enthusiast from all over the globe. Thank you.

 

Resources

  • Ron Brooks
  • Coachbuilt.com, Mark Theobald
  • Barris Kustoms Technique books.







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Early 39 Merc Custom

 

39 MERC MYSTERY UNRAVELS

 

This unrestored very early 39 Merc Custom padded topped convertible showed up at the 2008 LA Roadster Show. It had every Custom Car enthusiast talk for ages. Where did it come from, who was the original owner?



This 1939 Mercury is possibly every Custom Car enthusiast dream come true. I guess we all dream about opening an old barn or garage and find an original Custom from the 1940’s or 50’s that has been sitting there for decades. A car with a load of history which unfolds into this great story about famous places, and well know custom builders from the past. A car which brings back memories to many people who look at it, and car that perhaps even brings old friends together.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-LARS-2008-01Rob Radcliffe was at the 2008 LARS and took these photos of the Mercury. He was also very impressed and intrigued with the Mercury. The bottom two photos show the poor condition of the original padded top and the very interesting upholstery on the rear bench. The upholstery has an early Gaylord feel to it. The car appears to be in rather good condition for an nearly 70 year old custom having sat under a carport for several decades. 
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The first time this Mercury was shown to the public, like how we see it in this article, was in 2008, when Michael Lightborn en Ron Clapper had brought the car from Texas to sell it at the L.A. Roadster show. The car was owned at the time by Jorge Zaragosa from Texas. Jorge had bought the car as part of a deal which included a few cars, including this 1939 Mercury and a well known old Hot Rodded 1936 Ford 3-window coupe. Jorge was only interested in the Hot Rod, but could only get that when he bought the rest as well. The LARS looked like a good place to sell the car. There was some interest in the old Custom but it did not sell at the show, most visitors are more into historic Hot Rods and not into historic Customs. But one of the people that was very interested in the car was Squeak, who made Ron an offer, but he declined. Ron and Michael tried went to a few other places in the next couple of days trying to sell the car with no success. So after three days they accepted Squeak’s offer… they did not want to bring the car back home to Texas.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-02Hard to tell from this photo, but the drivers side has holes for an Appleton Spotlight. Later it was found out that the same holes were also on the passenger side, but they were welded shut and leaded at some point.
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Squeak owned the car for about a year. He made plans in his head, but never got around to work them out. He knew how bad his good friend and early Custom Car enthusiast Kevan Sledge of Sledge Customs wanted to have the car. So one day he let Kevan buy the car from him. Squeak knew the car was going to a good home. Kevan brought the car back to his home in Grass Valley Northern California. Plans were to try and find out the full history on the car, then restore it back to how it used to be in the 1940’s.

In 2015 the car went to a new owner, Ronnie Lindblom, another die-hard early Hot Rod and Custom Guy made a deal with Kevan, and is now, Summer 2015, the proud owner of this 1939 Merc.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-08In the days after the 2008 LARS the car was offers for sale at a different event as well. Now some hubcaps where added to make it look more interesting, and a sign asking for more info on the car was taped to the rear quarters.
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The Restyling

At this point of writing October, 2015 we do not know who actually performed the restyling on this 1939 Mercury back in 1939. The padded top was created by the Carson Top Shop who had their shop at 4910 S. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles. At the time the Carson Shop also did body and fender work, so it could also be possible that the body work on the Mercury was done here as well, but we do not know for sure. Hopefully more info on the Merc will clear this up in the near future.


The windshield was chopped around two inches, and a padded top was created for it. The car comes with side windows, which were not stock on a 1939 Mercury, possibly these parts were hand made. The handle and script was removed from the trunk and a set in license plate was added. The gas filler was shaved on the fender and the filler moved into the trunk. The hood ornament was removed and holed filled for a smooth look, and the hood side trim was shortened. A set of Appleton spotlights was added. The car was lowered in the rear with longer shackles, and the bumpers where replaced with 1937 DeSoto ribbed units. The car was painted green metallic. According Kevan Sledge the color looked very similar to what was used on the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.


CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-07Detail photo of the wood top header and all the padding material. 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-06More detail photos show how the padded top frame was constructed.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-05The main part of the headliner still looks pretty good.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-04One of the upholstered door panels is sitting on the rear bench in this photo. The wide very round horizontal rolls on the rear bench are quite unusual.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-03The dash shows mismatching gauge panel and glove box door. Although not confirmed it is said that the car originally had these parts chrome plated and that they where taken from the car at some point. Perhaps the old owner sold them and replaced them with stock units.
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Most likely at this time the car was also upholstered with a new custom interior, but it is still unsure if the remains of the interior are from the original built in 1939. It could very well be that the interior was redone when the car was repainted a purple-ish brown with a slight metallic. We do not know when this was done, most likely in the 1950’s, but we are not sure. Most likely when the car was repainted the set in license plate was removed and the trunk completely smoothed. The passenger side Appleton spotlight was removed and the holes welded shut and body worked with lead.

During its life in California the engine was updated with an two carb intake manyfold. When the car changed hands in 2007-08 there was a different engine in the car, but the intake manifold came with the deal. Apparently the intake ended up getting sold… at this moment we don’t know where it went.




Kevan Sledge, the new caretaker in 2009

When Kevan Sledge became the new care taker of the car he made many plans to restore it back to original configuration. But time and to many other projects stood in the way of that.. But Kevan did work on the car a bit making sure the cars condition would not get worse. Kevan removed the padded top frame and upholstery material that was left on it. He also added a better set of tires, hubcaps and teardrop skirts, which really helped the looks of the car.

CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-top-off-01After having had the car for a few month it was time for Kevan to remove the top from the car so that he would store that in a better way. Judging the rusty bolts Kevan estimated that it might have been the first time in 50 or so years the top was separated from the car. 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-top-off-02And while Kevan was at it, he also took off the ugly modern to big tires and replaced them with a bit better looking white wall tires. and added a set of Single Bar Flipper Hubcaps and beauty rings from his own collection. It changed the look completely.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-13The original padded top was then stored inside hanging from the ceiling in Kevan’s old place. 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-01Kevan took this photo from the inside of the trunk which shows that at one time there was an inset license plate. At one point this was removed and the hole filled in again.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-02The car was lowered at the rear with longer shackles. 
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In 2015 Kevan realizes that he might not have the time to give this car the proper care it needs and decides to let it go to early time Custom Car and Hot Rod enthusiast Ronnie Lindblom.




Ronny Lindblom, the new caretaker in 2015

ever since Ronnie has become the new care taker of the Mercury he has been trying hard to find out as much as he can about the history of the Mercury. And he already has found out a lot as this article show. But he is still looking for more info on the car, especially from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Ronnie knows that the original owner of the car passed away in 2008, and that there was a good friend of the owner at the 2008 LARS show. So far Ronnie has not been able to get in touch with this friend. Of course he would love to talk to him to hear more details about the car and find out if there are possibly some old photos of the car.


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Squeak told Ronnie this story from the LARS show.

While the car was at LARS and before I bought it, an old (in his 80’s apparently) was talking to Ron Clapper and told him that he knew the car quite well when it was NEW in L.A. in the 1940’s. The guys best friend had bought the car NEW from a Long Beach Mercury dealer and driven it to an Top Shop and had them remove the original folding top and fit a padded chopped top, new interior and repaint the car and this was all when the car was BRAND NEW in 1939….. un fuckin’ real. Thus making it ‘possibly’ the Worlds FIRST chopped Mercury.(????) The old boy then went on to tell Ron that his friend that owned the car in ’39 had just passed away the week before the 2008 Roadster Show and had been to every one prior to that, unreal! Anyway, Ron let the guy walk away and forgot to get his name or phone number or any other contact. So sad, this was probably the last real link to the cars early history.


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With the help of the Kevan Sledage, Ron Clapper and Squeak the full history on this piece of Custom Car history is slowly unraveled. There are still some blank spots that need to be filled in… so if anybody remembers anything about this car from its early days, or has heard stories about it. Please Contact us and let us know so we can help fill in these blank spots and make the story complete.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-12Detail photo showing the frame work and fine chicken wire that was used to shape the top.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-11The top upholstery has now been removed and after inspecting the frame work and comparing it with as many old Padded Top photos as possible both Kevan and Ronnie came to the conclusion that the top was most likely done by the Carson Top Shop.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-10It is really amazing to see all the details on the top, work that was done back in 1939.  The seats are some old seats from another car, sadly the original front seat is long gone, ended op on somebody’s front porch! 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-09This is how the car looks in the summer of 2015 at the Sledge Custom Shop. Looking good with added amber fog lights and aftermarket hubcaps.
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This is what Ronnie has found out about the 1939 Mercury Custom Convertible so far.

  • The car was brought new in 1939 at a Long Beach Ca. Mercury dealer. Car was blue from the factory
  • The car was taken to the Carson Top Shop when it was still brand new for a chopped windshield and padded top.
  • The car was painted a light green metallic.
  • At one point the car was repainted maroon, but other than that we do not know much about the cars live in the 1940’s and most of the 1950’s.
  • In 1959 the car was bought by Eddie Dominguez. Eddie bought the car in 1959 in el Paso. One day in 1959 Eddie was driving around and saw this ’39 Mercury sitting in a drive way. He thought he as never going to be able to own a car like that, but still he decided to knock on the door and ask if the car was for sale. It was, and Eddie offered the guy all he was able to spend on it.. and he said yes. The car looked still very good, all nice and shiny. But when he had taken the car home it broke down after just two days of having had fun with it. The motor froze and turned out to be cracked. Eddie did not know how to fix it, not have any money to have somebody else do it. So he parked the car under a carport. At the time Eddie was in the navy, then came his family… and before he knew it the car had sat for 40 years. He saved the car for his kids, but nobody was interested in it. Ronnie talked to Eddie Dominguez on May, 29, 2016, and Eddie was really pleased to hear the car will be on the road again soon.
  • Eddie stored the car under a carport and at one point somebody took out the front seat to use it as a couch on their porch.
  • The interior in white and red as we can see it in the 2008 LARS photos has an early Gaylords feel to it. Bill Gaylords name has been mentiond in conversations about this car, so perhaps Bill Gaylord did do an new interior for the car when it was repainted maroon. At this point we do not know this for sure.
  • In 2008 Jorge Zaragosa from Texas becomes the owner of the Mercury as part of a deal. But he has no interest in the car.
  • in 2008 the car is for Sale at the L.A. Roadster Show and three days after the show Squeak buys the Mercury from Ron Clapper who was selling it for Jorge.
  • In 2009 Kevan Sledge buys the car from Squeak
  • in 2015 Ronnie Lindblom becomes the new caretaker and plans are made to find the complete history of the car, hopefully find some old photos and restore it back to how it was when first restyled in 1939.

If you have any info about this early 1939 Mercury, then please contact us so we can help get with this great customs full history.

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