Jason Bickford Photography


Jason has combined his passion for period custom cars and photography and created some photos in recent years that take you back in time

Jason Bickford loves to take photo, with his digital camera, phone, but also his old fashion film roll camera. In this article we highlight some of the photos Jason took with his old camera loaded with an old way over time roll of film. The result is really amazing. The slides, which have faded colors from being on the shelve too long, were scanned as they are. No attention was paid to removing dust or scratches.Jason also spend a lot of time trying to make sure the least amount of “modern” details would show in the background. His efforts really payed off. This gives you the feeling you are looking at some early 1950’s color photos, but in fact they were taken in recent years.
We hope you will enjoy Jason’s photos as much as we do.


Jon Fisher, 1936 Ford






Jeff Neppl 1950 Mercury





Keith Weesner 1949 Ford






Assorted Customs









Photo albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s


In our series on Custom Car Photo albums, we have arrived in the last two decades we are highlighting: the 1980’s and 1990’s. During these two era’s the amount of photos increased a lot. Many transparent plastic slide in binders and albums, were filled with loads of custom car memories.

The 1980’s
Plenty of photos from the 80’s are left to give future generations a good idea of how the custom car scene was back then. The photos where cheap, so everybody snapped away, and there where many custom car shows to attent, to fill the photo albums. In the 1980’s, the 50’s started to be relived again. The Kustom Kemps of America Leadsled Spectacular was born in 1981, and soon this show became both legendary and annual.

The Custom Cars gained popularity and the hobby grew. The photos in this decade were printed – unfortunately – without the glamorous white borders, we had seen in previous decades. But they are plentyfull. The albums were mostly plastic, with binders, and textured plastic pages. Each photo carefully placed behind its own plastic window, which will protect it for the future decades.






The 1990’s
In this decade photos were cheaper than ever before. Resulting in more photos that where taken, and saved. Just like in the previous decade, the albums were plastic, and mass produced. But now the clear pages showed up. Double-sided view was introduced, kind of ugly, but it worked, and the photos were well protected.
Custom cars where still propular, but the “flame” slowely started to fade a bit. The custom cars were refreshing and new techniques were used. Custom Car history made people hunt for old custom cars from the 40’s and 50’s, in order to restore them.




For these albums we used photos from the Paul Kelly, Ulf Christiansson, and Rik Hoving Collection.


Part one is about the photo albums in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Part two is about the photo albums in the 1960’s and 1970’s.







Photo albums from the 1960’s and 1970’s


In our series on Custom Car Photo albums, we like to spend some time in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During these era’s, not only the custom cars changed dramatically, also the way photo albums, and even photos, were made changed.


The 1960’s

This decade brought many changes in the custom car photo albums. The albums were starting to get mass-produced, and most of them contained individual pages hold together by a binder. The heavy card pages used strokes of re-usable glue to hold the photos in place. Shields of clear plastic protected the (mostly) color photos. The – once white – pages of the albums yellowed over the years, due to discoloration in the glue. This was not really meant to be, but it did add a wonderful extra vintage feel to it.

The color photos where also mass produced, and the quality was not always the best, so a lot of the photos faded, or discolored quite a bit over time. The Custom Cars from this era where wild, the “sky was the limit”. New paint techniques, and paints where developed for relatively easy customizing. Bubble tops, and Over the Top Body Work, were covered in multiple coats, and hues of pearls, flakes, and candy’s where dominating the car shows.



The 1970’s

Compared to the previous decade, the photo albums did not change all that much in the 70’s. Only half way through the 70’s, the Polaroid camera’s became popular. They where easy to use, and you knew right away if a photo came out right or not. Polaroid photos where available in black and white, as well as in color. The majority of the custom cars in this decade could be considered “mild” customs. They had lowered suspension, and most of the customizing happened in the paint jobs. “Special Paint” was the thing to have, in order to stand out in a crowd. Of course there where exceptions to this as well, and some extreme, and “not-always-nice-on-the-eyes-kind-of-customs” by todays standards, where built.

There also were some older customs from the 50’s, that where pulled out of the garage, and re-designed to fit the themes of the decade. That usually was not the best that could happen to those cars.
The low-rider scene started, and even though many will not admit this, but the low-riders where the predecessors of the custom cars that where becoming more, and more popular in the late 70’s, and even more so in the early 80’s.



For these albums, photos were used from the Howard gribble, Keith Ashley, and Custom Car Photo Archive collections.CCC-1960-70-Image-W

Part one is about the photo albums in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Part three is about the photo albums in the 1980’s and 1990’s.









Custom Car photo albums through the years


As a kid I loved to browse through old family photo albums. Hand-tooled, leather bound, black pages, with soft velvet paper protection sheets, covering classy black and white photos. All neatly organized by date, and event in the album, with the use of four black photo corners.

I even liked the albums that were used in the 1960’s and 1970’s. With stick-on pages, and clear cellophane covers. The way the glue had yellowed over the years, the special feel of the the heavy pages, and even the smell is etched in my brain forever. In later years, I saw similar photo albums that have been created by custom car, and hot rod enthusiasts. And I was lucky enough to be able to browse many of those wonderful photo albums, on my visits to the US.


A couple of years ago, I was writing some articles for a Dutch magazine, and thought it would be nice to show readers in the Netherlands how these old American custom car photo albums looked like, and how they evolved over the years. Each time period of these photo albums has its own character. Even though I really love the historical ones from the 1940’s, and 1950’s, the modern ones – including the albums from the 80’s and 90’s -, have something special about them as well.

So I set out, and recreated 6 photo albums from the 1940’s to the 1990’s. I re-created custom car photos and added them to existing photo albums. These images were photographed or scanned, and the rest was created on the computer. The articles were used in the Dutch magazine, and were later translated for the Swedish Gasoline magazine.

The articles showed the wonderful photos, and the photo albums in which they were carefully kept in the period 1940 to the 1990’s. It is something many of us miss in the digital world we live in nowadays; with the exception of some lucky photographers, who still work with actual rolls of film. Sure, we can take hundreds of photos at no extra costs. The best ones, we can even print out on photo paper. And with the aid of our iPhones, we can change our new snapshots in “make belief oldies”. But the special look and feel from the old fade and fading color sensitive photo paper is gone.

In this first of three CCC articles on these photo album’s we will show you the 1940’s and 1950’s albums. For these albums we used photos from the Barry Mazza, Wally Welch, Jay Johnston, Ed Jenson and the Custom Car Photo Archive collections.



The 1940’s

Photos from custom cars from the forties are rather rare. Taking photos back then, was not as common as it would be in the following decades. Also a lot of photos where lost forever in moves, due to lack of interest, or simply thrown in the trashcan, when their owners passed away. The photos had those wonderful, rough edged, white borders. After several years they were often yellowed, and got torn edges, and rounded corners from handling them. The photo albums of the forties where wonderfully made, often with leather, or wood covers, with a exclusive feel to them. The pages inside where mostly made from black paper, the photos were neatly attached with nice little black photo corners. The custom cars on the photos, where beautiful, stylish, and pure. The customizers where pioneers, they had to invent everything themselves. They only had very few custom car after market parts, but they’d got lots of talent, and time to work with them.




The 1950’s

The 1950’s brought us many more photos than the previous decade. Taking photos was much more common back then, and because of that, many more custom car photos from this decade survived. The albums where also produced in larger number, they became less exclusive. In the early fifties, the look and feel of the photos remained very much the same, but later on, photos with straight borders on heavy photo paper, and color photos became very popular. Kodak was perhaps the largest supplier for color photos, and the Kodachrome feel of these photos became immensly popular. Even today designers and photographers are still trying to copy the typical Kodachrome feel, when they want a fifties touch.

The custom cars in the early fifties were simple, stylish and well designed. This is considered the Golden Age of the Custom Car. Later in the fifties the custom car designs were much more extreme, as car shows became more and more popular and important. For every show the cars became increasingly extreme, that way they gained points for the owners, and the builders.







Part two is about the photo albums in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Part three is about the photo albums in the 1980’s and 1990’s.






Not a ‘Bettie Page’ kind of woman: Marcia Campbell 1932 – 2009


The name Marcia Campbell might not be very familiar to you, but perhaps her photos are. Behind the lens of many of the most memorable photos of some
of the most well-known customs during the golden age – the late ’40s to early ’50s – was Marcia Campbell.

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Marcia was born March 15, 1932, in Huntington Park, Calif.; a So Cal gal. She began studying photography in her teens and was entirely self-taught. In 1949 she started taking photos for George Barris. She was 17 and a regular visitor to the Barris Kustom Shop. Marcia always brought her camera with her and she would take photos of the guys working on the cars and, of course, of the cars themselves.

CCC_Marcia_Campbell-04The next time Marcia visited the shop she would bring prints of the best photos and hand them over to the guys, or to George. The guys appreciated them, but I don’t think at the time they realized how valuable her contribution was to the custom car hobby. Marcia never sold her pictures; she always gave them away.

CCC_Marcia_Campbell-02An only child, Marcia’s father passed away when she was four years old. Marcia’s mother went on to manage the family business, “Industrial Stationery & Printing Co.” And when Marcia grew up, she became personnel director of the family enterprise. The money she earned, and later inherited, helped her realize her dream – to photograph, own, modify and race a wide variety of cars.

Not your average kind of girl

Marcia was an amazing standup and standout woman. She bowed out of the hot rod mainstream in the mid 1950s. But she continued with her ardent passion for cars as a collector, restorer, and winning racer.

CCC_Marcia_Campbell-03She trained for her private pilot’s license in Long Beach in the mid-1960s just for kicks. She was an avid sail boater – skippering and racing them for most of her adult life, and setting yachting records. She evolved in her career as a professional photographer of cars to include architecture and wildlife. She belonged to several trade associations and clubs. In her later years she was a professional social worker for Orange County Social Services.
Marcia continued these avocations throughout her entire life. Her interests and talents were many, and she didn’t bother being sick – she was too busy having the best of times until she simply dropped from an aortic embolism at the age of 77 in September 2009.


The photos and her work in the magazines

Dan Post discovered Marcia’s talent as a photographer in the late 1940s, and the two became very good friends. Dan used many of Marcia’s photos of custom cars for the last two editions, of his Blue Book of Custom Restyling. From 1948-1952 – for us car guys the best known period – Marcia used a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex 2 ¼”2 camera and a Speed Graphic 4” x 5”. She had her own home darkroom – she processed all her own negatives and prints – allowing her to take as many photos as she liked. Marcia really enjoyed taking photos. Lucky for us she was able to combine it with her other passion – cars, specifically customs and hot rods. Of those cars she took photos of, many are ones we still admire today.

Marcia liked to hang out at the Barris shop where she would chat, take pictures, and observe the bodywork. Marcia was about the only gal around who was into cars. She was mechanically minded and could talk shop. Later, she organized photo sessions at nearby attractive locations, always giving away her prints to the cars’ owners or to George Barris. George gratefully accepted the photos and began using them for promotional material.


The finer tricks of photography

Compared to other photos from the late 1940s and early 1950s, most of Marcia’s images featured nice backgrounds. She always included a full side view so the whole car could be seen, and her point of view was always a bit lower than average. This lower point of view flattered the subject, making the car look longer and lower. Perhaps this was nothing more than the fact that Marcia had to look through the camera from the top, thus the camera sat lower, but I think she lowered it a bit more than needed for the more dramatic effect.
George Barris was very impressed with the photos Marcia took, and Marcia showed George the finer tricks of car photography. George had already started to take photos of the cars Barris Kustom’s had finished or were in the process of customizing, but he knew he could learn from Marcia how to take better photos. She showed him which angles worked best, how to use the flash, and other things – all to make the cars look the most attractive. In several interviews George gave full credit to Marcia for teaching him all he knows about taking photos.
Marcia’s photos were seen in many magazine and books. The first issue of Hop Up magazine in June 1951 included two of her photos on the cover, and more inside. After that, many an issue of Hop Up, Motor Trend and Rod & Custom would use her photos. According to Marcia, she never asked to be paid for the photos that where published. But she did insist that they where credited to her. On one occasion Hop Up – in the January 1952 issue – they failed to do so; an oversight the editors corrected in the next issue to set the record straight.


The cars in Marcia’s life

Marcia’s love for everything automotive showed early in her life. As soon as she got her driver’s license at age 15 she bought her first car – a new 1947 Buick Sedanette. Her second car was a powder blue and white 1949 Chevy convertible, which she immediately drove to Barris Kustom to have customized. Marcia had just started Compton College in 1949 and this Chevy was her daily transportation – you can imagine the impact it had on her fellow students. Her next custom was a 1942 Ford; heavily, but tastefully, chopped with a hopped-up Mercury flathead.
Originally this car was owned by Carl Abajian, but Marcia liked it so much that she traded her one-year-old 1949 Chevy convertible custom for it. After the 1942 Ford there were a couple of Mercurys, a 1950 and a 1951.

She went from Mercurys to Lincolns in the mid-50s, and owned many more domestic and exotic cars after that. Marcia owned and drove 52 cars in her life. And none of those were “mainstream” cars. Marcia also had a soft spot for horseless carriages and owned and restored several early automobiles, a passion she shared with her friend Dan Post.

Hot rods and racing at the dry lakes

In addition to custom cars Marcia also liked hot rods and racing at the dry lakes. Together with the Barris shop, she built her 1929 Model A roadster pick-up truck. Built on a 1932 Ford frame with sectioned ’32 Ford grille and channeled body. The roadster appeared in the January 1951 issue of Hot Rod Magazine with a photo of Marcia wrenching on the flathead engine inside the Barris Shop.

[box_light]with contributions from Michelle M. Yiatras and David E. Zivot[/box_light]

This article shows only a few samples of Marcia’s Custom Car Photography. The Rodder’s Journal issue #51 has a full article on Marcia Campbell by Rik Hoving.



Photo Analysis: Sam Barris chopping the top on Jerry Quesnel’s Mercury


Sometimes we find surprising information in photo’s. Like a true photo detective Rik Hoving unravels mysteries. This episode involves Marcia Campbell, Sam Barris and Jack Steward.

The photos for this analysis were taken by Marcia Campbell at the Barris Kustom shop in the early 1950’s. The photos belong to John Barris, Sam Barris’ son, and were ‘discovered’ by Curtis Leipold in a box of material he borrowed from John.
These step by step photos on how Sam Barris chopped the Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury were first published in the Rodder’s Journal #51 article on Marcia Campbell. They can be seen on the Custom Car Photo Archive

This set of photos, 39 in total, are very important. They show Sam Barris performing one of the first chops on a 1949 Mercury. These photos have been used in a very interesting discussion on the HAMB about which Mercury Sam Barris chopped first, his own, or the one for Jerry Quesnel. You can read the discussion on the HAMB here.


We do know a lot about the history on certain custom cars, and we also found out a lot of details, many years after these cars were built. But sometimes the facts and details about certain cars have faded in time. And those who were present at the time, simply cannot remember everything in details (although we always hope they will).

For instance on the Sam Barris and Jerry Quesnel Mercury’s, we have no confirmed dates on when they were built and finished. We know when the cars were shown in the magazines, or when they were at a show. But still some dates are still a mystery. So it comes as a wonderful surprise if some unexpecting elements in a photo can lead to more info.

We were working on a different project and were looking a bit closer to some of the Marcia Campbell photos. We are always attracted to what ever goes on in the background of these old photos. Suddenly we noticed something never noticed before… in three of these photo we can see Jack Stewart 1941 Ford is in the background.

It is known that the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford was mostly built at the Ayala shop. But George Barris finished it for Jack in 11951. Also known are a few dates when certain things were done to this car. So – with the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford in the background- is is safe to say that Marcia took the photos of Sam chopping the top. Or at least with Sam finishing the metal work on the top after the end of January 1951.
Jack Stewart entered his 1941 Ford in the 1951 Hot Rod and Motor Sport Show at the Los Angeles National Guard Armory held at the end of January (25-28). He showed the car there with white-out-windows since he did not have an interior in the car yet.

In these photos shown here, we can see Jack’s 1941 Ford in the background. One of them shows the car with a full interior. Jack never mentioned when he did the upholstery on his car, but I know this must have been after January 1951. It must have been in the beginning of 1951, since later that year he sold the car to Jim Skonzakis.

Before these photos showed up it was often thought Sam had finished the jerry Quesnel Mercury in 1950. But with these Marcia Campbell photos we know it must have been in 1951. Many say Jerry’s car was finished before Sam Barris finished his own Mercury. We do know Sam’s mercury was shown at the 1951 Oakland roadster show held February 20-25.


  • In the center photo we can clearly see that the Jack Stewart Ford had been painted. Before that Jack’s car was in white and pink primer for a number of month.
  • The photo of the bottom left shows that Jack’s Ford has an fully upholstered interior. The background is a but blurry, but with the help of other photos of the Jack Stewart Ford we can positively identify the interior.
  • The photo on the bottom right is added to show the Jerry Quesnell with the almost finished chop. But in this photo Jack’s Ford also appears in the background. The hood shows up right above the trunk of Jerry’s Mercury, and the rear fender trunk of Jacks car can be seen viewed thru Jerry’s windshield and passenger rear quarter window.

Found Treasures


For this first article for the Custom Car Chronicle I wanted to show some nice snapshots from my own personal collection.

From time to time some individual snaps shots show up for sale, and sometimes larger collections or even whole photo albums are offered. Most of the times this material is found when the old guy who took the photos passed away, or perhaps had to move to an elderly home. And lost of stuff gets sold on yard and estate sales if we are lucky. Other collections are not so lucky and might end up in the garbage. I think we all have heard some of those hours stories.


In any event the photos I will be showing here have had better luck, found their new home at a real enthusiast and even better the photos now get to be shared world wide with all who love to watch them.

Some of the cars in the photos I show are identified, and we know a lot about them. But others remain unanimous so far. So we do encourage you, the viewer to help us identify the cars in the photo. If you know more about them, or recognize cars in the background, please sign in and leave a comment on the article. When new information comes available the older articles on the CC Chronicle will be updated.

Now lets see some nice photos taken at the lakes…

Harold Johanson Howard Cams streamliner 1954

Peterson-Sinclair Dodge roadster


1952 Vic Hubbard Merc-Crosley










Vivian Maier, the Mystery Urban Street Life Photographer


In 2007 Vivian Maier’s work was found at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Thanks to the buyer we now know Maier’s work and can be both amazed and touched by it.

There is a wonderful non-biased, open and non-judgmental approach in the photographs. As if Maier photographed the drunk guy in his car with the same attention as the beautiful young girl. There is also hope in every picture. The thought that everything can change and nothing will last forever. Maier was able to really connect with her subjects (and objects!) and thanks to her we get a glimps of urban street life in the 50’s – 70’s.

What can we say…once you’ve seen Vivian Maier photos at least one of those vivid images is bound to stay with you forever.

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Vivian Maier © 2013 Maloof Collection, Ltd.- all rights reserved

All rights, text and images Maloof Collection Ltd.


About Vivian Maier

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Piecing together Vivian Maier’s life can easily evoke Churchill’s famous quote about the vast land of Tsars and commissars that lay to the east. A person who fit the stereotypical European sensibilities of an independent liberated woman, accent and all, yet born in New York City. Someone who was intensely guarded and private, Vivian could be counted on to feistily preach her own very liberal worldview to anyone who cared to listen, or didn’t. Decidedly unmaterialistic, Vivian would come to amass a group of storage lockers stuffed to the brim with found items, art books, newspaper clippings, home films, as well as political tchotchkes and knick-knacks.


CCC-Vivian-Maier-55-593Self Portrait Vivian Maier 1955.


The story of this nanny who has now wowed the world with her photography, and who incidentally recorded some of the most interesting marvels and peculiarities of Urban America in the second half of the twentieth century is seemingly beyond belief. An American of French and Austro-Hungarian extraction, Vivian bounced between Europe and the United States before coming back to New York City in 1951. Having picked up photography just two years earlier, she would comb the streets of the Big Apple refining her artistic craft. By 1956 Vivian left the East Coast for Chicago, where she’d spend most of the rest of her life working as a caregiver. In her leisure Vivian would shoot photos that she zealously hid from the eyes of others. Taking snapshots into the late 1990′s, Maier would leave behind a body of work comprising over 100,000 negatives. Additionally Vivian’s passion for documenting extended to a series of homemade documentary films and audio recordings. Interesting bits of Americana, the demolition of historic landmarks for new development, the unseen lives of ethnics and the destitute, as well as some of Chicago’s most cherished sites were all meticulously catalogued by Vivian Maier.


A free spirit but also a proud soul, Vivian became poor and was ultimately saved by three of the children she had nannied earlier in her life. Fondly remembering Maier as a second mother, they pooled together to pay for an apartment and took the best of care for her. Unbeknownst to them, one of Vivian’s storage lockers was auctioned off due to delinquent payments. In those storage lockers lay the massive hoard of negatives Maier secretly stashed throughout her lifetime.

CCC-Vivian-Maier-self-portraitSelf Portrait Vivian Maier

Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof.
Currently, Vivian Maier’s body of work is being archived and cataloged for the enjoyment of others and for future generations. John Maloof is at the core of this project after reconstructing most of the archive, having been previously dispersed to the various buyers attending that auction. Now, with roughly 90% of her archive reconstructed, Vivian’s work is part of a renaissance in interest in the art of Street Photography.

Want to see more…

To read and see more of Vivian Maier’s life, work and the collection take a look at the Artsy’s new Vivian Maier page. The newly designed page includes her bio, 80+ images of her works, exclusive articles about Vivian Maier, as well as her up-to-date exhibitions – it’s a unique Maier resource.[/box_light]



The Custom Car Photo Archive


The Custom Car Photo Archive has gained quite some attention in the past years. There are stories about custom car enthousiast who started browsing on Friday afternoon and simply couldn’t stop till the next morning.

Yes, its a pretty addictive archive. There are over 100.000 photo’s and we’ve got visitors from all over the world. Some share fantastic stories and fantastic photos with us. Thus helping the Archive to grown bigger and bigger.


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Pat Ganahl: Rik is inarguably the wold’s most avid collector and archivist of anything having to do with the history and current status of classic custom cars. You’ve seen his amazing digitally colorized early photos in these pages, and if you have any interest in historic custom cars, you’ve undoubtedly visited his vast online photo archive.
(TRJ #59)

 Jeff Allison: Rik, love the site. I look at it often for inspiration but have never posted a message. I currently own the Astra coupe you have shots of, if you want any more pics or info about it let me know. Thanks again for posting so many sweet photos of stuff that is hard to find.

Dennis Metz – Shelbyville, IN: I am honored that you have posted new photos of my dad’s 1950 Buick. I was visiting the site today to tell my co-worker about other pictures I have seen in an album titled RC Dream Truck and Golden Sahara in the Barris archieves. My father had several customs that are not posted that were in many different Rod and Custom Magazines in the 1950’s. I was happy today to see BOB METZ added as a photo album and much to my surprise I have never seen the photos you have posted of his 1950 Buick. Thanks again.

Pat Ganahl: This naturally led me to Rik Hoving’s website of all things custom, where he had some photos of this car posted, including a couple of the dash/interior I hadn’t seen.
(TRJ #51)

Barry Mazza: I’am in a state of shock over your collection of photos in the Custom Car Photo Archive. I’am floored over it and thinks its way over the top. Thanks for the pleasure of seeing these great photos of the cars we love and love to see…………….

Pete Chapouris: Jimmie Vaughan came by today and turned me on to your site. He was right, it’s hard to look at anything else. Great stuff, especially the Ayala cars. I spent many Saturdays there with my dad when I was a pup.

Josh Mills: I am a big fan of your site and reference it often. Thanks for the time you have taken to put all of the info in one place. It is a great collection.

bangshift.com, Posted by Chad Reynolds: If you’re into custom cars, you may never leave your seat after we show you this. If you’re not into ‘em, you will be. A guy named Rik Hoving in the Netherlands has compiled The Custom Car Photo Archive that includes incredible images and history of all sorts of customs from the ’40s through today. You’ll see historic photos, scans of ancient magazine pages, and notes on many cars you’ve heard of and hundreds you haven’t.

Kurt McCormick: Hi, Rik– My friend wolf told me about your site, and I want you to know what a pleasure it is to look through it. It has obviously taken a lot of time and effort to put it together, and you have done a fine job. I want to thank you for the page on the ‘41 cad. As many pictures as I have of the car, I would rather look at them on your site because they are presented so well. This web site is the definitive custom archive. Thanks for creating it.

Jan Emory Wilson: What an amazing site! I am Neil Emory’s daughter (Valley Custom) and my brother Gary just sent me your website. Thanks so much for all your hard work.



’36 Ford in the Magnificent Thirties – Forties


A special era for custom cars is the late 1930’s till the late 1940’s. In this particular period the custom car style was really developed which ultimately lead to the famous early 1950’s customizing style.

These early years produced inspirational wild and originally styled customs. There was a wonderful mix of coach build influences, combined with factory accessories, aftermarket parts and splendid streamlining. The 1936 Ford 5-window coupe shown above has been published before. The inset photo has appeared in many articles that Dean Batchelor was responsible for.

This car is extremely inspiring. It sits higher than we are used to nowadays. It even has a slightly less chop than what we mostly see these days and the single spotlight is also something that we are not used to anymore. But this car is just as good as they get. The styling is just perfect. The grille is one of the best on any 1936 Fords ever. And it looks like a simple narrowed unit until you start comparing. The top radius is larger than on a stock grille. Most likely the whole outer trim piece is hand made. The combination of the removed running boards and addition of trim pieces on the frame cover and rock shield on the rear fender is just so classy! The trim pieces on the frame covers might have been inspired by the 1939 LaSalle… or could it be the way around?


A fairly unknown looker

The colorized photo was taken in Santa Monica in 1941 and it has been described as being painted maroon with gray. We have a strong feel that the customizing on this car has been done (or at least partly) by George DuVall. George was working on many dress up items during the time this car was built. And the grille changes are something just up his alley. The large photo shown here was found on ebay and the new owner of the photos was happy to share it with the Custom Car Photo Archive. (thank you!)

This for sure is one of our favorite custom car photos ever. So, what’s your favorite custom car photograph?