Background Mystery Custom

 

BACKGROUND MYSTERY CUSTOM

 

In the background of 2 early 1950s drag strip photos I spotted this unidentified Mystery Custom Convertible with Padded Top.



Most of the readers on the Custom Car Chronicle know that I love old photos showing car. And how I love to search the background of city views, cars shows, drag races etc to see if there are any Custom Cars hiding in the background. While I was browsing the online Revs Digital Library I accidentally came across a photo of a drag race I had not seen previously. Some of these large online photo collections use search terms to help you find what you are looking for. But often the search terms are not always added to the photos in a correct way. Making it near impossible to find certain photos that have been archived. None of the “make sense” search terms could have found this photo, and it was even filed under a completely wrong years (1980).

The photo was taken by William Hewitt and part of the William Hewitt Photograph Collection in the Revs Archives and alone his collection contains 21,240 photos. William Hewitt took mostly photos of road races from 1953 and up, but, judging his photo collection, he also was interested in land speed records, and apparently went to a few early/mid 1950’s drag races in California. In the first photo I found of William I spotted and padded topped custom in the background. BINGO… I zoomed in on the photos and noticed this really nice looking, most like ’40 Ford, convertible with heavy chop, padded top and Buick kind grille sitting next to the drag strip. It was a Custom I had never seen before. So I searched for more photos from this series, and¬† found a few more, but sadly one one other was taken at a similar angle and showed the same Custom Car in the background.

The full photo shows the ’40 Ford Coupe Hot Rod getting ready, or just starting its run on the dragstrip. Cars are parked next to the strip with the Custom all the way to the right.
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At first I thought that it looked very much like the Al Garcia 1939 Ford Convertible Restyled by Harry Westergard and Less Crane in the late 1940’s. But on closer inspection I don’t think it is the same car. First because the car in these photos has vent windows (’39 Ford, and also Al Garcia’s do not have vent windows) plus the hood line towards the custom grille is different. So I do not think I have seen this great looking Custom ever before, and hope somebody does recognize it.


The ’40 Ford has its door handles removed and some more body work done and was partly in primer.
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This is as large as I could get the Mystery Custom. To bad there is a pole in front of the car. The nose appears to be more round than a ’40 Ford nose. The hood appears to open up all the way to the Buick like grille with vertical bard. The windshield has a rather heavy chop with small side windows and angled B-pillars on the padded top. The front bumper could be a 46-48 Chevy unit.
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There is not much to go on when it comes to identifying other than what we see in these two photos. There is no date when the photo was taken (yes 1980 according the Revs site, but that is wrong). We can see that the Hot Rod photos in the first photo has 1951 California license plates. Those were used from 1951 to 1955, so anywhere in between those years these photos could have been taken. William started taking photos in 1953, and the newest car in the photos looks to be a ’53 Chevy. So the photo must have been taken between 1953-55, most likely at an airport strip that was used for drag racing from time to time. The car looks to be based on a 1940 Ford, but even that I’m not 100% sure. It looks like it has a 39 model hood, wheel openings raised, a Buick based¬† or styled after grille, 46-ish bumpers, heavy chop, padded top, Spotlights, and running boards removed. All very typical for an early to mid 1940’s created Custom.

The second photo I found with the same mystery Custom in the background shows a rather beaten up mid engine Model T Drag Racer as the photo focus point. I think I have seen the car before, but cannot identify it at this moment.
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The close up shows that the car had its running boards removed and a cover added to hide the frame. There is a line in the photo that looks like a possible side trim, which fooled me in the beginning, until I noticed the “trim” extended on the hood of the 53 Chevy parked next to it. The ’53 Chevy is also the newest car in both photos.
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I combined the two photos to create the most complete photo of this Mystery Custom.
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If anybody recognized this great looking Custom in the background of these two drag strip photos, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle so that we can add the information to this article. Thank you.









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Customized Tow-Trucks

 

CUSTOMIZED TOW-TRUCKS

 

In the 1930s and 1940s, Midget Racing was very popular. A good way to get attention for your automotive business was to customize the cars and trucks that would start the midget at the stadium races.


While browsing the amazing and extensive Photo Collection of the Revs Institute¬ģ Archives¬†I came across some known and some unknown 1930’s Customized Tow/Push trucks. I have always loved the early Customized cars from the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Restyled with pure and unique designs, not influenced by any of the magazine and books.¬†Some of the companies that specialized in restyling cars and even offering restyling products were Frank Kurtis, Jimmy Summers, Don Lee, and George DuVall who worked out of the¬†So Calif Plating Company. There were quite a few more, but these are the names that have been responsible for a lot of the early restyled cars that left an impact then, and still do today. Cars that that were trend setting, cars that feature restyling elements that we still use today.

Some of these shops were also heavily involved in midget racing. And these races were besides having a great time racing cars, also a great way to promote your business. A lot of these midgets were beautifully designed and crafted. Loads of chrome plated hand made parts to show of the work that could be done by the sponsoring companies. Besides the wonderful race cars the tow and pull trucks were also restyled, to make more impact, and again to show of the quality and capability of the shops. Rolling advertising.

Lets take a closer look at some of the great looking customized tow-trucks at several of the famous Californian race tracks from the 1930’s and early 1940’s, based on the photos form the Revs Collection. To further illustrate these cars we have added a few photos of the used cars from other publications.




Early So California Plating Company Trucks

CCC-race-car-trucks-socal-early-01A lot of the races took place at night and the flash light of the photographer captured only what was close, but sometimes the background showed some very interesting cars in the dark. I was intrigued by the wide bumpers on the cars on the right of this photo, vaguely remembering their slight V-shape.
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CCC-race-car-trucks-socal-early-02When I lightened the photo somewhat I was able to recognize two of the early SoCalif Plating Company trucks in this 1935 photo. The one on the left, showing only the bumper and front fender is based on an 1932 Ford pick up and the one on the right in the background on an 1931 Ford pick-up. Only very few photos are known to exist of these two cars restyled by George DuVall, and seeing both of them in one photo is really unique.
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CCC-race-car-trucks-socal-early-06This is one of several designs George DuValle created for the SoCalif Plating Company trucks.
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CCC-so-california-1931-ford-02-revs Ted Wilson photographed the car in the early 1930’s at one of the race tracks.
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CCC-so-california-1931-ford-revsEnlarged section of the Ted Wilson photo gives us a good look at the truck.
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CCC-race-car-trucks-01Sadly the background of the photo is a bit blurry so the view of this 1931 Ford pick up truck restyled by George DuValle is not the best… but still very interesting. Notice the custom made waterfall grill.¬†
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CCC-race-car-trucks-socal-early-03This photo is possibly taken at the same location as the one above. On the far right we can see the rear of the what I think the 1931 based truck. If you look hard you can see the So California Plating sign on the sides of the pick-up bed wood planks. And on the left we can see in the background another wood sign reading California Plating, most likely from the 1932 Ford pick up. Notice that the trunk on the light colored convertible on the left has been removed and chrome plated bard have been added to the sides. The crew would sit in the trunk when puling the midget at the start.
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CCC-so-california-1931-ford-03-revsTed Wilson captured one of the So-Califorinia Plating truck in the background. This version shows large low mounted headlights.
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CCC-race-car-trucks-socal-early-05Magazine published photo of the 1931 Ford restyled by George DuVall. The headlights on this version of the truck are different (larger) and mounted lower on the front fenders.
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April 28, 1936 ‚ÄúNational Auto Racing News‚ÄĚ advertisement.(Courtesy of James Taggart / TheOldMotor.Com)
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CCC-so-california-1932-ford-1933-photo-revsThe 1932 Ford Roadster pickup based So-California Plating Co. truck was also designed by George DuVall.
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Atlas Chromium Plating Truck.

CCC-race-car-trucks-atlas-chrome-01Frank Wearne sits in car number 57, the Atlas Chrome Special, with a wonderful restyled front end. The Atlas Chromium Plating Service 1931 Dodge Panel tow-truck with modified front with 1933 Ford grille behind it. The photo was taken in Los Angeles, exact year unknown.
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CCC-race-car-trucks-atlas-chrome-02Close up of the front end of the car with the modified hood and hood sides to accept the 1933 Ford grille. The front fenders were also reshaped.
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Atlas Chrome Plating 34 Ford Truck.

Beside the So Calif Plating Company there was also the Atlas Chromium Plating Service who basically did the same work, and was also sponsoring the midget races. The Atlas Chrome Plating 34 Ford truck was restyled by Frank Kurtis it was actually a 1929 Ford to witch a set of 1934 Ford fenders, hood and grille was added. The truck featured a home made cast V-windhsield and hand shaped top.¬†Frank also created uniquely styled bumpers obviously influenced by the coachbuild creations from the early 1930’s.

CCC-race-car-trucks-atlas-plating-01Ted Horn admires the best appearing car trophy the company just won with the Atlas Chrome Special.
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CCC-race-car-trucks-atlas-plating-03Closer look shows the wonderful V-windshield with wipers on top, the waterfall grille with one bar missing and the chrome plated long teardrop shaped headlights. The top was done in metal, but had a similar shape as the padded tops.
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S0 Calif. Plating Company 35 Ford Truck.

We recently did a full article on¬†the¬†1935 Ford truck restyled by George DuVall for the So California Plating Company. So please look there for many more photos and info on this amazing early Custom. But we wanted to include two¬†unique photos of the car from the Revs Collection. In two¬†of the start line photos taken at an 1930’s midgets starting line-up¬†photo taken by Ted Wilson at the Atlantic Speedway,¬†in¬†South Gate, California, we spotted the 1935 Ford with added headlights and opened trunk.


CCC-socalif-plating-truck-22Sadly the photo from the Revs Archives was not dated, but judging the other tow truck and midgets in the photo we assume the photo was taken in 1936-37.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-21A little out of focus, but still very unique to see this version of the SoCalif Plating Company truck with the added headlights. This photo shows clearly that the original small set in headlights are still in place. Other than the new headlights the car appears to to have changed. Notice the lettering on the open trunk.
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So Calif. Plating Company 36 Ford.

Pat Ganahl shared a photo of another So Cal Plating trunk styled in a similar way as the famous ’35 truck, in his excellent story in the Rodder’s Journal issue 36. The car was listed as an 1938, but with the help of Lynn Bird we now know the car was actually a late 1936 Ford convertible sedan. We do not know much about this car, and according the RJ article there might even be yet another one similar styled as the 1935 truck. But so far we have not been able to find any photos of that one. The Revs Archives does have another photo of the car pictured in the Rodder’s Journal article. And even though most of the car in the photo is covered by three guys, we still are able to see some of the front of the car. Styled in a similar, yet different way than the ’35 truck.


CCC-socalif-plating-truck-20The other¬†So-Cal-Plating ‚Äútruck‚ÄĚ. This one is based on a late 1936 Ford Convertible Sedan. the photo was taken in 1938 and shows that there is no top on the car as we can see in all the photos of the ’35 Ford.¬†The grille bars look to be a taller and less in number than on the original 1935 based car. The front bumper is also quite different, interesting to see the wrap around sections ¬†appear to be separate units. According the Revs site the guys in the photo are: Dominic Distarce, Sam Hanks and Karl Young.
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CCC-so-california-1936-ford-night-revs This is the photo that was taken by Ted Wilson in 1938 and show the 1936 Ford So Calif. Plating Co. tow-car in action.
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CCC-so-california-1936-ford-dash-detailThe great quality of the Revs Collection photos allowed us to zoom in on the machine turned dash in the 1936 So Calif. Plating Co. Ford.
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CCC-so-california-1936-ford-detailIn the background of a photo I spotted this portion of the So Calif Plating 1936 Ford with the Du Valle Windshield. It does not show much of the car, but since photos of it are so rare, I wanted to include it here anyway.
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Mike Randall 1937 Ford.

So far we have been unable to find any info on this 1937 Ford coupe turned pick up that was used by Mike Randall as a tow truck. It appeared in several photos of the Revs Collection and it showed some nice early restyling with wi reshaped rear of the car, smooth hood sides, custom headlights and aftermarket trim on the hood.


CCC-race-car-trucks-37-ford-01This photo does show the reshaped rear of the body with the nicely shaped and chrome finished hold on bars. The hubcaps are small size single bar flippers, possibly early Cadillac units, but perhaps these are some early aftermarket units. We have no idea why the name on the side of the car was taped off in this photo. 
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CCC-race-car-trucks-37-ford-03This photo shows the car pulling Pat Cunningham in the Gilmore stadium. We can see Cadillac bumper and that the car was now outfitted with a set of white wall tires. the photo was taken in 1941. 
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CCC-race-car-trucks-37-ford-04Close up shows the Cadillac front bumper and the custom headlights. Possibly shaped after the Lincoln units, but it appears the headlight bezels are 1937 Ford units. The trim around the grille and hood is an early Eastern Auto aftermarket product.
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CCC-race-car-trucks-02And the last photo that got my attention was this Anderson Frigidaire Service truck. Very mildy customized with Buick fender skirts and aftermarket hubcaps. And most likely repainted in refrigerator white. Notice the heavy bumper on the front.
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SoCalif Plating Truck

 

SOCALIF PLATING TRUCK

 

George DuVall designed the 1935 Ford for the So California Plating Company and it turned out to be one of the most outstanding early Custom Cars.



The first time I saw a photo of the So Calif. Plating Co. truck was in the Flying V’s article by Dean Batchelor and Pat Ganahl in the August 1990 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. The article showed three black and white photos of this amazing car/truck. One with the midget on the trailer behind it, from a bit higher point of view was shown in a nice size, and two others rather small. And there was quite a bit of written info about it as well. I thought that 1935 Ford was one of the most beautiful Customs¬†I had ever seen. With its wonderful slanted DuVall windshield and long and low padded¬†Top, large white wall tires with chrome hubcaps and that amazing hand made grille. Stunning.

I could not believe no more 35-38 Fords were styled like this one, it was so beautiful, in my eyes everything was right about this car. Later I started to collect every bit of info and photos from this car I could find.

In en email conversation in 2006 ,¬†Pat mentioned he was working on article about the SoCalif Plating Co. truck for the Rodder’s Journal, and how he had found some new images and some very interesting info on the car. In the summer of 2007 that article was published in the Rodder’s Journal #36. And it is an incredible article with a load of new information on this car the enthusiast had been waiting for for a long time. If you have not read it, and love custom car history, you better get a back issue for your collection.


CCC-socalif-plating-truck-rodders-journal-36Pat Ganahl wrote an excellent article in the Rodder’s Journal issue 36. Several never before seen photos as well as some really great information about the car was shared in this article. (openings spread of the RJ-article)
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-american-rodderThe American Rodder published an article about George DuVall in 1997 which featured another nice never before seen photo of the SoCalif Plating truck.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-sketchThe American Rodder article also shared this amazing sketch George DuVall created for the SoCalif Plating truck he designed for Leonard DeBell’s 1935 Ford. The overall shape is all there, but the details as the grille, and bumpers are different from what was actually build.
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CCC-1935-ford-phaetonA 1935 Ford Phaeton from the Ford Sales Brochure. A car like this was the base for the SoCalif Plating Co. Truck.
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The 1935 SoCali. Plating Co. Truck has always been a great inspiration for me. When I looked at the photos of the Custom, especially the one with the midget behind it, and the old cars in the background I could not stop wondering how much impact this car must have had back in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. It must have looked like it came from outer space to some. The car was so far ahead styling wise. As Pat Ganahl mentioned in his RJ article it is really a wonder that there are no old magazine or news paper articles about this car. The only thing I can imagine is that everybody who saw the Custom during the day trips to deliver fresh chrome, or in the weekends at the race track, was to much in awe to even take pictures, let alone think about doing something about it for an early magazine or newspaper. As far as I have been able to find out it was not until 1955 before the first photos of the Custom appeared in a magazine.

In the 1930’s and early 1940’s the Custom Cars where created for other reasons than during the golden years of Custom Cars (late 1940, to late 1950’s). There where no cars show to enter your Custom in, no reason to modify something to gain extra points. These Early Customs were designed to improve over the original designs of the cars they are based on. They were designed to look more exclusive, more expensive, and perhaps more powerful. And in this case the car was designed as a working truck. A full Custom Car with a exceptional amount of work done knowing the end product would be used on the road 7 days a week!



Creating the So Calif. Plating Co. Truck

Because the Custom has been built so long ago a lot of real facts about the car have been forgotten, and the people who might have remembered are no longer with us to ask about it. But with the several articles on the car, and memories shared by the people involved in the creation of the car over the years, a lot of history about how it was created has fortunately been documented.

The car was commissioned by Leonard K. DeBell, owner of the So Calif Plating Co. who had bought a brand new 1935 Ford phaeton. His plan was to use it as a very classy delivery truck. But to be able to do that the car had to be lengthened 12 inches to assure freshly chromed bumpers could be stalled behind the front seat cargo section. George DuVall had been employed by DeBell since 1933. He was hired to design and develop new chrome plated aftermarket parts for the company, and as part of this he had already designed and build several company pick up trucks.

It is unsure who all worked on this truck, and who did what, but from the archived documents we know that George was of course responsible for the design.¬†We do not know who actually added the 12 inches to the frame, and welded the rear doors before extending them with 12 inches. Some people say it was the George DuVall – Frank Kurtis team who did this, others say Jimmy Summers might have done some of the body work.¬†George and his¬†friend Frank Kurtis created the grille from brass sheets, bend to shape. It has been described as a lazy “Z” shaped sections that form the actual grille bars. One bend and shaped all the separate unit where chrome plated and installed. George did an absolutely fantastic job integrating the new grille with the 36 Ford body work.


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George also created the V-Windshield that would later be his most popular product. The typical V-shaped windshield with the thin posts and wonderful lines which would later be used on many Hot Rods and Custom cars was specifically designed for this 1935 Ford. We also know that the rear door, which hinged at the top, was created by¬†Chad Schultz¬†of¬†Joe Newell’s¬†body shop. The door could also be removed easily when larger parts needed to be transported. The rear door gave access to a flat floor that started just behind the front seats. So there was actually quite a lot of space for product. But it might perhaps not have been as handy as an actual pick up truck like the previous So Calif. Plating Co. trucks were. However DeBell liked the idea to promote his business, and knew that the good looks of this truck would help him sell more product.

After the frame and body had been extended 12 inches DeBell bought a set of fenders, hood sides and radiator shell from the brand new 1936 Ford directly from the dealer. He liked the shape of them better than from the 1935 Ford. It looks like the new 12 inch longer running boards are made out of stainless steel, and that the four step on strips on them are actually integrated, pressed in the units, rather than using separate strips. At least the new high res photos give us the impression they are.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-06Another photo taken at the same location from the Revs Institute Collection gives us a good view at the rear of the car. My guess is that the tubular rear bumper might not have been finished when these photos were taken.
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DuVall added a 1936 Cadillac bumper to the front and created small teardrop shaped headlights, more like paring lights. At the rear a four bar bend chrome tubular bumper with cone shaped ends was created. A single taillight was mounted below the lower pan mounted license plate. I have not been able to fin a gas filler car on the photos I have seen on the car. Possibly this was moved into the cargo section?

With all the body work done the car was painted in the So Calif. Plating Co. Sea Foam Green color by Charlie Remidi. A very unusual color for a car back then. The color is sometimes described as a gray green color, others have mentioned it had a sort of olive tint to it. George Du Valle created a set of ribbed wheel covers to cover the wire wheels, and they were dressed up with some fake knock-offs. Unsure is if the hubcaps were designed for the truck, or if they were already in production by the company. The wire wheels were fitted with large Vogue white wall tires Vogue. It took them a total of three month to create this Custom Car mater-piece.

The long and wonderful padded top was create by the¬†George Thomas Top Shop¬†in Hollywood. He created a top that fitted the DuVall windshield perfectly and the teardrop shaped side window openings give the car instant speed. We are not sure why there was never an rear window created in the top. Driving the long car with blind rear must not have been easy. But on the other hand this was late 1930’s and the roads were of course not as crowded as they are now.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-05Rear 3/4 view shows the amazing lines of this car. Everything about it is just right. This photo shows the unfinished rear bumper, and the hitch sitting in front of the bumper coming from underneath the rear pan. It appears that the rear fenders and lower rear panel have been extended, possibly to make space for a lower position of the gas-tank, so that the cargo floor could be flat, and lower.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-08The photographer might have been more interested in the Midget than the truck, hence the cut off front fender.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-07This photo of the midget does give us a good look at the unique Vogue white wall tires and the Chrome disk with “knock-offs” covering the wire wheels.¬†
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The Details

The Revs Institute scans allowed me to see details on the car that I had never saw before. The car was built really well.. and even more designed exceptionally well. The close ups of the windshield and top show all excellent designs and craftsmanship. Photos like these make it even harder to believe why there have not been more cars build inspired on this one. (special thanks to Jamie Barter for the link to the Revs Institute collection photos of the So Calif. Plating Co. delivery truck.)

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-detail-01Notice the small peak at the center of the top visually extending the windshield center. The fit of the windshield to cowl, and the top to the windshield is really flawless. The DuVall windshield is made up from 5 separate brass casted parts.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-detail-05Before these photos became available all we had were the photos that appeared to have been copied form the original photo, and were rather dark. I always thought the extended running boards were a slightly different color, or shade than the rest of the car, and for sure not covered with rummer. But these high res photos make it look like the running boards were actually made from shaped stainless steel with the four step on ribs pressed in them, rather than them being separate strips. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-detail-04George DuVall really did an amazing job on the design of this car. The V-windshield is absolutely gorgeous, but how about the grille bars extending to the hood sides, and even a little bit on the cowl. Look how they are beautifully rounded at the end, and the way to overlap on the cowl, make the hood look longer than it actually is. Another detail I had never notice before is the side trim t the top of the hood side, below the hood. The 1935-36 Fords never had side trim, but if you look at the image below you will see it makes total sense for it to be placed there.
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A close up on the front of the car shows the very small headlights intergrated in the front fenders, the 1936 Cadillac bumper, the oval shaped license plate frame and of course the beautiful shaped and created grille. This photo also shows where the top side trim seen in the previous photo comes from. The original 1936 Ford nose/grille piece was used, and the trim is actually in place of the original 1936 Ford grille surround. The oval shaped license plate cover might have been another DuVall- So Calif. Plating Co. product. The plate is from 1936.
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ccc-socalif-plating-truck-23-wheel-tireThe beautiful patter on the Vogue white wall tires is clearly visible in this photo. It appear that the custom hubcap covering the (most likely) wire wheels is made up of at least two separate pieces, possibly even three, or four if the “Knock off” comes off.
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By looking good at all the photos it appears to me that the photos taken with the midget on the trailer and similar once at the same location where taken in early 1936 when the car was freshly done, and not yet 100% finished. The rear bumper is still unfinished in thos photos, and there are no side view mirrors mounted.


CCC-socalif-plating-truck-10Here the ’35 truck can be seen parked with an older So-California Plating Co. truck, which was based on an 1934 Ford pick up truck, dressed up with DuVall designed chrome hardware.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-16This photo from the rear, and the next one show the finished tubular bumper really well. The bumper guards are the same as from the front bumper, 1936 Cadillac. And it appears that there is just one singe taillights mounted behind the bumper, below the license plate. Most likelely the hitch used for the weekend midget trailer was a removable one. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-15By now the trunk has been decorated with a Modern Plating Service logo. And the top sides have the S0 Calif. Plating Co. teardrop sign added. All the photos taken after the midget trailer photo session show the car with hinge mounted side view mirrors, but left and right. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-14This front angle photo shows the teardrop shaped very small headlights. They are rumored to be Woodlite headlights. But the shape of those does not really matches these units. The low angle gives the car a wonderful aggressive look. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-11A wonderful low angle photo shows the wonderful Art-Doco styling on the car, which goes perfect with the building in the background.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-04 CCC-socalif-plating-truck-03May 1955 issue of Motor Life magazine most likely is the first time the SoCalif. Plating Company truck was ever published. It appears that the photos are taken in 1936. The rear quarter photo clearly shows the 1936 California license plates. It also apears that the car did not yet have the hinge mounted mirrors added when these photos were taken.
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Snapshot taken at a midget race in 1937 at an unknown stadium. Very interesting photo shows the chrome plated hand made hinges for the custom made deck lid. 
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Enlarged section from photo above shows a little bit of the car’s dash, and the deck lid hinges again.
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Updated headlights

Somewhere in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s the car was updated with a set of low mounted, or perhaps molded in headlights. Most likely done by Jimmy Summers. Apparently there have been a few, perhaps as many as three SoCalif Plating Co. trucks with a similar design during the late 1930’s. There is more information about this in the Pat Ganahl Rodder’s Journal article. The article also covers what might have happened to to car, that it might have been in use up to the mid 1950’s and that if might have been seen as late as the mid 1960’s sitting in a shop on Melrose. And that the car¬†might possibly still be around today. I really hope so, and I really hope it will be “found” and shared with the public again.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-12A rather fuzzy photo, actually only a small portion of it, enlarged, shows the truck with the new headlights. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-21The Revs Institute for automotive research has another very interesting photo in their collection showing the front of the 1935 SoCalif Plating truck. This time with the new headlights added. We can see clearly that the original headlights are still in place and the new headlights are not molded into the front fenders. Sadly the photo is not dated. Note that the trunk lid is open in this photo.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-22This is the complete photo taken by Ted Wilson with the SoCalif truck on far right. Judging the other tow cars and race cars on the¬†Atlantic Speedway, South Gate, California,¬†track it looks like this photo is taken in the late 1930’s.
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So Cal Plating 35Parked on the inside of the track with the trunk door open.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-last-photoThis is supposedly the last known photo of the car, taken by Spencer Murray in March 1944 at 5229 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles. It appears that the hubcaps might have been changed, and the white wall tires look to be less tall. And it also looks like the padded top has been recovered with a lighter material. Although the last might only look that way due to a light overexposure. In this photo we can also see the added headlight, which were done by Jimmy Summers. But there still is no real evidence of the rear lights. 
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-colorized-2At one point I set out to do a colorized photo of the SoCalif. Plating Co. truck. But at the time all I had was a rather poor scan of a to dark copy of the photo. So I did get it started, but never really finished it with any details. Still nice to see some color on the car. It still makes me wonder how spectacular this one must have looked like in color with all the bright chrome.
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CCC-socalif-plating-truck-02I really love the 1936 photo of the car taken from a bit higher point of view, but always wondered how it would have looked without the trailer behind it. So when I came across the Revs Institute scan of the original photo I had to do some photo shop work to set the car alone, all by itself.. and I think it looks absolutely amazing.
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CCC-duvall-windshield-adJulian Doty took over the patterns and rights to cast the DuVall V-Windshield in 1946. Here is an late 1940’s ad he ran. The windshield was one of the most popular items DuVall designed, and it all started with the SoCalif. Plating Co. truck.
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CCC-36-ford-joseph-hockerOne of the cars most likely inspired by the SoCalif Plating truck was this 1936 Ford owned by Joseph Hocker. DuVall windshield and white padded top. Although the top is not as nicely shaped as the one on the original one. 
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CCC-36-ford-phaeton-otherAnother one based on a 1936 Ford also shows a lot of similarities with the DuVall designed Custom. This version has the running boards removed.
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Over the years several projects have been started recreating, semi recreating or inspired by the So Calif Plating Co. truck have been started. But so far none of them have been finished as far as I know. Back in the 1940’s there were a few 1936 Fords inspired by the SoCalif Plating Co. truck. At least two of them are documented. Hopefully new creations inspired by it will be created, or finished in the near future. This 1935 Ford designed by George DuVall has played a huge roll in the history of the Custom Car. And I think we all have to be very happy that there are so many photos of it taken back in the 1930’s, and that so many have survived and are being shared.

CCC-socalif-plating-truck-20Here is an interesting photo showing another So-Cal-Plating “truck” Based on a late 1936 Ford¬†Convertible¬†Sedan. Pat Ganahl’s Rodder’s Journal article showed a rear angle of this car, and the Revs Collection gives us a bit of an front view. There is no top on the car when this photo was taken, and the grille bars look to be a taller and less in number than on the original 1935 based car. The front bumper is also quite different. According the Revs site the guys in the photo are:¬†Dominic Distarce, Sam Hanks and Karl Young.
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Reference and more info

  • Motor Life magazine May 1955
  • Rod & Custom Magazine August 1990
  • American Rodder¬†Magazine 1997
  • Rodder’s Journal Magazine, issue #36
  • Earlier So California Plating Company trucks CCC-Article.

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Dave Peters 1949 Ford

 

DAVE PETERS 1949 FORD

 

Dave Peters 1949 Ford Sedan. The Valley Custom Shop study in restrained Custom Restyling.



Most of the Custom Shops have developed a style of their own. A certain look for the cars that are created in these shops, or perhaps just some details that will tell which shop was responsible for particular Custom. Especially in the early days there were a couple of Custom Shops that were responsible for the styles, the trends, the looks. The Valley Custom Shop, run by Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen was known for their fine restrained, almost factory Custom look. This shop was able to make cars looks amazing with subtle restyling. Restyling elements that are all very balanced, and chosen to enhance the looks of the car.


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Dave Peters ’49 Ford Sedan is a perfect example for the Valley Custom Shop looks and feel. The work done on the car can be considered mild custom work, but the overall effect is a lot more than that, and perhaps is best represented with “the way the factory should have done it”.

Dave’s 1949 Ford Sedan was featured in a two page article in the September 1954 issue of Car Craft, but was in fact already done quite some time before it was published. Most of the photos we have seen of the car show a license plated with 1951 dates on the car. The title of the Car Craft feature was THE CLEAN ONE. And that the car sure was after the Valley Custom Shop was done with it.



1950 photos

Robert E Canaan took several photos of Dave Peters 1949 Ford around 1950. These photos have been shared by the Revs Institute. These photos show the car with 1950 California plates and the only main difference we can see with photos taken in 1951, and later are the fender skirts and the Valley Custom Glendale car club plaque hanging from the rear bumper.

ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-05It looks like photographer Robert E. Canaan accidentally found Dave Peters Ford parked along side the road. These photos were not staged. The Valley Custom Shop did a great job in cleaning up and making the Ford Sedan look much more attractive.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-02The use of the Mercury grille, or perhaps it was an Canadian Ford grille and Mercury grille surround with extended down hood looks really fantastic on the car. It makes you wonder why we have not seen this done more often. Notice the frenched headlights, this was done pre the lipped 1952-54 Ford / Mercury headlights with recessed rings that later became so popular. The smooth look of the headlights fits the overall styling excellent.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-04The early version used smooth fender skirts. Possibly modified 1949-50 Mercury units. The later version had cut down lipped 1951 Mercury skirts.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-01Zoomed in for a better look at the great front end restyling done by the Valley Custom Shop.
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ccc-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-revs-06Valley Customs Glendale car club plaque. The plaque fits the Valley Custom Shop Burbank care perfectly.
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CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-06Two of these Robert E. Canaan photos were used¬†to point out the¬†grille in Dave’s Ford as good sample.
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An interesting detail is the smooth fender skirts on the car when these photos were taken in 1950. Fender skirts were available as factory option, or from the aftermarket, but as fas as I know, none looked like these. The shape of them remind me of those created by Sam Barris on his personal ’49 Mercury, as well as on Jerry Quesnell’s Mercury. Perhaps the Valley Custom Shop also converted a taller than the Ford, ’49 Mercury skirt to fit to Dave’s Sedan.
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Detail look at the custom skirts from the rear. 
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1951 photos 

CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-01The front view shows how nice the grille, grille surround and hood modifications work together.
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A 1949 Mercury grille surround was narrowed a bit to fit the 1949 Ford, the Mercury grille was also reduced in with to fit the adjusted grille shell. The top portion of the Mercury grille surround was cut off and welded to the bottom of the Ford hood. This created a wonderful rolling shape from the top of the hood all the way to the back side of the grille and then the grille rolled from its back to the chrome strip that was left from the original 1949 Ford grille sitting on the molded in front splash-pan. The hood was cleaned up the emblems, but the center strip remained, and the hood ornament was replaced with an aftermarket bull nose piece for the perfect look. The headlight rings were molded to the front fenders making them look just a bit longer.



CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-02Shaved emblems and handles, reshaped side trim, lipped and cut down ’51 Mercury skirts now replace the smooth units used in 1950. All this and a super smooth body make Dave’s 1949 For an very elegant ride.
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CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-05Dual exhaust, Chevy license plate surround chrome strips on the rear fenders and an smooth trunk including shaved external hinges made it absolutely perfect. Makes you really wonder how great this car must have looked in color.
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The door handles were shaved and the front section of the side-trim was simplified. A set of 1951 Mercury fender skirts was cut at the top and its top corners were reshaped and the whole units adjusted to fit the Ford body. The trunk was shaved of its emblems, and the exterior hinges were replace with some internal units for an ultimate clean look. The top of the fender line received a chrome welting strip from the drip rails all the way back to the rear splash pan.

A set of Appleton Spotlights was installed, and both the front and rear bumpers received a Chevy license plate frame. The car was lowered mildly both front and rear and a set of wide white wall tires was added with custom moon shaped with one ring aftermarket hubcaps were installed. These hubcaps were a favorite items for the guys at the Valley Custom Show since the used them on a lot of their creations. These hubcaps are so simple, yet so elegant, and they fit this Valley Custom, as well as all the others so perfectly.



CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-03This closer-up photo shows the smooth extended down hood as well as the chrome strip at the base of the Mercury grille opening which comes from the original 1949 Ford grille. Details like this make the Valley Custom Shop built cars so special.
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Once the work on the car was finished the whole body was sanded smooth and coated in many layers of dark midnight blue lacquer paint by Johnny Hagen. The interior, in a matching simple but elegant white and blue tuck & roll, was done by Floyd Tipton, who worked with the Valley Custom on several other cars as well. The engine was rebuilt and dressed up with a set of finned Navaro heads and a three carb intake manifold with three Stromberg carburetors.

CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-04Floyd Tipton was responsible for the very elegant two tone interior in dark blue and white.
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CCC-floyd-tipton-upholstery-01Floyd Tipton at work in another Valley Custom creations, the Ron Dunn 1950 Ford.
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CCC-dave-peters-49-valley-custom-07The clean One two page feature article in the September 1954 issue of Car Craft Magazine.
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The finished Ford is an very elegant restyled Custom which could be used for daily transportation with ease, and that most likely is how Dave used it.¬†The car has the looks and level of details that the Ford Designers most likely had in mind when they first designed the car, but from which had to be stepped back a bit due to production methods and costs. The Canadian 1949 Ford meteor has a similar grille as the one used in Dave’s 1949 Ford, inspired on the 1949 Mercury unit. The car was used in several magazines for its clean restyling as well as the wonderful and creative grille design.

We have no information about¬†what happened to this great Custom by the Valley Custom Shop. Perhaps it is still around, and changed over the decades into a more restyled custom car. Or perhaps it is still hiding in somebody’s garage… or perhaps its long gone. If you know more about Dave Peters’ 1949 Ford restyled by the Valley Custom Shop, please let us know,¬†email us at the CCC.

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