The Willis Horn Coupe

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The Willis Horn Coupe

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In 1941 Willis Horn from Marysville California purchased a Custom 1936 Ford Chopped Coupe from a Hot Rod Shop. Since 1973 it is owned by grandson Jeff Boone who is now looking to find out more on the cars history for a full restoration.

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Jeff Boone from Live Oak, California, was given this early Custom Restyled 1936 Ford 5-window coupe as a gift from his grandfather back in 1973. Jeff was just 11 years old when his grandfather gave him the car. Information his grandfather might have told him about the cars history back then has been forgotten over the years. “Just a boy with hotrod dreams…”. At 11-12 years old the fact of owning your own Hot Rod, and getting it ready to drive overshadowed the historical facts. During 1973 and 1974 Jeff and his grandfather worked on the car for a coupe of month before putting it away in a barn. In 2017 Jeff is ready to bring out the car and start putting it back together how it used to look. With the restoration work now started he is looking into the history of the car, finding old family photos and asking family members what they remember about the car. Not much is known about it, so Jeff is hoping that sharing the car here on the Custom Car Chronicle might shed some light on the history of this early Custom Car. We will be adding more material and info to this article when we find it. Including some photos of how the car looks now and it being pulled from the bar is has been stored in since 1974.

Jeff’s grandfather, Willis Horn from Marysville, California (close to Sacramento) purchased the ’36 Ford back in 1941. Jeff was told the car was bought from a Hot Rod Shop, but nobody seems to remember which one, or even where, if it was local, or from further away. (Edit: we now know that the car was bought in Los Angeles in 1941, close to a place called Los Angeles Auto Auction, more about that further on in this article) At the time Willis bought the car it was completely finished as a Custom Car, with a unique chopped top with the rear quarter windows filled it, the b-pillars slanted forward, and the top door corners rounded. The car was painted green, and by the looks of the one black and white photo Jeff has found of this version of the car it was a dark shade of green. Jeff also recalls his grandfather saying he changed the hood sides and put the original louvered hood sides on the car cause the engine would put off too much heat inside the coupe… He never knew what type of sides were on the car when he first bought it?

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When Willis bought the car back in 1941 the car was finished in green. He left it that color and added some advertising for his used car lot on the door.

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Cropped image shows some more details. Appleton Spotlight point pointed forwards position, a typical early 1940’s feature. Flipped door handles, rear quarter windows filled in after the chop and rounded door top corner with angled forward B-Pillars. I think that this is the earliest sample of a round door corner on a Custom Car I have seen so far.

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Stock ’36 Ford 5-window Coupe the Willis Horn coupe started out as.

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Other restyling features on the car are a new grille shell with a 1939 Nash grille installed, double Appleton spotlight facing backwards in the photos we have of the car, a typical 40’s feature. turned around door handles, also a typical 40’s trick to make the door handle look more streamlined. Something discussed in many of the early restyling manuals from Dan Post and others. ’39 Ford tear drop taillights and teardrop bubble skirts, and a chrome plated dash inside. The chop obviously being the most distinctive feature on this car. Very unique, especially for the time it was built, when 3-window coupes much have been relatively easy to find. It was still decided to turn the 5-window coupe into a short door 3-window coupe. Unique about the chop is that the b-pillars are angled forward, and that the top door corners are rounded. Rounded Door Corners on a ’36 Ford are rare, and having them done back in 1941 even rarer. Perhaps the earliest sample of rounded door corners I have come across so far. The belt line fabrication and filled top look to have been done very well, indicating the work was done by a good craftsman.

Willis owned a Used Car lot in Marysville, California, since the 1930’s. He used the ’36 Ford, which always attracted peoples attention because of its unique and good looks, as rolling advertising for his lot. Somewhere in the 1940’s Willis repainted the car in maroon with cream on the main body below the beltline. The car was also used as the lead vehicle in the annual the Bok Kai parade in Marysville.

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“This is my grandmother, Lola Horn standing next to the car after the sign was painted on the door…car was green when grandpa brought it home…”

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The 36 pulling Willis Horn’s race car… This must be around 1949, shortly before the car was repainted.
Close up on the car from the previous photo.

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In the late 1940’s, the car was repainted in maroon with cream on the lower main body.
Willis Horn(right) standing next to the car with one of his salesmen on the left.

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According to Jeff his grandfather Willis Horn alway led the Bok Kai parade in Marysville, California. And ideal opportunity to promote his used Car lot. So far this has been the best photo Jeff has been able to locate of the car. It shows the Nash grille, the single bar hubcaps, and teardrop skirts. Notice the loud speaker on top of the car. Judged on the license plate and tag in the photo this one must have been made between 1948 and 1950.

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Willis posing with one of the three race cars he had.

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Willis (with hat) and a couple of his drivers.

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Willis Horn, ready to race…

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Herman Jenkins remembers

Jeff recently spoke with a good friend of his late grandfathers, Herman Jenkins about the ’36 Ford to see if more info could be found about the cars history. Herman remembered that his grandfather, Willis Horn, used to buy his used cars at the Los Angeles Auction Yard. he could not remember where that place was located in Los Angeles, but he did remember that the Hot Rod Shop where Willis bought the ’36 Ford was very close to this L.A. Auto Auction. So, now we need to find somebody who might remember where this Auto Auction yard was in Los Angeles, perhaps that will help find the Hot Rod Shop who built this ’36 Ford. If any of our readers knows more about this Los Angeles Auction Yard, where it was located, please email Rik Hoving.

Herman was in the US Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack and remained till 1947. When he was honorably discharged, he came home to Marysville and remembered that he and my Grandpa drove down to Los Angles and picked up the 1936 ford where my grandfather had a shop put a hotrod flathead motor and Three speed transmission which shifted on the column.
(Herman didn’t recall who or where my Grandfather purchased the car)

He said my Grandfather told him the car was originally black, then green, then blue and lastly, it was maroon.  He recalled the 36 had flat hood sides, but at some point, my Grandpa said it was too hot inside the car. He changed the sides to the original 36 ford hood sides so the engine heat could escape.

He also recalled going with my grandfather, on occasion, to North Beale Road, Marysville California   
(The road to Beale Air Force Base) Apparently it was the choice “drag strip” for my Grandfather!

Herman remembered one story vividly… a guy who drove up from Los Angeles in his ’49 Ford 2-door, just to race my Grandfather!  Herman said the LA guy says… I hear you have the fastest car in California!  My Grandfather, a bit modest, said my car’s pretty fast and pointed at the 36 custom. The guy looked, started laughing,(customs aren’t supposed to be fast) and said he had $50 to race that car!  Herman said your Grandpa says give me a minute, I’ll take that bet…  Herman says “your Grandpa blew his doors off” (laughingly)!!!

The guy was so upset he wanted a second chance, double or nothing. My grandfather told the Los Angeles guy he would even give him a head start…”when you leave, I’ll start”!  

Herman said…”I waved at the guy when we drove by”!  Your grandfathers car was fast!  When they pulled over, the LA guy handed my grandfather $100… Herman said they had a great laugh!  Herman had shared so many great memories with my Grandfather, that I couldn’t remember them all!  Unfortunately, On August 7, 2018 Herman Jenkins of Yuba City passed.
Not only was Herman my Grandfathers good friend, but I would like to think he was my good friend as well.
Truly yours
Jeff Boone

Herman also remembered that Willis bought new cars from a good friend in Los Angeles, Les Kelley. Les ran the famous Kelley Kar Company and Les Kelly Ford where Willis bought the cars wholesale and brought them to Marysville to resale at his own lot. Les Kelly Ford later moved to the corner of Figueroa and Pico in Los Angeles and becomes the largest used car dealership in the world.

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Les Kelley Ford where Willis bought new cars at wholesale for his Marysville lot. (Photos from www.kbb.com/company/history)

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In 1975 Jeff’s uncle, Willis Horn JR, helped  put a 327 Chev, a t350 trans and a 10 bolt rear end in the ’36. They did some body repairs with bondo in 1975 and the plan was to have the whole car painted 1936 Ford Maroon, but they got it in red oxide primer. At one point Jeff needed a new engine for his race car, so out when the 327. The the car with the fresh red oxide primer, went back to the barn till 5/25/2017.

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This is how the car has been sitting for many years.

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Clearing the rubble around it.

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All cleaned up.

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Jeff Boone on the left and his uncle, Willis Horn JR. on the right with the disassembled ’36 Ford.

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A good look at the main body with the unique chopped top turned from 5-window to 3-window back around 1940 in Los Angeles, California. The treatment of the belt-line behind the doors and the angled forward B-pillar and rounded door top is really unique.

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The bare frame of the ’36 Ford at the Standley Brothers Hotrod Shop.

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Soda blasting at Standley Brothers Hotrod Shop in Yuba City, California.

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The soda blasting revealed the body Jeff and his uncle added to the car back in 1975.

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You can see the lead at the chop and rear quarters in some of the other photos as well. Back in 1973, when Jeff was 11, he used a rosebud tip on a torch to heat the lead and he removed a good portion of it. You can see where his uncle and Jeff tried doing some body work after the majority of lead was removed. “We know better today than we did in 1974!”

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Over the last couple of years Jeff has been working on and off on the restoration to how it used to look, and hopefully he will come across more photos from the 1940’s how the car looked. Hopefully with the help of the Custom Car Chronicle readers he will be able to find out more on the cars original history from before his grandfather bought the car in 1941. If you know anything more about this ’36 Ford Custom ex-5-window Coupe, from pre 1973, then please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to add any new historic info to the article and help Jeff with the history of his car.

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The car in bare metal ready for the Sacramento Autorama 2019.

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Jeff Boone with the Ford at the 2019 Sacramento Autorama.

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The Willis Horn Coupe will debut completely finished at the 2020 Sacramento Autorama.

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Rounded Corners on Customs

 

ROUNDED CORNERS ON CUSTOMS

 

Molded body lines, fine tuned with rounded corners on the hood, doors and trunk make a Custom really smooth. When did this trend started?



Rounded corners on Custom Cars is something that I always thought had been done since the very early beginnings of Customizing. The rounded corners fit so well on the smooth look of many customs. But in fact rounding door, hood and trunk corners is something that started at a later date several years after chopping tops became a “standard”. Like with most things in the early history of the Custom Cars, there is not much written down, or documented very well. So it is very hard to tell when exactly the first top was chopped, the first grille was narrowed or when the first corners where rounded to make a car look better, more streamlined, more exclusive.

It was not until I did my research on the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford that I realized that rounding the corners on custom cars started to get really popular until around 1950-51. And I have to say that that kind of made me wonder about this. Especially since the popular car to Customize, the 39-40 Mercury coupes and convertibles came with factory rounded corners in 1939 and 1940. Everybody could see how the rounded top trunk corners on these cars looked so good, and make everything flow really nice. The Ford cars of the same year, and both cars after 1940 never had the trunk corners rounded from the factory. That would have made the cars more expensive, more metal was needed to stamp those, plus the dies would have been more complex.

ccc-rounded-corners-39-mercuryThe 1939 Mercury came with factory rounded top trunk corners, which looked really stunning on the car. The ’40 Mercury convertible and coupe still had the same rounded corners, and but for the all new ’41 models this feature was deleted from the design.
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ccc-rounded-corners-36-fordThe ’36 Ford 3-window coupe has a nice round shape on the door tops. The 5-window coupe (as well as the sedans) had a square top corner. Although the top corners on the 36 Fords rarely get rounded due to the body lines around the window openings, I think that the shape of the 3-window coupe doors (and similar styled cars) has played a roll in the rounding of door corners on customs.
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From my research I came to the conclusion that the rounding of corners on custom cars started around the mid 1940’s. In the early years not all the corners were rounded like we know from more recent built customs. The rounded corners started on California Custom Cars with metal tops, sedan’s or 5-window coupes that were chopped and had the drip rails shaved. The new smooth top shape looked really great and made the car flow much nicer than with the drip rails and stock height tops. But the square top corner of the doors interfered with the flow.

This problem was not evident on the 3-window coupe models, like the 35′-35 Fords. These cars had nice rounded door top frames, flowing nice with the rear of the tops. Even after chopping these 3-window coupes the flow looked good, and was even better. To make the sedan and 5-window coups look better after the top had been chopped and the drip rails had been shaved they started to round the door top corners, and make then flow much better with the new top shape.

CCC-1938-ford-sedan-barrisChopped 1938 Ford Sedan at the Barris Compton Ave shop around 1948 shows shaved drip rails, molded fenders and a small radius rounded door top corner.
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CCC-barris-dick-fowler-38-ford-16The dick Fowler 1938 Ford Coupe was created in 1946-47. the Barris shop shaved the drip rails, and to make the doors flow better with the new roof shape they rounded the rear corners. Almost in a similar way to that on the ’35-36 Ford three window coupes.
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ccc-rounded-corners-40-fordsTop photo was taken most likely in the mid 1940’s It shows an early version of the Bob Creasman 1940 Ford coupe with chopped top and filled quarter windows. The car still has the front section of the drip rail, which ends shortly behind the door top corner. The door top corner is not rounded (from the Carl Johnson collection). The bottom photo was taken in 1947 (Bart Bartoni Collection) of another 40 Ford with a similar chop and 3-window treatment. On this car the drip rails have been completely removed and the top door corners are rounded, to make the door line flow better with the shape of the top.
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In the early days when the corners were rounded, this was pure an optical modification. The original square corner was cut to a nice radius, then a filler piece was hand shaped and welded to the body, smoothed and painted. The original square rain cutters inside the trunk remained factory stock. In the last few decades the need for more finished work has been developed, and now-days when corners are rounded the original cutters inside are reshaped to match the new corners, to make the whole modification like how it came from the Factory, perhaps even better than that.

One other inspiration source for the rounded corners on Customs might have come from the Pick Up Truck. Pick Up Truck cabins in the 1930’s were very square, for obvious reasons. And in the early 1930’s the door corners were, just as on the passenger cars, mostly square. But from 1935 the corners on the doors of these truck were often rounded giving the square cabins a nicer and softer, more designed look. Perhaps this was potted by some of the pioneer Customizers. (Thanks to Ian Cross for pointing this out)




41-48 Ford – Mercury rounded corners

Some of the famous all smooth custom cars from the 1940’s surprisingly did not have rounded trunk corners.



The rounding of trunk and hood corners on customs started a few years later, around 1950. It was somewhere in 1950 when Jack Stewart took his unfinished Ayala built ’41 Ford to George Barris to finish. The Ayala’s had done most of the work on the car, including full fade-aways and rounding the door top corners after the top had been chopped, and the drip rails shaved. But all the corners on the hand made hood and the trunk were still unmodified with square corners. One of the things George did on this car was rounding all the corners in such a way that everything flows much nicer with the rest of the molded in body. I’m not sure if this was the first car that had all the corners rounded, but it sure if one of the first.


ccc-rounded-corners-stewart-ford-ayalaThis photo was taken early 1950 of the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford coupe at the Ayala shop. The roof had been re-chopped and full fade away fenders added to the channeled body. But as this photo shows the trunk corners are still square.
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ccc-rounded-corners-stewart-ford-barrisLater in 1950 George Barris took over the work on Jack Stewart’s 1941 Ford and id all the finishing body work including all rounded corners. The car was finished in white primer for the 1950 Balboa Easter weekend party.
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ccc-rounded-corners-stewart-ford-detail-02In all the old photos the rounded corners on Jack’s Ford look really great, but when Palle Johansen bought the Ford and started its restoration we were able to take a closer look at the work. The rounding of the corners was done rather crude, it looked great from the outside, but once the trunk and hood were opened it showed that the work was done only cosmetic, typical for a lot of work on the customs cars in the early 1950’s.
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The rear corners of the hood and cowl were also rounded. The bare metal photos show how “primitive” and “crude” this modification was done. But with the hood closed, nobody would ever know.
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The work done on the door tops was done nicer than the trunk and hood corners. Obviously this work would how considerably more than the other corners. These bare metal photos show that lead filler and heavy paint hided the rough body work.
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CCC-jack-stewart-rip-01The flowing lines accentuated by the rounded corners on the Jack Stewart Ford photographed in 1951.
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Rounding corners helps with the flow of the lines on a custom car. In case of Custom cars with a lot of body panels molded in and smoothed, like the Jack Stewart Ford and the Louis Bettancourt Mercury, any sharp corner distracts from the overall flow. The rounded corners are much easier on the eyes, and often help with the flow of the top into the cowl and trunk era of the cars.

I’m not sure if the decision from FoMoCo to not ad rounded corners to the 1941 and up Mercury’s (as well as the Ford models) was a financial reason, or something else. The rounded top trunk corners on the ’39 and ’40 Mercury’s must have cost more metal, larger dies, and overall higher production costs.

1950 Oakland Roadster showOne of those famous Customs that perhaps should have had rounded trunk corners is the Jesse Lopez 1941 Ford. Created in 1947-48 by Jesse and Sam Barris it never had rounded corners, even though every other body panel had been molded and smoothed.
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ccc-rounded-corners-snooky-41-ford-40sBarris created the “Snooky” Janich Ford around 1948-49, and at the time the door tops were rounded, but the trunk top corners were still straight, as how they came from the factory, as this 1949 photo shows.
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ccc-rounded-corners-snooky-41-ford-00This photo of the Snooky Janich Ford was taken at the Barris Atlantic Blvd shop around 1951, by then the trunk top corners have been rounded.
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ccc-rounded-corners-snooky-41-ford-01The work on the rounded corners on the Snooky Janich Ford looks similar to the work done on the Jack Stewart Ford, kind of rough, but looking good from the outside.
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ccc-rounded-corners-snooky-41-ford-02The door top corners of Snooky’s Ford were rounded when the top was chopped the first time around. With the drip rails shaved a factory stock square corner would have looked totally out of place here. During restoration it became evident that the work looked good with the doors closed, but the inside needed work to look more finished.
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ccc-rounded-corners-campbell-devall-42-fordMarcia Campbell’s 1942 Ford was built by the Barris shop around 1949, and finished in 1950. Everything molded in, shaved drip rails, rounded, with large radius door top corners, but square trunk corners. The color photo was taken in 1950. Later the car was owned by Ann DeValle and repainted Sierra Gold (top photo), the trunk corners were not changed.
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ccc-rounded-corners-decarr-41-mercBill DeCarr’s 1941 Mercury is another sample of the super smooth all molded in look. The car was created at the Barris Compton Ave shop around 1948-49. Even though everything is molded in, the drip rails shaved and the door top rounded, the trunk corner remain stock.
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CCC-barris-jack-brumback-42-ford-03 Jack Brumbach’s 1942 Ford was most likely done around 1950-51.  The October 1951 issue of Popular Science showed some in progress photos of this car, and the finished car was showed at the 1952 Petersen Motorama. The car had rounded door corners with shaved drip rails, but the trunk corners were not rounded. (This photo was taken a little later after the car had the rear raised and skirts removed.)
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Ayala Body ShopThe Wally Welch 1941 Ford is getting the fenders molded in at Gil Ayala’s Auto Body works. The license plate tag reads 1950. While the new body mods will smooth out the complete body lines the the trunk corners are not rounded, which would have helped the flow even more.
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ccc-rounded-corners-tormey-41-mercBob Tormey’s 1941 Mercury shor door coupe was chopped and restyled by the Barris shop in the early 1950’s. Bob, who was from Yakima, Washington requested the drip rails to remain on the car (most likely do to the weather conditions in WA). The door tops were not rounded, since the straight line works perfect with the drip rails, but the trunk corners were rounded.
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1949-51 Mercury

Today we are so used to seeing rounded corners on the hoods and trunks of the 1949 Mercury Customs that we feel it has always been like this. But it has not, in the early years of custom restyling the ’49-51 Mercury most of the cars had a lot of work done, chopped top, grille changes etc, but the corners of the hood and trunks remained square. It was not until around 1952 when rounding the corners on these Mercury’s became “common practice”.

On the 49-51 mercury’s it is always a bit tricky to round the rear corners of the hood. Because this will help with the overall flow, but at the same time it also adds an extra separation line in case the whole back edge is removed from the trunk and welded to the cowl and front fender. Or the top and bottom sections will have an extra triangle shaped piece. But still in most cases the rounded corners still look better, and more integrated than the stock hood backs. And another plus is that there is less rubbing of the hood against the fender tops when the hood it opened. (a sample of this can be seen on the Lucky 7 Customs created bronze Mercury at the end of the article)

ccc-rounded-corners-quesnel-49-mercOne of the first chopped 49-51 Merc Coupes is the Jerry Quesnel’s 1949 Mercury chopped by Sam Barris and Jerry. The car had shaved drip rails, leaned forward b-pillars with rounded door top corners. The grille surround was molded in, but the hood and trunk corners were not rounded. Most of the work was done in early 1951.
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ccc-rounded-corners-sam-barris-49-mercSam Barris’s personal 1949 Mercury was chopped around the same time as Jerry Quesnel’s. It was finished (sans interior) at the Feb 1951 Oakland Roadster show. The car had straight B-Pillars, shaved drip rails, rounded door top corners and a molded grille shell, but the hood and trunk corners remained stock.
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ccc-rounded-corners-sam-barris-49-merc-02A later owner of the Sam Barris Mercury decided to add rounded corners to the hood… and those were brought back to stock specs during the complete restoration at the Brizio shop for new owner John Mumford.
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ccc-rounded-corners-sam-barris-49-merc-03The restored Sam Barris Mercury at the 2009 Mercury Gathering at the Sacramento Autorama. Rounded door tops, square trunk corners.
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Louis Bettancourt Mercury
One of the most impressive cases of rounding corners must be on the Ayala built Louis Bettancourt 1949 Mercury. We are not sure when the Ayala’s started the work on the car and performed all the molded in and rounded corners. But the car debut at the 1952 Motorama show. More than likely the car was already started around 1950-51. The whole car was molded, and all the seams were welded and filled in, even the beltline and the window surrounds were molded in. Any sharp edge, or corner on this car would have looked so much out of place, so the Ayala’s rounded all the corners on it.

They decided to use a very large radius for all the corners. Very unique on this car is the way the rear hood and top trunk corners are rounded. By using the large and flowing radius here, the new lines help with the flow of the chopped top. It makes the eye flow much easier from the lower body into the roof. At the rear this rounded corner help integrate the rear window better.


ccc-rounded-corners-bettancourt-49-merc-03Louis Bettancourt Mercury finished in lime gold by the Ayala’s. Notice how every panel was welded and molded in, no sharp edge to be detected. Everything flows together, looks clean and smooth. Even the bottom rear door corders were rounded.
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ccc-rounded-corners-bettancourt-49-merc-02Popular Mechanics April 1953 had an article about Customizing cars and showed this Louis Bettancourt’s ’49 Mercury with explaining words what had been done to the car. Apparently it was not completely clear to the lay-out artist what all corners rounded meant. 
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ccc-rounded-corners-bettancourt-49-merc-01This front photo of the later Barris version of the Bettancourt Mercury shows the large radius of the front hood corners and how well they flow with the grille opening, the fender shape and headlights. Custom Merc perfection.
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ccc-rounded-corners-larry-ernst-51-chevyThe Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy was restyled by the Barris shop in 1951, and even though a 49-50 Mercury grille surround was molded in place, the hood corners remained straight on its first version. Some time after the car was finished and shown the car came back to the shop for a remake. At this time the hood corners were rounded to make the front end flow much better.
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ccc-rounded-corners-larry-ernst-51-chevy-02George Barris captured the process of rounding the corners on the Larry Ernst Chevy. These photos show that the work was done much nicer than the work done earlier on cars as the Jack Stewart and Snooky Janish Fords. The finished work looked almost factory stock. 
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The Bob Hirohata 1951 Mercury was restyled by the Barris Shop, and somewhat similar to the Ayala restyled Bettancourt Mercury most everything on this car was molded and shaved. Barris took this car a step further by reshaping the side contours and extending the hood and creating a completely new grille opening. To make everything work even better on this car all corners were rounded as well. Barris even rounded all the bottom corners on the doors on this Mercury and might have been the first to do so.

ccc-rounded-corners-hirohata-merc-frontThe new extended lip corners on the hood were rounded and both on the hood and front sheep metal the finishing work was done very well. 
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ccc-rounded-corners-hirohata-merc-rear-01This rear quarter photo shows the large radius of the trunk rounded corners, helping with the flow of the car and make everything look smoother.
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ccc-rounded-corners-hirohata-merc-rear-02The work on the trunk corners was done a little less perfect than the hood corners. Possibly somebody else did the work, possibly the deadline of the 1952 Motorama show (for the cars debut) interfered with more fine tuning. Notice how the lip on the top corner was rounded, which was more than on older work the shop did, but the drip rail inside was not altered to follow the new shape. 
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ccc-rounded-corners-barris-price-listThe Barris price list from around 1953 lists rounding corners for $15.- ea. And 3 hours work.
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After 1952 rounding corners became more or less the rule on most customs. From mild to wild rounding corners was on of the to do things on the list. The rounding of the corners makes a custom really stand out from the factory car. To be able to round corners it often means that body panels need to be welded solid for that very desirable one piece look. And then any sharp corners would be out of place. We are now so much used to the round corners on Custom Cars, that is sometimes hard to imagine the early cars did not have them, specially when the rage was molding and smoothing everything.


ccc-rounded-corners-lucky-7-merc-rearA really great sample of how much we are used to the rounded corners look on the ’49-51 Mercury is this 1951 Mercury built by Lucky7 Customs for George Garza. Everything on this car flows together beautifully helped by all the rounded corners, and reshaped panel lines. Especially nice is the way the rear hood corners were cut and rounded, and help with the flow of the roof into the lower body. The front edge and corners of the trunk were also completely reshaped to flow with the new roof shape.
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ccc-rounded-corners-radcliffe-fordRob Radcliffe of King Kustoms rounded all the corners on his 1950 Ford Custom. These in progress photos give us a good insight of how great this looks, and how much more detailed these are done than the work done back in the early 1950’s. Perfect panel gaps and rounded corners like these make a car look so good.
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Every time I create another Custom Car history article I realize how many photos of historic custom cars there are that come from the Barris Shop. It is really amazing how many photos George Barris took, requested to take, or collected. And hoe many of those have been shared and published. And how incredibly important this has been for capturing the early days of Customizing. A big thanks to the Barris Shop and George Barris, without them Custom Car history would not have been the same.

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