1950 Sacramento Autorama



The Capitol City Auto Club, better known as the Thunderbolts organized a two day Auto Show in 1950. Held at a Sacramento Chevy dealer the show hosted 23 top class Customs and Hot Rods.


Special thanks to Lawrence Fears.

The title of this article is 1950 Sacramento Autorama, which is not precisely accurate. But, many people refer to this small 1950 Auto show organized by the Capitol City Auto Club “Thunderbolts” as the first Sacramento Autorama. Hence the name of this article.

In 1950 Car Shows was still brand new. The first of these shows were held just two years earlier. The Sacramento Custom Car and Hot Rod scene was very active, a lot was going on, rod runs, street drag racing, and some of the countries leading Customizers had their shop in or around Sacramento. The Capitol City Auto Club better known as the “Thunderbolts” had a great number of high quality cars in their club. Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian was one of the club members and president of the club. He was one of the leading forces in organizing this first Sacramento Auto Show.


The club members just wanted to know who had the nicest car among them. What better way to find out during a Car Show. Plus they really wanted to show off their cars, and not just at the local hang out places, but at a nice indoor event. The Capitol Chevrolet Company dealership at 13th and K Streets in downtown Sacramento had the perfect space for the show the members had in mind. In total the club brought together 23 cars this first show. And among these 23 cars there were some top Customs and Rods. The cars displayed at the show represented the high quality, and creative minds of the Nor Cal car builders. Custom builders Harry Westergard, and Dick Bertolucci were well represented at the show. Of all the Customs, many had been based on convertibles and all had Hall of Oakland Padded Tops. According different sources the two day show drew between 500 and 1000 visitors.

The show was held on November 4th and 5th, 1950. Saturday from 3:00 P.M. until 10:00 PM and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. until 10:00 P.M. The admission was 60 cent. The story goes that the entrance had to be kept below a certain amount, because otherwise everything had to be done official and Federal Amusement Tax would have to be paid. This first show was not about making money, it was about having a good time for the attendees as well as the visitors.

There were two trophies awarded.  One for Best Custom Car and Leroy Semas won the Custom Class with his 1937 Chevy. Burton Davis won the Best Rod with his 1931 Ford Roadster.

Rod Dust newsletter dated November 1, 1950. This was the issue that mentions the first Sacramento Auto Show in 1950.



Local newspaper from Friday November 3rd, 1950 announcing the Sacramento Auto Show.


On the top right we can see Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford,  #5 Lawrence Brocchini ‚Äô31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield, Vern Haversack 1927 Model T with track nose with #11,  #1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, and on the left is #19 Harold Casarang’s ‚Äė25 Model T. bottom right shows the #14 of Jack Odbert’s 36 Ford, behind it the engine and front of #15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford 5-window.


Show overview

The nice thing about the Capitol Chevrolet dealer ship location is that there was a second floor, from where some nice overview photos could be taken. These overview photos show that this small show was jam-packed with the best of the best. Amazing padded topped Customs created by the countries leading Customizers. Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci. The photos taken at the two day show also show that the cars were actually moved around a bit during the weekend. Some cars were added, like the two ’32 Ford 5-window Hot Rod’s in the photo below. In some photos those two cars are missing.

The cars at the show were mostly local cars, but some came as far as Oakland. Hot Rod magazine devoted some space to the Sacramento Auto Show in the Januari 1951 issue. The feature included the beautiful overview photo (below) which showed the nation that Sacramento was packed with beautiful Custom Cars… just as well as Los Angeles, which was always much more represented in the early magazines.
I have been collecting photos and info on this show for many years, and all I have is included in this article. I know there is more out there, and hopefully we will be able to share more in the near future.

Overview of part of the Chevrolet Dealer Show illustrates the great number of Custom Cars invited to this show. A perfect balance.


Same photo as above, now with numbers, perhaps somebody will be able to identify some more. We still need to know # A on the far left, # B on the top right center, and from car # C we know that that is Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury, but we do not have a show number. (The number – car – identification list is shown further down in the article)


This overview photo was taken either earlier or late as the one above. The two ’32 Ford 5-windows are missing sitting behind the #14 Jack Odbert’s ’36 Ford.


Custom Cars at the Show

The Custom Cars shows we have been able to identify were all top of the line, and are now mostly considered historical Customs. Created by Harry Westergard, Les Crane, and Dick Bertolucci. The Barris Brothers had already been moved south for a few years, so their work was not represented at this show. It is really remarkable that a great number of the Custom Car show entries are Convertibles with chopped padded tops, which were all created by C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland, Ca.

Unknown number for Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury restyled by Harry Westergard and Les Crane. More on Butler’s ’40 Mercury can be seen in this CCC-Article.
#2 Custom 1946 Chevy Convertible Butler Rugard restyled by Harry Westergard. (Listed in the program as Bob Ghilotti)
A little more clear photo of Butler Rugard’s ’46 Chevy Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard. Harry used a set of the Jimmy Summers fade away fenders on this Custom.
#4 1948 Johnny Lehman Mercury Convertible with padded top restyled by Dick Bertolucci. Most likely the Hall padded top of Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford is showing on the left of the photo.
Johnny Lehman’s Mercury seen from the back shows the ’49 Mercury bumpers and taillights. The top was done by Hall of Oakland. On the right we can see the ’37 Chevy Coupe from Leroy Semas. More on Johnny Lehman’s ’48 Mercury in this CCC-Article.
#4 Enlarged section of another photo shows another peak at the Johnny Lehman Mercury and behind that on the right showing a small portions of Mel Falconer’s 41 Lincoln.
#14 Jack Odbert 1936 Ford Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard with Hall Padded top. More on Jack’s Beautiful ’36 Ford in this CCC-Article.
#18 Mel Falconer /Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford Convertible restyled by Harry Westergard with a then new metal top replacing the Hall padded top that was on the car originally.
#21 Mel Falconer 1941 Lincoln with 1948 Cadillac rear fenders, 1949 Mercury bumpers. Restyled by Harry Westergard, and the car is supposed to be still around, anybody knows more about this?
#23 Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy restyled by Harry Westergard. Leroy was the winner of the big Custom Car trophy at the show. One of the two trophies awarded at the show. More on Leroy’s Harry Westergard Restyled Custom can be seen in this CCC-Article.
Interior of Leroy Semas his ’37 Chevy Coupe.

Cars in the show
According the the information we have been able to find 23 car were entered. 14 of them we have been able to identify, hopefully some of our readers can help name the others that were at this 1950 Sacramento Auto Show. From the 23 cars entered at least 8 were Customs, high end Customs. Below is a list of the cars and numbers we have been able to identify.

1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster
2 Butler Rugard / Bob Ghilotti 1946 Chevy Convertible
3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose
4 ?
5 Lawrence Brocchini 1931 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield
6 ?
7 Herk Vigienzone 1924 Model T Roadster
8 Rico Squalia 1924 T Roadster.
9 – 13 ?
14 Jack Odbert 1936 Ford Convertible
15 Ronnie Brown 1932 Ford 5-window
16 – 17 ?
18 Mel Falconer / Bruce Glenn 1939 Ford Convertible
19 Harold Casarang 1925 Model T
20 ?
21 Mel Falconer 1941 Lincoln
22 ?
23 Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy Coupe


The Program
The 8 page, text only First annual Auto Show program generously donated by David E/ Zivot shown below, has a list of all the people and cars that planned to be at the show. Most of the numbers in the program correspond with the numbers we have seen in the show pictures, but apparently more cars were added to the show after the Program had been printed. The Program only lists 20 cars.


In early 2020 David Zivot donated a 1950 Thunderbolts First Annual Auto Show Program. The 8 page program has a list of the cars and people that planned to have their car displayed at the event.


The Hot Rods at the show

The Thunderbolts Auto Club had both Custom Car as well as Hot Rod oriented members. The Sacramento erea has been big on Custom Cars from the early beginnings, but Hot Rodding was very popular as well, and the Hot Rod and Race scene grew bigger every year. The show displayed some of the best Hot Rods and Race Cars in the wide area.

#1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, the winner of the big Hot Rod award at the show.


#3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.


A better look at the Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.


#5 Lawrence Brocchini ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield.


The actual number 5 sign from the 1950 Sacramento Thunderbolts Auto Show, used on Lawrence Brocchini’s Hot Rod.


#5 Lawrence Brocchini’s ’31 Ford.


#15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford channeled 5-window coupe showing off its kilmont brakes. On the left is Johnny Lehman #4 ’48 Mercury and on the right we see the Buick trim on the skirts of Jack Odbert’s  #14 1936 Ford Convertible


#15 Ronnie Brown posing with his channeled ’32 Ford 5-window Coupe.


#19 Harold Casarang Oakland Roadster club member took his ‚Äė25 Model T to the Sacramento Auto Show.
January 1951 Hot Rod Magazine article on the show.


Sources and more information

  • Garage Magazine
  • Classic & Custom Magazine
  • Don Montgomery books



Leroy Semas 37 Chevy




In the late 1940’s Harry Westergard creates what appears to be a mildly restyled 1937 Chevy. But on closer inspection it turns out there is a lot more going on on Leroy Semas his 1937 Chevy Coupe.

In one of the Don Montgomery books there are a couple of photos of an extremely low 1937 Chevy un-chopped 3-window coupe with beautifully integrated Packard grille. When I first spotted those photos in the book I was hooked immediately. I soon learned that none other than Harry Westergard had restyled the car for Thunderbolts member Leroy Semas. The car had that typical Westergard look with small high nose, and low in the back. Many years later I found out that at one point, in the early 1950’s the Chevy had been chopped by Riley Collins of Riley’s Custom Shop in Chico, California.

Restyled by Harry Westergard

Harry Westergard restyled Leroy’s ’37 Chevy 5-window coupe by filling in the rear quarter windows for a sleeker look. Harry then went to work at the body sides completely removing the factory molded in character line and belt-line for an ultra smooth body. The character line on the lower edge of the hood was also modified to fit the new smooth body sides. He also removed the running boards and created filler panels to cover the frame and molded those into the body The filler panel Harry created almost looks like a belly pan with the lower parts rolled under, a very nice touch. The front and rear fenders were molded to the body and extended down where the running boards had been and nicely rolled under.

Original version with the rear quarter windows filled, the belt line and character lines at the belt line completely removed. A typical Harry Westergard Custom. This photo shows the wonderful reshaped lower edge of the front fenders really well.

The new much lower and further from the grille location of the headlights looks very good on the Chevy. It shows that Harry Westergard was not only a gifted craftsman but an excellent designer as well.

The looks of the Chevy changed dramatically, for the better in my eyes with the removal of the running boards and reshaping of the front fenders.

The rear fenders were also molded to the body, enhancing the new super smooth look. And at the leading edge of the rear fenders Harry added a a stainless or chrome plated guard to protected the paint. A set of Buick teardrop fender skirts was adapted to fit the Chevy

Harry modified the front sheet metal to accept an 1939-40 Packard grille, the stock hood sides were replaced with smooth units and the center strip of the hood was removed. Teardrop shape headlights were sunken into the front fenders at a much lower than stock location. The headlights now flow really nice with the cowl and door¬† character line. A very nice design detail. At the back Harry created a set in license plate mounted low in the trunk, just about the ’37 DeSoto bumper. All the handles were removed and a set of Appleton Spotlights were installed.

Interior with the Chevy Butterfly steering wheel and chrome plated glove box door. The upholstery looks very nicely done, sadly we do not know who was responsible for it at this moment.

Harry Westergard Style at its best. Notice the beautiful stance of the car with nose high up. The ’37 DeSoto bumpers have ’49 Chevy license plate frames added.

Wide white wall tires with Cadillac Sombrero’s were installed and the car was lowered a lot. Most likely the rear of the frame had to be z-ed and the drive shaft tunnel raised to get the car this low. The interior photos show that the car was not channeled. Most likely the car was painted a deep maroon, but we are not 100% sure about the exact color. The interior was upholstered in two tone tuck & roll, the steering wheel replaced with a 1950 Chevy Butterfly unit and the dash was detailed with a chrome plated glove box door.

From what we know Leroy drove the car a lot, possibly it was his only car, It might not have been easy with a car this low on the late 1940’s early 1950’s roads. Leroy went to the Bonneville races with the car in 1949 and 1950. He also entered his car at several shows including the first Sacramento Autorama (Held at Capitol Chevrolet, before it was named Autorama) where he was awarded with the Best Custom award. At one point in 1950 Harry Westergard modified the hood side with a single row of louvers, most likely the engine ran a little too hot.


Beautiful rear angle photo shows how super smooth the ’37 Chevy is with the belt-line and character-lines removed and the rear fenders molded in. The taillights could be 1940 Chevy units.

Lawrence Brocchini (Lawrence Fears’ uncle) owned this ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails. This photo from 1950 shows it hitched to Leroy Semas’ Chevy custom, possibly in preparation for their trip to Bonneville. (Rodders Journal info)

A good look at the molded in and rolled under pan Harry Westergard made to cover the frames after the running boards had been removed. (stillrunners)

The stock steering wheel was replaced by with an 1950 Chevrolet Butterfly Steering Wheel. This picture gives us a good look at the nice tuck & roll upholstery. (stillrunners)

Leroy’s Chevy appeared in one of the snapshot taken at one of the club rod runs around 1950. (stillrunners)

Photo taken a Thunderbolts Auto Show at the Capitol Chevrolet Company showroom. (This was basically the first Sacramento Autorama) Most likely the engine got a little too hot with the solid hood sides, so a single row of Louvers had been added before the show.

Chopped by Riley Collins

In the early 1950’s Leroy took the Chevy over to Riley Collins in Chico, California to have him chop the top on his car. The young Riley Collins handled the job beautifully, he took few inches out of the top and got it all back in place with the perfect balance. The chop was performed at Ray Orput’s home, where Riley Collins learned how to do body work from Ray. He added the primer to the top and the car went back to Leroy. At some point the straight six engine was replaced with an Oldmobile V8 with hydro, a job done by Leroys friend Lawrence Brocchini. In the mid 1950’s Lawrence Brocchini bought the Chevy, which was still partly in primer from Leroy and he owned the car till around 1958. Around 1955 Dick bertolucci re-painted the car in his signature deep maroon. And according the rumors the car is still around today, last seen painted green. Anybody recognized it and knows more about Leroy’s ’37 Chevy current whereabouts? Please let us know.

Special thanks to Kent Collins, Riley Collins son, who recently found and shared three photos of his father chopping the top on the Leroy Semas 1937 Chevy.

Riley Collins on the Left with Ray Orput standing next to him with Leroy’s Chevy with the chop in progress.

Ray Orput in the car and Kent Collins was not sure who the guy on the barrel is. Perhaps the car owner Leroy Semas, anybody recognized the guy on the right?

Ray Orput is sitting in the Chevy while Riley Collins sits on the barrel besides the car. (Kent Collins info)

The chop all finished, but still in primer and new smooth aftermarket hubcaps replace the Sombrero hubcaps Westergard had originally installed. (stillrunners)

Leroy Semas posing with his ’37 Westergard Chevy around 1952 after Riley Collins had chopped the top.

Close up showing the curved filler panel below the body that covered the frame rails after the running boards had been removed. Notice the primer spots from the Riley Collins performed chop, and overall the car looks to be in need of a new paint-job.

Lawrence Brocchini owned the Chevy Coupe when it was photographed here at an mid 1950’s Sacramento Autorama. Notice that the Appleton Spotlights are missing for the car. After a fender bender the front end had to be rebuild and a set of ’40 Chevy headlights was installed. Dick Bertolucci repainted the car his signature maroon after it was chopped.

Close up of the sign showing that Bertolucci painted this version of the Chevy.


Jim Roten, who was close friend with Riley Collins remembers the Leroy Semas ’37 Chevy very well. This is his story he shared with the Custom Car Chronicle after looking at the in progress photos of Riley Collins chopping the top on the car.

“This car made a huge impression on me at age 14 as it was the very first custom that I actually saw in person. The time was 1949-51. It was often seen parked on weekends at the Shell gasoline station within the old triangle at Main Street and Broadway in Chico, California. I knew nothing of its history. Always assumed that it was one of Westergard’s cars.

These are youthful images of Riley Collins and Ray Orput as late teenagers or in their early ’20s. I didn’t even meet Riley until two or three years later. Ray was a skilled body and fender man at Volpato’s Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Chico. Riley worked as a lineman for the electrical utility company and during off hours learned bodywork from Ray. The location for the photos appears to the small wooden garage behind Ray Orput’s home. A lot of significant work emerged from there including Ron Zimmerman’s ’54 Ford Skyliner and the rear of Ray Cress’ ’56 Mercury before the owner had the car completed by Collins. A friendly but fierce rivalry emerged out of the Collins/Orput relationship which ultimately produced an amazing number of highly recognized Northern California custom cars. It was prolific.

And don’t forget, those were the days of acetylene torches, hammer welding and lead… no MIG, TIG or Bondo!”


Special thanks to Kent Collins and Lawrence Fears

(This article is made possible by)




Sam Barris Chopping Merc Album 1


Custom Car photographer Marcia Campbell and Sam Barris were good friends. When Sam chopped the top on Jerry Quesnels 1949 Mercury Marcia took a series of step by step photos and used prints from the series for a personal photo album for Sam.

In 2009 I worked with John Buck and Alex Idzardi on the Mercury Gathering, a special Custom Car exhibition at the Sacramento Autorama. The whole organization of this event and the event itself was an amazing experience, I met so many amazing people and saw the best of the best Custom Mercury’s. But there was one special object that was the icing on the cake. It was an photo album constructed by Custom Car photographer Marica Campbell containing photos she took of Sam Barris chopping a ’49 Mercury.¬†John Barris was invited to the Mercury Gathering at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama to talk about his father Sam Barris in a panel discussion. To visualize this John¬†had taken¬†some historic material from his father with him to show to the Custom Mercury¬†enthusiasts, including the material was The Chop Series on 49 Mercury Work by Sam Barris Photo by Marcia Campbell photo album.

Before I came across this unique photo album I was already in the clouds when I discovered the black and white poster created in memory of Sam Barris, another item John Barris had taken. On this poster there were several new photos of Sam Barris chopping a ’49 Mercury. I quickly realized that some of the photos showed the Jerry Quesnel ’49¬†Mercury being chopped by Sam Barris. Wow… this was huge I though. A few moments later good friend Rob Radcliffe, who was looking with me at Johns material, urgently asked me to come and take a look at this album he had just opened. We both recognized Marcia Campbell’s name on the cover, and started smiling from ear to ear.¬†¬†The way it was set up it was made to look like the album was about Sam Barris chopping his personal Mercury, with a colorized photo of Sam on top of the album.

Before the panel discussion started on Saturday John Barris had displayed the material from his father Sam Barris that he had brought. The photo album is a bit hidden on the far right. The poster made using some of the photos from the album in the top center of the display. (I was proud that John had selected a few of my colorized Barris Custom photos to include in his display.)

I had never heard about this photo-album and I was completely floored by its content. I imidiatley realized it was a sequence of photos taken by Marcia Campbell, already my hero, of Sam Barris chopping the Jerry Quesnel 49 Mercury. I then recognized some of the photos inside the album and realized that for a long time some of these photos of Sam Barris chopping a Mercury were wrongly labeled as Sam chopping his own personal car. I flipped thru the album, stared at the photos for a long time, and kept coming back to look at it again, and again. It was the absolute highpoint for me my trip to the Sacramento Autorama. Rob and I were discussing everything we had seen in the album, and realized how important this album was for the Custom Car history.

The content of this photo-album not only solved some mystery about a filled antenna hole on the Mercury that had been listed as the Sam barris Mercury until then. It also dated the first time Sam Barris was chopping a ’49 Mercury to 1951, instead of 1949. One of the photos shows¬†Jerry’s unchopped Mercury with 1951 license plate tags on it… So far it a always been mentioned that Sam Baris had chopped his Personal Merc perhaps weeks after he had bought it new from the dealer.

John Barris during the panel discussion showing one of the most famous photos of his father Sam Barris.

Several of the photos from this series have¬†been used in past Barris magazine and book articles. In all those cases the Mercury¬†was described to be Sam Barris his personal ’49 Mercury. Some people knew about this Album that was part of the Sam Barris family collection and in the 1980’s the¬†black and white poster was created with some of these photos. But so far these photos in this album was never publicly identified as the Jerry Quesnel Mercury being chopped by Sam Barris, instead of it being Sam’s personal Mercury.

The first thing I noticed at the 2009 Sam Barris display was this black and white poster. It contained some amazing photos I had never seen before. Later I realized those photos must have come from the Marcia Campbell photo album.

At the Sacramento show I also met with Curtis Leipold, a Custom Car enthusiast from Northern California who I have been in contact with on the HAMB. He mentioned to me that he had seen this photo album before, a few years back when he was working on a book project. He mentioned he had high-res scans of all the photos and would fill me in on some more info after we both would return home. Curtis was at the Sacrament show with his Westergard inspired 1940 Chevy coupe.

After I got back home Curtis emailed me with the promised information about the photo-album.¬†Around 2006-7 Curtis¬†was doing research for an Custom Car exhibit and booklet, he¬†contacted John Barris for some possible Custom Car historic material left from John’s father Sam. John handed Cleatus a box of material he had collected over the years.


This is was Curtis had to say about it.

When I came across all of it in the big tupperware bin John loaned us and I realized what it was,¬†he completely freaked out!¬†“What a great piece of history about the subject we love so much“.

When¬†Curtis¬†found the empty album in the box of photos, it was inside an old, already been opened “dog eared” manilla envelope with a return address¬†TO¬†John Barris¬†FROM¬†(as¬†as Curtis¬†remembered it, but¬†he could¬†be wrong) Trendsetter¬†‚ÄstThe newsletter for¬†Kustom Kemps Of America – KKOA. So,¬†his¬†best guess was that at some point John Barris had loaned¬†the album¬†to¬†Kustom¬†Kemps¬†of America¬†‚Ästperhaps to do a retro article in Trendsetter some time in the distant past,¬†or more likely¬†that poster that John had at the Sacramento Show (in memorial to Sam). After they had used the material¬†they then returned it to John with the photos possibly left loose in the envelope,¬†¬†and when John got it back he opened the envelope and¬†added the content¬†in with the rest of the stuff in the box. Perhaps this is¬†how it came to be that the photos¬†were separated from¬†Marcia’s¬†album. At the time the envelope looked fairly old, so I think it had been quite a while since it all took place.

When Curtis investigated the content of the box he found that most of the material were flyers from recent George Barris involved car show, but he also found an old empty photo album, and a series of amazing photos of Sam Barris chopping an 49 Mercury. The photo album title said it all… Photos by Marcia Campbell of Sam Barris chopping his first 49 Mercury. Curtis¬†realized that this material was of big Custom Car Historic importance. He sorted the photos and placed them all back in the album to make sure the photos would not get harmed. When he later handed the box of material back to John Barris he mentioned his find and how important this material was. But sadly nothing was done with the material after that, until John took the album to the Sacramento Autorama in 2009.


This unique photo album contained 35¬†photos taken by Marcia Campbell at the time when I saw it. More than likely some photos have been taken from it over the years, possibly to be used in the Barris Kustom Techniques of thee 50’s and the Big book of Barris, and were never returned after that to make the album complete again. The subject of the Album, Sam Barris chopping one of the first ‚Äď perhaps the first ‚Äď 1949 Mercury‚Äôs. In the next article we will go more in depth about the photos and Sam Barris’s work.

The photos of the album shown in this article were taken by me on¬†November 2010 at the Barris Kustom Shop in North Hollywood. When I visited the Barris shop during the Jack Stewart Ford research trip I came across the ’49 Merc chop book and was able to take some good photos of it outside in the parking lot of the shop. The photos were far more superior than those I had taken at the Sacramento Autorama in 2009. Those I had to take indoors and lacked proper lighting. Sadly between the Sacramento time and when I saw the album again at the Barris Shop, somebody must have taken out the photos and placed them back in the wrong order. So the photos below show that some of the photos are not in order. I will get back to that in the next CCC-Article on this subject.

I noticed that 25 of the photos included in the album have a white border around them, the other 10 do not. I know that Marcia most of the time developed here own film, and most likely did the same thing for the photos in this album.¬†Possibly Marcia made more than one set of photos, some with and some without the white borders. Possibly one set for this album, and one set for George his personal files, and over the years they were swapped back and forth and a mismatching set ended up in the album…¬†but this is pure speculative. It could also be possible that the photos with the borders show the complete photo, while those with no border are enlarged on the same size photo paper. Just to remove some extra background and focus more on the subject.

The photo of on the bottom right shows Jerry’s Mercury with the trunk and rear fenders in primer, but still with the uncut top. This photo should have been all the way at the front of the album.

The last spread of the album shows Jerry’s Mercury in white primer at the Montebello Tent show, most likely in 1951. This photo also shows that there use to be three more photos on this page, and I believe the discoloring was also present on the back of the right page. But sadly I did not take a photo of that to proof it.

Missing from the album

When I saw the photo album it contained 35 photos. But at the end of the album the yellowed pages showed that at one point there had been more photo in the album than the 35 in it now. at least 3, but more likely 5, perhaps even more of the photos look to be missing from it. In several of the Barris Kustoms produced books photos have been used of Sam Barris chopping a ’49 Mercury. And most of these photos look to be part of the Marcia Campbell range of photos.

The very first photo taken in this series of photos is this one where George Barris pretends to make the first cut (with the glass still in place), kneeling in front it Sam Barris, who would later do the real work, and car owner Jerry Quesnel with the white shirt. It is as if they knew they were doing something important (chopping their first 49 Mercury) and decided to capture this moment.

This photo shows Johnny Zaro helping out Sam Barris, it is the only one in the set that appears to have been taken with a different size film, and is also more fuzzy than the rest. Possibly this one was taken by somebody else.

In PART 2¬†on the Marcia Campbell photo album of Sam Barris chopping Jerry Quesnel’s 1949 Mercury we will take a closer look at the photos in this album.

(This article is made possible by)




RIP Harold Bagdasarian


Sacramento Autorama Car show promotor and Capitol City Auto Club Thunderbolts president Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian has passed away.

Harrold Bagdasarian passed peacefully on October 16th surrounded by his family at the age of 91 of Dementia. The Funeral Service for Harold “Baggie” Bagdasarian is Friday October 24th, 2014 11:00a.m. at East Lawn Cemetery, 4300 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento. The family has said to drive your hot rod or custom car if you would like to.

You will be missed Baggy!



About Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian

Courtesy Rod Shows.com

The Autorama was started by Sacramento businessman Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian. In 1950, while serving as president of the Capitol City Auto Club Thunderbolts, he talked the members into having a show to settle friendly arguments over the outstanding merits of their personal customized cars. The Capitol Chevrolet Company dealership at 13th and K Streets in downtown Sacramento was the site of the first gathering, which attracted 22 entries and 500 spectators. “We took in $262 in two days at 74 cents a head,” Baggy recalled. “We didn’t charge 75 cents because we would have gotten involved in the Federal Amusement Tax.” The first Best Custom Car trophy went to Leroy Semas for his 1937 Chevrolet coupe, and Burton Davis was the winner for Best Rod with his 1931 Ford Roadster.

Though income did not quite meet expenses in 1950, Bagdasarian persuaded the Thunderbolt members to try it again. The date was rescheduled for April 19 and 20, 1952, but the location changed to the Newton Cope Buick Company showroom at 15th and J Streets. There were 32 local car entries, along with a few cars from the San Francisco/Oakland Bay area. The spectator count grew to more than 1,000 and the Best Custom trophy was awarded to a beautiful 1941 Chevrolet built by the legendary Joe Bailon, then of San Leandro.

Following the second Autorama, the Thunderbolts were hesitant to continue due to expenses. But an optimistic Bagdasarian, encouraged by the increased attendance, was convinced that the event had the potential for being a real winner. Baggy promoted the show without the Thunderbolts’ backing. It became apparent that a more suitable location was needed for expansion so he rented the Memorial Auditorium and teamed with the late John Gliebe, a motorsports publicist to increase public awareness.

The Third Autorama was a three-day show in late January 1953. This was the first time the name “Autorama” was used, since the exhibits expanded to include all types of hot rods, customs, motorcycles, race cars, boats and specialty vehicles. A theater area for the showing of various racing events, such as the Indianapolis 500 was introduced as well. The event drew 70 entries and nearly 8,000 spectators, including famed sportsman J.C. Agajanian, whose Number 98 Indianapolis car was one of the specialty entries.

The 1954 Sacramento Autorama and Motor Sports Review utilized both the main floor and basement of the Memorial Auditorium, and attendance of nearly 9,000. In 1955, the Autorama was shifted to the 33,000 square foot Merchandise Mart Building at the old California State Fairgrounds on Stockton Boulevard. By 1958, the large crowds and success made a five-day Autorama a reality. After the 1963 show saw nearly 30,000 attendees it was moved to the larger Women’s Building on the fairgrounds for 1964. Vehicle entries were up to 150 and in 1966 the adjacent Governor’s Hall was used to increase floor space.

In 1970, Bagdasarian moved the Autorama into three buildings at the Cal Expo. Entries increased to about 175 and two of the buildings were used for displays. The third was converted to a 1,500 seat movie theater. The Sacramento Autorama has expanded to more buildings to accommodate its present day exhibition of nearly 300 of the most spectacular vehicles in the world.

Bagdasarian carried on with the show through the 70’s and 80’s. In the late 80’s he teamed with Sacramento’s Don Tognotti, who produced the Sacramento Autorama until Feb 1999. the show is currently produced by John Buck Enterprises, Inc and the rodshows.com volunteers.




Jim Roten Photos 1956 Sacramento Autorama part 2


Part two of the series of photos Jim Roten took at the 1956 Sacramento Autorama show.

Jim Roten, who worked for Riley Collins Body Shop in Chico, California, was very active in the Custom Car scene in the mid to late 1950’s. And fortunately for us, he also like to take photos. He usually brought his camera where ever he went with his own customized 1952 Ford convertible. Jim also brought his camera when he visited the Sacramento Autorama¬†Show in 1956. Let take a look at some more photos from in the second, and last part of this series.

Enjoy this second part of the Jim Roten 1956 Sacramento Autorama SHow photos.

[box_light]Check out part one of the Jim Roten 1956 Sacramento Autorama Show article.[/box_light]

CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-03-WThe Barris Kustom Shop brought the 1953 Cadillac “Le Mans” to the show. This photo shows the team preparing the car on set-up day for the public the next morning. The “Le Mans” Custom Cadillac was based on one of the three experimental show cars created by GM at the Motorama shows. The Barris shop built it for Harry Karl, who gave it to his wife, actress Marie MacDonald.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-02-WTop and Bottom show the mildly customized, 1953 Ford of Ervin G. Castro from Oakland with extended rear fenders and incorporated continental kit.




CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-05-WHarry Fruzza’s 1955 For F-100 with early style flames and pinstriped bumper.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-27-WJohnny Zupan took the Louis Bettancourt Ayala/Barris 1949 Mercury back to the Barris Kustoms Shop in the mid 1950’s for a make-over. The car was shown at the 1956 Sacramento Autorama¬†Show with all new paint but the scallops had still to be outlined in bold white striping by Dean Jeffries.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-26-WUnidentified channeled roadster with sectioned ’32 Ford grille with white insert, and ripple disk full moon hubcaps. Beautiful detailed flathead engine with three carb set up.

CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-25-WUnknown channeled ’32 Ford Roadster with sectioned grille and three carbed full detailed flathead engine. Net to it sits a dual cab Ford by Dick Bertolucci.

CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-22-W2Bill Montero’s model A with 32 Ford fenders and grille.

CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-21-W2Built by owner Frank Rose of A & R Auto Mart in Oakland, California, 1927 Ford Model-T Roadster Home made frame with chrome plated Ford tube front axle. The grille is a sectioned ’32 Ford unit with a hand built grille insert, created from round stock and chrome plated. Body work by Jack Hagemann. The fenders, bellypan, instrument panel, hood, deck lid, and the panel below the deck lid was hand formed from aluminum.. The car was painted jet black lacquer with scalloped and striped in white and blue by Tommy the Greek. (info from Kustomrama)


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-18-WUnknown 1951 Chevy Hard-Top with hooded headlights, Pointac grille and two tone paint job seperated by the 1954 Oldsmobile side trim. Parked next to it is the all white 1932 Ford built by Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-17-WAnother unidentified custom is this Shoebox Ford with extreme rounded hood corners. 1956 Plymouth grille and 1955-56 DeSoto side trim.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-13-W1953 Chevy with very interesting taillight and side trim details, created by Gordon Van of Oakland for Brian Bernon.




CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-09-WDick Katayanagi 1954 Ford F-100 Pick up with abstract flames


[box_light]More on the Jim Roten Collection can be seen in the other articles we have created on the Custom Car Chronicle.
Check out part one of the Jim Roten 1956 Sacramento Autorama Show article.[/box_light]


More info and resources 

  • The Oakland Roadster Show, Book by Andy Southard, Jr and Dain Gingerelli
  • Hot Rods of the 1950s, Book by Andy Southard, Jr
  • Kustomrama website, Hot Rod information




Kustom Kar Books Golden Sahara


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





Jim Roten Photos 1956 Sacramento Autorama Show

’56 Sacramento Autorama¬†SHOW PHOTOS

Jim Roten from Chico California took a lot of photos of the custom car around him in the mid 1950’s. He also brought his camera to the 1956 Sacramento Autorama¬†show and took dozens of snapshots at Set Up Day.

Jim Roten worked for Riley Collins Body Shop in Chico, California. He owned a wonderful mild 1952 Ford convertible custom, which we will highlight in a separate article in the near future. This car was also the work of his friend Riley Collins. We are very fortunately that Jim loved to take photos. And took many photos of the cars that were created in Riley’s shop, the cars his friends owned. And like we can see in this article the cars he photographed at some of the car shows he visited back in the mid 1950’s. This two part article will cover the photos Jim took at the 1956 Sacramento Autorama¬†Show. Mostly Custom Cars, but Jim also took some photos of the Hot Rods he liked.
So, sit back and enjoy the show!

[box_light]Check out part two of the Jim Roten 1956 Sacramento Autorama Show article.[/box_light]

CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-01-WEd Rincon’s 1951 Mercury started by Harry Westergard and finished by Dick Bertolucci. On the left we can see another Westergard custom. Most likely Butler Rugard’s 1946 Chevy. The cars are being polished and prepared for the show during Set Up Day.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-07-WChuck DeWitt’s Barris-built shoebox convertible. Interesting to see it in two tone, with white below the side trim. 1953 Cadillac hubcaps have replaced the wire wheel hubcaps the car used in its original version.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-04-WJack Bertlow from San Jose’s is preparing his Shoebox with 1955 Ford grille. A very nicely done mild custom.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-06-W1952-54 Ford HT with hand made waterfall grille. Very similar to what Sam Barris used in his 1952 Ford convertible.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-10-W21950 Ford sedan with Packard grille. On the left we can see the front fender and bumper of Tom Hocker’s 1940 Ford built by the Barris Kustom Shop.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-24-WBuilt by Harry Westergard and painted white by Dick Bertolucci.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-23-WIvan Scorsur from San Jose home built, channeled ’32 Ford Roadster.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-20-W2Frank Chisello 1952 ford with 1955 Ford grille.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-19-WGeorge Sein’s 1932 Ford 5-window Coupe restyled by the Barris Kustom Shop.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-15-WDon Coulter’s Barris Kutoms restyled 1955 Oldsmobile getting pollished for the show.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-14-WGene Winfield 1950 Mercury with 1951 rear fenders and flipped Lincoln side trim. The floating grille was made from Mercury accessory bumper overriders.


CCC-jim-roten-indoorshow-11-WJoe Bailon created this HT Shoebox for Elton Kantor.


[box_light]More on the Jim Roten Collection can be seen in the other articles we have created on the Custom Car Chronicle.
Check out part two of the Jim Roten 1956 Sacramento Autorama Show article.[/box_light]


More info and resources 

  • The Oakland Roadster Show,¬†Book by Andy Southard, Jr and Dain Gingerelli
  • Hot Rods of the 1950s,¬†Book by Andy Southard, Jr



Kustom Kar Books Golden Sahara


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





2014 Sacramento Autorama Customs


We have started a CCC-Forum thread on the Custom Cars at the 2014 Sacramento Autorama show.

On the Custom Car Chronicle Forum we have started a thread to show the Custom Cars at the 2014 Sacramento Autorama. We are gathering photos from all over the web and collect them in one space for everybody to enjoy. We also have our CCC-Contributor Paul Kelly at the show.

Check out the Forum thread for some amazing Custom Cars at the 2014 show.