Westergard classic 36 Ford

CLASSIC WESTERGARD FORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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George Barris Buick Sacramento Trip

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At the end of 1947 George Barris makes a trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento in his freshly finished 1941 Buick Kustom.

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George Barris grew up with his older brother Sam at their aunt and uncle Edith and John Barakaris in Roseville, the largest city in Placer County, in the metropolitan area of Sacramento. As a kid George and Sam started to work on car and it soon became a life long lasting, love affair with customizing cars. When George and Sam grew older they started looking for small jobs and a way to learn how to work on car. The found Harry Westergard and at least George started to spend a lot of his spare time helping out, and working for Harry Westergard.

George wanted to learn everything he could about customizing, and Harry was willing to show him the things he knew. George built his first Custom, a 1936 Ford Cabriolet mostly while working part time at Harry Westargard’s. Working with Harry Westergard meant also that he got to meet a lot of local guys into customizing, Custom Car owners and clients of Harry Westergard. He started to make a lot of car friends in Sacramento during this time. Sam Barris had enlisted in the Navy and had left to Los Angeles to sail out. Not long after that George took his Custom ’36 Ford and left for Los Angeles around 1943-44. George was never drafted, and started to work at several LA body shops, and soon started his own shop.

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George’s ’36 Ford Cabriolet photographed in 1943 in Sacramento. George built it while working part time with Harry Westergard, who created the car parked behind George’s Ford for Gene Garrett. Not long after this photo was taken George moved to Los Angeles.

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After the war had ended Sam returned to Roseville, but started to miss his little brother, so he went to LA to visit George. Not long after that George talked Sam into joining him to create his dream Custom Shop. Sam agreed and in 1946 Sam and George would open Barris’s Custom Shop on Compton Ave. In the meantime George drove his ’36 Ford Cabriolet, and later a ’36 Coupe all around Los Angeles. Around late 1946 George finds an used ’41 Buick Roadmaster Convertible with some body damage.

Over the next few months/year George turns this Buick into a Custom creation that would become the turning point of his career. In late 1947 the Buick is all finished. It came out absolutely gorgeous with its full fade-away fenders, 1942 Cadillac grille, super low and long padded top, and glowing, dark golden maroon paint. George is extremely proud of the Custom Buick, and wants to show it to his old buddies in Sacramento… showing what he has up to the last few years.

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George’s Buick almost finished. The car is completely painted but still had the original ’41 Buick front bumper which he soon would replace with a 1946 Oldsmobile bumper.

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In late 1947, November, or perhaps early December, George drives his Custom Buick from Los Angeles to Sacramento nearly 400 miles up north. A pretty iconic trip, perhaps not so much at the time, since all these Custom Cars back then were built as drivers. While in Sacramento George visits an old friend, Gerald Fassett, to show him his Buick. The most significant thing about this visit is that George personally gave Gerald a color photo of his recently completed masterpiece 1941 Buick.

Gerald held on to this color photo for almost seventy-two years, and in 2019 Sondre and Olav Kvipt visit Mr. Fassett and share this unique color photo from 1947. The Gerald Fassett photo collection is now part of the David E. Zivot Collection and is shared together with stories told by Mr. Fassett to David E. Zivot with the Custom Car Chronicle.

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After George had finished his new Custom he wanted to show it to his old Sacramento friends. Left to right Willis Schraeder, Jack Odberg, George Barris, Buddy Ohanesian, Bruce Glenn, Norm Milne and Mel Falconer. The friends were pretty impressed with George’s new Custom ride. The photo was taken in late 1947, but we do not have an exact date.

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Another photo, a bit closer with the same guys, but without Willis Schraeder

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George Barris, just 22 years old leaning on his ’41 Buick.

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Over the years several photos have surfaced of this 1947 trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento. The one thing a bit odd about these photos is that some of them show the car with black wall tires, while others show them with white wall tires. We know that when George visited Gerald Fassett – it was in November or December 1947 – the car had white wall tires. The color photo George gave Mr. Fassett also shows the car with white wall tires. This color photo was taken at the Hollywood Park Horse Race Track, right in front of the Turf Club. Jesse Lopez confirmed the location, his own ’41 Ford was also photographed at this location. The beautiful Art-Deco building in the background was destroyed in a fire in 1949, and rebuild that same year with a different design.

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George’s Buick parked in front of Elmer Howard’s Body – Fender & Top Shop in Roseville, close to Sacramento.

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Possibly George went to Sacramento on another trip, earlier than November, December 1947 as well. When the car had the new Olds bumper, but still the early black wall tires. None of the photos showing the car with black wall tires have any indication of when these photos were taken, as far we know. This is a bit of a mystery so far. Hopefully one day we might find out more about this.

Some of these Sacramento trip photos showing George’s ’41 Buick parked in front of Elmer Howard’s Body – Fender & Top Shop in Roseville where George and Sam grew up. We have not been able to find out what George’s relation to this body shop was. If he worked there, knew the owner – Elmer Howard – or perhaps one of his friends worked there, so they meet at that shop with the other friends.

Another interesting question is if George visited his old master Harry Westergard on these trips. Did he show Harry his 1941 Buick, and if he did what was Harry’s response to the car? Harry Westergard passed away in the mid 1950’s, and George Barris a few years ago, so I doubt if we ever will find out. But who knows, perhaps somebody will read this article an remember anything more about George’s trip to Sacramento in 1947.

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Gerald Fassett

Gerald Fassett, a car guy that had Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci restyle his 1947 Chevy Convertible. Westergard chopped the windshield and mail-ordered a set of Jimmy Summers fade-away fenders. later Dick Bertolucci would paint it deep maroon lacquer paint job. At the time George Barris had visited the guys in Sacramento Geralds Chevy had the windshield chopped, the Jimmy Summers fade-away fenders installed, but it was far from done. Before having the Chevy Gerald owned ’34 Ford 5/W coupe, removed running boards, with an inset license plate, filled cowl, and solid hood sides, powered by a hot flathead. We will get back to Gerald’s Chevy in another article.

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Scan of the original color photo that George Barris gave to Gerald Fassett in late 1947. The original photo has lost a bit of its color, and faded a little over the years, but is in remarkable condition for an 72 year old color photo. What an amazing find.

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The color photograph of George’s Buick was given to him personally by George when they all met up at a local Stan’s drive-in, when George visited the Sacramento area. During this visit Gerald took several photos of George’s Buick, which he fortunately for us also kept. Stan’s Drive-In Restaurant was located on the corner of 16th & K street. It was the most popular local hang out and the place to be seen if you had a hot car in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s. (Its all gone now)

George Barris sitting in his Buick at Stan’s Drive In Restaurant on 16th and K Street in Sacramento in late November, early December 1947. (The heavily scratched scanned original photo has been digitally restored)

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David asked Gerald about some of the fellows in the photograph of George’s Buick in front of Elmer Howard’s body shop in Roseville. Gerald answered “I don’t recall that body shop… I knew most of those guys… Odberg, Ohanesian, Norm Milne, Mel Falconer…, but I don’t remember Bruce Glenn… and I also don’t know why the tires on George’s Buick are blackwalls there… and whitewalls at Stan’s and in the color photo.

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Fantastic photo showing the super smooth rear of George’s Buick. On the far left we can see the ’37 Ford that was in the works by Harry Westergard at the time. (The heavily scratched scanned original photo has been digitally restored)

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Gerald, being an ex school teacher has always been very interested in history and that is one of the reasons he still has all the photos from back when he was very active in the Sacramento Custom Car Scene. When David Zivot asked Gerald what sort of reaction do you remember from people on the street around Stan’s…and some of the other motorist’s when George’s big Buick was on display and driving around the area: Gerald Fassett responded. “Well I can tell you (Laughs as he remembers) It really made an impression on me… I can tell you that for sure… The other custom guys were just knocked out by the car.” (People would stop and look…Some gathered around… There were approving “honks” from cars passing by…”

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The long shadows in the photo indicate these were taken late in the afternoon. The ’37 Harry Westergard Ford in the background.(The heavily scratched scanned original photo has been digitally restored)

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Zoomed in we can see the reflections on George’s Buick a little better. Overall extremely nice, but they also confirm the stories we have heard about some of the fade- away panels from these early Customs looked fantastic but were perhaps not completely straight.

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Zoomed in on the Harry Westergard 1937 Ford. Gerald could not remember the guys name, but we are working on it, hopefully we can add it to the article at a later time. This photo especially shows how thin the top is over the windshield header, and makes me wonder if perhaps the top was a metal lift of top instead of a Padded top?

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Gerald could not remember much about the ’37 Ford convertible in the background of two of the photos taken at Stan’s. “I can’t remember the owner’s name… Westergard did the work. Harry Westergard worked on that car at his little shop at his home on Watt Ave. The car was in a local Sacramento car show sponsored by the club I was in (Capitol City Thunderbolts) held at Capitol Chevrolet dealer… It was called “Autorama”.

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Collage of the original photos from the original Gerald Fassett Collection, the color photo is 5 x 7 inches and the three black and white photos measure 3.5 x 5 inches. Now part of the David E. Zivot Collection.

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Stan’s around 1953.

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Barris Maroon

The slightly faded color photo of George Barris’s 1941 Buick from 1947 is an amazing find. We have seen very few color photos showing the famous George Barris mixed colors. In the past we have done an article about these early color photos, and always hoped more will show up. Well this one is the absolute top of the bill. This George Barris Custom mixed maroon painted ’41 Buick is the car that really started the career of the Barris Shop. George has always mentioned how he mixed Venus Martin gold and bronze powders into his paint on his early paint jobs, and now we can get an actual look at how that looked on one of the first cars he used it on.

David E. Zivot has always been fascinated by the George Barris Maroon paint, and was ecstatic when he got in contact with Gerald Fassett and learned more about this unique color photo of the Barris Buick. David had heard a lot about this color talking to people such as Nick Matranga, Jack Stewart, Jesse Lopez and others who where all there to see these colors being done by George Barris in the later part of the 1940’s.

David asked me to see if the original photo could be digitally cleaned up and restored so that the real colors could be seen. With that result he had some prints made and sent those over to Jesse Lopez for him to take a look and see what he thought of the color, and how close it came to the original George Barris Maroon. The printed photos are one thing, creating those same digital photos for this article is another thing. Different profiles in different browsers, different computer and smartphone screens will all generate slightly different shades. But with the printed version and the info from Jesse Lopez, David will be able to match the original George Barris golden maroon as close as possible.

Jesse Lopez verified in detail that the maroon, as it appears in the adjusted Fassett color photo David sent him, is exactly how he remembers it, in every nuance

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Trying to capture the original colors as best as possible I enhanced the photo in Photoshop. I also added a small section of background to the right side of the photo and restored the cut off rear bumper.

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The Hollywood Park main stand building and Turf Club as it looked around 1947, before the whole structure burned down in 1949.
(Postcard image)

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The Hollywood Park building in the late 1930’s, very early 1940’s.

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David has been on the phone with Jesse about the Buick Color photo and this is what Jesse shared with him.

David. “Got a hold of Jesse Lopez…Had a very nice conversation about various custom/restyling subjects…I asked him to look at the color photo of George’s Buick from late ’47-early ’48 and to give me his recollections. We talked about George’s and Sam’s “maroons” and what was the general approach concerning the base colors, toners, metallic powders, etc. I made a comment that George probably did not pay to much attention to formulas or measurements, and really just mixed it how they wanted for that particular project, and that the color and hue, as well as the amount and exact color of gold could vary. Staying within certain parameters of course.

Jesse said that’s exactly right… They would “throw in” an amount of powder, spray it out on a test piece (usually something with nice curves like an old motorcycle fuel tank), see what it looked like on a sunny day, and sometimes making the maroon lighter or darker, depending on what the mood was.

Jesse verified that most all the paint jobs coming out of the Barris shop at that time were not formulaic, and not much importance was put to writing anything down or keeping track of how the last one was done. This conforms to what I had always assumed.

Jesse also mentioned that the paint was purchased and mixed at the R&M paint dealer located at Florence and Huntington Park. This paint store was pretty much the only one used by the Barris shop in the beginning.

Jesse mentioned that he went with George, Sam, and others, on a few trips up to Sacramento and Roseville… He rode with Sam in his ’40. He did not attend the trip that Gerald Fassett took photos of at Stan’s and can’t remember anything about it.”

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The Details

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(Specified by DEZ)
The color photo also gives a really great look at some of the details on the Buick. The beauty rings on George’s Buick appear to be those manufactured by Controla, they were called “Cromdisc“. Controla was known for the high quality of their accessories during the period. Their beauty rings for GM automobiles were first class, well-made with excellent chrome finish. Available in both 15″ and 16″ Buick rims. George’s Buick appears to have the 16” wheel

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Zoomed in on the front end of George’s Buick.

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Cromdisc’s from Controla is what George used on his 1941 Buick. David E. Zivot has been able to find an NOS set of these unique smooth beauty rings.

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Another very nice detail we can see in this photo is the grille. George Barris made clever use of two 1942 Cadillac grilles on his Buick. Sourced from Los Angeles area wrecking yards, or a local Cadillac dealer’s parts dept, or a combination of both. The grille in the early white primer version of George’s still unfinished Buick clearly shows unfilled ends, and a not so nice fit to the surrounding sheet metal.

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The white primer version shows the unfinished ends of the grille bars.

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The modifications consisted of taking two full length horizontal bars (first and second from bottom), adding them, as well as four full-length vertical bars (third and fourth from each end), and then trimming off the vertical bars where they protruded from the top and bottom horizontal bars. He left all vertical bars in matte argent silver. All horizontal bar ends appear to be filled nicely in the final version. All in all a gorgeous grille. For a complete story on George Barris’s 1941 Buick, check out our feature article on the Custom Car Chronicle.

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Close up of the finished grille shows that all 5 horizontal bars on the flat side pieces are even, and have nice slight rounded ends. Compare that with the photo of the stock 1942 Cadillac grille below. It shows how much work George Barris had to do to create the grille on his Buick.

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Stock 1942 Cadillac grille. Only 3 of the horizontal bars could be used for what George had in mind for his Buick.

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On the stock ’42 Cadillac grille only the second from the top horizontal bar has its ends rounded and nicely finished.

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Special Thanks to Gerald Fassett, David E. Zivot and Michelle M. Yiatras

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Leroy Semas 37 Chevy

 

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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)
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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)
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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)
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Leroy’s Chevy appeared in one of the snapshot taken at one of the club rod runs around 1950. (stillrunners)
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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.
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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.
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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?
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Ray Orput is sitting in the Chevy while Riley Collins sits on the barrel besides the car. (Kent Collins info)
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The chop all finished, but still in primer and new smooth aftermarket hubcaps replace the Sombrero hubcaps Westergard had originally installed. (stillrunners)
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Leroy Semas posing with his ’37 Westergard Chevy around 1952 after Riley Collins had chopped the top.
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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.
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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.
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Close up of the sign showing that Bertolucci painted this version of the Chevy.
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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!”

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Special thanks to Kent Collins and Lawrence Fears




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57 Chevy El Capitola

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EL CAPITOLA

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1957 Chevy El Capitola restyled by Sam Barris after he moved back to NorCal was the last Custom he created for the Barris Kustom Shop.

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Don Fletcher, from Del Paso Heights, California, just North of Sacramento, took his 1957 Chevy 210 2 door Sedan to Sam Barris in 1958. Two years earlier Sam and his family had relocated back to Carmichael, California (also just north of Sacramento). Sam had left the barris Shop in Lynwood to be able to become a fire man in the town he grew up in. He would also still take on jobs for the Barris Kustom Shop, and work on those in his home garage. During this time Sam was also still active for the Barris Kustom shop at the local car shows, promoting the shop and selling some Barris Kustoms products

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Sam Barris’s business card after he moved back to Carmichael, close to Sacramento, California.

Don Fletcher wanted to go all the way on his ’57 210 2-door Sedan, create an trend setting custom with the latest styling elements and techniques. Sam took on the job and together with George they came up with an stunning design, with some incredible detailed worked into it. It would become the last collaboration on a Custom Car project between Sam and George for the Barris Kustom Shop. We are not sure if this car started out as this final collaboration, the last full Custom Car that Sam would create, but the amount of body work detailed Sam incorporated into this car sure suggest it is. It looks like Sam really wanted to make a final statement with the body work.

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Don Fletcher with his freshly finished 1957 Chevy El Capitola at the Compton Drive in, a popular photo location for many George Barris photo-shoots.

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Sam started the project with adjusting the suspension so that the car would sit right. Next up was a chopped top and at the same time the top was converted from pillar sedan to hard-top body style.The B-pillar was removed completely and the belt line and lower roof line was modified to look like a hard-top. The front of the roof was chopped around 3 inches in the front and 5 inches in the rear for a nice flow. The top of the rear fenders was cut off and the 96-inch-long fin’s of an 1957 Lincoln rear fender were added. The front scoop of this fin was reshaped with round rod to fit the theme of the car. On top of the rear fin Sam added a T-shaped section of oval (aircraft) tubing for a wonderful jet age look. Scoops were formed on the leading edge of this, and at the back some hand shaped clear plastic taillight sections would be used.

Sam used four ’53 Studebaker grille pans to shape the front and similar styled rear grill openings on the car. Molded into the body, and reshaped to accept a set of split 1957 De Soto bumpers. Behind the bumpers, inside the opening the Barris Shop in Lynwood would later add some chrome plated extruded metal. Sam reshaped the front fenders and made a large oval shaped opening with a peaked top section. The peak would also be repeated on the scoops on the rear quarters. Inside the oval shape a set of aftermarket Lucas lights was installed surrounded by hand shaped white plexiglass backing plates

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When Sam Barris was finished with the body work up North in Carmichael, and after the boys at the Barris shop in Lynwood had completed the car, it could hardly be recognized as a ’57 Chevy two door sedan.

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The late Dave Jenkins took this great color slide of the “El Capitola” at an 1960 indoor show. It shows how brilliant the pearl white and candy burgundy applied by Junior Conway was. 

The Studebaker pans at the rear were also modes to the body and the extra width from the Lincoln rear fenders was filled in with a nice molded panels from under the trunk to the grille pans. In the center, between the DeSoto front bumper halts Sam created a set in license plate frame. Below the frame he made a cut out section where later four ribbed and chrome plated exhaust tubes would fit the gap. Sam hand shaped a long set of fender skirts with scoops on the leading edge. The skirts were shaped to flow with the reshaped ’57 Lincoln fenders fins. The front of the hood was welded to the front fenders, and a new smaller opening for the hood was cut. A technique called “pancaking”.  Over the period of two years George Barris would drive up from Lynwood several times to visit Sam and his family, and to check up on the progress of the Chevy’s major undertaking.

With the majority of the body work out of the way, Sam went on to take the body work on the car to the next level. He decided to create 3D effects on the body, countered effects on the outlines of the body character lines. What Larry Watson did with paint, Sam Barris did with metal on this car. The center of the roof (which was painted pearl white later) was recessed around half an inch. A lot of hammering went into this idea and the fine tuning was done in lead. Once the top was done Sam repeated the styling idea on the rest of the body, a peak was added to the center of the hood, the trunk, around the head lights, grille surround, and on top of the rear fender fins. The whole side of the body, which would be surrounded by side trim after paint, was raised to create a similar effect.

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The car was built over a period of nearly two years at Sam’s home workshop. The overall designs Sam came up with and incorporated were trend setting in the late 1950’s when the car car finished. This photo shows the car with the subtle pin-striping that was added later.

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Bruce Heather mentioned this about the El Capitola.
“I met a guy at one of Joe Bailon’s shows several times who was a neighbor of Sam Barris. He told me how the El Capitola came about. The Owner, Don Fletcher, brought Sam a stock ’57 Chevy 210 2-dr sedan and told Sam what he wanted. Sam did not want to do the car as he had no garage! So they decided to built a car-port. The El Capitola was done outside, with just a roof over the car! Sam did most of the body work on the car before sending it down to his brother George.”

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After Sam had finished the body work and added several coats of primer the car was shipped to the Barris Shop in Lynwood to be finished. It was said that the amount of body work done on Don’s Chevy really burnt out Sam, and he just dido not want to do the finishing work on the car anymore. Back at the Barris shop all the details were created. The glass had to be cut to fir the chopped opening and the side glass needed to be modified to fit with the new Hard-top style. The rear glass now slides in and out of a channel. It is actually extending forward from the door jamb, so that it can be fit close with the glass on the door.

The team at Barris created all the mesh and extruded metal inserts for the scoops and grille openings. The side trim was created using parts taken from ’54 Pontiac, ’53 Oldsmobile and ’54 Lincoln trim. The section on the rear fender fin was filled in with ribbed aluminum panel which was a very popular material to use at the time. (similar to what was used on the ’55 Chevy Aztec, as well as on the Ala Kart). When the car was finished Junior Conway painted it with 25 coats of super brilliant diamond pearl and Candy burgundy over the pearl. It is listed that Junior used a total of ten gallons of paint on the car.

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Faded snapshot of the Sam Barris built El Capitola parked in front of Don Fletcher’s home in Del Paso Heights, California.

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It musts have been quite a sight to see such an amazing show winning custom parked in the street.

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The early version of the El Capitola did not have pin-striping, and the interior was a bit less space age without the center console and stick steering and steering wheel was still the stock ’57 Chevy steering wheel. The stock dash was upholstered on the top and the gauge cluster was chrome plated.

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Don showed the car at several of the major California car shows in 1960 and 61 and took many of the top awards home with him.

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The El Capitola at the Kranker outdoor car show in 1960 San Bernardino Ca.

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In this great color photo from the Barry Mazza Collection we can see that a subtle pin-striping was added around the candy burgundy panels. It is mentioned that the pin-striping was added by Ed Roth.

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George Barris also picked the El Capitola to be part of the Custom Car collectors cards he produced.

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Around 1960 and 1961 when the car spend a lot of time on the show circuit it was also photographed a lot for several publication. It appeared on a good number of covers, as well as fully featured on the inside. George Barris used several unique features of the El Capitola for his How-To articles.

Next step was a full Custom jet age interior according all the latest styling trends. The man to go to at the time was Eddie Martinez in Long Beach. From the original interior only the Chevy Dash remained, and even that was upholstered and customized. All the rest was completely created by Eddie. He used four bucket seats on swivel bases secured to the floor. In the center he installed a pole mounted TV. The upholstery was done in Eddie’s trademark one inch rounded pleats in pearl white Naugahyde with wonderful piping and inserts created from luxurious French imported gold colored frieze material.

The finished car debuted at the Sacramento Autorama in 1960, where it won the top award, just one of the many award Don would win with Sam Barris latest masterpiece. Because most of the car was constructed at Sam’s home shop in Northern California, George Barris never took any progress photos of the built.

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A New Owner & Color

There is one photo dated September 1961 that shows the El Capitola at an indoor car show with a smashed drivers rear fender/quarter panel. Most likely at this time Don Fletsher had sold the car, or this was the reason he sold the car. Bruce Heather mentioned that Virgle Brinkman owned the car for a short period of tie, and most likely bought it from Don. The Spotlight Book “20 Top Customs” from 1962 lists the Taggart Brothers from Ohio as the owner(s) of the car. The photos shown in this booklet still show the car back in California how it looked prior to the 1961 accident. When the body work was reappeared the car was repainted in pearl white and and the sections that used to be candy burgundy, were now repainted in gold. We do not know if this was a color that Sam Barris preferred over the candy burgundy, or that it was just something the new owner liked. Forest Collins Did the new paint job in pearl white and gold for the Taggart Brothers around 1962-63.

At this time the interior was also updated with a new center console staring under the dash towards the front swivel seats. The console was updated in similar material and style as the rest of the Eddie Martinez interior, but we are not sure if Eddie actually did the update or if perhaps somebody in Ohio did this. The center console hold several controls and also the stick steering. Most likely inspired by the Jim Street’s Golden Sahara II (who was also from Ohio). The stock steering wheel was removed and replaced with an cut down, aircraft styled 1960 Dodge Polara steering wheel

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Barris Kustoms
September 1961, something bad happened to the cars, driver side rear quarter panel and fin. The photo shows that the rear wheel had a more generic hubcap, instead of the more expensive aluminum hubcap used on the front. Only a small portion would normally show under the fender skirt. Most likely when the damage was repaired the car was repainted in pearl white and gold.
Mike Collins shared this photo of the El Capitola shortly before it would be repainted by his father Forest Collins around 1962-63 in his near Dayton Ohio shop.

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Forest Collins wet sanding the purple sections on the El Capitola in his Ohio Shop. He later would add a pearl base followed by multiple layers of gold.

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The El Capitola with the fresh gold paint around 1962-63.

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We only have been able to find two photos of the car from the early to mid 1960’s that show the car with the new gold paint and updated interior. Tom Lewe shared these on his facebook. The new gold paint made the car looks a bit more subtle.

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This rear angle shows the new 1960 Dodge cut down steering wheel and this is also the first time we see the plastic “El Capitola” plaque on the rear license plate holder. So perhaps this was also a later added item created in Ohio?

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Survivor

In the early 1980’s Lana Haynes wrote in an article about the El Capitola in  Classic & Customs Magazine that Eula Gollahon, of Brookville, Ohio, purchased the El Capitola years ago for her grandson Chuck Gollahon 16’s birthday. We do not know when Eula bought the car, but as far as we have been able to find out it was bought from the Taggart Brothers. When the C&C article was written Chuck was just 12 years old, and the car had been already garaged for several years. It was mentioned that Chuck was looking forward to get started on the car in four more years. But I do not think Chuck ever started with the car.

In the mid 1990’s Gary Birns was able to visit the garage the car was stored in. After he had removed some boxes and other stuff in and around the car he could take a good look at it. The car was in very good condition and as far as he could see very complete. Gary remembered the car from the white and burgundy colors on the magazine covers, so the brown-gold color came a bit as a shock to him. The car was for sale at the time, but the asking price was just too much for him, and many others who tried to buy the car back then. The El Capitola had just been shown in George Barris then new book Barris Kustoms of the 1950’s, and the owner thought he could make a fortune on the car. Gary was able to take some great snapshots showing all the details of the car.

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In the mid 1990’s Gary Birns tried to buy the El Capitola. He visited the garage were the car was stored in. And found it was remarkable complete and in very good condition.

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This detail shot shows the perfect fit of the cut down windshield as well as the recessed panel in the roof. The gold color painted sections are at original body height, while the pearl white section is recessed. Can you imagine how much work this must have been. 

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Close up look at the 1957 Lincoln rear fender scoops, custom made openings using round rod, and inserted with chrome plated mesh inserts. The photo on the right shows the raised gold section on the rear fin.

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The Eddie Martinez interior in pearl white naugahyde and gold colored frieze material which was button tufted looked still absolutely amazing for something that had been upholstered back in 1960.

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The interior was updated with a new center console staring under the dash towards the front swivel seats. The console was updated in similar material an style as the rest of the Eddie Martinez interior, but we are not sure if Eddie actually did the update or if perhaps somebody in Ohio did this. The center console hold several controls and also the stick steering. The stock steering wheel was removed and replaced with an cut down, aircraft styled 1960 Dodge Polara steering wheel.

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The original interior made place for an trendy pace age interior with four swivel bucket seats and a center staged TV. The beautiful round one inch pleats were an Eddie Martinez trademark. They never looked better than in the El Capitola.

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The Aluminum disk hubcaps were an aftermarket product sold by Barris Kustoms. Even though they look good on this car, as well on the Modern Grecian, they only produced and sold very few of these hubcaps, making them ultra rare today. Both photo’s also show the raised gold section on the body very well.

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Eddie Martinez also upholstered the trunk with the same materials as were used inside the car.

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The Taggart brothers added a lot of Electronic stuff when they redid the car in gold. Many high tech, for the time, gadgets were included in the car at that time, and everything was still in the car when Guy bought it. A remarkable time machine.

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A closer look at the rear shows the added peak on the trunk and raised section around the rear window.

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New taillights to fit inside the ’57 Lincoln rear fenders were created from clear red plastic detailed with ribs of white hand shaped plexiglass.

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Detail shot shows the hand made plexiglass El Capitola show plaque and the four ribbed exhaust tubed hanging below the molded in license plate frame.

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El Capitola Restoration

In the late 1990’s Guy Boucher of Lewiston, Maine heard about the car while he was buying a 1932 Ford Roadster body in Ohio. He made an appointment to see the car and fell in love. A deal was made and Guy took the car home to Maine. Guy Boucher is in fact friends with Don Fletcher, the original owner of the car so imagine the smile on both guys faces when the car was dropped of at Guy’s home garage. Guy went over the car and collected all the printed material on the car he could find. And came to the conclusion that everything was left untouched from the Taggart Brothers version. The perfect condition of the whole car was truly remarkable.

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A few small snapshots show the El Capitola in bare metal during the restoration. These photos also give an better look at the raised body panel on the side of the car. Once the car is painted and the raised panels are surrounded by side trim the effect is still there, but far less obvious. 

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With the body in primer the stunning effect of the raised and lowered body sections on the car are even more obvious.

Over the next 5 years Guy Boucher and his son John completely restored the car and brought it back to the original paint version in candy burgundy with pearl white. But for the interior they decided to keep all the later additions. The whole interior was just in such a great condition that it would have been a shame to back date it. During the restoration the car was taken completely apart, all the paint was removed and the body was brought back to bare metal with all the body work and lead done by Sam Barris left in place. It was an amazing feeling and sight to see the huge amount of body work done on this car in bare metal. The Eddie Martinez interior was so good that it only needed a good cleaning and a few small repairs.

During the restoration the team found samples of the original pearl white and candy burgundy paint which was used to match the new paint from. Most of the restoration work was done by the father and son team, but for paint they took the car to Norm Long of paint by Norm Long in Lewiston to paint the car as how it first looked in 1960. The 265 engine and transmission were rebuilt by Guy and the engine is fully detailed with finned valve covers, Edelbrock three deuce intake with Rochester carburetors and many chrome plated details.

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Restoration completed and the car now looks on the outside just as how it did when it was introduced in 1960. The pearl white and candy burgundy/purple were matched from color fragments found during the restoration.

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Close up look at the rear of the car created from the 1953 Studebaker pans, the ’57 Lincoln rear fender fins, the ’57 Dodge split front bumpers, and the raised body sections were all the accent color is.

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After the B-pillar was removed and the roof made hard-top style the side glass also had to be modified. The rear glass slides in place and sticks out a bit ahead of the door jamb to meet the door glass. The interior is all original Eddie Martinez, just cleaned up and repaired where needed.
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Cut down 1960 Dodge Polara steering wheel, chrome plated gauge cluster and upholstered top section of the dash.

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The 265 engine was also completely rebuilt and restored by Guy. As this photo shows the engine an bay were fully detailed with many chrome plated details. The front of the hood was welded to the fenders, and a new smaller opening was cut. A so called pancaked hood.

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This high point of view rear 3/4 look gives the car a wonderful Jet-Age feel.

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Another close up shows the hand shaped clear red shaped fins on the top section of the rear fender. This photo also shows the raised color sections on the body really well.

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Overall stunning restyling shows how good a designer Sam Barris was, and how he was able to restyle every body panel on this Chevy and still make everything flow together within the, trendy at the time, Jet-Age style. 

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The El Capitola has been restored for several years already and there was a beautiful full feature of the restored car in Kustoms Illutrated issue #12. But sadly the car is not seen a lot. We tried to get the restored El Capitola for the Customs Then & Now exhibit at the 2011 GNRS, where it would have looked amazing sitting next to Barry Mazza’s restored ’55 Chevy the Aztec. But sadly it did not work out. In early 2019 the El Capitola was delivered to the Manns Restoration Shop. Hopefully the new owner will share the car with the public a bit more in the future so that everybody can enjoy this Sam Barris latest Custom Car masterpiece up close

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Magazine Features and more info

  • Custom Rodder October 1960
  • Custom Handbook No. 2 (Custom Rodder 1961)
  • Customs Illustrated May 1961
  • Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual
  • Car Craft April 1961
  • Spotlite Book Twenty Top Customs (1962)
  • Spotlight book Fins and Taillights (1962)
  • Barris Kustom Technique book Vol 2
  • Kustoms Illustrated #12 2007

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Westergard Ford Memories

 

WESTERGARD FORD MEMORIES

 

Anthony from Sacramento Ca. remembers how he worked on Vern Simons Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford Roadster in the 1940s.



In 2010 I was in contact with Tim Cunha about the Max Ferris / Vern Simon’s 1936 Ford restyled by Harry Westergard, about having the car being part of the Customs Then & Now exhibit at the 2011 GNRS. Tim discussed the possibilities with Vern of brining the car over to Pomona for the exhibit. The car was still in as found condition, and was in need of at least some restoration work. Fortunately Vern agreed and the car was part of the early Customs section at the GNRS exhibit. More about this 1936 and its full history can be found in the CCC-Article about the car.


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Some time before all this Vern’s 1936 Ford roadster was featured in the Rodder’s Journal issue #19, but the full story and if this in fact was an original Harry Westergard Custom was not known at the time the article was published. Later in issue #47 of the Rodder’s Journal, their 15 year anniversary issue, one photo of Vern’s Ford Roadster was shown again on page 122 as part of the TRJ favorite Customs section. Anthony from Sacramento happened to see the photo of Vern’s 1936 Ford Roadster and recognized it from his childhood times he spend working with Harry Westergard. So he wrote a letter to the Rodder’s Journal for Vern Simon’s.

CCC-westergard-ford-memories-rj-photoThe photo caption in the Rodder’s Journal issue 47 (the one Anthony saw) read;  We were there the day Vern Simons pulled his ’36 roadster out for the first time since 1961. He purchased it off a Northern California car lot in 1949, raced it at Bonneville in ’52 and pulled the flasmotor in ’56 and it hasn’t run since. Vern is now putting it back on the street. The nearly 60-year-old black lacquer will be retained with all of its patina. The best part is that it is most likely an original Westergard Custom.
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Vern eventually got Anthony’s letter, and the two got in contact to talk about the Roadster. Tim Cunha was able to scan the original letter Anthony wrote for Vern, in which he explained about Harry Westergard working on his roadster and a few other historic events from back when Anthony was a kid helping out Harry Westergard. Anthony was 82 years old when he wrote the letter, and we know now that some of the dates mentioned are a bit off, but the rest is just very interesting. How often does it happen you get to know somebody who worked with Harry Westergard back in the 1940’s!




CCC-westergard-ford-memories-letter2The letter Anthony wrote to Vern Simons about his Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford Roadster.
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Transcript from the copied letter

California 6/23/2010

Let me intro introduce myself. I am 82 years old & not seeking anything except to impart information relative to Vern Simons 36 Ford Roadster depicted on page 122 marked TRJ #47. The comment on that caption “That the car is most likely a Harry Westergard Custom” is exactly correct & (Factual). I think Vern Simon might like to know what I know about that car & Harry Westergard.

I was born in 1928 and lived and was raised at 2317-16 st. Sacramento Ca. In 1945 Harry Westergard moved into a downstairs flat at 1530 X st. and began working on cars in a one car garage at eh back of that property which was adjacent to Corffees Laundry. Located on the corner of 16th and X st. S.W. Our property was on the N.E. corner. It came to pass that I would go across the street and as a kid hang out with the guys who would come and have Harry do his magic on their pre WWII cars. Among them Mel Falkner, US Airforce pilot with a Westergard 1927 T Roadster with Cragar O.V. head and exhaust down one side. Honest Joe Miller flathead Ford in 1936 French “CitroĂ«n”, and many others.

Harry just got out of the SU Navy and his prices were minimal. I remember George Barris and Dick Bertolucci and Hunter Wardlous (sp) also discussing things with Harry and solving problems. All these young men were street rod orientated and loved cars and spend most of their disposable income on their cars. I believe I accompanied Harry to a wrecking yard in west Sacramento to help him remove the Packard Clipper Grille from a roll-over. And I watched him cut trim and fit same into a 1936 Ford Roadster and shorten the windshield. By that time I was working after school cleaning Harry’s shop and sanding primer for his “in the Garage” paint jobs.

I remember that car well, I bolted the De Soto bumpers to the brackets harry made while he held them for alignment and level. There is lots more I could tell him, but yes that is a real Harry Westergard Ford Custom.
I’m still rodding in a 1950 Allard powered by a modular 4.6 D.O.C. whipple Supercharged Cobra special. Spectacular car.

Respectfully Anthony.

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CCC-westergard-ford-early-pictureAn early 1940’s photo of the Harry Westergard Roadster.
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CCC-westergard-ford-memories-restorationVern’s Roadster being taken apart for the restoration.
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CCC-westergard-ford-memories-gnrs-2011Vern on the right  looks how a friend drives the freshly restored original Harry Westergard roadster into the Customs Then & Now exhibit building at the 2011 GNRS.
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Many thanks to Anthony, Vern Simons and Tim Cunha for sharing the info.


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(this article is sponsored by)

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

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40s NorCal Hot Rod Photos part 2

40s NORCAL HOT ROD PHOTOS

Ed Jensen’s Collection shows an series of unique Custom Car and Hot Rod photos from the ’40’s Nor-Cal scene in his collection. This is part 2 of the series on Ed’s Hot Rod photos.

 
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e have been sharing some of the amazing photos of the Ed Jenson Collection in a few other CCC-Articles The link to those can be found in the bar below this writing. Sadly Ed is no longer with us, and he did not provide any information with these photos. So many of these cars are unidentified right now. But perhaps some of our viewers can help us identify these cars and we can add names to the car owners. What we do have is a selection of really great snapshots from the early 1940’s Sacramento, and surrounding Hot Rod scene.

These snapshots give us a really good feeling how it must have been back then, dirt or dirty roads, bare to the bones Hot Rods driving the street and used for the races and on the lakes in the weekend. We hope you will enjoy these 40s NorCal Hot Rod Photos.

[box_light]The photos in this article come from the Ed Jensons Collection. They were shared by Tim Cunha and scanned by Curtis Leipold. More amazing photos from the Ed Jenson 1940’s photo collection can be seen in the Ed Jensons section.[/box_light]

CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-11Connie Weidell’s nicely styled Model T roadster with side mounted exhaust and two carburetor stacks protruding thru the hood. Cut down ’32 Ford grille and good looking big and bigger white wall tires. (thank you Harley Peters for identifying it)
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-20Model A-Roadster with a ’35 Cadillac dash adapted for a much more exclusive look.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-14This ’29 Model A-Roadster is probably the same one as the photo above with the ’35 Caddy dash. I guess its the owner who is hiding out behind the two Carb intake.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-17’39 Ford Phaeton with winter tires on the back.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-16Another Model A Ford Roadster, this time one with the fenders still on. It looks like it was dressed up with some longer chrome plated headlights.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-15Model A-Roadster in the works at this small size garage.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-13Nice looking ’32 Ford Roadster with chopped windshield, dressed up two carb-ed flathead engine and nice looking ’36 Ford headlights.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-25’42 License plate is mounted on this ’32 Ford Roadster with removed front fenders and running boards.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-23Apparently the guys from the Sacramento scene also visited the speed shops in So-Cal. The guy in the photo looks like one of the owners of a ’36 Ford Coupe in another Ed Jenson article here on the CCC. The were visiting the Eddie Meyer Sunset Blvd. shop in Hollywood and thought it was special enough to take a snapshot of it.

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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-26Close up of the two carb-ed four banger engine from Model A-5-window coupe we showed in the first article on the Hot Rod photos of ed.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-27Two more two Flatheads with stock heads and two carb intakes.

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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-29’29 Model A-Roadster with ’32 Ford grille and frame on the streets of Sacramento.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-21’46-47 Cadillac Sedanette with Spotlights added. 
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-22Model T Roadster at the race tracks Getting ready for the race.

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40s NorCal Hot Rod Photos part 1

40s NORCAL HOT ROD PHOTOS

Besides Custom Car photos, Ed Jensen also had a series of Hot Rod photos from the ’40’s Nor-Cal scene in his collection. Amazing material, we will create two articles using these fantastic images.

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e have been sharing some of the amazing photos of the Ed Jenson Collection in a few other CCC-Articles The link to those can be found in the bar below this writing. Sadly Ed is no longer with us, and he did not provide any information with these photos. So many of these cars are unidentified right now. But perhaps some of our viewers can help us identify these cars and we can add names to the car owners. What we do have is a selection of really great snapshots from the early 1940’s Sacramento, and surrounding Hot Rod scene.

These snapshots give us a really good feeling how it must have been back then, dirt or dirty roads, bare to the bones Hot Rods driving the street and used for the races and on the lakes in the weekend. One of the cars we do recognize is the Jack Calori ’29 Model A Roadster not to long after Jack bought it from builder Jack Davis. We hope you will enjoy these 40s NorCal Hot Rod Photos.

[box_light]The photos in this article come from the Ed Jensons Collection. They were shared by Tim Cunha and scanned by Curtis Leipold. More amazing photos from the Ed Jenson 1940’s photo collection can be seen in the Ed Jensons section.[/box_light]

CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-02Snapshot shows two 1932 Ford Roadsters and a customized 1936 Ford. The Roadster in the drive way sports single bar flipper hubcaps and 1940 Olsmobile bumpers. Interesting to see these Custom touches on a Hot Rod.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-08Rough looking ’29 model A roadster with ’32 Ford grille, parked on a street corner with a mildly customized 1941 Studebaker parked behind it. 
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-18Probably the same Studebaker as in the photo above, but now with stock hubcaps and fender skirts. 
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-12I really like this photo of this 29 Model A Ford with ’32 Ford grill and home made dropped I-beam front axle. The car looks really touch with the nice house, flowers and trees in the background.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-07’29 Model A Roadster, possibly an earlier photo of the same car as two photos up
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-06We have used this and the next nice snapshot before in the Max Ferris 1936 Ford article, but since we show one more photos of Jack Calori’s Roadster we figured we better show these here as well. Parked behind Jack’s Roadster is Max Ferris his 1936 Ford with its hood canted up.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-19Snapshot showing part of the interior of Jack Calori’s roadster. 1940 Ford steering wheel, chrome plated dash with a nice row of instruments and the characteristic V-windshield.
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CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-05Unknown Model A Roadster on a ’32 Ford frame and what looks like an auburn gauge cluster in the dash.
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Possibly the early stages of a Hot Rod to be. Nice looking Model A 5-window coupe with lowered front suspension and two carb intake on the original four banger engine. Two different guys are posing with the same car, makes me wonder who the owner was.CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-03

CCC-ed-jenson-hot-rods-01This is the only photo of the series that came with a name Fred Block. Most likely the owner of this Model A Roadster with home made V-windshield. But other than that we do not know anything more about the “Block Bullet”.
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Stay tuned for the second part of ’40’s Nor-Cal Hot Rod photos from the Ed Jensen Collection showing more nice snapshots.

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Ed Jensons 36 Fords

 

ED JENSONS 36 FORDS

 

From the Ed Jenson’s wonderful 1940’s Sacramento area photo collection, come these photos of two mildly customized 1936 Ford Coupes.



[dropcap]Ed[/dropcap] Jenson’s Collection contained mostly early/mid 1940’s Custom Car and Hot Rod photos from the Sacramento area. Ed was there to witness the “birth” of Customizing with local hero’s as Harry Westergard and George Barris and many others. Be sure to check out the other articles we have done on Ed’s amazing Collection. It shows us how it all started and that the Nor-Call scene was very big in the early 1940’s.

In this article we like to show you two mildly customized 1936 Ford Coupes. Ed has passed away some time ago, and we have never been able to ask him any questions about these photos. So there are no names to go with the cars, and no stories about what happened with the cars later on, or who build them. These photos show the typical every day Custom Car, dressed up with aftermarket parts bought at the local speed shop, and some mild body modifications and possibly a new deep lacquer paint job to make it stand out from the crowd.

Special thanks to Ed Jenson and Tim Cunha for sharing this amazing collection.

[box_light]The photos in this article come from the Ed Jenson Collection. They were shared by Tim Cunha and scanned by Curtis Leipold. More amazing photos from Ed Jenson 1940’s photo collection can be seen in the Ed Jenson Custom Car Chronicle section.[/box_light]


CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-01-WThere is only one photo of this 1936 Ford Coupe in Ed’s Collection. This one is customized with mostly dress up parts, but it also has a nice looking set-in license plate with 1939 Ford tear drop taillights mounted next to it. To update the car a bit more a set of 1940 Ford had been mounted as well as a set of tear drop fender skirts. Black wall tires on the back, this photo was taken during WWII so white wall tires where near impossible to find. and ripple disk hubcaps and beauty rings on wide white wall tires on the front.
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CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-06-WThe rest of the photos, or at least as far as we have been able to find out, are from another rather similar mildly customized ’36 Ford Coupe. Most likely this photo shows the owner with the car. He appears in more photos with the car. This is the only photo of this car with fender skirts mounted. Perhaps the hood and solid hood sides have been removed due to overheating of the hopped up flathead during the warm summer month. It appears the car was not lowered. The houses in the background are very nice as well.
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CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-03-WSame guy with the Coupe. This time with the hood and hood sides on the car. Now the fender skirts have been removed, but that might also have been done after it hit something. Noticed the damaged rear fender.
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CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-08-WThe car was taken to a local Body & Fenders Works for repair work on the rear fender. It looks like the owner is on cover alls on the left. Perhaps he worked at this body shop?
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CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-07-WSame location, same car, different people.
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CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-04-WThis photo gives us a nice look at the hopped up engine with the hood and solid hood sides in the up position. Noticed that the ripple disk hubcaps are dented as well.
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CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-05-WAn enlarged section of the above photo shows more details. 
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CCC-ed-jenson-36-ford-02-WThis most likely is taken after the repair work on the rear fender, and possibly other parts as well. The ripple disk hubcaps have now been replaced with ripple disk single bar units. and the fender skirts have not been put back on. What a perfect every day Custom, the Ed Jensons 36 Fords.
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CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob

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Mercury Gathering from a birds eye view

 

MERCURY’S FROM ABOVE

 

Part of the 2009 Sacramento Autorama was a gathering of custom Mercury’s. One of the highlights of the show was a view from the balcony allowing a birds eye view on some of the worlds best ever Mercury custom cars



One building at the Sacramento Autorma was filled with only Mercury custom cars. Historical masterpieces that had set the trend in the 1940’s and 1950’s as well as modern interpretations were invited to create the prestigious Mercury Gathering. A wonderful selection of the worlds best custom Mercury’s ever created. I was asked to help organize the event, make a selection of cars to invite, and write about this historical event to create as much interest as possible. Custom Car enthusiast from all over the world flew out to the show so see the wonderful collection of custom Mercury’s. The event was a huge success, and one of my own personal highlights was to climb up the stairs and take place on the balcony and watch the customs from an perspective seldom seen. It felt like I was a bird flying over the tops of these wonderful customs.

On set up day and before the show opened to the public I set up my tri-pod and camera and tried to make as many bird’ eye view photos of the custom cars. The cars closest to the balcony worked the best, and I was able to make some really nice photos of the Sam Barris Merc, the Ohanesian Merc, and Paul Bragg his 1951 Merc. The cars a bit further from the leading edge of the balcony were a bit less interesting, but still the perspective was really nice. It was sometimes hard to make a good photo. The balcony was not completely rock solid, and the tri-pod and long shutter demanded no movement, But many times people walking the stairs were making enough movement to make the photos blurry. So I ended with only a hand full of photos that were good enough to us.

A selection of those are in this CCC-Article. I hope you will enjoy them as much I did when I was viewing the room from my bird point of view.

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Overview of the historic section of the Mercury building.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-03-WThe Sam Barris 1949 Mercury freshly restored by Brizio’s for owner John Mumford.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-09-WBill Worden’s, Ralph Testa Barris Kustom mercury setting up his display. The photo is slightly fuzzy because of movements on the balcony. Because the car was sitting towards the center of the roof the Birds eye effect was a bit less on this one.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-06-WOne of the most beautiful Mercury Customs ever created is the Harry Westergard / Dick Bertolucci-built Buddy Ohanesian 1940 Mercury.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-01-WPaul Bragg his 1951 Mercury convertible looked amazing flanked by Dale Hollenbeck’s pale blue 1950 Mercury and the orange balcony rail.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-02-WLucky 7 Customs showed two contemporary custom Mercury’s at the show. The burnt orange 1951 Merc belongs to George Garza. The green 1950 Mercury to Darrell Hayes.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-04-WTed Stevens had the old John D’Agostino’s 1940 Mercury “Stardust” completely restored and Daryll Hollenbeck painted the car once again in a wonderfull Black Cherry.
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CCC-Sacramento-Merc-Bird-08-WThe oldest created custom Mercury at the show was Paul Plannette’s 1939 Mercury original built by Coachcraft. Derby Ahlstone restored it back to original specs. Larry Dames brought the Frank Sonzogni 1950 mercury which was painted white awaiting a full restoration.
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A day at the Races

SACRAMENTO BACK ROAD RACING

Ed Jenson’s photo collection gives us a really great feel how the young Nor-Car Hot Rodder’s raced their cars on the back roads of Sacramento.

We have been sharing some of the amazing photos of the Ed Jenson Collection before when we highlighted George Barris and Gene Garrett’s 1936 Fords. For this photo-report we like to focus on some of the Hot Rod related photos of Ed’s amazing photo collection. Most of the photos in this article were made during one of the many races Hot Rodder’s organized in the early 1940’s. This was before there were any official drag strips and guys wanted to race against each other to show who had the most powerful engine. These photos were taken somewhere “close” to Sacramento at some back-road. Many Hot Rods competed against each other on this long and empty road. We can see both Hot Rods as well as mild Custom Cars competing against each other.

The first couple of photos are of some of the guys getting ready for action, leaving their homes for a race trip into the hills.

 

CCC-Jenson-Day-at-Races-03-WThe tag on the license plate of this stripped down 32 Ford reads 1942.

 

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CCC-Jenson-Day-at-Races-11-WThis very interesting photo shows an early version of the Jack Calori Model A Roadster. Most likely shortly after Jack bought it from Jack Davis. In the back on the right we can see the Harry Westergard-built Max Ferris / Vern Simon’s 1936 Ford roadster with Packard grille. And sitting next to it an 1936 Ford Phaeton with LaSalle grille.

 

And then on to the rendezvous point up in the hills where the race could start. The photos below show how close cars were parked next to the “drag strip”. It also shows that the spectators made way when the cars were coming and would go on the roads to watch the racing cars disappear in the distance.

 

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Two full fendered cars racing. The 1936 Ford on the left looks to have a narrowed stock grille. Right now the heavier 1941 Ford coupe is taking the lead. Perhaps the white truck in the back was blocking off other traffic while the race was going. Notice the smoothed and skirted 1941 Ford sedan parked on the left.

 

CCC-Jenson-Day-at-Races-05-WTwo 1932 Ford Roadsters at full speed.

 

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CCC-Jenson-Day-at-Races-06-WLooks like not everything went according to plan.

 

CCC-Jenson-Day-at-Races-08-WThese photos show that the race was held both ways. Or perhaps these photos were taken on different days.

 

CCC-Jenson-Day-at-Races-09-WCustomized 1932 Ford roadster on the left with custom bumpers and hubcaps, and what looks like a padded top.

 

CCC-Jenson-Day-at-Races-14-Wand into the distance…

 
Special thanks to Ed Jenson and Tim Cunha for sharing this amazing collection.

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