1957 Sears Parking Lot Show

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1957 Sears PARKING Lot SHOW

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The parking lot at Show Arena. Started in the early 1950s, gathering some of the most beautiful Customs. A closer look at the 1957 Sears Parking Lot Show.

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In 1950’s it was quite common to organize one-day outdoor car how at a large store. The parking lots of these stores where huge, the visitors could get food nearby, the stored usually had plenty of bathrooms and other shops were nearby, which made it ideal to visit with the whole family. These parking lot shows were organized all over the country.

One of the most famous photos ever taken at one such parking lot show was from 1954, where an car show was organized at the Thrifty Drug Store. A huge number of these parking lot shows, like the thrifty parking lot show, and this Sears parking lot show were only advertised locally – in these cases in Los Angeles – perhaps thru the car clubs, the local newspaper, and at the local stores around the parking lot with banner, poster, perhaps hand-outs. These stores of coarse benefited from these show, extra people coming in for a bite to eat, drink etc, or some general shopping on their way back home. Another famous show was held (multiple times) at the Hollywood Park Race Track parking lot.

So far I have never been able to find any of these show flyers, or ads, but we know from several of these show, that the advertising resulted in a great number of first class, magazine cover or feature cars in attendance.
Not sure if these shows were specifically advertised as Custom Car Shows, but it is very remarkably that the majority of the cars at these events are Custom Cars, and not Hot Rods. According to Greg Sharp it just shows how big Custom Cars were during these Golden Years of Customizing.

The 50 Year of Rod & Custom magazine book had a beautiful color photo of the 1957 Sears Parking Lot Show. Most the information comes from Custom Car historian Greg Sharp.

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Overview of most of the car at the event. Interesting to see the Ayala Shop Truck and the R&C Dream truck sitting face to face in the front.

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Close up of the left side of the photo.

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The Left Side

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  • 01 – Carol Lewis’s Dean Jeffries flamed ‘56 Chevy
  • 02 – Unknown ’53 Ford Victoria
  • 03 – Herb Conway’s super low ’54 Mercury
  • 04 – Hershel “Junior” Conway’s ‘50 Ford Coupe
  • 05 – “Chimobo” or ” The Chinaman” Barris Kustoms chopped ‘54 Merc (the car was later destroyed in the ’57 Barris Shop fire)
  • 06 – Ed Beck’s ‘56 Ford with Dean Jeffries pint striping
  • 07 – Frank Monteleon’s ‘56 Ford convertible (From the movie Hot Car Girl)
  • 08 – Unknown medium blue ’56 Chevy
  • 09 – Lloyd Bakan’s ‘32 Ford three-window (one of the two real Hot Rod in the lot)
  • 10 – Buddy Alcorn’s Ayala restyled and redone by Barris chopped ‘50 Mercury (before Dick Jackson added the new two tone paintjob.)
  • 11 – George Barris ’56 Continental Mark II
  • 12 – Dale Stricklin’s silver ‘40 Ford Sedan Delivery (Owner of the Advance Muffler shop located near George Cerny’s shop. He did a lot of the exhaust work on Cerny’s as well as Barris’s projetcs)
  • 13 – Dave Bugarin’s chopped ‘51 Mercury.
  • 14 – Several unidentified car
  • 15 – Several unidentified car
  • 16 – Several unidentified cars
  • 17 – ‘34 Ford Tudor deep purple paint
  • 18 – Super-low ’50 Ford from the Krankers of San Bernardino
  • 19 – Bruce Geisler’s chopped ‘49 GMC pickup (Originally restyled and owned by Gil Ayala used as the Gil’s Auto Body Shop truck)
  • 20 – Jim Pitts’s red ‘55 Corvette

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A closer look at the cars in the row on the left; Carol Lewis’s Dean Jeffries flamed ‘56 Chevy, Unknown Brown ’53 Ford Victoria, Herb Conway’s super low ’54 Mercury, Hershel “Junior” Conway’s ‘50 Ford Coupe, ” The Chinaman” Barris Kustoms chopped ‘54 Merc, Ed Beck’s ‘56 Ford, Frank Monteleon’s. ‘56 Ford convertible, Unknown medium blue ’56 Chevy, Lloyd Bakan’s ‘32 Ford three-window.

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Buddy Alcorn Mercury, shortly before, or after he traded it to Dick Jackson. George Barris personal ride ’56 Lincoln.

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In the back-row, Dale Stricklin’s silver ‘40 Ford Sedan Delivery on the left, and Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury restyled by Barris on the right, behind the open hoods of the unknown cars.

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Bruce Geisler’s chopped ‘49 GMC pickup – formerly owned by Gil Ayala, super-low ’50 Ford from the Krankers of San Bernardino, 34 Ford Tudor deep purple paint, unknown early 50’s Chevy sedan light blue with spotlight.

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The Right Side

Close up of the right side of the photo.

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  • 21 – Spence Murray’s R&C “Dream Truck” (finished in two-tone primer the night before at the Barris Kustoms Shop)
  • 22 – unknown touring
  • 23 – ‘55 Chevy Black with red top unknown owner
  • 24 – Patric Morales’s ‘53 Chevy Bel Air hardtop Restyled by Ed Wright
  • 25 – Jud Morgan’s ‘56 F-100 from the Renegades of Long Beach
  • 26 – Dan Purinton’s 56 Mercury Bahama blue and mother of pearl, and more Renegades entries including Jim Ashley’s ‘55 Chevy, Damon Richey’s ‘50 Bel Air Hardtop, and Ed Cousin’s Deuce pickup (the second Hot Rod).
  • 27 – Unknown MG
  • 28 – Unknown
  • 29 – Ron Dulin’s ‘56 Plymouth Fury (later painted by Larry Watson)
  • 30 – ’56 Buick unknown owner
  • 31 – Gilbert Crus’s George Cerny-built ‘55 Chevy
  • 32 – Unknown Ford pick up
  • 33 – Unknown Classic Touring
  • 33 – Studebaker Hawk, Mercedes sports cars
  • 34 – Unknown Sports Cars?

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A closer look at Spence Murray’s R&C Dream Truck, the unknown touring classic car, the unidentified black ‘55 Chevy with red top and Patric Morales’s ‘53 Chevy Bel Air hardtop.

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Jud Morgan’s ‘56 F-100, Dan Purinton’s 56 Mercury, and some more Renegades entries including Jim Ashley’s ‘55 Chevy, Damon Richey’s ‘50 Bel Air Hardtop, and Ed Cousin’s Deuce pickup.

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Unknown MG, Unknown two tone ’56 Mercury, Ron Dulin’s ‘56 Plymouth Fury and an unknown ’56 Buick.

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Gilbert Crus’s George Cerny-built ‘55 Chevy.

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Close up of the unknown Sports Cars at the far right. Mercedes Sport Cars, an Alfa Romeo and the rest I have not been able to identify.

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Can you imagine how many kids got inspired by these parking lot shows, going shopping on a Saturday morning with mom. Not knowing anything about the parking lot shows, turning in on the parking lot to do their weekly grocery shopping’s. Then being confronted with all this eye candy in the parking lot.

In the summer of 2019 the Petersen Archive started to share their enormous photo collection online. While browsing thru the collection I came across a series of black and white photos taken at this event. So now we have many more photos to show many more cars that were not in the original color photo, plus many detail photos. Below is a selection of the black and white photos taken at the Sears Parking Lot from the Petersen Collection.

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