Joe Bailon Elton Kantor Ford

 

ELTON KANTOR FORD

 

Joe Bailons second major Custom Car was restyled for Elton Kantor based on a 1950 Ford Convertible. It would end up with the prestigious Oakland Roadster Show Elegance Award.



Joe Bailon always had his own ideas about styling, about what he thought the ideal Custom Car should look like. With his personal car, the 1941 Chevy Miss Elegance he had already shown the world a little bit about his unique sense of car styling. A combination of the smooth flowing Detroit car styling lines combined with unique, unexpected lines and intricate trim details. Miss Elegance already had all the typical Joe Bailon styling cues in it.

Joe Bailon’s second major Custom was based on an 1950 Ford convertible. Owner Elton Kantor from Oakland California took his near new convertible to Joe Bailon after being very impressed with Miss Elegance. Together with Joe the discussed the design possibilities, and decided that the car needed a. Hard Top look, with smooth flowing lines, longer and much lower appearance and a completely smoothed body highlighted in a super glossy dark colored paint job.

Probably the best viewing angle on the Kantor Ford is this slightly higher rear quarter view.All the lines of the car seam to work at its very best then. The original version is so smooth and vintage looking with all the trim removed.
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Joe set out to incorporate a ’51 Ford Victoria roof, welded that to the 4.5 inch chopped windshield frame, and at the back to the body sides. In the process the lower edge of the roof was moved forward a few inches. The c-pillars needed a lot of work to get the desired look. The back of a stock Victoria top is rather upright, which became even more evident after the chop. The stock three piece rear glass made it impossible to get the top to flow in the more swooping lines Joe and Elton wanted for the rear of the top. So it was decided to create a top with the perfect flow, an then hand made a new rear window to get everything right, instead being dictated by factory products.

Joe hand formed the rear of the roof from sheet metal until both were happy with the look. Then the new rear window shape was created into the new roof, and later fitted with plexiglass that was cut to size, heated and shaped to fit the new opening. The whole unit was dressed up with some aftermarket stainless steel strip, shaped to fit and screwed in place, a technique taken from upholstery shops who used the same technique for some of their padded top designs.

Color slide from the 1953 Hop Up magazine photo-shoot by Ralph Poole is a bit on the dark side, but I think it shows the color better than on the actual cover of the magazine.
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A detail photo showing all the restyling Joe added to the rear of the car, shortened trunk, added molded in continental kit, set in license plate in the reshaped lower panel, molded in splash-pan, and stepped extended rear fender with hand made taillights and the heavily restyled 1950 Ford rear bumper.
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Next up where the fenders on the car, both front and rear fenders were molded to the body, and to create the long and low effect the guys were after the rear fenders were lengthened with no less than 12 inches. Joe and Elton really liked the stepped panel below the trunk on Joe’s ’41 Chevy, so this design element was incorporated into Elton’s Ford as well. To make that happen the bottom of the trunk was raised around a foot and a new bulbous shaped panel was added below the new trunk line. The new lower body panel was molded to the splash-pan with a nice radius. Joe added a metal continental cover to the rear of the trunk, that starts at the bottom of the trunk and molded it into the trunk at a pleasing angle. The bulbous shape, below the trunk, was duplicated on the rear fenders with the lower section of the rear fended being extended more than the top. This lower section was next reshaped with round rod to form an taillight opening in which Joe later would add hand shaped clear red Lucite taillight lenses. While extending the rear fenders Joe had removed the stock wind-splits that lead to the stock Ford taillights the result was a completely smooth side of the car.

At the front Joe welded the stock headlight rings to the fenders and slightly peaked the top of the fenders. Joe had already nosed the hood, which enhanced the factory peak of the hood, and the new peak at the top of the fenders worked really well with the hood peak. Joe used two 1949 Mercury grille shells to form the new much smaller grille opening for Alton’s Fords. One was used in its regular place, the second one turned upside down and welded to the splash pan that was molded to the front fenders. This together formed a really nicely shaped smooth grille opening in the car, the hood center peak was repeated below the grille and into the splash pan for a nice uniform look. At the back Joe removed the factory stock outside hinges of the trunk and installed some inboard units. In the bulge below the trunk he created another inset license plate behind glass that he liked so much.

Detail shot from the front shows the molded in grille surround created from two ’49 Mercury grille shell’s, the grille created from round tubing, sheet metal and two bumper guard bullets. Notice how Joe molded in the splash-pan with a similar radius as the Mercury grille opening. The shaved bumper is unique for the time the car was build.
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Elton’s Ford had the perfect ride height, slightly lower in the rear for that attractive and desired speed boat look.
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All the outside trim was removed, including door handles which were replaced with solenoids. All the holed were filled and everything was completely smoothed. A set of ’49 Mercury fender skirts was modified at the bottom to sit level with the Ford body and reshaped to fit the Ford body contours.

With all the body work completed Joe painted the car in many coats of dark metallic blue paint. The car was lowered front and rear, to sit near level, and four wide white wall tires were mounted on the dark painted wheels that were dressed up with aftermarket smooth wheel discs.

The grille that Joe created for Alton’s Ford is another typical Joe Bailon trademark. With all the body so super smooth, Joe likes to add some super fine and wild details with the grille. He used two bumper guard bullets, sheet stock and tubing of different diameter to hand shape the unique grille. The whole assembly was welded together, smoothed and chrome plated before being installed as a floating grille bar in the new grille opening.

Another Joe Bailon trademark in the early 1950’s was the welded bumper bolts for the ultimate smooth bumpers. The Front unit is stock but smoothed 1950 Ford with the guards removed, and the rear is made from the stock ’50 Ford rear bumper combined with wrap around end sections, which enhance the already very long rear fenders even more. Joe also incorporated square exhaust tips in the lower edge of the rear bumper.


Custom interior was done in bone and black with black piping on the bone sections, and bone piping on some of the black sections. The dashboard was painted to match the interior.
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The color image used on the cover of the June 1953 issue of Motor Trend magazine was flipped horizontal so that the composition of the photo looked more attractive on the shelves in the book stores.
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The interior was upholstered in bone and black with the dash board treated with the same colors to match the upholstery. A set of Appleton Spotlights was added as the finishing touch.

Alton’s Ford was a huge success at the 1953 Oakland Roadster show were it won the top award at the full Custom Glass, the equivalent of the National Roadster Award, but then for Customs. The car was in color on the cover of the July 1953 issue of Motor Trend magazine, which helped boost business for Joe’s body shop.

Alton Kanter receiving the award at the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show.
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New Owner Manuel Azevedo

After having enjoyed his new Custom Ford for a while, Alton was ready to move on, and offered his price winning Ford up for sale. Manny Azevedo, who also lived in Oakland and who ad seen the car at local shows bought the car. He enjoyed the car for some time and entered it in some more CA shows, then decided it was time for a round of updates. Around that time Manny visited Joe Bailon’s shop with the Ford and when leaving he backed up the car, and there was this metal pole he did not see. He hit it and damaged the complete passenger side of the car. Not good, but an perfect opportunity for a remake, and update.

The front of the car showing the damage.
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Manny backed up the car at Joe Bailon’s Shop and did not see a metal pole causing major damage to the passenger side of the car.
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Manny wanted to have a two tone solution for the car, and Joe came up with a new side trim created from 1954 Chevy side trim pieces and an unknown front section. The new side trim is slightly wider at the front then tapers very slightly towards the rear, creating instant speed. The new side trim also makes the bulge at the rear of the fender look right at place. Joe also modified the rear fenders, where he reshaped the original taillight opening and modified a set of 1954 Chevy taillights to fit inside these new openings. For this version Joe hand made a new set of fender skirts, nice long skirts that matched the lines of the fenders, and enhanced their length. At the leading edge, which was curved forward to flow with the C-pillar of the top, Joe installed three elegantly styled trim pieces.

After Joe repaired the damage on Manny’s Ford and with the new updates, the car is ready for the new Car Show Season. Photo taken at the Joe Bailon Shop.
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Color image by Spencer Murray used on the cover of the June 1955 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. By now Joe had repainted the car in metallic purple, with white inside the new side trim. Notice the contrast of the red painted wheels, and how the side trim made the car look even longer than it already was.
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The front of the car was also updated with the latest trend, hooded headlights. Joe created his own style of hooded headlight using sheet metal and round rod, for a unique look, and a styled that would become another of Joe’s trademark restyling touches. The hood corners had remained square on the early version, but were rounded with a nice large radius this time around.

Joe painted the car in a metallic purple and added white inside the side trim. The new side trim, and added white color added even more optical length to the car, than the previous version of the car. For this version Joe also added a bit of extra flash by painting the wheels bright red before installing a set of 1954 Oldsmobile hubcaps. The all redone Ford was featured and appeared in color on the cover of the June 1955 issue of Rod & Custom magazine.

Joe also modified the taillight openings to accepts 1954 Chevy taillights.
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Rear window was hand formed from heated plexiglass in a custom made opening. The trim material was the same as some of the upholstery shops used for rear windows in padded tops. The fit and finish looks a bit sloppy by today’s standards, but it sure did not stand in the way of winning some of the big Custom awards in the early-mid 1950’s.
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A better look at the modified taillight openings and 1954 Chevy taillights fitted into it.
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For the new version Joe handmade a set of fender skirts, with a functional scoop at the front and dressed it up with three little chrome plated teeth.
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A good look at the hood center peak that was extended thru the grille and also below the grille. Joe also rounded the hood corners for the new version, which made the front look more attractive than before. This front view also shows the all new above the headlights scoops.
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Joe Bailon’s Miss Elegance image used on the Bay Area Customs club plaque.
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These photos were taken by George Barris at Joe Bailon’s shop. Most likely the car was painted purple and lime by then.

Scanned from a 35 mm negative proof sheet most likely photographed by Frank Faraone, who was the staff photographer of the Oakland Roadster Show up into the early 1960’s.
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After that the car was repainted at least two more times. At one point the car was painted metallic purple with a lemon lime top and inside the side trim, which gave the car a nice classic look. So far we have not been able to find any color photos of this version of the car. The 1955 Oakland Roadster Show program lists the car with this color combination. Later in 1955 Joe repainted the car in bright red with white on the top and in between the side trim. The interior was redone for the newly painted version as well using white and red material. Manny had pet goldfish, and wanted to have a small aquarium below the dash which was created by Joe Bailon.

In 1955 Joe repainted the Ford in red with a white top and in side the side trim.
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Nice side view of the red and white version of the car.
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Manny showed his car in red at the first Monterey Carcapades Show. The show was organized  by the Slow Pokes Inc. C.C. of Seaside, Ca. and was held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in March 1956. The photo shows that the car now had a light colored headliner
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These two photos come from some movie footage taken at the 1956 Oakland Roadster Show, it shows the small aquarium Manny had installed for his pet goldfish. It also shows that the complete interior was now redone, and the dash was painted to match the rest of the interior.
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A better look at the interior and fish-tank Manny had installed. Notice the small fuzzy dice. hanging from the windshield divider.
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Ron Brooks provided a list of colors used on the Ford as how the car was listed in various Car Show programs. It shows that the car was repainted a few more times. (From most of the colors listed we have some proof, but from others like the Gold and Maroon and Purple and white we only have these listings.)

  • 1953 Oakland, Elton Kantor Blue paint.
  • 1954 Oakland Manual Azavedo Blue.
  • 1955 Oakland Feb. purple and lemon lime.
  • 1955 Sacramento Feb. purple and white.
  • 1955 Monterey March Red and white with red and white interior.
  • 1956 Oakland Gold and maroon with red and white interior.

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The ’55 Rod & Custom magazine article mentioned that Manny and Joe are contemplating a more modern grille update for the car. But so far we have not found a photo proof it this ever happened. Manny eventually sold the car to someone in the Bary Area and never saw it again. If anybody knows anything more about this Joe Bailon Ford after around 1957, please let us know, we would love to find out what happened to it after Manny sold it.



Special thanks to Bruce Heather.



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Don Dobbins Shoebox

DON DOBBINS SHOEBOX

In 1955 Don Dobbins from was starting his career as body-man, his 1949 Ford Coupe would be his canvas for a lot of successful restyling experiments.



In 1955 Don Dobbins had just come back to the US for serving in the Army stationed in Germany when he found a nice $350.- 1949 Ford coupe at a local Junk Yard. While still in the army he used the car as daily transportation and slowly started to transform it into his dream custom in his spare time at a local body show he was working spare time. Don wanted to become a body man and he figured that he could best practice on his own project while building his dream custom. He experimented a lot on the car and tried many new things just to practice and to see if he could do the work. 

CCC-don-dobbins-ford-01Photo taken not to long after the Ford was bought from a car lot in july 1955 after Don had returned from service in Germany.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-02Don spend his spare time reworking the Ford at a local body shop where he had a part time job while still in the army. The hood had been shortened in the front, new grille opening created, 52 Mercury headlights molded into the fender, shaved body and Oldsmobile rear fenders.
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The Humble beginnings

At first the car transformed into a mild custom, with a shaved body and custom front and rear. Don welded the front end of the hood to the front fenders, and cut a new line a bit higher to make the hood look thinner. He used some spare parts, round rod and sheet metal to create a new grille opening. He molded in a set of 1952 Mercury headlights and cut of the Ford rear fender tops and replaced them with 1951 Oldsmobile units. The splash-pan front and rear were molded to the body and at the rear the lower trunk corners where rounded with a large radius. Don cut a 1955 Ford rear bumper in half and made it to fit the narrower 1949 Ford body. He also cut holes for the exhausts in the new rear bumpers. At this time Don also removed the tired original flathead engine and replaced it with an 1953 Oldsmobile engine. The car would use a grille made from 1950 DeSoto grille bars, sadly there are no photos of this.


CCC-don-dobbins-ford-031951 Oldsmobile rear fender sections were added including the tail lights, the Ford wind-splits were deleted and the trunk corners rounded. The rear bumper is a narrowed 1955 Ford unit with exhaust tips thru the bumper.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-04The Ford flathead engine was replaced with an 1953 olds engine in 1957 while Don lived in Junction City Kansas.
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From 1957 to 1961 work on the Shoebox continued and the car went from a mild Custom to a full radical Custom. Don had chopped to top 4.5 inches, not wanting the rear of the top angle forward as the early 1950’s customizers did most of the time, Don added almost a foot of metal to the top above the doors to get the shape he was looking for. Remember that the Shoebox was the experimental project for Don, well he wanted to try something else on his car to create some more interesting shapes. He recessed the center section of the roof 3/8 inch and created a wonderful peak where the recess ended. This made the top look a lot longer and very interesting. Don created a very small rear window for this version of the car and used plexiglass for it. He would later reshape the trunk and hood to mimic this shape as well, but we will get to that later.


CCC-don-dobbins-ford-051961, More body changes including a chopped top, rear wheel opening change and a molded in lake-pipe. Work was done while Don lived in Independence Mo.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-061962, getting the car ready for its first car Show in KCMO. The car now has 1955 Chrysler Grills and a front bumper based on a 1962 plymouth bumper an 1954 Mercury front bumper guards crafted in at the ends.
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At the front Don removed the grille opening lip and filled in the whole front end with sheet metal with a nice v-shaped peak in the center. He then marked the completely smoothed front end for a set of 1955 Chrysler grilles. He created a elegant lip at the lower edge of the hood. A 1962 Plymouth front bumper was heavily reshaped and narrowed. Custom made parking lights set into 3 inch tunnels made from water pipes, the bumper ends are created from reshaped 1954 Mercury bumper guards. The whole unit was welded, smoothed and send out for chrome plating. Below the new bumper Don created a very elegant scoop to allow some more air flow for the engine with the new much smaller grilles being used. The Shape of the scoop was the same as the lip Don had created on the hood lower edge.




1962 First full Custom Version

CCC-don-dobbins-ford-07First car show 1962 unfinish inside interior was hidden by white painted glass. Kansas City Mo. This side view photo also shows the very small rear window very well.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-08In 1963 the car was completely finished in its first version and showed in KCMO.
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Don added a mostly molded in lake pipe running from the top of the front wheel opening to the rear of the doors. There the molded in pipe was cut open and filled with a hand made chrome plated double opening lake pipe. The rear wheel opening was lipped an the lip was extended toward the rear bumper. At the rear the lower edge of the trunk was cut off and welded to the body. A second set of Oldsmobile taillights was molded into the rear of the body creating a very interesting new rear of the car. The car was lowered all around and the drive shaft tunnel was raised for clearance. Don painted the car in a nice medium blue metallic, added steel wheels with baby moon hubcaps and narrow white wall tires.

For the interior Don hand made a dash-board and installed a large number of gauges in a custom made dash wide panel. The steering wheel was replaced with an 1961 Chevy unit and the seats where replaced with four bucket seats he found in an early 1960’s Volvo PV. The interior was finished in white and blue tuck & roll, the garnish moldings were painted body color. Don¬†finished the car like this in 1963.


CCC-don-dobbins-ford-09Close up shows the 1950 Chrysler grille and home made bumper. This close up also shows the peaked lower edge of the hood, and gives a good look at the scoop Don created below the bumper to allow for more air to cool the Olds engine. The scoop is peaked in a similar way as the hood has been. 
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-10The 1953 Oldsmobile engine was nicely detailed with a four carburator intake and lots of chrome plated parts.
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More changes.

Later in 1963 it was time for more updates on the car Don decided to change the grille one more time. The 1955 Chrysler units were removed and a new larger grille opening was created using sheet metal and shaped round rod. The new larger grille opening was filled with hand shaped chrome plated thin round bars giving the car a completely different look and feel again. Then on June 19, 1964 disaster happened. After Don was asked to bring his Shoebox to the St Joseph Mo Car show to be shown as feature car at the show an engine fire destroyed the engine bay and damaged the hood and front fenders.

CCC-don-dobbins-ford-11Then in 1964 before the St Joseph Mo car show disaster happened. The engine caught fire on june 19 1964 damaging the engine compartment, the hood and front fenders. The car had chosen to be the Feature Car at the show, so Don was not only devastated by the damage, but also missing out of the opportunity to be the feature car.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-12Outside damage after the fire. It took Don a while to get back to the car and redo it. Notice that Don had already changed the front end of the car before the fire. 
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After the devastating fire it took Don a bit of time to get back to feel good about the car. Before the fire he never minded cutting into the car to make more changes, but that fire really hurt him. But he did get back on the car and decided to not only fix the damage, but make more changes/improvements at the same time. Don really liked the shape of the new grille opening and how it mimicked the lower hood peak, the below the front bumper scoop and even the roof recessed panel. But the hood and trunk still looked to flat compared with the rest. So Don designed a wonderfully shape scoop to be used on the hood as well as the trunk. Don did not want the scoops to sit on top of the hood and trunk like most others he had seen did. Instead he cut out the panels and recessed them into the hood and trunk. Using sheet metal and round rod to make them look really nice. All work was done metal finished, like the rest of the body work Don performed on the Shoebox.


CCC-don-dobbins-ford-13Later in 1964 Don had fixed all the fire damage and updated the car with a wonderful styled hood scoop that fits the below the bumper scoop an new grille opening perfectly. The rear window was also changed at this time and enlarged for a better rear view. This photo also shows the wonderful recessed center section of the roof.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-22Don created a completely new dash board with a custom made gauge panel covering the complete width of the dash. The Volvo PV seats and the door panels were covered in white and medium blue tuck & roll upholstery.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-14To be able to get all the damage repaired and clean up the engine and engine bay he removed the engine and decided to make it cleaner and more beautiful than before.
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At the back the new scoop and recessed panel would flow all the way to the rear splash pan. In the lower section Don cut a panel and made another recess for the license plate to sit into. Don wanted the plate to sit at the same level as the splash pane,and to be able to do that he had to cut the 1955 Ford rear bumper and made a recess in there as well. This time around Don also enlarged the rear window by cutting it up around 4 inches into the top. The new larger rear window balanced out the top a lot better now as well. With all the work done Don prayed the car medium blue metallic once more. It was like this when the car was featured in the January 1966 issue of Popular Customs Magazine. Don even got an inset color photo on the cover of the magazine.


CCC-don-dobbins-ford-19Color photo from the cover of the January 1966 issue of Popular Customs magazine shows the wonderful designed rear of Don’s shoebox. The Recessed center section mimics the hood of the car, and so is the scoop added to the trunk. Notice that the trunk has been shortened considerably allowing for the custom quad Oldsmobile taillights.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-21Besides having a color photo on the cover of the Jan 1966 issue of Popular Customs, Don’s Shoebox was featured on four pages inside.¬†
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Around the time the Popular Custom Magazine appeared,¬†Don made a few more changes to the Ford. One of the most obvious ones was the opened up rear wheel openings. They where now shaped similar to the front wheel openings, but with a lip added. The lip Don created was flowing from the wind-split he had create on the earlier version of the car. Don also¬†decided to do something different for paint for this version. The color would still be from the blue family, so that the interior still would fit the new exterior of the car. Fortunately Tom Davison always had his camera handy and took some photos of this version of the car. Tom described the new paint as: “It was a candy blue and green fade over silver flake, misted with crushed glass over the the candy.¬†There was lace painting in darker blue on the¬†top and scoop indentations only.”


CCC-don-dobbins-ford-23Side view photo by Tom Davison shows the new lipped wheel opening.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-24This color photo by Tom shows the lace on the top an the hood scoop indentation. It also shows the fades in lighter blue and green hues and the sparkling of the flakes and crushed glass.
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1969 Selling the Shoebox

Towards the end of the 1960’s Don repainted the car in a dark blue and added lighter blue outline flames to it. The painted wheels with baby moons were replaced with chrome reverse wheels. Sadly only one dark snapshot could be located of this version of the car.¬†In late 1969 Don sold the car and it ended up in California at the Movie World Cars of the Stars. Until then Don had showed the car at many cars shows in the Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska area winning many awards.


CCC-don-dobbins-ford-15This is how Don’s Shoebox look like in¬†1969¬†with a new dark blue and flame paint job. Snapshot taken when the car was showed in KCMO. This was the last¬†time Don showed it before he¬†sold the car.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-16The car ended up at Movie World Cars of the Stars.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-28Mark Jaroslaw took these two photos inside the Cars of the Stars Museum in 1974. The photos were developed in August 1974. 
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In the early 1970’s Don was told the car was still in California, and in 1976 Don went to California and during his trip he went to the Cars of the Stars to find out the car was not part of the collection anymore but was not at the Harrah’s Museum in Reno Nevada. ¬†In 1986 a lot of the cars in the harrah’s Collection where auctioned, including Don’s Shoebox. The car was bought by a guy from¬†Salem Orgeon. The new owner was able to find Don, and send him some photos how the car looked now. And asked for more information on the car. Sadly the contact information has since been lost and Don also could not remember the owners name. the car is now repainted in a light pearl blue with darker blue flames and scallops. The car is named My blue Angel.



In the mid 1970’s the car ended up in the¬†Harrah’s Automobile Collection in Reno Nevada. It stayed there until¬†1986 when it was auctioned and found a new owner. Colin Hillier-Danes¬†(HAMB-Member Colin HD) from dorset, England¬†took a couple of photos of Don’s Ford at Harrah’s in February 1984. The car was sitting outside (under a roof though) in the waiting erea at the restoration shop of the museum. At the time the car had been coveredin gray primer which made it look a bit sad. There was no engine in the car, and the Museum had no history on the car when Colin asked for it. Colin later found the car in the Popular Customs magazine. The Museum staff mentioned that the car would go¬†on auction later that year.

CCC-don-dobbins-ford-25The interior looked still rather good in 1984, although the windshield garnish is missing and the headliner sagging due to the lack of suport for the molding.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-26The grille and bumpers must have been stored elsewhere, since they are still on the car in more recent photos.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-27Colin send copies of his photos to Custom Rodder magazine and they used this rear photo for a small article in the letters section. The taillights are missing… possibly stored together with the bumpers.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-17The car was most likely worked on at the Harrah’s museum, since this is how the car looked like when it came up for auction.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-18The new owner contacted Don and send him a few photos of how his old Shoebox the way it looked then. Sadly Don has lost the contact information and could not remember the name of the new owner. He does remember that the car was now in Salem Oregon.
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CCC-don-dobbins-ford-20This is how the car looked a couple of years ago. Still in very good shape with some very minor changes. 
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Don has no idea what happened to the car after that. There are some more recent photos of the car from several car shows, and the car is still looking very good. In 2019 the car is owned by Nick Jones.



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