C. A. Hall Tops

 

HALL TOPS

 

When you lived in Northern California, and wanted a custom upholstery job or padded top created for your car, then you most likely ended up having the work done at C.A. Hall Auto Tops in Oakland.

 

When it comes to Custom upholstery and padded tops in California there are only a few shop names that pop¬†up. The most popular shop¬†was the Carson Top Shop on Vermont Ave. Los Angles. Shop employee Glen Houser developed a non folding padded top for an 1930 Ford in 1935. It was the birth of the Carson top, however it was named that until much later. Another big upholstery shop name was¬†Gaylord who started a little later in the 1940’s in Lynwood, not to far from the Barris Custom Shop.¬†In the early 1940’s the padded tops became very popular among the Hot Rod and Custom Car crowd, and not only in Southern California. In North California, the city of Oakland to be precise, there was a guy named Calvin A. Hall who had a auto top and upholstery business since 1925. When the Hot Rodders and Custom guys found out about the special tops and tuck & roll interiors done in So California they wanted to have those done more locally as well.


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The Hall Top Shop came to the rescue an Calvin quickly figured out how to do the padded tops and create the interiors the guys wanted. And business was booming for the shop. The C.A. Hall Tops shop was responsible for most the the padded tops created in the Nor California era. The Nor Cal builders like Harry Westergard, Dick Bertolucci, Gene Winfield and early one also the Barris Brothers who sill lived in Sacramento in the early 1940’s all took their Customs to the Hall shop for a¬†padded top or¬†custom upholstery. Hall never advertised as much as the Carson Top Shop, Gaylord, Runyan and others did. We have only found a ¬†few Hall ads in some early 1950’s Hot rod show programs, but not in any of the magazines. This most likely is one of the main reasons the Hall shop name never became¬†as popular in the rest of the country / world as¬†Carson or Gaylord.

This¬†and the fact that Oakland was to far away for the So Cal based magazines to do an article on the Hall Shop is the reason that there is rather little known about the Hall Top Shop. As far as we have been able to find out, nobody has ever really interviewed Calvin A. Hall about his Top Shop, so all his information is most likely lost. Since the Hall name was not as important, it might have been left out in many magazine Hot Rod and Custom Car features as well. The shop did turn out really great work, and customers often came back for an update, or with a new car in need of a padded top or custom upholstery. For this article we have collected a number of cars with Hall Tops shop padded tops and interiors. Special thanks goes out to Ron Brooks, who owns a 1940 Chevy custom created in the late 1940’s with a real and very rare Hall top. Ron has been collecting info and material on the Hall Top Shop ever since he owns his Chevy. Ron has been so kind sharing a lot of his info and photos with the Custom Car Chronicle.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-03When Ron found¬†his 1940’s restyled 1940 Chevy it still had the original Hall top on it including a very rare C.A. Hall Auto Tops interior tag.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-02Fred Creller created the 1940 Chevy¬†in the late 1940’s and had the interior and padded top done by Hall. This photo is from 1950. (Ron Brooks collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-chevy-brooks-01These photos showing the top a little better were taken in 1959. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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About the Hall Tops Shop.

Calvin A. Hall¬†was born on December 11, 1901 in Mink Creek, Idaho to Andrew G. and Martha Lavine (Olsen) Hall, his father was born in Denmark, his mother in Utah, USA. In the early 1900’s the family moved from Idoha to Oakland, California. Calvin graduated from high school in 1918 and after having had a few small jobs he started to learn the trade of creating auto tops at¬†Victory Auto Painting and Top Co., at 901 E. 14th st., Oakland, Calif.

In 1925 Calvin A. Hall started his own business C.A. Hall and was located at 72nd and E. 14th, Oakland. CA. creating car tops. The small shop moved in 1927 to 901 E. 14th St. Oakland, CA. (the same shop is currently in use by Earl Scheib Paint & Body shop).
During WWII the Hall shop relocated to 3208 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA. The shop would remain on this location till it closed somewhere in 1965. The building is still standing today. Calvin A. Hall was married and had three children, none of them took over the shop, so when Calvin retired for the upholstery business the shop was closed. Calvin A. Hall passed away on January 28, 1979 at the age of 77.

 

CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-01This photo of this amazing 1938 Lincoln Custom with Hall padded top was found on the walls of the former Hall shop on San Pablo Ave. (Ron Brooks Collection)
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-02Close up on the really well shaped and proportioned Hall padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-lincoln-03We are not sure if Hall also updated the interior in the 1938 Lincoln, but more than likely he did the cover on the rear.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-36-ford-max-ferrisThe weather in Nor Cal is not ¬†always as sunny and warm as in So Cal, so often Hall was instructed to create the chopped padded tops for roadsters, with side separate window curtains¬†to make sure the driver and passengers would stay as warm as possible. This top and window flaps/curtains was created for Max Ferris’s Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford roadster.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-01George Barris created this 1936 Ford convertible as his own personal driver when he was working at the Browns Body shop and Harry Westergard in Sacramento. The padded top on the car was done by Hall in Oakland in a dark material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-g-barris-36-02Close up of the Hall padded top which has seen better days. After the car was finished and painted George Barris took his 36 Ford¬†to Hall’s shop who re-covered it with white material.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-38-chevy-01Harry Westergard restyled Pittsburg Ca resident Sal Cacciola’s 1938 Chevy convertible in his typical nose up narrow grille style. Sal took the car to Hall for the padded top. Inset is one of the very few ads Hall’s Top Shop ever ran.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-40-mercuryThis is another photo that was found in the old Hall shop building. It is an unidentified 1940 Mercury with unique exhaust tips true the rear fenders. Hall was responsible for the padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-41-Buick-paul-01Pierre Paul was a Custom Car builder from Oakland Ca, and he had the interior and padded top of his own personal 1941 Buick created by Hall.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-al-serpa-46-ford-02Gene winfield had his shop in Modesto California, and also used the Hall Top Shop quite a bit for his customer cars. This 1946 Ford was restyled by Gene in 1949 for owner Al Serpa. The traditional styled padded top was done by Hall. This photo was taken in 1950.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-benny-furtado-48-ford-01Gene Winfield also restyled this 1948 Ford for owner Benny Furtado during the same period as he did Al Serpa’s 1946 Ford. However Hall created a different style padded top for Benny’s Ford with open rear¬†quarter windows. Creating a much more open and light feel inside the car.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-02Herb Cattani’s Custom 1942 Buick also received an Hall padded top with open rear quarter windows, creating a wonderful shape.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-herb-cattani-42buick-01A rare look at one of the Hall interiors in¬†Herb Cattani’s 1942 Buick shows a lot of soft leather tuck and rolls creating a very luxurious feel.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-01Dick Bertolucci from Sacramento restyled this 1947 Cadillac convertible for Tony Sestito. When it was time for the padded top and new interior the car was driven to Oakland for the full Hall treatment in 1953-54.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-47-caddy-sestito-02The latest trend then was to add full width wrap around plexiglass rear windows to the padded top. So that is what Hall created for Tony’s 1947 Cadillac. Close up of the wrap around rear window courtesy of Rod & Custom magazine.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-02Hall created the padded top on Sil Moyano’s 1935 Ford Phaeton. This photo comes from a feature on the car in a 1973 Street Rodder magazine, and we have no idea when the padded top was created, but more than likely this one dated back into the 1940’s.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-35-ford-01The interior was done with relatively narrow tuck & roll in black, and the white top was also upholstered in black on the inside.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-invoiceHall’s Auto Tops invoice from the 1950’s with another rare ad from an July 1951 issue of Motor sports World.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-ad-01This ad was used in one the Oakland Roadster Show programs and shows an panoramic rear window padded top Hall created for a stock bodied Buick.
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Warren Gonzales 1950 Ford Convertible

Possibly the best publicity the Hall Auto Tops shop had for their interior and top work was with Warren Gonzales’s 1950 Ford Convertible. The shop worked on two versions of the car. The first time in 1953-54 they did a complete interior, and traditional styled padded top. The second time a year later they added more to the interior, to keep up with the demand for winning show points, and they redid the padded top in the latest trend with cantilever (over-hanging) rear portion. The July 1956 issue of Car Craft magazine had two color photos of the car on the cover, and four pages for the feature inside. The feature showed many photos of both the top and the wild interior.


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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-ford-03Warren’s 1950 Ford convertible was first done in a more conservative way with a “regular” style padded top created by Hall Auto Tops. The photo on the left is from the 1954 Oakland Roadster Show, and the one on the right from the 1955 show. By then the car had been completely redone with a wild interior and complete new cantilever padded top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interior-02The color photo of the Hall Auto Tops created interior in Warren’s Shoebox must have had a lot of impact. The interior was done in three tone leatherette, dark green, white and soft green. The same soft green was also used on the second version top.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-gonzales-interiorC.A. Hall created the interior for Warren’s Shoebox with the latest in luxury in mind. The create a custom made semi-circle rear seat, which is divided by a large Hi-Fi radio speaker. On both sides of the bench a refreshment bar has been incorporated. A console has been created on the floor to house a small upholstered TV set. The seats back are reshaped both front and rear and are upholstered in a bolt design with rolls and pleats. The dashboard has been made “crash proof’ by adding padding and upholstery on the whole unit. The center was cut out to make space for a 45 rpm record player. A radio and Hi-Fi speaker have been installed in a custom build center console underneath the dash extending the front bench. The carpets are dark blue green and outlined with white trim.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-collageA few more samples of car with C.A. Hall Auto Tops  padded tops and or interiors.
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CCC-ca-hall-tops-building-2016This is how the former C.A. Hall Tops Shop building at 3208 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, California looks today in 2016. (Google maps image)
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As mentioned in this article the amount of information on the Hall Top’s is limited. We have tried to gather as much information as possible and added as many photos that would mattered the most for this article. As always we would love to hear from you if you have any additional information about the Hall Auto Tops shop, or any cars that had the interior or tops created by this shop. If you have more info, please let us know, email Rik. We would love to add more info to this article and share it with Custom Car enthusiast from all over the globe. Thank you.

 

Resources

  • Ron Brooks
  • Coachbuilt.com,¬†Mark Theobald
  • Barris Kustoms Technique books.







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Early 39 Merc Custom

 

39 MERC MYSTERY UNRAVELS

 

This unrestored very early 39 Merc Custom padded topped convertible showed up at the 2008 LA Roadster Show. It had every Custom Car enthusiast talk for ages. Where did it come from, who was the original owner?



This 1939 Mercury is possibly every Custom Car enthusiast dream come true. I guess we all dream about opening an old barn or garage and find an original Custom from the 1940’s or 50’s that has been sitting there for decades. A car with a load of history which unfolds into this great story about famous places, and well know custom builders from the past. A car which brings back memories to many people who look at it, and car that perhaps even brings old friends together.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-LARS-2008-01Rob Radcliffe was at the 2008 LARS and took these photos of the Mercury. He was also very impressed and intrigued with the Mercury. The bottom two photos show the poor condition of the original padded top and the very interesting upholstery on the rear bench. The upholstery has an early Gaylord feel to it. The car appears to be in rather good condition for an nearly 70 year old custom having sat under a carport for several decades. 
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The first time this Mercury was shown to the public, like how we see it in this article, was in 2008, when Michael Lightborn en¬†Ron Clapper had brought the car from Texas¬†to sell it at the L.A. Roadster show.¬†The car was¬†owned at the time by Jorge Zaragosa from Texas. Jorge had bought the car as part of a deal which included a few cars, including this 1939 Mercury and a well known old Hot Rodded 1936 Ford 3-window coupe. Jorge was only interested in the Hot Rod, but could only get that when he bought the rest as well. The LARS looked like a good place to sell the car. There was some¬†interest in the old Custom but it did not sell at the show, most visitors are more into historic Hot Rods and not into historic Customs. But one¬†of the people that¬†was very interested in the car was Squeak, who made Ron an offer, but he declined. Ron and Michael tried went to a few other places in the next couple of days trying to sell the car with no success. So after three days they accepted Squeak’s offer… they did not want to bring the car back home to Texas.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-02Hard to tell from this photo, but the drivers side has holes for an Appleton Spotlight. Later it was found out that the same holes were also on the passenger side, but they were welded shut and leaded at some point.
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Squeak owned the car for about a year. He made plans in his head, but never got around to work them out. He knew how bad his good friend and¬†early Custom Car enthusiast Kevan Sledge of Sledge Customs wanted to have the car. So one day he let Kevan buy the car from him. Squeak knew the car was going to a good home. Kevan brought the car back to his home in Grass Valley Northern California. Plans were to try and find out the full history on the car, then restore it back to how it used to be in the 1940’s.

In 2015 the car went to a new owner, Ronnie Lindblom, another die-hard early Hot Rod and Custom Guy made a deal with Kevan, and is now, Summer 2015, the proud owner of this 1939 Merc.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-08In the days after the 2008 LARS the car was offers for sale at a different event as well. Now some hubcaps where added to make it look more interesting, and a sign asking for more info on the car was taped to the rear quarters.
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The Restyling

At this point of writing October, 2015 we do not know who actually performed the restyling on this 1939 Mercury back in 1939. The padded top was created by the Carson Top Shop who had their shop at 4910 S. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles. At the time the Carson Shop also did body and fender work, so it could also be possible that the body work on the Mercury was done here as well, but we do not know for sure. Hopefully more info on the Merc will clear this up in the near future.


The windshield was chopped around two inches, and a padded top was created for it. The car comes with side windows, which were not stock on a 1939 Mercury, possibly these parts were hand made. The handle and script was removed from the trunk and a set in license plate was added. The gas filler was shaved on the fender and the filler moved into the trunk. The hood ornament was removed and holed filled for a smooth look, and the hood side trim was shortened. A set of Appleton spotlights was added. The car was lowered in the rear with longer shackles, and the bumpers where replaced with 1937 DeSoto ribbed units. The car was painted green metallic. According Kevan Sledge the color looked very similar to what was used on the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.


CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-07Detail photo of the wood top header and all the padding material. 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-06More detail photos show how the padded top frame was constructed.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-05The main part of the headliner still looks pretty good.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-04One of the upholstered door panels is sitting on the rear bench in this photo. The wide very round horizontal rolls on the rear bench are quite unusual.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-03The dash shows mismatching gauge panel and glove box door. Although not confirmed it is said that the car originally had these parts chrome plated and that they where taken from the car at some point. Perhaps the old owner sold them and replaced them with stock units.
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Most likely at this time the car was also upholstered with a new custom interior, but it is¬†still unsure if the remains of the interior are from the original built in 1939. It could very well be that the interior was redone when the car was repainted a¬†purple-ish brown with a slight metallic.¬†We do not know when this was done, most likely in the 1950’s, but we are not sure. Most likely when the car was repainted the set in license plate was removed and the trunk completely smoothed. The passenger side Appleton spotlight was removed and the holes welded shut and body worked with lead.

During its life in California the engine was updated with an two carb intake manyfold.¬†When the car changed hands in 2007-08 there was a different engine in the car, but the intake manifold came with the deal. Apparently the intake ended up getting sold… at this moment we don’t know where it went.




Kevan Sledge, the new caretaker in 2009

When Kevan Sledge became the new care taker of the car he made many plans to restore it back to original configuration. But time and to many other projects stood in the way of that.. But Kevan did work on the car a bit making sure the cars condition would not get worse. Kevan removed the padded top frame and upholstery material that was left on it. He also added a better set of tires, hubcaps and teardrop skirts, which really helped the looks of the car.

CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-top-off-01After having had the car for a few month it was time for Kevan to remove the top from the car so that he would store that in a better way. Judging the rusty bolts Kevan estimated that it might have been the first time in 50 or so years the top was separated from the car. 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-top-off-02And while Kevan was at it, he also took off the ugly modern to big tires and replaced them with a bit better looking white wall tires. and added a set of Single Bar Flipper Hubcaps and beauty rings from his own collection. It changed the look completely.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-13The original padded top was then stored inside hanging from the ceiling in Kevan’s old place.¬†
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-01Kevan took this photo from the inside of the trunk which shows that at one time there was an inset license plate. At one point this was removed and the hole filled in again.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-02The car was lowered at the rear with longer shackles. 
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In 2015 Kevan realizes that he might not have the time to give this car the proper care it needs and decides to let it go to early time Custom Car and Hot Rod enthusiast Ronnie Lindblom.




Ronny Lindblom, the new caretaker in 2015

ever since Ronnie has become the new care taker of the Mercury he has been trying hard to find out as much as he can about the history of the Mercury. And he already has found out a lot as this article show. But he is still looking for more info on the car, especially from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Ronnie¬†knows that the original owner of the car passed away in 2008, and that there was a good friend of the owner at the 2008 LARS show. So far Ronnie has not been able to get in touch with this friend. Of course he would love to talk to him to hear more details about the car and find out if there are possibly some old photos of the car.


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Squeak told Ronnie this story from the LARS show.

While the car was at LARS and before I bought it, an old (in his 80’s apparently) was talking to Ron Clapper and told him that he knew the car quite well when it was NEW in L.A. in the 1940’s. The guys¬†best friend had bought the car NEW from a Long Beach Mercury dealer and driven it to an¬†Top Shop and had them remove the original folding top and fit a padded chopped top, new interior and repaint the car and this was all when the car was BRAND NEW in 1939….. un fuckin’ real. Thus making it ‘possibly’ the Worlds FIRST chopped Mercury.(????) The old boy then went on to tell Ron that his friend that owned the car in ’39 had just passed away the week before the 2008 Roadster Show and had been to every one prior to that, unreal! Anyway, Ron let the guy walk away and forgot to¬†get his name or phone number or any other contact. So sad, this¬†was probably the last real link to the cars early history.


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With the help of the Kevan Sledage, Ron Clapper¬†and Squeak the full history on this piece of Custom Car history is slowly unraveled. There are still some blank spots that need to be filled in… so if anybody remembers anything about this car from its early days, or has heard stories about it. Please Contact us and let us know so we can help fill in these blank spots and make the story complete.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-12Detail photo showing the frame work and fine chicken wire that was used to shape the top.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-11The top upholstery has now been removed and after inspecting the frame work and comparing it with as many old Padded Top photos as possible both Kevan and Ronnie came to the conclusion that the top was most likely done by the Carson Top Shop.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-10It is really amazing to see all the details on the top, work that was done back in 1939. ¬†The seats are some old seats from another car, sadly the original front seat is long gone, ended op on somebody’s front porch!¬†
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-09This is how the car looks in the summer of 2015 at the Sledge Custom Shop. Looking good with added amber fog lights and aftermarket hubcaps.
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This is what Ronnie has found out about the 1939 Mercury Custom Convertible so far.

  • The car was brought new in 1939 at a Long Beach Ca. Mercury dealer. Car was blue from the factory
  • The car was taken to the Carson¬†Top Shop when it was still brand new for a chopped windshield and padded top.
  • The car was painted a light green metallic.
  • At one point the car was repainted maroon, but other than that we do not know much about the cars live in the 1940’s and most of the 1950’s.
  • In 1959¬†the car was bought by Eddie Dominguez. Eddie bought the car in 1959 in el Paso. One day in 1959 Eddie was driving around and saw this ’39 Mercury sitting in a drive way. He thought he as never going to be able to own a car like that, but still he decided to knock on the door and ask if the car was for sale. It was, and Eddie offered the guy all he was able to spend on it.. and he said yes. The car looked still very good, all nice and shiny. But when he had taken the car home it broke down after just two days of having had fun with it. The motor froze and turned out to be cracked. Eddie did not know how to fix it, not have any money to have somebody else do it. So he parked the car under a carport. At the time Eddie was in the navy, then came his family‚Ķ and before he knew it the car had sat for 40 years. He saved the car for his kids, but nobody was interested in it. Ronnie talked to Eddie Dominguez on May, 29, 2016, and Eddie was really pleased to hear the car will be on the road again soon.
  • Eddie stored the car under a carport and at one point somebody took out the front seat to use it as a couch on their porch.
  • The interior in white and red as we can see it in the 2008 LARS photos has an early Gaylords feel to it. Bill Gaylords name has been mentiond in conversations about this car, so perhaps Bill Gaylord did do an new interior for the car when it was repainted maroon. At this point we do not know this for sure.
  • In 2008 Jorge Zaragosa from Texas becomes the owner of the Mercury¬†as part of a deal. But he has no interest in the car.
  • in 2008 the car is for Sale at the L.A. Roadster Show and three days after the show Squeak buys the Mercury from Ron Clapper who was selling it for Jorge.
  • In 2009 Kevan Sledge buys the car from Squeak
  • in 2015 Ronnie¬†Lindblom becomes the new caretaker and plans are made to find the complete history of the car, hopefully find some old photos and restore it back to how it was when first restyled in 1939.

If you have any info about this early 1939 Mercury, then please contact us so we can help get with this great customs full history.

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Jamie Barter 34 Ford

 

34 FORD ROADSTER

 

Jamie Barter has shared a few more of his early photo collection with us. This time a series of photos of a customized 1934 Ford Roadster taken during WWII.

Jamie found these four negatives at an recent (summer 2015) eBay auction. And they show an early customized 1934 Ford Roadster. So far Jamie, not anybody else who has seen these photos has been able to identify this nice ’34 Ford Roadster in these photos. So if you know anything about it, please let us know. One of the first things you notice on this ’34 Ford Roadster is the V-windhsield. It is hard to tell from these photos if the owner/builder used an v-windshield from another car, or if it was home made to fit the 34 Ford cowl. We do know that it looks really good on the car. The top, possibly a modified soft top to fit the V-windshield, but perhaps it is a custom made padded top, hard to tell. Another Custom touch are the removed running boards and the slightly modified fenders where the running boards used to be. The “double” front bumper is something we have seen before, another real early custom touch.

 
CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-05Images from the eBay auction show the original negatives and inverted samples.
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CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-02This side view photo shows the nice rake of the V-windshield and that there was no filler panel made after the running boards were removed.
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CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-04“Double” front bumper, fog lights, and a really great looking V-Windshield.
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CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-03This rear 3/4 view shows that the rear bumper did not have the double up section added. It does show that the passenger side has the custom made side window curtain installed.
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CCC-jamie-barter-34-ford-roadster-01In this photo we have a good look at the License plate with the “V” tab attached to the upper right of the plate. This dates the photos of the car to somewhere between 1941 and 1944.
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Thank you Jamie for sharing another nice set of early photos, very much appreciated. A nice, perhaps a bit rough around the corners 1934 Ford early Custom. It makes me wonder when it was actually built, possibly even before WWII. It also makes me wonder what happened to this nice 1934 Ford Roadster. A car with a V-windshield like this but have been noticed. These photos show one again that also the 34 Ford was used back in the early days as Custom Material, and not only for Hot Rodding.

 
 
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Warren Ayers 41 Chevy

 

50s FLASHBACK CHEVY

 

Warren Ayers bought a second hand 1941 Chevy in 1953, and was able to turn it into a wonderful mild Custom with work done by George Barris and bill Gaylord on a grocery store box boy salary.

 
CCC-Member Chris Sharman send me an email a little while ago about a nice mild custom 1941 Chevy restyled in the early 1950’s. He mentioned that the owner of the guy back in the 1950’s had mentioned that both the Barris and the Gaylor shop had worked on the car. And also that he had a few small photos to share. Well I’m always interested in any old Custom Car related stories, no matter what, they are always interesting to document, and share with the world to enjoy. Chris was going to meet the owner of the Chevy, Warren Ayers again, to ask him some more details about the Chevy. The small faded photos seen in this article is all that is left of the Chevy.
 

CCC-warren-ayers-41-chevy-01Warren Ayers posing proudly with his mildly restyled Tropical Green metallic 1941 Chevy parked in his driveway in Van Nuys California.
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Warren Ayers 41 Chevy Special DeLuxe

Warren purchased a cherry 1941 Chevy from his neighbors in Van Nuys, California in June 1953. He spent the next 2 years modifying and customizing and enjoying the car until he enlisted in the US Navy in 1955. At the time, Warren was working at a Grocery store as a box boy at Ralphs in Van Nuys. His father was able to help him out with things as the project progressed.

Together they replaced the old Engine with a 1952 GMC six cylinder Engine. And when it was time to do some mild body restyling Warren took his Chevy to George Barris. The Barris Shop took care of the body work and the trunk handles, hood ornaments and some trim were removed and they slightly modified the tail lights. 26‚ÄĚ glass packs with cut outs and pencil tips were installed by a shop called Magic Muffler and the car was fitted with moon hubcaps. The car was also lowered slightly by cutting the front springs and putting lowering blocks in the rear.
 
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In August of 1953 Warren and his father sanded the entire car down to bare metal and shot it with red oxide primer. After that it was shot with 2 coats of black Nason, color sanded, then shot with Kaiser Tropical Green (a 1953 Kaiser color) and finally coated with clear. Warren’s father worked at a Chevy dealership and they had the car painted there.

Warren’s father in law (to be) had made aluminum side plates for the dash, to replace the plastic units on both sides of the radio as they were the station selection controls and volume control plates. Warren’s Wife (Girlfriend at the time) had made angora socks in green and white to hang from the rear view mirror to match the interior of the car. That was really the thing to have in your car back then.
 
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When it was time for a new interior Warren took the Chevy to Bill Gaylord, who did the upholstery using Warren’s design throughout, including the trunk compartment in white and green tuck and roll style.
Tools mounted in the trunk were chrome plated by Faith Plating in North Hollywood, CA. I knew the guys son and he chromed a lot of stuff for us in those days for cheap!

CCC-warren-ayers-41-chevy-interiorThe interior in Warren’s 1941 Chevy was done by Bill Gaylord in white and green.
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When the Chevy was completely finished it was slated to be in an issue of Hot Rod magazine along with a White 1950 Mercury owned by a fellow named George Ono. However for one reason or another it never made it but there was a photo shoot done. Sadly Warren does not have any copies of the photos of this Hot Rod Magazine photo-shoot.

When Warren enlisted in the Navy his Mother became the caretaker of the Chevy. She had some of the more performance orientated modifications reversed while Warren was away and eventually decided to sell the car. Its whereabouts or if it still exists today are unknown.
 

CCC-warren-ayers-41-chevy-04One of the photos Warren had was of a bit better quality than the rest. Although a bit fuzzy is gives us a nice look at this nicely done mild Custom Chevy parked in wonderful 1950’s Van Nuys, California.
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Warren’s 1941 Chevrolet is a nice example of a typical guy building a custom in the early 50’s on a grocery store salary. There were so many like this out there at the time. Wonderful mild Custom Cars that never made the magazine. Young guys, and girls who drove these cars all year around as every day transportation. Its great to hear stories like this, and see snapshot from back then to go with the story. If you know about any of these personal Custom Car related stories, please let us know. We love to share them with the Custom Car Enthusiast from around the world. Thank you Warren Ayers for telling the story, and thank you Chris Sharman for sharing the story and photos with us here on the CCC.
 
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Morris Minor Custom

 

BETTIE BITCH

 

Sally Phillips from Didcot, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom hated to have to drive in a modern car, so she bought an old Morris Minor. One thing led to the other and now she drives around in what must be one of the most beautiful Morris Minor Custom in the world.

 

By Sally Phillips

Bettie No.1

It all started when I bought my first Morris Minor (Bettie No.1) back in 2008. It was a gloss black 1966 2 door saloon that I bought off eBay for ¬£700, which was all I could muster at that time. I didn‚Äôt care though, I just wanted to be driving a classic car, and having just passed my driving test, I was determined not to be stuck with a modern car that I hated. Bettie No.1 was jacked up at the back, had a red furry interior, racing steering wheel and slot mags. I was didn‚Äôt know much about the custom car scene, and had just made some new friends in the UK Kustoms car club. It wasn‚Äôt long before I knew I wanted her chopped, so, in my birthday of that year, a few of the members came to help me chop her. After a successful weekend I drove back very happy indeed! But it wasn‚Äôt to last…

I loved it, but being young and naive (and bought it without looking on eBay), I had no idea of the extent of the trouble underneath the car. Not until the MOT had expired later that year, and the garage showed me why they wouldn’t be issuing another one, did I realise. The chassis legs were rotten right through (the guy showed me by poking his screwdriver clean through it), sills rotten away, only having the outer sill holding them together, and we found strange lumps of newspaper with grey gunk, being held in place with chicken wire as fixes to these problems. This was pretty much the end for Bettie No.1.
 
 

Bettie No.2

CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-271963 Morris Minor 2 Door Saloon is what Sally’s unique Custom is based on.
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Bettie No.2, ‚ÄėBettie Bitch‚Äô (the one that you see in the pictures before you now) came in 2012. She‚Äôs a 1963 Morris Minor 2 Door Saloon and when I bought her, was an absolute mess. There were no panels, it had been sat outside a workshop for 12 years, there was a huge dent in the roof, the floor pans had rusted out, the wheels had seized on and there was no engine, no interior and no glass. Even the back axle had rusted through. Talk about a mammoth project! But I got it for ¬£200.
 

CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-01This is how it all started in our small shed beside our house. Stripped from everything and braced with rods to make sure the body would hold its shape when the top would be removed. 5 inches where marked and removed from the A-Pillars.
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However, prior to finding Bettie, I had found love with John ‚ÄėChopper‚Äô Phillips, an amazingly talented and renowned custom car builder in the UK, famed for building the Copper orange Austin A50, ‚ÄėKoppa Kruiser.‚Äô It was at this point that I started to discover my love for custom cars in greater depth, and particularly, those of the 1940‚Äôs and 1950‚Äôs. John and I always talk about cars, even before we got together, so when we did; it was only a matter of time before it was in the pipelines for us to build something together. I‚Äôve always loved British classics, which prompted me to choose the Morris Minor, but even more so, I adore the American customs of the 1940‚Äôs and 1950‚Äôs. I wanted to bring the two together, and for this car to look like a ‚Äėtail dragger/lead sled‚Äô custom of the early 40‚Äôs, but to still be a British car. I wanted to make it appear longer than it actually is, so we jotted down some ideas, which included a hefty chop and coupe.
 

CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-02The roof was completely removed, the A-pillars cut and then we put the roof back one, tacked the A-Pillars and looked how much needed to be removed from the rear of the roof for the flow and coupe feel I was looking for. 
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-03With the top cut in the rear we decided to extend the catwalk, for a bit more coupe look. I used a smaller rear window from an older Morris Minor donor car.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-04New panels were shaped to finish the rear of the roof and the new longer catwalk.¬†With the real fun part of creating¬†the overall shape of the body behind me I was able to get started on the bit less fun stuff… rust repair. The floors were really bad, and needed quite a bit of work. The engine compartment was completely cleaned and repaired where needed.¬†
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-05Here you can see the unfinished roof/catwalk section next to the near primer ready body. Lots of work to get it all shaped the way I had it in my mind. The B-pillars were angled forward for the instant speed look.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-06The relatively small body made it easy to put it on its side in the shed so that I could do the work underneath the body. The fenders where going to be molded in to the body, but I widened them almost and inch first. The new floor is nearly finished and the tunnel was raised.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-07With the top done, the fenders widened and molded into the body it was now time for the full fade-away fender extensions. Here you can see it in the early stages. Every time I had to see how things really looked, like on the chop, or in this case the fade-away fender I pulled the car outside. Our shed is very small and I just cannot stand back far enough to get a good look.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-08The engine was completely cleaned, worked on and detailed as much as possible, then put back into the engine bay. The flow of the fade-away panels was exactly what I was looking for, to I continued…
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-12MG Midget headlamp rims where extend with one inch and welded to the front fenders. The grille opening was completely reshaped and the hood corners rounded, it all started to look like my dream Custom Car. Very happy with the result so far.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-11Flush fitted home made skirts fit the full fade away fenders really well. Thats my husbands Austin Custom Convertible in the background.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-26With all the body work done its time for primer and fine tuning of the body. At this point the door jambs have already been painted gloss paint and was are almost ready for the super gloss black paint. Look at how nice the full fade away fenders work with the overall flow of the car.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-25A look inside at the dash and banjo steering wheel. The gas filler was relocated in the trunk.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-13The car has been painted and we are working had putting it all back together. I cannot wait to start driving it. The photo on the right is actually the first time the finished car sees the light of day… yeeeeah!
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We have spent the past two and a half years building this together, despite me being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in early 2014. I have to say that the main credit has to go to my husband John. He kept on with the build when I haven’t been well, and has shown me what it is like and how, to build a kustom, from start to finish. My fondest memory has to be when we chopped and coupe’d my car, on one autumn weekend together. It was hard work, but was awesome and very satisfying by the end of it.

CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-14Finished at last… And it looks so great. with the flowing lines of the fade-away fenders the couped roof, skirted and widened rear fenders. The side trim is a modified Volvo Amazon trim… Just as I had envisioned it to be.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-15Front 3/4 view looks as good as the rear view. Perfect flowing lines from the fenders and the extended headlights, new grille created from modified Morris Isis grille parts, and rounded hood corners all work very well together.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-16And then my first night out with the finished car… so proud!
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-17Cruising…..
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-18And the best thing… cruising with my husband John…
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-19More carshows…
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-20The modified Jaguar E-Type side markers look really great being used as taillights. The original trunk of the Morris had a large recess for the license plate. I wanted to have the plate mounted on the rear bumper so we removed the recess and filled it in for a super clean look. The licence plate guard is two stock over-riders and a pair of shelf brackets welded together to fit on top
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-21Low angle profile photo shows the flowing lines of the car.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-24Together with my husband John’s AustinCustom Convertible with padded top.
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CCC-sally-63-morris-minor-p-23This photo really shows the great lines on the car.
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It has been a gigantic project, but has been well worth it for the finished result. She is stunning. We have both worked hard on this project together, and can’t wait to start the next one.

My favourite thing about this awesome hobby is learning about the history of custom and hot rod cars. It fascinates me what the car builders did back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, and I love how it is being kept alive by the cars and those who build them today. I have also met some wonderful, lifelong friends through this hobby. We all have such a passion for the cars and the lifestyle, which is an absolute joy.
John has got a Volvo Amazon which is the next project to finish, and then his 1949 Mercury, which is his dream car, that we want to finish. I would love my next project to be a 1932 Ford Coupe or roadster, something to get on the drag strip with. My absolute dream would be a 1938 Ford Sedan Convertible or 1940 Mercury (as inspired by Nick Matranga’s 1940 Mercury, built by Barris Kustoms).
Other plans include cruising around a lot!
 
 

Sally Phillips’ 1963 Morris Minor 2 Door Saloon

 

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Body/ Custom Fabrication:

  • ¬†5 inch chop to windshield¬†and A-pillars, approx. 7 inches out of rear roof
  • Cantered B-pillars
  • Catwalk extend with three inches
  • Fitted rear roof section and windshield¬†surround from earlier split screen Morris Minor
  • Fade-aways added to the fenders
  • Widened rear¬†fenders with¬†20mm.
  • Extended fender¬†down, bumpers down (front 1 inch, welded splash panel, made new grill opening, extended back bumpers down 1 and 1/2, so splash panel meets trunk¬†aperture)
  • Frenched headlights – MG Midget headlamp rims, extended 1 inch, return added then welded to wings, with the headlight being inserted from behind
  • Rear lights modified Jaguar side marker lamps
  • Extended doors down to fit flush
  • Rear chassis monocoque z‚Äôd
  • Smoothed trunk¬†lid
  • Extended and peaked the hood¬†and lifted top profile
  • Rounded and welded front corners
  • Modified Morris Isis grille
  • modified Volvo Amazon trim
  • Made flush fit fender skirts

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Barter Collection 40 Merc

 

BARTER COLLECTION 40 MERC

 

Jamie Barter recently added these four old photos of an 1940 Mercury Convertible Custom to his Collection.

 
Jamie Barter loves early style Hot Rod and Custom Car, and has been collecting old photos for many years. Fortunately for us, he loves to share these photos. He is not, like some collectors, keeping them in private files, but he scans the originals and shares them with as many people as possible. Just sharing the things he loves, knowing other people will enjoy them as much as he does, and sometimes to see if somebody else knows more about the subject of the photo. We have recently added a CCC-SECTION for Jamie’s Photo Collection and we will be sharing some more of his collection in the near future.
 
 
Lets take a closer look at the four photos Jamie recently added to his collection.
At first glance these photos have a very much late 1940’s feel, but when I took a closer look I noticed that the License plate on the Mercury was the 1952-55 Style. I could not make out the actual date from the scans so I asked Jamie if he could see it on the original photo. 1953! was his reply. Not really what we both expected, we both had the feeling it was more like 1948. So it appears that this Custom Mercury was already kind of outdated when these snapshots were taken.

So far we also have not been able to identify the car, it is a pretty “generic” Custom with no real details that set it apart from others making it rather hard to identify. The only two items I can see that might help are the 1940 Chevy taillights and the license plate protection bar. The padded top looks to be in a style that the Carson Top Shop was best known for, a little more boxy than what Gaylord or others would do. Most likely made on the special jig the Carson Shop was using for these tops. All the work looks to be done several prior to when these photos where taken, most likely in the mid 1940’s judging the style of the restyling.

CCC-jpb-1940-merc-convert-03This rear 3/4 view is my personal favorite since we cannot see that the hood is actual missing in this photo.
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CCC-jpb-1940-merc-convert-01The taillights used on the Mercury appear to originate from a 1940 Chevy, not a taillight that was used a lot. But they do look good. The license plate guard is another unit that is not seen a lot, and is one more thing that makes me believe this is an older custom. The 1937 DeSoto ribbed bumper is a classic touch, that suits any 1940 Mercury really well.
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CCC-jpb-1940-merc-convert-02The interior photo is sadly a bit blurry, but we still can make out the Ford accessory steering wheel, the Appleton Spotlight handles and a pretty plain upholstery, another indication that this is an older Custom. 
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CCC-jpb-1940-merc-convert-04The last photo, the front 3/4 shot shows that the car was driving around with no hood and no grille. We can only speculate why this was done. Perhaps the owner was a racer, perhaps the “old” engine was overheated a lot. We can see a two carb intake, and some chrome goodies on the engine. The left on door handles and the well used character are¬†more signs of the age of this Custom.
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Thank you Jamie for sharing these great photos with us, and hopefully somebody on the CCC will recognize the car, and can shed some more light on the history of it. We all would love to know more about it, who owned it originally, who restyled it, and where were the photos taken? If you know anything, please leave a comment, or email Rik.
 
 
 
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Pre War 38 Lincoln Custom

 

EXQUISITE 1938 LINCOLN

 

This exquisite padded topped 38 Lincoln Custom was restyled when the car was very new, perhaps even straight from the dealer. It has this wonderful early Custom Car look, a look fortunately getting back in style these days.

 
Some time ago I was in the progress of gathering material on an article about the removal of the running boards on early Custom Cars. I was researching the subject with some of the the photos I have in my files. I was planning to include a photo of this very nice 1938 Lincoln convertible, but since this car is such an amazing beautiful restyled car I decided to not include it in that article, but do a full CCC-Feature on the car. Not that I do know a whole lot about the car, but just because it is absolutely stunning and hopefully an full article might be noticed by more people, and hopefully one day we will be able to know more about this car. Let me share what I do know about this exquisite 1938 Lincoln.
 
 
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Several years ago, Ron Brooks from Castro Valley, North California, send me a couple of photos of some¬†very early Custom Cars. Ron had received some of them them in the 1990’s from an retired fireman who knew Ron was into Customs, and particular into Custom Cars with an C.A. Hall Top Shop padded top. You see, Ron owns an old Custom, a 1940 Chevy convertible with an original Hall top. The retired fireman came across these photos when he was in the old Hall shop, where he found this stack of old photos, which happend to be all Hall topped Custom Cars from the very early 1940’s. Ron has tried, but never was able to find out anything else about this Lincoln.
 

CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-08aSome of the photos Ron Brooks shared with me several years ago. Very nice early to late 1940’s Custom Cars in a clean early style I very much admire.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-01The first photo I saw was this amazing side view. What appears to be a photo taken by a professional photographer. Perhaps hired by the car owner, or possibly by the Hall Top shop to be able to use for promotional matters. The side view is stunning, with the chopped windshield, the removal of the running boards, the perfect stance and the wonderfully shaped rock shield on the rear fenders.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-05When I mentioned to Ron that I liked the ’38 Lincoln so much, he send me another one he had. This one taken from an higher point of view and with the top removed. Ron mentioned¬†that¬†the eucalyptus trees in the background have a¬†distinctive¬†Oakland/East Bay hills look!
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About the Lincoln

As mentioned in the into there is not really all that much we do know about this¬†beautiful¬†car.¬†We have no¬†name of the owner, no builders name other than that the car most likely had a padded top created by the Hall Top Shop in Oakland California. We also¬†do not know what ever happened to it. At first all we had¬†where two¬†amazing photos shared by Ron. But then in 2012,¬†Dave Welles of Seabright Hot Rods shared some amazing 1940’s footage taken at¬†Harper Dry Lake taken by his uncle Tommy Lorbeer with his brand new 8mm camera. The short movie¬†itself is already amazing, but when I watched it I got goose bumps when I saw this wonderful 1938 Lincoln with padded top cruise by over the dry lake. I recognized the car immediately… That is the same one as Ron send me, the one with the Hall top on it.¬†I took a few screen shots¬†to compare the two, and it sure was the same car. So now we knew that the Lincoln was a very early Custom, and that it was built between 1938 and 1940. The car appears only for a second or two in the movie footage… but it is amazing to see it driving. And even better is that we can see it a little from the front as well. Although very blurry we can see that it has a modified grille.

 
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CCC-38-lincoln-movie-still-01Movie still from the Tommy Lorbeer movie shows a modified grille in the Lincoln. Its hard to tell from this material if the grille was home made (quite common in those days) or if an exciting grille was used.
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The car has been restyled with on main goal in mind, improving its looks over the factory stock look. Not just to modify it to stand out from the rest of the cars. We have seen similar restyling done by shops as Jimmy Summers, Bistange brothers, Olive Hill carage, but also by shops specialized in coach building more exclusive cars. So my guess is that this Lincoln was brought to one of the Nor Cal coach building shops for an exclusive restyling.
 

CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-02I added these cropped sections of the photo to be able to take a closer look at the details. Possibly the car was dressed up with a set of Vogue wide white wall tires.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-03The rear fender rock shield is very nicely shaped, and the shape of the padded top is perhaps a bit more upright than we are used to from the later part of the 1940’s, but it fits this Lincoln absolutely perfect.
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CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-06This photo shows the horizontal grille bars in the custom grille.
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The modifications we can see in the photos are all extremely well done, and in style with the rest of the cars line. Chopped windshield, very nicely shaped padded top, removal of the running boards, with an molded in panel to cover the exposed frame after the running boards where removed. Removed side tim, removed hood side trim. nicely shaped stainless or chrome plated rock shield on the rear fender, front fender reshaped at the back. Modified grille, one of Ron’s photos shows that the grille has horizontal bars, perhaps a 1940 Willys grille was used, but it could also be possible that a new smaller grille was hand shaped and chrome plated.The car was lowered all around and set on nice shaped wide white wall tires with single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings. The bumper at the front looks to be stock, but the shadow on the side view photo indicates that the rear bumper might have been replaced with an 1940 Lincoln unit which has the opened-up center section.

I have been able to find one other photo of a 1938 Lincoln that has similar modifications done to it. I do not think its the same car, but the resemblance of the two is striking. I found the photo online a few years ago, and compared it with the photos Ron shared right then. But this car has the stock grille, and an different shaped padded top and the stock trim still in place, and not stainless rock shield on the rear fenders (perhaps a rubber one, hard to tell). Perhaps the car in this photo could be an early version of the Lincoln taken in 1938-39. But more than likely there where two, and perhaps more of these that had similar styling.
 
CCC-38-lincoln-early-custom-07Most likely a different 1938 Lincoln Custom with pretty similar changes than the Lincoln in the Ron Brooks photos. The black wall’s indicate that the photo was taken during or shortly after WWII.
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Hopefully this CCC-Article will lead to some more information about the origins of this well designed masterpiece. A beautifull car like this must have been noticed back then, and some people must know more about it. Even the camera man of that 1940 dry lake movie noticed its beauty. If you know more, please email Rik, so that we can add the info to this article. Many thanks go out to Ron Brooks for saving and sharing these amazing images.
 
 
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Removed Running boards

 

EARLY CUSTOM RESTYLING

 

Back in the late 1930’s early 1940’s more and more Custom Cars showed up with their running boards removed, for an ultimate slick, sporty, and perhaps European look. Lets take a closer look at this once very popular Custom Restyling technique.



In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s¬†shops in California, but also in other states, started to create personalized cars based on the every day cars. Styled after the hand build coach built creations from the famous coachbuilders in the US as well as from Europe. Coach built cars from the famous movie stars and hot rodding on the dry lakes where the inspiration for the young kids who wanted their Fords to look more classic than all the other cars they saw on the street. Several shops started to specialize in these Custom Cars and styles developed quickly. Besides many techniques used to customize your car, like chopping the top, adding padded tops, more exclusive grilles, lowering the suspension, the removal of the running boards was one way to make your boxy car look much more streamlined, more sporty, more like those exclusive Auburns, Cord’s Grahams, or even more exotic cars.


CCC-38-Ford-Stock-removed-runningboardsMostly stock 1938 Ford convertible with the running boards removed, the front fenders extended where the running board used to connect, the frame covered with a body color painted panel, dressed up with two stainless trim pieces and a nicely shaped stainless rock shield covering the hole on the rear fender. Notice the use of a mudflap on the front fender.
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There has always been a strong pro and con camp on the subject of removed running-boards on early style custom cars, for as long as I have been into Custom Cars. I have to say that I’m from the pro camp, I personally love the look of removed running boards on early style custom cars. Cars with the runningboards removed with hand shaped panels covering the frame rails, which are painted body color, and possebly dressed up wit a set of stainless trim. The back portion of the front fenders reshaped and the front of¬†the rear fenders filled in, and possebly dressed up with an elegantly styled stainless steel rock cover to protect the rear fender.




There are two types we can identify when it comes to removed runningboards on Custom Cars.

  1. Cars with removed running boards where the hole left from the running board is filled in with a shaped panel to cover the frame.
  2. Cars with removed runningboards and raised fenders and chaneled bodies where the lower body section is now level with the lower line of the fenders an covering the frame rails from view.



Both styles were used a lot in the early days,¬†but the channeled version with the raised fenders is the one that “survived” and was still used in the 1950’s and later. The more regular removed running board look more or less disappeared towards the end of the 1940’s. So far I have not really found a good reason for this, perhaps the style was considered to be outdated, or perhaps it was not practical with the roads still being rather bad and a lot of road debris might have ended up damaging the paint on the body sides and rear fenders. However the channeled look with the raised fenders must have had the same problem, but the more sleek lower profile body lines probably made up for all this. Fortunately we have seen a bit of a come back when it comes to removing the running boards on late 1930’s early 1940’s Custom Cars in more recent years. I will come back to that at the end of this article.
For this article I will concentrate on the cars restyled with according the number one listed description. The original restyling technique of removing the running boards on none channeled cars.



The Inspiration

When and how did it all start?
Well, we do not ave any excact dates on this, but based on photos we have seen it must have started in the later part of the 1930’s. Ealier we have seen Hot Rods wit their fenders and running boards removed, and possibly this has been¬†of invluence on the removal of running boards on Custom Cars a bit, but as mentioned in the intro, it is more likely this¬†was invluenced by the American Classic Sports Cars that where produced in the later part of the 1930’s and the coach built cars, and especially from the European coach builders. These builders created exotic looking sports cars whith wonderful round and teardrop shapes on the fenders and bodies with chrome pated shapes on the fender ends wit no running bosrds showing. This excotic look was shown in some of the magazines back in the 1930’s, and could also been seen on the roads of sunny Hollywood where the rich an famous would drive automobiles like this. More common on the street would have been the Auburns and similar styled factory sports cars. The absence of the running boards gave these cars very elegant lines and a nice low to the ground look. American car manufactors like GM where also starting to offer some models wit no running boards, but possibly due to the bad roads of the time, causing thrown up road debris onto the body sides and rear fenders made this a little less practical option for production every day used cars. But the customizers sure loved the look of it.


CCC-1935-auburn-01The Auburn Speedster was available from 1934 and showed the wonderful sleep looks of a car with no running boards peaked front fender backs and nicely shaped chrome rock shields on the rear fenders.
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CCC-39-cadillac-brochure-runningboardsSome GM body styles¬†from 1938-40, like this 1939 Cadillac and LaSalle had no running boards The running board location was “filled” up with a body colored panel and three full length trim pieces. Once these cars hit the dealers the customizers found out about these frame covers¬†and started to use them on their Fords and other more regular cars.
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CCC-graham-photoAnother factory Sports Cars with no running boards was the Graham.
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This article is based on my own personal observations and ideas about the subject and not on facts based on old publications, or stories from the old timers that where there back in the 1940’s. A far as I know none of this has been written about in depth in early Custom Car publications. For a great number of years I have tried to collect everything I could find about this subject, and now its time to share my story on it. I still would love to hear more about this, perhaps there are some people out there that could share some more info, or perhaps even have one of the old aftermarket kits. If you do, please let me know, I would love to add it to this article for everybody to enjoy.




1936 Ford 5-window Coupe

One of the first Custom Cars that I saw in the magazines/books that had the running boards removed was this wonderfully restyled 1936 Ford 5-window coupe. These photos date from 1940-1941 and show some very well performed restyling. The removed running boards give the car a much sleeker look, and the stainless trim on the frame cover optically make the car look a lot longer than it really is. The stainless rock shield is very elegantly shaped, and since we have found at least one more photo of a 36 Ford using the same frame cover and rock shield we assume this might have been an aftermarket product available in the early 1940’s. Some even mentioned George DuVall might have been responsible for this product. But so far we have not found any evidence for¬†this to proof it. It was this car that started the love for the removed running boards Custom Cars for me.


CCC-36-ford-5-window-1941According to Dean Batchelor who took this photo the Ford was¬†restyled¬†by¬†Santa Monica Body Works¬† in the late 30’s early 40’s. The photo is taken in Santa Monica in 1941. Several people mention George DuVall as the creator of the running board covers and some other dress up parts used on this car.
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CCC-36-ford-5-window-1941-02Another photo of the same 36 Ford that I came across on eBay many years ago shows a slightly different view, and show how much effect the removal of the running boards had to this car. This 1936 Ford also has mud-flaps behind the front tires.
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CCC-custom-car-pride-joy-13Howard¬†Wilson’s 1936 Ford coupe is the other Ford that used a similar set up for the removed running board style. Making me believe this must have been an aftermarket set available¬†in the early 1940’s.
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CCC-removed-running-board-almquist2Edgar Almquist Jr wrote about the removal of the running boards in his Custom Styling Manual (Simplified methods for Custom Streamlining) copyrighted in 1946.
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CCC-westergard-1936-ford-coupeI think this photo comes from the Dick Bertolucci Collection and shows and early Custom 1936 Ford created by Harry Westergard. The running boards are removed, the front fender reshaped and peeked at the back. The rear fender dressed up with a simple stainless rock-shield, and the most interesting thing is the nicely shaped frame cover. It was mentioned that Harry used a Model A Sedan top to shape these wonderful frame covers.
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CCC-1940-ford-coachcraftThis Coachcraft created car was based on a 1940 Ford, but a lot of the body panels were home made. The design was made with no running boards. longer reshaped front fenders and rock shields on the rear fenders.
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CCC-1938-ford-bistangeGeorge and Tom Bistagne built this¬†1938 Ford convertible sedan for their own personal use in 1939-’40. The car was chopped with a Carson top using ’34 cabriolet rear door windows. California Metal shaping created the frame¬†covers that where needed¬†after the running boards where removed, as well as the chrome plated or stainless steel rock guards for the rear fenders.
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CCC-barris-39-mercury-coupe-1947This early Barris Customs restyled 1939 also uses a shaped panel to cover the frame. This one does not follow the body at the beginning and the end, perhaps indicating that the panel was created from some other body panels, perhaps similar to the Westergard built 1936 Ford coupe.
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CCC-1937-chevy-leroy-semas-westergardRemoving the running boards was not only done to Fords, Harry Westergard removed them on Leroy Semas his 1937 Chevy three window coupe with great result. Harry created the panel to cover the frame and molded it to the lower body for a very smooth look.
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CCC-1937-ford-pheatonEarly restyled 1937 Ford Phaeton with chopped padded top and removed running boards. The shaped panel to cover the frame is not molded in on this car. The rock-shield is nicely shaped and taller than some others. Notice the small diameter Single bar flipper hubcaps used on the car. The license plate is dated 1940.
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CCC-1938-ford-sedan-barrisMost likely created by the Barris Shop is this 1937-38 Ford sedan with the running boards removed. The front fender has been very nicely reshaped and the frame cover molded to the body, to fit in with the theme of the rest of the car.
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CCC-removed-runningboard-collectionI think its save to say that the reming the running boards style originated in California. But the looks were used in other parts of the US as well. This photo shows a series of snapshots of custom cars photographed in and around Dayton Ohio in the late 1940’s. They all have the running boards removed. So the style was “universal” only perhaps a little later in the other parts of the US than in California.
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The Aftermarket Influence

From very early on several aftermarket companies realized there was¬†a market in offering – do it youself Restyling by removing the runningboard kits. We have seen an advertising postcard from the Hollywood trim company offering such a kit as early as 1940. But perhaps similar products might have been available even earlier. These kits show how popular this kind of restyling was in the late 1930’s up into the 1940’s and even in the early 1950’s. However these kits would never have the same elegant effects a full custom job would have. These trim sets where easy to bolt on, and covered the exposed parts with¬†either stainless or chrome plated panels, which would look fine on the frame covers, but look odd on for the fender covers, especially the front. The rear covers were small, just to cover the holes left from the running boards, and not as nicely shaped as elegantly shaped as we can see on some of the full custom jobs. And the covers for the front also looked like nothing more than something to cover up the holes. Still these kit must ave been sold very well, since we have seen¬†a lot of old snapshots of cars using these kits.


CCC-hollywood-trim-card-02Postcard with a February 1940 stamp on the back shows the Hollywood Running Board Trim kit for the Ford and Mercury bodies.
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CCC-hollywood-trim-adThe Hollywood Trim kit was also available from Eastern and Cal Custom aftermarkets houses, who sold these in their shop and thru the mail. This one comes from the Eastern 1949 catalog, and their 1951 catalog still shows them as well.
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CCC-hollywood-kit-photo-collectionJust a few of the samples I have come across of cars using the Hollywood Running Board Trim kit. The were used both on further customized cars as well as on nearly stock looking cars. Makes me wonder how many of these kits were used back then. (some photos courtesy of the Zeke Carrillo Collection)
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CCC-hollywood-trim-cardThe Hollywood fender trim, product of Perry Mfg. Co. was just one of many of the rock shields available in the early 1940’s. These where shaped nicer than the short unit from the Hollywood Trim kit. Shields like these were used by those who made their own frame cover and reshape the fenders on their own car.
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The removal of the running boards on Custom Cars also was done on 1941-48 Ford and Mercury products (and most likely on other brand cars as well) however the running boards on these cars are mostly covered by the lower section of the doors which moved outboard at the bottom. This resulted in a far less obvious effect when the running boards were removed on these cars. Still George DuVall decided to come out with an aftermarket product that could be used when the running boards where removed on your car.


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Fred Creller – Ron Brooks 1941 Chevy

Ron Brooks owns this 1941 Chevy with original Hall top custom that was originally built in the late 1940’s by Fred Creller. Fred removed the running boards on his Chevy and had a local shop make a filler panel to hide the frame. But after installing it he was unhappy with it. Fred had told Ron that he later had a second set made that had horizontal ribs in them. But Ron always wondered if if these ribbed panels are perhaps the ribbed aftermarket pieces shown on a few other early customs as well as being mentioned by other builders. The chrome plated fender covers are a bit crude according to Ron, so he believes those could have been made by Fred himself. Below is a photo of¬†the 1941 Chevy in 1950. And two taken by Per Webb of the restored car, taken in 2013.

CCC-removed-running-board-brooks-03Fred Creller’s 1941 Chevy in 1950.
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CCC-removed-running-board-brooks-01Ron Brooks restored the Chevy many years ago and it looks still amazing. Per Webb took this night time photo which shows the ribbed frame covers really well.
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CCC-removed-running-board-brooks-02Close up of the ribbed panel and the rear fender rock shield.
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As mentioned in the text in the beginning the removal of running boards on custom cars slowly disappeared in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. Several reasons can be found for this. Perhaps the most obvious that the cars with these modifications were considered to be to old at the time. The same year cars with channeled bodies and raised fenders had so much more different profiles that they still would fit in the more modern styled cars with integrated fenders. One of those cars was the famous Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury. The none running board looks however has never been really popular with the modern day customizer. Very few samples of restored old custom, or new built customs based on real fendered cars with the running boards removed have been created in the last few decades. But fortunately we do see them from time to time, and it looks like this early look for Custom Cars is having a come back so we do hope that we will see more of these in the near future.


CCC-1940-mercury-newThis 1940 Mercury was built as a mild classic custom with a stock height top. The running boards were removed, new nicely shaped panels created to cover the frames, the front fender holes filled i and a nicely home made rock shield added to the rear fender.
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CCC-bert-gustafsson-buick-runningboardCCC-Member Bert Gustafsson removed the running boards on his 1940 Buick Convertible and hand made some really nice fender shields. Check out how Bert created the rock shield for his Buick on the CCC-Forum Post.
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“Another well researched exposé, on one of the finer points of pre-War restyling.
And as Rik rightly points out, seldom seen today.
I am convinced that the young enthusiasts who were school-aged kids during the mid to late 1930’s were highly influenced by the
Auburn Speedster, Cord 810-812, & the designs coming out of the Howard Darrin Studio.
These young fellows had ads featuring these cars plastered on their bedroom walls, and were obviously inspired by them!
I had definite plans to execute this very revision,¬†as well as others on my own ‚Äė36 roadster¬†shortly after displaying the car at the ‚ÄúCustoms Then & Now‚ÄĚ event.¬†Per my request, Rik Hoving produced a rendering¬†via ‚ÄúDigital Restyle‚Ä̬†showing exactly how the roadster would appear¬†with the running boards removed,¬†the DuVall or Cad-LaSalle accessory running board delete covers,¬†and the beautifully formed chromed steel rock guards¬†at the rear for the finishing touch.¬†I had fabricated these pieces,¬†but sold the car and therefore never completed the changes.
My board delete covers were hand‚Äďformed steel,¬†the ‚Äúspeed line‚ÄĚ highlights were deeply embossed.¬†The entire cover was chrome plated, then the background area was etched, primed,¬†and painted body color.
I have seen an original set of these that were done in a similar manner.¬†Perhaps these were the DuVall’s.
It also appears that the 1939 General Motors accessory covers differ slightly in form whether they are applied to the Cadillac or LaSalle models.
The GM covers also appear to use three separate chromed die cast or stainless trim pieces that are applied to the sheet metal covers.
I still have all the pieces to do this¬†running board delete.¬†Perhaps I will be fortunate enough¬†to apply them to a future ‚Äė36 Ford custom project.‚ÄĚ

David E. Zivot

CCC-36-ford-david-zivot-photoshoppedThis Rik Hoving work shows the photo restyled revisions¬†I had planned to accomplish on my ‚Äė36 Ford roadster,¬†including the running board delete,¬†and the Santa Monica Body Works influenced grille treatment.
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[box_light]If you have any additional information about the Restyled Custom Cars with the running boards removed, the special aftermarket kits to cover the frame rails and running board holes in the fender. Then please Email Rik so that we can add the info to the article.[/box_light]


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Dusters 2015 Time Travel Meet

 

2015 TIME TRAVEL MEET

 

CCC-Member Wolf Christiansson shared his photos of his recent trip to the Annual Time Travel Meet organized by the Dusters Car Club.

After hearing great stories about and seeing many neat pictures of the past few Annual Dusters Time Travel Meetings it was time this year for Wolf to check out the event in person. The Time Travel Meet is just wat the title says, a travel back in time. People are dressed up with period cloth and driving Hot Rod’s Custom Cars, and bikes that are all traditional and as much period perfect as possible. Wolf and a couple of his friends, Stefan, Ulrika, Bert, Andreas and a few others traveled to the show in their traditional Customs. It was a long road trip with great weather, and all the cars ran really great, so everything was perfect. The weekend was a lot of fun, meeting old friends, making new once and checking out the cars, and bikes, listening to great life music and in general just have a fabulous time.

Below is a selection of photos’s from the Dusters 2015 Time Travel Meet, at the end is a link to the CCC-Forum-Thread with more, and a link to Wolf’s Photo-site to see all his photos. Thanks for sharing these Wolf.
 
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-01Meeting point at the IKEA parking lot.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-02On the way up to the event more and more cars meet up to travel to the event.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-03Another break on the way up to the event…. another photo opportunity.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-09Fredde √Ėstman arrived with hiss freshly finished 1947 Ford and matching trailer. Fredde would leave the event with the Best Custom award. Check out the CCC-Forum-Thread how Fredde’s Ford was built.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-13More Hot Rods arrive at the camp-site thru the wonderful vintage gate.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-04The Customs start to gather at one corner of the camp-site, to create a good looking line-up.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-05Traditional Hot Rods are¬†everywhere on this event. It is truly like a time travel back in time to the late 1940’s early 1950’s.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-06Hot Rod’s and Customs on one site, the camp place on the other side, and the music podium in the middle.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-07This picture really captures the feeling of the event, laid back, having fun with people and cars.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-08Tomas’s sweet Custom 1939 Merc.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-10Night-time with the wonderful lights, creating a really great look.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-11Andreas √Öberg’s New Panoramic Ford and Fredde’s 1947 Ford Coupe parked side by side… what a view.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-12New this year at the Dusters Time Travel event was the Flat Track Race.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-14Creative hand built vintage race car using many left over parts to create a new body.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-15In the meantime the line of Custom Cars had grown…
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-18Bert checking out an 1960’s style 1957 Ford Ranchero parked in a special part of the even.
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CCC-dusters-2015-time-travel-17And then… time to go back home again. Short stop along the long road trip home with Stefan’s 1948 Buick and Wolf’s 1951 mercury. See you again next year Dusters…
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Want to see more photos of the Dusters 2015 Time Travel Meet, then check out the CCC-Forum-Thread.
 
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Wally Welch 1941 Ford

 

WALLY WELCH 1941 FORD

 

Wally Welch loved everything automotive, he loved his bikes, Hot Rods and his Custom Cars. One of the Custom Cars that meant a lot to him was this 1941 Ford Convertible restyled by the Ayala Custom Shop.



I’m not quite sure when I read the name Wally Welch for the first time. Perhaps it was in one of the Barris Technique Books, or an earlier magazine article about the Mercury Customs from the early 1950’s. I do know that it was connected with Wally’s 1950 Mercury. And to be precise the Barris version of the Mercury. Only later I found out the Ayala origins of the Wally Welch Mercury, and even later I found out that Wally had owned several other Custom Cars prior his 1950 Mercury, and one of them being an 1941 Ford restyled by the Ayala’s.


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The first time I saw a photo of the Wally Welch 1941 Ford was in the Trend Book No. 101 Custom Cars from 1951. I had heard many good things about this small booklet and how it was filled with late 1940’s and early 1950’s Custom Cars, so when I found a reasonable priced one on eBay, I ordered it and waited a week or so before it arrived in my mailbox. I remember opening up the envelope and browsing true the booklet for the very first time… a huge smile appeared on my face, and it would last for quite a while. I’m a huge fan of early Custom Cars, those cars that shaped the style and paved the path for the golden age of Customizing in the early 1950’s. And this booklet was just filled with these cars. I studied every page, every photo and every word.

You can imagine how happy¬†I was when I got to page 80 of the Custom Cars No 101 book and found no less that a full page with three photos of a 1941 Ford convertible beautifully restyled by the Ayala’s for Wally Welch. I finally knew how the car looked.

Many years later I got in contact with the daughter of Wally Welch, Terri.¬†She mentioned to me that¬†her father¬†had past away a couple of year earlier, but that she still had a photo album full of photo’s from Wally’s Custom Cars and Hot Rods.¬†In 2010 I was asked to be part of the organization for the¬†Customs Then & Now exhibit that would be held at the 2011 GNRS in Pomona, California. For this event we would gather 80 historical Customs from all over the US. One of the cars invited for the show was the Wally Welch 1950 Mercury. Now owned by Justin Mozart and the restoration was nearly completed. Wally’s daughter¬†had been in contact with Justin and they had made arrangements to meet at the show so she could look at the restored Mercury for the first time. I happened to be at the right place in the right time when I bumped into Justin, while he was showing¬†Terri around the Mercury. It was a really great moment, we had emailed before, but never met in real life. We talked about the Mercury, and about her father, and what a great guy he was and how he had always loved his cars and bikes and even planes. Then she asked if I wanted to see the photo album she had mentioned before. Of course I said, and then she pulled this amazing photo album out of¬†her bag.

CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-31A section of one of the many pages in the Wally Welch photo album.
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The photo album was mostly filled with photos from the late 1940’s and very early 1950’s. A few photos of the 1950 Mercury, but mostly of the different stages of Wally’s 1941 Ford. When I met Terri she was there at the show with a friend and they had only very little time before they had to leave for an appointment. So all I could do right there was to copy the photos in the album with my digital camera. I concentrated on the Custom Car photos in the album, and managed to copy them all before we had to say good-bye. I was smiling from ear to ear the rest of the day… well I guess for the whole weekend.

The Wally Welch 1941 Ford Convertible was only featured in the Trend Books Custom Car’s No 101 with only a minimal amount of words written about the car. So other than the basic stuff as that the car was built at the Ayala’s with a chopped windshield, Louis Chavez, padded top with a 1942 Ford front end grafted on, a chromed engine and molded fenders with ’48 Ford gravel shield and Devil-Red Metallic paint, there was not really known much about this Custom. With the help of the Wally Welch photo album we now know that this 1941 Ford has been build over a period of time, and knows roughly three versions before Wally sold it.



Version One

As far as we know Wally¬†took his stock¬†1941 Ford convertible to his friend Gil Ayala to have his shop restyle the car for Wally. The first version was done around 1947. Overall the modifications where rather conservative, but the end result is a very stylish- late 40‚Äôs styled custom. The windshield was chopped but only a few inches, hard to tell for sure, but we guess two, max three inches. Louis Chavez American Auto Tops did the removable padded top for the car. The Ayala’s installed an aftermarket center grille filler piece, shortened the side trim on the hood, shave the hood and trunk, added 1941 long fender skirts and painted the car in a dark red color.¬†To get the perfect stance for the Ford¬†the frame was kicked up at the rear, lowering blocks were installed to get the rear as low as they could get it and the front was lowered with a dropped axle.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-16Wally Welch stands proud with his 1941 Ford in 1947. The first version of the car used black wall tires and an aftermarket License plate bracket with chromed protection bar below it.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-291949 Catalog ad for the bumper license bracket Wally used on the first version of his car.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-13The 1941 Ford had a great speed boat stance as this photo taken in front of the Welch home shows.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-15Several photos in the album show Wally’s 1941 Ford parked next to a friends 1941 Ford convertible. Both cars are restyled in a similar way, but have some different details. Sadly we do not know the friends name, nor anything else about the car, other than what we can see in the photos.¬†
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-17The friends Ford, on the right has a 1948 tag over the plate. He used a small grille opening in the smooth grille replacement panel. He also removed the fender trim and added a set of spotlights. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-28From the rear we can see that Wally used the stock side trim on both the body and the fenders, but his friend opted to remove all trim. Both trunks were shaved, but the door handles on both cars remained on the car.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-12There was one very much faded color photo of this version of Wally’s 1941 Ford in the photo album. That is most likely Jeanie Christman, Wally’s girl friend at the time posing with the car.¬†
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The first update

In 1948-49 Wally made a few smaller updates on his Ford. White wall tires had become available again after being very hard to get due to WWII. So Wally installed a set on his Ford which changed the look a lot. The stock bumpers were replaced with a set of 1946 Ford units, the front license plate bracket was removed and a set of Appleton Spotlights was installed.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-11Jeannie Chrisman inside the second version of the Ford. The new white wall tires make the wonderful speed boat stance look even better.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-19Wally’s 1941 Ford parked in fron of the Welch family Drugstore in Burbank, California.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-18A great lower angle shot makes the car look at its very best. lower in the back for the instant speed look. The hills in the back make this photo really fantastic.
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The second update

It is now 1949 and Wally thought it was time to take his 1941 Ford to the next and as far as we know final level. He took the car again to his friend Gil Ayala’s Auto Body Works shop on East Olimpic Blvd. in ¬†East Los Angeles. The times had changed and the Custom Car from the era were becoming wilder and wilder with more and more fantastic body work. Wally’s Ford would still remain relatively mild, but now with a lot more fine tuning body work. First things on the list were molded front and rear fenders for a smooth overall look. The fenders were molded in with small pieces of sheet metal bend to shape¬†once everything was roughly shaped a liberal amount of lead was used to smooth it all out. At the rear a 1948 Ford splash pan was molded in, and the shop hand made a pod to house a 1948 Ford taillight. The pod was molded to the rear fenders with the top portion level with the fender crease.¬†The running boards were removed and a filler pan below the main body was created and molded to the fenders. At the front the headlights were frenched.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-26The front fenders were welded to the body and filler pieces welded in. This photo was taken after the work had been leaded and smoothed before primer. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-01Wally took several in progress photo of the work done at the Ayala shop for this phase of the car. Here we can see the pre-shaped filler panels that were created to make the welded on fenders flow nicely into the main body. In the photo on the right the metal was cleaned before the lead could be added. Also note the new panel replacing the running board.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-25Same stage as above but now viewed from the back. The gas filler cap has been removed and will be welded shut soon after this photo was taken. Note the 1950 tag on the license plate.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-02Now with the gas filler filled in and the new taillight pods molded into the rear fenders. Notice how nicely they flow from the fender crease. It looks like this photo was taken with the fresh lead work still waiting for its final sanding.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-04At the front the fenders were reshaped to be able to french the headlights. Notice how the stainless trim was only partly removed to make place to be able to do the body work. A 1939-40 Mercury convertible with chopped padded top and molded in fenders is parked against the wall at the Ayala shop parking.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-03We have no idea who this is posing with Wally’s¬†now in primer 1941 Ford. Most likely the guy is one of the Ayala shop part-time employees. It looks like it is the same guy who is cleaning the fresh body work in a few photos above. At this point the stick 1941 Ford grille remains in place.
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The in-progress photos taken by Wally at the Ayala shop show all the new work done except for the final update on the car, the installment of the 1942 Ford grille. Perhaps Wally drove the car with all the new body work except for the 42 grille for some time, before he had the Ayala’s install the new grille. In any event he did not take any photos of the process, nor are there any photos of the car with molded in fenders with the stock grille sides and a full paint job.

A stock 1942 Ford grille with the center bar removed was installed in a custom made grille surround. The surround was molded into the front of the car, and at the same time a molded in splash pan was added shaped in a similar way as the one on the rear. The fender trim was shortened at the front. This new grille was the final work done to the car, it was now time for Gil to paint the car in a wonderful deep Devil Red Metallic Finish as the 1951 Custom Cars Trend Book describes the color. Most likely the color was custom mixed by Gil, since that was one of the things he liked to do best.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-10The Ford now has a completely new look. The smoothly molded in fenders and new wide grille changed the looks completely. Some elements, like the padded top, remained unaltered thru out the different versions of the custom.
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In the meantime Gil Ayala formed the Auto Butchers of East Los Angeles, or just simple Butchers car club. Wally became a member and hung his cleaver club plaque from the rear bumpers, just below the license plate.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-22The molded in fenders, new taillights and molded in splash pan changed the rear of the car completely as well. Note the 1950 license plate tags.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-23Original designed with the padded top up, the open version of the car looks equally as impressive as the closed version.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-24Faded color photo gives us a glimpse at the original Devil Red color. 
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-30The full page with three photos in the 1951 Trend Books Custom Cars No. 101 booklet.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-05This photo comes from a photo-shoot by Felix Zelenka for the cover of the October 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. The photo gives us a really great look at the color Gil Ayala painted the car with. That is Wally on the left and his girlfriend Jeanie Christman on the right.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-08Original photos that were used in the Custom Cars full page article show that the license plates are now 1951 units.
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At the Races

Just like Gil Ayala and many, many other custom car enthusiasts back in the early 1950’s Wally Welch also liked to drag race his 1941 Ford. Despite being a full custom with a ton of expensive body work and expensive and wonderful paint, Wally still raced his car in several races. Most likely all Santa Ana drag strip which has just opened around the time.



CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-21Wally’s number 58 Ford is ready for his race. on the right we can see the 1940 Ford that was also built at the Ayala shop for¬†John Geraghty.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-20The “pit crew” is hard at work¬†getting¬†the car ready for the competition. Judging the large amount of spectators something really special is going on there….
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-27Wally used an fully dressed flathead engine in his 1941 Ford. The engine was not only fast, it also looked very good with the two carb intake, and a load of chromed goodies.
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CCC-ayala-wally-welch-41-ford-06Wally on the Santa Ana drag-strip with his Ayala 1941 Ford. For this race he has removed the heavy padded top to gain some speed. We don’t know if Wally’s competitor is already out of this shot, or not yet in it. I love the spectators parked at the side of the track.
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Where is the Wally Welch 1941 Ford now?

Well that is a question we really would like to give an answer to, but sadly we have no idea where the car is, and even if the car is still around today. We know that Wally sold the car not long after he bought his next custom project, the 1950 Mercury, which he took to the Ayala’s for a full restyling as soon as he could. Possibly the ended up on the Customs & Hot rods For Sale lot at Andrews & Evans, where Wally worked. But we do not know for sure. In our research we have not been able to find anybody who knew what happened to the car after Wally sold it. Who knows, perhaps it is still out there, disguised as a Street Rod or something like that, but we also realize that it might be long gone. Hopefully one day we will be able to shed some more light on what happened to this great looking Custom convertible after 1951. If any of the CCC-Readers knows anything more, please let us know.


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Want to see more interesting articles based on material from the Wally Welch Album. Check them out HERE.

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