Westergard classic 36 Ford

CLASSIC WESTERGARD FORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Custom 1933-34 Fords

FORDS MODEL-40 CUSTOMIZED

Today almost all of the modified ’33 and ’34 Fords are done up as street rods or traditional hot rods. In the 1940’s and up until the very early 50’s these cars were routinely built as customs.

Between these two years of Henry Ford’s popular art deco influenced cars, the 1934 was the hands down favorite as custom material. Many ’33 models got a ’34 grille and the two handled ’34 hood as standard operating procedure. It was later when the hot rods got popular that car guys liked the curved bars and thinner grille shell surround of the ’33. Today both years are equally popular and as we know there is a high demand for these good looking and desirable Fords.

When they were built as customs, back in the day, the popular body styles were the roadsters, cabriolets, three window coupes and five window coupes. Although not customized as often as the other styles, the sedans, both two and four door, also made very nice customs.
CCC-34-Ford-Wes-Collins-01-WWes Collin’s 1934 Ford Roadster is possibly the best sample of how good the 1933-34 Fords can look customized. The DuVall windshield, padded top, fender skirts, long GM headlights and Lincoln bumpers add an almost movie star elegance to this type of car.

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Pat Ganahl did an excellent article on Wes Collins 1934 Ford in the Rodder’s Journal issue 51. This photo shows Wes’ roadster with a light color, the padded top in place and this photo also shows the George DuVall “swirl” hubcaps.

 

The first order of change in the forties was to get rid of the stock 17” wheels in favor of 15” or 16” solid wheels with flipper hubcaps or other full wheel hubcaps mounted with wide white wall tires, or black walls in the early ’40’s. Headlights, bumpers, and taillights were also routinely changed.
Lowering with a slight “speedboat effect” gave the desired look for an early custom. Fender skirts were popular in the forties and aftermarket skirts were available for these cars.

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This 1934 Ford coupe was chopped, had solid hood sides, Appleton Spotlights, 1941 Ford bumpers and white trim rings to simulate white wall tires. The stance and overall look and feel is all custom. The photo was taken in 1947.

 

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Here is the same coupe as above, but now wearing a set of white wall tires and single bar flipper hubcaps. The rest stayed the same, but what a difference in appearance.

 

 

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A chopped 5-window coupe with 1936 Ford rear fenders. The taller rear fenders made sure the rear could be lowered a bit more than the stock rear fenders allowed.

 

Appleton spotlights look good on the closed cars of this vintage. In the forties one spotlight on the driver’s side pointed to the rear was common. Later the trend was for dual spotlights turned down in a traditional manner.

Body modifications often included filling the deck lid and door handles. Smooth or louvered hood sides gave a cleaner look to the front-end. These cars really lend themselves to a chopped top and many closed car ’33-4 Fords were chopped. The roadsters would sometimes get a DuVall windshield and the cabriolets a chopped windshield with a Padded Top.

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All three photos above show that even 1933-34 four door sedan’s were customized back in the day. This sample is perfectly chopped and restyled by John Dennis.

Some of the more radical examples of these customized cars might have been channeled and the running boards were removed when raising the fenders on the body. Sometimes a different grille such as a Brewster was added, but most customizers preferred the ’34 grille.

These two years of Fords gave the custom fans lots of options and the results were “easy on the eyes”. Rick Dore reminded us how good they look as customs when he unveiled his mint green ’33-4 roadster a few years ago. Although filled with modern billet parts, Rick Dore’s Ford sure had a full custom feel. He used a set of 1935-36 Ford rear fenders to get the car really low in the rear. The car was obviously inspired by the Wes Collin’s 1934 Ford Roadster.

 

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Rick Dore debuted his 1934 Ford Custom Roadster in 2005. Although much more modern in appearance, it still is evident that the Wes Collins roadster built in the early 1940’s was the inspiration for Rick Dore’s version. (photos by Dave Lindsay)

Hot Rod, Custom or a little of both the ’33 and ’34 Fords definitely have “the look!
We hope that more of these cars will be built as customs in the future and hopefully this article and images will help some to get motivated building a customized 1933-34 Ford in the near future.

 

 

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1950 Sacramento Autorama

1950 SACRAMENTO AUTORAMA

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

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Special thanks to Lawrence Fears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On the top right we can see Al Garcia Westergard restyled 1939 Ford,  #5 Lawrence Brocchini ’31 A-V8 roadster on Deuce rails V-Windshield, Vern Haversack 1927 Model T with track nose with #11,  #1 Burton E. Davis 1931 Ford Roadster, and on the left is #19 Harold Casarang’s ‘25 Model T. bottom right shows the #14 of Jack Odbert’s 36 Ford, behind it the engine and front of #15 Ronnie Brown’s ’32 Ford 5-window.

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Show overview

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

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

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

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

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

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Custom Cars at the Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Hot Rods at the show

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

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

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#3 Dick King 1929 Roadster with tracknose.

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

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

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

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#5 Lawrence Brocchini’s ’31 Ford.

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

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

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#19 Harold Casarang Oakland Roadster club member took his ‘25 Model T to the Sacramento Auto Show.
January 1951 Hot Rod Magazine article on the show.

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Sources and more information

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

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The Willis Horn Coupe

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The Willis Horn Coupe

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In 1941 Willis Horn from Marysville California purchased a Custom 1936 Ford Chopped Coupe from a Hot Rod Shop. Since 1973 it is owned by grandson Jeff Boone who is now looking to find out more on the cars history for a full restoration.

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Jeff Boone from Live Oak, California, was given this early Custom Restyled 1936 Ford 5-window coupe as a gift from his grandfather back in 1973. Jeff was just 11 years old when his grandfather gave him the car. Information his grandfather might have told him about the cars history back then has been forgotten over the years. “Just a boy with hotrod dreams…”. At 11-12 years old the fact of owning your own Hot Rod, and getting it ready to drive overshadowed the historical facts. During 1973 and 1974 Jeff and his grandfather worked on the car for a coupe of month before putting it away in a barn. In 2017 Jeff is ready to bring out the car and start putting it back together how it used to look. With the restoration work now started he is looking into the history of the car, finding old family photos and asking family members what they remember about the car. Not much is known about it, so Jeff is hoping that sharing the car here on the Custom Car Chronicle might shed some light on the history of this early Custom Car. We will be adding more material and info to this article when we find it. Including some photos of how the car looks now and it being pulled from the bar is has been stored in since 1974.

Jeff’s grandfather, Willis Horn from Marysville, California (close to Sacramento) purchased the ’36 Ford back in 1941. Jeff was told the car was bought from a Hot Rod Shop, but nobody seems to remember which one, or even where, if it was local, or from further away. (Edit: we now know that the car was bought in Los Angeles in 1941, close to a place called Los Angeles Auto Auction, more about that further on in this article) At the time Willis bought the car it was completely finished as a Custom Car, with a unique chopped top with the rear quarter windows filled it, the b-pillars slanted forward, and the top door corners rounded. The car was painted green, and by the looks of the one black and white photo Jeff has found of this version of the car it was a dark shade of green. Jeff also recalls his grandfather saying he changed the hood sides and put the original louvered hood sides on the car cause the engine would put off too much heat inside the coupe… He never knew what type of sides were on the car when he first bought it?

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When Willis bought the car back in 1941 the car was finished in green. He left it that color and added some advertising for his used car lot on the door.

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Cropped image shows some more details. Appleton Spotlight point pointed forwards position, a typical early 1940’s feature. Flipped door handles, rear quarter windows filled in after the chop and rounded door top corner with angled forward B-Pillars. I think that this is the earliest sample of a round door corner on a Custom Car I have seen so far.

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Stock ’36 Ford 5-window Coupe the Willis Horn coupe started out as.

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Other restyling features on the car are a new grille shell with a 1939 Nash grille installed, double Appleton spotlight facing backwards in the photos we have of the car, a typical 40’s feature. turned around door handles, also a typical 40’s trick to make the door handle look more streamlined. Something discussed in many of the early restyling manuals from Dan Post and others. ’39 Ford tear drop taillights and teardrop bubble skirts, and a chrome plated dash inside. The chop obviously being the most distinctive feature on this car. Very unique, especially for the time it was built, when 3-window coupes much have been relatively easy to find. It was still decided to turn the 5-window coupe into a short door 3-window coupe. Unique about the chop is that the b-pillars are angled forward, and that the top door corners are rounded. Rounded Door Corners on a ’36 Ford are rare, and having them done back in 1941 even rarer. Perhaps the earliest sample of rounded door corners I have come across so far. The belt line fabrication and filled top look to have been done very well, indicating the work was done by a good craftsman.

Willis owned a Used Car lot in Marysville, California, since the 1930’s. He used the ’36 Ford, which always attracted peoples attention because of its unique and good looks, as rolling advertising for his lot. Somewhere in the 1940’s Willis repainted the car in maroon with cream on the main body below the beltline. The car was also used as the lead vehicle in the annual the Bok Kai parade in Marysville.

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“This is my grandmother, Lola Horn standing next to the car after the sign was painted on the door…car was green when grandpa brought it home…”

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The 36 pulling Willis Horn’s race car… This must be around 1949, shortly before the car was repainted.
Close up on the car from the previous photo.

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In the late 1940’s, the car was repainted in maroon with cream on the lower main body.
Willis Horn(right) standing next to the car with one of his salesmen on the left.

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According to Jeff his grandfather Willis Horn alway led the Bok Kai parade in Marysville, California. And ideal opportunity to promote his used Car lot. So far this has been the best photo Jeff has been able to locate of the car. It shows the Nash grille, the single bar hubcaps, and teardrop skirts. Notice the loud speaker on top of the car. Judged on the license plate and tag in the photo this one must have been made between 1948 and 1950.

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Willis posing with one of the three race cars he had.

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Willis (with hat) and a couple of his drivers.

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Willis Horn, ready to race…

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Herman Jenkins remembers

Jeff recently spoke with a good friend of his late grandfathers, Herman Jenkins about the ’36 Ford to see if more info could be found about the cars history. Herman remembered that his grandfather, Willis Horn, used to buy his used cars at the Los Angeles Auction Yard. he could not remember where that place was located in Los Angeles, but he did remember that the Hot Rod Shop where Willis bought the ’36 Ford was very close to this L.A. Auto Auction. So, now we need to find somebody who might remember where this Auto Auction yard was in Los Angeles, perhaps that will help find the Hot Rod Shop who built this ’36 Ford. If any of our readers knows more about this Los Angeles Auction Yard, where it was located, please email Rik Hoving.

Herman was in the US Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack and remained till 1947. When he was honorably discharged, he came home to Marysville and remembered that he and my Grandpa drove down to Los Angles and picked up the 1936 ford where my grandfather had a shop put a hotrod flathead motor and Three speed transmission which shifted on the column.
(Herman didn’t recall who or where my Grandfather purchased the car)

He said my Grandfather told him the car was originally black, then green, then blue and lastly, it was maroon.  He recalled the 36 had flat hood sides, but at some point, my Grandpa said it was too hot inside the car. He changed the sides to the original 36 ford hood sides so the engine heat could escape.

He also recalled going with my grandfather, on occasion, to North Beale Road, Marysville California   
(The road to Beale Air Force Base) Apparently it was the choice “drag strip” for my Grandfather!

Herman remembered one story vividly… a guy who drove up from Los Angeles in his ’49 Ford 2-door, just to race my Grandfather!  Herman said the LA guy says… I hear you have the fastest car in California!  My Grandfather, a bit modest, said my car’s pretty fast and pointed at the 36 custom. The guy looked, started laughing,(customs aren’t supposed to be fast) and said he had $50 to race that car!  Herman said your Grandpa says give me a minute, I’ll take that bet…  Herman says “your Grandpa blew his doors off” (laughingly)!!!

The guy was so upset he wanted a second chance, double or nothing. My grandfather told the Los Angeles guy he would even give him a head start…”when you leave, I’ll start”!  

Herman said…”I waved at the guy when we drove by”!  Your grandfathers car was fast!  When they pulled over, the LA guy handed my grandfather $100… Herman said they had a great laugh!  Herman had shared so many great memories with my Grandfather, that I couldn’t remember them all!  Unfortunately, On August 7, 2018 Herman Jenkins of Yuba City passed.
Not only was Herman my Grandfathers good friend, but I would like to think he was my good friend as well.
Truly yours
Jeff Boone

Herman also remembered that Willis bought new cars from a good friend in Los Angeles, Les Kelley. Les ran the famous Kelley Kar Company and Les Kelly Ford where Willis bought the cars wholesale and brought them to Marysville to resale at his own lot. Les Kelly Ford later moved to the corner of Figueroa and Pico in Los Angeles and becomes the largest used car dealership in the world.

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Les Kelley Ford where Willis bought new cars at wholesale for his Marysville lot. (Photos from www.kbb.com/company/history)

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In 1975 Jeff’s uncle, Willis Horn JR, helped  put a 327 Chev, a t350 trans and a 10 bolt rear end in the ’36. They did some body repairs with bondo in 1975 and the plan was to have the whole car painted 1936 Ford Maroon, but they got it in red oxide primer. At one point Jeff needed a new engine for his race car, so out when the 327. The the car with the fresh red oxide primer, went back to the barn till 5/25/2017.

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This is how the car has been sitting for many years.

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Clearing the rubble around it.

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All cleaned up.

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Jeff Boone on the left and his uncle, Willis Horn JR. on the right with the disassembled ’36 Ford.

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A good look at the main body with the unique chopped top turned from 5-window to 3-window back around 1940 in Los Angeles, California. The treatment of the belt-line behind the doors and the angled forward B-pillar and rounded door top is really unique.

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The bare frame of the ’36 Ford at the Standley Brothers Hotrod Shop.

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Soda blasting at Standley Brothers Hotrod Shop in Yuba City, California.

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The soda blasting revealed the body Jeff and his uncle added to the car back in 1975.

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You can see the lead at the chop and rear quarters in some of the other photos as well. Back in 1973, when Jeff was 11, he used a rosebud tip on a torch to heat the lead and he removed a good portion of it. You can see where his uncle and Jeff tried doing some body work after the majority of lead was removed. “We know better today than we did in 1974!”

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Over the last couple of years Jeff has been working on and off on the restoration to how it used to look, and hopefully he will come across more photos from the 1940’s how the car looked. Hopefully with the help of the Custom Car Chronicle readers he will be able to find out more on the cars original history from before his grandfather bought the car in 1941. If you know anything more about this ’36 Ford Custom ex-5-window Coupe, from pre 1973, then please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to add any new historic info to the article and help Jeff with the history of his car.

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The car in bare metal ready for the Sacramento Autorama 2019.

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Jeff Boone with the Ford at the 2019 Sacramento Autorama.

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The Willis Horn Coupe will debut completely finished at the 2020 Sacramento Autorama.

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(This article is made possible by)






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7+

Bob Lund 50 Mercury

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BOB LUND 50 MERCURY

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The Bob Lund 1950 Mercury convertible easily fits on the list of some of the best restyled Barris Customs ever created. It sadly never received this recognition in the magazines back in the day.

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Original article from September 10, 2016, updates October 17, 2019

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Bob Lund took his 1950 Mercury convertible to the Barris Kustoms Shop in Lynwood, California. This was in early 1953, at the time when the Barris Kustom Shop was perhaps the most prolific. The team at Barris created a stunning, very elegant and well balanced Custom for Bob. A car very typical for the time it was created, with a lot of never before used parts mixed with some elements that had proven to work well on previous restyled cars. Bob Lund’s Mercury never received much magazine publicity, until George Barris used several in progress and finished photos of the car in his Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s book number 3. These photos showed that the Barris restyled Mercury was one the same level with some of the best known Barris Customs, that did make it in the magazines back then. For unknown reasons Bob Lund’s Mercury was never featured, even though the Custom Car magazines were really blooming around the time the car was finished.

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Factory stock 1950 Mercury convertible, similar to what Bob Lund took to the Barris Kustoms Shop in early 1953.

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Judging the early stage photos were Frank Sonzogni is working on the grille, it looks like Bob’s Mercury might have been done as a milder version first, or perhaps it was just a primer stage. I have not been able to find a photo or info to shed more light on this. The stock headlights were replaced with 1952 Ford/Mercury units that were fenched into the smoothed front fenders.

The windshield of Bob’s Mercury was chopped, but only mildly, 2, perhaps 3 inches. All emblems were shaved of the car, and the door handles were removed and electrical solenoids with door poppers installed. The hood had its front corners rounded, and the top grille bar was welded to the fenders. At a later stage a second top grille surround was cut down, and installed on the splash-pan flipped upside down, to create a nice oval shaped grille opening. A new custom grille was created from 1951 Frazer horizontal bars with integrated parking lights, and three 1951 DeSoto grille teeth were installed behind the new lower grille surround. The bottom section of the DeSoto teeth was hidden from sight by the lower grille surround. The grille created for the Mercury was nearly identical to the one the Barris shop created earlier for Dan Landon’s 1949 Chevy Coupe. Barris also rounded the bottom corner of the back side of the hood, a very subtle touch hat helped with the flow of the car.

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Barris Shop employee Frank Sonzogni is mocking up one of the 1951 Frazer grille bars for the grille on Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury. This early stage photo shows that the headlights have been frenched, the hood shaved and corners rounded and the splash pan molded to the fenders. The stock side trim was removed. Its unsure of the windshield already has been chopped in this photo.

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At the back of the car the stock round rear fenders of the 1950 Mercury were removed and replaced with 1951 Mercury units. The 1951 Mercury fenders added a few more inches to the rear of the car, which helped create a nice long low profile for the car. Sam Barris worked on the rear fenders and he installed a pair of 1953 Pontiac wagon taillights. The top corners of the trunk were rounded to match the rounded hood corners. With all the body work done a set The Barris crew decided to install a set of 1951 Lincoln bumpers, front and rear. Those Lincoln bumpers were heavier and more exclusive than the Mercury units. They really add class to the car. At the back two exhaust ports were installed in the lower bumper ends. The combination of the 1951 Mercury rear fenders and the use of 1951 Lincoln bumpers gave the car the impression it was an 1951 Mercury model.

A 1953 Pontiac side trim was modified, flipped upside down and fitted to the Mercury side so that the trim matches the dip in the doors. A set of 1949-50 Mercury fender skirts was modified, extended down to sit level with the rocker panels. These fender skirts apparently were used only very shortly on the car, only one photo has been found that shows them. The vent windows and side glass trim were all cut to fit the new windshield height. With all the work done on the car Barris painted the car. I have heard somewhere that the car was painted a dark gold color, but so far I have not been able to get this color confirmed. As most of the Barris restyled cars had in those days, Bob’s mercury was also dressed up with a set of Appleton Spotlight.

The car was taken to the Carson Top Shop who create a very nicely shaped padded top for the car. Possibly they also did the interior for Bob’s Mercury, but for that we have no photo or other proof.

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Sam Barris working on the taillights for Bob’s Mercury. The 1950 short rear fenders have been replaced by the longer 1951 Mercury rear fenders. Sam can be seen here trying to see how how he can make a set of 1953 Pontiac Wagon taillights fit to the Mercury fenders.

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Sam having marked the fender, were the extra material needs to be removed to make the Pontiac taillights fit and cutting away the not needed metal. Sam shaping a half inch metal rod to fit perfectly around the Pontiac taillight. 

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The shaped rod surround is positioned into the new opening in the rear fender and welded in place. Some small sheet metal filler pieces are added to make the new opening fit perfectly with the rear fender shape.

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On the inside of the new opening Sam welds some bolds so that the taillights can be mounted from behind. The outside is leaded and filed and sanded smooth.

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The finished Mercury

The Barris Kustoms Shop was a master in creating stunning Custom Cars in the later parts of the 1940’s and early 1950’s. When Bob’s mercury was created in 1953 the Custom Car scene was at its top of the Golden Years. The indoor and outdoor Custom Car shows were still growing, and huge crowds started to show up at these events. But the good thing was that the cars created were still restyled to make the car look better, not restyled to score more points at the shows for bigger and more trophies. Bob’s Mercury is a perfect showcase of the less is more restyling philosophy that the Barris brothers believed in at the time. Restyling to make each car unique, and most of all better looking that it ever did before.

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When Bob Lund’s Mercury was created the Barris Lynwood shop was producing a huge amount of classic top quality Custom Cars. This photo taken on an Saturday morning in early 1953 shows how the shop looked in those days. It must have been very inspiring and helped create high quality cars like Bob Lund’s Mercury.

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This is the only photo I have been able to find showing the finished Bob Lund 1950 Mercury using fender skirts. My guess is that this is how the car was originally finished. It appears that a set of 1949-50 Mercury skirts were extended down to fill the whole rear fenders. Also notice the conservative chopped windshield and padded top with beautifully finished side window trim. This photo could perhaps be taken at an outdoor car show, judging the mid-late 40’s chopped car parked next to it.

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Beautiful low angle rear view taken at the Barris Lynwood shop, shows the 1951 Lincoln rear bumper with custom exhaust openings on the corners. The beautifully frenshed 1953 Pontiac wagon taillights in the 1951 Mercury rear fenders and the 1953 license plate tag.

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The only photo of Bob’s Mercury confirmed to be at a car show.Bob’s Mercury with the drivers door open can be seen here in good company with several other Barris Kustom restyled high end Customs. From left to right. Dale Marshal’s unchopped 1950 Mercury, Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury convertible, Jack Nethercutt’s 1952 Oldsmobile, Bob Hirohata 1951 mercury, Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford convertible and Tommy Thornburgh’s 1947 Studebaker convertible. According the Barris book this show was held at Lynwood park organized by the South East Car Club Association. And the show even had a Barris class, and Bob’s Mercury was among the winners.

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Close up of Bob’s Mercury at the Lynwood Park show shows that there are no skirts on the car anymore, and that George added one of his cardboard Kustoms of Los Angeles cards on the front bumper.

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Beautiful photo of Bob’s Mercury taken by Loomis Dean, Life magazine photographer at the Barris Lynwood shop. Bob is just exciting the Barris shop driveway, onto Atlantic avenue.

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This photo from the Life magazine collection (a bit more close up than the previous photo) gives us a great look at the perfectly shaped Carson padded top, and details as the rounded trunk  and rear lower hood corners. The lack of skirts, and the usage of 1950 Mercury hubcaps give the car a sportive look, but the stance is all custom. 

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Frenched 1952 Ford/mercury headlights, rounded hood corners, molded in top grille bar, molded in bottom grille bar created from a flipped upside down top bar, custom grille and a great looking 1951 Lincoln front bumper. Bob was a member of the George Barris’s Kustoms Los Angles car club, hence the brass plaque on the bumper. Notice that the Appleton Spotlights are move up, apparently some work was done under the hood around the time Loomis Dean took this photo.

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A closer look the grille and beautifully created grille opening on Bob Lund’s mercury. Hard to see, but the Custom in the background is Jack Nethercutt’s just finished Oldsmobile Custom.

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Published

Bob Lund’s beautiful 1950 Mercury convertible custom was never featured in any of the car magazines in the early – mid 1950’s. There is a series of black and white photos taken by Loomis Dean for Life magazine, but so far I have been unable to find out if these photos have ever actually been used inside Life magazine from around 1953 when the photo were taken.  Rod & Custom published a few photos of Bob’s Mercury, one, showing Frank Sonzogni working on the grille in the cars early stage in a Barris Corner Article about spending a Saturday at the shop in the August 1953 issue. And in the December 1953 issue George Barris used a photo of the finished car in his Barris Korner article about the use of side trim. It is really sad that the car was never featured.

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Rod & Custom August 1953 issue shows Frank Sonzogni working on the custom grille. It shows that the car still has the stock Mercury bumper, but the headlights have been frenched, and the hood corners rounded.

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In the Barris Korner about custom side trim published in the December, 1953 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine George Barris used a photo of Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury (without fender skirts).

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Our friend Ross Ruiz found this neat photo of Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury in the Wilmington Daily Press, March 1954. In this news clipping Bob’s Merc was advertising the LA Harbor Hoods custom car show. Thanks for sharing Ross.

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1953 Pontiac side trim.

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Unusual things about the Lund Mercury

There a re a few a bit strange things about Bob Lund’s Mercury. The first one is the grille. Barris always loved to create very unique custom grilles for their restyled cars, but in the case of Bob’s Mercury they recreated a similar grille that they also created for Dan Landon’s 1949 Chevy. We are not sure if this was because Bob requested this specifically, or if the Barris team thought it was just the perfect look for the Mercury.

The second thing is the use of stock 1950 Mercury hubcaps. Another thing that was rarely done by the Barrises. The only few exceptions to that where a few Cadillac they did, they also kept the stock – custom straight from the factory – Cadillac hubcaps. The smooth 1950 Mercury hubcap would later become a very popular Hot Rod part.

And then there is also the fender skirts on the car. The one photo that we have found with the fender skirts mounted clearly show that the side trim was created in such a way that it would not interfere with the skirts. The dip in the Pontiac trim did not allow for the lower rear section of the trim to go all the way to the rear. But with out the skirts, it would have been possible for the trim to go all the way to the rear. Still the side trim was not modified, extended to the rear, after the skirts were removed.

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Bob Lund 50 Mercury
The grille on the Bob Lunds Mercury used the DeSoto grille teeth set back, and the lower section covered behind and below the lower grille opening.

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The Grille in Dan Landon’s Chevy was created a little earlier than Bob’s Mercury. The only difference in the two grilles is that the DeSoto teeth are showing more of the lower section and sticking out further on the Landon Chevy. Other than that they are near identical.

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Unusual usage of the stock 1950 Mercury hubcap on Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury. They do look good though, especially with the version without the skirts. It gives the car a nice, bit sporty feel.

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Sadly only very few photos have been found from Bob’s Mercury. We also have not been able to find out anything about Bob Lund, who he was, or is, and what ever happened to his 1950 Mercury. One, perhaps two of the known photos of Bob’s mercury show the car at an (outdoor) car show. So far I have not been able to find any records that show that the car was entered in any of the famous Hot Rod & Custom Car shows in the 53-55 area. Perhaps Bob was not into showing his car at the shows all that much.

UPDATE
In October 2019, Gregg Bodiford sends us an email that in his searched on the Petersen Archives he came across a few photos taken by Eric Rickman in 1958 at Lee’s Speed Shop The photos were taken of an engine that was being build at the shop, but Gregg noticed that it was the Bob Lund 1950 Mercury that was sitting in the background on a few of the photos. Sadly not shown completely in any of the photos, but all the details are there to positively identify it at the Lund Mercury. The hood is removed from the car indicating the shop might be doing some engine work on the car.

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The Bob Lund 1950 Mercury photographed at Lee’s Speed Shop in 1958.

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This is really great news, showing that the car was still around, and most likely still being used in 1958. Now lets hope somebody knows more about Lee’s Speed Shop, and what the Mercury did at the shop. Thanks for sharing Gregg!

If anybody out there has any information about Bob Lund, what happened to his 1950 Mercury, or anything else about this car. Please email Rik here at the Custom Car chronicle. We would like to find out more, and add the information to this article.  Thank you.

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Bob Aguilera 53 Mercury

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Plain, simple, tastefully done. That would be the best description of my favorite 1953 Mercury restyle. The Bob Aguilera 1953 Mercury.

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The Art of Restraint-
Aguilera’s 1953 Mercury

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Plain, simple, tastefully done. That would be the best description of my favorite 1953 Mercury restyle. Plain and simple not in the sense of uninteresting, unattractive, or common… No, it is in the sense of free from distraction or complication, neither pretentious nor affected. In other words, tasteful.

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Rod & Custom December 1954 issue showed Bob Aquilera’s 1953 Mercury as part of the Reader’s Car of the Month on a two-page spread.

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This ’53 Mercury Monterey two-door hardtop appeared as a two-page spread featured as “Reader’s Car of the Month” in the December 1954 issue of Rod & Custom. The owner is listed as Bob Aguilera of San Bernardino, California. I have little information on Bob. I do believe he was a member of a fairly well known San Bernardino custom car club that featured more than a few 1952-54 Mercurys.

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1953 Mercury Brochure.

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The restyling work was performed by Dick Richardson of the same name custom shop located at Arrowhead Av and Mill St, also in San Bernardino. Although I’ve been told by a few custom guys in the S.B. area that were there, that the shop was actually owned by a guy named Al Andratti, who was the custom body man, Richardson being the very talented paint man.

The bill of particulars includes complete smoothing of hood, deck and doors, doors and trunk are of course solenoid operated. Hood scoop dechromed and altered so that it appeared to actually flow air (contrary to the R&C article, it did not). The same treatment was given to the rear fender scoops. Of course the Mercury was lowered a practical amount, 6 inches all around, with just a tiny bit more at the rear for that just right profile.

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The R&C piece sums it up beautifully, “Good taste in automotive design cannot be purchased so therefore it is priceless”.

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The ’53 grille (in my opinion the best of the ’52-’54 models) was left as is with just the small trim bars being eschewed. The hubcaps are stock. Rear bumper guards shaved. Dual exhaust with twin chrome tips exit just under the bottom edge of the bumper, although in one rear shot in the R&C feature the pipes have been artistically lengthened. Stock headlight rings sealed and blended.

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This photo, and the other three-quarter view of the front, were both taken in July 1954. These two photos were offered on Ebay a couple years ago. I think there were others in the same auction, showing club members and additional cars.

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Aftermarket flared skirts reworked and fitted to conform and blend into lower part of fender scoop area, as well as the rocker panel from the trailing edge of the stainless rocker trim. To finish this area off, three chrome windsplits are incorporated into the intake of the scoops, with small matching body color peaks formed just aft of the openings, very subtle.

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Close up shows the subtle and very well designed work that was done on the rear quarter scoops, the shortened stainless teeth, small added spears blending into the teeth, and extended down, lipped and reshaped flush fender skirts.

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And finally the wonderful use and application of the 1954 Packard Clipper model taillights. Here they are used with the stock Clipper housing, and are very nicely fitted and conform beautifully to the slightly extended fender line and curved trailing edge as it falls into the bumper. The open horizontal chrome edge of the Packard housings are again, subtly blended into small spears or fillets that finish off the taillight to fender transition with grace.

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1954 Packard Clipper taillights with stock housings are beautifully blended into the reshaped Mercury rear fenders. The small body colored spear at the leading edge of the taillights is similarly shaped as what was done on the quarter panel scoop teeth.

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Side profile from the R&C article shows the beautiful stance, slightly lower in the rear.

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This may have been one of the earliest examples of the utilization of the ’54 Clipper taillights. When this Mercury was restyled that taillight was only about five months old. Others could have used it first, but I think perhaps this was the earliest use on the 1952-54 Mercury. And in my view the most attractive element of the restyling.

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The article does not mention the interior, nor is there any indication of the paint color…I would assume seafoam or mint green, or a warm shade of cream. Both with a medium green metallic top of course, or even a powder blue or bluish grey with matching medium blue metallic top?

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The two photos of the Bob Aguilera Mercury that were offered on ebay are now part of the Zeke Carrillo Collection.

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I am not aware of any other features or articles on this mild but well executed Mercury. Any further info or car club affiliations concerning Bob Aguilera or his car would be much appreciated. Please leave a comment if you know more.

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1957 Sears Parking Lot Show

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1957 Sears PARKING Lot SHOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Close up of the left side of the photo.

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The Left Side

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

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

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

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

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

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The Right Side

Close up of the right side of the photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1955 Thrifty Parking Lot Show

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55 THRIFTY PARKING LOT

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1955 Hot Rod and Custom Car show held at the new Thrifty Drug Store on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.

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Original article from August 09, 2018, updated August 26, 2019.

In the 1950’s it was very common to organize Hot Rod and Custom Car shows at the local parking lots large public facilities as drug stores, stadiums etc. The parking lots were huge easily accessible and it was easy to rope off a section for the show. One of the most famous of these parking lot Shows was a show with high end custom cars held at an Los Angeles Thrifty Drug store in May 1954 which we covered in this CCC-Article.

Since we did that article I have been collecting photos of outdoor parking lot car shows I came across to add to this what I hope to become a series on parking lot car show articles. Several early and mid 1950’s magazines had a few photos taken at these parking lot shows which I had not been able to identify until I came across an article on the Hot Rod Magazine Article featuring some really great photos taken by Rick Rickman.

One photo in particular stood out to me. A picture taken at a Thrifty Drug store in May 1955 showing the Hirohata Mercury, in it later lime gold paint, Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury and Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford. And while drooling over that photo I realized I had seen a few more photos taken at the same location, and now I was able to place them all at one May 5th, 1955 event held at the Thrifty Drug Store at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. And, perhaps just as important. The photo caption from the Hot Rod magazine article explained why these car shows were held at the Thrifty Drug Show… and how it was possible that all these high end Custom Cars were at this and the 1954 show.

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This was taken at a show at a Thrifty drug store on May 5, 1955, at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Hollywood Blvd. From right to left we can see, Bob Hirohata’s 1951 Mercury with the new (after the Running Wild movie shoot) lime gold paint job, and door mounted mirror, Dave Bugarin’s 1951 Mercury (both by Barris), next to Dave’s Merc is Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford restyled by Bear Customs, and next to that we can see the top and a few other small details of what most likely is the 1948 Mercury of Cliff Rackohn (thanks Anthony White for identifying that one) Behind Bob’s Ford we can see a ’46 Chevy panel truck with roof rack, which was most likely used by Rick Rickman to make the overhead photos.

From the Hot Rod magazine article

Three rolls that Rickman logged into Petersen’s in-house lab on May 9, 1955, as “Thrifty Drug NHRA Show” mystified archive divers for decades. In our July 2010 issue, founding HRD editor David Freiburger published six pages of parking-lot pictures, including one showing NHRA’s third employee and Drag Safari organizer, Chic Cannon, with an L.A. sheriff’s deputy. Left unexplained were who organized the event, and why, and how a gathering of so many famous hot rods, race cars, sport specials, and especially customs apparently never made HRM or its sister magazines.

In 2013, Cannon’s autobiography answered the first two questions: “Since I had some experience organizing car clubs, Wally gave me the position of [NHRA] National Club Advisor. My cousin, Art Crawford, was in marketing … and had Thrifty Drug Stores as a client of his. They were developing new shopping centers all over Southern California, and Art asked me to help promote the grand openings…. So in 1954 and ’55, I organized about a dozen car shows.” As for why at least two were thoroughly photographed on Petersen film but never made print, Chic’s insight leads us to suspect that Rick’s assignment came from NHRA president Wally Parks—not his HRM boss and editor, also named Wally Parks.

Possibly the photo lab supplied sets of prints, only, to NHRA and/or Chic’s cousin for promotional purposes, while the negatives were filed, as usual, with the publishing company.

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Close up of the Hirohata Mercury which was at the 1955 show with the new lime gold and organic green below the Buick spear paint. The color was changed, because it needed to be updated after having been on the road for a few years, but also because a darker hue would show better on camera for the Running Wild movie. Most likely the Mercury was still owned by Bob Hirohata, but he did sell it in 1955. Notice both the hood and trunk are open, and the public can come very close to the cars, even touch it.

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The Dave Bugarin ’51 Mercury and Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford a bit more close up. It must have been an amazing sight to see these high quality, magazine featured and show award winning Customs lined up in the parking lot.

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Here’s a shot of the other side of the parking lot. Possibly taken from the roof of the Hovey 1946 Chevy panel truck we can see in the top photo. In the foreground are Dave Bugarin’s ’51 Merc, next to the Hirohata Merc, and unidentified chopped padded top early 40’s Chevy and two more light colored customs I have not been able to identify. On the other sied are three drag cars including the Sparks & Bonny Willys and on the far right we can see the front of the pale yellow Chuck Porter truck. It is amazing to see that people could walk up to the car and even touch them.

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Close up of the Hirohata Mercury and Dave Bugarin Mercury, both Barris Kustom Shop creations.

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Taken from the same high location as the previous photo, but taken at a different angle shows Bob Dofflow’s ’49 Ford the best of all the known photos shared from this event.

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Show officials checking out the Hirohata Merc.

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The Ayala/Barris Bettancourt Mercury also made an appearance.

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Also taken from the roof rack, but now facing the opposite direction from the photos shown earlier. This side of the parking lot had more of the Hot Rod entries. The only car I recognize is the ’34 Ford with the padded top which was owned by Earl Schieb or possibly his son, Al at the time.

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Slightly different perspective.

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Mild custom line up on the road side.

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Mild Mercury Hard-Top with ’53 Pontiac Wagon taillights.

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Subtle touches on this early 50’s Chevy convertible.

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Love the super smooth rear end of the 1952 Chevy fastback, especially interesting are the taillights in the Kaiser over-rider. ’51 Ford Sedan looks good with the Pontiac grille bar and smoothed hood. Simple, but very effective.

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Many thanks to the Petersen Archive for sharing these amazing photos on the Hot Rod Magazine website. And hopefully many more from those 3 rolls of film that Rick Rickman took in 1955 of this event will be shared. And hopefully more of the 1954 and perhaps any of the other events held at the Thrifty parking lot will be shared. With such top cars in attendance at these outdoor events it would make sense if many more photos were taken. By professional photographers, as well as by car owners and those who came to look at the cars at these free Custom Car Shows. If any of our readers know about more photos from these events, or know more about the events themselves, please email Rik here at the Custom Car Chronicle.

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There were quite a few photos of this customized Muntz with Hemi engine. I guess Rick Rickman realy liked it, or perhaps planned to do a feature on it?

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Awards

David Zivot send us two photo of a Trophy from his Personal Collection.
“This trophy from my personal collection
was awarded to the 2nd Place winner at a Thrifty Drugs grand opening less than a week earlier than the show from this article. It appears that the Thrifty and Alexander’s Market sponsored show (in cooperation with the NHRA) was held one street over on Sunset & Vermont, at the Barnsdall Shopping Center.
It would be very interesting to discover which customs were in attendance at this show, and who won this 2nd Place award.”

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These photos, the awards and the notes from the Hot Rod Magazine article that there were a series of Car Show held at the Thrifty Drug Store parking lots across LA makes me really wonder how many of these shows were held in 1954-55. And how they were advertised. So far I have still not been able to find any announcement for these shows. Possibly announcements were made in the local news-paper, or perhaps posters were made that were distributed at the local hang-outs? Who knows more?

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1954 aerial view showing the parking lot where the ’55 Car Show was held.

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(this article is sponsored by)

ccc-sponsor-ad-customs-by-flash-w

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1+

Gerald Fassett Photo Collection

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

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Gerald Fassett, an avid Custom Car enthusiast from Sacramento, California was very active in the local car scene from 1942 til the mid 1950’s. He owned two custom cars, of which one was restyled by Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci, both local Sacramento Custom Car builders. During this time Gerald took and collected photos of the Sacramento Custom Cars. The sad part is that Gerald mentioned the fact that a good many of the photos that he personally took, as well as some others that he had gathered during that period were lost or misplaced during a move he made many years ago.

But those photos that have survived from this collection are of extreme importance for the Custom Car History. Color photos and early versions of well known Custom Cars give us a look back in time we might have heard and read about. But because of this collection we can now also see.

The Gerald Fassett photo collection is now part of the David E. Zivot Collection and is shared together with stories told by Mr. Fassett to David E. Zivot with the Custom Car Chronicle.

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Part of the Gerald Fassett Collection. Such an historic document.

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Gerald Fassett 1934 Ford

Gerald’s first Custom Car was a 1934 Ford 5-window coupe. The car had the running boards removed, which was the big trend in the early to mid 1940’s. The fenders front and rear were modified where the running boards used to be mounted for a nice finished look. The frame was hidden with a special made cover. Modified tear drop skirts were added to the rear fenders and the suspension dropped a little. The hood sides were replaced with smooth units and the car was painted light green. Not visible in the photo shown below are an inset license plate in the trunk, filled cowl, and the dressed up flathead engine. This is the car Gerald drove when George Barris visited Sacramento in his 1941 Buick inlate 1947.

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What a great picture of Gerald’s 1934 Ford 5-window Coupe parked in the drive way of his home on Marysville Blvd, in Sacramento around 1947.

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Zoomed in on the car to be able to see some more details on the car.

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Don Clifford’s 1936 Ford 5-W Coupe mild Custom photographed in the early/mid 1940’s.

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Gerald Fassett 1947 Chevy Convertible

Gerald’s second Custom Car was a 1947 Chevy Convertible which was restyled by Harry Westergard. Gerald had seen an ad for the Jimmy Summers “Fender Extensions” kit in the 1948 Hot Rod magazine, and really liked the look on those. That along with a chopped padded top would create his dream custom. Harry Westergard mail-ordered a set of the Jimmy Summers fade away fenders. The fade away fenders were fine tuned by Harry and bolted to the doors and rear quarters. and aftermarket stainless steel rock shield was cut down so they would fit the rear fender and clear the fade away sections.

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1948 magazine ad for the Jimmy Summers Fender Extension.

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Westergard chopped the windshield frame, nosed and decked the car and added primer to all the fresh body work. Then Gerald drove it to have the padded topped made by Chavez interior and Top shop. The interior was done by a fellow named Marion Cottle right there in Sacramento. Marion Cottle did a lot of the restyled cars in the local Sacramento area.

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Beautiful higher point of view shows the Summers fade away fenders in primer. The photo was taken at Harry Westergard’s property. At the back of this photo Gerald write the padded top was done by Chavez.

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Gerald’s Chevy in front of Westergard’s shop on Watt Avenue. Notice the rather high stance, the single bar flipper hubcaps and the door handles still in place.

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In 1949 Gerald takes his Chevy to Dick Bertolucci who shaved the door handles, molded in the headlights, and did a final clean up of the whole body, before painting the car with a brilliant maroon lacquer paint job. Dick also removed the fog lights from the earlier version, and added brand new ’49 Chevy license plate frames to the ’47 bumpers. The Chevy was equipped with dual carbs, split exhaust manifold and custom mufflers, which he swapped with the owner of an green mild customized 1941 Chevy. Gerald also added a white Ford Crestline steering wheel to make the interior look absolutely perfect.

The color photo of Gerald’s Chevy, taken in 1949, was taken at 5671 Stockton Blvd. in Sacramento. The Mid-Century style building was created for a home improvement/lumber company. The classy style reminded Gerald of some of the buildings George Barris used as backdrop for the photos he had seen taken by George. He really liked how the buildings complemented the cars, and wanted to try the same thing. Mission succeed!

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Mid 1950’s color photo of Gerald Fassett’s 1947 Chevy beautifully painted by Dick Bertolucci. The car now has been lowered, the headlights frenched, the door handles removed, spotlight added and new ’55 Buick hubcaps added. What a beautiful Custom.

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The 1941 Chevy Gerald traded engines with.

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The back side of the photo of the 1940 Chevy.

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Harold Ohanesian 1940 Mercury

Harold “Buddy” Ohanesian was from Sacramento and had his 1940 Mercury Convertible 4-door Sedan restyled around 1946-47 by Harry Westergard and Les Crane. The windshield on the Merc was chopped, rear fenders molded to the body, the hood smoothed and reshaped together with the grille opening and front fenders to make place for the 1946 Chevy grille.

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Photo taken around 1947 shows the car all complete, but still in primer. Notice that the 1940 Mercury taillights were mounted horizontal, and how the rear of the car had been reshaped with rounded corners on the shortened trunk.

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At the front a splash pan was added for the Chevy grille to sit on. The door handles and side trim were removed and body smoothed. At the back of the car some work had to be done to get the right look Harold was after. On the stock ’40 Mercury sedan convertibles the trunk area is rather tall and upright, sticking out over the top of the door line on the sides. To make that work with the padded top that was planned for the car the trunk was sectioned, and the top of the body line “flattened” out at the back creating a much nicer body shape. The trunk was also shaved and a set in license plate behind glass created.

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Photographed at the same locations around 1948 the car was now painted and already looked stunning.

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The stock bumpers were replaced with ’37 DeSoto units, teardrop skirts were added, the suspension was lowered, Appleton Spotlights were mounted and single bar flipper hubcaps added. We do not know which of the two builders did what on the car. The long padded top was created by the C.A. Hall Top Shop in Oakland, an 80+ mile drive from Sacramento. Harold drove the car around with all the body work done in primer before the car in this version was painted. At this moment we are not sure who painted the car in this early padded topped version. As far as we know the color was also maroon on this version.

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Zoomed in to see all the details.

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Later, around 1949 Harold wanted a new more updated look for his Mercury and took it to a young Dick Bertolucci who had just opened his body shop. Together they came up with several updating ideas including creating a lift off metal top for the car. They set out to a local junk yard to look for suitable tops to use. Since none of the tops they were able to find had the right shape they were looking for they took home the top of an 1946 Chrysler, which was a good start, but the back section did not work, so they found an 1941 Buick Fastback which gave up the back portion of the top. They also found an 1946 Oldsmobile rear window that would be a perfect fit for the new top.

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Wonderful rear quarter view color photo shows how tight the fit of metal lift off top is with an even gap all around. The early Bertolucci version of the car has small motor cycle taillights added to the ’46 Chevy bumpers.

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A lot of work went into combining all parts to work together. The windshield posts had to be adapted to make the metal top curve around the corners and have the right feel and dimensions on the sides. The rear of the top needed to flow perfect with the trunk section. All the work was done with nearly no lead, only in sections around the back of the top and towards the side window profile some lead was used, simply because the reinforcement metal did not allow for hammer welding. (The fact that the metal top fits as perfect today as it did back in 1949, shows the great craftsmanship of the young Dick Bertolucci back in 1949.)

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Ultra rare Color photo from around 1950-51 shows the stock chrome plated headlights on the car. It is truly amazing to see the original color on this car for the first time.

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Dick also added a molded in splash pan to the rear to fit the new ’46 Chevy bumpers, and the pan at the front was reshaped and fine tuned. The Mercury taillights were removed from the rear fenders, and small motor cycle taillights mounted on the bumper. Dick Bertolucci painted the car in wonderful maroon mixed from a Chevy color toned darker and gold powder (Venus Martin No. 9) added to it. The early version which can be seen in the two color photos from the Gerald Fassett Collection shows that the car still had the original chrome headlights. Later Dick would first paint those headlights body color, and then some time later mold them to the fenders. At that time he also changed the taillights with 1948 Ford taillights on custom made pods molded into the rear fenders. One of the most fantastic Custom Cars ever created and thanks to Gerald Fassett and David E. Zivot we can now see the car in its original 1951 color as well as pre metal top version. Such an amazing asset for the Custom Car History.

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Close up of the Mercury shows this stunning custom in all its glory.

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Bud Welch 1938 Chevy Convertible

Gerald has two photos of Bud Welch’s 1938 Chevy convertible in his collection. The car was one of the few known Customs that was restyled by Sacramento customizer Les Crane. Les Crane’s name has appeared many times in association with cars restyled by Harry Westergard. Like the Ohanesian Merc and the Budler Rugard 1940 Mercury, where Les Crane performed some of the work. But not too many cars are credited to just Les Crane.

Bud Welch’s 1938 Chevy was done completely at Les’ shop (as far as we have been able to find out) with the exception of the padded top which had been done by the Hall Top Shop in Oakland. Les chopped the windshield, filled the stock grille opening, and created a custom oval grille opening which was filled with what looks like a custom tubular horizontal bar grille. The headlights were sunk halfway into the molded in front fenders.

Bud Welch’s 1938 Chevy Convertible restyled by Les Crane on the Sacramento streets around 1948.

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The hood sides were filled in, or perhaps replaced with aftermarket smooth units. The body was cleaned up and with smoothed hood and deck lid and a set in license plate in the trunk. The rear fenders were smoothed, and a gas filler door added to the passenger rear fender, and 1940 Chevy taillights mounted low on the fenders, just above the ’37 DeSoto bumpers. The car had wide white walls and ripple disk hubcaps. Les Crane painted the car metallic green.

Gerald also had a photo of the car from a little later, possibly late 40’s, perhaps the early 1950’s. By then the car had changed a little. The ripple disk hubcaps were replaced by Sombrero hubcaps. The fender skirts were removed and a set of Spotlights had been added. (Although the photo Gerald took shows the car with the spotlights removed, but the holes still in the A-pillar)

Bud’s ’38 Chevy seen here with a big dent in the passenger side front fender, with the hood sides and the skirts removed and with Sombrero hubcaps. Perhaps the photo was taken at a local drag race, hence the removal of the extra parts.

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Leroy Semas 1938 Chevy

Gerald had one very nice clear picture of another Harry Westergard Masterpiece. The Leroy Semas 1938 Chevy Coupe. The photo Gerald took is very interesting because the stance of the car is a lot higher than any other photo I have seen on the car. Perhaps the suspension was altered for the race event, it does give the car a completely different look.

Leroy Semas’ 1938 Chevy restyled by Harry Westergard photographed at a local drag strip the CHP set up for them near Woodland. Check out the CCC article on Leroy’s Chevy for a full write up on this stunning Westergard Custom. (Also notice the cars in the background.)

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Do you have any historic Custom Car related photos you would like to share with the world. Photo’s that shed more light on the history of a certain Custom Car, or Custom Builder. Or just photos that have a special place in your heart, that come with a story, and you like to share that story. Then contact us here at the Custom Car Chronicle. We would love to share the historic photos for you, and make an impact on the history of the Custom Car as we know it. Email Rik at the Custom Car Chronicle.

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3+

George Barris Buick Sacramento Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gerald Fassett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stan’s around 1953.

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Barris Maroon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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