The Japan – How to build a Custom

 

HOW TO BUILD A CUSTOM The Japan

 

The Barris built 1952 Mercury hardtop known as The JAPAN was featured in a series of step-by-step stories on building a custom. The three and a half month restyling project resulted in a beautiful TOP TEN mild custom.


By Tom Nielsen



By 1955 the custom car craze had spread across the nation. Many “would be” customizers had been reading magazines like Rod and Custom , Car Craft, Hot Rod and others where they were getting ideas for building their own customs. However, many of these young customizers lacked the opportunity or resources to take their cars to a well-known custom shop like Barris Kustoms in California.


1952 Mercury from the original sales brochure.
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George Barris took the Mercury to his favorite location, the house on Abbott road, not too far from the Barris Kustom Shop for a photo-shoot.
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The 1955 “How to Build a Custom” series in Car Craft magazine by George Barris provided photos and instructions on performing some of the “basics” of building a very desirable mild custom. Granted there had been lots of “how to articles” in the magazines before on various and assorted modifications. What was special about “How to Build a Custom” was that it took the reader through the process of restyling from beginning to the finished car in an eight-part monthly series.

The ’52 Mercury hardtop was owned by Tom Jeffries and he brought it to the Barris brothers for the customizing in 1954. Car Craft magazine first shows the car in a story titled “Installing Side Trim” in the August 1954 issue. The story mentions that Tom Jeffries Mercury will be featured in a complete step-by-step form from the time it rolled into the shop until it is driven out in all its glory. The pictures in the story show an almost completed car with the Barris emblem on the front fender.



Car Craft had been planning to do a “how to do it” custom series and probably reached out to George Barris. The ’52 to ’54 Fords were becoming popular for customizers at the time of the articles. George Barris in Volume 1 Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s said, “The ’52-’54 Fords and Mercurys quickly became popular cars to customize and we chopped a number of them.” This one would be a mild custom but represented a model of a car that was currently popular in 1954-5 when the articles were published. It was interesting to note that the first magazine article in the series mentioned that this body style was similar to Mercury’s ’52 to ’54 and ’52 to ’54 Fords as well. It was important to show that these modifications were applicable to a wide range of cars. The series of articles featured many modifications such as shaving the door handles, removing trim, frenching the head and taillights, smoothing bumpers, etc. that could be done on any make of car.

In writing the “step-by-step” articles for Car Craft George Barris stresses how much money the reader could save by doing the work themselves. In the final story he mentions that the custom work took 3 ½ months at a cost of $1300. He goes on to say that $800 of that total was in labor which you could save if you did the work yourself.




I had to laugh when he mentions that frenching the headlights at a shop would be a $20 to $25 job, but you could save that if you did it on your own. However, in 1955 twenty-five dollars was a chunk of money for some young guys!

Style wise the modifications to Tom Jeffries’ Mercury were tasteful, fresh, and unique for that era. The taillights from a ’51 Fraser seem to fit the top of the rear fenders perfectly, while the ’54 Olds side trim turns down and mimics the dividers in the 1952 only, three-piece rear window. The air scoops added to the hood and rear quarter panels were a nice touch. The smoothed rear bumper with exhaust tips complements the pleasing ¾ rear view. I always liked the photo used at the beginning of part 4 with that same view.

I also think the’54 Chrysler hubcaps, which hadn’t been used a lot on customs in this era, were a good choice. The grille bar restyling along with the molded opening and painted lower bumper make an understated, very clean look. Along with the modified scoop and frenched headlights the front end restyling shows very well on the May 1955 Car Craft cover and in the April 1955 feature, “The Japan”.

One of the most dramatic changes to the car were the addition of the ’52-53 Lincoln grille teeth (These teeth are sort of “hidden” below the bumper on the stock Lincoln) in the smoothed grille opening. This created a much more aggressive front end on the car.
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Stock 1952 Mercury front 3/4 view from the original Sales Brochure.
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The color pictures of the eighteen coat lacquer job look outstanding. Copper rust metallic and gold bronze metallic were the colors selected by Barris and the owner. Although, it wasn’t until part three of the series before the readers finally got to see it in color on the cover. That picture doesn’t really show how outstanding the two tone paint job really was.
Sometime later the Mercury was selected as “Ten of the Best” by Car Craft magazine. The owner was listed as Tom Jeffries and his $1500 custom. However, when the feature on “The Japan” was printed the owner was listed as Nobby Miyakawa. Maybe he purchased the car shortly after it was finished from Tom Jeffries?

The crew at the Barris Shop painted the Mercury in what George Barris described as Copper-Rust Metallic and Golden-Bronze Metallic. This is one of the two color photos I have ever seen on this car.
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The ’52 Mercury “the JAPAN” was also part of the Barris Display at the 1954 Petersen Motor Revue & Motorama at the Pan Pacific Auditorium.
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There is no way of knowing how many cars were restyled using the information and techniques shared by the Barris Kustom shop in these articles. My guess is that the series was very informative to both other shops and to the “do it yourself” customizers working at home. I tend to think that a number of cars were modified using some of the techniques shown in the Car Craft step-by-step customizing series.

I don’t have any information on Nobby Miyakawa and how long he owned the car. As I mentioned earlier the owner was listed as Tom Jeffries when the series began, so at some point Nobby became the owner and must have been the inspiration for the Mercury’s name, “The Japan”.

The April 1955 issue of Car Craft Magazine had a full four page feature on the Mercury. And on the following spread the first installment on the Her’s How: Building a Custom article was started with another 4 pages.
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The second spread of the feature article, and the two spreads introducing the How To article starting with frenched headlights.
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August 1954 Car Craft issue showed how the side trim was created.
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A few of the covers of Car Craft magazines that had parts of the How To features of the Mercury.
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The May 1955 issue of Car Craft showed the front section of the Mercury in color on the cover.
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The biggest question though is perhaps what happened to the beautiful ’52 Merc known as “The Japan”? It wasn’t seen in the magazines much after 1956, it just disappeared? Maybe one of the readers knows more about where “The Japan” Mercury ended up?

Epilogue: I have long been a fan of this particular ’52 Mercury custom and the series on it in Car Craft about its construction. I want to thank Rik Hoving for preparing a file of information and pictures on the Jeffries/ Miyakawa custom car which I used to write this story.









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Antennas on Customs – Beam Me Up Scotty!

 

ANTENNAS on CUSTOMS

 

When building a custom car the radio antenna is a feature that sometimes received “special treatment”. Many times it was left in the stock position or just recessed in a round enclosure. Often times the aerial was hidden or moved to a new location like the rear fender.


By Tom Nielsen

When car radios first came out in the thirties, jalopy owners proudly showed off the antenna on their cars because it meant you had a radio. The aerials were sometimes leaned back to represent speed. When radios became more commonplace, car companies became creative in the placement and use of multiple antennas.

Back in the day there was always the attempt to simply hide the antenna or make it disappear. Cadillac’s in the thirties hid them under the running boards. 1932-6 Fords used the chicken wire in fabric tops for radio reception. Other companies had their own way of building in the antenna.

Cowl mounted antenna’s. A popular aftermarket product in the 1940s. The sample below shows the popular version with the clear colored plastic ball at the end.
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Adding a “Fox-Tail” at the tip of the antenna was a very popular trend, even among custom car owners, for some time during the 1940’s.
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Cowl mounted antenna bent to follow the door line and windshield frame for a more streamlined look.
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It was also very popular to add antenna’s to the front fenders. This allowed the antenna to be detracted all the way. The way this sample was mounted, on an angle, added some extra speed to the car as well.
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In the 1950’s it was common to have your antenna mounted on the cowl from the dealer, but Customizers did not like it there too much, so they searched for alternatives. Jerry Quesnel mounted the antenna of his Barris/Quesnel Restyled ’49 Mercury at the top of the rear bumper, next to the bumper guard.
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Antenna/Aerial listing in the Barris Hollywood Custom Accessory Catalog from the mid 1950’s.
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Tom Hocker’s 1940 Ford (By Barris) had the antenna mounted on the rear splash pan, like many others did. This photo was taken around 1957.
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Around 1953 several aftermarket companies produced wild out of this world space age antenna’s. Even the Bob Hirohata Barris Custom used a double set of these for a short moment. More on these antennas in the story on the Hirohata Mercury Antenna’s.
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My own 1941 Mercury convertible from the early custom era had the antenna mounted the stock location which was in the center of the windshield header. It could be turned upward or down depending on your preference. This type of aerial was used on Ford and Mercury convertibles from the late thirties through 1948. It always reminded me of resembling a boat antenna. When I first bought the Mercury I asked my body man friend about filling in the hole and using a Cadillac under running board antenna. He was reluctant to get a torch that close to the windshield, so the stock aerial remained in place. In time it kind of grew on me until I liked having it upright. For the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair car show I had it proudly turned upward.

Tom Nielsen’s 1941 Mercury at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair showing the Antenna in its factory stock location, and proudly in the upright position, indicating the car had a full working radio.
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The revolutionary design of the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser is a good example of the multiple antennas and futuristic look which had a space age feel. The Turnpike Cruiser had two forward roof scoops with antennas poking out, plus a fender mounted antenna.

The customizers followed suit and took creativity of antenna placement to a new level during the ’58 to ’64 rocket ship era.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser roof top corners antenna’s were an inspiration for many custom builders.
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A great sample of how much creativity went into some of the space age antenna designs.
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Hot rod/custom 1932 Ford with a unique custom antenna enclosure. (internet photo)
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The era in the late 50’s and the “rocket ship” trend saw the antennas on custom cars become an item to make your car more futuristic. The use of multiple antennas on customs and show cars became popular. The location of these antennas ran the gamut from poking out of scoops in various places on the body to having their own dedicated custom mounting place.


The famous 1957 Ford “Trendero” had wild space age restyled front fenders with cut of sections, scoops, floating headlights bucket’s and horizontal mounted recessed antennas.
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Madame Fi Fi, a custom ’56 Chev built in that ’58 to ’62 era has multiple antennas which accentuate its “rocket ship” theme. Tim Norman has been careful to replicate the authentic placement in his recreation of the well known Seattle show car.

The antennas on Madam Fi Fi (Recreation) in the two forward top scoops actuate the door solenoids.
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The two angled rear aerials set in a custom base give it the “beam me up Scotty” look!
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Roth used lots of antennas in various ways on his custom creations for that “futuristic theme” he was seeking. He had the antennas poking out of scoops in various locations.
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New cars like the 1961 Chevrolet used twin, slanted, rear antennas for a little extra bling in the late fifties to early sixties.

Custom Studebaker with twin aftermarket antennas mounted on double added fins in the late 1950’s.
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As car designs went back to the cleaner, understated look, the antenna was again mounted in a more conventional location.

This era was followed by recessing or frenching the antenna base. Sometimes the customizer used two antennas for a custom effect. Often times the opening for the antennas will be sculpted for an artistic effect

The famous Alexander Brothers created some very well designed Customs in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. Always filled with small details, like this recessed and peaked antenna opening shows. They created it for the 1955 Chevy the “Astrian”.
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Perhaps the most popular Custom antenna treatment, flush mounted tunnel, with recessed mounted antenna. As this photo shows the style is even popular on Hot Rods. (internet photo)
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When I built my ’49 Merc in the 90’s I used an electric antenna and filed the head down to match the curve of the fender. Then I painted the top to match the car so it was almost invisible when down.

Currently, when people create traditional customs you will find a variety of these custom antenna techniques. Of course, nowadays no one refers to them as “radio” antennas or aerials. If you look at the satellite antennas on new cars they have no resemblance to the old style.

The digital revolution has changed everything in car sound systems. The old AM radio is indeed a relic from the past, but the traditional custom builder likes the vintage look of them in the dashboard. Although, they may have a digital stereo hidden somewhere in the car.

(Special thanks to Tim Norman for the idea behind this article and for the photos that he shared in the article.)




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Early Pictures Tell a Story – Curb Parked

 

CURB PARKED

 

As a young “car crazy kid” growing up in the 1950’s, I always kept an eye out for customs or hot rods parked along the road while riding in my parent’s car. When I spotted one it was pretty exciting, kind of like finding a “gem in a pile of stones”!


By Tom Nielsen



There is a kind of excitement in looking at a vintage photo and spotting an old hot rod or custom parked at the curb. These pictures may tell a story of why the custom or rod was parked at the curb while being used for transportation by the owner.

One of the things I am drawn to in this type of photo is the “randomness” of the pictures. Many of them appear as if a passerby happened upon a cool looking car and luckily had a camera available to snap a quick photo. Sometimes the pictures are entirely un-posed and show that the custom or rod in the photo was parked at the curb while the owner was out running errands in his daily driver.

Many of the “curb parked” photos tell a story by just looking at them. Using your imagination you can think of a scenario of why the car was parked in this spot. Often times there are signs of recent body work like primer and the picture represents a work in progress. An owner would be doing work in stages so that he could keep the car available to use as a driver.

I came by my fondness for this type of “curb parked photo” by reading Custom Car Chronicles and seeing some of the photos that Rik used in his articles. The surroundings of the early photos and the buildings and other cars are often quite interesting.

This photo from the Jamie Barter Collection has the “look” that inspired me to search for more photos of customs parked along the curb. The picture has that random quality and it is obvious that the full custom was used for transportation by the owner.
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My favorite group of photos came from a story that Rik wrote about a 1940 Mercury convertible parked alongside a street by “the curb” from the Jamie Barter Collection. It had that random, unknown quality to it with a few mysteries like why it had no hood on it. The car also had the look of being used for a period of several years.

As most old car pictures were posed for photographing by their owners, it is a little more difficult to find these “curb parked pictures”. However, I have a few in my collection and have found some others in various sites including the Rik Hoving Custom Car Archives.
As you look at these photos see if you can imagine why the car was parked in this spot and who may have taken the photo. You never know, maybe you will develop a fondness for “curb parked” pictures too?

Two snapshots taken at the Barris Compton Ave, Shop of Sam Barris his personal 1940 Mercury convertible. Sam used his Custom Merc as daily transportation to and from work. If you look careful you can even spot his brother George’s 1941 Buick parked in front of the Barris Shop. Also George drove his full Custom on a daily basis.
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Kurt McCormick shared these two snapshots of the Nick Matranga Mercury parked in front of a house. It shows that even award winning full customs were driven in every day situations.
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Around 1951 Jack Stewart parked his Ayala/Barris 1941 Ford business coupe in front of a friends house.
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Chopped 1936 Ford convertible with ’41 Ford bumpers and Appelton Spotlights parked on the street in the mid 1940’s.
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Most Custom Cars back in the 1940’s were mild Customs, like this unidentified 1940 Chevy. The car was lowered, had long teardrop skirts, Appleton Spotlights, set in license plate, and dark paint job. Classic restyled cars like this were most of the time the owners only way of transportation.
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1948-50 photo of a very nicely done mildly custom 1939 Ford four door sedan. ’46 Ford bumper, bubble teardrop skirts and since bar flipper hubcaps on black wall tires. Another very day cruiser most likely parked in front of the owners home.
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Dale Runyon’s 1941 Ford full custom convertible parked on an Everett street around 1948. The car has survived and today is owned by Paul Harper.
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Early 1940’s snapshot of a typical street Custom with chopped windshield, padded top, De Soto bumper and single bar flipper hubcaps, parked on the street.
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Photos like this really do it for me. An amateur photographer takes a picture of a beautiful building in Pasadena Ca. And a beautiful Custom 1940 Ford with padded top happened to be parked at the curb across the street. Over 6 decades later the ’40 Ford was identified as the Bill Halliday Ford.
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Slick looking 1940 Ford convertible with chopped dark colored padded top and removed running boards parked on the side of the side of the street. It looks to be a sports field in the east, or mid west of the US.
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Some of the customs were also used to transport surfboards to the California Coast. This chopped with padded top Mercury has the rear window flap removed so that the surf board could fit in there from the back. My guess is the beach is across the street from where the Custom is parked.
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Most likely taken at an early drag-strip, cars parked at the side of the road, including these two chopped padded topped Customs.
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Gil Ayala’s ’42 Ford Coupe with out the hood and a mildly restyled ’49 Chevy Convertible.
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Ron Sobran’s metallic maroon 1951 Mercury with angled A-pillars and sunken rear window parked at an unknown location.
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Bob Aguilera’s 1953 Mercury Monterey Restyled by the Dick Richardson Custom Shop parked on the street.
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Stan Lendzon Clarkaiser restyled 1952 Buick parked in the street.
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Unidentified chopped with padded top 1940 Ford convertible. The car looks very much like the Bill Halliday Custom in the openings photo, but it is a different car, this one, photographed in the early 1950’s still has the running boards. Another great photo showing these Customs were used as any other car.
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My friend Doug Mumaw’s custom 1951 Merc parked in Everett, Washington around 1962.
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Mild smoothed and lowered painted all black 1950 Mercury parked at the curb on the corner in Los Angeles.
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Buick Sedanette parked on the curb has radiused rear wheel openings and lake pipes popular in the late fifties or early sixties. The taillights appear to be from a Corvette.
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Jim Roten captured his friends 1950 Ford and 1958 Chevy mild customs parked in front of the lawn.
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Unidentified 1949 Chevy fleetline mild Custom in the mid 1950’s.
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Re-creating That Special Car

 

RE-CREATING THAT SPECIAL CAR

 

Lots of car fans have fond memories of the First Car or a Special nice Car that they owned as a young person.


Re-creating that “Special Car”
By Tom Nielsen



First love is a strong memory that many people find hard to forget. Lots of car fans have fond memories of the “first car” or a “special nice car” that they owned as a young person. If that car was a “nice hot rod” or “cool custom car”, those memories linger even longer and are much more intense.

Sometimes car fans are even motivated to recreate this memorable car later in life. Usually this occurs when they have the some leisure time and the financial resources that they didn’t have when they were younger. Using old photos and a good “car memory” they seek out the same year, make and model of car that they had back in the day. Then the task of restoring and modifying it continues until that car has been re-created.





Ken Wall was a young man working in the parts department at Davis Ford in Denver, Colorado around 1948. He had been borrowing friend’s cars and riding the street car to get around town. Ken had been looking for a car to buy, but nice cars were in high demand after the war. When a very clean 1940 Ford Deluxe coupe came into the dealership on a trade-in, young Ken quickly bought it. This would be his “first nice car”. He had briefly owned a 1940 Mercury sedan before the ’40 Ford, but it was not the car he wanted to keep.

Ken poses proudly with his newly acquired 1940 Ford Deluxe business coupe in 1948.
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Some of his friends also had ’37 to ’40 Fords and a couple of ’39-’40 Mercs too. His buddies had customized and hopped up their cars. Young Ken had the same idea for his newly purchased gem. There wasn’t a car club that he belonged to, however his car friends would all get together at various places around Denver. Around 1948 they especially liked to hang out at “Pic A Rib” which was located at Broadway and Platte River Drive.

An impressive line-up of friend’s cars taken in 1948.
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The cars were photographed in the parking lot of Miller’s Market which can be seen on the left.
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One of the car owners was a photographer and luckily took these great photos.
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It didn’t take Ken long to start to personalize his first car. His first change was to smooth the decklid and the hood. A set of Ford accessory fender skirts and single bar flipper hubcaps were also added by. 1937 DeSoto bumpers were popular custom touches to have on Fords at that time. It wasn’t long before he had put a pair of them on his “forty”. When the body changes were completed he was ready to have the car repainted. A friend named Jack Stephenson painted it in a ’47 Chev “Ozone Blue lacquer.


Since his nice looking Forty Ford was less than ten years old it was in pretty good mechanical shape. But there were some changes he wanted to make. Ken added dual pipes with Smitty mufflers to his “forty”. Lincoln gears were put in the Ford transmission. A Columbia two-speed rear end was another nice upgrade that he put into his coupe.

This photo taken later in 1948 shows the tasteful changes that Ken made in customizing his “forty Ford coupe“. This photo would help him years later re-create his “Special Car“.
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But he also wanted more power for his custom “forty” Deluxe. So an engine change was the next step in building his “dream car”. In the late forties and early fifties there were several speed shops, like the well known Kenz and Leslie, around Denver. These shops had all the hot rod parts and know how to help out Denver’s young hot rodders. Ken purchased a 59 A block to build up and put in his coupe. He had it bored, added a ’49 Merc crank and a Winfield ¾ cam. To finish this “hot motor he put on 81 A S Ford high compression heads and a re-jetted Stromberg 97 carb.

Great angle highlighting two chopped custom converts and a mild ’40 convertible.
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Some of Ken’s friend’s cars parked near his home. The rear of the chopped convert on the right has a nice look to it.
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Jim Katsimitas with his nicely appointed ’40 convertible.
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Rudy Witek’s full custom 1937 Ford Club Cabriolet sports Calnevar Whitesides with single bar flipper hubcaps.
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Ken and his friends had lots of fun in and around Denver in their hot rods and customs. One long trip that Ken took was when he drove to Miami, Florida with two friends. He also drove the car to the West coast going to Portland and Los Angeles. Eventually he sold his prized “first nice car” so he could buy a 1949 Mercury. But he never forgot about his special, blue Deluxe ’40 Ford coupe.



The Re-Creation

Fast forward about 30 years and Ken was now living in Washington state and building warehouses. As a hobby he was into restoring model A Fords. It just so happened that a relative had been storing a nice 1940 Ford Deluxe coupe in Denver. He was always going to do something with it, but was pretty busy with his business. When Ken asked about buying it that he told him he would sell it to him so Ken could re-create his old car.
Ken didn’t hesitate and soon was on his way to Denver with his trailer to pick it up. When he got it back to his home he knew exactly what he was going to do to the ‘40.

The coupe that Ken brought back from Denver to re-create his first ’40 Ford.
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He located an engine and the parts needed to rebuild it. A Mercury crank and Winfield cam were also sourced for the motor. I helped him find a Thickstun dual carb manifold and he purchased a set of high compression heads. He also found a Columbia rear axle which he rebuilt and then reworked the vacuum controls. His time spent in the Ford dealership back in 1948 helped him in identifying the correct parts he needed for the mechanical rebuild.

I took this photo of the “new” coupe shortly after completion by Ken. “Ozone blue” paint and a “period perfect look” make it look like his first “special car”.
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With the running gear pretty complete, he turned to restoring the body on the coupe. The sheet metal was rust free and very straight. The only problem was a little rust in the drip rail. His Model A restoring buddy Johny Cooper fixed it for him. Ken carefully massaged the sheet metal until it was ready for paint.

This time around Ken decided to paint his car himself. The Ozone blue lacquer used on the first car was duplicated for the “new” forty. A pair of ’37 DeSoto bumpers were replated and installed on the car. In the rear Ken used a ’41 Ford grille guard with the license mounted in it just like he had used on the first car.

Rear shows off the Desoto bumpers and ’41 grille guard along with the “genuine Ford accessory” fender skirts.
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Filled hood, shortened side trim, ’37 Desoto bumpers, and single bar flipper hubcaps, just like the “First Special Car“.
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In 1948 white walls were not used as often on hot rods and customs, like they were later in the 1950’s. Ken stayed true to his re-creation and used blackwalls with single bar flipper hubcaps The result stays very true to the car’s 1948 theme. In Ken’s first car the interior was the original mohair as the car was still not very old. For this version Ken selected a fabric close in color to the brown of the first forty. It was upholstered in a rolled and pleated pattern.

Interior was done in a rolled and pleated tan fabric with maroon piping that contrasts nicely with the restored dash and stock steering wheel.
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Modified 59 A block with speed equipment follows the theme of this “Special Car“.
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The finished car looks just like the one that Ken owned in 1948. Since he finished the car he has had lots of fun showing it and driving it to car events for over twenty years now. He even took his “new” forty back to Denver to hang out with his old car buddies.When he gets behind the wheel and hears that flathead fire up it takes him back to 1948 again! What more could you ask for than reliving such a fun and memorable part of your youth!








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A Day at the Barris Shop

 

A DAY AT THE BARRIS SHOP

 

The August 1953 issue of Rod and Custom magazine  had a beautiful feature on a day at the Barris Kustom Shop. Lets take a closer look at this and see some never before published photos.



I was born in 1967, in the Netherlands, far away from where most of the Custom Car History originated. I’m way to young to have been able to walk around in the famous Custom shops from the 1940’s and 1950’s, my favorite Custom Restyling period. When I came across some old R&C magazines at an Dutch Classic Car show decades ago I was in 7th heaven. Many years later I came across some of the early Hop Up and R&C magazines, one being the 4th issue of R&C, August 1953, one of my all time favorite R&C magazines. This issue had an whopping 6 page article on an Saturday at the Barris Shop as part of the new Barris Korner series.

It was for me the first time I was able to get a better view of how the Barris Shop looked like, and worked, and how it must have been for the guys back then to work at this shop, or hang out there on a Saturday afternoon. The lead-photo of the article, taken across the street from the Barris shop is one of my all time favorite photos taken at the Barris Atlantic Blvd shop. To me it is pure magic, and I have always hoped that one day some more, or at least better photos would surface of this photo, or photos taken the same day.

The openings photo from the August 1953 R&C article. What a sight! This photo alone must have had an impact on a lot of people back in 1953, and really ever since. The Barris Kustom Shop, where all the Custom Car magic took place.
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Unpublished photos.

In December 2017 my good friend and CCC contributor Tom Nielsen, mentioned he had a few more photos taken at the Barris Shop, and was wondering if I could tell him a bit more about these photos. It turned out that Tom had several photos from this same Saturday photo shoot with George Barris as that was used in the August 1953 issue of R&C. But Tom’s photos had never before been published. They must have been outtakes. The photos Tom has in his collection are copies from copies from the original photos, and at this point it is impossible to find out where they originally came from. But we know that they were all taken with George Barris his camera, most by George himself, and others, where we can see George in, were taken by somebody at the shop.

One of the guys fooling around in the driveway. I wonder if George was standing on the roof of the building across the shop, or perhaps he used a ladder?
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My new all time favorite Barris Shop photo is this one, from ground level showing the fantastic Customs lined up in front of the shop, and the rest of the activities going on.
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Close up of the photo shows: from left to right Mystery parked in-progress Ford, Dick Meyer 1953 Ford, Snooky Janich 1941 Ford, Jerry Reichman 1950 Mercury 4-door, Dale Marchall 1950 Mercury, Jim Collins / Don Vaughn 1947 Buick, Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy.
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Sam Barris showing how an Barris Accessory Hot Rod fender would be mounted on his Model A roadster. The majority of cars done at the Barris Shop were Customs, but they were also very capable to do Hot Rods, as this and several other photos taken this day show.
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I really love this photo as well, not only because it shows three fantastic Barris cars, but also since it shows the corner across the street from the Barris shop, where an other iconic photo was taken which we have used for another CCC-Article. Dale Marchall is mounting his Kustoms Los Angeles brass tag to his in progress mild 1950 Mercury Custom. Behind it is Jim Collins 1947 Buick (formerly owned by Don Vaughn), and next to that is the Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy.
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In the R&C article we can read that Sam Barris (left) and George (right) are discussing plans for the Chet Herbert Bonneville Streamliner with Harry Lewis. Harry was hired by Barris to design and help create race cars at the Barris shop. This never before published photo was taken from a slightly different angle than the photo that ended up in the R&C article.
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Dicky Meyers is prepping this Model A on ’32 Ford rails Hot Rod for paint in a corner of the original building. Very interesting how they use news paper to tape off the engine bay preventing over-spray. The wheels and tires were covered by old rags. Notice the meters on the wall behind the car.
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1949-50 Lincoln coupe mildly restyled stopping at the Barris shop, possibly for a quotation on repairing the damaged front, and possibly further restyling?
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The R&C article describes a bit how a typical Saturday at the Barris shop looks like, at least part of it. We have heard stories from some people that the info in this article(s) is mostly correct, but very often they leave out the part that later at night they all went out to some of the famous places to hang out, go to dances, trying to hook up with the girls. have the most fun possible. According to some chasing the girls and trying to get them impressed with their automobile was one very important reasons for having a Custom Car.



Published photos

The article is done really nice and literary walks us true the shop as if the reader was to visit the shop himself. Starting outside the shop then going on to the drive way, or parking area, and then into the shop, the office first, then the work places int he original building and then on to the former Filbar Furniture building Barris had added to the shop not long before these photos were taken. The only thing that could have made this already perfect article would have been with a floor plan drawing…. I have thought about creating one, but at this moment I have not enough information to actually do one that I know is accurate enough.

The 6 page article in the August 1953 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. One of the very best Barris Kustom Korner articles, and this article alone must have boost sales on the magazine enormous.
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More stories on Saturdays at the Barris Shop
Jack Stewart was good friends with George Barris and spend a lot of time at the Barris Kustom Shop at Atlantic Blvd. George Barris finished his mostly Ayala restyled 1941 Ford in 1951. Jack mentioned that George loved to paint cars, and very often used the more quite weekends to stay at the shop mixing paint and spraying the many coats of lacquer to get the deep lustrous paint jobs the Barris Shop was so well known for. George painted Jack’s ’41 Ford during the weekend as well. Jack brought his car over on Friday, and when he showed up at the shop on Monday it was all done and looking amazing. Which, according to Jack was somewhat amazing, since the paint booth at this Atlantic Blvd shop was far from ideal with a dirty dusty floor. Jack always mentioned to George he might as well paint the cars outside. But George was still able to turn out amazing paint jobs at this shop.

In the early days of the Barris Shop, George was single (just as jack) and he would be at the shop most of the time 7 days a week. But especially the Saturdays were very busy at the shop. The Saturday all the car owners were off from their regular job, and would go over to the Barris shop to help out with their cars at the shop. The more work the owner could do on their own cars, the lower the bills would be.

Tommy Thornburg polishing the Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy. Parked next to is is the old Don Vaughn 1947 Buick, and peaking out over the rear of the top is an Henry J Custom. If we only could see this picture in color…
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Nick Matranga on the left discussing the options how to fix the damage done to the rear of the Snooky Janich 1941 Ford.
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Jim Collins from Gardena, California had recently bought the beautiful Barris restyled 1947 Buick convertible with Gaylord padded top from original owner Don Vaughn.In this photo Jim is cleaning the car, and we can see the back of Dale Marchall’s 1950 Mercury with custom taillight pods and primer painted sitting next to it.
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Bob Lund 50 MercuryFrank Sonzogni working on Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury. In the background we can see the model A roadster getting ready for paint, and outside we can see a small portion of Jerry Reichman’s in progress 1950 Mercury 4-door.
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Jack also remembers many Saturdays he spend at the Barris shop with a lot of the guys from the original Kustoms Los Angeles club. The shop was a hangout place for the club, and everybody got together there, hang out for some time and then would go out together that Saturday night. Jack had good memories hanging out at the Barris shop with his good friend Doug Anderson (aka dog face) who owned a Custom 1939 Ford convertible with chopped padded top. And Jack Cordkill who owned a 1938 Ford Chopped Coupe, Dick Fowler was also a guy that Jack hung out with when he turned up at the Barris shop. Dick also owned a chopped 1938 Ford coupe, the one with the Packard grille, that Kurt McCormick now owns. Jack was also good with Bill Ortega who worked at the Barris shop part time and as well as at the parts department at an Lincoln Mercury dealer.

The Saturdays were always a lot of fun, where everybody helped on the projects, getting cars ready to hit the road on Saturday night, or prep them for a show the next day. Jack had very good memories about him and George driving George his cars to the parties, Jack never drunk much, so he usually ended up driving George his cars back home early in the mornings on Sunday. But this was perhaps a year or two before these photos were taken. During that time Jack also hung out with Marcia Campbell who hung out at the Barris Shop on Saturdays during the 1950-51 period. Jack remembered that Marcia was very well accepted at the shop by everybody. It was still very unusual for a girl to hang out at a Custom shop, but she fitted right in with the rest of the clan. Marcia always had here camera on hand, and shot a lot of photos at the shop and took the guys to nice locations to take photos, which she would develop and print, and then brought them over as a gift for the owner (and a copy for George Barris) the next Saturday.

Jack mentioned that the guys hanging out at the shop on Saturday were mostly the same guys each week, mostly pretty much the local guys, but when there was going to be a special event, or a special show, then Kustoms of Los Angeles club members from all around would gather at the Barris shop to drive to the event together. Jack proudly mentioned that very often he was leading the parade, just because his windshield had been cut into the roof a few inches, allowing him to see the stop lights. The rest would then just follow along.


Tommy Thornburg who owned a Barris restyled 1947 Studebaker Custom Convertible can be seen here cleaning the Larry Ernst 1951 Chevy. Perhaps Tommy’s Studebaker had not been finished at this point, or perhaps he agreed to take the Ernst Chevy to the show for Barris. Larry Ernst was from Ohio, and was most likely not in California when this picture was taken.
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Jim Collins cleaning his 1947 Buick Custom at the Barris shop to have it all Tip-Top for the show the next day.
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A low angle view of Dale Marchall mounting the Kustoms Los Angles tag to his 1950 Mercury, getting the car ready for the Pasadena show the next day. The old Don Vaughn Buick is sitting behind it.
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Sam Barris (left) and George (right) with Harry Lewis taking about the plans for the body on the Chet Herbert Streamliner, which will be created at the Barris Shop.
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Bob Johnson aka “Jocko” sanding the freshly applied primer on the rear fenders of Mr petersen’s 1952 Cadillac convertible. The car would later be painted Metallic Fuchsia Orchid.
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Frank Sonzogni working on the grille on Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury using a 1951 Frazer grille bar, later three 1951 DeSoto grille bars would be added to this as well.
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1929 model A roadster on ’32 Ford frames getting ready for a new paint job. Old rags were used to cover up the tires while Dicky Meyers is cleaning the body.
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George Barris often used 1/25 scale plastic promo-model cars to give a quick impression of how a car could look. This helped him as well as the client in making decisions on the modifications, as well as on the colors. In this photo George shows some new paint on an Oldsmobile model for Jack Nethercutt’s 1952 Oldsmobile that looks to be almost ready for paint.
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Sam Barris putting together a brand new 1953 Cadillac Coupe deVille that had been just painted off-white at the paint booth at the back of the Barris shop.
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Different angle of Nick Matranga talking to Snooky Janich (named “Little” in the R&C article) to see how they can fix the dent in the trunk that happened the day before. Notice that the Snooky Ford had already been outfitted with the ’39 Chevy taillights by then. The R&C article stated that the Barris Shop always kept the paint formula of all the cars they painted. But as far as I know, in case of damage, they usually decided it was time for a complete new paint job.
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Lloyd Jensen working on a sectioned and turned convertible Henry J, seen here figuring out how to make the Kaiser taillights to work with the Henry J rear fenders. This car came from Iowa to have the Barris shop perform their magic. Not sure if I have ever seen the finished car. The Henry J was sitting just outside of the furniture building entrance.
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Ralph Manok working on a scoop set into the Cadillac front fender that was added to this 1941 Buick that came all the way from Ohio. We are still trying to find out who was the owner of this car, and what ever happened to it.
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John Manok working on the chopped top of Earl Wilson’s 1947 Studebaker four-door that later would be known as the Grecian.
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Frank Sonzogni is a full time motorcycle officer during the day, and is working part time at night and in the weekends at the Barris Shop. In his spare time Frank is working on his personal  car, a 1950 Mercury which he can be seen working on in this photo. Sanding away on the freshly leaded chopped top.
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George Barris posing with a Jaguar Xk120 which he is Restyling as his own personal driver.
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Sam Barris talking to the owner of the ’29 Model A Roadster about using the new Barris Aftermarket Accessory Hot Rod cycle fenders.
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Dating the photos
So far we have not been able to confirm the date of the Saturday these photos have been taken. None of the photos have a date on it as far as we know.  The Barris Korner article featuring these Spend a Saturday at the Kustom Shop photos was published in August 1953, which means the photos and text must have been submitted at least two month prior to this, and more likely even longer. Most likely the photos were taken in the first couple of month of 1953. There is one more hint about a possible date given in the R&C article, which mentioned that the next day, Sunday, there was going to be a car show held in nearby Pasadena. All the cars were cleaned and detailed for this show. So far I have not been able to find out what this show was for sure, but a good chance is that this was the Pasadena Auto Show and Reliability Run held on Sunday April 19, 1953. The 1952 Pasadena Auto Show (the first annual the previous year) had some high end Customs and Rods attending, plus it had a two page article in Hot Rod Magazine. So this could very well be the show the guys were preparing for on Saturday. (More info and photos on the ’52 show can be found in the CCC-Nick Matranga article.) If it was indeed this show, then the Saturday these pictures were taken was April 18, 1953. But I’m not 100% sure.

Flyer for the 1953 Pasadena Auto Show and Reliability Run.
(Courtesy of Bob Rhoades / Renegades Car club.)
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Special thanks to Tom Nielsen.




(This article is made possible by)

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Victoria Custom Stories

 

VICTORIA CUSTOM STORIES

 

The stories that go along with the old pictures of early custom cars are sometimes just as interesting as the cars themselves.


By
Tom Nielsen

I have tried to put together a collection of ’49-‘51 Ford hardtop convertibles, with chopped Victoria tops, and the stories that go with the pictures. I hope the readers will agree that the Ford Victoria’s unique looks gave rise to some “cool” customs and interesting stories.

By 1951 Ford’s shoebox body style was entering its third year of production. While Ford updated their grilles, taillights and dashboards for 1951, they couldn’t help but notice the popularity of the GM hardtop convertibles in all the GM brands. The Ford Crestliner was an earlier attempt to attract the young at heart seeking a sportier two door. By mid-1951 Ford had decided to come out with a new hardtop convertible. The 1951 Ford convertible was to be the basis for the classy, new Victoria. A steel roof with a curved three-piece rear glass would be welded to the convertible body.





Ford’s new hardtop convertible was a big hit with the public and over 110,000 were sold in just half of a year! Since this new model was so popular, it was only natural that the young at heart would personalize this sporty hardtop to suit their tastes.






Mystery 1951 Victoria

One night in 1959 when young Dan Holms was working at the “Premium Pump” gas station in Renton, Washington a custom car pulled into the station. A one-time viewing left a lasting impression on him. (Us car guys know how strong those early car memories of a special car can be.) It was a persimmon colored 1951 Ford chopped hardtop with some very tasteful modifications. Someone had added ’54 Ford side trim, frenched the headlights, and nicely dechromed the hood and deck. The low Victoria hardtop featured a ’51 Mercury back window that had been slanted to match the new contour of the chopped top. In looking at the side profile the chopped top using the ’51 Merc glass fits very nicely. The bodywork must have been done by a seasoned shop as it has such a great look and everything fits so well.

Dan remembers that when the owner, Corky Carrol, opened the hood there was a Ford six cylinder engine in the engine bay. Today that engine adds to the mystique of this cool car even though back then a hot V8 might have been cooler. (Remember the Valley Custom, Ron Dunn sectioned shoebox has a six cylinder engine also.) He checked out the car carefully and remembers that the paint still smelled fresh and the interior was unfinished. Dan was hoping to see it again and find out more about its origin. It only made one appearance and then it was gone, no one knew where it came from and who owned it previously. It was like seeing a “shooting star” and then it was gone!

In fact, that was the only time he or anyone he knew ever saw that memorable “persimmon” Victoria! It was wrecked the very next day and never seen again.

Years later, a friend of Dan’s named Tom Reano gave Dan a picture of the chopped hardtop. Tom’s brotherr, Bob Reano, is in the picture taken at their house in the Kent valley. Bob very briefly owned the car for several days.

Dan was greatful to at least have a picture of the car that he remembered so strongly. In 2005-6 Mr. Holms decided to run an ad with a picture in Hemmings Motor News, asking if anyone knew anything about the car? The ad ran for over four months and no information on the “Mystery Vicky” turned up!

About fifty years after that gas station sighting of the ’51 chopped Victoria in 1959, a very starange thing happened! Dan was at a car show in Renton and bumped into an old car friend named Frank Donafrio. They got to talking and Dan asked Frank if he remembered the chopped ’51 hardtop? Then he showed him the picture that he had received from Tom Reano.

There was a short pause and Frank finally replied, “Yes, I remember that car well, I was also working that same night at the Premium Pump in Renton! In fact, I took that picture at the Reano house.



Corky Carrol and Bob Reano standing by the custom Victoria.  Bob bought it from Corky and they both owned it very briefly. 
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Then Frank said, “ If you walk out to my car with me I have something to show you”. When they reached his car Frank pulled a picture out of his glovebox. When Dan looked at the picture it showed the same car but from from the rear ¾ angleshowing the ’51 Merc rear window.
“Why were you carrying this picture around? “ , Dan aked Frank. “ I came here today hoping to find someone who remembered this car”, Frank replied. Then he went on to tell Dan that he had thought about that car long after last seeing it at the Premium Pump station.
Dan was very surprised to find out that he wasn’t the only guy captivated by this unique custom car.



The side view shows the unique integration of the ’51 Mercury rear window.
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After running the ads in Hemmings Dan decided that maybe he would build a copy of the 
“mysterious” , chopped Victoria. He easily found several ’51 Victorias for sale in the Seattle suburbs around 2006. After a brief search a very clean, rust free, original maroon ’51 hardtop with a bad engine was purchased in Burien.

Once Dan had the newly purchased car in his shop, he and Randy Ricci began working on getting it to run. The 8BA V8 turned out to only have a stuck valve and needed some degreasing before it ran like a clock. I drove his Victoria several times and it was a nice driving car with Ford’s, new for 1951, automatic transmission.

Here I am behind the wheel of the car that was to be transformed into a “clone” of the “Mystery ’51 chopped Victoria.
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Unfortunately the “cloning” of the mystery custom was slow getting started because Mr. Holms was busy with the re-crafting of another more famous custom car. He was working on the ’56 Chev, ” Car Craft ten best custom”, known as Madame Fi Fi.

One day about eleven years ago a man and his wife from Poulsbo, WA were driving around in Seattle. By chance they happened to see the Victoria through an open door in Dan’s shop. The couple explained that they had been looking for a car just like it and wanted it in the worst way. They offered to buy it on the spot.Since it was really a nice original car and there were other projects he was busy with at the time, Dan reluctantly sold it to them.
The desire to know more about this cool “persimmon” ’51 Victoria with the ’51 Merc rear window is still there! So if anyone knows anything about it please let us know.



Using ’51 tops on the ’49-50 Ford convertibles.

I had never paid much attention to earlier shoebox Fords with a hardtop convertible top grafted on the body. In looking through old magazines and archives I discovered that there were a number of custom ’49 and ’50 Fords that got ’51 Victoria tops welded on them. In some cases just like the factory had done in 1951.

If you were building a full custom after chopping the windshield and wing windows you could get a top off of a wrecked ’51 hardtop. When it was chopped you could fit it to the convertible body. Of course the three-piece tempered rear window always presented a challenge. Customizers came up with various ways to put a rear window in the hardtop. One way was to build a plexiglass rear window or to use a rear window from another car. The results proved to be worth the effort and created a desirable custom hardtop.

One of the first customs built in this manner belonged to Elton Kantor and was built by Joe Bailon in 1952. Bailon was able to do a complete makeover of this convertible and even hand made the taillights and grille. The rear window was built from plexiglass in three pieces. With its dark metallic blue paint Elton’s car won the Elegance Award at the Oakland Roadster Show in 1953. The smooth sides and sleek profile make this shoebox’s low lines look awesome. The Hop Up Magazine photo with the attractive models and a lake in the background is a “classic picture”.

Elton Kantor’s Ford started out as a convertible. Joe Bailon chopped the windshield and added a new roof with plexiglass rear window in the typical Ford Victoria style.
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The first version of the car was painted dark blue with no side trim for an ultra smooth look.
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Later Elton had Joe Bailon add modified ’54 Chev side trim and ’54 Chev taillights to give his car an updated appearance. The car was featured in several car magazines in the 1950’s.
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Another spectacular looking hardtop custom from around 1954 was owned and built by Jay Johnston. It also has a nice low profile and the top flows nicely into the trunk area. A great looking Gaylord interior and a chromed ’51 dash set this hardtop apart and made this car one of the great shoeboxes of that era. Photos in the Rik Hoving Custom Car Archives show that it has a coupe body and the chopped Victoria top was grafted on to it. A rear window from a closed car was fit to the hardtop when it was chopped. Jay’s car also looked outstanding in two tone as it appears in the cover photo for Car Craft in January 1955 .

Jay wrecked his custom ’49 Ford Coupe, and bought the remains back from the insurance company. He then collected parts from other cars, including a new roof from a Sedan to create his home made chopped Victoria body.
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Jay goofing around on his in progress project. This photo shows the coupe doors with cut off window frames, laid back windshield, and hard-topped roof created from a sedan top.
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The big picture shows the first version in purple and lavender how Jay Johnston finished his home made Ford Victoria. The inset photo shows the last version of the car with new Mercury taillights and new paint.
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Jay Johnston’s 1949 Ford in its most famous salmon and cream color combo how it appeared on the cover of the January 1955 issue of Car Craft magazine.
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1949 convertible, “survivor”

Unfortunately, not much is known about this abandoned “survivor” ’49 convert with a Victoria top. For a moment I thought that it had been built by Tom Sewell in Yakima and later owned by Frank Maes in Oregon. However, in looking at Franks car the rear window treatment and lack of ’49 trunk hinges show that it is not the same car. Frank’s Ford had been painted and scalloped while at Wescott’s for an update in 1959. The purple and white ‘50 Ford received a respectable third place in “full custom” amid some tough competition at the 1959 Portland Roadster Show.

Using a ’51 top on the earlier Ford convertible created this Northwest, “full custom” hardtop.
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Frank Maes purple ’50 from the back with Frank by his car.
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The “survivor” ’49 Convertible has been saved from any further deterioration. The body has been straightened and it is currently (May, 2017) in primer. We would like to know more about the history of this Olds powered chopped ’49 Ford. If anyone has any information about this custom I would appreciate hearing about it.

 

Here is an interesting story of how a custom hardtop was built from a ’49 convertible using parts from both the ’51 Ford Victoria and trim pieces from a 50’s Buick. Rod and Custom told the story pretty well in their November 1954 issue and there is not much that I can add to it.

Cotton Woodworth’s ’49 Ford with Vicky top had a full 4 pages in the November 1954 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine.
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I think this example of a ’49 convertible with a Victoria top looked more like something Buick or Ford could have offered from the factory. It is a very successful blending of different parts to come up with a good looking hardtop convertible. If Ford had offered a car like this in 1951 it would have been real winner in sales!

Cotton Woodworth did all the work on his ’49 convertible with a ’51 top in his body shop in Oklahoma City. The end result is a very stylish ample of how great these Victoria’ can look as full custom.
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Pictured below are several photos from the great Jim Roten collection in the Custom Archives that Rik Hoving maintains. I don’t know anything about the car, but the car appears to be a ’50 Ford that someone grafted a ’51 Victoria hardtop on when it was chopped. I like the “early look” of the car’s front end view. It shows how guys used to drive around with their car while still undergoing customizing. The rear view shot has a wonderful 1950’s background and the car looks finished from this angle. These pictures taken in Northern California almost tell a story just by looking at them.




Chopped ’50 hardtop from the Jim Roten Collection.
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Here is what Jim Roten remembers about his three photos.

“I took the photos of the chopped ’51 Victoria during the summer of 1954. It was regularly parked in front of a store on highway 101 in Fortuna. I never met the owner and have no history of the car. It was highly unusual to see a chopped late model car in those days, especially in such a remote place as that small city along the coast in Northern California. I doubt that it was ever finished.”

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A few more samples of Customized Ford Victoria’s

Ina Mae Overman took a photo of this very nicely done mild Custom ’51 Ford Victoria at an mid 1950’s High School car show. It shows these Victoria’s did not need much to become a really cool car.
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Shoebox Fords always looked great with a sectioned body, and when Sam Climo added a chopped Victoria top to his sectioned convertible body the result was stunning.
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Sam Climo’s Ford survived and was recently (2015) uncovered. This photo shows that Sam used a single piece of plexiglass, bended to fit the chopped rear window opening replacing the stock three piece unit. More on Sam’s car can be read in the CCC-Article.
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Mark Skipper filled in the rear window and used a smaller unit on his chopped Vicky, the Royal Victoria.
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George Hernandez from Sacramento is the owner of this stunning 51 Ford Vicky with chopped top.
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The rear window on George his Victoria was done exceptionally well, flowing beautiful into the chopped top.
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Epilog:
In summary, the addition of the hardtop convertible Victoria to the line of 1951 Fords was a good move on the part of the Ford Motor Company. It updated their three year old body design. The new model also gave lots of new possibilities for the guys who customized their shoeboxes.



(This article is made possible by)






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What’s in a Name?

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

 

The trend originated from Motor Boats and WWII airplanes found its way into the Custom Car and Hot Rod scene in the 1950s. It is still going strong today.


By Tom Nielsen

Ron Aguirre’s 1956 Corvette “X Sonic” Painted by Larry Watson.
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Close up of the Ron Aguirre X Sonic name painted on the car by Larry Watson.
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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)


Custom cars have been given names by their owners since the early 1950’s car shows. The practice probably got started in WWII when affectionate names got painted on the nose of military aircraft by young GI’s. Pleasure boat owners have always sought to personalize their water craft by giving them an identity with a special name. So it was only natural that custom car owners would eventually put a name on their “dreamboats” too!


Larry Watson painted boat named “Yatchet”.
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WWII aircrafts with names painted on the nose may have been the inspiration for naming hot rods and customs.
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There was a period from about 1958 to 1961 where guys started having the name of the car painted on the quarter panels or some other obvious spot. I think that this went along with the trend for wild and creative pin striping that was started by Von Dutch and continued through the Larry Watson era.

Larry Watson did the scallops and the graphics on Jim Jackson ’56 Chevy.
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From show cars with names painted on signboards or the sides of the car, the trend quickly spread to having a name painted on everyday driver customs or hot rods. Noted Northwest pin striper Donn Trethewey remembers, “Yes, I certainly do remember car names. I did a number of them. Even on my own ’37; it was The Steel Eel, a name I’d seen in a magazine, so I cannot take full authorship. Blue Angel, Red River Rock, Misty, Cherry Pie, and so on. Mostly in the standard, one-stroke script, lettering style.”

Jack Stewart’s “Polynesion” sectioned ’50 Olds hardtop by the Valley Custom Shop.
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One of the first customs that I noticed with a name was when the sectioned Olds hardtop built by the Valley Custom Shop was on the cover of Hot Rod magazine. It was named “Polynesian” which seemed like a pretty cool name to me. Another name that was especially memorable was Duane Steck’s full custom ’54 Chevy called “Moonglow”. That always seemed like the perfect name for the low, heavenly looking, white and blue’54 Chevy hardtop.





“Moonglow” was the perfect name, in my opinion, for Steck’s custom Chevy.
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There are lots of options for a car’s name. Appearance or design features are often behind an owner choosing a name. Sometimes a hot engine or special mechanical equipment gives impetus for a car’s name. Rock or popular song titles, movie stars names were used back in the day. Many times the paint colors are where an owner comes up with a car’s name. However, sometimes an owner just wants to make a statement about the car’s persona. There were also times when an owner wanted to make a personal statement about himself in his car’s name.

Another early name on a Custom was “Artic Sand” on Kenneth Peterson’s 1946 Ford Coupe restyled by Clarkaiser.
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Willian Block’s 1936 Ford “Brandy’s Chariet”.
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Here are some examples that come to mind on different car names. There are many names that fit in each category but I just wanted to give a few examples.
Colors: The sectioned 1959 Ford, My Blue Heaven, from Oregon had its name proudly painted on the rear quarter panel. There was a ’57 Ford hardtop in Seattle around 1958 known as “The Pink Lady”. The “Jade Idol” name seemed really appropriate for that ’56 Merc with the multi-green color scheme that Gene Winfield put on it. Joe Bailon’sCandy Bird” Thunderbird was another great named based on the candy apple paint job. Lyle Lake’s 1951 Buick was appropriately given the “Blue Danube” name. Gil Clifford came up with the name “Red Rage” for his sectioned ’56 Buick. Larry Watson thought up the name “Grapevine” for his grape colored ’50 Chev two door sedan. These are just a few of the color based names I can think of. Naming a car for its color is perhaps the most common inspiration for a name. You can probably think of lots of other examples for this category.


The “Pink Lady” ’57 Ford was a popular show car around 1958 in Seattle.
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Chuck Atwood’s 1959 Ford “My Blue Heaven” was painted ’56 Dodge Royal Blue and had its name painted on the rear quarter panel. The car was restored by Ron Sanders.
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Satan’s Pearl” ’52 Studebaker from Kent, WA and the ’40 Ford sedan called “The Treasure” from Vancouver, BC.
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Madame Fi Fi was a flamboyant name that set it apart from the more ordinary names.
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Physical attributes
Madame Fi Fi, the Seattle “show queen” , was named for its F. I. (fuel injected 1957 Chevy engine). The outrageous name set the stage for the series of “radical” modifications that would follow in the years after the engine was installed. Joe Bailon appropriately named the customized ’58 Impala “Scoopy Doo” for its multitude of scoops. Dave Stuckey’s “Little Coffin” ’32 Ford sedan had a boxy, coffin shape to it. The Alexander Brothers used the name “Victorian” for their beautiful ’55 Ford named after its Crown Victoria model name.


Personal Statement 
El Matador was a good choice as a name for Cushenbery’s wild ’40 Ford. It created a statement about the car’s presence, attitude, and bravado. Barris’ name “Aztec” seemed to make a perfect statement for that very famous and radical ‘55 Chev convertible. The “CadZZilla” name combined the make of the car with a statement about its sinister, monster look.




“Rita” is one of the latest of John D Agostino’s customs named for famous movie stars of the ‘40’s and ‘50’s.
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Movie Stars, song titles, etc
John D Agostino has been titling his beautiful custom creations after famous movie stars. Gable, Marilyn, Rita and others give the elite character and a sense of the era that the car’s design fits into. There was a local car from Washington called “Party Doll” after the song title. Lots of rock and roll songs provided names for everyday and custom show cars.


Geographic Location
The Hirohata Merc was given the name “Hawaiian”. There was also “Desert Beauty”, Parisienne, Artic Sand, plus many other names that fit into this category.

Special made nameplate “The Hawaiian” on the Hirohata 1951 Mercury.
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In the mid to late 1950’s Renton’s Gary McCann owned a cool ’41 Chev coupe. His friend Dan Holms, also from Renton, WA, owned the ’41 Chev next and added some changes and detailing. When Dan entered it in the Fifth Annual Tacoma Rod and Custom Show, he gave it the name “Wicked Ruby”. Mr. Holms has accurately recreated the ‘41 Chev coupe and the name “Wicked Ruby” has been revived!

“Wicked Ruby” at Tacoma Rod and Custom Show 1959.
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 “Wicked Ruby” displayed at the Northwest Rodarama in 2014.
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In summary, naming custom cars has been going on for many years and continues to be an important part of many new custom creations today. We remember cars that we like often more by their name than by the owner or builder’s name.

I’m sure if you are reading this you can think of many car names that have been both inspirational and appropriately given to customs both then and now.






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Low Profile Deuce

 

LOW PROFILE DEUCE

 

Thirty-two Fords have always been at the forefront of the “hotrod movement” which began in the 1940’s. Here is an example of one of the more nicely modified three-window coupes built in the late fifties in Oregon.


By Tom Nielsen


One of the more famous customs to be built in the great Pacific Northwest was Ron Courtney’s sectioned X-51 Ford coupe. The Rod and Custom cover car (March 1958) caused quite a lot of excitement when it was first completed by Ron Courtney. Restored to its early custom condition it is still making an impact today.


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CCC-low-profile-deuce-Ron-Courtney-x51Courtney’s sectioned ’51 coupe used many original and tasteful modifications to give it a very “modern” appeal for 1958.
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Porter’s body shop in Mc Minnville, Oregon where Ron Courtney’s X-51 was built had a reputation as a top quality custom shop. There were other fine customs that Ron had a hand in completing that most people aren’t aware of.




Delane Smith’s 1951 Ford

A very nice custom ’51 Ford four door sedan owned by DeLane Smith of Mc Minnville was built about the same time as the X-51. His’51 four door was featured in three small pages magazines.


CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-07Delane Smith’s 1951 Ford sedan built at Porter’s showcases Ron Courtney’s design and metalworking skills.
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I was researching information about Delane’s car and received some pictures of a very sleek looking Deuce coupe.
This unique three-window coupe owned by Delane’s friend, Scott Hamilton. The car also emerged from Porter’s Body Shop about the time that Delane was customizing his ’51 Ford. Scott’s coupe also received the “magic touch” of Ron Courtney.

Being a fan of ’32 three window coupes myself, I was struck by the profile of this remarkable thirty-two. I really liked that the low look was achieved by chopping and channeling, but at the same time keeping the full fenders on it.



Scott Hamilton 32 Ford

Here is Scott’s story of this great looking ’32 3 window coupe that he owned as a young “car guy” living in McMinnville, Oregon in the late fifties.
In the bginning……
“I originally bought the car from a guy who was up here from California and was in need of cash…can’t recall what I paid for it but it was relatively little. It had a fairly stock body with a mildly dropped axle, hopped up flathead and big rubber on the rear. It also had a really nice metal flaked green paint job and nicely done rolled and pleated interior. What possessed me to tear into it, only a sixteen year old might understand. I don’t want to think about all the stages of dumb things I did to a perfectly good car.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-05Front profile shows off the lowered grille shell and small headlights on a dropped bar to keep everything in perspective.
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I kicked up the rear of the frame about three inches and channeled the body and raised the rear wheel wells and fenders accordingly. I had raised the rear of the engine to level out the driveline. This necessitated putting a driveline tunnel in the floorboards and re-doing the firewall.
As you’ve probably guessed, Ron Courtney was responsible for much of the good bodywork, like chopping the top and saving me from making a mess of the rear wheel wells. As I recall he made one of the front fenders out of pieces of three really ugly ones….. The bad part was that it was full fendered when I bought the car, of course I sold all the fenders when I decided to channel it. After running it with motorcycle fenders for a while (they were prone to falling off) I decided to put them back on for phase two.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-03Scotts checks out the “hot” ’46-’48 flathead mill.
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CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-08Custom made one-piece hood hides some of the “chrome bling” underneath.  The hood had yet to be painted to match the rest of the car.
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CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-04Wonderful looking interior with a custom dash insert and very nice small pleats done in all white.  This is a “look” that is still popular in traditional rods today.
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Phase two came about from my “horse trading” for a partially built Model A roadster. The guy had been meticulously collecting components when a divorce forced him to get rid of it.(Not sure if the it had anything to do with the divorce) Anyway, that is where I got the chrome front end and all kinds of goodies.
The upholstery was done by a local shop and I probably did the rest.
I don’t think that I talked Delane into doing very much sanding but he may remember it differently. There were a bunch of us that spent way too much time at Porter’s Body Shop, where Ron worked. It’s amazing that he got anything done at all.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-01Profile view of Scott’s coupe is especially appealing.  Notice the raised rear wheel wells to match the channeled body.
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CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-02It doesn’t get any better than this picture of Scott’s deuce parked by a “new” 1957 Olds! It also illustrates how low the ’32 was after the chop and channeling.
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My car was never in any shows or magazines. I went in the Army before it was truly finished. All the shows and the magazine activity occurred while I was in the service. We were involved in building sports racers later on, that’s a whole other story.”

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-06Three-window coupes were the only ’32 Ford offered with “suicide doors”.  Scott stands proudly by his “cool coupe”!
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In a letter from Scott he told me that he sold the coupe in 1959-60 with a blown up engine and the next owner put a Dodge or a Chrysler in it. Then it was torn apart and left in boxes for many years.
About twelve years ago Scott heard that the current owners were in the process of removing the channel, installing a new frame, but keeping it chopped. We don’t know much beyond that report.

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Hometown Custom

 

HOMETOWN CUSTOM

 

It is unusual now as well as back in the fifties for a custom car to change hands many times, yet remain in the same city where it was originally built.


By Tom Nielsen


The ’41 Mercury convertible that I was fortunate enough to own from 1960 to 1962 was customized in Everett, Washington in 1948. The custom convertible passed through six owners, all Everett guys, before I (Tom Nielsen) bought it in 1960.

I would like to share some of the story of this full custom and how it came to be an Everett car for so long. It is also worth noting that from ’48 to ’62 the car was kept in good condition and not altered a great degree from its traditional custom origins.

When Dale Runyon originally customized the Mercury it was only a seven year old car. He had made a deal with another Everett resident that liked Dale’s chopped and Carson topped 1941 Ford convertible better than his own stock ’41 Mercury convert. So Dale then chopped the Mercury and added a Carson style top and built it similar to the ’41 Ford.

CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-04Dale customizes Mercury while working at Les Logge’s body shop in East Everett.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-01Hand colorized photo parked in front of Kosher’s Auto Wrecking.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-restyle-y-cThe ’41 Mercury even made it in the Restyle your car booklet published by Trend Books in 1952. The owners name, Joe Gollman was right, but they were wrong on the city, it sure was Everett, not Minneapolis as it stated.
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When he had the car finished and painted Dodge Gypsy Green he sold the car to another Everett guy named Joe (Gollman) who had enough cash to convince Dale to part with his classy looking custom. The interior was stock at this point but Dale had chromed many of the interior pieces including the dash.


Joe hopped up the flathead a little and added fender skirts. I have been told that the ’41 had blocked heat risers that gave it a wicked set of “pipes”. The car changed owners several more times between 1950 and 1956. During this time a custom black and white rolled and pleated interior was added. The Mercury was a regular sight around town from 1950 to 1955 according to some of the early car fans.

CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-02Freshly painted Merc parked in front of Dale’s home.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-03On Hewitt in Everett after dale finished the car in 1949.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-06New owner Joe with the Mercury, notice the addition of skirts and Dale’s first chopped ’41 Ford parked in front.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-05Taken by Vince Ostland when he owned the car in the early 1950’s.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-07Vince enjoys his custom with the Carson top removed for a nice day about 1953.
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The car passed through several more owners who enjoyed the unique custom convert which always got lots of attention.

When Roger Bedell bought the convert about 1955 the car had been around for a while and it was in need of some maintenance. I know that it was very fortunate that he was the one who purchased the Merc. Mr. Bedell had both the means and the vision to bring the car to the next level.

Bedell had a car collection at that time that included some very nice hot rods and sports cars. He belonged to a car club known as “The Accelerators” and his cars were always of high quality. When Roger got possesion of the ’41 Merc he had a good plan for redoing the “hometown custom”.

The car was taken to Jack Conner’s Speed Shop in Seattle and a ’53 Cadillac motor was put in to replace the aging flathead. After this was completed the next stop was Cy Richard’s body shop in Everett for a very high quality, multi coat Buick maroon lacquer paint job.

They also discovered a chromed dash hidden by paint and carefully removed the paint. The plastic trim on the dash was done in maroon to match the exterior. Cy and Bill Richards also got rid of the Pontiac taillights and put motorcycle lights by the rear license frame. Roger made some other upgrades and got the Mercury full custom ready for the local mid- fifties rod and custom shows.

CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-10The Accelerators put on a couple of Everett car shows in conjunction with the Headers from Seattle.
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Roger showed the car and kept it in pristine condition while it was housed with his other cars in the collection. Eventually, his younger brother Bob Bedell bought the car from him.

Bob had the car for several years and also owned a “cherry” Cad powered 1933 Ford coupe. The convertible had a four barrel carb on its Cad engine, while the ‘33 had six Stromberg carbs. Bob was an avid hot rodder and would take his ’33 to the Arlington drag strip and the ’41 Mercury to the Seattle area car shows.

One of my more powerful, vivid car memories is going with a friend to Bedell’s house in Everett about 1958. He took us out to the garage where the hot rod coupe and the full custom convertible were parked side by side. It was an over the top experience for a young car crazy teenager. Little did I know then that I would eventually own the ’41 Merc.

The next owner was Rod Mckenzie who was a body and fender man at Schultz Auto Clinic. My brother worked at the body shop part time so he knew Rod and knew about his Mercury. Rod’s family was growing fast and so he only owned it for a short time before deciding to sell it. That was about the time I turned sixteen and had a burning desire to use my paper route money to make the $850 purchase in April of 1960.
The story of my ownership and car show experiences can be found in my CCC “Angel Hair” story.

CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-14Tom’s first show at Seattle Rod and Custom Show 1960.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-13Lots of nice details make a classic interior. Notice the liberal use of chrome with the black and white rolls and pleats.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-12John Orberg at his Schultz Auto Clinic painted the underhood area white and installed tri-power and chrome valve covers on the Cad engine for Tom’s first show. (1960)
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-09In front of Tom’s parent’s garage. This shot shows off the smooth rear fenders and motorcycle taillights.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-08My only concession to 60’s trends was to add pin stripes to the door jambs.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-15In our driveway after I installed a dropped front axle in 1962.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-11Last time car was shown and Tom’s biggest show at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. (Kinmont brakes were only added for this show and taken off soon after)
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When I sold it in the summer of 1962 another Everett man just getting out of the service and bought the Mercury custom. He planned to use it for his main car and it wasn’t really suited to that use. Even I had a second car in high school and had not driven it too much.

CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-verheyWhere the ’41 Mercury was last seen in Everett about 1963.
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I only saw the car one more time when he was driving it. He must have decided to trade it in for a newer car. My friend told me that he saw it early in 1963 on a used car lot at Verhey Motors in Everett.

From that point I have no definite idea where the classic custom ended up. Although I recently met another Everett guy named Bob DeYoung who was a fan of my old Merc. According to Bob he saw the car behind a house in an Everett suburb about 1980. He said it had been sitting outside for years and looked bad, but he was positive that it was the car that he had “lusted” after when I drove it to Everett High School back in the day.
Bob said that he went back several years later to check on it and it was gone! The owner of the house had moved and there was no trace of the ’41 convertible.

I haven’t been able to confirm that story but it sounds logical. Maybe someday I will find out that it still exists as a “hometown custom”!

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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-yearbook-detailTom’s 41 Mercury in his 1961 High School yearbook.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-tacomaThe small snapshot was taken with Doug Mumaw, my high school buddy, and his custom ’50 Merc as we were heading to the Tacoma Autorama in 1961.  The ’50 Merc was our transportation while my Merc was in the show.
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CCC-Tom-Nielsen-41-Merc-hometown-trophiesTrophies and awards.
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Epilogue:
I have noticed recently that more 1941 Mercurys are turning up on the scene as older car guys let go of a project that they stuck away years ago… I know that there is an interest in building these good looking cars as traditional custom. I hope this story gives those folks some ideas or inspiration.


CCC-Tom-Nielsen-map-everett-02Home of the Mercury convertible probably from 1941 to 1963!
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Timeline ’41 Mercury

  • 1948 created by Dale Runyon
  • 1949 Car was sold to Joe Gollman
  • 1951-2? Joe sold it to George Taxtrum in Everett
  • 1953 Car was sold to Vince Ostland
  • 1955 Roger Bedell bought the car he did a complete overhaul, installed a ’54 Cadillac motor and repainted the car in Buick maroon.
  • Around 1956-57 Bob Bedell (Roger Bedell’s younger brother) got the car.
  • 1958-9? Rod Mckenzie buys the car
  • April 1960 Tom Nielsen buys the car takes it to John Orberg to get a lead crack repaired and prepare it for upcoming car shows
  • Summer of 1962 John Orberg sells the car for Tom to man (His name was forgotten over the years) just getting out of the service.
  • Early 1963 the car was seen on a used car lot at Verhey Motors in Everett
  • Around 1980, maybe earlier, a possible last sighting of the car. It was in poor condition but still had the Buick maroon paint. It was stored outside behind a house in an Everett suburb (The car was later removed from this spot and has so far never been seen or heard about.)

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Canted Quad Lights

 

CANTED QUAD LIGHTS

 

Canted Quad Headlights on Customs, a trend started in 1957 highlighted in the early 1960’s. By the mid 60s it was all over, time to bring back the style?

By Tom Nielsen


Early customizers often had a goal to make their cars appear newer along with making a personal statement on their customs. In 1958 Detroit brought out newly designed cars with four headlights. It was only natural that custom builders would begin to try to use them on their forties and fifties cars.

CCC-canted-quad-lights-58-lincoln-011958 Lincoln introduced their canted quad headlights in 1958. Perhaps the most beautiful designed units of them all.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-57-chevy1958 Lincoln headlights taken to the extreme.
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In the Pacific Northwest and Canada the “quad headlight” look took off almost immediately after the new cars came out. I particularly liked the “canted quads” as used on the new ’58 Lincoln. That long oval trim ring looked especially good in lots of different applications.
I was always in awe of the creative way that Vancouver’s Fred Welsh fit them into the fenders on his ’40 Ford sedan. I also like the Lincoln quad lights in some ’49-’51 Mercurys and the ’53- ’56 Ford pickups with their large grille opening seemed made for them. There was a ’56 Chev pickup from Seattle that had a nice installation of the canted Lincoln housings. There was a ’56 Chev pickup from Seattle that had a nice installation of the canted Lincoln housings, sadly I got rid of the picture that I had of it.

CCC-canted-quad-lights-welch-40-ford-02Fred Welsh from Vancouver used a set of ’58 Lincoln headlights in his 1940 Ford four door show winning custom.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-otto-rhodesOtto Rhodes 1953 Ford Pickup truck with 1958 Lincoln canted headlights in a new grille surround created from bend and shaped round tubing.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-lore-sharp-buick-01Lore Sharp’s sectioned 1956 Buick had a completely redesigned front end with 1959 Chevy headlights canted into reshaped front fenders.
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Customizers from the Northwest also used canted quads from other makes and fit them into their custom designs. Lore Sharp used this look in the sectioned ’56 Buick that was a Car Craft magazine Top Ten Custom. Ray Wilson created a great looking front end for Paul Savelesky’s 1955 Chev hardtop “Miss Elegance”. His canted quad design really seemed to flow well with the whole car.

CCC-canted-quad-lights-55-chevy-01Ray Wilson cleverly integrated the canted 1959 Chevy headlights into the complete grille shape. Heavy metal surgery was needed to make it all work on Paul Savelesky’s 1955 Chev hardtop “Miss Elegance”.
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When the “canted quad” trend was hot in the Northwest, it was also going on in California and the rest of the country as well. If you look in the magazines that featured customs in the late fifties and early sixties you can find lots of nice examples. All of the big custom shops in California created some unique ways to utilize the “canted quad” headlights in their restyles.
Cushenberry, Winfield, Barris, Bailon and others all came up with interesting and attractive ways to put the modern angled headlights into earlier cars.

CCC-canted-quad-lights-cushenberyBill Cushenbery’s heavily restyled 1940 Ford the “El Matador” for which he created a complete home made front end including canted quad headlights.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-barris-filesGeorge Barris took many photos of great restyled custom car with canted quad headlights in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Some of the cars were only moderately reshaped to make the headlights work, while others had complete restyled front ends with integrated canted quad headlights.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-59-Buick-011959 Buick had wonderful shaped canted quad headlights from the factory.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-62-chrysler1962 Chrysler came stock from the factory with canted quad headlights which matched the shape of the grille.
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Meanwhile, Detroit brought out more cars with “canted” headlights too. The 1959 Buick lights looked nice on the Buick but the trim on them made them harder to use in other cars. I think that one of the “best looking Detroit canted quad designs” was in the 1961-62 Chryslers and the 1961 De Soto. However, by this time the custom trend for “canted quads” started to slowly fade.

CCC-canted-quad-lights-watson-busonic-01John Schott designed the front end of Roy Abendroth 1955 Buick named “Busonic” using canted quad headlights set in chrome plated mesh in extended fenders flanking a home made grille opening.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-roten-sketch-55-chevyJim Roten designed this beautiful 1955 Chevy with canted quad headlights for a client of the Riley Collins Custom shop in Chino, Ca.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-leroy-goulart-01Most of the front end work on Leroy Goulart’s 1951 Ford, including reshaping the grille opening and the integrating of the canted quad headlights was done by Gene Winfield. The shape of the front created by Gene became so popular that the AMT model kit company even included a similar shaped front end in their model kits.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-barris-merc-fireThe Barris Kustom Shop restyled Bobby Yamazaki aka “Chimbo” 1954 Mercury with a set of canted quads in 1957. On December 7, 1957 the just finished car burned down in the devastating Barris Shop fire and destroyed the car, even before any photos of the finished car were made.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-Bradley-designHerb Gary worked together with designer Harry Bradley to restyle this 1957 Oldsmobile with among many other features, canted quad headlights, for Russ Grady. (From the Mark Karol-Chik Collection)
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-shoebox-01Canted Quad headlights on a sectioned four door Ford Shoebox from Vancouver.
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Canted Quad LightsJust a few sample color photos showing a wide range of different styled of canted quad headlights form the early 1960’s. (from the bill Usedom Collection)
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Canted Quad LightsMore samples of canted quad headlights from the early 1960’s, this time with black and white photos from the bill Usedom Collection.
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Now that traditional customs are becoming more popular we might be seeing more “canted quad” lights again! When used on the right cars, along with a grille and bumper that complements them, the end result is spectacular.

CCC-canted-quad-lights-paul-bragg-02One of the more recent adaptions of canted quad headlights was done by Paul Bragg on his wife’s Pat 1954 Mercury.
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CCC-canted-quad-lights-paul-bragg-01Paul Bragg has always been very creative when it comes to styled and mixing style, and more important make it all work very well together. The integration of the canted headlights on Pat Bragg’s 1954 Mercury is a perfect sample of his design skills and metal craftsmanship.
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See also the CCC-Story Baroque Custom Dreams for a story about the canted headlights which doomed a unique custom ’56 Chevrolet.



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