Westergard Ford Memories

 

WESTERGARD FORD MEMORIES

 

Anthony from Sacramento Ca. remembers how he worked on Vern Simons Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford Roadster in the 1940s.



In 2010 I was in contact with Tim Cunha about the Max Ferris / Vern Simon’s 1936 Ford restyled by Harry Westergard, about having the car being part of the Customs Then & Now exhibit at the 2011 GNRS. Tim discussed the possibilities with Vern of brining the car over to Pomona for the exhibit. The car was still in as found condition, and was in need of at least some restoration work. Fortunately Vern agreed and the car was part of the early Customs section at the GNRS exhibit. More about this 1936 and its full history can be found in the CCC-Article about the car.


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Some time before all this Vern’s 1936 Ford roadster was featured in the Rodder’s Journal issue #19, but the full story and if this in fact was an original Harry Westergard Custom was not known at the time the article was published. Later in issue #47 of the Rodder’s Journal, their 15 year anniversary issue, one photo of Vern’s Ford Roadster was shown again on page 122 as part of the TRJ favorite Customs section. Anthony from Sacramento happened to see the photo of Vern’s 1936 Ford Roadster and recognized it from his childhood times he spend working with Harry Westergard. So he wrote a letter to the Rodder’s Journal for Vern Simon’s.

CCC-westergard-ford-memories-rj-photoThe photo caption in the Rodder’s Journal issue 47 (the one Anthony saw) read;  We were there the day Vern Simons pulled his ’36 roadster out for the first time since 1961. He purchased it off a Northern California car lot in 1949, raced it at Bonneville in ’52 and pulled the flasmotor in ’56 and it hasn’t run since. Vern is now putting it back on the street. The nearly 60-year-old black lacquer will be retained with all of its patina. The best part is that it is most likely an original Westergard Custom.
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Vern eventually got Anthony’s letter, and the two got in contact to talk about the Roadster. Tim Cunha was able to scan the original letter Anthony wrote for Vern, in which he explained about Harry Westergard working on his roadster and a few other historic events from back when Anthony was a kid helping out Harry Westergard. Anthony was 82 years old when he wrote the letter, and we know now that some of the dates mentioned are a bit off, but the rest is just very interesting. How often does it happen you get to know somebody who worked with Harry Westergard back in the 1940’s!




CCC-westergard-ford-memories-letter2The letter Anthony wrote to Vern Simons about his Harry Westergard restyled 1936 Ford Roadster.
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Transcript from the copied letter

California 6/23/2010

Let me intro introduce myself. I am 82 years old & not seeking anything except to impart information relative to Vern Simons 36 Ford Roadster depicted on page 122 marked TRJ #47. The comment on that caption “That the car is most likely a Harry Westergard Custom” is exactly correct & (Factual). I think Vern Simon might like to know what I know about that car & Harry Westergard.

I was born in 1928 and lived and was raised at 2317-16 st. Sacramento Ca. In 1945 Harry Westergard moved into a downstairs flat at 1530 X st. and began working on cars in a one car garage at eh back of that property which was adjacent to Corffees Laundry. Located on the corner of 16th and X st. S.W. Our property was on the N.E. corner. It came to pass that I would go across the street and as a kid hang out with the guys who would come and have Harry do his magic on their pre WWII cars. Among them Mel Falkner, US Airforce pilot with a Westergard 1927 T Roadster with Cragar O.V. head and exhaust down one side. Honest Joe Miller flathead Ford in 1936 French “CitroĂ«n”, and many others.

Harry just got out of the SU Navy and his prices were minimal. I remember George Barris and Dick Bertolucci and Hunter Wardlous (sp) also discussing things with Harry and solving problems. All these young men were street rod orientated and loved cars and spend most of their disposable income on their cars. I believe I accompanied Harry to a wrecking yard in west Sacramento to help him remove the Packard Clipper Grille from a roll-over. And I watched him cut trim and fit same into a 1936 Ford Roadster and shorten the windshield. By that time I was working after school cleaning Harry’s shop and sanding primer for his “in the Garage” paint jobs.

I remember that car well, I bolted the De Soto bumpers to the brackets harry made while he held them for alignment and level. There is lots more I could tell him, but yes that is a real Harry Westergard Ford Custom.
I’m still rodding in a 1950 Allard powered by a modular 4.6 D.O.C. whipple Supercharged Cobra special. Spectacular car.

Respectfully Anthony.

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CCC-westergard-ford-early-pictureAn early 1940’s photo of the Harry Westergard Roadster.
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CCC-westergard-ford-memories-restorationVern’s Roadster being taken apart for the restoration.
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CCC-westergard-ford-memories-gnrs-2011Vern on the right  looks how a friend drives the freshly restored original Harry Westergard roadster into the Customs Then & Now exhibit building at the 2011 GNRS.
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Many thanks to Anthony, Vern Simons and Tim Cunha for sharing the info.


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(this article is sponsored by)

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Max Ferris – Westergard 1936 Ford

 

MAX FERRIS WESTERGARD 1936 FORD

 

Restyling this car in the 1940 would have an impact on the custom car scene forever. The term “Harry Westergard style” came from the looks Harry achieved for this 1936 Ford.


CCC-max-ferris-westergard-18-WGene Winfield took this photo of the 1936 Ford in the parking lot of a NorCal circle track. Interesting to see the side window curtains installed. Most likely because it was winter time when Gene took the photo. Ed Jensen was most likely already the owner of the car when this photo was taken.
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[box_light]Most of the photos in this article come from the Ed Jenson Collection. They were shared by Tim Cunha and scanned by Curtis Leipold. More amazing photos from Ed Jensons 1940’s photo collection can be seen in the Ed Jensons Custom Car Chronicle section.[/box_light]


CCC-max-ferris-westergard-01-WThe Ford parked in front of Ed Jensen’s house.
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[dropcap]H[/dropcap]arry Westergard customized this 1936 Ford Roadster for Max Ferris in the early 1940’s. Harry Westergard was the best in reshaping an “ordinary” Ford into an exclusive automobile. The Packard grille was one way, and, combining it with the long 1939 Buick headlights molded into the front fenders made it an instant winner. The Packard grille was found on a roll-over car at a local wrecking yard and was installed in a hand-shaped panel filling the stock grille opening. The front fenders were welded to the grille surround making the front piece one single unit. For the first version, the hood sides remained stock, but later on a set of smooth hood sides were installed, to clean it up even more. Harry chopped the windshield post and a padded top was constructed. To clean up the car and add some more class to the Ford, Harry filled in the complete belt line from the cowl all the way to the back, creating one smooth body.

All of the handles were shaved and the holes filled. The taillight stands were removed, the holes filled and 1939 Ford “teardrop” shaped taillights installed. A small rectangular hole with round corners just big enough to show the license plate numbers was cut into the panel below the trunk. The plate was installed from inside the car and sat behind a glass plate. These set-in license plates were a big trend in the 1940’s. Harry installed a set of 1937 DeSoto bumpers. It is interesting to see that Harry used a front and rear bumper on the car, while most customs only use the much flatter front bumper on both sides. The much rounder rear unit actually looks very good on Max’s car. Most likely the car was painted a maroon at first and later being repainted forest green.

CCC-max-ferris-westergard-02-WPackard Clipper grille and lowed headlights really improve the looks of a 1936 Ford.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-14-WThe Ferris Ford used a chrome plated dash with a 1941 Mercury gauge cluster and upside down Lincoln steering wheel.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-07-WThis and a few of the other photos show that these cars were daily users, and small mishaps happened. Notice the round 1937 DeSoto rear bumper.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-19-WA good look how Harry installed the Packard Clipper grille and Buick headlights.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-09-WFantastic early 1940’s photo from the Ed Jensons Collection showing the roadster on the far right. But the main focus from the photographer in this photo was the Hot Rod. The Hot Rod is Jack Davis/Calori roadster, not long after Jack Davis sold it to Jack Calori. A 1929 Model A Roadster on a 32 Ford frame with the cut down 32 Ford grille and with the home made V-style windshield and a hopped up engine with two carb intake is a really great sample of early 1940’s Hot Rods.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-10-WEnlarged section of the photo shown above shows Ed’s Roadster a bit more up close.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-05-WThe stock hood sides are now replaced with a set of smooth units. The shape of the padded top is perfectly proportioned. Here we can see Ed and a friend packing some stuff for one of their many road-trips in the car.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-08-WIn this photo we get a good look at the ’39 Ford taillights and set in license plate.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-04-WOn one of the many trip something must have broken down.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-12-WThe photo above and the one below are also taken by Gene Winfield. The roadster was used as rolling advertising for the Roadster races at the Oakland Stadium. Ed knew the promotor of the show and had offered to help promote the event for him.
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Max sold the car to Ed Jensen who owned the ’36 Ford for quite some time. Ed later sold the car to a guy who lived on the other side of the bay and the  ended up over there. When Ed talked to Tim Cunha about the 36, he was not sure about the name of the guy he sold the car to, but possibly this was Larry Chubbick, but it could have been somebody before Larry as well. when Larry Chubbick owned the car he removed the skirts, and changed the suspension, to give the car a slight forward rake. Larry also added a lot of speed parts and a Colombia 2-spped rear axle. Larry used the car as his daily driver and as some of the photos show it started to show signs of being well used. At one point Larry respainted the car in Cinnabar Red. In 1949 Vern Simons bought the car at a used car dealership. By then the rear fenders had been smoothed and a set of  1941 Chevy taillights mounted on the DeSoto bumpers. In 1949 the ’36 Ford had seen a lot of road use and needed a full restoration. Vern hired Lyle Barteles from San Francisco to do the lead work on the car. Vern painted the car in black and had Hall of Oakland redo the padded top. In 1952 Vern took his 1936 Ford to Bonneville to race it. The team struggled a lot but eventually Verne managed to get a speed of 119.52 on his tag.

CCC-max-ferris-westergard-20-WThe reworked engine, Vern took a snapshot moments before it was reinstalled in the car from the trip to Bonneville in 1952.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-13-WThis photo of Vern’s Ford at Bonneville was listed on eBay some time ago. The 1951 date written on it should be 1952.
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When Vern Simons bought the car of the car lot he had no idea where it came from, or who built it. When the Rodder’s Journal did an article on Vern’s unrestored Roadster in issue No. 19 Vern found out much more on the history of the car. But one of the missing links, Ed Jenson, came into the picture after Tim Cunha recognized the roadster in the RJ article from the amazing photos in his friends Ed Jenson’s collection. So Tim made sure Ed and Vern met each other and were able to share many memories about the car. Vern still owns this early Westergard custom. After the car had been in storage and photographed for the Rodder’s Journal article, Vern decided it was time to start restoring the car. He choose the Foley bros. Custom Works shop in Redwood City to start the restoration around 2009. In 2011 Vern Simons was invited to show his 1936 Ford Roadster built by Harry Westergard at the GNRS Customs Then & Now show. The car arrived at the show in a slightly street rodded version. But after spending the weekend at the show, surrounded by nothing but Custom Cars, Vern came to the conclusion the car needs to get back to the full Custom style as it was intended by Harry Westergard in the early 1940’s.


CCC-max-ferris-westergard-16-WVern’s Ford parked in front of the Foley bros. Custom Works shop during the start of the partial restoration.
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CCC-max-ferris-westergard-22-WThis photo shows the smoothed rear fenders and 1941 Chevy taillights mounted on the DeSoto bumper. This is how Vern Simons got the car.
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Vern’s Ford how it looks while it was shown at the 2011 GNRS Customs Then & Now exhibit.
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More info and resources

  • The Rodder’s Journal, Issue #19
  • Gene Winfield book
  • The American Custom Car, Pat Ganahl book
  • Kustoms Illustrated, Issue #35



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