The Buster Litton ’49 Ford
I’ve always felt the custom car world revolves in very tight looped circles. It starts as a blank canvas with smart improvements to line and style and revolves into a mess of colors and shapes totally void of any white space. It all seems to happen in the space of a decade – sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. And you can never really tell where you are in any given point in time. It’s not until a few years later that you realize, “Man, those were the days…” or “Jesus god, what were we thinking when we extended those fenders 36-inches?”
Buster Litton’s ’49 Ford was built over a period of three or four years just as the custom world was turning over from tasteful and well thought-out cars to wild creations created for shock and awe. As such, the car captures what, in my opinion, is the best of both worlds. It is certainly a wild custom – hardly a panel on the car has been left alone at all. But every move seems to make sense to the overall design of the car. It’s still smart.
The car was originally owned by Allen Anderson. Shortly after purchasing the shoebox, he took it to Sam Barris for the “Panoramic” chop. For one reason or another, Allen lost interest in the car and sold it to Buster Litton just as soon as Sam was done cutting and welding. Buster decided to keep the car at the Barris shop and let the boys rework the front end by way of some ’51 Stude fenders, a ’53 Chevrolet grille bar, along with some other changes.
Considering it done, Buster drove the car for a year or so and then found himself antsy again. This time he called on George Cerny. George extended the rear fenders a few inches and added the ’51 Olds’ quarters and taillights. He then had Doug Anderson throw on some rust tinted paint and the Buick side trim. Gaylord’s handled the interior and even Von Dutch got in the mix with some striping – mostly on the dash.
By 1953 and for all intents and purposes, everything you could really do to a shoebox Ford had been done. In many cases, a statement like that ends in a sort of weird depravity. I imagine a car so over worked that only the Las Vegas strip would be an appropriate cruise. Gaudy. Raunchy. Road hard with torches and hammers and put away after the first scratch like a whore that’s lost her edge.
But somehow, the Buster Litton car is timeless. I think a lot of that has to do with Sam Barris’ initial chop. He set the tone and the line… and the follow-up work was done with an eye to that. Thank god Doug went with a single color to match the elegance. If only we could have kept Dutch sober the day he painted the dash…
NOTE: Photos from the Dave Cook Collection.
What’s cool about all of this to me is that apparently, I’m not the only sick bastard on this planet to over think such a subject. Just right off the top of my head, I can bring up Weesner’s Shoebox or how about “Royalshifter’s” latest or Lee Pratt’s classic? All are excellent examples of incredibly re-worked cars that still feel like “Cadillacs” rather than LSD induced visions of space ships. But one car that has really gotten me excited is actually a project undertaken by a Swede named Andreas. His Litton inspired car is damn near ready for paint:
I don’t really know where we are in the revolving circle right now and I’m not sure anyone REALLY does, but I take comfort in the fact that a select group of people just don’t give a shit. They build them how they should be built – or at least how I like to see them. Dirty whores be damned.