The Polynesian

The Polynesian

I’m sure at some point we’ve had a thread on the H.A.M.B. that thoroughly covered the Polynesian. The Valley Custom built ’50 Olds is a legend similar in status to the Hirohata Merc, Kopper Kart, Inman Chrysler, etc… Put simply, it’s a car that is impossible to ignore – then and now. In fact, the Polynesian was one of the first west coast customs to garner attention of design executives in Detroit. Many of them (Harley Earl included) considered the Valley Custom entry to be a more effective shape than the Olds GM released in the same year. It was high praise indeed.

However, it wouldn’t be until decades later that the Polynesian really began to get the credit it deserved. By nature, the custom scene is a “what have you done for me lately” environment. What’s cool one minute is outdated the next. Only time can provide enough cushion for the players to sit back and decipher what was really smart and what wasn’t in a design sense. The Polynesian is/was smart and passes the test of time to prove it.

In fact, many of the big names in customizing (Winfield, Jeffries, Bertolucci, Hines, etc…) consider the Polynesian to be among the best customs ever built. To the right guy, those endorsements are more meaningful than any Detroit exec’s.

Admittedly, however, I’ve never been a huge admirer of the car. When your eye is familiar to a certain proportion (OEM 1950 Olds) and that familiarity is crushed by a section job, it takes some time for things to adjust in your head. The more I stare at the car, the more I begin to understand what all of the hub-bub is about. It’s a gorgeous and simple shape – two things the OEM ’50 Olds was not.

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