Florida Man Breaks Rules

Florida Man Breaks Rules

While at the 2022 Lone Star Roundup, I found myself sitting in my old travel trailer discussing the merits and demerits of hot rod and custom cars with my good pal Blake. I argued that the primary reason I preferred hot rods over customs is one of practicality. I like the idea of piloting a machine that has everything I need to go fast and nothing more. Meanwhile, Blake urged me to consider the opposite sex, style, and art.

“You don’t catch a woman’s eye with speed and loud noises. You do it with grace and dignity. Don Juan, for instance, wasn’t a track star. He was a self imposed dignitary with a taste for the finer things in life and…”

Just then, Tom Davison threw open the trailer door and stuck the back of his Canon in my face. Before me, I saw a smooth early 50’s Chevy painted in Eldorado blue.

“I want to shoot this,” Tom said. “And I want you to feature it.”

To be honest, I didn’t get a good look of the car from the tiny image on the back of Tom’s camera. But, I recognized the situation I was in and had a bit of a premonition. When Tom Davison busts in (out of nowhere mind you) on your conversation about customs with an example from the genre, you don’t really consider that a coincidence. You consider that a sign from some god somewhere and… Well, you do as Bruce Lee with water and you go with the flow.

So, here we are and here is Dallas Marine’s 1950 Chevrolet.

Rather than working each body modification into some clever sentence or word play, I think the most practical thing to do here is to just make a list… Like, an actual list of all the shit done to this car’s body to make it what it is:

  • 1948 Oldsmobile grill
  • 1952 Buick front and rear bumpers
  • 1950 Buick overrider
  • 1953 Pontiac belt line trim
  • 1949/50 Chevrolet fender spear
  • 1956 Oldsmobile headlights
  • Nosed and decked
  • Peaked fenders to emulate hood peak
  • 2.5″ chop featuring skewed b-pillars

Now if you handed this list to me without a picture, the first thing that would stick out to me is the use of a 1952 Buick front bumper. I’d be curious to know just how in the hell such a visually heavy piece would work on the svelte body of an early Chevrolet. Add the visual weight of an Olds grille and on paper, the math just doesn’t add up in my brain. Frankly, this list scares the hell out of me.

The thing is, art doesn’t really work in list form. I look at that list and I visualize some complex custom with doos and dadds hanging all over and off it and… Then, I look at Tom’s photography and I see a simple car in a simple color with cohesive lines. Not a single line item from that list sticks out – not even the Buick bumpers or the Olds grille.

And while that list might condense down into a simple shape somehow, the road to that point is not so simple. Not at all. For example, most custom cars are built to emphasize a single line. Usually, it’s a belt line with parallels seen above and below. Dallas’s car, however, is a far more complex double line car. Stick with me here.

To start, you have that tall front end emphasized by the bumper, grille, and peaked hood. That thought caries through the top with a chop that seems almost tapered down to the deck lid and capped with a tucked-in Buick rear bumper. Essentially, Dallas has created a sort of reverse wedge. This graphic will illustrate the line better than my words:

Emphasizing this line is standard flair on any proper custom. Hell, Harry Westergard became a legend perfecting the proportions of this triangle and many after him followed his lead. The simplicity is just hard to argue against. In fact, I would argue that there hasn’t been many customs built (then or now) that have successfully stray away from this idea by adding to it.

Back to Dallas Marine – some random dude from Tampa, Florida that you’ve probably never heard of. He’s not Westergard. He’s not Barris. He’s not Wilhelm. But, consciously or sub consciously, he decided to stray away from this time-tested formula by adding another line. Do you see the it yet? Admittedly, it’s hard to visualize in 2D, but maybe this will help:

Almost as if ignoring the rest of the car, the top of the hood and the front fenders create a second line. It’s actually the true belt line of the car and it’s emphasized by what is to me, the most important addition to the body – the straight Pontiac spear trim. Without this single piece of trim, I’m not sure this car would work for me.  With it, however, this car proves a point.

I’m not a real custom car guy. I’m too practical. I’m too analytical. I mean, good god fellas – I just created architectural simplification drawings to illustrate a custom car. I don’t know that I’ve ever gone to such lengths to prove my own inadequacies… to show off just how little I really know about customs.

Art cannot be dissected with formulas. Art cannot be explained with generalities. Art has no rule book of certainties in which we all follow. And, custom cars are very definitely an art form.

Despite all of this, I do LOVE custom cars and I do LOVE art. I just struggle to make sense of either of them with words. Dallas Marine has created an elegant. beautiful, and simple car through an extravagant and complex process that my brain doesn’t readily understand.

Maybe yours does? In any regard, there is one thing I am 100% confident in writing – Dallas Marine gets it. And apparently, his best girl does too.

Quick Notes:

  1. Dallas was quick to point out that he got a lot of help from Yaril’s Customs, Saltworks Fabrication, Mikey Seats, the Cut Shop and others. I love it when guys are quick to give credit.
  2. The ’54 sourced 235-inch straight motor in this car is absolute eye candy and it makes me happy to see something other than a V8 powering this thing.
  3. Photography by the great Tom Davison.

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