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Art & Inspiration 50's style

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Donuts & Peelouts, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. Donuts & Peelouts
    Joined: Dec 12, 2016
    Posts: 1,122

    Donuts & Peelouts
    from , CA

    Help me and others understand the style that was used in the 50's on cars.
    For the sake of tradition.
  2. BuckeyeBuicks
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 1,433

    from ohio

    All you gotta do is study the kustom and hot rod car magazines form the period and keep on the HAMB. It may not be as good as living through it, but then again you have youth on your side:D
    I have a shit load of the little magazines that I check out from time to time, I have so many I have even been selling a few now and then.
    Donuts & Peelouts likes this.
  3. firemangordy
    Joined: Feb 28, 2007
    Posts: 283


  4. 51 mercules
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 2,845

    51 mercules

    Here's a pic of my mid Merc which was built in the mid 50's.It's a blue with white and blue tuck and roll interior.

    Attached Files:

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  5. Donuts & Peelouts
    Joined: Dec 12, 2016
    Posts: 1,122

    Donuts & Peelouts
    from , CA

    So tuck and roll was big in the 50's?
  6. rudestude
    Joined: Mar 23, 2016
    Posts: 2,089


    Look through some Rod and Customs or Hot Rod magazines from the fifties and I think you will get your vote is yes.....and if your looking to actually read and learn about some of the history of what you are asking look up Albert Drake ...he has written several books on the subject of Hot Rods and Customs of the 50's including the styles, fads, accessories and who had what and when as far as the cars....good writer and person with alot of info...his books are good reads....I have most of them ....also spend some time on the HAMB ...that is what it's about anyways...and believe it or not there might be a guy or few on here that been there done that...and could tell you the way it was ...first hand....I wasn't there, missed it by a couple years...but I have a very large collection of books and magazines that have kept me informed throughout the years......enjoy the trip..

    Sent from my SM-T387V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    BigO and Donuts & Peelouts like this.
  7. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,173


    Yes, and there were differences...Roll & Pleat and Pleated.. Many were white but most often a second color used on part of the panel, or at least on the piping on the seats, and piping on door panels. It never really was a short lived fad, as it was also commonly used into the 60s & beyond.

    The 50s saw eye-catching vibrant factory cars were doing by the mid 50s.
    BigO, rudestude and Donuts & Peelouts like this.
  8. 51 mercules
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 2,845

    51 mercules

    Here's my merc today with the original paint and interior from the 50's. Unfortunately the glove box door went missing before I got the merc.

    Attached Files:

  9. rudestude
    Joined: Mar 23, 2016
    Posts: 2,089


    Just in case you don't have any of the old Hot Rod or Custom magazines within your reach at this time....I thought I would let ya ride along while I flipped through a couple of mine....these are the types of cars that would be more commonly spotted cruising the streets as alot of them over the top one's were more suited for the shows...even some old ads so you can see some of the accessories that were available at the time...hope this helps put a picture in your head of what it was like....
    Note: The last picture of the roadster "Bobbed Job" is of Al Drake,the author of the books I mentioned earlier, back in the day.. 20190223_084043.jpeg 20190223_083852.jpeg 20190223_084004.jpeg 20190223_083707.jpeg 20190223_083639.jpeg 20190223_083609.jpeg 20190223_082840.jpeg 20190223_082723.jpeg 20190223_082742.jpeg 20190223_082539.jpeg 20190223_082549.jpeg 20190223_082105.jpeg 20190223_082423.jpeg 20190223_082436.jpeg 20190223_082342.jpeg 20190223_082212(0).jpeg 20190223_082036.jpeg

    Sent from my SM-T387V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  10. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 3,350

    from red oak

    What year in the 1950`s. The style changed greatly in those 10 years. From the early 50`s with Larry`s Chevy to the Watson style painted 56 in the late 50`s. And everything in between. Scan0071.jpg Scan0442.jpg
    Peanut 1959, BigO and jimgoetz like this.
  11. 32 Spitfire
    Joined: Dec 26, 2008
    Posts: 952

    32 Spitfire

    ....I really think Olds nailed it!

  12. My all time favorite 55. Been lucky enough to see it a few times at the Seal car show.
  13. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 5,558

    from Michigan

    Some things to keep in mind...
    The style changes had a lot to do with how much "disposable income" was available. There was a financial boom in this country after World War II that really got it's legs in the '50s. Consequently, generally speaking, people had more money in the '50s than in the '40s.
    In earlier years, due to financial limitations, a guy would probably spend most of his hot rod money on performance upgrades before anything else. So his car would've naturally had a simpler look, and often sported the original paint and upholstery.
    There were other influences, of course...
    There had been a lot of improvements made in technical processes, production techniques and materials. Vinyl is a type of plastic. Plastics weren't real prevalent until the '50s. Paints were improved, chrome could be had, tires were improved and more plentiful.
    For that matter, almost everything was more plentiful. And better. And more colorful. Cars, furniture, clothes, etc.
    And yes, performance too...not just looks. The manufacturers had been producing overhead V8s since '49 and they were now becoming available to transplant into earlier (and lighter) cars.
    This is putting it into real basic concepts...but I kinda think of the difference between the '40s and '50s hot rod scene like this...
    1940s: 1948 and earlier coupes and roadsters. Original paint...usually black. (in my Definitely blackwall tires. Hopped-up flatheads and inline engines. Simple, minimal interiors.
    1950s - Brighter colors, white-wall tires, custom interiors, later and more powerful V8s. "Mag" wheels weren't available until the early '60s, so no fancy custom "rims". (But don't call them "rims" them's traditional) A lot of nice hub-caps were swapped, though.
    Another over-simplification, but one that I think holds somewhat true...
    In the '40s, a hot rodder could "squeal" his tires.
    In the '50s, he could more likely "smoke" em. Lol.
    Again, there are always plenty of exceptions.
    A lot of hot rodders were slow to give up their flatheads...partly because there weren't yet a lot of hop-up parts available for the overhead V8s.
    And as far as style, there were lots of guys who really liked and held onto that earlier minimal/simple/business-like/I'm gonna beat your ass kind of persona for their cars.
    Sounds like a lot of hot rodders on the Hamb. ;)
  14. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 5,558

    from Michigan

    Absolutely true.
    Seems, sometimes the big culture changes happen in the middle of the decade.
    Actually, it's a constant progression, but there are definitive milestones.
  15. The Shift Wizard
    Joined: Jan 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,277

    The Shift Wizard

    There's no one-answer-fits-all. The styles, the tastes, the fads of those days ran the gambit from shaving/de-chroming to adding chrome, scoops and exaggerating fins and accents. Things could be a little regional also, in spite of the national magazines. I have a very clear memory of fender skirts being a very hot item in one town or place and then being lower than dog poo somewhere else.
  16. It also depends what part of the country.

    East Coast (my favorite style) cars were often channeled not chopped. The use of cycle fenders was common as was the use of 37-39 Ford truck grills.
    upload_2019-2-23_15-32-11.png upload_2019-2-23_15-33-28.png upload_2019-2-23_15-34-53.png upload_2019-2-23_15-35-18.png upload_2019-2-23_15-35-54.png upload_2019-2-23_15-36-45.png upload_2019-2-23_15-37-53.png
    Stogy, BigO and jimgoetz like this.
  17. jimgoetz
    Joined: Sep 6, 2013
    Posts: 271


    This was in 1953. The article says at a cost of $2800. DSCN1256.JPG DSCN1255.JPG
    Stogy likes this.
  18. Great examples for him....
    Stogy likes this.
  19. For me, there's certain parts that are must-haves if you're trying to anchor your car in what is considered here as the 'traditional' era and which part of it. The recent hoop-de-do over flex hoses illustrates one of them; molded curve hoses didn't become popular until the '70s which puts them firmly into the 'street rod' era and not era-correct.

    There were geographical/state inspection differences that could blur the lines, but California with it's never-ending summer has always been the trend-setter. The east/Midwest usually lagged behind by several years, and fender laws (and their enforcement) had a huge influence on how the cars looked. Now, when you're talking about the '50s/'60s, what you're really talking about IMO is the post-war period to about 1955, and from 1956 to about 1966. Wide-oval tires became popular in '67 along with muscle cars and radically changed the 'look' of hot rods. Anyway, a few must-have bits if you're trying to be 'era correct'...

    Wheels/tires. 16" wheels, stock hub caps/trim rings are 'first era' bits. In 1949 Detroit made a wholesale switch to 15" wheels and rodders quickly followed suit. Wider tires/wheels were now available (better traction) so by '56 16" wheels were 'out'. Basically, if you were running an OHV V8, you had 15" wheels, and probably even if you weren't. This is also when you started seeing reversed/widened wheels. A huge variety of 15" OEM full wheel covers were now common and quickly made the transition to rods/customs, along with Moon discs and the first 'baby moons'. The guys with a few extra bucks had their wheels chromed, although that was more common in the late '50s/early '60s. Alloy wheels started appearing on home-built cars in about '61, but it wasn't until about '64 that they started showing up in large numbers. The OEM switch to 14" wheels in '57 even saw some of these leak onto hot rods, although they were never common. But a lot of customs got them, it was an easy way to lower your car.

    Headlights. This one is a no-brainer. Any time in the post-war 'traditional' era, you ran sealed beams. King Bees or Guides were the most common. There's a lot of reasons for this; one was that they were mandatory on new cars starting in 1940. This came about because too many owners of pre-40 vehicles weren't good about maintaining their lights. Get a crack/chip in the lens, and moisture would quickly ruin the silvering on the reflector, drastically reducing output. Too many owners weren't fixing this (hey, the bulb lights up, it's good..) so the feds required sealed beams so if the bulb burned out, you had to replace the whole assembly as a safety issue. They still had issues, as the early sealed beams were merely 'sealed' versions of the early type in a 7" round design, get a chip in the lens that didn't break the inner bulb and you'd have the same problem. It wasn't until the early '50s that they perfected the all-glass lamps to eliminate this. And in those pre-internet days, finding someone to re-silver your pre-1940 vintage reflectors was neither easy nor cheap. The aftermarket didn't exist yet, and state inspections made these rapidly disappear. That's when all those 'sealed beam conversions' appeared for pre-40 cars; you couldn't license them with faulty (or in some cases, even good) OEM lights. The few early cars you saw with OEM lights almost always had a conversion done. It wasn't until the 'resto-rod' fad came in the '70s that you saw OEM lights on pre-40 cars in any numbers. In the late '50s when quad lights became the craze, you saw some Lucas lights but those were never legal for road use.

    Same thing went for paint/upholstery; up until '55, Detroit was pretty much still using the subdued colors of the '30s/'40s. 1955 saw a huge explosion in colors out of Detroit, with two and three toned schemes, and widespread use of vinyl inside the cars. The customizers were already doing this, but now you could find those colors at the local paint store.

    I'm far from being a hard-core traditionalist, but I do very firmly think that if you're attempting to build even a traditionally-styled car, mixing eras is the about the worst thing you can do.
    jimgoetz, Stogy, rudestude and 4 others like this.
  20. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 14,317


    Candy stripe upholstery

    8390cdd3d2ffef13822c7a4c7d287a21.jpg th-11_large.jpeg cusint1_copy_large.jpg cusint3_large.jpg 20180208_112740.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
    Stogy and stanlow69 like this.
  21. daddy_o's_diner
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,772


    The #ElDorodder is pretty period perfect for the 50's. I built it 2 years ago.
    20170611_152308.jpg FB_IMG_1488220650497.jpg 20170826_174041.jpg 20170826_184325.jpg IMG_6044.jpg
  22. Peanut 1959
    Joined: Oct 11, 2008
    Posts: 1,518

    Peanut 1959

    That's nice and all, but the OP is looking for modified/customized cars/trucks from that era...
    51 mercules likes this.
  23. As already stated, your in the best place there is to learn about '50s custom's. There are lot's of post's concerning that era and some of us were lucky enough to have grown up in Southern California during the 50's and early 60's. Get your hands on some little books, there are a lot of them out there.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
    51 mercules likes this.
  24. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 6,929


    Basically, Kustoms of the 'Fifties cars started clean and smooth ("Less is More"), and quickly evolved to become much more ornate, with the addition of scoops, striping, added trim, etc.

    Louis Battencourt Merc, as done by the Ayala Bros.


    Same Merc, later Barris restyle...


    Two treasure troves to get you started:

    Kustomrama Content page. Pick a brand, then go year by year.

    Rik Hoving's Custom Cat Archives. I've started you on the Barris page.
    Look to the Ayala Bros. for the early 'Fifties, Gene Winfield ( for the later style.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
    Stogy likes this.

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