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History custom Car builder Spotlight: WESTERGARD/BERTOLUCCI

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Rikster, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    Harry Westergard and Dick Bertoluccie are two of teh pioneers in custom car building. Both craftsmen where building typical custom cars before and right after WW2.
    Harry Westergard is the "inventor" of the taildragger look with small LaSalle/ Packard noses, sollid hood sides rear fender skirts and that awesome speed boat tailldragging stance. Harry Westergard has been working for Dick Bertolucci for some time and together they have turned out some georgious customs.

    This Westergurad custom '36 Ford convertible has all the typical Westergards styling elements. '38 LaSalle grille, sollid hood sides, lowered and long (ussually Caddy/buick or Chevy units) headlights molded into the fenders, fender skirts. chopped tops (padded hard top in this case) Loweerd more in th back. Hubcaps looks to be some early style aftermarket units. (note: on black wall tires)

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    Horn grilles are replaced with turn signals, and beautiful bumpers both front and rear. License plate is sunk into the rear of the body and has wonderful chrome trim added. It looks to sit behind a glass plate as well.

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    Another nice '36 Ford Westergard built was this roadster for Vern Simons.
    Packard grille, sollid hood sides, '37 DeSoto bumpers, molded in and lowered headlights, and the beltline molding all smoothed.

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    This Westergard custom survived and this is how it looks today... it sure could be restored... hope so.

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  2. 133
    Joined: Dec 30, 2003
    Posts: 1,655

    133
    Member

    your posts are so awesome. thanks for posting up Westergard.
     
  3. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    One of the best known and still excisting Westergard customs is Mel Falconer's 39 Ford.
    A georgious custom with some very fine metal work. The first version had a white padded top, which was later replaced by a georgious removable metal hard top. The grille was again Packard.

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    Painted headlights, Buick skirts, '37 DeSotto bumpers. Now with metal HT

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    At one of the Indoor custom car shows in the early 50's

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    Perfect fit on the removable top.

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    Molded fenders, inset license plate, exhaust thru the rear fenders. Also look at the gas filler door on teh drivers rear fender.

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  4. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    Another 36 Ford was built for Gene Garret. Packard grille, De Soto bumpers and again a lift of HT This time the headlights where intergrated into the fenders a litle different. Also note this car does not have running boards but rather has a steel shaped pan covering the frame and chrome panel covering the rear fender.

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    A bit fuzzy picture of the rear.

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    Next is a '37 Chevy Coupe. This is another typical Westergard Custom with the fender skirts removed and the fenders extended at the former running board locations. Chrome panels on the rear fender. Grille is Packard, sollid hood sides, Buick skirts and DeSoto bumpers... classic.

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    Molded fenders

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    Lots of T&C in the interior. This 37 Chevy was lowered extremely but not chopped.

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  5. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    The car at an indoor custom car show in '50.
    (Could it be that Westergard and Bertolucci had a specific area at the show where they showed theire custom cars together. The sign above this car looks a lot like the sign Bertolucci had hanging on his custom shop.

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    Westergard also built several 46-48 Chevy custom cars out of his home garage one of them was this '46 convertible built for Butler Rugard.
    It might have used the Jimmy Summers Chevy fade away fender kit, bu that is not sure. Chopped padded top was made by Hall.

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    Unuasual grille for a custom is from a '46 Lincoln. Headlights where frenched.

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    Another 46-48 Chevy by Westergard. Single bar flipper hubcaps. teardrop skirts. Full fade away fender with nice chromed gravel shield on the rear fender.

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  6. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    Same car different angle

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    Norm Milne '38 Ford convertible sedan with '40 LaSalle grille and Carson top. Westergard is credited for the grille fender and license plate recessing into the trunk. Sombody else chopped the top on this custom.

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    '39-40 Mercury was built by Westergard. It has a chopped padded top, unussual headlight and hood treatment, full fade away front fenders, Buick grille, Oldsmobile bumpers. This photo was taken in '50 at the Sacromento Autoram...

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    and the good thing is... the car is still alive and recently resored by Jack Walker and team.

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  7. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    Lots of metal work at the front, extended frontfenders use later model headlights? Hood looka almost like the botom section was turned upside down.

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    This '41 Cadillac with full fade away fenders is another Westergard custom that still excits today. Its currently beeing restored by Kurt McCormick. and we all hope to see some update pitures of it. Unfortunaltely I don thave any pictures of it in its original state in the 50's so if anybody has those... please post them.

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    49 Caddy taillights

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  8. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    One of the most beautifull customs ever made is this Westergard/Bertolucci built 40 Mercury four door for Ed Ohanesian. Westergard started this custom by reworking the fron tto axcept the 46 Chevy grille

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    Here Bertolucci can be seen witht he car with it early small taillights in fron of his small custom shop.

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    Later the taillights where updated to 46-48 Ford units on home made extentions.

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    The complete top was crafted by Bertolucci using some donor car top, but look at the seperation line in the back... this top is removable and those lines are just so straight. Unbelievable craftmanship.

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    Molded gravel pan and a better look at the wonderfull crafted (49-51 Ford invluenced?) taillights and sepertion line of the top.

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    The fit from top to the windshield frame is equaly impressive.


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  9. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    [​IMG]

    The car at an idoor car show in the early 50's



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    Good thing is... this custom is also still around.. and fully restored.

    This is how it looked in the late 70's... with a "happy Days" name on the hood side???

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    Undergoing a complete restaurationin the late 90's, this is also the only photo I have of it with its top off.

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    All painted and put toghether... my only comment its its color. Bertolucci was always know for its dark maroon paint work.. and to me this red is just a bit to light... but nevertheless... it still looks great.

    What a wonderfull custom this is...

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  10. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    Another absolutely georgious and subtile custom Bertolucci created was this '47 Cadillac convertible for Tony Sestito.
    '53 Olds grille and 52 Olds bumpers.
    Cut down '51 Mercury fender skirts where used inteh back, and '53 Caddy hubcaps used in the front.

    Top was done by Hall and feautures a plexiglass wrap around rear window.

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    I really love the use of the 49-50 Ford taillights, placed low on the rear fenders

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    Another beautifull custom by Bertolucci. William Yee' '36 Ford convertible with new hand formed top. It was planned to be a removable top, but the owner did not wan to pay the extra $75.00 to make it removable, so Dick welded it to the body instead. Wonderfull Olds bumpers.

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  11. yorgatron
    Joined: Jan 25, 2002
    Posts: 4,228

    yorgatron
    Member Emeritus

  12. God, these posts are keeping me from building a rod......every one of these posts is leaning me further and further towards a 39 dodge...or something similar...

    =]

    Thank you
    MKK
     
  13. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    A few more Bertolucci built cars.

    '50 Chevy Fleetline Mild custom built for Dick Ortiz. Mild dechroming of the body (hood and trunk) Caddy hubcaps, appleton spots.

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    His own '38 Chevy in fron tof his custom shop. The top was chopped very much a custom way (more in the back than the front) but the big and litle tires say hot rod.

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    Another nice picture to show is the Vern Simons Westergard '36 Ford ready to race at the salt. Stripped of its windshield and having a cover for the passenger area. Taped grille... Notice that one of the grille bars was already broken in this old picture... compaire it to the picture of the car how it looks today... shown earlyer in this post.

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  14. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,511

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Amazing. Your collection of pictures, and knowledge of customs is astounding!

    Thank you!
     
  15. LOST ANGEL
    Joined: Jan 2, 2003
    Posts: 3,470

    LOST ANGEL
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. HAMB Old Farts' Club

    EXCELLENT..... now excuse me while I go towel off!-MIKE:D :D
     
  16. Ron
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 1,214

    Ron
    Member

    Very nice job, some of my fav stuff.
     
  17. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,937

    50Fraud
    Member

    Wonderful thread, Rikster. Not nearly enough has been published on these guys. Jimmy Summers is another early guy who has not been written about much in later years; do you have much info on his work?

    Thanks again for these excellent and entertaining history lessons!!
     
  18. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,773

    Rikster
    Member

    I have some info and some photo's, but not enough (yet) to do a Spotlight on him. Working on it though.
     
  19. another great thread! the 41 cad that kurt mccormick owns is in the works and should be ready for pebble beach. he had a problem with bodyman A (shall remain nameless) and took it to another shop. he had to buy joe wilhelms coupe from joe's widow and trade it for the 41. thats the only way he could get it. the guy that had the cad. was a big fan of wilhelms.
     
  20. This is the greatest post in HAMB history...or at least as long as I've been here under two different user names.

    A Westergard car is my ultimate American made dream Kustom. Someday...someday.
     
  21. Kilroy
    Joined: Aug 2, 2001
    Posts: 3,198

    Kilroy
    Member
    from Austin, TX

  22. TheFrenZ
    Joined: Dec 3, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    TheFrenZ
    Member
    from Germania

    Thanks again for another Custom Builder Spotlight,Rik ! I just would like to add some info.

    Harry Westergard was indeed one of those Custom Car Builder pioneers,if not THE pioneer at all.The young George Barris used to hang around Westergard''s "shop" (which actually was a two car garage) a lot and here he learned the skills he later used on his own cars.The garage was located on Fulton Avenue in Sacramento,California.The small garage was the place where all the action took place.After a couple of years he found out he simply doesn't make enough money by doing custom work and so he hired at a regular body shop.
    Dick Bertolucci started to do custom work in his dad's garage and still did some work when Westergard already had his shop closed.They both were extraordinary good metal man as evident by all those great cars we now appreciate so much.

    The car many people refer to as the Westergard look is Jack Calori's '36 Ford which was NOT built by Harry Westergard.It was built by Herb Reneau in 1947.Typical for the Westergard look is the LaSalle grille.The louvered hood sides were added because the small LaSalle grille didn't allow to cool the engine enough.The headlights were sunken into the fenders and originally came from a '40 Chevy...

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    Another Westergard-built Ford was this '39 Ford he did for Mel Falconer.Later the car was owned by Bruce Glenn.It one more shows the clean and elegant Westergard style.The most striking part of the car is the removable steel-hardtop...

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    The front shows a '39/'40 Packard grille with reworked hood and fenders to accept the grille,painted headlight rings and ribbed Desoto bumpers...

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    Well,since this is a '39 Ford there was no need to add the ever-popular teardrop tail lights as the car got those lights from the factory...The exhaust routed through the fenders is a neat touch and does a lot for the overall look of the rear.The license plate was recessed and another Desoto bumper was added,matching the front one.To give the car a very smooth look Westergard completely molded the trunk lid...

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    According to Bertolucci,Westergard was the first to use solenoids to open doors which allowed him to shave the door handles...

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    Well,beside all the great Fords,Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci are also responsible for this '47 Chevy owned by Jerry Fassett.The car is parked in front of Westergard's shop.It shows a beautiful Hall top.They filled the hood,added fadeaway fenders and recessed the license plate,which seems to be a pretty common practise back in the glory days of customizing...

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  23. TheFrenZ
    Joined: Dec 3, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    TheFrenZ
    Member
    from Germania

    The '47 Cadillac Dick Bertolucci built for Tony Sestito is really a elegant looking car.The windshield was chopped 2 1/2" and once again a Hall top was added.After a mild lowering he had to rework the front wheel wells to allow turning clearance of the tires.While doing this he reshaped it and also added a lip which nicely flows along...

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    Back in the days,Customizers tried to give cheaper cars the look of luxory cars and so they often used Caddy grilles.Well,not on this Caddy here.Major work was required to make the '52 Olds grille lip and bumper fit.The gap between those was filled with a '53 Olds floating bar.Frenched headlights complete the look...

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    Just like on the front,Bertolucci also did something different on the rear.Again,he used parts from "cheaper" cars.But cheap or not,they surely look great and I think the '49/'50 Ford tail lights are one of the best looking tail lights ever.The low position of the lights makes the car look even lower.Like on many other cars too,this one also had a plexi-glass rear window.Another nice touch is once more,the exhaust routed through the '51 Olds bumper.Notice the shape of the pipes,almost matching the shape of the tail lights...

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  24. oldandkrusty
    Joined: Oct 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,066

    oldandkrusty
    Member

    Holy Jumped Up Jaysus, Rikster where in the hell do you come up with all these photos? Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting them for all us HAMBsters to enjoy. Thanks especially for doing this one on Westergaard and Bertolucci. They were the BEST -the absolute BEST and should be remembered as such. Who's next? Cushenberry? Puhl? Cerny? Tell us, please!
     
  25. Evel
    Joined: Jun 25, 2002
    Posts: 9,022

    Evel
    Member
    1. 60s Show Rods

    Thanks,,,Always a pleasure reading your post..The best thing on the HAMB
    right now!!!


    Keep em comming,,,


    Evel
     
  26. chrisman
    Joined: Jun 13, 2002
    Posts: 716

    chrisman
    Member

    GREAT POST!
    20+ years ago I saw the Mel Falconer Ford at Harrah's Auto Museum in Reno. It had an ugly set of wheels and tires, but it was absolutely breathtaking. One of my all-time favorite cars.

    About at the same time I wrote a letter to this artist/writer with a silly nickname who wrote for Low Rider magazine. I asked him about a story he made on Harry Westergard. Got a reply where he stated he had some old film footage with HW racing at a dry lake. He was willing to give them to me, in return he wanted some ultra-rare nazi figurines. Yeah, right... :eek:
     
  27. TheFrenZ
    Joined: Dec 3, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    TheFrenZ
    Member
    from Germania

    The masterpiece of Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci is undoubtly the Ohanesian Merc.Pat Ganahl once said "...the Hirohata Merc might be the most famous Custom of that era,the Ohanesian Merc just might be the best..."
    Ed Ohanesian had a '36 Ford in the early 40's and together with Harry Westergard and George Barris they worked on it.The war came and the project was stopped...After returning from service Ohanesian bought a '40 Merc Convertible Sedan and took it to Westergard.Westergard reworked the hood and fenders to accept the then new 1946 Chevy grille,chopped the windshield and also did cut down the rear of the body.A padded Hall top was put on and for some reason there are no pics of this version available...

    Just like today,progress went on just as money did permit.The Merc was Ohanesian's daily driver.Next on the list was Dick Bertolucci.He fabricated the gorgeous steel top which makes the car so beutiful and special.This pic shows the car at Kingdon Dragstrip in Stockton,California...

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    Bertolucci stepped the frame to get the rear down low,leaded-in the fenders,molded the splash aprons,recessed the license plate,added '46 Ford tail lights and '46 Chevy bumpers.Then some time later came the car's roof.Dick Bertolucci fabricated it from a Chrysler roof,Chevy fenders and an Olds window.Amazing...Ohanesian drove the car for a couple years and even towed his '33 Racing Coupe to Bonneville with it.The car had a healthy 3/8 x 3/8 Flatty...

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    The current owner of the car is Ed Hegarty.He restored the car to its former glory and did a very nice job.While doing the restoration,Hegarty was impressed by the flawless body work and after all those years the body panels were still straight as a string...

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    Bill Reasoner did one more a striking paintjob.No doubt about it...it's good the see the car alive after all these years.It simply has tons of style and class...

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    Harry Westergard and Dick Bertolucci.They both wrote Custom Car history...
     
  28. Thanks for posting...I've always loved Westergard style, and admired Bertolucci's metalwork. As soon as I saw a good classic taildragger, I decided that was the look I wanted for my '38...someday I'll get it done. For those wanting more, Pat Ganahl's book on customs has about as much information as I can find on them.

    Again, thanks!
    Steve
     
  29. cleatus
    Joined: Mar 1, 2002
    Posts: 2,277

    cleatus
    Member
    from Sacramento

    Wow Rikster, another fantastic post - this time about my two very favorite builders of all-time.

    These guys were incredible - their cars just seem to have that extra level of taste & class above and beyond even the other "greats". Maybe it is also due to the fact that they mainly built during the age of the fat-fender cars which - in my humble opinion - are the cars that lend themselves to the widest variety of possible modifications that can be done. These two were THE True innovators of the whole custom scene.

    Add to that, they are from my home town and I can say that Mr. Bertolucci is a very nice dude. He once invited me to his house, many years ago, to see his private collection (incredible quality cars) which is even more incredible if you consider that at the time, I was just some scruffy looking stoner - he had no idea who I was, other than the fact that I liked old cars - So he invited me to his house and treated me with respect when most people would be worried that I was casing the joint. Very cool.
     
  30. krupanut
    Joined: May 4, 2001
    Posts: 1,618

    krupanut
    Member

    Thanks Rikster, Looking forward to the next chapter.
    We need to arcive your posts.
     

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