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History Customs by the Sea #2

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by SuperFleye, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. ELD
    Joined: Apr 11, 2008
    Posts: 653


    I don't know if Sondre will start a new thread for Customs By The Sea 2016, but he's been sharing some great info on the Kustomrama facebook page, I thought it was worth sharing here, all info below the fold courtsey of Kustomrama.

    pre52 article one resized.jpg
    As some of you already know, we announced that we will hold two Customs by the Sea in the US this year, in collaboration with the Oilers car club and their Race of Gentlemen. One show in Wildwood, New Jersey, and one in Pismo, California! Great news for a small organization like us! We already have some great cars signed up, that we can't wait to share with you, but before we do so we will dive back in history! Many people have been asking about our Pre 1952 rule. Wondering where it comes from and why? For many 1954 sounds like a smarter choice. Well, the answers are many, and a complete answer would take a whole encyclopedia to fill. Instead, we have decided to spend the next weeks taking you trough the evolution of the custom car. Where did it come from, how did it evolve over time, and why we decided to stop in 1952. I have no good answer to where it all started and why, but have decided to start this journey in 1930! Customizing in the 1920s was mostly done for wealthy movie stars and executives that commissioned body builders such as Murphy, Bohmann & Schwartz, and Don Lee to create designs suitable for big chassis of Rolls Royce, Pierce Arrow and Duesenberg. On the other end was Souther California youngsters wanting to dress up their cheap Fords, Dodges, Maxwells, and Buicks! One of these youngsters were Frank Kurtis, who in 1930 customized his 1928 Ford: A longer wheelbase, 1930 Ford fenders, extended hood, custom made hood and grille, Cadillac headlights and 18 inch wheels gave Frank's roadster the look of a heavier and costlier car in 1930!​
    Follow the journey as we go along, and help us spread the word by sharing these stories with your custom car friends. The East and West Coast deserves a custom car show dedicated to Early Kustoms. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to build Early Kustoms, and the ones who decide to take this path deserves a proper arena to showcase their beloved creations on! Help us build that arena! The cars are out there, we just need to locate them.

    frank kurtiz.jpg
    We're back with Part II in our Evolution of the Custom Car Story! Tag along to find out why we decided to go for a pre-1952 rule for the Customs by the Sea show in Wildwood and Pismo. The 1931 Ford Model A Roadster shown here was restyled by Frank Kurtis in 1931. Although a customized car, this is not what most people consider a traditional custom.
    Researching the early days of customizing, Frank's name pops up a lot, so let's take a look at his background! Frank's family moved from Utah to Southern California in 1921. In 1922 Frank's dad landed a job at the body shop of Don Lee Coach and Body Works. A shop specializing in building custom automobiles for Hollywood stars. 14 years old Frank landed a job in the shop as a helper to his father. He started as an apprentice at Don Lee Body Works in 1925, 17 years old. As Frank could perform magic with sheet-metal, he advanced to becoming manager of Don Lee's Los Angeles Coachworks...working briefly with another legend in the Auto Industry: Harley Earl! The father of the Buick Y-Job, the GM LeSabre and the tail fin! So as you understand, Frank's background was building custom creations for movie stars and big shots! When he restyled his brand new Ford in 1931, he fit it with a pointed custom made grille shell, skirted fenders, a sharply slanted low windshield, a French top and solid hood panels. According to a story on Frank published in Motor Life May 1955, it is believed that the 1925 Ford grille shell may have been heralded from Frank's roadster. I don't know about you guys, but I also see a lot of 1933 and 1934 Ford in that grille! So are there any early 1930s customs out there? New or old? Please sign up here if you have one that you want to display in Wildwood or Pismo:

    This is part 3 of our history lesson, focusing on the Evolution of the Custom Car. So far we have been focusing on the early work of Frank Kurtis. In 1932 Kurtis left Don Lee and opened up his own body shop behind his house. One of his earliest custom efforts in the new shop was the Boattail Speedster shown in the upper left image here. Built on an Essex frame, the Speedster featured an Oldsmobile engine and a Cadillac grille. The Speedster in the two other photos were built in 1933. A hand built body was mounted on a LaSalle frame. The fenders were rescued from a dump, and the engine was from an Oldsmobile. Frank had a hard time making ends meet, so he returned to Don Lee Motors early in 1935. Do we accept custom built Speedsters into Customs by the Sea? Yes please! Bring em on:

    One of my all-time favorite customs was built as early as 1935! It was a labor of love between Frank Kurtis and George DuVall, another early custom pioneer! Frank and George built the car for the Southern California Plating Company. Completed in 1936, it was supposedly the first car ever to wear one of DuVall's famous windshields! George began working for the Southern California Plating Company around 1931, picking up and delivering parts. The owner of the shop, Leonard DeBell, saw the custom work George had done to his cars, and he decided to give him more creative work at the company. When George joined the company, they built a lot of race-car shells and other chrome necessities. In order to advertise the business, DeBell had DuVall hammer out new curves on his delivery trucks and plating fancy front ends. One of the trucks DeBell and DuVall built prior to the '35 Phaeton can be seen here:
    Influenced by designs done by Harley Earl, an old colleague of Frank Kurtis, DuVall began creating bumpers and grilles, mostly for depression-era Fords to make them look more luxurious! The grille on the 1935 Ford Phaeton that Kurtis and DuVall restyled for DeBell was inspired by the iconic Cord 810 that had been shown to the public in November of 1935. Other Cord similarities were the rear bumper and a center mounted rear license plate. Prior to the Cord most cars at the time featured off-center rear license plates that were illuminated by one of the taillights! A beautiful early custom with features and a history too long for a Facebook post, so be sure to check out our story on it on Kustomrama: …

    It's time for Chapter 5 in the Kustomrama Kustom Car History Lesson! In Chapter 4 we presented the Southern California Plating Company Truck, restyled by Frank Kurtis and George DuVall. The truck was completed in 1936. Frank Kurtis' name has been popping up in all of our stories so far. According to rumors, Frank Kurtis was also responsible for the first inset license plate. This job was supposedly done in 1936, on an early Airflow DeSoto. The feature spread as wildfire, and was widely copied, becoming one of the most popular custom touches of the 1930s! According to Motor Life May 1955 the inset license plate more than any other feature marked the "California Car" back in the early days of customizing! Hopefully, there will be many inset license plate at this years Customs by the Sea:

    We're back with another chapter of our Custom Car History Lesson, where the goal is to show you a short version of the evolution of the custom car. This beautiful 1936 Ford Phaeton was restyled by Tommy "The Greek" Hrones of Oakland, California in 1937! One year after the So Cal Plating Special Phaeton was completed!
    In 1925 Tommy went to work in his uncle's auto paint shop. Shortly thereafter he began striping. Tommy went on to become a noted pinstriper, a pioneer in the custom pinstriping field. Tommy's interest for automobile styling led him to customizing as well, and his 1936 Ford was restyled by removing the running boards, addinfg a DuVall windshield, shaving the door handles, adding fender skirts and bobbing the trailing edge of the front fenders, similar to contemporary Cadillac and LaSalle styling. More info on Tommy The Greek can be found here:…
    If you have more info on this legend to share, please get in touch with us!

    We have spent the last week giving you brief introduction to customizing in the 1930s. It is important to understand where the custom car as we know it comes from, and how it evolved during the 1930s and the 1940s. We can't leave the roaring 30s without having a look at Link Paola's 1940 Ford convertible. Link Paola of Glendale, California bought the car in 1939, while working in the body shop of a Ford dealership. Back then, the new models were delivered to dealers before they were released to the public, so the dealers had time to arrange showroom layouts and plan the big opening day. According to Spencer Murray, the dealer that Link worked at got a load of 1940 Fords about a week or 10 days early. Link convinced the dealer to sell him one. He restyled it without the dealer knowing it, and on the day the '40 models were displayed for the first time, Link parked his customized Ford in front of the agency! Link's car drew a larger crowd then the stock cars inside, and Link was fired on the spot. After being fired, he opened up Link's Custom Shop in Glendale. Link's 1940 Ford was without doubt the first chopped 1940 Ford! It was restyled in 1939, so let's have a look at the modifications. The windshield was chopped and the car was fit with a Carson Top.(Glen Houser built his first non-folding padded top for a 1930 Ford Model A Convertible in 1935. So the first Carson Top saw the light of day 4 years prior to Link's Ford being chopped.) The car was then nosed and decked. The running boards were removed, and ripple bumpers and single bar flipper hubcaps were installed. It was painted Maroon! There you have it, a perfect recipe for a late 1930s custom! Glendale had some of the best customs back in the days, just check it out here:
    Hopefully, we'll see some old, or new, Glendale customs in Pismo in October!
    Best regards
    Sondre Kvipt
    Kustomrama - Customs by the Sea
    Jalopy Joker and tomkelly88 like this.
  2. djtwigsta
    Joined: Sep 20, 2010
    Posts: 2,870


  3. djtwigsta
    Joined: Sep 20, 2010
    Posts: 2,870


  4. djtwigsta
    Joined: Sep 20, 2010
    Posts: 2,870


  5. AChopped1950ford
    Joined: Sep 5, 2018
    Posts: 128


    Just so cool !
    chryslerfan55 likes this.

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