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History Joe Bailon passed today

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by John Lee Williamson, Sep 26, 2017.

  1. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,929


    May he rest in peace. He was indeed one of the great contributors to the custom car experience. I'm old enough to remember the excitement over his candy paint and the availability of it to others.
    OG lil E likes this.
  2. gsnort
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 208


    We've lost a truly inventive man. May God bless him.
  3. Roger O'Dell
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 1,096

    Roger O'Dell

  4. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 7,435


    Shine on, Joe.
    You were and will always be a star. RIP.
    OG lil E likes this.
  5. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,796


    March 18, 1923 - September 25, 2017

    Thank you, Sir.:(
  6. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,674

    frank spittle

    There have been many great customizers like Joe but only one developed a custom paint they all used building their masterpieces. I regret I never met him. My condolences to his family.
  7. I always liked the dashboard of Miss Elegance. Saw it first in Popular Mechanics, April 1953
  8. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,489

    from Colorado

  9. engine138
    Joined: Oct 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,403

    from Commack NY

    A REAL PIONEER Will be missed but not forgotten RIP JOE
  10. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,934

    Jalopy Joker

    SAM_5011.JPG SAM_5012.JPG poster has been on my shop wall for many years
  11. Jonnie King
    Joined: Aug 12, 2007
    Posts: 2,077

    Jonnie King
    from St. Louis

    Joe was a true gentleman and a legendary Pioneer, and one whom I knew, that won't be forgotten.

    The "INVICTA" has 10 coats of Joe-approved Candy Apple on it...he knew Manuel Arteche' who built the car & Don Honstein who painted it.
    Believe me, it looks just as good today as the day it was 1998.

    Thanks, Joe...your "Candy Apple" will live-on with every R&C painted with it !

    R.I.P, my friend,
  12. Here's @Gary Medley's goodguys logo.png / fuel curve logo.jpg article about Joe Bailon:

    June 29, 2020
    by Gary Medley

    After World War II, hot rods and customs developed on parallel yet different tracks. Innovators like George Barris and Gene Winfield massaged metal in unique and shapely ways, creating stunning pieces of rolling art. At the same time, racers like Ed Iskenderian and Alex Xydias lived in the world of raw speed and horsepower.


    Joe Bailon lived firmly in the customizer camp, and to many observers his influence and body of work tops any “best of” list. Who else can claim inventing (albeit serendipitously) candy apple red paint?

    Bailon was born in 1923 in Newcastle, California, a small agricultural town near Sacramento. He was the youngest of 10 children. His father was a farm worker during the desperate times of the Depression. How desperate? Bailon was pulled out of school in second grade to help the family pick fruit.

    According to automotive historian Dave Fetherston, Bailon would pass his spare time building toy cars from the of remains of wooden packing crates. When he turned 16, though, he scraped up enough money to buy a ’29 Model A coupe. It didn’t take long for young Joe to whirl into fledgling customizer mode.

    First, he drove the coupe to a wrecking yard, then swapped the tin top for a cabriolet. At home he whacked off the soft top. For extra glam, he threw on mirrors, horns, and lights. For the coup de grâce, whitewall tires — hand-painted, of course.

    When the war started, Bailon moved to Hayward, California, to work in the shipyards. There he learned the intricacies of cutting metal shapes with a torch, a skill that would pay dividends for decades. In 1943, he was drafted into the Army, where he remained until the end of the conflict.

    Free at last, Joe soon bought a ’38 Ford three-window coupe. Inspired by a custom ’40 Merc by famed Oakland builder Tommy “The Greek” Hrones, Bailon lowered it, grafted on new taillights, and recessed the license plate. His work impressed a local body shop owner, who hired him. Moreover, one of the shop’s customers paid Bailon $700 for the ’38.

    Bailon quickly snatched up a ’41 Chevy coupe and the resulting custom launched his name into custom history. The project took seven years, but the result – christened Miss Elegance – was a gem. The smooth, low, and sleek machine featured molded fenders, a new nose, custom grille, repositioned headlights, and more. Bailon blanketed the flowing body with a dazzling metallic brown-maroon hue. Inside, the dash featured 16 gauges and more switches than a B-17 cockpit. In other words, Bailon’s Chevy was as unrecognizable as it was spectacular. When the car debuted at the Oakland Roadster Show, it was easily honored “Most Elegant.”

    As one would expect, Bailon soon became sought after and business boomed. His Hayward shop employed a cadre of helpers who did the grunt work while Joe concentrated on the chopping, channeling, and sectioning.

    During this period, Bailon also became a spray gun savant – a Lorde of Lacquer, as it were – and along the way created arguably hot rodding’s most famous color: candy apple red. As a young customizer, Bailon was intrigued by how a California sunset would throw a translucent red glow through a taillight lens. What a sweet paint color that would be, he thought. One day, while playing with different paints, he accidentally spilled two bottles, a red and a gold, onto his workbench. When the two flowed together they created just the look he imagined. He sprinkled in some metallic dust and candy apple red was born – as much by chance as by design.

    Car designer and writer Thom Taylor recently explained the allure of candy paint: “Custom cars were meant to be ‘mystery cars.’ And candy paints added to that mystery. The candies that Bailon created also gave the illusion that you could sink your arm into them!”


    Bailon, with help from his wife, Marie, went on to systematically create a wide range of candy colors, including such captivating names as Wild Cherry, Tangerine, and Orchid Pink.

    With customs regularly rolling out of his Hayward shop, Bailon changed things up and moved south to North Hollywood, where he began tweaking late-model cars. Working in the shadow of Tinseltown led to building cars for stars: a Rolls for Zsa Zsa Gabor, a Chevy Vega for Sammy Davis Jr., a Cadillac for Dean Martin. This led to movie cars, too, the notable being the Pink Panther car. He even built cars for George Barris, with George never revealing their true origin.

    Bailon closed his Hollywood shop in 1984 and returned to his NorCal roots and to building classic-style customs, including a re-creation of Miss Elegance (sold in the early-’50s, crushed in the ’70s). His accomplishments did not go unnoticed. In 1960, during the peak of his career, he was inducted into the National Roadster Hall of Fame, one of nine inaugural honorees. After creating more than a thousand customs and one very special paint hue, Joe Bailon passed away in 2017 at age 94.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  13. Quite a history. He sure made his mark. RIP

    Sent from my iPad using H.A.M.B.
  14. phat rat
    Joined: Mar 18, 2001
    Posts: 4,382

    phat rat

    R.I.P Joe. Condolences to the family. Met him in 05 when I was in Ca for Ego-Rama. Great guy and full of history of course. Does anyone know if he got Miss Elegance II finished? He had done some work on it back when I was there
  15. Dangerousdan
    Joined: Apr 12, 2018
    Posts: 74

    from Arizona

    Joe Bailon was a friend. I learned alot from Joe. You will be missed.
  16. Just an FYI ... I bumped this (almost 3 year old) thread to add some more info & photos to this tribute to Joe Bailon ... who actually passed away back in September of 2017 ... not “today.”
    nochop likes this.
  17. verde742
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 5,500


    Cause for sadness, EVEN reading it today... 7/2/2020
  18. Shon Wittenbarger
    Joined: May 20, 2008
    Posts: 36

    Shon Wittenbarger
    from Georgia

    What happen to the Miss Elegance clone that he was building, does anyone know or heard

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