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History Matranga Mercury at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Rikster, May 4, 2011.

  1. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781

    Rikster
    Member

    In 2001 Pat Ganahl published his book The American Custom Car.
    In this book on page 59 there is this small photo of the Nick Matranga Barris built 1940 Mercury.
    Ever since I saw this photo in this book I have been fascinated by it.
    Not only because of the Matranga Mercury with the trophies in front of it,
    but perhaps even more because of what happens on the wall behind it.


    [​IMG]

    This photo was taken at the 1951 Oakland Roadster Show.
    The Mercury was shown on the outside ring of the building, and Barris used the back wall to display
    some more Barris created Customs - thus creating a small booth.

    The photo in Pat's book was printed unfortunately rather small, and it was a bit hard to see the 11 photos
    that where displayed on the wall behind the Merc. When I visited Pat Ganahl in 2010 on the Jack Stewart research trip,
    Pat showed me some of the photos in his collection, including this photos.
    This was the first time I was able to get a really good look at the photos on the wall.
    Unfortunately we where short on time, and I did not have the chance to ask if I could copy the photo,
    or at least the back ground.
    But recently I got my hands on a large somewhat better copy of this photo taken in 1951.
    And I figured it was time to start identifying the cars on the photos on the wall.
    Is this anything important.. nah not really, but its just good fun to do.
    And interesting to know which cars George Barris thought where good promoting his business in 1951.


    Here are two more photos of the Matranga Merc taken at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show.

    Photo provided by Jimmy B and scanned by George Zaft from his collection
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Below is a larger version of the photo, not a very good copy/scan, but at least the photo's in the back round are a
    lot better to see than in Pats book. I have name the photos "A" thru "K"

    [​IMG]


    Recently I wrote a story about Marcia Campbell for the Rodder's Journal (issue #51) and I knew that Marcia
    took a lot of photos of Barris Customs in during this time. And I also know that Marcia always handed out large
    prints to the cars owners, and to George to hang in the shop.
    So most likely it was also Marcia Campbell who supplied the photos for this small photo exhibition.
    If you look at the photos on the wall you can see that 3 of the 11 photos have different dimensions C,D and F.
    These photos where most likely taken by another photographer.. All the other photos are all neatly positioned
    with the same amount of white, most likely developed by Marcia in here own dark room with here own negatives.
    Photos A, E and H where taken at the same day in a famous Marcia Campbell photo shoot at a LA school.
    Many photos of this shoot, including the famous line up photo where taken that day.


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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  2. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,212

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    Amazing slueth job, Rik, and some more custom history. Thanks.
     
  3. As always amazing content Rik.

    I have always liked the Johnny Zaro '41 Ford
     
  4. Interesting research, bet G. Barris himself would be impressed. I have always been impressed by some of these early Kustoms. They costs big bucks even back then, often wondered where these guys came up with the money to afford to do all these major modifications.
     

  5. oldandkrusty
    Joined: Oct 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,119

    oldandkrusty
    Member

    Rik, as I've said before, you are "The Man!" Thanks for all the work you do to immortalize all of the people who led the way in in customizing. Your latest bit of sleuthing is just outstanding...
     
  6. Neat stuff Rik. Funny that they put a picture of Nick's car on the wall to show the work of the shop when it is sitting right there. George never missed a beat when it came to promotion.
     
  7. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781

    Rikster
    Member

    The 1951 Oakland Roadster show was held from 20 to 25th February of that year. One thing that I noticed from the photos on the wall is that the 1949 Chevy of Carl Abajian and Bill Taylor are the only two rather new cars. There was no photo of a 1949 Mercury custom on the wall. So most likely this means that neither the Sam Barris 1949 Mercury nor the Jerry Quesnel Mercury where anywhere near close to being finished. Otherwise George would for sure have put a photo of these two cars on the wall to promote the newer style custom cars.


    Here is another photo from the show showing the Barris booth and Matranga Merc with wide open door on the right.

    Photo provided by Jimmy B and scanned by George Zaft from his collection
    [​IMG]
     
  8. axle
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 3,875

    axle
    Member
    from Drag City

    "There was no photo of a 1949 Mercury custom on the wall. So most likely this means that neither the Sam Barris 1949 Mercury nor the Jerry Quesnel Mercury where anywhere near close to being finished. Otherwise George would for sure have put a photo of these two cars on the wall to promote the newer style custom cars."


    Interesting observation Rik. I would be curious what Neppl thinks about this. None the less, this is a very nice thread. Again, your research is invaluable . I wish i could of had the Johnny Zaro '41 at the event. Oh well.
     
  9. Great stuff, thanks for sharing I really enjoy your research.

    Yes, I'd think that the 49-50 Mercury's were not done as there would be a desire to show off the first one at a big show like that.
     
  10. cleatus
    Joined: Mar 1, 2002
    Posts: 2,277

    cleatus
    Member
    from Sacramento

    I believe you are absolutely right about that Rik. If either of those two late model cars were finished by then, for sure they would have been at the show or at the very least a photo of them would have made the wall. No way George would have missed the opportunity to promote them.
     
  11. el shad
    Joined: Apr 16, 2008
    Posts: 622

    el shad
    Member

    I absolutely love your posts, Rik. Thank you, Sir!
     
  12. Are these cars still arround? I would love to see them in person.
     
  13. Slim Pickens
    Joined: Dec 15, 2008
    Posts: 3,342

    Slim Pickens
    Member

    Wonderful job, Rik. Thanks for the information. Slim
     
  14. BICKFORD
    Joined: Nov 18, 2003
    Posts: 906

    BICKFORD
    BANNED
    from CA

    [​IMG]

    RIK

    to me this looks like GEORGE'S BUICK. i had to squint my eyes a bit. maybe it is maybe its not. it almost looks like the exact photo. the attached one has been cropped down.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781

    Rikster
    Member

    A - Possibly
    B - Not that I know of (46 Cadillac)
    C - No, gone
    D - Yes, still around, currently being restored
    E - No, gone
    F - Yes still around, restored
    G - Yes, still around currently being restored
    H - No, gone
    I - Not that I know of
    J - Not that I know of
    K - Yes, same as "F"
     
  16. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781

    Rikster
    Member

    I just emailed with a friend who has an even better print of this photo, and he let me know it most likely is the 1946 Cadillac convertible, and not the George Barris Buick.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  17. Thanks again Rik, great history here!
     
  18. Well frst off ...Rik this a great thread and thanks for doing it,this stuff keeps me fired up.

    Do we have any proof that this show is the 1951 Oakland show? Maybe the 1950 show and the Matranga car was being shown for the first time?? Even if it is 1951,it was in febuary so I dont think Jerry's merc was done that early in the year.We know Jerry's car was on the road in white primer in early to mid 1951 but I dont think this early.(feb)

    I guess George liked to use that set of trophies to really bring attention to the car he was really showcasing.Look real close at the trophies around Nicks car and then go to my Montebello thread and take a close look at the opening picture of Jerrys merc and look hard at the trophies............. yes you guessed it,almost all of the exact same trophies were around Jerrys car in the picture.Jerry and Jack Stewart told me that George would take those trophies to really grab attention.I think that Jerrys car was in the white primer about 4 to 6 months into the year 1951.

    K13 im waiting......
     
  19. This is the 1951 NRS
    [​IMG]
     
  20. LOL Sounds like something George would do.:D
     
  21. Yes, I think its interesting that these same trophies were around Jerrys car.:) George was nonstop at getting attention and it worked.
     
  22. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781

    Rikster
    Member

    In one of the photos above you can also see that they misspelled Matranga on the Show card in the window!...

    In Pat's book he refers to one of the photos being taken at the 1951 Oakland Roadster show and the other (with the wheels turned to the photographer) taken in 1952.

    I think that both photos where taken at the 1951 show. And the one with the wheels turned to the photographer was taken at set up day.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    The wall and decorations - with out the wall photos - on the top photo looks exactly the same as on the bottom photo.
    Also you can see a jack on the far left side of the top photo.. and in the bottom photo you can see that the wall side of the car is jacked up so that the public can look into the interior a bit better.
    Interesting is that the photo taken at set up day has many more awards for decoration... Perhaps Nick thought George went a bit overboard and hide a few of them.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2011
  23. ToddJ
    Joined: Jul 11, 2008
    Posts: 1,408

    ToddJ
    Member
    from Marion, IA

    Excellent research Rik. Thanks for posting your findings!
     
  24. R&C RON
    Joined: Apr 14, 2011
    Posts: 370

    R&C RON
    Member

    My 1951 Roadster Show program lists entry #417 as Nick Matranga.....Also lists entry #416 as Sam Barris chopped 49 Merc ,but did it make it???

    RON
     
  25. No, he never did.At least not that I know of.
     
  26. Ron, do u have the program for 1952? Or 1950?
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  27. BICKFORD
    Joined: Nov 18, 2003
    Posts: 906

    BICKFORD
    BANNED
    from CA


    i would agree with you that this is the same show. i was comparing the photos and the white bar that goes across the wall ( what is holding the photo on) looks exactly the same. the tips od the banner are in the same location too. also whatis propped up on the wall in the 1st photo? it almost looks like a carson top.
     
  28. Ya I think that they are both the same show as well ,I was just looking for proof to make sure it is 1951. If Rons program has it listed as #417 then that must be right.So this set of trophies went from this show to the Montebello show by the way it looks.Even Matranga's car was at the Montebello show except it wasnt the star that weekend :)
     
  29. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781

    Rikster
    Member

    Ron, do you also have the 1952 Show Program of this show.... and if so is Sams Mercury listed in it ...

    Here is a Photo of Sam's 1949 Mercury at a Oakland Roadster show with #416!!!

    [​IMG]


    Here is a slightly better/sharper scan of this photo, only it does not show the building that well. Gil Ayala's 1940 Mercury with Caddy rear fenders is sitting behind Sam's Car, so that should be in the 1951 show Program as well.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2011
  30. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781

    Rikster
    Member

    Yes it is a Carson - or better Padded - Top. A friend who has a better quality photo confirms this. We don't know who's Padded top this is though.
     

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