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Projects Recreating the jesse lopez coupe

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by jivin jer, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. jivin jer
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,062

    jivin jer

    Well, it's over. The time when I could just enjoy the ride, watch the scenery. Relax and just taste all the different flavors that are out there. All the colors, shapes, the creative genius. It's gone. I'm toast. I'm being compelled, pulled, hauled off the couch. The vacation is over.

    I thought that all the years of being bullied and pushed around by this Kustom car stuff could be bargained with.I thought recreating Junior Conway's coupe that haunted me for decades would placate the Kustom Car GOD. No such luck.Put a fork in me, I'm done. The wheel has been thrust into my hands. I'm being told to drive.

    Last year after finishing Jr's car I started to get an itch and a scratch. Not so's anyone would notice but the wife wanted to know what's going on? I told her I think I need to build another car. After a long pause her reply was "It has to be the right car." Prior to this I had been toying with the idea of restoring Earl's Pearl the famous Texas fifties custom '55 Chev that's been in Austin forever gradually deteriorating. The more I thought about it the more I thought how boring. Everything is there. No creating, no investigating, no discovery. No collaboration, just cold steel.

    As this project was percolating in my mind I came across Michelley's tribute to Jesse Lopez (Re: Jesse Lopez- Lo! & Behold). I did reply regarding meeting Jesse at the GNRS with Junior and how much I appreciated Junior introducing him to me (post#119). This started a series of PM's that eventually slapped me upside the head with the realization that Jesse's car would be the perfect candidate. After talking it over with Michelle and Junior it was agreed that Junior would be the gate keeper on this deal. The family wasn't sure that Jesse (now in his 80's) could deal with the intensity of an undertaking like this. Jesse is a robust old guy and after getting his meds straightened out all the concerns were gone regarding his strength and stamina for this.

    Junior did say to me "you did a good job on my car but there's a lot more work to do on a Jesse clone." I told him that I agreed and that and I would need (and get) some help with this project.

    Jesse wanted me to know that all those pics showing him with a big smile on his face at the GNRS was his way of showing a distain for all this stuff. He'd turned his back on all of this in 1960 when he gave Junior his shop (House of Color). He said to Jr, "here, if you ever make anything of this you owe me." He was making money hand over fist as a bookie at the horse races. He's done a lot of things in his life and, to say that he's kicked back taking it easy would be wrong. He keeps a busy schedule and getting him to answer his phone is not a sure thing most of the time.

    As we've talked he's come to understand my passion for the authentic original car. His relationship to Junior has certainly helped him understand where I'm coming from.

    So, this will be (like Junior's) a look at the young Jesse, a young Sam Barris as well as a young Barris Kustom (in Compton). It will be (like Junior's) a fun ride for everyone as well as a tribute to Jesse's early years and those around him and that era.

    Oh,and of course, THE CAR. Picture's from Rik Hoving.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
    OzMerc39 and Trukcrazy like this.
  2. TheFrenZ
    Joined: Dec 3, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    from Germany


    Great news and I look forward to it !
  3. This is great news. :) One of my favorites.
  4. Please tell me you are cloning what was under Jesse's hood as well.I think for as much as Jesse was into speed and racing....I think you pretty much have to.I wonder how hard it will be to find that blower?

  5. 1951Streamliner
    Joined: May 15, 2011
    Posts: 1,875

    from Reno, NV

    Horray! That car is my desktop background right now.. absolute perfection.

    Very excited for progress
  6. jivin jer
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,062

    jivin jer

    I hear you Jeff, on the underhood situation. Jesse was this unique kid that brought a focus and discipline to everything he did (does). A full on racer AND a custom guy.

    Jesse ran a 3/8 by 3/8 stroker 59A. Under the hood, it was all business. No polished/chromed anything. During the week he had two Stromberg 97's on a Edelbrock low boy intake. The heads were also Edelbrock, with headers. The headers had bungs in them so that he could open them at the races (watch your hands).

    For race day he had a McCullough blower with a big Buick Road Master carb. The blower set up sat so high that he ran without the hood. Here's my problem. The world knows this car with the hood on it. Out of all the pics of this car there are only a couple of pics of the car with the hood off.

    Right know I think the most practical way to do this is with a correct looking 59A (without the blower) that sounds right. There's the one car and then there's the other car. This is where I'm at right now. Picture's from Rik Hoving

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 31, 2017
    OzMerc39 and kidcampbell71 like this.
  7. I've been working on my shoebox for a couple of years and I watched you build your amazing clone of Junior's car. You nailed it.

    I just bought a '41 coupe and have been doing the research before I decide which direction I'm going to take it (when I get to it :rolleyes:). Jesse's car is of course a milestone, so I'll be watching this build with interest.
  8. RPW
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 950


    Amazing! I will follow this in all details.
  9. This should be great build to watch, Jer you did such a great job (i'm still taken back everytime I see that shoebox !) Good luck with the new build ! I'm tuned in ! Not to get off topic, would like to see " Earl's Pearl "... I bet Rik has some great stuff on Jesse's Kustom .
  10. I would have to agree with you on running the flathead without the blower,I didn't know he had to have the hood off to run it.I haven't talked to Jesse in a while so it isn't fresh in my memory.You are totally right about the world knowing the car with the hood on,the point of that hood gives it that perfect speedboat stance and flow.Im so glad you are into details the way you are because we are guaranteed to have a true authentic kustom.I believe that a tribute / clone should be under the hood as well.There is just know way that anyone could use a different engine then what was in the car.

    Well im very excited about this and I know that it will be a true tribute just as your Ford is,you did a amazing job on that.
  11. jivin jer
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,062

    jivin jer

    Thanks for the comments. It is an honor and a privilage to be able to be involved this way in this thing that captured me in my early teens. The teenage Jer wouldn't (doesn't) believe it.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  12. JohnJoyo
    Joined: Feb 19, 2005
    Posts: 1,379

    Alliance Vendor
    from Austin, TX

    Awesome, my favorite old custom.
  13. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,367


    the Jesse Lopez Ford was always a favorite, apparently wrecked after Danny Lares sold it...really glad you are going to clone it!
  14. Lone Star Mopar
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 3,070

    Lone Star Mopar

    Wow, Im excited to follow you on this one, This is gonna be rad! I love the JC clone, hada geek out moment looking it over in person in Dallas last year.
  15. Groovybaby6
    Joined: Dec 29, 2008
    Posts: 757

    from Denver

    Check with Jesse about the plastic on the dash, according to Nick Matranga, Jesse made his own plastic for the dash on his '41 and the dash on the Matranga Merc.

    I interviewed Nick years ago and he talked about Jesse, check it out here:

    Outback likes this.
  16. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,781


    This will be great...

    Another Custom Car recreation thread to look forward to.
  17. Edster
    Joined: May 9, 2010
    Posts: 4

    from Sweden

  18. Yes! This is going to be good! I eagerly await the saga! I look forward to watching this build unfold after your fantastic recreation of Juniors' Shoebox .
  19. emiliedk
    Joined: Dec 29, 2004
    Posts: 614

    from denmark

    Jerry this is a good choice..and you showed us that you are the man for the job!

    let me know if you dont find the skirts..we can work something out!
  20. jivin jer
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,062

    jivin jer

    I asked for help with various needs that I had during the Jr build and you were instrumental in finding things like wheels, rear axle/differential, side pipes, brass trim etc.. This made things easier. One hero found the '55 Merc accessory wheel that I needed on eBay and contacted me.
    I'm hoping for some help with some of my needs on this build. They are-
    1.) A good running 59A
    2.) A '50 Merc accessory steering wheel
    3.) One 112 Appleton spotlight
    4.) A chrome able '46 front bumper
    5.) A rear gravel deflector
    6.) Spalding ignition
    7.) The long '41 Ford box skirts
    This is all that comes to mind at the moment. I'll let you know regarding other things as they pop up.
    Jr. was amazed at the interest and willingness to help on his project. Both Jr and Jesse are low tech guys. So they're out of the info loop.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  21. magneto57
    Joined: Feb 20, 2012
    Posts: 125


  22. fifTsix
    Joined: Jul 26, 2008
    Posts: 486

    from TEXAS

  23. bubba67
    Joined: Nov 26, 2008
    Posts: 1,797

    from NJ

    This is great, that car is one of my favorites. It's always good to see more Custom action on the HAMB.
  24. jivin jer
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,062

    jivin jer

    I talked to Jesse this morning and he told me that he had solvent barrel brass spigots on the end of his headers. Maybe somebody has a source for old 30's-40's solvent barrel parts??
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
  25. This is already getting good. :) :)
  26. choptvan
    Joined: Mar 19, 2010
    Posts: 2,161


    Yes it is! Can't wait for the final outcome
  27. jivin jer
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,062

    jivin jer

    Trying to find the best donor car is always a big issue when you start one of these projects. I want the nicest car for the best price.

    Jr's experience taught me that restoring the car can be waay more work than the custom mods. So, while finding a scuff and shoot car has it's advantages, if your not willing to spend upwards of 20K (which I'm not) that's not going to happen these days.

    My son's are all gainfully employed now so, while the help I had with Jr's car was very nice, I will be pretty much on my own on this one. Hmmmmm, lots of petitions to the Kustom Car GOD.

    I think I've found my victim. It's an east coast car but, it's been in dry storage for over 40 years.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  28. This is great news,I wish I lived closer.
  29. hotrd32
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 3,517

    from WA

    Couldn't have picked a cooler car to emulate......
  30. This should be fun to watch!

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