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History The Unloved Nifty 'Fifty

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Ryan, Oct 28, 2020.

  1. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,273

    Staff Member

    Ryan submitted a new blog post:

    The Unloved Nifty 'Fifty


    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
  2. typo41
    Joined: Jul 8, 2011
    Posts: 2,572

    Member Emeritus

    I am trying to think how I would feel if I saw this car driving down the road.
    First its a shoe box ford, but with nice paint,,,now i am seeing the side trim,,nice,, but the paint I don't have my color blind correcting glasses on so the colors are a bit muted,,,
    As he slows by, it is a custom, I see the FINS! and THE CADDIE TAIL LISGHTS!,,, now THATS STYLING,,,Drop the swallow tail scallop below the fin and it is perfect.
    alanp561 and chryslerfan55 like this.
  3. hansboomer
    Joined: Nov 15, 2008
    Posts: 89

    from new york

    I gotta admit I don't hate it as much as I expected I would. The only Fords that look good with fins are 57s.
    If I had a 50 Ford I would have just dropped a Cadillac V8 in it and called it good, but that's just me.
    chryslerfan55 and 62rebel like this.
  4. The styling reminds me of Bill Hines Lil Bat, less the chopped top that Bill did a excellent job.


    I agree the trim is cool but it's a little too tall. HRP
    alanp561, 63fdsnr and chryslerfan55 like this.

  5. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 23,073

    Staff Member

    I like it, I think the only change I would make is to lose the rear bumper guards.....
    Surfcityrocker and chryslerfan55 like this.
  6. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 36,064


    Ugly AF. Such a perfect design from the factory, no need to muck it up with fins and shit
    Oilguy, slowmotion and hansboomer like this.
  7. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,619


  8. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,273

    Staff Member

    I do this with every historical hot rod or custom I look at...

    "What would I think if I saw this thing driving down the road today?"

    If I'm honest with myself, 90% of the time I'd find a whole lot of reasons not to like the car because of some oddity... Examples from Jere's car:

    - I don't particularly like the fins
    - That little lick that comes down the fender, through the door, and ends on the rear quarter? I'd laugh at it today.
    - '59 Cad taillights? Really? Again? Where's the fuzzy dice?

    But the thing is, imagining the car as if it was built today takes the thing out of context. And without context, many of our favorite historical cars are just poorly fabricated (by today's standards) and oddly styled cars built by kids.

    Point being, the context is what makes so many of these early cars cooler than anything that could or would be built today. You can't create that context much in the same way you can't create the history that makes it.

    EDIT: Yes, I am very much an unapologetic elitist. I believe that you can't appreciate these old cars, traditional hot rodding, traditional customizing, etc... to their fullest unless you really understand the context of it all. And that context takes years of study, appreciation, and passion.
    Sancho, pwschuh, Nostrebor and 13 others like this.
  9. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,273

    Staff Member

    I'm familiar with that car and have actually featured it before I think... However, I didn't put one and two together and didn't realize it was the same car until your post.

    I definitely like Jere's first version best.
  10. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,876


    I like it, fins and all. It's from the era where a custom wasn't just a super chopped, smoothed off egg. I can't unsee the rear bumper guards now that Moriarity mentioned them, but I'd even take those if I had to.
    drdave and chryslerfan55 like this.
  11. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,273

    Staff Member

    Yeah... Reminds me of a Coco Chanel quote:

  12. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,479


    Not my thing but I get it.
  13. oldcargary
    Joined: May 6, 2010
    Posts: 212

    from devore, Ca

    That was the time for big fins, work looks good though.
  14. lowrd
    Joined: Oct 9, 2007
    Posts: 347


    There's s Studebaker Hawk running around minus it's fins somewhere.
  15. Hines car looks much more sinister than Ehrich’s . The chop and solid color just does it for me. I think being an East coast guy, Hines shoebox reminds me of what would be running around the streets in Connecticut back in the 50's/60's.:cool: It would have had a Caddy motor also.:rolleyes: Nifty Fifty looks more like the middle of the country. JMO
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
  16. flatford8
    Joined: Dec 12, 2012
    Posts: 149

    from Lyman,ME.

    Not that crazy about the fins,......but the rear bumper guards look like they got in the way of the trunk opening so they moved ‘em way to the outside edge........Mark
    WB69 likes this.
  17. Agreed. That's a whole lotta cool going on right there from what was basically what we would consider "kid" today...even if he had some professional help getting it done. Not too many kids today I see have the eye or desire to create something new out of something old or putting in the hours throwing papers and sacking groceries to get someone to help create their idea of cool. I get "59 Caddy tail lights again?!" but like you said, in the context of the time, they were brand spanking new as were fins and incorporating those elements into something that was way old and outdated to make it fresh and new....that kind of "recycling" doesn't get seen today too much. I really dig the car and would drive the wheels off it...minus the bumper guards I guess. LOL
    akustom57 and K13 like this.
  18. straykatkustoms
    Joined: Oct 30, 2001
    Posts: 17,015


    Very kool feature and I love your honesty when you write your post. I think and I have been thinking for years, I wonder what it would look like if I saw it running down the road. I love hearing stories form my Wichita friends when they saw Lil Koffin and other Kustoms rolling down Douglas Street.

    I like the early 50's & 60's vehicles that have are crude, poor design and owner built. They remine me of a full scale AMT model.
    drdave and alanp561 like this.
  19. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,273

    Staff Member

    About 25 years ago, I got to be around to see a lost Starbird custom unearthed. I was shocked by the crudeness of the construction... It was my first time to see traditional construction like that. And in the end... that crudeness was just part of charm.

    I'm not bagging on Starbird here either. That's the way shit was done for the most part. Roth was an artist and the build was a means to an end... Know what I mean?

    And this isn't to say all historical cars were roughly built. The Neikamp Roadster, for instance, would stand up to just about any build done today with detail, craftsmanship, etc... I mean, that guy was bat shit crazy... and I love him for it.

    For some reason, this makes me think of @Chris Casny - some day in like 80 years someone is gonna find one of his cars, be blown away by the craftsmanship, and think, "What crazy son of a bitch built this thing in 2020? I mean, every nut and bolt clocked, etc..."
  20. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,864


    Context is king. You have to take the time it was built into account. But it's way too busy for me, front, rear and side. Great colors, though.
    drdave likes this.
  21. Torchie
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 1,084


    You hit the nail on the head, Ryan. I've been around 50's OG customs since the 70's. The level of craftsmanship from back then is like night and day compared to the current custom builders.
    Even though the workmanship has evolved we still stand on the shoulders of giants. Contemporary builders still look back to their elders for inspiration. We must always bear in mind that what is jaded today( 59 Caddy tail lights) was at one point cutting edge. As a long time custom person I get a lot of happiness seeing the newer builders taking up the Torch......
    drdave likes this.
  22. Like it now and would appreciate the changes made - or crafted - then for that period. At the time - 1960 - it was a 10 yr old car and for some one to put their talent into it and make the changes to keep the old shoe box some what current - that's cool.
    drdave and alanp561 like this.
  23. dwollam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2012
    Posts: 1,725


    I pretty much like all of it except for the headlight treatment. I'm a big shoebox fan, stock or modified.

    X-cpe likes this.
  24. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 7,517


    Looks better than the Bill Hines finned Ford. But,
    tastes change over time.
  25. I'm having a hard time coping with the extreme mix of styles.

    The razor sharp edges of the fins aren't picked up in any other design elements of the car. The paint and chrome trim seems like an effort to tie it all together, but I don't think it works.

    I think the fins are ad hoc, fins for the sake of fins, not to enhance the design of the car. If you cover up the back of the car, and just look at the front (and vice versa) it looks like two different cars. To me that feels more like a gimmick than a design. Maybe if the fins had been more subtle and round, like those on a '55 Chevy?

    However, although I don't care for it, I agree that it deserved more than two measly pages. A lot of work went into that car.

    ...and BTW, nothing ever looks good with Cad '59 rear lights, not even the Cad '59. :p
  26. I have always wondered about those ornaments on the hood/fender. Do they have some secret meaning that has been lost over the years?

    Custom Shoebox Jere Ehrich.jpg
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  27. Sandgroper
    Joined: Jan 20, 2019
    Posts: 308


  28. Sandgroper
    Joined: Jan 20, 2019
    Posts: 308


    Whoops, posted without the comment. :oops:

    I don't know if I'm biased but the French fords got the fins perfect in 58 to 61.
    lothiandon1940 and alanp561 like this.
  29. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 2,229


    A lot of us grew up in the times when a person could see a car and know right away that he or she was looking at a '39 Ford as opposed to a '39 Mercury, '54 Chevy as opposed to a '54 Olds. Today, I find it difficult to distinguish the differences between all the soccer mom SUVs and jelly bean four doors. Reading some of the earlier comments about the quality of workmanship in some of the earlier customs, you have to remember that most of those cars were built without the use of the tools available today. Not everyone had an electric welder in their garage and not everyone could lay down perfect beads with a gas torch. Air chisels, reciprocating saws, razor wheels, Cleco's and so on evolved from the aircraft industry and were adopted by hot rodders partly because some of them could see how they could be adapted to this type of work. Another reason would have been the availability of large amounts of war surplus equipment and tools. Those persons who could look at a car and imagine making it into something unique were many. Unfortunately, not all of them were able to translate their ideas into reality. Do I like what's been done to this particular Ford? Not particularly! I can, however, appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into it.
  30. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,431

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    They look like a pair of headers that were bolted together at the flanges for rafter storage. I'd expect the side going into the windshield opening continues on to the dash (or should)? The other side abruptly ends at the door line as if the car had both doors repainted and the car awaits finishing of the graphics. Very elementary. Ditto on the other version door graphics.
    Fins done for the time (fad). Lower grille insert w/o a matching upper above the Olds center bar is a total miss. Looks like someone smiling w/o their upper dentures.
    Neat period car but not my cup of tea. Would like to see it photo shopped without the gold paint and a fresh understated grille insert.
    Surfcityrocker likes this.

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