Register now to get rid of these ads!

History What Ever Happened to..........?

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by OG lil E, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. What Ever Happened To..........? number 289.

    1951 Studebaker Coupe
    Owner: Fred Levson
    Hiawatha, Iowa

    Oh those orphans! Now I'm not talking about one of the Warriors' rival gangs in the movie of the same name from the late 70s, or the punk band from the 90s. I'm not even talking about those unfortunate kids that lose their parents at an early age. Nope, what I'm talking about are all those crazy cars that were built by car companies that didn't make it. Many brands of cars dipped out of production right about the time the depression hit. After the depression many of the brands that did survive didn't make it through World War II. After the war there were a few brands that made it through the tough war times, only to go out of business or be absorbed by another company. By the early 70s, most of the "independents" were long gone and the big three pretty much were the only American car companies left making cars.
    All these years later, why is it that the old, scarce and odd cars that nobody wanted have become so desirable? My late friend Teddy that passed away just over six years ago once told me how he didn't understand how those old odd ducks were so beautiful now. He said as a young kid in the 50s he and his brothers or friends would come across cars that were "cherry" and very cheap, but none of the guys wanted them. He once mentioned a '38 Buick four door. It was a one owner car in incredible condition, ready to drive away and the owner wanted $25.00 for it. No one wanted it. Teddy said "Are you kidding? All we wanted were Fords, Chevys and an occasional Mercury or Oldsmobile. We didn't want an old Grandpa car, no matter how nice it was." Ted said that cars like this were quite common, and most were priced under fifty bucks. Can you imagine? All things considered, fifty dollars was a sizeable amount of money in those days, but still, how did these guys pass these classics up? My how times have changed, huh?
    I've always liked those orphans. Hudsons, Packards, Ramblers, and Nashes just to name a few. And what about those old Studebakers? Funny how a brand that no one really seemed to like managed to have quite a few nice customs made out of them. Does the Modern Grecian ring a bell? How about the John Sevelius '48 Studebaker that was W.E.H.T. feature car number 61. Forget about that one? Here's a link to that write-up:

    Now, I'll be the first one to admit that many of these custom Studes were a little on the "different" side, quickly approaching strange, but really, if someone tossed you the keys to one of these cars you wouldn't want to take it for a cruise? I know I would. When was the last time you saw a crazy custom Studebaker anyway? Personally, I can't recall seeing one for more years than I care to remember.
    Of all the Studebakers that were made over the years, one humble little model that still seems to warm the hearts of even the pickiest custom lover is the Studebaker Starlite coupe. Many people have said over the years that these cars looked the same coming or going, but the style is actually very nice. I don't think I can count the number of custom Starlite coupes that I've seen over the years on one hand. The cars didn't seem to survive in stock form, let alone as a sled.
    One of the few Starlite customs I've seen over the years was built by Fred Levson from Hiawatha, Iowa. I have almost no information on this car, but it did manage to make it to a few KKOA events in the late 80s, and it made enough of an impression on me that I decided to include it here on our What Ever Happened To..........? thread.
    The first time I saw the car was on my copy of the 1989 Leadsled Spectacular video that my good buddy @PasoJohn Tretten was kind enough to give me a copy of a number of years back. Before I touch on the '89 Leadsled, I have to mention that I found information on the Studebaker from the year before. While I was digging through my KKOA newsletters a while back I came across a picture of Mr. Levson's '51 in the Kemp Gazette, Volume 5 Number 1 from 1989. It was in the KKOA's coverage of the 1988 Last Pass in Des Moines. There was a nice picture of the '51 across the bottom of pages 10 and 11. Unfortunately, this is the only photograph I found of the car. The caption on the photo mentions the car is "shocking pink", although it's hard to tell what color it is in the black and white shot. One unique feature you can see in this shot are the '58 Chevy Bel Air or Biscayne taillights. Note the door handles are shaved as well.

    Fred Levson 51 Studebaker a KempGaz v5N11989 p10-11 LastPass 88.JPG

    Going back to the '89 Spectacular, the car was only on the video in one shot. It was when the car was cruising into the fairgrounds and John caught it as it rolled by. I don't know if the car was constantly in motion that weekend or what, but for some reason, the Studey wasn't seen on the video again. I've watched the short clip of the car cruising by as John video taped it over and over again and the car is quite mesmerizing to me. Maybe because it is so different, maybe it's because it really is a shocking pink a shade darker than Pepto Bismol, or maybe it's just because a custom Studebaker Starlite coupe is such a rare sight. At any rate, cool is cool..........
    The first of three video still shots was taken just as the car was coming in through the gates at the Davenport Fairgrounds. On a side note, I've been to the Davenport Fairgrounds back in 2004. Our club rolled out there for the Flying Eyeball Reunion. The fairgrounds are nice, and all the buildings are old timey but very well kept. I don't know why I never asked when I was there, and I've often wondered since then, what are the little buildings under the entrance to the fairgrounds? Are they little apartments or offices or what? Anybody know? Has anybody been to the fairgrounds more recently that 2004? Are these little buildings still there? Just curious. Such a great place for a car show!

    Fred Levson 51 Studebaker b 89LSS.jpg

    Here we catch a glimpse of the front of the car as it passes by. We can see some of the trim has been shaved, but the neat air vent on the front fender was retained. I'm sure that vent is a Godsend on those hot summer days! Notice the passing mirror on the upper door frame. It is almost impossible to tell in the frozen shot, but on the video as it plays you can see that there is a round KKOA member sticker on the vent window. Seems like Mr. Levson was around the KKOA longer than '88 and '89.

    Fred Levson 51 Studebaker c 89LSS.jpg

    As the '51 goes by and we see the back of the car, you can see the '58 Chevy taillights again, as well as a frenched license plate. It looks like Mr. Levson was running Moon discs in the rear in '89, just like in the photo from '88. My friend Mitch's Dad told me that this was an old custom trick from a long time ago. Many times if your car was low and you ran skirts, a guy would run Moon discs because they would clear the skirt and still give the needed coolness of some kind of a hubcap under the skirt. You can also see there was a drag plaque mounted on the car, but it was impossible to see what was on it.

    Fred Levson 51 Studebaker d 89LSS.jpg

    And as the pink '51 rolled out of the shot, it, as we say, "rolled into custom history". So what ever happened to this coupe? Anyone remember seeing it at any shows in the late 80s? It seemed like Mr. Levson stayed close to home going to shows in Iowa. So how about it Jim (@stanlow69), you recall seeing this car at any shows in your area? I hope someone has something on this car, as it is too cool to be forgotten!
    Well guys, the time has sprung forward, and St. Patty's Day is just a few days off. We are finally moving toward the car cruising and show season. Can't be soon enough for me. I'm sure we'll still have a little bit of winter left to deal with, but it should just about be over. Inching closer and closer to the fun. I'm sure it will be worth the wait!
    Stay cool everyone! I'll see you in a few weeks! E
  2. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 6,708


    Studebaker was the only company to transition from the horse and buggy era to the automobile era and survive. Hiawatha is 240 miles away, so I haven`t seen the car in years since the Last Pass show in Des Moines or the Davenport show. I don`t get in that part of the state much. Here is a pic from the Last pass show. Good eye on the rear hubcaps. Not sure why my scans are coming out fuzzy. EEERRRRR. IMG_20220316_0001.jpg
    LOST ANGEL, 54delray, drdave and 4 others like this.
  3. Thanks for posting the nice picture Jim (@stanlow69)! I figured you would have something on this car since you were a regular at the Last Pass shows. In the video you couldn't tell what the front spinner hubcaps were. In your picture the Stude has a set of ultra rare "Viking" 'caps on the front. I've always wanted some but at over $500.00 a piece I doubt I'll ever be able to buy a set.

    You've still got the gift of search Bill (@Sancho)! Thanks for posting! This sure sounds like the Mr. Levson/Levsen we are talking about. I was just going off of the spelling from the caption under the picture from the KKOA Gazette.
    If this is our Mr. Levson, I'm very sorry to learn of his passing. So many of the guys that paved the way for the return of customs back in the custom renaissance days have left us. Sad to think about. Rest in peace Mr. Levsen..........E
    Sancho, 54delray, drdave and 3 others like this.
  4. Peanut 1959
    Joined: Oct 11, 2008
    Posts: 2,159

    Peanut 1959

    It is identified as a '51 Studebaker (which I don't dispute), but the actual bullet and the hood are from a '50 Champion.. I can't recall ever seeing a '50 hood used with '51 grilles. I hope someone comes up with better pics of that and the sideways-hooded taillights.
  5. What Ever Happened To..........? number 290.

    1957 Chevy "Colorado Summer of '59"
    Owner: Pat Shaw
    Longmont Colorado

    Every now and then in my research I stumble across a car that I've never seen. This happened recently, but when I read the article I realized that I was familiar with the owner. Many of you that have been following along our custom journey here may also notice that the owner's name sounds familiar.
    Back in September of 2020, I wrote about Mr. Shaw's awesome '57 Chevy more affectionately known as the "Scarlet Lady". It was W.E.H.T. #233. Here is a link to the write-up just in case you missed it:

    From what I've learned, thanks to Roger Jetter's (@40StudeDude) knowledgeable insight, Mr. Shaw was a true custom guy that happened to love '57 Chevys. Well, as fate would have it, this week's custom is one of Pat's other '57 Chevy customs that was around the scene many years ago. Funny how a person can stumble upon something and never know anything about it. Ironic that Pat and this '57 were from Colorado, yet I never saw this car anywhere but in the magazine article, and way back when, me and my folks or my car buddies used to hit cruise nights and car shows all over town, yet I never saw this sled anywhere. I wish I had, because this car looked like a refugee from the late 50s or early 60s.
    In the write-up for the "Scarlet Lady", Roger mentioned that Pat had another pair of '57 Chevys, one convertible that was eventually returned to stock condition and sold, and this one, which was known as "Colorado Summer of '59".
    The only pictures I have of this car were from a feature article in Classic and Custom magazine. According to my research and dates, this '57 must have been put together right about the time what I like to call the "custom renaissance" began. I could be off here, but it seems like this movement started around the mid 70s. Pop culture may have had something to do with customs making a big comeback in those days. American Graffiti came out in '73, Happy Days started in '74, and musical groups like Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids and Sha Na Na started churning out records (and 8 track tapes). This type of thing started getting the folks that graduated from high school in the 50s and early 60s reminiscing about their high school days and the car they always wanted but never could afford to build. By the late 70s and early 80s, those 50s be-boppers were custom crazy and they were turning out some super sleds in those days. All this custom craziness helped Jerry Titus decide to start the KKOA in October of 1980, and as they say, "the rest is history".
    Pat's other '57, "Colorado Summer of '59" was featured in the April '81 issue of Classic and Custom (Volume 2 Number 2) on pages 40-42. I don't know why, but even back then, custom '57's were a fairly rare sight. So every time one was in a magazine it caused quite a stir. Even today when I pick up a magazine or check out pictures on the internet, those rare '57 Chevy leadsleds still get the ol' blood flowing. Such an iconic car, and with just a few tweaks you're in custom heaven!
    When that April '81 issue came out with Pat's car in it, no Leadsled Spectacular had happened yet. The first one was later on in the year, the summer of '81 in Wichita. With that being said, I never saw this '57 Pat built at any Spectacular or KKOA show. Matter of fact, I've never seen coverage of the car in any other magazine. Now, I'm not the resident custom expert here, but I look at a ton of books and magazines and watch many hours of video, and I'm yet to find this car anywhere else other than the '81 Classic and Custom article. I hope you enjoy my scans of the feature as this car has proven to be very illusive and pretty much forgotten by all but a few people (Roger immediately comes to mind).
    Anyway, enough of my rambling story telling and on to the feature.
    On the first page of the article we see plenty of white tuck'n'roll and great detail all throughout the car. Love the T'n'R spare tire cover as well as the piston gear shift knob. The louvered trunk lid is pure coolness, and the taillight work is very reminiscent of a late 50s Cadillac.

    Pat Shaw SO59 57 Chevy a CnC V2N2 Apr81 p40.png

    On the next page we get to see Pat's car in fabulous color. I'm sure the car was a real head turner and a traffic stopper! The light blue with darker blue scallops look great together. Gotta love the how the hood gun sights were replaced by bullets, the tube grille, and the sweet job of frenching the headlights. Are those '56 Ford truck headlight rings? They were a staple to french headlights on '57 Ford car customs forever ago. Whatever Pat used, it looked super!

    Pat Shaw SO59 57 Chevy b CnC V2N2 Apr81 p41.png

    On the last page of the article, we get another peek at the interior. Who doesn't love a '59 Impala steering wheel? We also get a great view of Pat's car out in the country. Looks like mountain country to me. Man, Colorado life used to be so much better back in those days. **Sigh**

    Pat Shaw SO59 57 Chevy c CnC V2N2 Apr81 p42.png

    Just to make sure Pat's car left an impression on the reader of the magazine, the staff put a great picture of the '57 on the back cover of the issue. If this picture doesn't get you excited about customs, you'd better check your pulse. Either you're not a fan of customs, or you're dead (lol)!

    Pat Shaw SO59 57 Chevy d CnC V2N2 Apr 81 back cover.png

    Sadly, Pat passed away in 2018. I never got to meet him, but his taste in customs and the fact that he was from Colorado made an impression on me. Rest in peace Mr. Shaw, and thanks!
    Even though it's raining in the Mile High City today, the weather is getting much better. I'm seeing more and more neat iron cruising around, and we even got to spend some time at the park last Sunday. Yes sir, summer is on the way! I hope that everyone out there is getting back into the swing of things and getting to spend some time behind the wheel wasting some of that expensive gasoline. I know it's expensive, but it's worth it, isn't it? You guys have fun and be careful out there!
    See you soon! E
  6. John B
    Joined: Mar 9, 2001
    Posts: 1,384

    John B

    Pat proved that Tri-5s make great customs
    drdave, OG lil E, Sancho and 3 others like this.
  7. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,497


    Thanx OG lil e, great to see one of Pat's kustoms again...and FWIW, Pat built three '57 Chevy's, the one above (and built several other hot rods as well). Scarlet Lady was a bright red '57 and a convertible...the convert never made it to the street much but had a few body mods...It's my understanding that Pat decided to sell it and put it all back to stock before it was sold. I don't know who bought it or where it is but it's too bad it returned to what it started out to be...
    drdave, R A Wrench, OG lil E and 2 others like this.
  8. He sure did John. Too bad we don't see more of them these days. E

    Thanks for chiming in Roger! Pat definitely had great vision, and some good fortune as well. I can imagine how cool it would be to have one '57 Chevy custom, let alone three! Sounds like he was one heck of a guy! E
  9. Was also featured in Custom Rodder Volume 2 number 3, March 1980.
    Here's a cover shot I found online:
    drdave, 54delray, stanlow69 and 3 others like this.
  10. At least judging from that cover photo it might have been the same photos.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2022
    54delray, stanlow69 and OG lil E like this.
  11. Rear end is reminiscent of The Blue Angel.
  12. Cool to see you're on the case Bill! You know, I have a stack of those older Custom Rodders that I seldom look at. I'm going to have to see if I have that issue, but I don't think I do.
    Pat's '57 does look like "The Blue Angel". Sweet sled! E
  13. straykatkustoms
    Joined: Oct 30, 2001
    Posts: 18,964


    Good morning Ed, I've always loved Pat's Chevy. Always wanted to see it in person but didn't have the opportunity. I use to look at it in Classic & Customs for hours, well at least minutes.... Lol!

    Great thread, I cant believe all of the background information. You are feeding the hunger for this kustom nerd.
    drdave, 54delray, stanlow69 and 2 others like this.
  14. Thanks Mick (@straykatkustoms)! Glad you're still following the thread and enjoying it. E
  15. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 6,708


    From the Last Pass show KKOA show in Des Moines. IMG_20220331_0001.jpg
  16. Great pics, Jim! I see that at the show Pat put his tuck'n'roll fenderwell panels in. Also some upholstered engine accessories. That's about as cool as it gets! E
    drdave, 54delray, John B and 4 others like this.
  17. Austinrod
    Joined: Jun 14, 2012
    Posts: 2,229

    from Austin

    Does anybody have history on this 49 merc 4door
    87B078CB-503C-464A-909C-57EE14012A90.jpeg 9AE70FC0-CC2F-4D60-ADBC-A8431C028629.jpeg B96C6580-4DAD-4CD9-BC1A-7C8D2717D471.jpeg 13564C5F-0717-410B-A711-C4F5D4609ACB.jpeg
  18. What Ever Happened To..........? number 291.

    1957 Ford Sedan Delivery "Shake, Rattle and Roll"
    Owner: ? ? ? ? ?
    ? ? ? ? ?, ? ? ? ? ?

    For this week's custom, I am once again reaching into the wildcard custom bag. For those of you that haven't been following this thread very closely, this just means that I'm posting a car that I had very little luck finding information on, but it is still just cool enough to share and hope that one of the custom faithful that do frequent the thread might have some information to solve a custom mystery. As a rule I try not to post too many "wildcards", but as we move along information is getting harder to find. Sadly, like we've discussed many times before, the folks that built these cars or had knowledge of them are passing away all the time. That or they may not be internet savvy. This seems to be a fact that I run into all the time. Many of the older generation have no interest in getting online no matter what's out there!
    This week's custom is one that was around quite a bit in the early 90s. Matter of fact, this car was at the Leadsled three out of four years from 1990-1993. Then, as suddenly as it appeared on the scene, it cruised off as we like to say around here, "into custom history".
    This sweet '57 delivery made it's first appearance at the 1990 Leadsled Spectacular in Holland, Michigan. My first group of pictures are still shots from the 1990 video. It was already quite far along as it had body mods and nice paint. Most of the time when a car is like this it means it has been around long enough to have much of the custom coolness already completed. In '90, it almost looks like it was a street rod that was transforming over to the dark side, oops, I mean to the leadsled side of the hobby. It had blackwall tires and wire wheel hubcaps. Matter of fact, if it wasn't for the cruiser skirts visible in my first picture, you might think it was a street rod. A closer look reveals it is more custom than a first glance would tell, considering it had shaved door handles and dummy spots. The one subtle mod that I think is so cool on a '57 Ford that many people may miss is the addition of a '58 Ford hood. If I ever get a '57 Ford, this is one of the first things I'd do.

    SRnR 57 Ford a 90LSS.JPG

    In my second still we get a closer look at the front of the car. It had a nice tube grille, and the front bumper looks to be molded, but in my grainy, quickly aging video it was hard to tell. In my honest opinion, I think the car was taken to the show minus the front bumper and it wasn't molded at all. The bumper may have been at the chrome shop and they didn't meet the deadline so the owner of the '57 said the heck with it and he went to the show anyway. Back in those days nobody, and I mean nobody that was into customs wanted to miss the Spectacular, even if their car didn't have a front bumper!

    SRnR 57 Ford b 90LSS.JPG

    My last shot from the '90 Holland show is a 3/4 rear shot. Here we see a pair of lake pipes and one of the rarest features on this car and what can be considered the holy grail for '57 Ford custom fans, a set of '58 Edsel wagon taillights. They make the back of these cars when they are installed. Finding a set has always been a challenge as Ford only made 6,470 '58 Edsel wagons. Can you imagine how hard they are to come by in 2022? And what about the cost? Hold on to your wallet!
    We can also see a car club plaque as well as a license plate, but once again the grainy video gremlin kept me from being able to see any of it.

    SRnR 57 Ford c 90LSS.JPG

    Onward to the 1991 Spectacular, we once again find this mystery delivery at the show. In '91 the KKOA show was held in Hamilton, Ohio. The car looks to have had some upgrades since the prior year, but we can tell it is the same unmistakable sled. Starting at the front, we can see that some scroll style pinstriping has been added on the edge of the hood. We also see a chrome bumper. If you look close it looks like the owner installed "lazy eyes" on the headlights. Hard to tell as the video gremlin was still lurking about.

    SRnR 57 Ford d 91LSS.JPG

    As we move towards the side of the car, we can see more pinstriping detail. We also see the blackwall tires are gone, replaced in favor of pinner whites with an awesome set of Cragar Star Wires. Quite an upgrade from blackwalls and wire wheel hubcaps!

    SRnR 57 Ford e 91LSS.JPG

    Probably the most noticeable change from '90 was the addition of the lettering on the delivery panel sides. The owner had someone spray or letter "Shake, Rattle and Roll" on the sides. The phrase made famous by a Big Joe Turner song of the same name, later covered by Bill Haley and his Comets in the mid 50s.

    SRnR 57 Ford f 91LSS.JPG

    Here we have a shot of the driver's side. Sorry about the blurry images. "Video Bob" Huff was moving around quite a bit while he was filming this, so it made for some fuzzy still shots.

    SRnR 57 Ford g 91LSS.JPG

    In '91, the owner had the back door open so show attendees could check it out. Unfortunately Bob never video taped the back area when he filmed the car over 30 years ago. From what we see it looks nice and comfy. A great place to get out of the sun at any show!

    SRnR 57 Ford j 91LSS.JPG

    As Bob zoomed in for a closer look, we see some more pinstripe detail by the rear taillights, as well as the plate and plaque. Still too fuzzy to make out, darn it!

    SRnR 57 Ford i 91LSS.JPG

    For some reason, the owner skipped the '92 Spectacular that was back in Holland again. Maybe something came up, or he decided he had been there once and didn't want to return. Who knows? Fortunately for us, in '93 he made the trip to Springfield, Ohio for the show. On the outside the car looked unchanged from '91.

    SRnR 57 Ford p 93LSS.JPG

    Here is one more attempt to show the striping by the taillight.

    SRnR 57 Ford q 93LSS.JPG

    While I was at it, I tried to get better shots of the lettering on the sides, but they are still quite fuzzy. I'm sure this car was a treat for the eyes in person!

    SRnR 57 Ford n 93LSS.JPG

    SRnR 57 Ford o 93LSS.JPG

    In '93 Bob went ahead and stuck his camera in the window and got some shots of the interior. I know that velour isn't really traditionally correct, but you have to admit it looks mighty comfortable in there!

    SRnR 57 Ford k 93 LSS.JPG

    Grainy video makes it hard to see, but it appears to have a big diamond pattern on the top and bottom bun of each front seat in a slightly darker shade of material. Nice touch!

    SRnR 57 Ford L 93LSS.JPG

    One last shot of the interior shows the plush seats one more time. Bummer we never got to see the back cargo area. If it's anything like the front seats, it would be a nice place to crash at a show or even in a rest stop if you were too tired or broke to make it to a hotel in the next town. That was one of the best features of a delivery!

    SRnR 57 Ford m 93LSS.JPG

    Like so many other times reported here before, after this show the information trail on this car just stopped. I watched hours of video and looked through stacks of KKOA newsletters and magazines and came up with nothing else. "What Ever Happened To..........?" this neat and rare '57 Ford delivery? I sure hope the delivery to the 1993 Leadsled Spectacular wasn't its last. I hope someone out there has more on this one. So what do you say? Have anything to add? Let's hear it!
    Last Saturday I went to a large Easter egg hunt that the Denver Ladies of Lowriding put together. My sister-in-law and her husband brought their grandkids to the park to get in on the loot as we have no grandchildren. I tell you what, watching those kids was a hoot! You gotta love the innocence and excitement of kids. I'll say one thing though, being around them sure makes me feel my age. Where the heck do they get all that energy? Man, it's always go, go go! I have to admit it was one of the best car activities I've gone to in a good while. The Denver Ladies of Lowriding put together a well organized event with plenty of good barbeque, drinks and all the other edible add-ons, as well as a ton of goodie eggs that were hand filled with candy and even a little bit of money. I didn't see one kid leaving with a basket that looked empty or a face that was sad. Each kid took home a load of goodies! Hats off to the ladies for putting together a bang up event that I really enjoyed! I plan on being there again next year!
    I hope that you and yours will also have a wonderful Easter however you celebrate. Just remember that He is risen! Happy Easter y'all!
    'Til next time! Cruise on! E
  19. 54delray
    Joined: Dec 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,506

    from Fremont NE

    Ed, another kool kustom that I would know nothing about unless you took the time to research it an post it here on the HAMB. Thanks for doing so.
    Sancho, drdave, Hamtown Al and 4 others like this.
  20. Thanks for the kind words Bill! I'm just sorry that I wasn't able to find more information on it. E
    Joined: Sep 15, 2005
    Posts: 159

    from CW, Ohio

  22. Once again I got nuthin', but man, do I love a wagon based panel...a 57 Ford with Edsel tail lights to boot. Perfect
  23. What Ever Happened To..........? number 292.

    1958 Chrysler
    Owner: Jerry Titus
    Wichita, Kansas

    This week, our feature custom was owned by non other than Jerry Titus. In between starting up the KKOA and promoting shows, working for a living and raising a family, he found the time to build a nice custom or two. To be honest, I really don't know any history of this car before 1984. I have no idea how long Jerry had it before then or what condition it was in when he got it. I'm just guessing here, but I'd imagine that his brother Elden had quite a bit to do with getting this cool finned cruiser on the street.
    The first time I ever saw the car was on the beginning of the 1984 Leadsled Spectacular video. I've had discussions with people over the beginning of this video for years now. Some people like it, some don't. I like it since it shows the routine that every car owner goes through to get ready to head to a long distance car show. In the beginning of the tape, it shows Jerry Titus and another guy loading boxes of what I would think was KKOA T-shirts, trophies and any other promotional things they needed at the show into a van. After the van is all loaded, Jerry starts getting the Chrysler ready to hit the road by emptying anything unnecessary in the trunk and loading his luggage. Here's a still shot of Jerry clearing out the trunk.

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler a 84LSS.JPG

    A quick check of the oil under the hood and he was ready to go. In this still shot, Jerry just started the car, then he sounded his Bermuda Bell and he proceeds to back out of his driveway.

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler b 84LSS.JPG

    Here we see Jerry as he starts to drive away out in the street. You just have to love the way the paint on the '58 looks in the sun as he drives away.

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler c 84LSS.JPG

    In the next still, we see Jerry turn the corner just down the street from a friend's house. Since you don't see a lot of finned Mopars on the streets these days, a person can forget how tall many of the fins were on the Chrysler, Dodge, DeSoto and Plymouth cars of the late 50s and early 60s. They were definitely a sight!

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler d 84LSS.JPG

    A few seconds after the above shot, Jerry arrives at his friend's house. It is non other than Ken Meyer's house. Ken's super '49 Merc four door affectionately known as "The Shadow" was covered here in this thread back in February 2018. It was W.E.H.T. #103. Here's a link to get re-acquainted with Ken's Mercury:

    Jerry toots his horn and shouts out "Let's go!" Jerry creeps down the street and Ken and his son scramble into the Merc. Ken starts the Merc and drives out of his driveway to catch the Chrysler. This was such a cool scene for a few reasons. As Ken rolls out of his driveway you can hear the familiar sound of an aluminum drag plaque scraping the street. You then hear Ken accelerate to catch Jerry, and man, those pipes on the Merc sounded so good! The simple things in life can be so sweet!

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler e 84LSS.JPG

    In the next few scenes, we see Jerry and Ken meet up with Hub Harness in his '59 El Camino. Here is a shot of Hub's '59 El leading the way with Jerry's '58 following close behind, and Ken's 49 Merc holding down the back of the little caravan. They were getting on the highway heading out of Wichita on their way to Des Moines, Iowa for the 1984 Leadsled Spectacular.

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler f 84LSS.JPG

    After the trio arrived in Des Moines, Rowdie was busy filming many of the cars as they cruised down "main street" in the fairgrounds where the Spectacular was held. Not long after we catch a glimpse of Jerry cruising down the street checking things out. If you look closely at this shot, you can see Roger Jetter (@40StudeDude) and company cruising towards Jerry in the yet as then unrestored "Hint of Mint" '57 Chevy. What a neat moment in custom history!

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler g 84LSS.JPG

    Judging by the video, '84 was a great show and it looked huge! Oddly, the still pictures I've shared with you happened quite early on the video. After the above shot, Jerry's Chrysler wasn't on the tape again.
    In 1985 the Spectacular was in Springfield, Ohio. To quote Mr. Ed Sullivan, it was another "Really big show". The Chrysler was only on the tape a few times. Once was during the fairgrounds cruise which I couldn't get a clear shot of so no picture there. The other time was while Rowdie was filming as cars cruised by where he was set up. Here we see the Chrysler prowling around.

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler h 85LSS.JPG

    As the car passes the camera we see Jerr--wait a minute, that's not Jerry! Nope, Jerry's wife Davona was behind the wheel checking things out. Here she smiles and waves at the camera.

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler i 85LSS.JPG

    After the '85 Spectacular, shots became harder to find, but I still managed to find a few. In '86 I didn't see the Chrysler on the Leadsled video, but the car did make the trip to the short lived Sled Scene Central that was held in Waco, Texas that year. Here we see a picture of the Chrysler at the show in the KKOA Kemp Gazette's coverage of the event. It was in the January '87 issue, Volume 3 Number 6 on page 10. Even in black and white the car looks great!

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler j 86 SldScnCent KempGaz V3N6 p10 Jan87.JPG

    In 1987 Jerry once again took the car to the Spectacular, this time in Springfield, Illinois. The lone shot from the show was while the '58 was parked and Rowdie rolled by while filming the fairgrounds cruise.

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler k 87LSS.JPG

    Our next shot tonight is probably the best one yet. It was taken at the 1987 Hangin' Dice Nationals in Ft. Smith, Arkansas by our own @drdave. A special thanks goes out to the Doc as well as Rikster as the shot was archived in the Dr. Dave collection on Rikster's wonderful site!

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler L KKOA Arkansas 87 DrD Collection.jpg

    After the shows of the summer of '87, I couldn't find anything else on the Chrysler. This had to be about the time that Jerry sold the car. I have found other pictures of the car but I couldn't verify if it was Jerry's old car. Either it was very close but not exactly, or it was quite a bit different, but there were enough differences to make me think these were other '58 Chryslers.
    It wasn't until just a few weeks back that our own Mick (@straykatkustoms) posted a few pictures on his "Kustom Blues" thread that I think we finally have some idea of "Whatever Happened To..........?" Jerry's bright red Chrysler. In these pictures we see the car and it looks almost completely unchanged. I'm not sure if these are the same wires Jerry ran but with a different cap, or a new set of wires altogether. The new owner also (thankfully) put the wires on wide whitewall tires. The tires made all the difference in the world. Not that the car wasn't a looker with black walls when Jerry had it, but whitewalls always enhance the looks of a custom.
    We also see the dump tubes or "sneaker pipes" that look to be in the same exact spot that Jerry had them. I don't think the car had the twin aerials on it when Jerry owned it. In grainy moving video shots I never could tell. Somewhere along the line a rear view mirror was mounted on the door. Jerry never had one.
    It looks like the car ended up in California as it has personalized California plates that read "BIGFINS". Boy, is that the understatement of the month, huh (lol)?

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler m Straykat Collection.jpeg

    Jerry Titus 58 Chrysler n Straykat Collection.jpeg

    So what do you think? Is this the Titus '58, or is it another "close but no cigar"? Let's talk it over and see what everyone thinks!
    I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! The weather here was ok, but it was a bit on the windy side. We had a nice dinner and got to spend some time with family. All in all it was a very pleasant day.
    It looks like April has just about passed us by. May is just around the corner and the car activities list is growing longer by the day. I hope you've got your wheels all set and you're ready to hit the road. It looks like the warmer weather is about here to stay for a while. I hope things are good where you're at and you can get out and get some time behind the wheel. Enjoy it while you can.....we all know how fast the warm weather goes by. In what seems like the blink of an eye, we'll all be talking about how it's time to put the cars away again for another long winter. Don't waste a single minute. Get out and get cruisin'! I'll see you guys on May 10th. Oh yeah, let me be one of the first to wish everyone a happy Cinco de Mayo!
    Hasta la proxima, cuidate! (Until next time, take care!) E
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2022
  24. Jeff and I had talked about BIGFINS. We were fairly sure that's Jerry's Chrysler.
    drdave, John B, OG lil E and 5 others like this.
  25. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 26,281

    Staff Member

    I remember Jerry telling me that he sold his Chrysler and his pearl white 59 Pontiac to the same guy in California, I bet the one you pictured is Jerrys old car
    Hamtown Al, drdave, John B and 4 others like this.
  26. Another photo from Rik's site:
  27. Compare that to this:
    Hamtown Al, drdave, John B and 4 others like this.
  28. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 6,708


    I`m pretty sure it was in Des Moines in 82 in primer. Not sure where I took this pic. IMG_20220426_0001.jpg

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!


Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.