A few weeks ago we shared a handful of hot rod photos from the archives and now we’re showcasing the second half—the customs. Some are subtle, some are wild, but there’s no denying that they’re all excellent examples of traditional custom style. Much like the cars that fill each issue of The Rodder’s Journal, these cars come from across the United States. The majority of the images are outtakes from TRJ features, although some predate the magazine by a couple of years.
Aaron Lobato of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, built his ’53 Chevy much like it would have been done in the late-’50s: subtle bodywork and wild paint. He sprayed the basecoat and Watson-style scallops in pearl metallics with a hint of ’Flake thrown in. We’d like to think this photo shoot in front of the Paso Robles Inn paid homage to the Jim Potter sessions of yesteryear.
It’s no secret that trucks can make great customs, and James Austin’s Chatsworth, California-based ’55 Chevy is proof of that. Gary Howard performed the tasteful body modifications, which included a full shave and frenched ’46 Ford taillights. The paint is a custom-blended House of Kolor pearlescent metallic light green sprayed first by Howard and then Mick Jenkins of So-Cal Speed Shop.
Last time we saw the Freddie Rowe ’51 Mercury, it was displayed out on the 18th fairway at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. More than half a century earlier, the Barris-built Merc was a star in the movie “Running Wild.” After falling into a state of disrepair, it was restored by Bill Layman of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. The car is seen here with Layman’s “Moonglow” tribute and Tim Benish’s Ardun-powered ’32 three-window, which is now owned by Bruce Meyer.
“That’s all it was going to be, just a top and an interior.” That was the initial plan when Lee Pratt started working on his ’58 Impala. Even though this photo highlights both the candy/’Flake/lace-painted roof and Frank Gonzales interior, you can clearly see that the project went much further than that. We’re glad it did. Since then, Lee’s racked up thousands of miles in this car, and last we talked, he said it’s about due for a repaint.
Through the years, Rick Dore has developed his signature, streamlined style. We photographed his “Tangerine Dream” ’36 Ford in a pool of light at an early West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals in Paso Robles, California. Dore treated the Ford to a wealth of elegant custom touches from the early-’40s Packard grille to the Lincoln-Zephyr rear fenders.
In late 1996, the Oakland Museum of California ran an exhibit showcasing some of California’s most significant hot rods and custom cars. From the “California Kid” to the Rod & Custom “Dream Truck,” there was no shortage of icons on hand. Here we see two very different approaches to the radical custom: The (then) freshly restored Hirohata Merc and Billy F Gibbons’ “Cadzilla.”