Jim Laga's 1950 Ford
1950 Ford currently being restyled by Jim Laga. The car is also known as the Telstar MX7. Jim bought the car in July, 2007 as a potential daily driver. What started out as a mildly kustomized daily driver in 2007 slowly evolved into a tribute to Bob Metz and Barris Kustoms, and ended up as a homage to Harley Earl and his futuristic concept cars. Jim has featured the build process on the HAMB for everyone to enjoy. Through contributions and ideas from the readers of the message board and Jim's incredible skills with the cutting wheel and welder the car has been on a long and bumpy journey for the last couple of years
From Mild to Wild - Part 1
Jim began his project by welding in a 1950 Mercury grille shell on the car. At the same time he also removed the license guard on the trunk, filled the hole from it and installed a 1941 Lincoln door button. The car sat for a while while Jim was moving to a bigger and better shop. Finally settled down in the new shop, Jim continued his journey mocking up a couple of more ideas for the car. The new ideas included canted 1954 Buick headlights, a 1950 Studebaker accessory rear license guard, louvered hood and side trim from either a 1958 Ford or from a 1956 DeSoto. The grille was planned to come from a 1949 Mercury or a 1952 Kaiser.
By January 2008 Jim had welded Buick headlight rings to the car and created his own floating bar from of a 1955 Cadillac grille bar. The bar sported inverted dummy spots on each end. Jim had also put Foxcraft steel skirts on the car. The 1950 Studebaker accessory rear license guard had been replaced by a 1953 Kaiser guard. Jim wanted to route the exhaust through the tips on the license plate guard. he had no plans so far to chop the coupe, since he thought shoebox coupes looked better unchopped. 
By mid March the floating bar was gone and Jim had made a grille frame out of conduit. A couple of days later the grille was finished featuring expanded metal inside the frame, with small oval shaped chrome drawer pulls attached to the expanded metal.
From Mild to Wild - Part 2
15th of April, 2008 Jim posted some new pictures of his Shoebox build on The HAMB. By now his car had received 1957 Studebaker fins. A bright late 50s/early 60s custom influence started to dominate his Shoebox. With the fins tacked in place Jim began to think that in order to improve the lines of the car he may had to give it a mild chop. Jim also considered hardtopping it. Being a fan of Buster Litton's hardtopped shoebox he thought a roof line like Buster's would fit the car perfect.
Fifth of May, 2008 Jim and his friends Vic Collins, and Daran Rumbaugh had chopped the Shoebox, 3" in the front, and 4" in the rear. A week later he decided that he didn't want to go for a hardtopped roof, and welded the roof back together with a b-pillar. At the same time Jim also decided to scrap the 1958 Ford sidetrim in favor for 1952 Packard side trim. On the front fenders he wanted to lower the wheelwell, he also wanted to replace the Foxcraft fender skirts with needle-nose bubble skirts incorporating fancy teeth in the front. In the rear he wanted to fit canted 1954 Chevrolet or 1959 Chevrolet taillights with Lee lenses. By early June 2008, Jim had decided to equip the car with taillights from a 1960 Chrysler instead.
From Mild to Wild - Part 3
June 16th, 2008 Jim asked the members of the HAMB if somebody could section his shoebox 2 1/2" - 3" using PhotoShop.  After seeing what a sectioning did to his car, Jim decided that it was time to take his project to the next new level. June 22nd, 2008 Jim posted some new pictures on the HAMB showing the car as it was getting ready for a 2" sectioning job. By now, Jim had also narrowed the Merc grille shell by 9 inches. Two days later, Jim had sectioned the car 2 inches. He was really satisfied with the result, and felt that the sectioning really fit the car. What had started out as a mild mid fifties kustom had now evolved into a radical early 60s kustom car, and Jim felt that the 1954 Buick headlight rings weren't working together with the rest of the car in order to create that look. A buddy of Jim had a 1956 Lincoln rusting away in his backyard. A call was made, and Jim was the proud owner of a set of Lincoln headlights. July 27th Jim had mocked one of the headlights on the Ford, and was really satisfied with the way it looked. The peak in the top of the fender lined up perfectly with the peak on the Lincoln sheetmetal. By then Jim had also decided to fit the car wit a set of 1955 Cadillac dagmars up front. The dagmars would have a rolled pan fit between them. For the new grille Jim also wanted to use the chrome piece from the top of a 1951- 1953 Oldsmobile grille along the top of the grille opening.  Jim used a spare shoebox decklid he had "laying" around to make the rolled pan out of. Early in August, Jim had started to mock up the tailpan and taillight area. He reshaped the fins and mocked up a rear grille made from a 1957 Chverolet truck grille center. The rear bumper was also mocked up with a 1955 Packard front bumper bullet. A Packard bumper bullet was also mocked up in the front below the Lincoln headlight.
From Mild to Wild - Part 4 - The Telstar MX7
September 11th, 2008 Jim locked the doors to his shop. Armed with his tape measure, masking tape and cutoff wheel he wanted to give the body a swooping taper, kind of like an old Chris Craft wooden speedboat. In order accomplish this, he would need to do some more sectioning from the front of the door to the back of the car. The car was now planned to be a two-seater with a roof similar to the 1953 Cadillac LeMans Concept Car that Barris Kustoms later restyled for Harry Karl. Influenced by the favorite features of various Barris Kustoms built cars, Jim was now ready to take the Shoebox to yet another level. After he had sectioned the rear of the car even more, Jim planned to put the fins back on the car. But 3 days later he shared some new pictures of another rear quarter treatment incorporating 1956 Lincoln quarters and a 1956 Lincoln hood as decklid. The 1957 Chevrolet truck grille center, and the 1955 Packard bullet bumpers were also mocked back on again. Throughout October Jim was working on figuring out the proportions of the car. By the 20th he had mocked up a 1959 Chevrolet influenced wheel well in the rear. He had also moved the entire deck area up by approximately 2 inches. The rear part of the stock roof was also back on the car; it was cut up and featured a chopped window. Jim was planning on using a 1955 Buick windshield with the roof. Early in November Jim took out his cutoff wheel and proceeded to pie section both quarters even more. After doing that he decided that the 1956 Lincoln taillights, 1955 Packard bumper bullets, and the narrowed 1957 Chevrolet Pickup center grille would fit the rear of the car perfect. Now he just had to widen the roof to fit the body of the car. By the 10th of December Jim had moved the deck area between the taillights in by 6 inches, created a roll pan, cut in the Chevrolet truck grille surround, repositioned the taillights, recessed the bullets, slit the quarters and pulled out the bottom part of the quarters to align better with the fins.
After receiving some design propositions from fellow HAMB members, Jim decided that the front of the car looked a bit thick compared to the rear of the car,so he decided that he needed to section another 2 inches from the front fenders of the car. By december 15th he had unbolted all of the sheetmetal from the car that he needed in order to re section it. The same day he also got his donor car for the windshield. The car was a 1956 Oldsmobile and not a 1955 Buick that he planned to use earlier. Jim decided to use the wheel openings from the Oldsmobile on his shoebox project. A week later the front fenders were back on the car. They were still unsectioned, and Jim had decided that instead of sectioning the front fenders he wanted to "untaper" the quarters about an inch in order to reduce the slope. When the fenders were back on again, Jim moved the headlights back about 4 inches and sectioned the Oldsmobile wheel lip to follow the Cadillac front bumper.
Jim wanted the car to have a more rocket-ship concept car look, so by the end of November he had fit the car with quarter panels from the 1956 Oldsmobile donor car he had bought in order to get a windshield for the car. The previous trim ideas were also junked in favor for 1953 Buick side trim. On the 4th of December Jim posted a thread on the HAMB were he asked if anyone could help him photoshop a Bubbletop on his Shoebox. Inspired by Darryl Starbird creations like the Predicta and the Forcasta he was really interested in seeing how a bubbletop would fit the car. He got a lot of photochopped pictures in response to his post, and decided 2 days later that the bubbletop wouldn't fit the car as good as he had hoped for. The idea was scrapped. 
December 7th, 2008: Jim felt it was about time to create a fresh thread for the Shoebox. He also felt that it was about time to stop calling the car the Shoebox, as it didn't resemble a shoebox Ford at all any more. By then he already had a couple of names he was considering using on the car, these were "La Ventura" and "Hypnotique". Since last time Jim had moved the Oldsmobile quarters 3 1/2 inches forward, he felt that this made the proportions much more pleasing. He had also ditched the 1956 Lincoln hood that he planned to use as deck area, it was way too flat, so he replaced it by parts of the original shoebox sheetmetal. Jim was also thinking about reconfiguring the windshield to look more like a 1957 Cadillac windhsield. 
January 12th, 2009: Jim had mocked up some fins using round rods. He felt that the car missed something in the rear. He wasn't sure about what kind of fins he wanted; all he knew was that he wanted fins that looked like the fins used on the Bob Metz version of the Golden Sahara or the Barris Kustoms built Grecian. While tinkering with different fin designs he suddenly found a name for his wild creation. He wanted something that sounded 50s futuristic, and decided it had to be the Telstar XM7. The Telstar part was named after a communication satellite, and the XM7 part was a tribute to his kustom idol Bob Metz who back in the fifties built a car called the XM5. January 2nd, 2009 the 1957 Studebaker Fins appeared on the car again. Jim had scrapped these earlier in the build, but found out that they would fit this version of the car perfectly.
By April Jim had been busy moving into yet a new shop, and the project had been set on hold for a couple of moths. By the 4th of April Jim was getting ready to separate the body from the frame so that he could paint it, run brake lines, detail the engine and such. But before this could be done Jim had to weld up the body so that it didn't flex in the process. After the quarters and cowl were welded up solid, Jim was really bothered by the proportions of the car. He couldn't put his finger on what was wrong, so he played around with the fin location, quarter length, and deck height. But whatever he did, nothing seemed to do the trick. The only solution he saw was to section the car an additional 2 inches. More steel was removed from the body, and the 20th of April 2009 a total amount of 4 inches were sectioned from the car. Three days later Jim had also mocked up a bubbletop roofline using conduit, grafted on 1956 Oldsmobile wheel openings in the front fenders, sunken down the deck area and mocked up headlight pods. The pods were planned to be painted the same color as the car, and they would cover the headlights during the day. The pods would be removable for night time driving. 
In June new photos of the Telstar waere posted on the HAMB. Jim had now scrapped the bubble top again, and mocked up a wraparound windshield. A removable hardtop of some sort was what he had in mind for the car now.  Jim was also thinking about replacing the Chevrolet hood in the rear for a 1940 Ford looking hood in order to create a boattail look. Jim had also picked up a 1957 Chevrolet windshield that he would cut down to fit the new windshield frame. Inspired by Bob Metz' La Rocket Jim had welded the doors closed and made cut out doors by the 26th of June. The Buick trim would now be welded into one piece and Jim planned to fit it with gold expanded filling in the space below. Rik Hoving had also posted a design proposal on the HAMB were he had moved the windshield backward. This design appealed to Jim, and by the 24th of June the windshield was also moved further backward.
In the beginning of August 2009, the stock hood was the only panel on the car that hadn't been altered in some way. This didn't last long, as Jim felt that the hood had too much crown, and a too high peak. In order to solve the problem Jim grafted a section from a 1956 Lincoln hood on to the stock hood August 8th, 2009. Jim sacrificed the doors on the Telstar in order to make the car smoother, and was considering doing the same with the decklid. But in the end the opening decklid won. In September of 2009 Jim began to construct the decklid and deck area for the car. While working on the new decklid and deck area Jim couldn't resist doing some modifications in the front. He had planned to put quad headlights from a 1958 Lincoln on the car, but scrapped these in favor for the stock headlights. Once the stock headlights were back on the car, Jim decided that he also wanted to use a stock hood for the car. September 27 he scrapped the Lincoln hood for another shoebox hood. The same day he also mocked up a new grille on the car built from a narrowed 1951 Mercury grille. 
To be continued...
- The HAMB - ok,,,,,so i lied,,,,Telstar XM7 update
- The HAMB - shoebox project,,,,its almost in one piece again
- The HAMB - mini shoebox update: reshaping the fins
- The HAMB - more progress from today,,,shoebox sectioning continues,, (door, fender)
- The HAMB - Sectioning of the 'box.....progress from today..
- The HAMB - For whoever's not sick of my shoebox yet,,,,
- The HAMB - not much progress, but a couple of shoebox pics,,
- The H.A.M.B - winter project,,,shoebox daily driver
- The HAMB - A little shoebox progress
- The HAMB - a little more progress on the shoebox..
- The HAMB - finished the shoebox grille,,,,,,couldn't wait,,,
- The HAMB - photoshoppers: i need your help to visualize something on my shoebox PLEASE
- The HAMB - BUSTER LITTON FORD: anybody know how the top was done?
- The HAMB - THE SHOEBOX IS CHOPPED!!...with pictures............
- The HAMB - do these taillights make my ass look big?
- The HAMB - Recent pics of the shoebox..
- The HAMB - Any photoshoppers in the mood to section my car 2 1/2"-3"?
- The HAMB - Now this is gettin out of hand,,,,,,,
- The HAMB - MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!,,sectioned the shoebox,,,,PICS
- The HAMB - a few changes to the shoebox..
- The HAMB - making a rolled pan from a decklid (for the shoebox)
- The HAMB - SHOEBOX UPDATE: yes, I've lost my mind
- The HAMB - photoshop request
- The HAMB - new kustom shoebox build thread..(old one was getting too long)
- The HAMB - Finally came up with a name I like for the shoebox...
- SHOEBOX: last update for a while...
- The HAMB - Projects Telstar update (shoebox)
- The HAMB - Telstar Update...sectioned another two inches....
- The HAMB - Telstar....movin' right along....
- The HAMB - TELSTAR: dark side of the moon....
- The HAMB - Building the decklid...with pics-TELSTAR
- The HAMB - a little more progress~TELSTAR
- The HAMB - when you're wrong, you're wrong....
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