The Bud Unger Photo Collection

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Ray Giovannoni's 1936 Ford Roadster. This photo, taken by Kenny Schultz, belongs to a series of photos that were taken of Ray's '36 when it was featured in Speed Age October 1949. Photo by Kenny Schultz, courtesy of Bud Unger.
A 1950 Chevrolet Sport Coupe that Bud molded and shaved the hood and deck lid on. Bud did a lot of jobs like this. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
This photo shows a 1940 Hudson Converible that Bud restyled for an unknown customer in the late 1940s. In 2012, when Kustomrama interviewed Bud about the car, he remembered that he hand made a set of fender skirts for the car, and that he fit it with his own version of a Carson Top. He admitted that the top was no way as good as "the California job". In the photo, the Hudson is wearing a set of New York 1948 license plates. Other modifications included a shaved hood, dual spotlights, a 1946 - 1948 Mercury grille and removed running boards. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
A profile shot of the 1940 Hudson Converible that Bud restyled for an unknown customer in the late 1940s. Ray Giovannoni's 1936 Ford Roadster can be seen across the street. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
A super rare 1950 Italmeccanica IT160 Coupe prototype that Bud restyled for a customer called Roaring Richard. Bud did not do any great amount of customizing on the car. He installed a pair of 1949 Plymouth bumpers, that fitted the car perfectly. He did also paint the car. The top color was Tuscon Tan and the bottom was Chariot Red. After spraying all the coats of paint on the car, he sanded the paint down with 600 grit sand paper, the finest he had at that time, and hand rubbed it with fine compound. Bud belives the car won first place in the New York car show due to the paint job. The rare Italian sports car was also fit with flipper hubcaps. Only two Italmeccanica automobiles are known to be produced. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
A rear end shot of the Cadillac powered Italmeccanica prototype. According to one of the investors in the concept, "The IT160 is designed to take its place among the best American and foreign automobiles for speed and performance, but it may also be driven into an American garage and left with the simple instructions, ‘Fix it!'” Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
Aspiring customizer Bud Unger at age 18. Photo courtesy of Joy Unger.
This is the first car Bud ever customized, a 1947 Chevrolet Convertible that he in 1947 welded the rear fenders to the ¼ panels on and leaded in. The rear end was further smoothened by shaving the handle, emblem and license plate from the deck lid. The license plate was installed on the bumper. Bud did also shave the taillights from the 1/4 panels. The holes were filled and new taillights were integrated into the bumper wing tips. Later on, welded and molded fenders became a trademark for Bud. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
After Bud had restyled Ray Giovannoni's 1936 Ford Roadster, he was asked by another customer to restyle his 1936 Ford exactly like Ray's. Bud took the job, and started by removing all chrome, acetylene and oxygen welding all holes and leading them in. He moved both running boards in after removing the rubber, and he blended them into the body and front fenders. He then installed a license plate holder pan with a license light between the body and the rear bumper just like he did on Ray's 36. He made two solid hood panels and installed Packard fenders skirts, and was about to weld the fenders and grille area to the body when he began to think what he was doing. He was attempting to duplicate Ray's 36, and he began to feel like he was committing treason to Ray's 36. After all Ray's 36 was his best custom. So he stopped doing any more custom work to it, and he told his customer about the decision not to complete it. Bud finished it off with a black custom paint, and delivered the car to the customer. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
A 1939 Ford Convertible that Bud customized and painted in a light metallic blue for an unknown customer in the late 1940s or early 1950s. When this photo was taken, the top had been chopped, and the sidetrim on the hood had been shortened. The hood was shaved for most of its chrome, and a 1941 Ford bumper that had been shaved for bumper guards protected the front of the car. Fender skirts and single bar flipper hubcaps had been installed for a true west coast custom look. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
Bud Unger's 1946 Ford Convertible. This was Bud's personal driver, and he started the build after he had opened up Unger Auto Body Company in 1950. When Bud moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 1956, he brought the Ford with him.
The top on Bud's personal driver was chopped 3 inches. He didn’t want to take more out of the top as he didn’t want the top to be out of proportion with the rest of the body. After the chop, Bud fit the car with his version of a padded Carson Top. According to Bud, the unmistakable style and class of a Carson-type, padded top is the true signature of a custom car.Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
The rear of the car was lowered by installing lowering-blocks. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
The interior was done in two-tone black and light cream vinyl by a local trim shop. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.

Herbert ”Bud” Unger of Hancock, Maryland is a legendary East Coast custom car builder born March 12, 1921. Bud’s father was of German decent. He was a master mechanic and taught Bud a lot about the care and respect for using tools. Bud grew an interest for repairing things early on, and as a little boy he bought a wrecked bicycle from a friend for $3.00. Bud repaired the bike and made it like new again. It was Bud’s older brother Edward that introduced Bud into the auto industry. Edward worked for Call Karl, a big repair shop in Washington, D.C., and he got Bud started with automobile painting at age 15 in 1936. Bud’s first car was a 1936 Lincoln Zephyr that he bought for $12. It was totaled in the front, so Bud joined it together with another Zephyr that had been totally burned in a fire. Bud had just moved from his home in Hancock to Washington, D.C. when he bought the car, and he was living in his aunt’s boarding house. As he was only 16 years old, he could not drive the car at the time. As he could not get a title for it as well, he made a license plate for the car and drove it like that for two years.[1] Click here to read our bio on Bud Unger


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