Jim Seaton's 1955 Chevrolet

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A photo of the Seaton Chevrolet taken at an indoor car show.
A photo of the Chevrolet sitting outside Curt Brennan's trailer in 1975. The following spring he was able to get a small shop and get it inside out of the weather. Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
A photo of the Seaton Chevrolet in the snow in the mid 1970s, just before Curt got it into his shop. Curt's '65 Malibu SS Convertible, '65 Stingray, and '66 Charger were all sitting in a row next to it. Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
A photo of the old Barris Kustom taken inside Curt's shop while he was stripping it. Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
The interior was the only thing that still looked good on the car. It had no rips or tears. Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
A photo showing the large pinstripe on the deck lid. "I wanted to get a photo of it before I stripped it all off. The guy who did the pinstriping signed it and his name was "Staatz" or something similar." Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
The front of the car after Curt installed the hood from the local wrecking yard. The hood still had the Chevy emblem on at tha point. Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
Photo of the Chevrolet as it sat after Curt had stripped it down to bare metal. Photo courtesy of Curt Brennan.
The John Seaton Chevrolet and John North's 1957 Ford, both part of the Joe Bortz Collection
John-seaton-1955-chevrolet-joe-bortz2.jpg
John-seaton-1955-chevrolet-4.jpg
John-seaton-1955-chevrolet-5.jpg
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A photo of George Barris with the Chevy. Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
The car as it sat when it was advertised for sale on Hemmings in May of 2017. Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.
Photo courtesy of Hemmings.


1955 Chevrolet restyled by Barris Kustoms for Jim Seaton of Santa Maria, California. The car was restyled 1957 - 1958, and the front fenders were reworked to accept the quad seperated Lucas headlights. The grille was removed and a new one made out of perforated screen with bullets was installed. The stock frenched and tunneled taillights were modified with plastic fin additions, three red and two frosted plastic tiers. The side trims originated from a 1955 Dodge. The body was painted white pearl with Burgundy scallops. Seaton reworked the engine, making his custom a car built for both show and go.[1]


Teen Angel 

Teen Angel owned the car in the early 1970s. He did some minor paint repair to the hood, but the car was completely intact and in a good condition for its age. He cruised it for a while before he sold it to a collector in Washington.[2]


The Traveling Salesman

In 1975 Curt Brennan bought the old custom from a traveling salesman. Curt was 23 years old at the time, and a college student at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. In 2017 Curt told Kustomrama that he wasn't looking for the old custom, "It found ME. I got it from a guy traveling through town. A traveling salesman who knew I liked old cars. I think he had taken it in trade, hoping to make a few dollars off of it. I took it trying to keep it from ending up in a wrecking yard. I knew who George Barris was, and knew I had a special car that needed to be "rescued." He wanted $1000 for it, which was a lot of money for a college kid back in the early 1970's so I did some "horse trading" with him instead. I had a 1951 Ford pick up, it ran but was ugly, and a 1957 Ford 2 door sedan I traded with him. I never saw him again after that. However I did see both the truck and the car on the road later on, so I knew he sold them to get some cash." After buying the car, Curt first stored it outside his trailer. [3]


Saved by Curt

Curt knew the old custom well, and in 2017 he believed that he actually saved it from ending up on the scrap yard. " The following spring I was able to get a small shop and get it inside out of the weather. The car's paint was in such poor condition that I decided to strip it down to bare metal and redo it." The front bumper and the hood was gone when Curt got it. "I picked a hood up at a local wrecking yard that put on. There was a "rolled pan" instead of the bumper. The paint was cracked and chipped deeply and had to be removed. The interior was the only thing that still looked good on the car. It had no rips or tears." The motor was a 283 with lots of chrome. "It and ran really well. Probably because it hadn't been driven that much over the years. Notice there was no telephone in it yet, but we had a spare white one from our trailer we put in it for looks."[3]


Sold and Restored

Even though bodywork and painting was Curt's hobby at the time, he did not dare to paint the old custom. "After the "Master Painter" George Barris had done it, I felt that would degrade the car," he told Kustomrama. Curt advertised the car for sale in a Seattle newspaper, and a large car-auction company traded the car with him. Curt believes that the auction company restored the car. After the car had been restored, it was sold to Barris Kustoms collector Kurt McCormick of Imperial, Missouri.


Sold to Joe Bortz

Kurt McCormick sold the old custom to concept car collector Joe Bortz of Highland Park, Illinois.[3]


Sold to Tim McMann

In May of 2017 Joe Bortz advertised the car for sale. The asking price was $95,000 USD. [4] In June of 2017 Tim McMann of Portland, Oregon bought the car from Joe. After buying it, Tim told Kustomrama that he had been a fan of Barris since he was a young boy in the early 1960s building model cars and reading Rod & Custom and Car Craft among other mags; "I can hardly believe I own a Barris and in particular, one of this quality!"


Magazine Features

Custom Cars June 1959
Custom Cars July 1959
Car Craft October 1959
Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual


References



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