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Bill Welch's 1929 Ford Roadster of Playa Del Ray, California. The car was originally built by Kenny Smith of San Gabriel, California. Bill bought the hot rod around 1953 and did some changes to the appearance and the mechanics of the car.
Carl Fleischmann's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster of Glendale, California was completed in 1953. The build took six years.
Ralph Stone's 1931 Ford Model A Roadster, of San Antonio, Texas. Ralph was a member of the San Antonio Road Runners. His roadster was built in the early 1950s, and it was featured in Rod & Custom February 1954.
Bert Mouron's 1932 Ford Roadster of San Marino, California. Bert bought and rebuilt Mac Schutt's 1932 Ford Roadster around 1951. Bert's version took two years to build, and the build was completed in 1953.
Gene "Clean Gene" Sadoian's 1934 Ford Four-Door Sedan of Fresno, California. The car went trough several iterations in the 1950s. In 1953, after attending the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show, Gene installed a 1950 Oldsmobile V-8 in the car. He also painted it fire engine red and had Tommy the Greek dress it up with pinstriping. Other modifications included a fully chromed and louvered hood, nerf bar bumpers, and copper-plated Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels.
Texas, 1953. Pat Weise took this photo of a 1936 Ford Convertible Sedan at a drag meet in central Texas, near San Antonio. "It could have been at a military base. Kerrville," Karl told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. "I don't remember where exactly he said. The car likely was brought to Texas from California." Photo from The Pat Weise Photo Collection.
Gene McCrickard's 1937 Lincoln Zephyr of Detroit, Michigan. Restyled in 1953, the car was Gene's first custom and high school ride.
Rene J. Leonhard's 1938 Chevrolet Business Coupe of Corpus Christi, Texas was built by its owner, and completed in 1953.
Frank Layman's 1948 Packard convertible of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Frank ran a body shop in Pittsburgh named Frank's Garage. The Packard was his personal driver, and it was restyled in 1953.
Buster Litton's 1949 Ford as it appeared in the souvenir program for the 1953 Motorama.
Sam Barris' 1950 Buick Sedanette, restyled by Sam Barris of Barris Kustoms, was completed in 1953. The car was built from a burnt out wreck, and Sam used it as his daily driver for about a year.
Chuck DeWitt's 1950 Ford Convertible was restyled by Barris Kustoms for Chuck DeWitt in 1953.
Fred Rowe's 1951 Mercury Convertible, of Los Angeles, California was restyled by Barris Kustoms. The build was completed in 1953. A second version of the Merc, restyled in 1954 was featured in the movie Running Wild along with Bob Hirohata's 1951 Mercury.
Loma O. Johnson's 1952 Kaiser of Headland, Alabama. Inspired by the 1951 GM LeSabra concept car, the build was started in 1952 and completed in 1953. Built by the staff at Johnson Motor Co., the car became known as "The Johnson Special." It was also known locally as "The Car of Tomorrow."
Don Stone's 1952 Oldsmobile 88 Convertible, of San Francisco, California was built by Ted Lundquist of Lundquist Coach Craft in the winter of 1953/1954
Jack Nethercutt's 1952 Oldsmobile Holiday 98 of Santa Monica, California. Jack bought the Oldsmobile in 1953. He was 16 years old at the time, and he drove his brand new Oldsmobile straight from the Oldsmobile dealer to Barris Kustoms to have it restyled. Once completed, the car got its power from a gold-plated 1953 Cadillac engine. Because of its extensive use of gold plating, the Olds was often called the "Goldsmobile," although its real name was "Vienesse."
Howard Yoshimoto's 1953 Ford Pick Up of Maui, Hawaii. Howard was an expert body and fender man, and the pickup was built at Henry's Auto Body in Wailuku in 1953. It started life as a 1953 Ford two-door sedan front half, and a 1952 Ford station wagon back half. The front was grafted onto the rear end, forming a "Ranchero" type pick up, 4 years prior to Ford Motor Company.
In 1953 Ford Motor Company debuted their Lincoln XL-500 concept car. The Lincoln XL-500 was presented to the public as a look into the near future, and one of the most striking features of the car was a Plexiglas bubble canopy roof. The press loved it, and they predicted that all cars soon would have transparent Plexiglas bubble roof for all-around driver visibility.
The Little Jewel is a sport custom built by Garner Jones and Herman Lawhon of Lamesa, Texas. The build was completed in 1953.
Martin S. Papazian's Cordster of Worcester, Massachusetts. The first version of Martin's Cordster was completed in 1953. In 1955 the top was chopped and the car was fit with a widened laydown windshield from an MG. Martin’s objective in building the Cordster was to produce a “Sports Custom” family car. He felt that the two seater sports cars of the day were limited to people that could afford to own two cars, so he set out to create his own.
Kenneth Kamp's Otter is a fiberglass bodies two-seater built by Kenneth Kamp of Norwood, Ohio. 9 Otters were built, the first one was completed in 1953.
The LeBlanc Special is a twin-Hemi streamliner designed by Eugene LeBlanc of Cupertino, California. The build was completed in 1953, and Gene ran it on Bonneville in 1953, 1954 and 1955.
An overview photo from the 1953 Detroit Autorama. Photo from The Robert Genat Photo Collection.
The 1953 Kurtis Sorrell SR-100 Roadster, with its unique aluminum body by California Metal Shaping and Bob Sorrell, debuted at the Petersen Motorama in 1953. Built on an Indy 500 Kurtis chassis, it featured a 302-ci GMC I-6 engine, a Howard 12 port head, and six carburetors. This model is notably the only SR-100 with an alloy body.
Styled by Ghia in Italy, Motor Trend's Bob D'Olivio described the 1953 Dodge Firearrow I concept car as "the most successful meeting of European and U.S. designs." Featuring dual headlights mounted underneath the front bumper, the sporty roadster made its debut at the Turin Auto Show in April of 1953. The sporty roadster was introduced to the American public at Chrysler's New York showroom later that year, and an estimated 38,000 people came to check it out. The response was massive, and in January of 1954, Chrysler president L.L. Colbert announced in Motor Trend that the Firearrow could now be purchased on a special order. Unfortunately, that never happened, but the desire for the car was there, and in 1956 people who had drooled over the Firearrow could buy a Dual Ghia instead. Photo courtesy of Chrysler Corporation.
In 1953 the company Model Builders in Chicago were commissioned to build a plexiglass top for Eugene Kettering’s 1954 Chevrolet Corvette. Eugene was a chief engineer at GM’s Electro-Motive Division. A couple of dozen of tops were made, and Chevrolet actually had one top installed on a Corvette for testing. At least two more companies in addition to Model Builders made Plexiglas tops for the Corvette that was offered on the aftermarket. Photo courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

<-- 1952 - 1950s - 1954 -->

Cars Restyled, Built, or Completed in 1953

Carl Fleischmann's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster
Sonny Mazza's 1930 Ford Roadster
Bert Mouron's 1932 Ford Roadster
Gene "Clean Gene" Sadoian's 1934 Ford Four-Door Sedan
Gene McCrickard's 1937 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe
Rene J. Leonhard's 1938 Chevrolet Business Coupe
Doug Rice's 1939 Ford Coupe
Tony Sestito's 1947 Cadillac Convertible
Frank Layman's 1948 Packard Convertible
Buster Litton's 1949 Ford
Sam Barris' 1950 Buick Sedanette
Chuck DeWitt's 1950 Ford Convertible
Merton Peterson's 1950 Ford
Frank Sonzogni's 1950 Mercury
Jack Stewart's 1950 Oldsmobile - The Polynesian
Fred Rowe's 1951 Mercury Convertible
Loma O. Johnson's 1952 Kaiser - The Johnson Special
Don Stone's 1952 Oldsmobile 88 Convertible
Jack Nethercutt's 1952 Oldsmobile Holiday 98 - The Vienesse
Gil Ayala's 1951 GMC Truck
Garner Jones' 1951 Ford Sport Custom - The Little Jewel
Ron Wyman's 1952 Ford Ranchero
Howard Yoshimoto's 1953 Ford Pick Up
Martin S. Papazian's Cordster
Kenneth Kamp's Otter
The LeBlanc Special

Sport Cars Built or Completed in 1953

1953 Kurtis Sorrel SR-100 Roadster

Custom Car and Hot Rod Clus Established in 1953

Norwalk Coachmen

Custom and Hot Rod Shows of 1953

Indianapolis Custom Auto Show


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