Avenue Auto Interiors
Avenue Auto Interiors was a custom upholstery shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Run and operated by Jim DeSalle, it was known as one of the finest upholstery houses in the New England area. "I started doing interiors in the early fifties, when I was about 16 years old," Jim told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in March of 2020. "My first custom car was a 1949 Ford ragtop." He got the bug when his boss took Jim and his colleagues to the Hartford Autorama in the 1950s.
Avenue Auto Interiors Changes Name to Vantastics
After operating Avenue Auto Interiors for fifteen years, Jim changed its name to Vantastics, turning it into a van customizer shop. The auto trim field had started slowing down, so Jim looked into other areas. "I guess I was the first in the New England area to do so," Jim told Kustomrama.
Jim had a van which he used to haul materials in, that he decided to give a facelift inside, as well as outside. He turned it into a custom show van done in gold crushed velvet and heavy vinyl with a custom paint job. The work was done in his spare time. Auto Trim News did a story on Jim in their May of 1974 issue, and according to that story, it didn't take a long time before other people with vans wanted their interiors done by Jim. When the article was made, Jim had done 33 vans in the past 1 1/2 years, and he was averaging about one van a week at the time. "Right now I'm just finishing my own two-story building right next to my trim shop building," Jim told the journalist. "The upper floor will be a showroom for displaying and selling van accessories such as custom windows, highback seats, burglar alarm systems, and many other options. The lower floor will be the shop." Prices started at $500, and Jim could do a van in two days. "I can tell you one thing," Jim added, "this is no fad. Vans are here to stay."
When Auto Trim News did a case-story on Jim, all of the van-work had come to him from word of mouth advertising. "His own van attracted attention," the article stated, "and then each van he has done has led to work from someone who saw it and wanted something like it." He did many vans for the Hartford Autorama, "many of them took first places," he recalled in 2020. Then dealers started calling him. "People go in to buy a van and then they ask about having it customized. More often than not, the dealer is not in any position to handle this, so he is only too glad to know someone who can do it for him."
Cars Upholstered at Avenue Auto Interiors
Cars Upholstered at Vantastics
- Jim Desalle
- Auto Trim News May 1974
Did you enjoy this article?
Kustomrama is an encyclopedia dedicated to preserve, share and protect traditional hot rod and custom car history from all over the world.
- Help us keep Kustomrama and history alive. For as little as 1 USD a month you can become a monthly supporter. Click here to learn more.
- Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates and stories from Kustomrama.
- Do you know someone who would enjoy this article? Click here to forward it.
Can you help us make this article better?
Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional information or photos to share about Avenue Auto Interiors.
This article was made possible by:
SunTec Auto Glass - Auto Glass Services on Vintage and Classic Cars
Finding a replacement windshield, back or side glass can be a difficult task when restoring your vintage or custom classic car. It doesn't have to be though now with auto glass specialist companies like www.suntecautoglass.com. They can source OEM or OEM-equivalent glass for older makes/models; which will ensure a proper fit every time. Check them out for more details!
Do you want to see your company here? Click here for more info about how you can advertise your business on Kustomrama.