Bill Carr's 1955 Chevrolet
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible restyled by Barris Kustoms for Bill Carr of Hollywood, California. Bill was an insurance adjuster by day, and he shared a house with George Barris in the Hollywood Hills. The car, later known as The Aztec, was taken to Barris Kustoms with only 145 miles on its odometer. Bill wanted George and his boys to transform the Chevy into the wildest kustom he could imagine. Bill also wanted to help with as much work as possible. Bill made some design sketches. Bill Ortega, who changed his name to Bill DeCarr during the build, became Bill's primary mentor. The Aztec was rebuilt over a two years periode, and it featured changes to every part of its body. Bill DeCarr did most of the bodywork on the car. Bill reshaped the doors and quarter panel side scoops, and extended the fins so all of the new forms would flow together. The rear fenders were extended 18 inches with virgin sheet metal. The taillights were hand-formed in red Lucite by Bob Hirohata. The front and rear end treatments were cohesive with the new grille openings. The grille openings were built with a pair of 1953 Studebaker pans. The pans had to be cut and widened in order to fit the Chevy The bumpers were 1957 DeSoto units that were narrowed and peaked. For a more modern look, 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser headlights were installed. The stock fenders had to be cut and reworked heavily in order to make the Mercury headlights fit. The hood was pancaked, and photos printed in The Rodder's Journal Number Fifty Six shows Lyle Lake gas-welding one of the front Studebaker pans to the cut hood. Other photos in the same magazine shows Bill Carr leading a peak on the middle of the nose. The full-length 1957 Mercury Turnpike fender skirts were modified with a front scoop and were flush-fitted into the rear quarter panel. The car was powered by a Corvette engine.
February 15-23, 1958, The Aztec was shown at the ninth annual National Roadster Show in Oakland where it won the Custom Car D'Elegance award. Due to excellent craftsmanship, both the Aztec and Joe Tocchini's 1951 Ford Victoria won the Custom Car D'Elegance that year. Later on in 1958 Bill's Chevrolet was nominated as one of 28 "Top Customs of the Year" by Motor Life magazine.
In 1961 or 1962 Bill Carr sold the Aztec to Bob Wilcox for some cash and a new Pontiac. Bob's real name was Bobby Wilcoxson, and it didn't take long time before FBI agents showed up at Bill Carr's house with questions. Wilcoxson was wanted for bank heists. Wilcoxson left the Aztec for safe keeping in Phoenix, Arizona. Wilcoxson was later named a public enemy, and the FBI seized the Aztec from the garage it was being stored in in Phoenix, Arizona. The G-men tore the car apart looking for loot, weapons, and evidence.
The Aztec was later auctioned away to a man in New Jersey. The new owner modified the original customizing, before he sold the car. When one of the subsequent owners was caught transporting illegal substances FBI seized the car again.
Saved from the crusher
The car sat rotting away in a New Jersey junkyard when Barry Mazza and Bob Nitti bought the remains of the car in 1991, barely saving it from the jaws of a car crusher. Barry Mazza restored the car back to its former glory, and the car is again touring custom and hot rod shows all over the United States.
Reserve not met at Kissimmee 2020
Friday, January 10, 2020 the Aztec crossed the block at Mecum Auctions Kissimmee 2020 auction in Kissimmee, Florida. The old Barris Kustom was one of the main attractions during the event, and it was estimated to bring in between $350,000 - $450,000. The bids only went up to $150,000, and it did not reach the reserve.
Rod & Custom May 1958
Motor Life July 1958
Custom Cars August 1958
Hot Rod Magazine August 1958
Custom Cars November 1958
Custom Cars January 1959
Trend Book 175 Custom Cars 1959 Annual
Rolls & Pleats Number 12
The Rodder's Journal Issue 22
The Rodder's Journal Number Fifty Six
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