Tad Hirai's 1950 Ford
1950 Ford Coupe owned by Tad Hirai. The car, also known as the Del Mar, was built at Valley Custom in a spawn of 4 months. Tad was a co-worker at the shop while it was being built, and ideas for the design were discussed with stylist Lynn Wineland, who eventually came up with the design of the car.
The doors and deck lid were electrically operated with the interior handles left as originally intended in case of power supply failure. It featured a horizontal bar grille that was placed in a molded-in Studebaker grille shell that was molded into the front fenders. The headlights were frenched by using 1952-54 Ford rings. Scoops above the lights were formed with welding steel rod, bent to shape then paneled with body sheet metal. The scoop treatment could easily resemble the 1955 Pontiac, however, Wineland assured that they were on his drawing board long before GM even considered such a move. The rear of the car featured a specially designed triple-tube nerf bar that concealed the lower deck-lid opening. The nerf bar was also designed to hunt the license plate. The taillights were formed by combining two cut down 1949-50 Mercury lenses, joining them beneath the drilled tab. The upper lenses concealed in the constructed fins were backup lights from a 1953 Chevrolet. The taillight treatment could resemble the design of a 1955 Ford, but, again, Wineland supposedly came up with the design long before the new models were concealed. The rear wheel openings were enlarged to make it easier to change tires due to the low ride height. Mercury skirts were recontoured and fit to the body. One of the few borrowed ideas on the Del Mar, is the use of 1955 Pontiac side trim, used to good advantage since it serves as a line of demarcation between the flat Arctic white and dark Orchid metallic purple two-tone lacquer job.
One of the tricks employed by Tad which could be considered at the time of the build new to most customizers, was the use of chrome filler panels that covered the windshield posts and helped separate the roofline from the lower body. A trick used by advantage by Detroit on convertibles, but never on a sedan. The combination of no bumper had been seen on a lot on race cars, but seldom on customs. To give the car a sectioned look from behind, the nerf bar was located several inches higher than the stock protector. That modification was made possible by raising the tips of the frame rails. That did not only lend a sense of practicability as far as collision insurance is concerned, but the car no longer suffered from bumper scrapes due to rough roads and steep driveways. In order to provide clearance for the 6-inch high kick up in the frame, immediately over the rear axle and to allow the axle housings to clear the flooring, Tad had raised the entire trunk floor along with the gas tank.
Tad had Bill Colgan of Colgan's Auto Upholstery make an interior that stood out in the crowd. After discussing interior designs adaptable to the Ford and the choice of material and color, Bill came up with a combination of all three that may well put other upholsters to shame. The upholstery material was blended frieze, predominantly purple with threads of white and black running rampant throughout. Inserted panels of pleated white Naugahyde were employed to give contrast and relief from the primary shade. Striping of white ran across the headliner bows. All this with a total cost of $450!
Sold to Dick Falck
In 1955 Tad sold the car to Richard "Dick" Falck of North Hollywood, California. After watching his cousin Gary Schaumburg's 1956 Chevrolet being customized by Valley Custom, Dick decided to buy Tad's car when it came up for sale. "When I got the car I was 16 years old," Dick told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in November of 2021. "I lived in North Hollywood and was a student at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California." He bought the Del Mar shortly after the build was completed, and according to a story published in Car Craft August 1957 he maintained it in tip-top shape. Dick entered the car at the Motor Revue where it took first place in the Semi-Custom class and won for itself and Dick a trip to Detroit to be shown at the National Automobile Show.
Where is it Now?
"I owned it for approximately 4 years and then sold it," Dick told Kustomrama. "I have no idea who bought it as it was sold by a used car dealer on consignment." Unfortunately, Dick has no idea about who bought his old custom in 1959, or what had happened to it since. Do you know anything about the whereabouts of the Del Mar? Any rumors or stories are appreciated, as Richard is currently trying to find out what happened to the car after he sold it where it may be now. Please get in touch with Kustomrama at email@example.com if you have any info to share with us.
Trend Book 143 Restyle Your Car
Rod & Custom February 1955
Rod & Custom April 1955
Rod & Custom November 1956
Car Craft August 1957
Custom Cars September 1957
Trend Book 156 Custom Cars 1958 Annual
Rod & Custom September 1960
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