John Ballard's 1950 Oldsmobile - The Polynesian II

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Neil Emory and John Ballard with the Polynesian II at a car show. The photo comes from the collection of Dave and Leanna Hendricks. Dave and John were friends, and Dave helped with the car. "We brought our first daughter home from the hospital in it, so it has an extra special place in our hearts," Leanna Hendricks told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in May of 2024. "Dave and John took it out to California and many car shows around Indiana," she added. Photo courtesy of Leanna Hendricks.
Photo courtesy of Leanna Hendricks.
Photo courtesy of Leanna Hendricks.
Photo courtesy of Leanna Hendricks.

1950 Oldsmobile restyled by John Ballard of Anderson, Indiana. Named The Polynesian II, the car is a recreation of Jack Stewart's 1950 Oldsmobile, a custom car originally modified by Valley Custom Shop in Burbank, California, which gained significant attention in the custom car community during the early 1950s.


The original Polynesian was customized by Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen of Valley Custom Shop between 1952 and 1953. The car was extensively documented and featured in prominent car magazines of the era, such as Hot Rod September 1953, Rod & Custom September 1953, and the 1954 Custom Cars Annual. The car gained a reputation for its innovative design and craftsmanship, making it a standout at car shows and in the custom car scene.[1]

The Recreation

Ballard's recreation of the Polynesian, later dubbed Polynesian II, was a labor of love that took five years to complete. Completed in 1990, the meticulous recreation aimed to capture the spirit and details of the original car, although certain modern improvements were made for performance and safety.[1]

Design and Modifications

During the rebuild, the body was sectioned by 4 inches, a significant alteration that contributes to the car's sleek, low profile. The grille area was modified with a 1946 Oldsmobile bumper, and custom-made grill and headlight surrounds were added. The rear bumper was heavily modified with exhaust outlets and built-in side marker lights. The license plate was recessed into the rear panel. Handmade scooped quarter panels with perforated metal inserts and radiused front wheel wells were created for a unique look. The tail-light lenses were handmade, and the car received custom chrome and stainless steel trim. The interior of the Polynesian II features rolled tan and white vinyl seats, door panels, and headliner, accented with maroon rugs to replicate the 1950s aesthetic.[1]

Mechanical Upgrades

To ensure the car met modern driving standards, several mechanical upgrades were made. The original engine was replaced with a 1985 Oldsmobile 455-cid V8 engine mounted on a 1985 Cadillac subframe. This provided better performance and handling. A Turbo 400 transmission with a shift kit was installed. The car was lowered using 1950 Oldsmobile rearend and suspension components, along with Caddy front disc brakes and master cylinder. The car rode on 6.70x15 whitewall tires.[1]


The Polynesian II stands as a testament to the artistry and dedication involved in custom car building. It honors the legacy of the original Polynesian by Valley Custom Shop while incorporating modern enhancements to ensure its performance and durability. Jack Walker of Belton, Missouri, a notable collector of custom cars, owned the Polynesian II in 2010.

Magazine Features and Appearances

Custom Rodder March 2022



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