Teddy Zgrzemski

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Teddy did the scallops on Sy Gregorich's 1955 Ford Crown Victoria when he was 14 years old. "I went over to his garage and taped them all off," he told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2019, "then my uncle painted them." The next day Teddy came in and pinstriped around the edges. "I got 15 dollars for doing it," he still recalled in 2019. Photo from The Dave Jenkins Collection.
Teddy Zgrzemski's 1954 Ford. Bill Hines helped Teddy restyle the car. It was his first custom, and it hit the road as the X-Tremist in the Summer of 1960. Photo by George Barris - From The Brad Masterson Collection.
In October of 1960 Bill decided to close up his Michigan shop and move back to California. Teddy tagged along. He was now 16 and went back to work for George Barris for about two and a half years. "All I ever was was Junior's helper, basically," Teddy told Kustomrama. "I never did any painting or stuff. I was just the prep guy. I blocked, sanded the cars, taped them off, and got them all ready—stuff like that. Once in a while, George would lay down one side of scallops on a car, and then he would tell me to duplicate it on the other side." Chilli Catallo's Little Deuce Coupe was one of the cars Teddy masked scallops on, "he laid out one side of the scallops, and I had to duplicate them and do the other side before Junior painted em.
Shirley Barris' 1958 Ford Thunderbird was another car that Teddy masked scallops on while working for Barris Kustoms. George Barris laid down one side before he told Teddy to duplicate the other side. Photo by George Barris.
Teddy drove his 1954 Ford to the west coast in 1960. He ended up selling it for 800 USD in 1961. After selling the Ford, he bought a one-owner cherry 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air hardtop that he restyled mildly before Junior Conway gave it a Candy Blue paint job.
Getting there! An under-construction photo of Dick Bailey's Model T of Ypsilanti, Michigan. According to Teddy, Bailey's Model T was the first wild-looking T-Bucket in Detroit. "He was a trendsetter back then," Teddy told Sondre Kvipt in 2020. Later shown as "The Wild One," Bailey's T-Bucket was the first car Teddy painted when he came back from California in 1962. Charging $ 175.00, Teddy painted it Candy Tangerine over Gold. Photo from The Dave Jenkins Photo Collection.
Teddy Zgrzemski' 1957 Chevrolet Nomad. Teddy bought the Nomad from his friend Gene Rosco back in 1964 or 1965. It came from California, and it featured a beautiful Eddie Martinez interior. Shortly after buying the Nomad, Teddy's uncle, Bill Hines, helped install hydraulic lifts on the car, turning it into what might be the first hydraulic lifted car in Michigan.


Teddy Zgrzemski of Rockwood, Michigan.


Uncle Bill

Teddy was born in 1943. He is Bill Hines nephew, and it was his uncle that got him interested in cars. In 2019 Teddy told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that his mom and dad got divorced when he was five, "I started hanging around uncle Bill's shop when I was about twelve years old." One day he stopped by Bill was busy painting a 1949 Mercury. "He was two-toning it down at the body line. My aunt was gonna go down and tape it off so he could paint the other color, but uncle Bill said "Let Teddy do it! Teddy can do it!" So she stayed home and watched the kids while I went down and taped it off. He put the first tape on, and I had to fill it up with paper."[1]


"I'm a worker. Not a teacher!"

The next time Teddy went over to Bill, he was busy painting a 1949 Ford. Teddy recalled that he let it sit out in the winter, so the tape was hard to get off. "I had to peel all the tape off one inch at the time." Next project was a 1931 Ford roadster that Bill was painting the front frame rails on. "Here is a 400. Go sand it," Bill told his nephew. "That's what I did, and from then on, I kept doing it." One time Teddy was pissed off, and he told Bill, "All you ever want me to do is sand, sand, sand. Just sand!" Bill looked at Teddy and replied, "Well, what do you wanna learn to do?" Teddy told him he wanted to learn how to weld. "So, he took a wrecked fender that he cut in half, and he said, "OK, go weld that fender back together." " Teddy welded it back together and put in a wise making a jump on it. "Finally broke it, but it broke about an inch away from my weld. He then looked at me and said, "You know how to weld, so go ahead back to sanding!" That was the end of my lesson." Bill told Teddy that he was a worker, not a teacher. "You wanna learn, you just watch me," so that's what he had to do. "But he was a good man," Teddy added before he chuckled.[1]

First Car

When Teddy was 14 years old he had a 1932 Ford 5 Window Coupe that he was chopping at his uncle's shop. Dick Dean, who was 16 years old at the time, stopped by one day and helped Teddy with the chop.[2] Teddy's Coupe was the first car Dick chopped the top on.[3] "After the chop, the neighbors complained to my uncle Bill Hines," Teddy told Sondre, "and I had to sell it with the 4 inch chop. I learned a lot on that car, and just before the chop I got mad at my uncle. "I said all you want me to do is sand." I told him I wanted to learn to weld. He cut a wrecked fender in half and said "weld it together." I welded it. He tried to break it apart. He couldn't. He then said you know how to weld, so go back to sanding."[1]


The scallops on the Victorian

Teddy did the scallops on Sy Gregorich's 1955 Ford Crown Victoria in 1960, when he was 14 years old. "I went over to his garage and taped them all off," he told Sondre, "then my uncle painted them." The next day Teddy came in and pinstriped around the edges. "I got 15 dollars for doing it," he still recalled in 2019. "Back then I was into customizing, and money wasn't that important. It was the second or third scallop paint job that I ever did on a car." Known as the Victorian, Sy's Crown Victoria went on to become a pretty famous car. "White Pearl with Candy Apple Red scallops. That was a beautiful car. The nicest car the Alexander Brothers built I thought."[1]


Kalifornia with a K

Teddy recalls going to California for the first time in 1958. Then he moved out there and landed a job working for Barris. "Back then I was 14, and Barris, you know, everybody had heard about Barris, so when my uncle told me he was working for Barris I went out to visit him and he said, "I think I can get you a job there." I got a job there and I was making 40 dollars a week for 43 hours work, making 85 cents an hour as a painter's helper. I was only 14 you know, and it couldn’t get any better working for Barris."[1]


First custom: The X-Tremist

In 1959 Teddy moved back to Michigan with Bill and his aunt. Back home, Teddy bought a 1954 Ford. The first car he got on the road. ""I paid 350.00. 33.00 a month. I was 15 when I bought it. For 3 months all I could do was look at it and wash it." After returning to Michigan, Bill had opened up a new shop, and that's where the Ford was built. Teddy wanted a mild custom, but Bill had other plans for the car, and one day when Teddy came home from school Bill had cut the whole front end up. Bill told Teddy he would front clip it if Teddy tackled the rear. "I always thought the front end was ugly, and he always thought my back end was ugly." They completed the build in the summer of 1960, and Teddy recalled that George Barris stopped by to check it out when he was visiting Detroit for a show. "He pulled it out of my parent's garage, that's where I stored it, I didn't have a garage at the time, and they were shot right there at the side street, the photos for the article in Car Craft."[1]


Back to California and Barris Kustoms

In October of 1960 Bill decided to close up his Michigan shop and move back to California. Teddy tagged along. He was now 16 and went back to work for George Barris for about two and a half years. "All I ever was was Junior's helper, basically," Teddy told Kustomrama. "I never did any painting or stuff. I was just the prep guy. I blocked, sanded the cars, taped them off, and got them all ready—stuff like that. Once in a while, George would lay down one side of scallops on a car, and then he would tell me to duplicate it on the other side. Like on Shirley Barris' 58 Thunderbird. I had to duplicate that one. And Chilli Catallo, The Little Deuce Coupe, he laid out one side of the scallops, and I had to duplicate them and do the other side before Junior painted em."[1]


Teddy Zgrzemski's Cars

Teddy Zgrzemski's 1932 Ford 5 Window Coupe
Ted Zgrzemski's 1954 Ford - The X-Tremist
Teddy Zgrzemski' 1957 Chevrolet Nomad
Teddy Zgrzemski's 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air


Cars Painted or Scalloped by Teddy Zgrzemski

Dick Bailey's Model T - The Wild One
Clarence Catallo's 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe - The Little Deuce Coupe
Sy Gregorich's 1955 Ford Crown Victoria - The Alexandrian
Shirley Barris' 1958 Ford Thunderbird


Cars Restyled by Teddy Zgrzemski

B. Kelly Francis' 1960 Ford Thunderbird - Surf Bird


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Teddy Zgrzemski
  2. Teddy Zgrzemski
  3. Dick Dean



 

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