Frank Livingston's 1949 Chevrolet

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Frank's Chevrolet as it looked when he bought it from Phil in 1952. Notice the flipper hubcaps. Photo courtesy of Frank Livingston.
The decklid was shaved, and the stock taillights had been removed and replaced by 1951 Pontiac units. Photo courtesy of Frank Livingston.
Photo courtesy of Frank Livingston.
As Frank was working at the local Studebaker dealership at the time, he installed a set of 1953 Studebaker hubcaps on the car. Frank liked the Studebaker caps as they were different from anything else available at the time. Photo courtesy of Frank Livingston.
This version of Frank's Chevrolet, restyled by Bernie Shanklin of Shanklin's Custom Shop, made its first public debut at the 1955 National Roadster Show. This photo was taken by Andy Southard at the San Jose Drag Strip.
Frank with his Chevy. Photo from the Ron Brooks collection.
Photo by Eric Rickman
Photo by Eric Rickman
Photo by Eric Rickman
Photo by Eric Rickman
Frank redid the car in 1956. This version, named the Caribbean, was restyled by Bailon Custom Shop and it was shown at the 1957 National Roadster Show where it won the Colonite Wax Best Paint Award and the Custom Car d'Elegance award. This version did also appear on the cover of Car Craft January 1958.
Frank-livingston-1949-chevrolet2.jpg
Frank's Chevrolet on the cover of Car Craft January 1958.
The third iteration of Frank's Chevrolet was nominated as one of "The 10 Best Customs" in Custom Cars January 1958.
Frank's Chevy next to Ronnie Leal's 1953 Chevrolet at the Satan's Angels club display at the 1957 National Roadster Show. Photo from the Ron Brooks collection.
The Satan's Angels had 12 cars at the 1957 National Roadster Show. Photo from the Ron Brooks collection.
Frank and Joe Bailon at the 1957 National Roadster Show. Frank is holding his Custom Car d'Elegance award. Photo from the Ron Brooks collection.
Photo from the Ron Brooks collection.
Frank-livingston-1949-chevrolet-bw.jpg
Frank-livingston-49-chevy.jpg
These two photos of the interior in Frank's Chevrolet were shown in Car Craft January 1958. Photo by Al Paloczy.
Photo by Al Paloczy.
The Tropic Tangerine Orange panel paint on Frank's Chevrolet faded rather quickly, so Frank had Mel Pinoli repaint the upper part a deep emerald green with lighter green scallops in 1958. Frank didn't have any photos in his collection of this version of his car, but he met a guy who had taken some slides of the car at a show, and he loaned him this one so he could make copies. Photo courtesy of Frank Livingston.
Frank's fourth 1949 Chevrolet, named The Caribbean II was built as a tribute to his first custom as it appeared in 1955. The build was completed in 2002.


1949 Chevrolet Fleetline owned by Satan's Angels member Frank Livingston of San Leandro, California. Frank bought the car in 1952, while working for San Leandro's Begier Studebaker. One day, at work, bringing a car to Len's Paint Shop in Oakland, Frank spotted the painters' personal car, a mildly customized 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline sitting outside the shop. The car had been nosed and decked, and the stock taillights had been replaced by 1951 Pontiac units. It was lowered, fit with flipper hubcaps and painted Oldsmobile green. Frank liked the mild custom a lot, and he ended up buying it from the painter, a fellow named Phil.[1]


Luminous Gold

Shortly after buying Phil's Chevy, Frank restyled the car further. As he was working at the local Studebaker dealership at the time, he installed a set of 1953 Studebaker hubcaps on the car. Frank liked the Studebaker caps as they were different from anything else available at the time. A set of Appleton spotlights were also installed shortly after he had bought the car. Then he had the hood louvered. Frank recalls that the primered spots on the beautiful hood really upset his father who had co-signed for the auto loan on the car. After saving up a little more money, Frank had the headlights frenched. Then the door handles were shaved, and the doors pushbutton operated. The grille opening was modified to accept a slightly narrowed 1955 Plymouth grill bar. When they got to the taillights, they had to extend the fenders about 6 inches in order to accept a set of 1951 Frazer taillights. A 1951 Pontiac rear-bumper was installed to provide better protection for the taillights, and the exhaust was routed through the bumper. The lower part of the fender skirts were extended to create a more pleasing line. All of the original body work was done by Bernie Shanklin of Shanklin's Custom Shop in Hayward, California. By then, Frank had decided that he wanted to show the car at the 1955 National Roadster Show in Oakland, so it needed a show quality paint job as well. Frank had seen several cars around town that was painted by Mel Pinoli of Pinoli Paint Shop, so he went over to see him, and he agreed to paint the car in a luminous gold. This version made its public debut at the 1955 National Roadster Show in Oakland. Later on it also appeared in Car Craft June 1956.[1]


The Caribbean

Frank redid the car in 1956. This time he brought it over to Bailon's Custom Shop of San Leandro, California. Bailon replaced the 1955 Plymouth center section with a center section from a 1956 Plymouth. He did also make a small grill insert for the new center section from round welding rods. Scoops were incorporated into the leading edge of the rear fenders. The rear fenders did also receive scoops that went from the front and back to the taillights. From the taillights, the scoops were carried over the rear deck lid area. The front fenders did also receive rolled scoops that trailed into the body. The front and rear scoops were fabricated from sheet metal with round rod serving as edges. The scoops over the frenched headlights were fit with 1953 Mercury rear fender trim teeth. The hubcaps on this version were changed to 1956 Buick covers with Oldsmobile flippers. Once the body modifications were completed, the car was given a two-tone Brazilian Gold and Tropic Tangerine Orange paint job by Mel Pinoli of Pinoli Paint Shop. Pinoli applied the Brazilian Gold base, paneling the car with Tropic Tangerine Orange paint. As Frank called his car the Caribbean, he gave the colors these exotic names to build on the Caribbean theme. Pinoli took a bold step when he paneled the car, taking the line of the panel across the middel of the roof.[2] When Pinoli painted a car for you, that was your color for a year, and he wouldn't paint any other car your color for one year. At the end of the year if you wanted to keep your color exclusively yours you had to pay him for another paint job whether you needed it or not.[1] The Caribbean version of the car received a very plush treatment of rolls and pleats in a diamond motif. The upholstery was done by Fremont Trim Shop. The Caribbean was shown at the 1957 National Roadster Show where it won the Colonite Wax Best Paint Award and the Custom Car d'Elegance award. This version of the car did also appear on the cover of Car Craft January 1958.


Custom Cars 10 Best Customs

The third iteration of Frank's Chevrolet was nominated as one of "The 10 Best Customs" in the January 1958 issue of Custom Cars Magazine.[3]


Green Scallops

The panel paint on Frank's car was painted with printing dyes that Mel Pinoli had bought from California Ink. Mel had experimented with Translucent colors trying to achieve a Candy effect. His experimenting didn't go very well, so he tried the ink from California Ink on Frank's car. The ink paint that was used on Frank's car faded badly,[2] so Frank had Mel repaint the upper part that was candy orange a deep emerald green with lighter green scallops in 1958. This version was shown at the ninth annual National Roadster Show, held February 15-23, 1958. At the show, Frank came second in the Semi Custom Sedan class, behind Bill Wolfe’s 1951 Mercury.[4]The green and gold combination of the car never appeared in print.[1]


Wrecked

By 1959, Frank was married and he had gotten his first child. As he wanted something more comfortable for the baby to ride in, he traded the Chevrolet for a 1953 Oldsmobile hardtop and some cash with a guy in Oakland. Later on, he heard that the car had been wrecked in Vallejo, California. As he didn't want to see the car in a wrecked condition he never went over to check out the remains. Later on Frank regret that he never went to Vallejo to see if anything could have been salvaged from his old custom.[1] In 1985 Bruce Heather wrote a letter to the Kustom Kemps of America Kemp Gazette, saying that a former Satan's Angels member had told him that while he was driving a truck several years ago he saw Frank's fastback in a wrecking yard in Fairfield, California.[5]


The Caribbean II

In 2002, Frank completed a tribute build to the long lost custom named The Caribbean II.[1]


Magazine Features

Car Craft June 1956
Custom Cars September 1957
Trend Book 133 Custom Cars 1957 Annual
Trend Book 156 Custom Cars 1958 Annual
Car Craft January 1958
Custom Cars January 1958
Custom Cars February 1958


References



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