Unger Auto Body Company

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Bud Unger's business card from Unger Auto Body Company.
Bud Unger's 1946 Ford Convertible. Bud restyled his own Ford after opening up Unger Auto Body Company.
A 1939 Ford Convertible that Bud customized and painted in a light metallic blue for an unknown customer in the late 1940s or early 1950s. When this photo was taken, the top had been chopped, and the sidetrim on the hood had been shortened. The hood was shaved for most of its chrome, and a 1941 Ford bumper that had been shaved for bumper guards protected the front of the car. Fender skirts and single bar flipper hubcaps had been installed for a true west coast custom look. Photo courtesy of Bud Unger.
An Italmechanica that Bud restyled for a customer called Roaring Richard. Bud did not do any great amount of customizing on the car. He installed a pair of 1949 Plymouth bumpers, that fitted the car perfectly. He did also paint the car. The top color was Tuscon Tan and the bottom was Chariot Red. After spraying all the coats of paint on the car, he sanded the paint down with 600 grit sand paper, the finest he had at that time, and hand rubbed it with fine compound. Bud belives the car won first place in the New York car show due to the paint job. The rare Italian sports car was also fit with flipper hubcaps. Photo from The Bud Unger Photo Collection.

Unger Auto Body Company of Bethesda, Maryland was a body, paint and custom body building shop run and operated by Herbert "Bud" Unger. Located at River Road, the shop was established in 1950. Bud had two brothers, Edward and Jack, that worked with him in the shop along with seven other employees. As Bud’s reputation kept growing, he got the white house on his customer list, and at his shop he took care of all the white house’s cars. As his reputation continued to grow, Bud had to change his phone number two times to keep customers away.[1]

During the winters in the early 1950s, Bud went to West Palm Beach, Florida to build race cars bodies for Briggs Cunningham. While Bud was away, business went on as usual at Unger Auto Body Company. While Bud operated Unger Auto Body Company, he acquired two auto body repair contracts with two automotive dealerships, one a Chrysler – Plymouth dealer, and the other a Ford – Mercury dealer. About 1954, the Mercurys were built at the plant in New Jersey and shipped to the dealers in the Maryland area with very rough places where the body panels were joined together. These cars were brand new, and Bud reworked many of these under his contract with the dealer. The Mercury Factory said " You dealers don't know what we are facing up here with our factory workers!" so a group of local Service Managers and Shop Managers, including Bud, were invited to visit the assembly plant in New Jersey. When they arrived at the New Jersey plant they discovered that the regular assembly plant had to build an additional assembly line to repair one third of their brand new cars when they came off the line.[1]

Unger Auto Body Company was in business until 1956. After Bud had worked on the Briggs Cunningham cars in West Palm Beach during the winters for some years, he decided to move permanently to Florida in 1956. He packed up his customized 1946 Ford Convertible, and moved with his family to West Palm Beach. Bud’s younger brother Jack took over the business when Bud moved to Florida.[1]

Cars Restyled by Unger Auto Body Company

Bud Unger's 1946 Ford Convertible


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