Walt Prey

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Walt with one of his creations at the Great Western Exhibition Center show in 1967. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt striping a Corvair at a car show in San Diego in 1967. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
This early version of Dave Prey's 1963 Chevrolet Impala, The Cherry Heering, featured a paint job by Walt and Dave Kent. Dave Prey was Walt's brother. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
A later version of the The Cherry Heering featuring a "vailing" paint job by Walt. A special paint and nozzle for the spray gun was required for such a paint job. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt did also make the sign for the The Cherry Heering. According to the sign, this version was owned by Ralph Prey, Walt's father. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt pinstriped Allen Duke's 1964 Chevrolet Impala after Carl Darling had given it a radical custom paint job around 1967/1968. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt's signature on Allen Duke's 1964 Chevrolet Impala. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Howard Gribble's 1967 Chevrolet Impala featured a paint job by Dave Kent. This photo was taken at Kent's Customs shop on Sepulvada Blvd. in Venice, California, where Walt may have had a hand in laying out the lace panels on the car. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt next to Howard's Impala. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt laying down some stripes on Howard Gribble's 1967 Chevrolet Impala in 1968. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Howard Gribble's 1967 Chevrolet Impala as it appeared after Walt had pinstriped it. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Rudy and Linda Reyes' 1965 Chevrolet Impala, "Choosy Begger", was painted by Bill Carter and pinstriped by Walt. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt pinstriped Carl Tucker's 1961 Ford in 1967 or 1968. Carl came from Panorama City, and Walt did the job while he was working with Bill Carter.
Jim Robertson's 1961 Ford of Simi Valley, California. Jim's Ford was restyled in 1969, and it featured a fadeaway paint job by Bill Carter of Carter Pro Paint and pinstriping by Walt.
Howard Gribble's 1969 Buick Riviera was painted and pinstriped by Bill Carter and Walt Prey in 1969. The colors were fuschia and silver metalflake with "veiling" over the silver in black. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt applying his distinctive signature to Howard Gribble's 1969 Buick Riviera. The "T" in "Walt" was crossed with a miniscule hand holding a striping brush. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt painted Jesse Valadez’ 1963 Chevrolet Impala, the first Gypsy Rose, shortly after he had opened up his own studio in Van Nuys in 1971. It took Walt six months to complete the paint job that consisted of about 40 hand painted roses. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
The first Gypsy Rose was eventually wrecked, and Jesse Valadez bought a 1964 Chevrolet Impala that he turned into the second Gypsy Rose. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Walt working on the second Gypsy Rose.
Jesse Valadez’ 1964 Chevrolet Impala, the second Gypsy Rose. When the first Gypsy Rose was wrecked, Walt was called upon to paint a replacement 1964 Chevrolet Impala for Jesse. The second version of the "Gypsy Rose" is the most famous version of the car as it was on TV and still survives today. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Art Valadez' 1969 Chevrolet Impala, also known as the King Orchid featured a custom paint job by Walt Prey. Art was the brother of Jesse Valadez, and a member of the Imperials car club.
Allen Duke's 1939 Ford Coupe featured distinctive blue flames applied by Walt. This photo is taken around 1970. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
A 1955 Chevrolet painted by Walt in the early 1970s. Walt gave the car Watson styled seaweed flames as a tribute to the custom painters of the 1950s. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Howard Gribble's 1956 Ford F-100, of Torrance, California, received a flame paint job by Walt in 1975.
A 1958 Chevrolet Del Ray painted by Walt. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
55-nomad-by-walt-prey.jpg
A Chevrolet Vega painted by Walt. The car was known as the "Tiny Dancer". Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Another photo of the Tiny Dancer.
Walt in front of his 1957 Chevrolet Nomad with a model airplane, one of his biggest passions.
Walt ran a studio called The Candy Factory together with Mario Gomez. At The Candy Factory Mario designed and applied custom paint jobs while Walt did the striping.
A row of cars painted by Walt and Mario at The Candy Factory parked at Walt's memorial service January 14, 2012 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Covina, California. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Bill Carter, to the right, in Walt's funeral. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Mr. Ralph Prey, Walt's father,admiring his son's work at the funeral. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Albert Gonzalez, Jr.'s 1963 Chevrolet Impala featuring pinstripes by Walt. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]
Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.[1]


Walter Michael Prey (February 12, 1947 - December 24, 2011) was a legendary pinstriper and custom painter. He painted and striped a lot of cars during his long career, but his most known creation, and his claim to fame is without doubt Jesse Valadez’ 1964 Chevrolet Impala, The Gypsy Rose.[2]


Walt was born in Oak Park, Illinois. In the 1950s the Prey family moved to Inglewood, California. Walt showed an interest in art and drawing early on and by his teens was drawing cars and doing custom culture type artwork. About this time, much to the surprise of his dad, he sent off to J.C. Whitney for a set of Moon hubcaps for the family car, a 1958 Plymouth. He taught himself to pinstripe and was doing professional quality work while still in high school. In the South Bay he was known as the "Kid Striper". Walt further perfected his style with the intention of never having to work for an employer, a goal he managed to achieve. By his early 20s he was married and had a son. At this time Walt drove a clean, original 1940 Ford sedan and was working out of Dave Kent's shop, Kent's Customs, on Sepulvada Blvd. in Venice. In the late 1960s Walt left Kent's to work with Bill Carter at Carter Pro Paint on Burbank Blvd. in Van Nuys. At the shop, Walt worked as Bill's striper, From that point on Walt Prey would spend the rest of his life living and working in and around the San Fernando Valley of Southern California.[2] When Walt worked for Bill Carter, Bill had hired 12 years old Mario Gomez to mask cars and sweep floors. This was the start of a long friendship that would eventually evolve into a company called The Candy Factory.[3]


In 1970 or 1971, Walt left Bill Carter and opened his own business in a small garage in Van Nuys. It was known as Walt's Custom Studio. Over the years there would be other locations and during the van craze he worked with manufacturers to decorate their popular custom conversions. By the early 1970s Walt had established a solid reputation as a pinstriper/sign painter and he decided to start doing full custom paint jobs. One of the first cars Walt painted after opening up his own studio was a 1963 Chevrolet Impala belonging to Jesse Valadez, a member of the Imperials Car Club from East Los Angeles. Jesse had spent the summer of 1971 prepping the car for paint, and he hauled it over to Walt for a one of a kind paint job. The first version of the car was kind of orange with swirls. Jesse was not too satisfied, and he took the car back to Walt telling him he wanted something different. He wanted a few roses on the car. They decided on roses, Mexican style roses. The kind that was used to decorate a local Mexican restaurant. Walt spent six months decorating the car with about 40 hand painted roses. Once completed Jesse's Impala, known as the Gypsy Rose, became quite a sensation at car shows.[4] The Gypsy Rose was later wrecked, and Walt was called upon to paint a replacement 1964 Chevrolet Impala for Jesse. The second "Gypsy Rose", featured many more roses than the first version and every custom paint trick in the book. It was an immediate sensation, in no small part because it was featured weekly in the opening credits of popular TV show "Chico and the Man". The second "Gypsy Rose" became the most famous lowrider of all time and the inspiration for many fabulous lowrider custom paint jobs in the years to come. In later years Walt would devote most of his efforts at pinstriping, graphics and sign painting and he developed a loyal following of customers. Owners of high quality lowrider cars, like those of the Lifestyle car club, particularly sought out Walt to add a special touch to their spectacular paint work.[2] Walt ran a studio called The Candy Factory together with Mario Gomez. At The Candy Factory Mario designed and applied custom paint jobs while Walt did the striping.[5]


Walt Prey was a humble man. He did not seek fame and was genuinely surprised when people referred to the legend that was continuing to grow up around him. Because of this he did not receive a lot of print in car publications and is not known to have ever done an interview with a journalist. Walt was satisfied with a simple life and never traveled far from the SFV or owned a cell phone or a computer. He apparently owned only one car since 1975, a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon. In addition to custom cars Walt was well known since childhood for building and flying model airplanes. Just as with his painting, people in the hobby marveled at the quality of his work. Walt Prey was truly an artist.[2]


Walt died December 24, 2011 in Simi Valley, California. He was buried at Forest Lawn-Covina Hills, Covina, California.[2]


Cars Painted or Pinstriped by Walt Prey

Allen Duke's 1939 Ford Coupe
Howard Gribble's 1956 Ford F-100
Anne and Don Heckman's 1958 Chevrolet Fleetside
Fernando Ramirez' 1958 Chevrolet Impala - Moonflower
Mr. Cartoon's 1959 Chevrolet Impala
Carl Tucker's 1961 Ford
Jim Robertson's 1961 Ford
Albert Gonzalez, Jr.'s 1963 Chevrolet Impala
Jesse Valadez’ 1963 Chevrolet Impala - The Gypsy Rose
Jesus Alonzo's 1963 Chevrolet Impala
Dave Prey's 1963 Chevrolet Impala - The Cherry Heering
Allen Duke's 1964 Chevrolet Impala
Albert Martinez 1966 Buick Riviera
Danny Jones' 1966 Buick Riviera
Howard Gribble's 1969 Buick Riviera
Howard Gribble's 1967 Chevrolet Impala
David Varela's 1968 Chevrolet Impala
Art Valadez' 1969 Chevrolet Impala - King Orchid
Ray Palmer's 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood


References



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