Some East Coast Kustom Style
Custom cars from the “right cost” here in America have always suffered from the stigma of being “un-cool”, or at best, unattractive. There’s always this opinion that seems to surface when talking cars (especially hot rods and customs from the “glory days” of the fifties and sixties) that East Coast customs and hot rods were “ugly” or lacked style. Granted, there are quite a few examples that support this claim, but, having grown up on the “right coast”, I have always felt a need to defend that side of the hobby.
The magazines of the time chronicled what was immediately available to them, and that meant, for the most part, West Coast cars. The few East Coast cars that were seen seemed to have cemented a certain image in most car guys’ heads… I’m not a fan of severely channeled coupes, but can appreciate the style and work that went into them, certainly. I’m also not a big fan of an overly-accessorized custom with giant skirts and a continental kit, but I do “get it”. I think it’s just got a lot to do with the times, the region, and the cultural differences. The East Coast has always been a bit grittier, relying on manufacturing, and with cooler weather, shorter summers and all, people just took a different approach to building, and making due with a smaller number of shops. Consider that there were much fewer shops, and that many skilled custom craftsmen went West (where the magazines and show coverage were), and you’re left with but a few builders, and thus, less ability to really push the envelope.
I’ve been working on a project for some time, and recently kicked it into a higher gear… My goal is to document the East Coast style, and, at the same time, chronicle the builders and their cars, and hopefully, shed some light on the little-known history from the region. I am fortunate to have grown up with some of the people who were “there”, and even call some friends. We have family friends that built customs and hot rods, raced in the region, and were, generally, part of the scene. As I compiled photos and stories, I was continually blown away by the variety of cars, the quality of the work, and the great stories that have been shared…
As it all comes together, I’ll share more, but wanted to throw at least one quick look at what’s going on in front of you.
Take a look at this home-built ’50 Ford. This is the kind of stuff that gets me going… a family project, and definitely something we can all relate to:
Wayne’s ’50 Ford is a piece of Western New York custom history, and, in his words:
Here are some shots of the car my Dad (William Carrig), my Mother (zelda), my four sisters and I built in his one-car garage in Kenmore, NY over a two year period beginning in 1964. This was my first car, bought it when I was 16 years old and my Dad who had a body shop at one point in his life fixed the body (it was a mess, rusted out floors, rocker panels, quarter panels, etc.).
We also customized i: frenched headlights, shaved hood, truck, removed side chrome, sunken antenna, custom grille, hand built taillights.
Everything on this car was done on a strict budget as I had little money. Grille opening was formed from electrical conduit, sunken antenna and handbuilt taillights made from brass kitchen drain pipe, taillights were red truck clearance light lenses, upholstery including truck except for the back seal and convertible top were all done by my Mother, Dad and me. Front seats were from a 65 Mustang and my Dad fabricated floor mounts so they would fit. I used 57 Oldsmobile turn signals as they looked like Lucas lights and I sure as heck couldn’t afford Lucas lights at the time! Grill was chromed metal mesh. It was flawless after many other hours of block sanding and my Dad put on many coats of Corvette Honduras Maroon Lacquer paint which looked a mile deep!! A true family project, my sisters helped and everyone in the family loved the car. Unfortunately I had to get rid of the car when I got drafted and joined the Air Force during the Vietnam era. I hated to do it but had no way to get the car from Buffalo, NY to San Antonio, TX. I did use the money from the sale of this car to purchase the Black 57 Chevy I purchased in TX and still have today. Even so….I still miss this car and would do about anything to have it back…”
It’s just one of those stories that make our hobby’s history so rich. There are a LOT of stories to be told yet, and I’m stoked to be compiling it all, and learning as I go.
If you’re an East Coast hot rodder/custom car owner or fan, and would like to share some history with the project, hit me up! I’d be delighted to make your car or story a part of this project, and will work to ensure that all proper credit is given where due. hit me up (see site link below), and I’ll get you the info you need to participate, and even throw a gift your way…