Friday, April 4, 2014

Old Daily Driver Got Stolen.. But, I got a new one!

This is my new truck. I will tell you guys the tale how I acquired the truck, and about the former owner himself.

This was my past dailydriver that I first bought when I got here to the US last autumn. I needed a car to go back and forth to college and Brad Masterson shop in Lynwood.

I loved that wagon, and the girls did to!

However, while I was in Norway during christmas vacation building this 57 Ranchero for my older brother Superfleye, somebody decided to steal my wagon. More info and photos of the Ranchero here:

I went searching online for a new old daily driver, because I can't stay in California without a decent ride. I found an add on Craigslist, with this crappy photo on. At first, it looks like a worn out farm truck.

I clicked on the add, and found this photo. Suddenly the old farm truck became more interesting.

I browsed on to the next photo, and this popped up. Now it became really interesting. I was sitting at the airport in Oslo when I discovered it, and I thought about that car the whole way over to California. I was so curious about it's history.

Eager as a stallion, I filled up Brad's truck with gas and headed to San Bernardino where the truck was located.

I met the owner, George Contaoi. He is born in 1934, and is still young at heart. He was tinkering around with a 1972 Chevy C10 in his backyard when I came. It turned out, he bought the truck brand new off the show floor in 1955. He immediately had it customized by his friend [URL=""]Dick Richardson[/URL] of San Bernardino. The first time, he only shaved the emblems, installed chromed running boards, dual spotlights, and painted it Cadillac irresendant  gold. Later on in 1957, Barris filled the tailgate, made a roll pan and rounded the corners on the bed.

George told me that the striping was done by Von Dutch. He took the truck to where Von Dutch worked at a Maserati shop in Hollywood to have it striped. He striped the outside as well.

On the tailgate, he made this funny man with a snake biting his hand off.

But let's rewind back to the 1950's, when George was my age. This photo was taken in 1957, at 11070 Atlantic Ave, Lynwood. The exact same walls as I work within this very day today. 57 years later. I've heard about the murals that Jeffries did on the walls, but I have never seen a photo of it. This is from when George was down there to have his truck modified. That is actually him standing in front of the wall. Luckily for us, George sits on a lot of photos from those days, I have got some of them, but he has the majority of them stored away in a container.

This is George's high school ride. I knew there was a club in San Bernardino at the time called, the [URL=""]Krankers[/URL], and I asked if he knew about them. He got all exited when I knew about them, and he opened up about his past. He even told me a secret even his wife did not know about! He was a founding member of a motorcycle club in 1949, that we all know as Hells Angels. [URL=""]Dick Richardson[/URL] was a member to! At the time, he was 16 years old, and had a 1935 Harley Davidson. They never did anything bad, they just drove around with their bikes and had fun.

The 1941 Ford he had was nosed, decked. It was heavily lowered, and featured pin-striping by Von Dutch.

George actually knew Von Dutch quite well, through the motorcycle scene.
And Von Dutch painted his bike for him as well, in the mid 1950's.

In 1952, George bought a 1947 Mercury. It was lowered when he got it, but him, [URL=""]Dick Richardson[/URL] and Al Andrade turned it into a full blown custom. The top was chopped and hard-topped, and it featured a curved windshield from a 1952 Studebaker. He said that George Barris really liked how they did the hardtop, and fit the curved windshield. He never told Barris what windshield he used, according to George, Barris came up there two times trying to figure out how they had done that. The 1940 Ford next to it belonged to Jim Dramgool of Forest Falls.

The Mercury ended up as Hells Angels mascot car, and he claims it is still around today, tucked in a safe place.

In 1955, he bought this 1949 Oldsmobile. It was mildly customized, and carried a hot Rocket engine. He won every race he claims.

When he went into the millitary, he bought this 1957 Ford, which he also had customized. The headlights were rendered by installing 1956 Ford pickup headlight rings. It was nosed, decked and had electrical door openers. It also was repainted in a fancy lacquer job. He made the fake spotlights from a set of real Appleton S 552

Here we have George with the truck. Last time he drove the truck was in 1978.

I fell in love at first, and I just had to have the truck. It has no body rot, straight, and basically untouched and well preserved.

I deal was made, and he pulled it out for me. He wanted $5500, so I could not argue with that. Just the dash is worth that in my opinion.

My american mom, Sonja Serventi checking out the nice interior. Notice the reversed rim, George did that in the early 1960's.

George took me and Sonja for a ride in San Bernardino, showing us different points of interests from the old days. He built this house when he was 21, with a hammer, saw, and the truck.

Same make, same model, almost 60 years apart.

Here it is, reunited with the old Barris shop, 57 years later.

I got it placed in Sonja's garage, and took the front apart the same night I got it. I took all the parts to sandblasting on my way to school the day after, except for the fenders and hood. My plan is to get it up and running in reliable technical shape, then focus on the exterior/interior. I like to finish one part one  the cars I work on instead of jumping all over the car.

Mmm, faded Von Dutch striping..

Old memories. George used to go out with his boat a lot in the 1950's. He trailered it with the truck all over the west coast.

And his boat was cool too!

I've saved all the little stuff I found inside it in a folder. Who other collects old ketchup out there?

40 years of grime. If only the grime could talk.. Would definitely been a boring story, just watching the sun go up and down in the field.

The seat don't have a single rip!

Headliner needs to be glued to the top, other than that, it's nice.

Never owned a car with Stewart Warner gauges before!

Old lead, still in good shape!

This is how they did it!

Right now, I've gotten this far. I've only owned it for a couple of days, and I only have night times to work on it. The firewall and frame is almost ready for paint. I will receive materials from Arizona this weekend, so hopefully I can paint all the pieces in the engine compartment soon. I get it from Arizona, because California has strict laws with the solvents, and the paint products are better in other states. I ordered a bunch of parts too, that I'm waiting to show up.

In this old photo, you can see where the striping was. George used to have a hood with four rows of louvers, but swapped it later with a solid one, due to the rain.

I blew the photo up, and here you can see it had holes for spotlights. That explained the primer spots in the corners of the dash!

I discovered this at 3am, and went straight in the garage to grind the pillars down. I found remains of the holes under the bondo, brazed shut.

The next day when I called him, he said he had a set of Appleton 552's on it. So now I need a set of those. I bid on a pair on eBay, but I lost the auction..

George also had same exhaust setup as [URL=""]Johnny Zupan[/URL] had on his truck, only with single pipes on each sides.

Here we are in the 1960's. I only have photo's of the truck from the 1960's, when it was raised, fit with blackwalls, and a home made camper. It also has a rear bumper here, with a trailer hitch. However, notice the striping around the gas filler neck.

He used the truck a lot for hunting in Utah.

Next time I got time, I will write more about the car shows he went to, and the photo's he took there. Here's a little sneak peak, [URL=""]Harold Johnson's 1949 Chevy![/URL]