Old School Customs: Top Traditional Custom Car Builders


In the late 1930s, as roadster- and coupe-driving hot rodders started families, they suddenly needed reliable cars that could transport more than two people. Thus, custom cars were born—passenger automobiles turned into one-of-a-kind art pieces reflecting the aesthetic sensibilities of their owners and builders. Today, the mild-to-wild styles and techniques that grew out of the custom car movement might seem like they’ve been around forever. Fortunately, a number of top-notch ...

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In the late 1930s, as roadster- and coupe-driving hot rodders started families, they suddenly needed reliable cars that could transport more than two people. Thus, custom cars were born—passenger automobiles turned into one-of-a-kind art pieces reflecting the aesthetic sensibilities of their owners and builders. Today, the mild-to-wild styles and techniques that grew out of the custom car movement might seem like they’ve been around forever. Fortunately, a number of top-notch builders are keeping these classic elements alive.

This book profiles the work of some of the men who keep making custom car history, and features dozens of chopped, sectioned, shaved, decked, flamed, frenched, nosed, lowered, scalloped, striped, and slammed Caddies, Mercs, Buicks, shoebox Fords, Chevys, and Oldsmobiles that exemplify traditional custom car design.  Author Alan Mayes includes profiles of top builders from across the country—John D’Agostino, Bill Hines, Richard Zocchi, Darryl Starbird, Bo Huff, and Rick Murray, among others—each illustrated with color photography profiling the builder’ work. In addition, Mayes features archival images detailing earlier work of these history-making custom builders of today.

List of Builders:

The Pioneers 
Gene Winfield               Modesto, CA
Bill Hines                      Long Beach, CA
Alexander Brothers       Detroit, MI
Joe Bailon                    Auburn, CA
Darryl Starbird             Tulsa, OK

The Lifers
Tom Culbertson            Indianapolis, IN
Bo Huff                        Dragerton, UT
Mark Wojcik               Howell, NJ
Dave Kinnaman            Alexandria, IN
Murphy & the Striper   Palm Beach, FL
Dave Pareso                 Colorado Springs, CO
Gary "Chopit" Fioto      New Smyrna Beach, FL

The Pacesetters
Gary Brown                 Indianapolis, IN
Brad Masterson            Paramount, CA
Voodoo Larry Grobe   Schaumberg, IL
Rick Murray                 Moab, UT

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Jonnie King, creator of Legends of the Rod & Custom Hall of Fame, interviews author Alan Mayes about his newest book Old School Customs:


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760334577
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Publication date: 7/10/2009
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,039,132
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Mayes is the managing editor of Ol’ Skool Rodz and Car Kulture DeLuxe, as well as the author of Old School Hot Rods and Old School Choppers. He lives in Tennessee.

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Table of Contents



                Chapter 1 – Custom Cool

Part 1 – The Pioneers

Chapter 2 - Gene Winfield

Chapter 3 - Bill Hines

Chapter 4 - Darryl Starbird

Part 2 – The Lifers

                Chapter 5 - Tom Culbertson

Chapter 6 - Bo Huff

Chapter 7- Mark Wojcik

Chapter 8 - Dave Kinnaman

Chapter 9 - Gary “Chopit” Fioto

Chapter 10 - Dave Pareso

Chapter 11 - Murphy & the Striper

Part 3 – The Pacesetters

Chapter 12 - Brad Masterson

                Chapter 13 - Voodoo Larry Grobe

                Chapter 14 - Gary Brown




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Old School Customs is a heck of a moniker for a book. "Old school" has become one of the most overused (and misused) terms of our time. I suppose that if there really is a collection of "old school" customs and customizers, the people in this book are them. Whatever label you choose, the customizers are the stars in this book. Their custom cars are just the result of their expertly applied talents.

Only 13 customizers are profiled here, not because they were the only deserving ones, but because that's all we had room for. Another half-dozen volumes could be filled with deserving builders, but we had to stop somewhere. Each of our artists-in-metal has an individual chapter. This book is divided into three sections, based on the builders who are profiled in each section.

The first section is a group of builders I call "The Pioneers." It includes Bill Hines, Gene Winfield, and Darryl Starbird. Though all of them are legendary builders, they also have completely unique styles. Each one accomplished what he wanted to do, but in his own way. In the world of customs, they are among the Old Masters.

One thing about these men that never ceases to amaze young hero-worshippers is their accessibility. Unlike stars in other fields, these gents are fan-friendly and willing to talk about their cars, give advice, have their pictures taken, and sign autographs all day long.

Darryl Starbird simply states, "We don't know any better. We have all achieved but never lost that grounding."

"The Lifers" make up the second group. This is a collection of builders somewhat younger than the Pioneers, mostly in theirlate forties to sixties, but who are like the Pioneers in spirit. If the Pioneers are the first generation, these are the second. Each man cites at least one of the Pioneers as an inspiration.

Traditional custom cars are their livelihood and their preference. Some of them have built hot rods or street rods and have even done restorations to keep the shop doors open and put food on the table. There's certainly nothing wrong with that-and they do that with the same skill and standard-but their first love is customs.

Oddly enough, none of those Lifers are from California. That wasn't planned, but I'm happy it turned out that way. It's a testimony to the effect the rest of the country has had in custom cars. When you see their cars, it's hard to believe that most of them are not very well known outside their own areas of the country. They each have their following and I'd be proud to have any one of them build me a car. A couple already have. When I hit the Powerball, there shall be more!

"The Pacesetters" are the third group of customizers and it's difficult to describe their talent without sounding like the president of their fan clubs. It's tempting to add the qualifier, "for someone so young," but no qualifier is needed. Brad Masterson, Voodoo Larry Grobe, and Gary Brown are three of the most talented builders I know, but they are young. Read the captions in the book and you'll learn that Bill Hines has a sweatshirt that's at least 10 years older than these three guys!

These three all have "the eye." They understand what made early customs so grand, and they have a healthy respect for those that blazed the trail. That they have quickly gained the respect of the older customizers is a testament to their abilities. As I was interviewing the various Pioneers and Lifers for this book, they would often ask me who else was going to be in it. Every one of them who did so knew the cars of at least one of the Pacesetters, even if he didn't know him personally. These guys are making their marks in the world. Each has his own style but with a reverent eye to the past.

Man, I need that lottery thing to work out!
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