1956 Hartford Autorama

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Frank Maratta's New England Auto Body stand at the 1956 Hartford Autorama. George Remington's 1949 Mercury and a 1953 Buick Skylark convertible were chosen to represent Maratta's business during the show. Photo by John Bozio.
Another photo of George's Mercury at the 1956 Hartford Autorama.
The 1953 Buick Skylark convertible that Maratta displayed at the 1956 Hartford Autorama was restyled for a Doctor that Bozio can’t remember the name of. The Doctor worked at the Hartford Hospital, that was just down the street from Frank’s shop. The build was started in 1955, and completed in time for the 1956 Hartford Autorama in February. The build was not completed when the souvenir program for the show was made, so that contained under construction shots of the car. What is interesting about this custom is that it has quad headlights, or as the souvenir program described it “dual-twin headlights”! The first production cars in the US to have quad headlights could be seen on the streets late in 1956 as 1957 models. Titled “New Customizing Ideas”, the cover of Motor Trend June 1956 contains a quad headlighted 1954 Ford F-100 truck belonging to Martin and Morris Srabian. Known as the Wild Kat, the iconic truck was restyled by Barris Kustoms. Barris have for a long time been credited as the originators of the quad headlight styling with this truck. Andy Southard photographed the Wild Kat at the 1956 Monterey Kar Kapades in March of 1956. By then the scallops had been pinstriped. The photos that appeared on the cover of Motor Trend June 1956 shows it prior to the pinstriping, so those photos were at least taken before March of 1956. John Bozio believes that Frank finished the Skylark late in 1955, so it might happen that Frank was ahead of the famous Barris Brothers! According to the book “Barris Kustoms of the 1950s”, “the Wild Kat was the first vehicle ever to feature quad headlight styling, beating Detroit by two years.” Well, at least their production cars. In 1954 Cadillac debuted two concept cars named the “La Espada” and the “El Camino” at the GM Motorama. Both these featured dual headlights controlled with an Autronic Eye. Photo from The John Bozio Photo Collection.


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