Bill Burnett's 1955 Ford
1955 Ford Crown Victoria "full" semi custom restyled by Barris Kustoms and Dick Williams, or Schelhaas Custom Shop, for Long Beach Renegades member Bill Burnett of Long Beach, California. A featured story on the car published in Custom Cars September 1957 claimed that Schelhaas Custom Shop had restyled the car, while a later story printed in Trend Book 175 Custom Cars 1959 Annual stated that the car had been restyled by Barris Kustoms and Dick Williams. Later owner Larry Quatrone heard that both Dick Williams and Barris Kustoms were involved in the car, but he don't know what they did on it. What he do know is that Barris didn't do the whole customizing package on the car.
The front end on Bill's custom Victoria was restyled to accept a 1954 Chevrolet grille assembly fit with additional vertical teeth. The hood was nosed, and the stock hooded headlights were frenched in. The bodysides were shaved for scripting, emblems and door handles before a couple of functional spotlights were installed along with a set of side exhaust pipes and custom bullet hubcaps that simulated wire-spoke wheels. The deck lid was shaved for ornamentation as well, and the rear fenders were altered to accept a pair of 1956 Packard taillights. The interior and trunk compartment was upholstered with black and white tuck and roll Naugahyde by Gaylord. Special foot pads had been installed on the floors using white Naugahyde over padding, and the carpeting had been piped in white. All garnish moldings were chromed, and special holders for a chrome set of tools was located in the luggage side area. All body seams were filled before the car was painted in bronze pearlescent. Dean Jeffries scalloped the car in gold before he pinstriped the car and dash. The dashboard was black with white pinstriping, and the original dash-knobs were replaced by black and white Plexiglas teardrops. The doors and trunk were operated by electric solenoids. Buttons installed on the dash activated the solenoids. A low silhouette was achieved by C'ing the frame in front and rear. Fenderskirts were added to match-off the lower body line. The stock engine was hopped up featuring a three pot manifold and progressive linkage.
In 1957, Bill sold the car to Larry Quatrone of Long Beach, California. Larry paid $1800 for the car. As he was only 15 years old at the time, it sat in his backyard until he turned 16 and had a driver's license. In fact, Larry still believes that it was his father that really wanted the car. Bill's car club, the Renegades, used to hang out at a house at the corner of Willow and Studebaker, two blocks from Larry's house. As a little kid, Larry loved to go over and look at the cars when they were parked outside. When Larry bought the car, it had been fit with Dodge Lancer hubcaps that featured gold plated bullets in the center. The steering wheel was also fit with a a matching gold plated bullet. In 1959, while Larry owned the car, it was featured in Trend Book 175 Custom Cars 1959 Annual. Larry was very proud of his car and enjoyed the story even though it was made while Bill owned it and presented Bill as the owner. Incidentally Larry Watson's 1958 Ford Thunderbird was featured on the cover of the same Trend Book. Larry's old Thunderbird was owned by Bob Finley at the time. Bob went to the same school as Larry Quatrone, and Larry used to park next to Bob's Thunderbird at school.
Around 1960 someone ran into the right front fender of the car while Larry stopped for a red light. After the accident, he took the Victoria to Larry Watson of Watson's House of Style. He told Watson that he wanted a new paint job and preferred blue. Watson liked to experiment with colors, and talked Larry into a candy gold/bronze with a candy lime green top. Larry did also paint the lower part of the dash to match the exterior colors. The dash was painted pearlescent white before he faded together the two exterior colors around the radio and gauges. Most people didn't like the colors on Larry's car, but Larry got used to them eventually. Watson wanted to enter the car into an upcoming car show in Long Beach to promote his work as well, but then tragedy struck again in 1961 as someone ran into the rear end of the car as Larry had stopped letting his girlfriend off in front of her school. As Larry couldn't enter the damaged car in the show, Watson was a bit disappointed. Shortly after that Larry graduated from school. He began working full time, got married and he needed a more practical car to drive around. By then customs were out of style, and most kids were buying newer cars that they didn't bother customizing. Larry had a hard time selling the car even though he kept dropping the price. Out of desperation he drove around to used car lots in various cities until he found a buyer. Before that, he painted it plain grey, and the car looked very dull. This had to be done as the paint had started to crack all over and the car was starting to look mosaic. Larry remembers taking the car to a used car dealer in Long Beach. The sales rep told him he had headaches just watching the car as he feared accessories like the hubcaps and spotlights would get stolen. Eventually he found a car lot in Comtpon or Downey that traded the car for a stock black 1955 Chevrolet. larry also had to pay $200 extra to get rid of the car.
Magazine Features and Appearances
Custom Cars September 1957
Car Craft November 1957
Trend Book 175 Custom Cars 1959 Annual
Did you enjoy this article?
Kustomrama is an encyclopedia dedicated to preserve, share and protect traditional hot rod and custom car history from all over the world.
- Help us keep history alive. For as little as 2.99 USD a month you can become a monthly supporter. Click here to learn more.
- Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates and stories from Kustomrama.
- Do you know someone who would enjoy this article? Click here to forward it.
Can you help us make this article better?
Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional information or photos to share about Bill Burnett's 1955 Ford.
This article was made possible by:
SunTec Auto Glass - Auto Glass Services on Vintage and Classic Cars
Finding a replacement windshield, back or side glass can be a difficult task when restoring your vintage or custom classic car. It doesn't have to be though now with auto glass specialist companies like www.suntecautoglass.com. They can source OEM or OEM-equivalent glass for older makes/models; which will ensure a proper fit every time. Check them out for more details!
Do you want to see your company here? Click here for more info about how you can advertise your business on Kustomrama.