Gary's Auto Body

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The shop with Herb Gary's 1949 Plymouth sitting outside.
A photo of Herb with The Aztec from The Ray Soff Photo Collection.
A construction photo of Harry Bradley's 1951 Chevrolet Bel Air taken at Herb's shop. Gary was known for hand-making panels from sheet stock and hammer-welding them in place, and when this photo was taken, he was chopping the top of the iconic custom. Photo from The Ray Soff Photo Collection.
A photo of Russ Grady's 1957 Oldsmobile that was developed in April of 1962. After coming second at the 1960 National Champion Custom Car Show in Deotrit with the first iteration of the Olds, Russ decided that he had to make it more radical in order to take home the first place trophy. He returned to Herb's shop where the front end was modified further. Herb also installed a plastic roof and gave it a fade paint job before the car returned to the circuit. This photo shows Herb and some of his helpers in action, cutting out the roof skin on the car, making it ready for its plastic insert. Photo from The Ray Soff Photo Collection.
The second version Russ Grady's 1957 Oldsmobile as it appeared in 1962.
A construction photo of Andy Southard's 1958 Chevrolet Impala taken in front of Gary's shop. The front end of Andy's Impala was restyled by molding the grille opening with two-inch tubing. A floating bar grille made from a chromed 2-inch bar was installed and bordered with a 1/2-inch solid rod. Photo from The Ray Soff Photo Collection.
Hank Bornstein's 1959 Chevrolet Corvette being worked on at Herb Gary's Gary's Auto Body in Sea Cliff, New York. Known as "Pineapple Pearl" due to its color, the car made it onto at least a couple of magazine covers. Photo from The Ray Soff Photo Collection.

Gary's Auto Body was a renowned custom shop located in Sea Cliff, New York, owned and operated by legendary East Coast customizer Herbert "Herb" Gary.[1]


The shop was well known for producing custom vehicles, including a variety of iconic cars. Some of these vehicles included Herb Gary's 1949 Plymouth, named "The Aztec," Harry Bradley's 1951 Chevrolet Bel Air, named "La Jolla," Steve Scrivani's 1955 Oldsmobile, named "Celestial I," Russell Grady's 1957 Oldsmobile, named "The Oriental," Andy Southard's 1958 Chevrolet Impala, and Hank Bornstein's 1959 Chevrolet Corvette, named "The Pinapple Pearl."​2

Inspiration and Legacy

Unlike many other customizers, Gary learned his trade solely from reading magazines on the subjects and lists Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen of Valley Custom Shop, and their creations such as the Polynesian as the impetus for his work. He was known for his hammer welding and sectioning. He never used any filler of any kind, whether plastic or lead and was known for hand-making panels from sheet stock and hammer-welding them in place, achieving flawless results​​.[1] Herb's work was highly respected in the customizing community, and he has been compared to that of West Coast customizer Sam Barris.​

A Man's Got To Do What a Man Got To Do

During the 1970s, when customizing was not as popular, Gary's Auto Body began doing bodywork on luxury automobiles such as Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz.[1]

Cars Restyled by Gary's Auto Body

Herb Gary's 1949 Plymouth - The Aztec
Harry Bradley's 1951 Chevrolet Bel Air - La Jolla
Steve Scrivani's 1955 Oldsmobile - Celestial I
Russell Grady's 1957 Oldsmobile - The Oriental
Andy Southard's 1958 Chevrolet Impala
Hank Bornstein's 1959 Chevrolet Corvette - The Pinapple Pearl



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