Herbert Gary

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A photo of Herb with The Aztec from The Ray Soff Photo Collection.
Gary receives a trophy for The Aztec at the Hartford Autorama in the late 50's.
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.

Herbert "Herb" Gary was a legendary East Coast customizer who owned and operated Gary's Auto Body in Sea Cliff, New York. He learned his trade entirely on his own, primarily from reading magazines. His abilities included a range of skills, such as hammer-welding and sectioning. He was known for hand-making panels from sheet stock and hammer-welding them in place. He never used any filler of any kind, whether plastic or lead and was well-known for flawless results


Gary's Auto Body was a custom shop that produced a variety of iconic vehicles. 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."​

Inspired by Valley Custom Shop

According to an article in Street Rodder January 1976, Herb's work was inspired by the creations of Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen of Valley Custom Shop, such as The Polynesian.[1]

Luxury Cars

During the 1970s, when customizing was not as popular, Herb began doing bodywork on automobiles such as Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz​.[1]


Herb Gary passed away on August 27, 2017, at the age of 91​​.[2]


Herb Gary's work was highly respected in the customizing community. His work has been compared to that of West Coast customizer Sam Barris, and it has been suggested that if he had been based in California, he would have been ranked among the "Legends" of car customizing​.[3]

Herbert Gary's Cars

Herb Gary's 1949 Plymouth - The Aztec

Cars Restyled by Herbert Gary

Click here to see more cars restyled by Herb Gary at Gary's Auto Body



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