Howard Gribble of Torrance, California is a well-known photographer and custom car historian. He was born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1944. The world was at war, and his dad, Hunter, worked in the shipyard making ships for the Navy. "After the war, dad got a job in Florida. He had an injury in his back, and was trained to run a Linotype machine," Howard told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. Hunter’s new career didn’ pay much money, so in 1952 he decides to take his wife and two kids to California. Howard was eight years old when they loaded up the family car, a light tan 1950 Ford, said goodbye to the East Coast and drove the long trek across the country. Howard told Sondre that his first memory of California is when he and his family finally was driving into Los Angeles on an afternoon in October. That was quite exciting he recalled. "Living in Florida, you had heard about the desert, Los Angeles, and all that, but we had never been there to see it before." Howard had an uncle and aunt that had made the same move a couple of years earlier, so they crashed at their place in South Central Los Angeles for the first few months.
While in junior hight school, Howard started to notice customized cars in the area featuring scallop paint jobs, pinstriping and flames. Howard started drawing pictures of the cars he saw cruising the streets. By the time he was in high school, custom cars dominated his interests, and he started collecting car magazines.
At age 15 he got his first car, a 1950 Ford sedan. Howard was going for the George Barris style, and began restyling the car by shaving the door handles and removing the emblems. Due to a limited budget, the project never really took off. Early in 1965, Howard bought a 1961 Ford Starliner from a used car lot on Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance. He traded it in for a 1957 Chevrolet 2 door sedan. This Starliner was very clean, white with red interior, and equipped with the "Police Interceptor" factory option. This package consisted of three two barrel carburetors on a 390 cubic inch V8, along with heavy duty extras like beefed up three speed transmission and suspension pieces. After installing a pair of 10 inch wide slicks, enjoying his factory muscle car for what it was worth, Howard ended up with a blown head gasket, crunched transmission and a bad rear end. He then decided that he wanted to turn the Starliner into a boulevard cruiser instead, and he had Carl Darling help him customize the car. Unfortunately, the car was tragically wrecked only a short time after it made its first public appearance.
Howard Gribble's Cars
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