Joe Wilhelm

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A photo of Joe. Photo courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine.
Joe Wilhelm's 1939 Nash Coupe of San Jose, California. Joe bought the car and restyled it after the War in 1946, and it was his first custom project.
A photo of Joe Wilhelm working on John Serpa's 1951 Mercury. This photo was published in a story about custom cars that the San Jose News ran August 19, 1957. Photo courtesy of the San Jose News.
A presentation of Wilhelm Custom Shop in the souvenir program of the 1960 Kustom Kar Kapades show in Monterey, California.
A photo of Joe Wilhelm with the Wild Dream. Photo courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine.

Joe Wilhelm of San Jose, California is a legendary customizer that ran his own shop Wilhelm's Custom Shop in San Jose, California. Joe stared working around a garage when he was 17 years old. He came to California from Nebraska in 1942 to work at a defense plant.[1]

He started doing custom work part-time on his own and others cars around 1945. He started by molding hoods and deck lids, before he moved onto doing mild customs. Around 1954 he had his customs in the auto shows. They made it to the magazines, and were even picked to be in the top ten. This gave Joe the incentive to carry on and try to build finer customs.[1]

Joe was interested in cars of all types. He enjoyed auto racing, and sponsored a hard top in 1960. He also sponsored the Coachmen of Campbell car club.[1]

In March of 1960 Joe had recently moved from his shop at 23rd street to a larger and better location at 465 Stockton Avenue in San Jose.[1]

Joe passed away in 1998.

Joe Wilhelm's Cars

Joe Wilhelm's 1939 Nash Coupe

Cars Restyled by Joe Wilhelm

Click here to see cars restyled by Joe Wilhelm at Wilhelm's Custom Shop



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