Ron Dunn's 1950 Ford

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An under construction photo of the Ford taken outside Huth's Muffler Co. Photo from Hop Up February 1952.
Ron's Ford rolling on wire wheels.
The Monte Carlo as it looked after the 1957 makeover. Photo By Robert Lee Behme[1]
June 19, 1957, Eric Rickman shot the second version of the Dunn Ford for a featured story in Hot Rod Magazine. The story appeared almost a year later, in Hot Rod Magazine May 1958. This photo is taken at the Brand Castle. Photo by Eric Rickman, courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine.
The second iteration of the Monte Carlo was nominated as one of "The 10 Best Customs" in Custom Cars January 1958.
The car as it appeared in Motor Life July 1958
The Monte Carlo as it sat when Steve Frisbie bought it.[2]
The Monte Carlo as it sat in May 2009.
The Monte Carlo at the Customs Then and Now exhibit at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show. Photo by Sondre Kvipt.
The restored version of the Monte Carlo made it's debut at the 66th annual Grand National Roadster Show in January of 2015. Photo courtesy of Charles LaGreca.

1950 Ford Coupe restyled by Valley Custom Shop for Ron Dunn of Glendale, California.

A Low and Practical Custom

Ron purchased the car brand new in late 1950. He had always wanted a custom car that was low but at the same time practical. Many custom cars had problems entering the slightest driveways and chopped tops, on the other hand, had little or no visibility at all. Around 1951/1952, Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen of Valley Custom began to transform the stock two door 1950 Ford into a real eye catcher.[3]

Sectioned 5 Inches

The body was Sectioned 5 inches and the top was left un-chopped, maintaining great visibility through the windshield. To gain even more headroom, the seats were lowered three inches. The wheel cut-outs had a big impact on the design as well. The small amount of the fenders above the opening gave the car look lower by an optical illusion. As Dean Batchelor expressed himself in Hop Up February 1953; "A wheel is not ugly, why cover it up?"


The chrome trim pieces along the side were re-mounted to help protect the body panels from careless people in parking lots and they gave the car a longer appearance. The hood ornament was removed, but a 1951 Ford chrome strip was added in order to break up the expanse of metal. The headlights were frenched and a new custom grille was made. The upper bar was from a 1951 Ford and the center bar was hand-formed and chromed to match the stock components around the edges. The door handles were removed and the doors were operated by small push buttons hidden in the chrome strips. Inside, the buttons were placed in the instrument panel; one on the passenger side and two on the driver side so the driver could open both doors from his position. The deck lid hinges were removed and new ones were installed inside the trunk, similar to the 1951 Fords. All chrome on the deck lid was removed in order to achieve a cleaner appearance. The rear bumper was replaced by a narrowed 1952 Ford unit featuring a 1946 Ford license plate guards that were custom made with sheet metal and integrated 1951 Ford parking lights. The taillights were designed to keep the units as prominent as possible. The frames were hand formed from half-inch round rods that were welded to the body. The chromed inset panels were cut to shape and mounted in place. The lenses consisted of 1952 DeSoto taillights and 1951 Ford parking lights. Parking light rims from the same model were used to route the exhaust pipes through the panel as well.


The car was lowered in the rear by adding 2 1/2" lowering blocks. The front was brought down by adding 2 1/2 blocks under the inner end of the upper A-frame and a non-swinging shackle of the same length between the outer end of the lower A-frame and spindles. The lost of weight due to the section job raised the car up to its stock ground clearance after the lowering.

Twin Pipes, Metallic Bronze and a Floyd Tipton Interior

Huth's Muffler Co installed the mufflers and the twin pipes. The engine was kept stock. Valley Custom Shop mixed a metallic bronze color especially for this car. After painting it, the car was brought to Floyd Tipton who stitched a completely new interior for it. The headliner and rug floormat were new. It was upholstered in two-tone tan and beige. All the window frames were chromed. Dual spotlights were added to give the appearance of a lower roofline.[4]

The Monte Carlo

The build took three months to complete and cost Ron $1500. The restyled version of the car became known as The "Monte Carlo".[3]

1952 Los Angeles Motorama Debut

After being completed, the car was first shown at the 1952 Los Angeles Autorama where it won First in Class.

Best Custom at the 1953 National Roadster Show

February 17-22, 1953 the Monte Carlo was exhibited at the 4th annual National Roadster Show in Oakland. The car won best custom trophy at the show.[5]

Custom Car of the Year

In 1953 Ron's car was also chosen as "Custom Car of the Year" by the readers of Motor Life Magazine.[6]

Traffic Accident and Makeover

Ron planned to drive the car until it collapsed, but fate had other things in mind as the car was involved in a traffic accident in 1957. After the accident, Ron felt it was time to part company with his car and build a new kustom instead. Not being able to find a new car that looked so personal and modern as his sectioned Ford and since the trade in price was so low, Ron decided to have Valley Custom Shop do a makeover on his old Ford. Ron had definite ideas with his ride and discussed these with the boys at Valley Custom before they began to restyle it again. The rear bumper was removed and replaced with two chromed cold-rolled nerf bars. The gravel shield was cut away and the rear body line below the deck lid was carried under using 18-gauge sheet metal to hide the running gear. The taillight openings were left alone but Neil widened the leading edges and made new lenses consisting of 1955 Mercury and 1956 Mercury components. These were protected by thin pencil-line nerf bars. A custom-made license plate bracket was made and installed on the deck lid as well. In the front, the hood was reshaped to make a lower and longer look for the car. A 1954 Ford nose was fit on the hood and the leading edge was stretched four inches toward the grille. The headlights were extended five inches with 18-inch gauge sheet and fit with 1955 Lincoln chrome liners to create a more modern look. The front bumper and gravel shield were removed. The front body line received the same treatment as the rear and the nerf bars were built in the same design as those in the rear. The oval grille contour was made by forming light-weight tubing. The grille mesh was cut to fit the opening and it was attached by hidden hinge tabs to give it a floating appearance. Parking lights from a 1956 Chevrolet Truck were used on both sides of the grille and the dual spotlights were removed.[3]

Eric Rickman Photoshoot

June 19, 1957, Eric Rickman shot the second version of the Dunn Ford for a featured story in Hot Rod Magazine. The story appeared almost a year later, in Hot Rod Magazine May 1958.[7]

Custom Cars 10 Best Customs

The second iteration of Ron's Ford was nominated as one of "The 10 Best Customs" in the January 1958 issue of Custom Cars Magazine.[8]

Put in Storage

A few years after the 1957 makeover, the car was put into storage. In 1970, the car was passed on to Ron's nephew, Gary Rand. The car remained in Gary's possession for the next 35 years, but it was slowly deteriorating.

Sold to Steve Frisbie

In 2005, after seeing the great restoration job that Steve’s Auto Restoration did on Ralph Jilek's 1940 Ford, Gary contacted Steve Frisbie of Steve’s Auto Restoration in an effort to find a fitting home for his uncle's pride and joy. Steve jumped at the opportunity to own the historic custom and bought the car for himself. Steve has planned to restore the car back to its former glory but has not yet decided what version of the car he will bring back.[2]

Back Into the Spotlight

In January 2011, The Monte Carlo was shown at the Customs Then and Now gathering at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California.[9]

Restored Debut

In January of 2015 the restored version of the Monte Carlo made its debut at the 66th annual Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California.[9]

Magazine Features

Hop Up February 1952
Hot Rod Magazine January 1953
Hop Up February 1953
Rods and Customs May 1953
Hop Up July 1953
Trend Book 109 Custom Cars 1954 Annual
Trend Book 116 Custom Cars 1955 Annual
Trend Book 143 Restyle Your Car
Rod & Custom October 1957
Auto Craftsman December 1957
Rod Builder Annual 1957
Custom Cars January 1958
Hot Rod Magazine May 1958
Custom Cars August 1958
Hot Rod Magazine October 1958
Rod & Custom May 2006
Kustoms Illustrated 8



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