The Glen and Forey Wall Photo Collection
By 1959 Wall Custom Cars on Firestone Boulevard in South Gate, California had grown a reputation as the World’s Largest Custom Car Dealer. A big demand for custom cars after WWII got Forey and Glen Wall into the custom car industry. Forey could turn a dollar. He liked fancy cars and chasing women. Glen could do anything with cars! In 2016 we sat down with the two brothers to record their incredible story.
- 1 Forey
- 2 Glen
- 3 Forey's First Car
- 4 California
- 5 Fixing Up and Selling Model-T Fords
- 6 Forey's Second Car
- 7 The Long Beach Earthquake
- 8 Borrowed Wheels
- 9 Auto Shop Class
- 10 From Parts Manager to Lube Boy
- 11 The Throttle Throbbers
- 12 Dry Lakes Racing
- 13 Working at the Shipyard
- 14 Sharpshooter
- 15 Lot Boy for Emil Dietrich
- 16 Glen's Top Chop Business
- 17 The Winning Formula
- 18 Moving on to Al Sirrot Used Cars
- 19 Forey Wall Used Cars
- 20 The Proposal
- 21 Wall Custom Cars
- 22 Reuben
- 23 George Barris
- 24 The Baron and Roth
- 25 The World’s Largest Custom Car Dealer
- 26 Work Hard, Play Hard
- 27 Imports
- 28 Impeccable
- 29 Moving to Bellflower
- 30 Glen Wall Used Cars
- 31 Brothers in Arms
- 32 References
Forey Wall was born November 14, 1913, in South Dakota. His mother, Beatrice Johnson, was a Swedish-American. Her parents were born in Sweden, but they immigrated to the US along with 1.3 million other Swedes. Lloyd Wall, Forey’s father, was half English, half Irish.
Forey’s little brother Glen came to the world four years later. He was the third and the youngest of the Wall brothers. At the time, the Wall family lived in Iowa, where their father was running a farm he leased from his parents, who had moved out west to California. Forey, Monte and Glen had three sisters as well, Jean, Violet and Pearl.
Forey's First Car
In 1925 Glen and Forey were living in Minnesota, where their dad ran an ice cream factory. 12 years old Forey worked as a delivery boy for his father, driving around with a Ford Model T panel truck delivering ice cream to restaurants. Forey was working 7 days a week, saving up money for his first set of wheels. In 1927 he had saved up enough money to buy a 1926 Ford Model T touring car. “I paid 25 bucks for that car when I was 14," Forey told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2016. "The guy lived 85 miles north of me, and he drove it down to Minnesota where I lived so he could sell it to me. I had side curtains put on it I remember.”
During the great depression, Beatrice and Lloyd were talked into moving out West to California. The year was 1931. Forey was 18 years old at the time. Glen was 14, and the brothers remember they were told that the Los Angeles river was supposed to be a great big river. They were also told they could reach outside their bedroom window and pick an orange. It wasn’t so, both brothers chuckles.
Fixing Up and Selling Model-T Fords
The Wall-family settled down in Huntington Park, a city in the southeast area of Los Angeles County. Glen had started out with bicycles when the family was living in Minnesota. “When we moved to California I began with Model T Fords. You could buy a good Model T for 5 or 10 bucks. I bought my first one when I was about 14 years old.” “When we came to California you didn’t have to have a driver’s license like you do now,” Forey remembered. Glen used to fix his Model T’s up, “If somebody came along and bought it, you could earn 2-3 bucks. That was pretty good money back then,” Glen told Sondre.
Forey's Second Car
Forey’s second car was a 1930 Chevrolet roadster. “I didn’t like Fords. Glen liked Fords. Not me. I always liked Chevrolets. The car was beautiful. Some guy that owned a mechanic shop in South Gate owned the car. He had it all shaped up, and it had a beautiful two-tone black and green paint job. It was light green with black fenders, and it might have been little bit lowered, but not much.”
The Long Beach Earthquake
All three Wall brothers attended Huntington Park High School. March 10, 1933, the Long Beach Earthquake took place south of downtown Los Angeles. The epicenter was offshore, southeast of Long Beach and damage to buildings was widespread throughout Southern California. 120 schools were destroyed or severely damaged, including Huntington Park, so the brothers were sent to South Gate. They didn’t have time for college “Back in our days nobody could afford to go to College,” Forey recalled.
Before the earthquake, Forey worked for Johnny Dixon in a little garage at Florence Avenue. “We used to get different cars in there to work on, and if the customer didn’t take their cars home at night, we used to borrow them and run all over town with them. We never did say anything, and we never got caught.” The earthquake tore the building down, and Dixon opened up another shop on Slauson Avenue in Los Angeles. “It was a two-car garage. I worked for him there for quite a while,” Forey remembered. “He paid 4 dollars a week. I was just a kid, so 4 dollars a week was OK with me. A friend of the owner came over one day. He was a Swede, and he also had a garage. His name was Walt Nelson, and he said “Forey, what about you come and work for me? I’ll pay you 15 bucks a week! I was thinking oh boy, that’s a lot more than 4 dollars a week, so I went on to work for him on big ol’ trucks. I had never worked on trucks before!” Walt’s shop was located at the corner of Downey and Vernon Avenue in Vernon. Forey lived in South Gate at the time.
Auto Shop Class
Glen took Auto Shop class at school, and he claims that he knew more than the auto shop class teacher did because he had been working on Model T’s, Model A’s and 1932 Fords with V8’s. Their friend Nick Pastor had a 1932 Ford V8 roadster that everyone admired. “At speed shifts sometimes, there was this little thing in the transmission, a pin, that would pop out, and you would lose second gear,” Glen recalled in 2016 “Nick took the roadster to the Ford dealer, and they wanted to pull the transmission out, so I took the top of the transmission off and got the little pin slid back. It took me probably 15 to 20 minutes to fix it. Nick then let me use the car for a whole week after that, and I became the big shot of the high school for a week. The car was so cool. It had two big mufflers on. One on each side.”
From Parts Manager to Lube Boy
In 1934 Forey began working for the DeSoto-Plymouth dealer in Glendale. “I was riding a three-wheel motorcycle picking up cars and parts. I did that for two years until I got run into one time. That put me into hospital for about six weeks. When I got out, I told my boss I wasn’t gonna run that motorcycle anymore. “Well, I’ll put you in the parts department then” he told me. I learned how to do parts working for him. A year later John Shlifer wanted me to come work for him in Huntington Park. He had a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer on Bellegrave and Pacific Blvd. So I quit, and went to work for him as a Parts Manager. I worked there for a year, year and a half, before a friend of mine who worked for Enoch Chevrolet in South Gate, talked me into coming there and work in 1936. While Chrysler parts went alphabetical, Chevrolet went by sheet metal and motor parts, different sections. I didn’t know anything about that, but they told me to come on down and get into it. I worked for Enoch for about four years I guess. I worked as a parts manager for about a year or so until I told the manager that I saw all the money the guys were making out on the lube racks. Saturdays were real busy. Two lube racks, and each guy working there would make about 50 bucks a week. I thought boy I need to figure out a way to get a job out there, and get rid of this parts deal, cause I was only making about 100 a month in there. I asked the manager one day, how about letting me have a job at the lube rack? “Forey” he said. “When somebody quits, I’ll let you have the job.” It went a couple of months, and nobody quit. Finally somebody quit, and I got the job. First week I earned 50 bucks. From then one I was making 50, 60 or 70 bucks a week. I had a new 1937 Chevy coupe then. I didn’t know anything about customizing back then, so I didn’t do anything to the car”
The Throttle Throbbers
Glen and Forey had friends that were members of 100 mph clubs. The brothers didn’t have anything that went that fast, so they started their own club, the Throttle Throbbers, around 1935-1936. “We were just a bunch of kids. Somewhere between 5 and 10 members,” Forey recalled. “Any kid that had a car and could keep it clean got into the club.”
Dry Lakes Racing
Around 1938 Forey and Nick Pastor bought a 1928 Ford Model A roadster together for 25 dollars. “We started messing around with it, and found out that it had a Winfield head, a Winfield downdraft carburetor, a camshaft and everything,” Forey remembered. “It also had an overdrive transmission,” Glen added. Glen wanted to try the car at the dry lakes, so he took it up to Muroc with Floyd “Scavidi” Page in 1938. Scavidi, who was also a member of the Throttle Throbbers, drove the car on Muroc May 15, 1938. “He drove 92.7 mph and broke the timing gears going through the trap.” Forey believes Scavidi would have gone 100 something if the timing gears hadn’t broke!
Working at the Shipyard
While Forey was working for Enoch Chevrolet, a couple of friends went to work for a Studebaker dealer in Hollywood. "They finally talked me into come down and work with them. I went down and talked to the boss. He gave me a pretty good deal. So I quit my other job and went down there to work. I worked there until the War started in 1941. Then I went to work in the shipyard at Terminal Island for four years.” Forey became a leadman, running machines that cut steel. “We cut made everything. Glen worked at the shipyard in Terminal Island too before he went into the Service. Glen riveted big plates with big hot rivets."
Glen went into the service in 1943. He was stationed in Texas where he went through 17 weeks of training. “13 weeks to become a sharpshooter and a rifleman. Then they put me in the motor pool. was supposed to go to officer candidates school, but about that time the war was over. It was 200 guys that took the test. But only 19 passed. I was one of them, and I was suppose to go to Officer Candidates school in Fort Wayne, Georgia. We heard over the radio that the war was over, so one guy ended up going. He made a career in the Army. The rest of us backed out. The only reason I wanted to go was the money.”
Lot Boy for Emil Dietrich
When Glen returned from the Army, he started working at a car lot. “I lived in Whittier back then. Around 1944 - 1945 I went to work for Emil Dietrich as a lot boy, dusting off cars and such. There were two guys that had these chopped 1939 Ford convertibles with Carson Tops on. They bought the cars new. One of them was named Art Ironfield, the other guy I can’t remember. Nick Pastor and Emil were partners. Nick was a pilot in the Air Force. Nick had to go into the service, and while he was gone, Emil sells me Art’s 1939 Ford for 850 dollars. I remember it had chromed trim on the sides. Emil ran the lot while Nick was away. They were asking 895 for the car, so when Nick came to work in a couple of days he got mader as hell at Emil for selling me that car 45 dollars cheaper then they were asking for it.” Nick and Emil’s lot was originally a real estate office that they rented from a guy called Lew Worley. They sold mostly plain cars. Emil was into hot rods, and he used to race in the weekends.
Glen's Top Chop Business
“It was the 1939 Ford that got me started customizing cars,” Glen recalled. “Everyone wanted to buy it from me. It was really popular, and I didn’t have it that long before I sold it off.” After that Glen started buying mainly 1939 Ford convertibles that he customized to sell and earn a profit on. “I liked the 1939 Fords, and they were very popular cars with the young guys. I cut the posts using a saw. I always took 2 inches out of the top. My chops were all the same. I welded the posts together with welding rods, laying a small bead as I could around the posts. Then I would take it down to a guy that would lead in the posts. He would also grind it down and put primer on. I always finished it off with a Carson Top. Sometimes we would take the cars to Carson Top Shop before we painted them. Other times after they were painted. Glen Houser usually made a top for me in a day. A day and a half at the most. A lot of the guys had to wait for a week, up to 10 days. I got them real quick. Glen put other cars aside to do mine. Glen was a young guy, and I knew that he liked to take a drink once in a while, so I often brought him a bottle of Whiskey. He was a real nice guy, and him and I got along real good,” Glen remembered.
The Winning Formula
Glen painted the cars at Emil’s lot. “Black was a good seller!” He never channeled any of his customs. “I didn’t think that was a good idea. I sunk the license plates in on some of them, but not on all. I used to cut it out half an inch smaller then it was suppose to be with a saw. Then I split the corners, and bent in the sheet. The lead guy would lead in the corners for me. I also opened up the rumble seat, and put a backing plate in there with a lamp in, so it could lighten up the license plate.” Other modifications included installing fenderskirts and hubcaps, dual exhaust, and two Appleton spotlights. “Some of the cars I would also remove the running boards on and install chromed or painted panels on. The chrome panels you could buy. We also bought a lot of those Buick chrome emblems for the skirts. I used to sell a chopped car for 1195 or 1295. The Carson Top was 125.” Glen would often dye the seats and door panels with shoe dye from Nulife shoe dye company in Los Angeles. Glen bought, restyled and sold cars for about 3 years. He worked on all kinds of cars from 1932 to 1946. He can’t remember how many he did, but he would guess around 20 - 25. “But that’s a conservative number,” Glen chuckled.
Moving on to Al Sirrot Used Cars
Glenn worked for Emil for about 8 years. “I used to polish cars with an electric buffer. Emil owned and ran the lot after the War. It was his lot, even though it said Nick Pastor.” Glen believes Emil had more money than Nick. After that, he went on to work for a car lot owned by Al Sirrot. “Al was a big used car dealer. I was a Service manager and mechanic. I used to get all the complaints, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I got too stressed out, and I told him I had to quit.”
Forey Wall Used Cars
In 1946 Forey opened up his first used car lot, Forey Wall Used Cars, at 10792 Long Beach Boulevard in Lynwood. “At the time I was living in South Gate. I had a few custom cars for sale in the lot, but not many,” Forey told Sondre. Al Sulminoff was Forey’s partner at the lot. Al and Forey hung out together and liked to have a good time. In 1948 they went to Newport Beach to buy a boat. Forey had $8,000 cash in his pocket. They walked into the Chris-Craft Boat store and were basically ignored. Forey looked across the street after he was frustrated because nobody would give them any service, and he saw Garwood boats across the street. "Sully" and Forey walked across the street, picked out a 16 foot Garwood and trailer, paid cash and drove off with their new boat. After that, Forey and Al had plenty of young ladies that wanted to ride their boat.
Glen bought his first house in Whittier, California October 1st, 1950. “A brand new track house. The same month I went to Detroit and picked up a brand new Cadillac.” In 1954 Forey expanded his business, and he rented a bigger lot at 3900 E. Firestone Boulevard in South Gate. He kept the Lynwood lot, but he rented it out to a friend. At the time Glen had a pretty good job managing Ben Katzman’s used car dealership. During Christmas of 1954 Forey asked Glen if he wanted to go into business with him. Glen replied “You want to go into business with me? Yeah, I just rented a lot on Firestone. A whole block,” Forey replied.
Wall Custom Cars
January 1, 1955 Glen and Forey went into business together. They had seen an opportunity in the market, and decided to form “Wall Custom Cars,” a dealership specialized in selling and buying custom cars. Mike McCarthy, a Lincoln and Mercury dealer had been on the lot before Glen and Forey. They sold nothing, so they had to move.
One of the cars Glen had when they started the lot was a 1950 Mercury club coupe with a Cadillac engine. Glen had bought the Merc from Ben Katzman. Ben didn’t want to take the car as a trade-in, so he sold it to Glen for 500 bucks. They started out small, but it went overboard the first month. “The first month we were in business we sold 40 cars,” Forey and Glen recalled. When other dealers got hot rods and custom cars in on trades, they didn’t know what to do with them, so they would call Glen and Forey. “We would buy them cheap, as they wanted to get rid of them. We would sell them and make pretty good money. 500 or 600 dollars,” according to Forey.
A Mexican kid named Reuben Vallodlid worked with Glen and Forey at the lot. Reuben, who had worked for Forey before, lowered the cars, while Glen was doing the mechanical work. Reuben and Glen were working together, while Forey took care of the office. “A guy used to come around selling lowering blocks, and we used to buy a case of lowering blocks. 2 inch, 3 inch and 4 inch. We also bought cases of hubcaps. About a dozen at the time,” Glen remembered. They used to take the hubcaps off the cars at nights so kids wouldn’t steal them. The good cars they were afraid off they kept in the showroom.
The salesmen that worked for Glen and Forey got a 100 dollar bonus when they had sold 40 cars. “We used to have 80 cars at the lot. 1949 - 1950 Oldsmobiles were good sellers. Slant backs and holiday coupes. They were fast and kids loved them. We used to lower and nose them. We took a lot of cars to paint shops. Vern and Harry had a shop in Lynwood, and they did the paint and metal work on most of our cars. Vern was the metal man, and Harry was the painter. It was a small place and they did paint jobs for 50 bucks. They were good. They did a good job,” Forey recalled. The first year Glen and Forey were in business, Glen also went to Barris Kustoms once to have his 1950 Cadillac restyled. He took it to George Barris, telling him that he wanted to have 1952 taillights installed. “The 1952 Cadillac had a backup light right below the taillight. I went down there one week, and George told me the car would be ready next week. I returned after a week but my car was not around, so I asked George’s brother, where’s my car? Oh, my brother is driving it he said. I got my car back the next day, and George would not get any more work from me.” Glen was not happy due to the fact that George had the car for over a week and never touched the taillights, meanw,hile he was driving it around town.
The Baron and Roth
As pinstriping became an attraction in every used-car dealership on Firestone Boulevard, Glen and Forey began offering pinstriping as a regular option. The Baron and Roth used to pinstripe cars on the lot. According to Forey, the Baron was the best. “He used to work for Ford Motor Company, striping the wooden spokes on Fords. He came with a bottle of whiskey, and by the end of the day the whole bottle was gone. He drank like a fish! They used to do our pinstriping, and they never paid any rent or anything to pinstripe on our lot. We let them do it for free, because on Saturday all the kids would come on over and see them do it. They also pinstriped and flamed cars that kids had bought from us. Sometime I would call them in the week, and they would stop by to do our jobs. They came in Saturday mornings, and striped all day. It was a good deal for both of us!”
The World’s Largest Custom Car Dealer
By 1959 Forey and Glen advertised their lot as the “World’s Largest Custom Car Dealer.” According to an ad they ran in Motor Trend magazine, they were paying top prices for custom cars. By then other dealers had seen what the Wall brothers were doing, selling all those custom cars, so they had started doing the same thing.
Work Hard, Play Hard
“All of the cars on the lot were ours, so we took out the ones we wanted and used them before selling them off. In 1959 I told Glen I’m gonna go down and buy us each a new Cadillac. I bought a black one and a silver one. I knew Glen always liked black, so I let him have the black one. Glen put Eldorado sidetrim on his. People thought he was nuts for drilling all the holes in the body of the Cadillac.” Glen also dressed his Cadillac up with dual Appleton spotlights and Continental Kit. “I had a friend who worked at a continental kit place, and he gave me a kit for a Cadillac and a 1955 Thunderbird that I bought new.”
Glen and Forey's buddy Nick Pastor ran a new car dealership named “Nick Pastor Imports” on Firestone Blvd. in South Gate. Forey stopped by one day in 1963 and saw to his surprise that all of the cars were gone. “I was thinking where the hell did Nick go? As it turned out he was financing his cars through Bank of America, selling the papers to Crocker National Bank. He didn’t pay off Bank of America, and he got in trouble. They were going to put him jail. I knew the manager at Bank of America pretty good, so he said “Forey if you take the lot over, we’ll give you everything, and we wouldn’t put him in jail.” I said, well, I might do that. They gave me all the parts, all the shop equipment and everything for free. So I thought Hell, I can’t lose. I took it, and then we had all foreign cars like MGs, Austin Healey’s, Peugeot and Volkswagen, Simca and a whole bunch of different ones. I kept that lot for a couple of years until I finally decided that hell I’m not making enough money, I’m gonna get out of this new car business. In 1965 I told one of the guys at the shop, hey why don’t you get a bunch of guys together, form a corporation, and buy me out? Within a couple of weeks, he did. They didn’t have enough money to pay me, so they owed me 5000 dollars. I told him to pay me 500 dollars a month. I wouldn’t charge you any interest, but if you don’t pay me on time I’m gonna charge 7% interest. They paid me perfectly, and never lost a payment.”
Keith Christensen had the pleasure of meeting Glen and Forey in 1963. "At that time I owned Gene's Tire and Gene's Mufflers," Keith told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2019, "so it fit in well as a supply of what they added to the car." Keith remembers that everything they did, they had to do perfectly, as Glen and Forey were very particular. "I met Glen when he brought in a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air and ordered the complete package of wheels, tires, and exhaust. On the exhaust, it was long, quiet glaspak mufflers and a set of our now famous Bellflower Chrome tips. When Glen, on that first meeting with me, introduced himself, I was taken aback by the friendly, congeniality and manners he put forth. Added to that and always after that, I would see him and he would always be dressed in very modest, best of clothes. The best word is "Impeccable." And that was consistent with both of them. Quite a departure from the average dealers we were doing business with. Not criticizing the other dealers, but they would send lot boys, dressed in all modes and it really made Glenn and Forey stand out."
Moving to Bellflower
“After 11 years in business, we had to move because we lost our lease in 1966,” Glen told Sondre. Glen and Forey moved their business to 9665 Alondra Boulevard in Bellflower. At the time Forey was also in the construction business, so he built a 100-foot building where they could work on cars. The building also housed offices and bathrooms. As Forey was busy in the construction business, Glen took over the used car dealership. The location was not as good as the location in South Gate, and the business never did as well as it used to.
Keith Christensen remembers well when Glen and Forey moved to Bellflower, "with it came a group of cars that were above and beyond the normal run of the mill, mass-production cars. They truly were specialists in giving a car identity, as then we didn't have the generic cars coming from Detroit like we do now. They chose the top of the line cars with extras offered back then. No plain Jane models. All the cars gave them the base to work from, as cars of that day offered things like Vinyl seat covers, AM radios, Blackwall tires made of nylon cord, etc. This gave Glen and Forey a decided advantage, which was a wise judgment on their part. In fact, I saw my first 45 rpm record player in one of the cars they brought to my shop." According to Keith Glen and Forey always sold their cars at a premium price, "as there was not, what is called Kelly Blue Book extras for the many add-ons they bought from me. The cars always had a great eye-candy appearance and they used the best detailer in our area of Bellflower. The cars were show perfect. They bought only the top of the line rims tires and exhaust from me."
Keith remembers asking Glenn about their motive in moving the lot from South Gate to Bellflower, "and he said they were trying to reach a whole new audience and the Bellflower area of California had a large group of automotive specialty shops, like Larry Watson the painter and Bill's Body Shop, as well as pinstripers and body shops. In a nut, Glenn stated, they got a new audience and exposure to a group of specialists in customizing cars. He was totally right, as their business prospered and from that, I attained the best relationships of both of them."
Glen Wall Used Cars
In 1966 Forey couldn’t borrow more money to build more houses, so he had to give up the construction business. He sold out to his partner, and went back to the car business. “I rented a lot down at Lakewood Blvd., on the other side of Artesia. I ran that for a few months before I moved up with Glen.” At the time Glen had run the custom car business on his own for 5 years. He sold the lot to Forey, and went on to open up Glen Wall Used Cars on Lakewood and Compton Boulevard. Glen ran the new lot for about 14 years before he in 1982 gave it to Forey and moved up north to Pleasanton, California with his wife Freida. Glen left the car business and went to work for his son in law at Air Factors. His son in law owned the business and they manufactured air distribution systems for commercial buildings. 85 years old he retired. Forey was in the car business for 50 years and kept selling used cars.
Brothers in Arms
In 2016 Glen moved down to Downey to live with his brother. At the time Glen was 99 years old. Forey was 102. The two brothers were in a good health, and they still maintained their home, drove around, went shopping, and banking on their own. Forey was still making a buck selling used cars, while Glen still worked on them. A couple of years before Glen moved in with his brother, he drove down to Downey and redid the electrical on a 1956 Chevrolet ½ ton long bed truck.
October 22, 2018 the world woke up to the sad news that Glen had passed away, 101 years old. Living in an assisted living facility, the family reported that Forey was doing ok, turning 105 years old on November 14th! A year later, Forey passed away peacefully on the day of his 106th birthday.
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