The Howard Gribble Photo Collection

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Howard Gribble has been into custom cars since he was ten or eleven years old. Back then, he decided that one day, he was gonna have a car with shaved door handles. "It just seemed like such a bold thing to do," Howard told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. Photo by Sondre Kvipt - Kustomrama.
Dave Prey's 1963 Chevrolet Impala of Inglewood, California. Dave was the little brother of legendary pinstriper and custom painter Walt Prey, and his Impala was known and shown as the Cherry Heering. This photo was developed in April of 1968, and it shows the car as it appeared after Walt and Dave Kent had given it a custom paint job. Photo by Howard Gribble.
A later version of the Cherry Heering as it appeared after Walt had given it a vail paint job. Dave's father, Ralph, owned this version, and the photo was developed in April of 1969. Photo from The Howard Gribble Collection.
According to Billy Cooke, Dave's childhood friend, the Prey's was a real car family. Cooke recalled that the Cherry Heering was their mother Muriel's daily driver. He also recalled that Ralph had a cool Falcon and an even cooler 1949 Ford Coupe that was hopped up with a Mercury flathead and 3-2s. Photo from The Howard Gribble Collection.
A photo Walt Prey's 1955 Chevrolet custom that Howard Gribble snapped in the early 1970s. Named "Peaches and Cream," Walt's Chevrolet stands out for its unique design and history. Painted by Walt Prey and Don Heckman in the 1970s, it featured signature seaweed style flames and detailed pinstriping as a tribute to the custom painters of the 1950s. Photo by Howard Gribble.
With its vibrant flames and meticulous pinstriping, Walt's Chevrolet is a striking representation of 1970s Low Rider era aesthetics. Although the car didn't run hydraulic lifts, there has been some debate over its exact categorization — whether it's a lowrider, semi-custom, or something else — it does bear features characteristic of the era, including Cragar SS wheels and the iconic flames. Photo by Howard Gribble.
Andrew "Drew" Jackson's 1959 Chevrolet Impala of Long Beach, California. Howard believes this photo was taken in the early 1970s, at the time the car was shown as "Five Line"; "The car was redone several times and I don't know which iteration this is. Lowrider style but with many mild custom modifications. A good looking show car," Howard told Kustomrama. "Five Line" featured paint, interior, bodywork and lifts by Drew. Photo by Howard Gribble.
Larry Vaughn's 1966 Pontiac Bonneville at an indoor car show in the late 1960s or early 1970s. "Larry was an early member of the Imperials car club, then, as now, one of the most prestigious lowrider groups. The Imperials recently celebrated 50 years as a club and Larry, his wife and two sons came from their home in Virginia to attend the banquet honoring the 50th anniversary of the club. Larry Vaughn Sr. currently drives a 2014 Chevy Impala on air bags and has recently acquired a '70s Buick Riviera "boat tail" that has custom paint and hydraulic lifts. Tradition runs deep for some of the old timers." Photo by Howard Gribble.
John "Lil John" Giovanni Bertoldi's 1963 Chevrolet Impala. Lil John's Impala was named "Lavender Illusion". The photo has a nice sharp focus, but it is poorly cropped. According to Howard, the finishers back then sometimes were a little sloppy, and they could accidentally cut parts off your photo. Taken in the late 1960s, the car featured a striking lavender paint job by Bob Stafford, a local guy from South Bay; "I never met him, but Roger Squires knew him very well. It is a very fine image with all the late 1960s car show bell and whistles for the car and display. That's why I like it." The "Lavender Illusion" featured lifts by Big Al, and a diamond pleat interior by S & S. Photo by Howard Gribble.
Some of Howard's favorite photos were not taken by himself, like this snapshot of Jim Boyd's 1963 Ford from the camera of Mike Smith. Mike owned and operated a custom wheels and accessories shop called Mr. M's in Gardena, California in the mid to late 1960s. " The car belonged to Jim Boyd, who was two years ahead of me in high school (though I never knew or heard of him then, that I can remember). It was the first car I ever saw that was lifted, though at the time (1965) it was front only and still painted factory red. Later the tail light were deeply tunneled and 1953 Studebaker gravel pans added under the bumpers, along with extended rocker panels to make it look even lower. Then he had Larry Watson spray it as shown in the pics and had the interior done in sculpted rolls and pleats. It also had Buick wire wheels and hydraulics added to the rear. It made a very brief appearance in some documentary film about the youth culture of the day. And I saw it once more at the 1965 Long Beach show in fall of that year. So why are these rather poor photos among my favorites? Well simply because they are the only ones (beside a couple in Larry Watson's collection) that I've seen. I never photographed the car and it never appeared in print, at least not that I'm aware of. It was a great custom for the time and at the very top of my list of cars I'd like to see rediscovered. Or at least dome more pics come to light. Would be great if someone came forward with more info. " Photo by Mike Smith, from the Howard Gribble collection.
An interior shot of Jim Boyd's 1963 Ford. This photo was also taken by Mike Smith. Photo by Mike Smith, from the Howard Gribble collection.
The color Polaroid shot of Howard Gribble's 1967 Chevrolet Impala was made in the summer of 1967 at the Torrance Airport. Howard had just returned from his first ever airplane ride. Within the next month or two Carl Darling would be applying the metal flake fuchsia paint job on the car. Photo by Howard Gribble, from the Howard Gribble collection.
A polaroid photo of Howard Gribble's 1967 Chevrolet Impala. This photo was taken when it was brand new, and it still had the factory paint. Red Pierce had already installed hydraulic lifts on it, and Howard had fit it with deep dished chrome wheels. The flat baldie hub caps had not been installed yet, so Howard believes it had to be taken about June 1967. I'll let Howard take over from here: "I like the low angle detail shot of the front wheel, it gives a feel for what the whole lowrider look was all about. This Polaroid was the first camera I owned. Film was expensive and I was very careful to make each shot count. I think the camera cost $12 or $15, something like that. But it had a surprisingly sharp lens. Focus and exposure control was crude and manual. Yet the results were pretty good and the prints have not faded or changed colors like a lot of the 35mm prints from back in the day." Photo by Howard Gribble, from the Howard Gribble collection.
A heavily flaked and customized Chevy 2 at an indoor car show. The car belongs to a member of the Showmasters of Van Nuys car club. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.
A custom painted GMC Lowrider Pick Up at a So Cal indoor car show in the 1970s featuring Cragars, narrow whites and shag carpets in the bed. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.
A 1963 Pontiac Catalina at an So Cal indoor car show in the 1970s. Pontiacs were popular to "fix up" according to Howard, though most people preferred the cleaner Grand Prix model. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection
The King Orchid at an indoor car show. The King Orchid was a 1969 Chevrolet Impala owned by Imperials car club member Art Valadez. Art was the brother of Jesse Valadez, who owned the Gypsy Rose Impala. Both the King Orchid and the Gypsy Rose were painted by Walt Prey. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.
Another photo of the King Orchid at the same indoor show. Photo from the Howard Gribble collection .
Another 1970s indoor show photo from the archive of Howard. Anyone recognize the car or show? Photo from the Howard Gribble collection
Another so-far unpublished photo from the Howard Gribble collection. This photo from the 1970s shows an Impala at an indoor show. According to Howard the trophies were LARGE back then. "In fact every car got a "participation" trophy for just entering. And these participation awards could be 2 feet or more tall." Photo from the Howard Gribble collection
This photo, showing a 1966 Chevrolet Impala at one of the R.G. Canning car shows in Long Beach or at the LA Convention Center was taken by Howard in the 1970s. The car, belonging to a member of the Imperials car club features a tiny welded chain steering wheel, and a wild paint job by an unknown artist.Photo from the Howard Gribble collection.
A photo of Bill Burke's P-51 Belly Tank. Known as the first Belly Tank Streamliner racer, Bill was racing on the dry lakes long before the war started. While stationed in the South Pacific during WWII he saw potential in using a Belly Tank as the body for a dry lakes car. Shortly after returning home from the war he built his first Belly Tank Streamliner. In 1946 he raced his brand new car. Burke was the first to run a belly tank in the "Streamliner" class and ran at both El Mirage and Harper Dry Lake. The first Bill Burke streamliner used a small 165-gallon steel wing tank from a P-51 Mustang. The car was a front engine design, and a bicycle seat was welded to the torque tube for driving. Photo courtesy of Howard Gribble.

Kustomrama Photo Archive

Howard Gribble has been into custom cars since he was ten or eleven years old. Back then, he decided that one day, he was gonna have a car with shaved door handles. "It just seemed like such a bold thing to do," Howard told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. In the 1960s, he buys a Polaroid camera and starts taking pictures. This sparked another interest, and within a few years, he decided to become a photojournalist. Money he used to spend on cars was now spent on camera housings and lenses. Howard is a quiet, kind, and humble person. He is very passionate and enthusiastic, but he doesn't take up much space in a room. Howard never pursued a career as a photojournalist, and for almost four decades, his wonderful photos were only seen by a handful of people. That was until he discovered the Internet and Flickr. Around the same time, as Justin Bieber started using YouTube to spread his music, Howard began sharing his photo treasures on Flickr. Both became instant hits and have since then become well-known around the world.

Howard was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, but moved with his family to the South Bay area at age 8. While in junior high school, Howard started to notice customized cars in the area featuring scallop paint jobs, pinstriping and flames. He 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, Howard got his first car, a 1950 Ford sedan that he wanted to give a "George Barris" style, but due to a limited budget, the project never really took off. In 1965, Howard bought a 1961 Ford Starliner that he and his friend Carl Darling turned into a customized boulevard cruiser. After the Starliner followed a range of nice custom cars with a lowrider touch.

In the mid 1960s, Howard purchased a Polaroid camera to take photos of his different interests. He upgraded to a 35 mm camera and started attending Southern California car shows on a regular basis. Since no magazines were covering the Lowriders or the custom car scene, Howard took his camera to the shows and photographed the cars for his enjoyment.[1]

In 2006 Howard signed up for a Flickr account to share his photos with the world. He started uploading photos of his interests, including custom cars and lowriders. So far, millions of people worldwide have seen Howard's amazing and continuously growing collection of photos. Howard has contributed some good-looking photos and stories to Kustomrama over the last few years, and now we are expanding the cooperation with this gallery featuring some selected photos from Howard's collection. Some have been published before, and some are making their debut here.



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