Five Fine Customs – Part 1 (The ABC’s of Custom How; Bob Gurr, 1954)


Hi Gang…

There’s no greater thrill than to “connect the dots” and track down lost cars, lost history, and lost stories.  Today’s article is no exception.

One of the rarest books published in the ’50s on how to design, build and/or customize your car was written by none other than our good friend Bob Gurr.  This was a book called The ABC’s of Custom How and it was published in 1954 – the second of three books on designing and/or building your own car that he wrote for Dan Post and Post Publications of Arcadia, California.  It is the rarest book of the three published that you can find today.

While the majority of the books is dedicated to showing how you can design and customize your car, what’s intriguing is the last section of his book – over 100 pages into this tome.  This final section is called “Five Fine Customs” and features cars that Gurr thought represented the best of what custom cars had to offer up thru 1954.  Let’s see what Gurr had to say in his introduction of the final section of his book.

Five Fine Customs:
The ABC’s of Custom How (1954)
Bob Gurr

Ever since fuel for personal transportation switched from hay to gasoline custom cars have been developed by private automobilists.  Each becomes a personal reflection of the individuality of the owner or builder.  There is no question that custom design contributes to production design, since countless styling ideas have emerged from the assembly line after first appearing in the designs of customs.

Among the unique styling jobs of modern times some have been unfortunate in their finished form.  Others have been socially acceptable versions of the custom car.  But only a few have received unanimous acclaim wherever they have been seen.

Various design and construction avenues have been pursued to lead to these top results.  One car may express special thought in line and shape, another may show particular care in execution of proportion.  But a basic “something” more enduring than custom treatment for custom’s sake is present in all.

On the following pages appear five typical restyling interpretations, built, or ordered, by private enthusiasts.  Each, in the opinions of the writers, is deemed to be an outstanding ambassador for its particular custom type.

Let’s Look At Gurr’s Five Customs:

The first three cars he reviewed were custom cars.  The first was built by the Barris brothers; the second was owned by Jack Stewart and built by Valley Customs, and was called the “Polynesian.”  The third was also built by the Valley Custom Shop for Ron Dunn.  The final two cars Gurr identifies are both Sport Custom cars – built by Coachcraft of Los Angeles.  These are the Coachcraft Special and a car built for Peter Stengel – the 1941 Mercury Coupe de Ville – also called the 1941 Mercury Sedanca de Ville.

Here are each of these five cars illustrated by Gurr in his book:


In subsequent stories here at Sport Custom, we’ll feature the two Sport Custom stories – as they appeared in The ABC’s of Custom How, as well as Gurr’s original illustrations of each of these cars.

And as always…

Yours For Longer Hoods…


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