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Custom Cars 2009 Annual by Justin Kudolla

Custom Cars 2009 Annual by Justin Kudolla
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A Trends Book Publication

Book Review by Richard Parks, Photographic Consultant Roger Rohrdanz


Customs Cars 2009 Annual is a new publication from Trend Books. The publisher is Justin Kudolla and he copyrighted Trend Books and Custom Cars book name after the legal rights to it had become available. As far as I can tell Trend Books was not related to Trend magazine, published by the Petersen Publishing Company (known as PPC in the business world). Trend Books was a viable publishing company in the 1950’s, but the history is murky after that. Justin Kudolla lives and publishes the Customs Cars 2009 Annual as a paperback book under the Trend Books name and copyrighted this old company in 2008. The 2009 paperback book is his first issue. Kudolla has tried to emulate the style of the 1950’s in his new paperback. Customs Cars 2009 Annual is 6 ½ inches wide and 9 ½ inches in height and has 128 pages. The front and back cover has a highly polished, photographic sheen to it and is very eye-catching. The pages are glued in and not stapled or cloth bound. The pages within the book are not waxed and so the photographs are better than a newspaper version, but not as clear as they would with a photographic quality paper. The photographs, however, are still sharp and clear and I did not have any problem with viewing the pictures. The only color plates are on the inside and outside front and back covers; all the rest are in black and white. I counted 306 b/w photographs, six drawings and 10 book and magazines covers. The captions are more than adequate; in fact they are almost mini-chapters and except for the interviews take the place of story line text. I liked the way Kudolla did this as it made it very easy reading. There was a Table of Contents that was easy to use, but no index in the back to make it possible to find names, cars and events listed in the book. The first chapter was titled “Thirty Two pages of featurettes.” These pages contained about four cars and captions per page featuring all sorts of customized cars. Chapter two was an interview with Ron Guidry from the old Renegades car club out of Long Beach, California. I’ve met Guidry and some of the other founders and later club members and they were well known for their Motorama car show that ran for half a decade in the late 1950’s. The Motorama was well thought of by the hot rodding community and made a considerable amount of money for the club, until the IRS sued them, forcing the car club and the Motorama to close down. The Motorama was restarted in 2010 under new management, but the club lives on only in the memories of those who were a part of it, or who followed the club.

   Chapter three is called “The Top Ten Customs.” These are the top ten customs picked out at car shows during 2009 by the book’s panel of experts. One of my favorites is a bubbletop Ford that has ‘futuristic’ written all over it. It is interesting to see that the styling created so many years ago is coming back into usage today. Another favorite is an ’81 Cadillac Seville. It has the round, soft customized styling that made the French famous in the 1930’s. A 2001 Chrysler PT cruiser was redesigned and I believe brought out to full flower what the Chrysler engineers were aiming for, but missed. A 1950 Ford convertible was lowered and streamlined into a beautiful version that might have swayed Henry Ford to change his mind about styling’s value. A 1930 DeSoto Airflow was also customized to show the sleek curves of the French style. For truck enthusiast there was a nifty 1950 Studebaker truck. Chapter four was written by the Art Director for Trend Books, Ronald O’Neal, and called “Styling Studio.” Sometimes a customizer creates a design purely in his head, but O’Neal shows us that artists create drawings that give inspiration to car customizers. Between Chapters four and five is a one page book review featuring three books on customizing. Grease Machines, by the editors of Consumers Guide, was written in 1979. It has 64 pages and is given a good rating by the staff at Trend Books. Wild Lead Sleds was published by Osprey Publications in 1992 and has 128 pages. The Big Book of Barris, by George Barris and David Fetherston was published by Motorbooks in 2003 and has 156 pages. This book is recommended. All three books are probably only available in used book stores, on the internet or at swap meets.

Chapter five is entitled “Custom Cars Models, written and photographed by Bill Stillwagon. There are 41 models created and then photographed by Stillwagon, who is known for his modeling. Modeling allows a unique way to visualize what you want to achieve later on with your car. It is also a great hobby in itself and a way to collect for a fraction of the cost. These models are true works of art. Chapter six is named “Feature Cars” and this section shows us five outstanding cars. The first is a 1950 Ford owned by Mark Green of San Jose, California. Green did away with the grill and the hood and this gives the car a powerful look to it. Bay City Poncho is a ’64 Pontiac Catalina owned by Suzie Gambino out of Alex Gambino’s shop Gambino’s Customs in San Jose, California. The grill on this car is spectacular. Buick by Dean is owned by Doug Hall and pinstriped by Von Hot Rod of Norco, California. Von Hot Rod is the promoter of the Pinstriper’s Reunion and the Pinstriper’s Circus, which is a group of pinstripers who travel to major car shows and put on an exhibition of their skills. Then their work is auctioned off for a local charity. Black Flake Beauty is a ’58 Dodge owned by Brad Clark of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Best Flames Around is a ’50 Ford owned by Damien Smith of San Dimas, California and the flames were done by Todd Zimmerman. Chapter seven is another interview, this time with Gerald Twamley, a former Renegades car club member.  Twamley was not an original Renegade, but his car was so admired and won so many trophies that the club asked him to join. The Renegades might have had a name that indicated rebelliousness, but in truth they were highly respected by the other clubs in the Southern California region. Where some clubs were little more than street thugs, the Renegades put on a classy car show and had some of the best cars. It was an honor that Twamley could not pass up. Following chapter seven is a pictorial commemorating Gerald Twamley and his carThe photographs, both past and present, plus the interviews and captions are a feast for hot rodders and custom car guys and gals. There is no index to refer back to the captions or stories, but in books and “enhanced magazines,” there rarely are indices. I enjoyed reading Custom Cars 2009 Annual. The price is $12.95 and you can find the publisher’s address and further information at I rate this book a five and a half out of a possible eight spark plugs.

I rate this book a 5 1/2 out of 8 sparkplugs.