The speed and pervasiveness of modern media has all but erased the regional hallmarks once commonly found on rods and customs. Today's enthusiasts are just as likely to be influenced by cars and builders from across the country (or around the world) as they are from across the street, which means you're liable to find a "California rake" on a custom in Connecticut, or a heavy East Coast-style channel on a hot rod from Texas. It's getting much harder to look at any given rod or custom and say with confidence it's from a certain place.
There are still a few pockets of distinctive style, though. When we first laid eyes on this wildly flamed Shoebox Ford, we immediately suspected it hailed from Bakersfield. This central California city is home to the Loco Banditos car club, an affiliation of mostly younger guys who build customs that scrape the pavement and shock your eyeballs with bold colors and high-contrast accents.
Ryan Daves is a Loco Banditos member and a second-generation hot rodder who can't remember a time when he wasn't into cars. He cut his custom teeth on a 'flaked, scalloped, and slammed '57 Ford when he was just out of high school. When that car was sidelined following a minor altercation with a trash truck, Ryan bought this '50 two-door sedan from his father, Toby, who had gone in with friend John Hill to buy it at a charity auction. The car was complete and solid, with a good-running original Flathead. It was bone stock, but Ryan could see beyond that.
Ryan and his dad spend their days building rods and customs at Daves Fabrication, so the Ford became Ryan's on-again, off-again project after work and on weekends. Considering the car's clean condition, Ryan was able to dive right into the metalwork by shaving all the side trim, emblems, and handles. He filled and peaked the hood, frenched the headlights using '57 Ford rims, and gave the taillights a similar treatment using frenching buckets and lenses from Mooneyes.
Things went from subtle to serious when Ryan cut into the Ford's lid. With help from friends, Ryan chopped the top 5 inches in front and 7 inches in the rear, V-butting the windshield and moving the rear glass forward 10 inches in the process. The significant slice was followed up with an equally bold finish of yellow seaweed flames over a bright DuPont Bombay Blue finish.
The top wasn't the only thing Ryan lowered. He achieved a lakes-pipe-scraping stance using air springs at each corner complemented with Fatman spindles in front and an Air Ride Technologies triangulated four-link and step-notched frame in back. The stock Flathead was dolled up with goodies from Speedway Motors to help get the painted steel wheels and wide whitewall radials rolling.
A much more understated treatment was given to the car's cabin. Bill Purkiser used simple patterns and stark white vinyl to wrap the cut-down seats and door panels, while Ryan shaved everything but the essentials off the stock dash and plugged a quad gauge from Classic Instruments into the original speedometer opening. Black carpet helped make all of that white really pop.
Ryan finished the Ford just days before the 2007 West Coast Kustoms gathering in Paso Robles. The slammed stance and wild seaweed flames garnered an abundance of attention there-and everywhere else the Shoebox went. One person who noticed was Australian Arthur Matsakos, who eventually made Ryan an offer he couldn't refuse. Now the Ford is turning heads and winning awards on the other side of the globe-and giving everyone down under a taste of Bakersfield style.