Old School Customs, Book Review

There are a lot of people intrigued with Rat Rods these days and also a large number recreating the old school customs. If you are from either of these camps there is a book you will want to pick up; Old School Customs by Alan Mayes and published by MotorBooks. The book retails for $35 but you should be able to beat that price at any of the usual places online. Regardless of the price if you are into old customs from the 50 and 60s then this has to be on the shelf.

El Matador

I have a few favorite customs from back in that time and I was thrilled to see the Kopper Kart! The original has been destroyed but a beautiful and authentic clone has been produced. Equally exciting was finding numerous photos of the El Matador by Bill Cushenbery.

Kopper Kart


As fabulous and wild as these cars are they were not like today’s show cars; many of these cars were drivers! Obviously, most of the extreme cars were trailered show cars but even many of these eventually hit the road. In fact, when I was a young boy traveling through Illinois and Indiana with my parents on the way home to Iowa after visiting my sister in Ohio I actually spotted the Kopper Kart parked in a driveway along the highway (no interstate yet). I yelled at my Dad and he turned around so I could get some photos. It was a BIG car day for a little boy.

1958 Chevy the Limelighter by Bill Cushenbery

I have to admit I do not recognise all of the names in the book but I will also tell you that I remember everyone of the cars! These are the best of the best and author Mayes has collected some  works of car sculpture and brought back some great memories. In addition he provides a historical detail I would have never gotten on my own.


Chapter 1: Custom Cool

Part 1: The Pioneers

Chapter 2: Gene Winfield

Chapter 3: Bill Hines

Chapter 4: Darryl Starbird

Part 2: The Lifers

Chapter 5: Tom Culbertson

Chapter 6: Bo Huff

Chapter 7: Mark Wojcik

Chapter 8: Dave Kinnaman

Chapter 9: Cary “Chopit” Fioto

Chapter 10: Dave Pareso

Chapter 11: Murphy & the Striper

Part 3: Pacesetters

Chapter 12: Brad Masterson

Chapter 13: “Voodoo” Larry Grobe

Chapter 14: Gary Brown

El Matador Interior

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