Tuesday, January 10, 2012

303 Bell Engine Crankshaft Special

Once in a while I get to work on a really unique project. In this case, it is a carefully restored roadster from the early 1950's. The restoration shop called me in to look at the original rusty frame of the body. I was able to make a pattern of some of the original lettering from that. Years later, when the body was restored, I pounced the original lettering back onto the freshly painted vehicle.

The important thing about an authentic auto restoration is that you need to make the lettering look just like its first paint job, whether the lettering is sloppy, or crooked, or poorly done, it needs to match the vehicle's original look. I like to get all of the details right, even down to the hubcaps.

Fortunately, they had done a lot of research on this car and had some photos on hand for reference for this purpose. There were black and white photos of the roadster from different angles, which helped me recreate an authentic paint job on this historic car.

If you look closely near my elbow you will see a color photo of the original body. On top of the car is one of the black and white photos.

I learned to letter from my father, Alan Johnson. I spent a lot of time in garages as a kid lettering and working together with him. This is a job I did on my own, but I am glad he got a chance to see it. Here we are together with the finished body.

This car is featured in the December 2007 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.

You can also see the Gooding and Company Auction review video of the vehicle here:

This vehicle is cuurently on display at the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska.