Kustom Age: Larry Watson’s Humble Beginnings And Tenacity To Paint

Larry-watson-1950-chevrolet-grapevineThe King of Kustom Paint and an innovator of style–Larry Watson was born on July 21st, 1938. While in high school, Watson’s passion rose from the creative vision of Von Dutch’s modern day pinstriping.

After watching Dean Jefferies stripe a 1949 Mercury at Barris Kustoms, Watson decided to take on the art form himself and asked Jeffries where he had picked up his brushes. Jefferies responded back, “what are you trying to do, put me out of business?”  Watson assured him that he just wanted to stripe his car.Larry-watson-1950-chevrolet-grapevine-11

Larry Watson's pinstriped 1950 Chevy Kustom aka Grapevine

After getting absolutely no information from Jefferies, Larry ran down to the local art store to grab some brushes and copper paint. Even without the proper striping brushes or paint Watson still went to town on striping the Grapevine, his iconic 1950 Chevrolet. Being proud of the new art on the car, Larry cruised down to the Bellflower Clock Drive-In.  Everyone was in disbelief that he could afford pin striping from Von Dutch. Onlookers were in even more disbelief when he assured them that the stripes came from his own hand. His first job was so immaculate that people assumed he paid Von Dutch to sign Larry’s name instead of his own. This caused Harvey Budoff to call Larry’s bluff.

Moonglow2Budoff provided what would be Watson’s first commissioned car. With a natural fire and talent, he striped the 1950 Ford in his driveway well before the days of Watson’s House of Style was established. After word got out on Watson’s ability to stripe just as good as Jefferies and Von Dutch, there were lines of cars out the front of his house after school waiting to receive kustom Watson pinstriping. Out of the Watson driveway specials, one of the most iconic cars of all was Duane Stecks 1954 Chevy “Moonglow.”

After Highschool, Watson openend up shop in Long Beach, California, and continued to work alongside the greatest names in the business including George Barris, Bill Hines, and many more. Larry Watson’s career is one of the most iconic in the kustom world. He continued to push style and ingenuity up until his unfortunate passing the day before his 72nd birthday on July 20th, 2010.Larry-watson-1959-cadillac

About the author

Korky Hickman

Shawn aka Korky is just your average gear head–always down to lend an extra hand and hungry to gain new knowledge. He lives by the words of Gene Winfield, "Everyday is a schoolday." One of Korky's missions is to continue the pursuit and preservation of Kustom Kulture. He is dedicated to wrenching, addicted to kustomizing, and a believer of the built not bought philosophy.
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