Kustom Age: The Waston Panel Paint Job

Larry-watson-1958-ford-thunderbirdIn history great things are often idolized, preserved, and repeated. The Larry Watson panel style paint job is one of the most sought out layout schemes that painters and hot rodders shoot for. The panels accent car lines in such a fashion that it leaves almost any man in awe and wonderment. Pure complexity with simple shapes make the most homely of cars appear to be the wildest creations in the Kustom world.

100_3819Larry Watson, simply trying to advertise his newly opened business, authenticated the style with his mild kustom 1958 Thunderbird. With only simple modifications like having shaved handles, rounded corners, and being nosed and decked, the car appeared to be bought off the factory lot as-was. Watson hit the car with six coats of pearl over a fine metallic base. In Watson’s mind the car appeared to be too large and bright. To change that he decided to lay out 1-3/4-inch tape in a panel design and shot a candy apple burgundy over it. With this wild panel scheme the paint spoke for itself and advertisement went through the roof.

Zeno-stephens-1955-mercury2The car was featured all over Southern California and the rest of the country. It went on to win numerous shows for best paint. Although many believe this to be Watson’s first creation of the panel job, he had already laid this style onto Zeno Stephan’s 1955 Mercury.

The 1955 Mercury was a tad bit more modest, painted in a Titian red and striped gold. Interestingly enough the car was never featured and never seen again–except for one photo found in Larry Watson’s Museum.

Larry’s ambition and style changed the world in terms of kustom car paint. His paint schemes and panel layouts added a new depth when it came to imbuing cars with individual character. Even today his style is still being shot and progressed on 50s thru early 70s era cars all over the world.Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 10.08.31 AM

Photos Courtesy Of: BBallChico

Be sure to check out the other two stories in Rod Authority’s mini series: Kustom Age–Bio of Larry Watson and Watson’s House of Style. Stay tuned for updates on the series where forefathers of Kustom Kulture, iconic cars, and everything in between relating to the lifestyle’s roots and its present day examples are spotlighted.1954fordRH02Large-vi

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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