Custom Craftsmanship: Hand-Sewn Trim

During the heyday of customizing it was a common trick to use the trim off of one car on another. In the ’50s one of the premier examples of such a swap was the stylish stainless steel side trim found on Buicks that was often found gracing the flanks of any number of custom cars.

When Eric Black, of e.Black Design Co., created the artwork for the 1955 Ford Customline being built for the 2019 ARP/STREET RODDER Road Tour car his rendering included unique custom side trim that complemented the car’s shape and accented the paint scheme to come. Clean and simple, the trim was certainly not something that could be pirated from another make, and since it was a crucial element of the car’s design it would have to be fabricated by the car’s builder, Troy Ladd and the Hollywood Hot Rods crew.

Following Black’s design, the custom side trim would consist of spears on the front fenders that blended with gently curved pieces on the doors that become wider toward the rear of the car. Behind the doors the curves were to blend into straight sections that would continue the length of the quarter-panels. In addition, the trim would be detailed, with a peak running down the middle and rounded edges.

To create the trim as seen in Black’s drawing, HHR’s Kyle Connole began with 1/4-inch-thick brass strips. And while some of the preliminary shaping of the straight portions was done on a vertical mill, the vast majority of the trim’s profile was created by hand. And while it was an arduous process, the result was certainly worth it.

One of the obvious challenges of creating the new side trim was devising a method to attach it to the car. That was solved by drilling and tapping the back of each piece and installing studs, then drilling corresponding holes in the body. Once the trim was shaped and fit to the body the individual pieces were sent to Sherm’s Custom Chrome Plating for polishing and plating while the Ford was off to the paint shop.

As the trim was to be integrated into the two-tone paint scheme, it was critical that the painter, Josh Franklin of California Autoworx, be aware of the size, shape, and location of the trim. To that end sheetmetal substitutes were installed temporarily to indicate where the trim would be.

With the freshly painted 1955 returned to HHR and the beautifully chromed trim back from Sherm’s all that was left to do was bolt all the pieces in place.

It’s been said it’s the details that sets one outstanding car apart from another. That’s true in the case of the ARP/STREET RODDER 1955 Ford, and the custom side trim is certainly one of those details.

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