George DuVall is one of the early pioneers of the custom car scene. George graduated from Hollywood High School in 1931. After graduating, he enrolled at UCLA to study mechanical engineering. George had an interest in cars. After seeing a newspaper photo of a Southern California Plating Company delivery truck with the first set of Goodyear balloon tires sold in Los Angeles, George visited the plating company. He liked what he saw, and as he needed a part-time job to help with school costs, he applied for work at the company. George was hired to pick up and deliver parts and do odd jobs around the shop. After a while, Leonard DeBell, owner of So. Cal. Plating, saw the custom work George had done to his own cars, and he decided to give him more creative work at the company. Influenced by the designs of Harley Earl, George began creating custom bumpers and grilles, mostly for Depression-era Fords. At the time it was a relatively inexpensive way to give people luxury Cadillac style when a Cadillac was a luxury few people could afford. Everything they made was chrome plated. In 1933, George dropped out of UCLA and went to work full time at So. Cal. Plating.
Leonard DeBell was a firm believer in company promotion, and the trucks used by So. Cal. Plating were always customized to some degree. A couple of early DuVall special projects for So. Cal. Plating were highly modified Ford roadster pickups featuring reworked grilles, bumpers, fenders and V-windshields. George's claim to fame was the Southern California Plating's 1935 Ford Phaeton that he designed and helped build in late 1935. Completed in 1936, the Southern California Plating Company's 1935 Ford delivery truck was the first car that wore a DuVall Windshield. The windshield was a 5-piece bronze casting, originally designed to fit the 1935 - 1946 Ford cowl. After the truck hit the streets, it wasn't long before requests started coming in for similar V-windshields. It became another product manufactured by So. Cal. Plating, and George DuVall was in charge of both the design and production. The first recognized instance of a DuVall Windshield on a hot rod dates back to the early 1940s, when Jimmy Summers installed a windshield on Jack Dorn's 1932 Ford roadster.
As George worked for So. Cal. Plating when he designed the windshield, So. Cal. Plating owned the patents for the patterns. In 1946, Julian Doty, DuVall's nephew and long time hot rodder, bought the windshield patterns from So. Cal. Plating along with those for a Willys Jeep aluminum OHV conversion head that DuVall had designed.
George did also design the the Hollywood Hubcap, the first mass-produced non stock hubcap aimed at the custom car market. According to Albert Drake, the first version was a large bowl-shaped cap with an S-shape stamped in relief. When the wheel rotated, the S spun around. A later version had a chromed bar mounted across the centre. When the car was moving, the spinning bar emphasized emotion.
George DuVall's Cars
George DuVall's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster
Cars Designed or Restyled by George DuVall
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