Joe Bailon's 1941 Chevrolet

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Miss Elegance in primer. Photo taken at Joe's first big shop in Oakland in 1950.
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A photo of Joe Bailon's shop taken late in 1952 or early in 1953. When Dick Falk started working with Bailon, Bailon was doing work out of a small garage at Alice Street in Hayward; “It had cement on the floors, but there was a lot of dirt also,” Falk told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2019. “It was an old garage. A one-car garage” One day as Dick was coming over, Joe was rubbing out a black 1940 Chevrolet two-door sedan. “It wasn’t customized much as I can remember. He was buffing it all out and went over with cornstarch. When he got done he said ‘OK. Let’s sweep up a little bit. Clean up, and let’s get the Chevy out so you can bring that convertible in, and let’s start sectioning it!’” This photo shows Dick’s 47 in front of Bailon’s new extended shop. “The shop was kind of new when this photo was taken. I can’t remember who the channeled roadster belonged to, but the 32 coupe belonged to Hank Vincent. It was there getting the back fenders bobbed.Miss Elegance can be spotted inside Bailon’s spray booth. Photo from The Dick Falk Photo Collection.
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Joe always regretted that he sold Miss Elegance, so in the early 1980s he started to build a second Miss Elegance. Unfortunately, Joe passed away before he was able to complete the build, and in December of 2018 Kevan Sledge of Sledge Customs became the new caretaker of the historic build. This photo was taken after Kevan purchased the car. Photo courtesy of Kevan Sledge.

1941 Chevrolet owned and restyled by Joe Bailon of Hayward, California. The car was Joe's first full blown custom, but he had created and worked on many other cars prior to the Chevy. Joe found the car in a junkyard. It had been hit by a train, then burned. It was almost cut in half, and Joe bought it for $50.00. When he bought the car he figured he could assemble it for far less than similar cars were then going for on the used car lots. Joe used the car while he built it, and he won his first show while the car was still in grey primer. When Joe built the Miss Elegance, he was inspired by Preston Tucker's Tucker 48 when he placed the rear fender grilles below the rear windows.[1]


Joe completed his car in time for the third annual National Roadster Show, held in 1952, and the car was accepted for display. At the show, Joe won the National award for his Chevrolet that was then known as "The Dashboard". Joe had spent over six months on the dashboard alone, so that explains the name.[2] When the car was featured in Popular Science August 1953 it had 15 dials and 32 pushbuttons.[3]


Miss Elegance 2

Joe always regretted that he sold Miss Elegance, so in the early 1980s he started to build a second Miss Elegance. In 2012, the build was three quarters done.[4] Unfortunately, Joe passed away before he was able to complete the build, and in December of 2018 Kevan Sledge of Sledge Customs became the new caretaker of the historic build.[5]


Magazine Features

Trend Book 101 Custom Cars
Motor Trend June 1952
Hop Up July 1953
Popular Science August 1953
Car Speed and Style October 1958


References

  1. Joe Bailon
  2. Joe Bailon Custom Comeback by Spencer Murray
  3. Popular Science August 1953
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named legends
  5. Kevan Sledge


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