Valley Custom Shop

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Neil Emory's 1937 Dodge Convertible of Burbank, California, was started in 1940 and completed in 1941. Built in his shop class at Burbank High, Neil's Dodge was built many years before Valley Custom Shop was opened.
A 1934 Ford coupe in front of the shop in late 1948.[1]
This is the original business card from the early 1950s.[2]
A business card Neil Emory had done after the shop closed.[2]
Tommy Jamieson's 1941 Lincoln Continental and Jack Stewart's 1950 Oldsmobile, the Polynesian, outside Valley Custom Shop around 1952.
Neil and Emory working on the Polynesian.[2]
A funny ad for Valley Custom Shop.
Norm Grabowski's 1922 Ford Model T-Bucket of Sunland, California. The Lightning Bug iteration of Norm's Model T was completed in 1955. It hit the scene like an atom bomb in the mid-1950s, and it started a T-Bucket craze that spread across the nation like wildfire. Valley Custom Shop did some fabrication work on the car in addition to giving it a shiny black paint job.
Norm Grabowski's 1922 Ford Model T-Bucket of Sunland, California. The Kookie T iteration of Norm's Model T-Bucket was completed in 1956 featuring a 1956 Dodge Royal Blue paint job by Valley Custom Shop and a Dean Jeffries flame paint job. In 1958 this iteration became a TV star, appearing in the popular series "77 Sunset Strip." As a result of the exposure, Norms T-Bucket became the most famous hot rod in the country, inspiring dozens of imitators while creating a whole new class of hot rods.
Dean Batchelor's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster. Dean worked part time at Valley Custom, and the bodywork on Dean's roadster was done by Valley Custom.
Neil Emory's 1940 Buick Super Sedan of Burbank, California was restyled around 1949/1950. Neil ran Valley Custom Shop, and had little time restyling his own cars.
Dick Colarossi's 1940 Ford coupe of Glendale, California was restyled by Valley Custom Shop. The build was completed in 1954, and it made it's debut at the Motor Revue and Motorama in November of 1954.
Earl Bruce's 1940 Ford Three-Window Coupe
Larry Sanford's 1940 Mercury 4-door Convertible
Neil and Clayton working on a chopped and channeled 1932 Ford 5-Window coupe circa 1956.
Ron Dunn's 1950 Ford of Glendale, California. Known as the "Monte Carlo", Ron's Ford was restyled by Valley Custom Shop. The first iteration of the car was completed in 1952.
Ron Dunn's 1950 Ford of Glendale, California. Known as the "Monte Carlo", Ron's Ford was restyled by Valley Custom Shop. The first iteration of the car was completed in 1952. In 1957 the car was involved in an accident, and it was brought back to Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen for a makeover. The second iteration of the "Monte Carlo" was completed sometime prior to June of 1957.
Jay Greer's 1951 Ford Victoria - The Tahitian, of Glendale, California was restyled by Valley Custom.

Valley Custom Shop was a custom shop run by Neil Emory and his brother in law Clayton Jensen. Neil and Clayton opened up Valley Custom in Burbank, California in 1948. The business was run out of a three-stall-wide, and three-car-deep garage. Neil who had built his first custom car, a 1937 Dodge while in high school, had worked for a while at a Burbank body shop prior to openin up Valley Custom. This job and previous experiences had give Neil enough experience to open up his own shop. Neil was tired of straightening fenders, and wanted to reshape them instead, giving the cars fresher more exclusive styling. While Neil was a body man, Clayton had a mechanical background. After opening up the shop, it didn't take Clayton long time to catch on to what Emory was doing with a hammer and torch. [3]

Valley Custom was and still is known for creating clean customs not cluttered by unnecessary scoops, toothy grilles, or crazy paint jobs.[4] They did not hesitate to tackle major restyling projects. Chopping and channeling were specialties and the duo of Jensen and Emory sectioned several then-and-now-famous customs during the era. Looking at the cars they built you can see that Neil and Emory took their approach from prewar coachbuilders, but instead of crafting bodies from scratch they reshaped factory offerings to look longer, lower, leaner and richer.[5]

In 1955 Neil and Clayton attended their only car show, the 1955 Los Angeles Motorama. At the show 13 of their clients entered cars, and won 15 awards.

Valley Custom Shop was in operation until 1960. After that the operation was sold to Carl Morton.[6]


Carl Morton
Neil Emory
Clayton Jensen
Tad Hirai
Bob Clark

Cars Restyled by Valley Custom Shop

The So-Cal Belly Tank
Norm Grabowski's 1922 Ford Model T Bucket - The Lightning Bug / The Kookie T
Dean Batchelor's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster
Dick Flint's 1929 Roadster
Bill Faris' 1932 Ford Roadster
Bill Hook's 1932 Ford Roadster
Leland Wetzel's 1932 Ford Roadster
Alex Xydias' 1934 Ford Cabriolet
Tommy Jamieson's 1937 Ford Pickup
Ray Vega's 1938 Ford Convertible Sedan
Glen Hooker's 1939 Mercury
Neil Emory's 1940 Buick Super Sedan
Dick Colarossi's 1940 Ford Coupe
Ralph Jilek's 1940 Ford
Earl Bruce's 1940 Ford
Larry Sanford's 1940 Mercury 4-door Convertible
Ed Jacques' 1941 Ford
Tommy Jamieson's 1941 Lincoln Continental
Joe Brenner's 1941 Mercury 4-door
O.H. Hooker's 1941 Pontiac
Bob Clark's 1946 Cadillac Sedanette
Bob Hoshiko's 1948 Mercury
Dave Peters' 1949 Ford
Neil Emory's 1949 Ford Woodie Wagon
Glad Ellis' 1949 Mercury
Rod & Custom Magazine’s Dream Truck
Ron Dunn's 1950 Ford - The Monte Carlo
Tad Hirai's 1950 Ford - The Del Mar
Jack Stewart's 1950 Oldsmobile - The Polynesian
Howard Clarkson's 1951 Chevrolet Bel Air
John Dietrich's 1951 Chevrolet
Jay Greer's 1951 Ford Victoria - The Tahitian
Jack White's 1951 Mercury
Ollie Seeley's 1951 Plymouth
Larry Lee's 1952 Chevrolet Bel Air
Wayne Rogers' 1952 Ford Sunliner
Ina Mae Overman's 1952 Lincoln Capri
George Cavanah 1953 Dodge Sierra Wagon
Ray Charbonneau's 1953 Studebaker
Ina Mae Overman's 1955 Ford Thunderbird
Gary Saunders' 1956 Ford

How-To-Do Articles by Valley Custom Shop

How-To-Do Article - Valley Custom Channeling a 1939 Mercury
Valley Custom Adopting a 1955 Chevrolet Grille to Early Chevrolets - Car Craft July 1956


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