About Joe Bailon

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Prunes to Candy Apples Joe Bailon's Story

After 41 years of customizing cars for clients, Joe Bailon has had a hand in over 1000 cars. Is that living La Vida Loca? The Author visited Joe Bailon in June of this year, in a renewal of friendship of 33 years.

They had first met when Joe Bailon showed his 1941 Chevy, named Miss Elegance, at the Oakland Roadster Show. After the show, they had driven to southern California, where they photographed Miss Elegance for the author's story in Hop Up magazine. In 1931, the Great Depression had the country (indeed, the world) in its grip. Times were difficult for just about everyone, and everybody in a family would work to make ends meet.

To an eight-year-old, the youngest of 10 children four girls and six boys not much about helping to make ends meet can seem rewarding. The routine would be a hard life for anyone to follow: Pick prunes in temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, and when that crop is finished, pick grapes.

Then, in the winter when it is cold, prune the trees and vines to prepare for the next season's crop. Joe Bailon, who came into the world in Newcastle, California, on March 18, 1923, was the eight-year-old of the large family. He had quit school in Woodland, where the family had moved, partly because he was bored and didn't like school and partly because the family needed his help. While working in the fields, Joe dreamed of automobiles. That in itself isn't unusual, of course, because most boys of that age and era were dreaming of cars.

The difference was that the others merely wanted to own a car, preferably the biggest, flashiest, and fastest that they could get. Joe, on the other hand wanted to redesign them not just to own a car someday, but to have one that was different, unique, and a statement of the owner.