About Joe Bailon

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Prunes to Candy Apples Joe Bailon's Story (continued)

All of the tricks were common ones of the immediate prewar and postwar period, but to do them with no previous experience and to have the job come out right was a minor miracle. The owner of the Pitts Paint Store saw Joe's coupe, liked what he saw, and hired Joe as his "custom body man." Joe had paid $250 for the coupe, and he had put a lot of time into customizing it. But one day a person came along and offered $750 for the car. The end result was that the Ford quickly had a new owner, and Joe was buying a 1941 Chevrolet club coupe for $50.

The Chevy had been wrecked a couple of times, but it was definitely salvageable. It would become the pivotal point in the blossoming career of one of America's most prolific and imaginative customizers, because it would be the "school" in which Joe really learned the art of customizing, and it would become one of the most famous customs Miss Elegance. For the next seven years, Joe used his spare time to customize the Chevy, and in doing so he learned to weld, to work lead, and to design and fabricate new shapes in metal.

In short, Joe learned how to build almost anything his agile mind could create. He also developed one of his strongest assets, learning how to mix color and to apply it to the car's body with a mirror finish. The fantastic colors he created and the ultra-smooth paint jobs that look six inches deep have been admired wherever custom cars are shown. He's credited with inventing Candy Apple Red, which led to other Candy Apple colors. The custom paining is Bailon's trademark, and he initially gained his skill on the Chevy.

The Bailons moved from Eureka to Hayward, California, while the Chevy was under construction, and it was finished finally in his Hayward shop in 1952. The Chevy immediately won the Most Elegant Award at the Oakland Roadster Show, first place at a show in Portland, Oregon, and first place awards at Seattle's auto show and the Sacramento Capital Auto Show. The awards were only some of the 18 trophies that the Chevy won during the first year after it was finished.

The car was also featured in the August 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. Because of the awards and magazine features, Joe's custom shop was booming, and at the peak of the boom, he had seven employees in the Hayward shop.