Vintage Photos of Stunning Custom Cars Painted by Larry Watson in the 1950s
Larry Watson was born on July 21, 1938, in Bellflower, California. He began his pinstriping career at the tender age of 16, having grown up in a time period that saw the Southern California scene abuzz with the latest American makes and model cars; a time period that would later be considered “the era of Bombs.”
His self taught talent began to attract attention while the aspiring painter was still in high school, especially after he reached the completion stages of his custom 1950 Chevy. He christened the car “Grapevine,” and soon after, Larry was the “man” for pinstriping.
In 1957, fresh out of high school, Larry opened his own business, which he called “Watson’s House of Style” in Long Beach, California. Larry had already built his 1950 Chevy and wanted to start a new trend by customizing and color-creating with paint. He bought a brand new 1958 Ford Thunderbird and gave it a panel paint job. Many credit Larry, thanks to this car and its paint job, as the creator of panel style paint jobs. Historians widely recognize his T-Bird as being the first car to have a panel paint job.
Over the years, Larry continued to create and perfect many of the styles and techniques of custom paint that are still used today in the Lowrider scene. Along with panel paint, he is credited with inventing scallops, which were used to cover up paint runs the same way pinstriping was first used to cover up chips and scratches. We have Larry to thank for lace painting and seaweed flames as well. Larry also perfected quite a few new styles, including cob webbing, fades, and veils by using new materials like pearls, candies, and metallics to raise the bar in the booming custom paint realm.
Larry’s legacy will live on through today’s custom painters who will undoubtedly continue to use the techniques and styles he created and perfected during his lifetime. He passed away at the age of 70 on July 20, 2010.