"Mucha Muchacha” is a fantastic cruiser that runs and drives well. The first known ’55 Lincoln chopped radical custom, it looks as perfect as when it was finished in 2009. It was built by some of the best contemporary custom practitioners, including John Aiello, Bob Divine, Ferby Miguel and Alex Gambino. Its many awards include “World’s Most Beautiful Custom Achievement Award” at the Sacramento Autorama, 2009; First in Class at the 2009 Grand National Roadster Show; First Place Radical Custom, John D’Agostino Kustom Award and the “Lucky 7 Outstanding Custom Award” at the 2009 San Francisco Rod, Custom and Motorcycle Show; the “Outstanding Excellence Award” at Blackie Gejeian’s Invitational 2010 Fresno Autorama, and much more.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1955 Lincoln Capri Custom “Mucha Muchacha”
Years Produced:1955
Number Produced:11,462 1955 Capris, one like this
Original List Price:$3,910
SCM Valuation:$50,000–$70,000
Tune Up Cost:$250
Distributor Caps:$11
Chassis Number Location:Data plate in driver’s door jamb
Engine Number Location:On side of block above oil filter
Club Info:Goodguys, National Street Rod Association (NSRA)
Alternatives:1954 Cadillac custom, 1955 Packard custom, 1954 Buick Roadmaster custom
Investment Grade:C

This 1955 Lincoln Capri Custom, Lot SP130, sold for $65,225, including buyer’s premium, at Collector Car Productions’ Spring Classic Car Auction in Toronto, Canada, on April 13, 2013.

The customizing craze began on the West Coast in the mid-1930s, reaching its peak as a national trend in the 1960s. The formative era was the period immediately before and directly after World War II. Many of the first customs were totally unique, because the hobby’s appeal involved personalizing a car so it didn’t resemble any other. Car shows welcomed customized cars in classes ranging from mild to radical, depending upon the degree of body modification.

Cut ’em up!

Radical customs required major metal surgery. Chopped and filled hard tops, or padded soft tops, sectioned bodies, fade-away and/or completely molded fenders, fender skirts and partial-to-complete body de-chroming were just a few popular trends. Chopping and sectioning, in which a portion of the roof pillars or body panels were removed, required immense skill. Before fiberglass and plastic fillers became popular, custom alterations were most commonly done using soft, malleable lead. Melted and reshaped lead was also used as the basis for artfully sculpted bodywork. That led to the name “lead sled,” a semi-derisive term used to describe later, ’50s-era customs.

Suspensions were lowered so custom cars took on a more streamlined look. A few customs were channeled — an extensive operation that involved dropping the entire body over the frame, then remounting it for an even lower appearance. Customizers developed attention-getting hues such as Candy Apple Red, along with pearlescent and metalflake processes, to further distinguish their cars. Scalloping and pinstriping were in.

The custom-car era produced some truly wild-looking automobiles. In hindsight, the earliest customs are arguably the purest in concept, relying on extensive metalwork and selective use of borrowed items such as grilles, side trim, hubcaps and headlamps from more expensive donor cars of the period.

By the mid-1960s, simple de-chroming and lowering were still popular, but the overall clean look of new car models was such that very little bodywork was needed to make them look better. The muscle-car era was well under way, and by then, a car’s engine became its most important feature. From then on, radical body modifications were rarely undertaken, except by diehards.

A modern classic custom

A 1955 Lincoln would not likely have been transformed into a radical custom in the early 1960s, back when it was just an affordable used car. The radical custom craze was nearly over by that time. But in the past two decades, top customizers such as Rick Dore, John D’Agostino and Richard Zocchi have performed major work on many mid-to-late ’50s models in the fashion of earlier times.

Kimberly Mejia’s trick Lincoln is a perfect example. Serious bread went into this svelte coupe. Mejia told Rod & Custom Editor Rob Fortier that her original plan was to have a mild custom. “You know, just some shaving and lowering, maybe different taillights and grille, round the hood corners on it, paint it real pretty and call it a day.” Mejia said she was going to do the car “100 percent; no, 90 percent, then sell it so I can do another car.”

After meeting with John Aiello of Aiello Customs, she decided to have the luscious Lincoln done as though it could have been customized in 1959 or 1960. “Nothing modern showing, not too accessorized, no lakes pipes, no pinstriping… it was going to be clean, simple and elegant.”

The whole nine yards

Simple and elegant it is: There’s not a surface on this hammered hard top that hasn’t been touched, from the frenched ’56 Olds headlights and extended rear fenders with ’55 Packard taillights, to the custom grille and lowered bumpers and the piece de resistance, a three-inch front and 3.5-inch rear top chop.

The radical slam was accomplished with airbags, modified springs and lowering blocks. The tufted and pleated fabric and vinyl interior is period-perfect; the engine is a stock 341-ci Y-block. The only real mechanical modification is a set of front disc brakes. Kim’s even running 15-inch bias-ply whitewalls with stylish full-disc hubcaps that are part Olds, part ’57 Lincoln Premiere.

The era-correct PPG pink finish with gold overtones was done by Randy Tannehill, with custom stainless trim by Flynn Millard. It’s all finished the way it could have been back in the day, if they’d had modern paints and guys with this much skill.

When her lovely Lincoln was completed, Kim took it to nearly every major custom show and won all sorts of awards. Up for sale in Toronto in April, the car was hammered sold at $65,225, which couldn’t begin to have covered the extensive custom work, but how do you put a price on all the fun Kim Mejia’s had with this oh-so-pretty car?

Not fade away

Let’s face it: Customs are a very personal thing. This sled is truly stunning, but (and it’s a big but) the car’s been everywhere Kim could take it for major awards. Plus, it’s painted pink — and it’s really pink.

In the custom-car era, when pink was popular, some guys built pink cars. But today, it’s more of a chick thing. Even then, ladies who want a full-on custom in this color make up a limited market. Customs are already a hard sell at auction — even more so when they’re done in a polarizing color combo. In this car’s case, there’s no two ways about it — resale value is seriously less than the car’s original build cost, and it’s mostly due to the color.

I’m sure Kim knew that going in, and I’ll bet she has no regrets. She’s probably well into her next car already.

But all things considered, I think the new owner did pretty well here. He or she saved a considerable amount of cash over what it would have cost to build a similar custom from scratch.

Considering its period look and high-quality construction, I’ll call this car realistically sold and very well bought — especially if you like pink.

(Introductory description courtesy of Collector Car Productions.)

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