1959

The Hopped-Up Pickup
The Grasshopper

After settling into their new shop, Mike and Larry bought a '31 Ford pickup to promote their business. The design changes made to the AV-8 pickup were subtle yet labor extensive.


The “A’s” shaved two inches off the top, installed a larger pickup bed borrowed from a '32 model, swapped fenders in favor of the '29 version, installed white Oldsmobile hubcaps, and replaced the grille shell. The brothers also improvised with random parts repurposed to complete their vision; including: outfitting the handmade dashboard with two Chrysler gauges welded together, adding '42 Dodge headlights, and installing taillights made from 1942 Kaiser interior lights. Mike and Larry finished the car with Old’s Glade Green in Metallic which reflected the truck’s nickname: the Grasshopper. The customized pickup was shown at the 1958 Detroit Autorama and won Best Paint. Shortly after, Mike and Larry sold the remodel to buy a '59 Chevrolet El Camino.

Little Deuce Coupe

Encouraged by the Grasshopper’s success, Mike and Larry embarked on three ambitious projects beginning in 1959. While the brothers quickly became a staple of the East Coast custom car scene, they struggled to get national exposure. Their introduction to prominent West Coast customizer, George Barris, coupled with the cars they unveiled that year gave them the nationwide fame they deserved. Their iconic customization of Clarence Catallo’s '32 Ford Coupe, in particular, gave them traction in the custom car world.


In the summer of 1959, Catallo brought in the old racing car he bought at a gas station for $75 at the age of fifteen. Initially, Mike and Larry added a new rear-pan, a hinged grille, radiator, and painted detailing. The early version of the car was shown at the 1959 Toledo Autorama. After, Mike and Larry continued to modify the car. They started by replacing the rotten doors with aluminum fins to replace the rockers. Lastly, they repainted the car in Olds Cobalt Blue. When Catallo arrived in California for college in 1960, he began working in George Barris’ shop, exchanging much of his salary for work on his car. Among other alterations, Barris finally convinced the young enthusiast to chop three inches off of the car's body. While the car was in the shop, Barris got a call from a record company that needed a car for an album cover. Shortly after, Catallo’s Silver Sapphire made its famous appearance on the cover of the Beach Boy’s album, Little Deuce Coupe, in 1963.

The Victorian

While their new friendship with George Barris gave the brothers West Coast exposure, their customization of Sy Gregorich’s '55 Ford Crown Victoria, drove them to even more success. It took Mike and Larry two years to complete the trendsetting car. The A’s formed new front and rear panels made out of 1953 Studebaker shells, added a front bumper made from a narrowed 1959 Chevrolet unit, the hood was rounded, the front headlights were swapped out for 1955 Oldsmobile lights, and the taillights were replaced with 1955 Mercury lights. Once complete, the car was painted black. The Victorian was their first to sport the Alexander Brothers badge. Ultimately, Mike and Larry redid the car three times for Sy. The completely restyled Victorian, was named on of Car Craft Magazine’s Top 10 in 1960.