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George DuVall (1913-1999)
George H. DuVall Jr., b. August 19, 1913 - d. February 12, 1999
Associated Firms
Southern California Plating Co.

Although many old-school hot rod enthusiasts know what a DuVall V-windshield is, few know the background of the man who developed it, George H. DuVall Jr. Although the style is commonly referred to as ‘DuVall’, others manufactured similar designs during the same period.

One popular competitor was the Hallock windshield, which was hand-built in very small numbers by Duke Hallock in the early-to-mid thirties. The Hallock was closely modeled after the factory windscreen found on the Gordon Buehrig-designed 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster. Postwar, small numbers of Hallock-inspired copies were made, first by Lee Grey (G & O Specialties, circa 1948) and much more recently by San Jose, California’s Steve Sellers, who markets his as the ‘Sellers Equipped Hallock Window.’

George Herbert DuVall Jr., was born on August 19, 1913 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California to George H. and Hattie M. (Van Allen) DuVall. His father was born in Illinois to British parents and made his way to Los Angeles County in the late 1890s where he helped construct many home in Central L.A. as well as working on the Los Angeles Federal Building. George Sr. listed his occupation in the 1920 US Census as ‘Carpenter’, and various Los Angles directories list him with a partner, Floyd E. Ellis, as Ellis & DuVall.

The household included one sibling, Evelyn B. (b.1903) DuVall and from an early age George was infatuated with automobiles, his goal to be an automobile designer just like his idol (and Los Angeles native) Harley Earl - his chosen profession was clearly stated in his 1931 senior yearbook photo (from Hollywood High School):

“George DuVall, Jr., Auto Body Designer 'Duv' Cal Tech.”

After graduation, he enrolled at UCLA to study mechanical engineering, taking a part-time job as a delivery truck driver with the Southern California Plating Co. (4444 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. – later 3434 San Fernando Rd., Los Angeles) to help with his expenses. Some of the illustrations seen to the right were penned by DuVall while he was at UCLA. In 1933 he dropped out of college to work for Southern California Plating full time. During the summer of 1933 DuVall made a short trip to visit relatives in Michigan, the August 4, 1933 issue of the New Paladium (Benton Harbor, Mich.) reporting:

“Otis M. Southworth, former Benton Harborite now residing in Venice, Cal., writes that his nephew, George DuVall of Los Angeles, is now on his way east, making his first visit to these parts. Young DuVall will visit relatives here, the Southworth boys, sons of Mr Southworth of Venice. His father built the Benton Harbor city hall in 1896 and was born in Benton Harbor.”

Southern California Plating Co.’s owner was Leonard K. DeBell (b. April 23, 1904 in Louisville, Colorado – d. January 24, 1992 in Los Angeles). His parents were born in Italy – father: Stefano "Stephen" Salvatore Zarlango, mother: Pasqua Riccia Ricci - and the 1930 US Census lists his occupation as ‘salesman, nickel-plating’. Also listed was his wife, Shirley B. (Barnesly - b.1902 in Missouri) DeBell, and a brother, Charles Zarlengo, whose listed occupation was ‘automobile mechanic’. The 1940 US Census lists DeBell’s occupation as ‘proprietor, electro-plating’ and includes his wife Shirley and a son, Anthony L. DeBell (b. 1934 – who later became an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy).

DuVall personalized his own daily drivers, one example being the Cragar-powered 1929 Model A roadster seen to the right which was constructed at Service Auto Body Works, 1676 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, Calif., a small body and paint shop founded by Don Leomazzi (b. June 30, 1901 - d. May 8, 1961). Leomazzi owned a number of shops during the next few decades, one at 5624 Sunset Blvd. (Service Auto Body – 1930s-40s) and a second at 1515 N. Bronson Ave. (Dependable Auto Service – 1950s).

Evelyn Doty, the mother of longtime L.A. hot-rodder and SCTA member Julian DuVall Doty (b. December 10, 1922-d. May 2, 2012) was George Duvall’s sister. Doty took as many shop classes as he could fit in while attending Hollywood High School (coincidentally his uncle’s alma mater) and fondly remembered the numerous trips he made in his uncle’s 1929 Model A to the Muroc Air Force Base (now Edwards AFB) to watch the early speed trials that originated on the (adjacent) Rogers dry lake bed.

Duvall and Doty were both charter members of Hollywood’s Throttlers car club, and were present when the Southern California Timing Association (S.C.T.A.) was founded in November of 1937. Julian was also a founding member of the Sidewinders (Glendale, CA), the SCTA’s first member club. Later in life George and Julian successfully campaigned a Bug-Eye Sprite (1961 Triumph) at El Mirage Dry Lakes.  

DuVall’s boss, Leonard K. DeBell, liked the custom touches George incorporated into his own cars and gave him an opportunity to do some creative design work at the company.

A large part of So. California Plating’s business was constructing and plating midget racecar grills and accessories. To advertise the business DeBell customized his delivery vehicles, outfitting them with whitewall tires, wheel discs, V-windshields and custom chrome grills and bumpers designed by DuVall. His front-end treatment on So. California Plating’s 1931 Ford pickup has been credited with inspiring the grille found on the 1933-34 Terraplane (manufactured by Hudson).

Influenced by the designs of Harley Earl, George began creating custom bumpers and grilles (for 1930s Fords) and in late 1935 was put in charge of customizing the Plating Co.’s new delivery vehicle, a 1935 Ford Phaeton. The striking vehicle featured an extended wheelbase (by 12 in.), filled-in rear doors and a flat rear floor which was accessed by a lift-up  rear hatch constructed by Chad Schultz of Joe Newell's body shop.

A 1936 Ford front end (hood, radiator shell and front fenders) were substituted and a hand-crafted, Cord 810/812-inspired grill constructed out of flat brass stock by DuVall's friend, Frank Kurtis. The car marked the first appearance of the five-piece cast-bronze 'DuVall windshield', which was topped off with an off-white padded top with teardrop shaped side windows constructed by George Thomas, whose top shop was located at the corner of Ivar Ave. and Cahuenga Blvd.

Other features included bi-lateral, airfoil-shaped, So-California Plating Co. signs, a 1936 Cadillac front bumper, Wood Lites concealed behind chrome apertures installed in the fender aprons, an integral rear trailer hitch w/split rear bumper, whitewall tires and a set of So-California Plating chrome wheel discs. Period pictures of the vehicle, which was originally painted a sea-foam green by Charles Remidi, were included in the May 1955 issue of Motor Life.

The 1940 US Census lists DuVall’s home address as 4412 Prospect St., Los Angeles. His wife’s name, Irma, his occupation: designer/former at a chrome plating comp.

A circa 1944 photo of the car parked on the street reveal the air-foil shaped 'So-Califoria Plating Co.' signs had been removed and 1936 Ford headlamps installed. In an interview with custom-car historian Pat Ganahl, Julian Doty states the last time he saw the 1935 Phaeton was in late 1963 or 1964 at which time he tried to purchase it from Leonard K. Debell’s son Tony:

“The last time I saw the car was on Melrose, one block east of Vermont, south side of the street. Leonard owned a corner there. It was a body shop, with six or seven stalls, and the car was in there. It looked like someone had parked it there for 10-15 years. It was full of dust and stuff, but it had the top on it.”

Unfortunately the two men couldn’t come to an agreement and the car has not been seen since.

At the end of the Second World War DuVall designed a rocker arm overhead valve system for 1933-1947 Willys 4-cylinder engines which was put on the market by Pacific Metal Products, 4444 Sunset Blvd., successors to the manufacturing division of Southern California Plating Co. When equipped with DuVall heads the Jeep could put out 80 hp, making it competitive against the much heavier flathead Fords that were commonly used on post-war hot rods and racecars.

As George DuVall was an employee of Southern California Plating, all of his designs for the firm remained their property, and in the late 1940s Julian Doty, DuVall's nephew and long-time hot rodder, bought his uncle's windshield patterns from Southern California Plating, and began to manufactured them on an as-needed basis using the following advertisement which was placed in the early hot rodding magazines:

“Original DuVall V-Windshields For Any Car - $17.50, 6211 Banner Ave., Hollywood 38 GR 5265, contact ‘J D’ Doty.”

DuVall's long-time friend Frank Kurtis used the windshield on the short-lived Kurtis sportscar, and its Muntz Jet successors which were manufactured in small numbers (225) from 1949 to 1953.

DuVall also created the logo for the Hollywood Wheel Disc Shop, 116 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, a firm that manufactured aftermarket Cadillac Sombrero knock-offs known as Hollywood Wheel Discs, which were memorable for their spinning 'S' logo.

During the 1960s Duvall worked as a salesman for Universal Motor Imports, 4100 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, a used sports-car dealer that also sold new Datsuns and NSU’s. He also got divorced, remarrying  Josephine Lillian Pinegar in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 1, 1962.

In 1990 the 77-yo DuVall was interviewed by Dean Batchelor for an article on the DuVall windshield which appeared in the August 1990 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. Soon after, he retired to his second wife’s hometown of Peggs, Oklahoma, passing away on February 12, 1999 at the age of 85. His death notice appeared in the August 13, 1999 edition of the Tulsa World (OK):

“George DuVall , 85, design engineer, died Friday. Services pending. Jones, Locust Grove.”

He’s buried at McClain Cemetery in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. His wife Josephine (b. Jan. 30, 1921 in Jet, OK) passed away on November 11, 2009 in Peggs.

© 2014 Mark Theobald for








Dean Batchelor – Flying V’s: The Story of Deorge Du Vall and Hot Rod V-Windshields, August 1990 issue of Rod & Custom

Pat Ganahl  - George DuVall – American Rodder

Pat Ganahl - The American Custom Car, pub. 2001

Pat Ganahl – The Mystery Wagon, Rodders Journal, No. 36

Ocee Ritch – When It Became A Custom, Motor Life, May 1955 issue

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