Joe Bailon was born on March 18, 1923 in Newcastle, California, United States, the youngest of ten children. He was a car customizer and best known as the creator of the paint color “Candy Apple Red.” His 1941 Chevy, Miss Elegance, established him as a top-rank customizer and he was a charter member of National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame.
The fantastic colors he created and the ultra-smooth paint jobs that look six inches deep are his trademark and have been admired wherever custom cars are shown. One night he was driving and became entranced by the glowing taillights of the car ahead of him. “It was so pretty,” he said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to see the whole car the color of that taillight?” For the next 10 years, he was on a quest for the perfect red, mixing and layering paints in countless combinations. Finally, in 1956, he “threw some gold powder on the bench, mixed it with Sherwin-Williams extra-brilliant maroon and clear lacquer, and there it was at last.”
The San Francisco Rod, Custom and Motorcycle Show has annually presented the Joe Bailon Elegance Award. This award was given to the car for the “visual appearance” of the paint, interior, engine, design and suspension. The trophy is a one-of-a-kind designed only for this award, topped with a Candy Apple Red apple and was hand painted by Joe Bailon himself.
Among cars he has done are Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Rolls-Royce, Danny Thomas’ Continental, a Cadillac station wagon for Dean Martin, and a Vega wagon for Sammy Davis, Jr. Joe also built the Olds Toronado-powered Pink Panther car, which has appeared in several movies and made many public appearances. In his later years, Joe spent his time building an exact replica of Miss Elegance.
Joe Bailon passed away on September 25th of 2017 at the age of 94.