A true hot rodder can never leave well enough alone. When Raymond Bleau of Fort Mill, South Carolina, first spotted this ’60 Brookwood wagon at the 2012 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction it was a decent driver. A 2006 SEMA Auto Salon Philadelphia winner, the wagon was a well-built hot rod, but years of rough roads, rainy weather, and outside parking took its toll on the ol’ wagon.
“I wasn’t even looking for a wagon until I found this one,” said Ray, who still wanted his own custom-built car—not someone else’s—but he couldn’t pass it up. So he decided to get to work, making this wagon his own.
To start with, “It looked good from about 20 feet and the engine bay was basically stock,” said Ray. “It looked like it had been driven and then sat in the rain.” The fenders and tailgate had some minor rust but the major components like the Chevrolet Performance 350 crate engine with Ram Jet induction, air-ride suspension, and leather upholstery were there, if just.
Ray brought the wagon back East to his friend Darryl Bobzin, owner of Darryl’s Speed & Custom deep in the heart of NASCAR country in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Darryl worked at Hendrick Motorsports for a time before moving over to Red Bull Racing, who dropped out of NASCAR at the end of 2011. That was perfect timing for Darryl to branch out on his own, with the wagon being his first project. “He did a little bit of everything, because we were friends I learned so much from him,” said Ray. “He’s very detailed, everything has to be perfect.”
First, the front clip was removed and the 350 Ram Jet crate engine got a new timing chain, clean up, and fresh green paint to match the rest of the car. The mill was also updated with an MEFI 4-controlled fuel-injection system and backed by a TCI 3,500-stall converter, which helps move the power to the stock 3.08 rear axle. Ray took pride in the fit and finish of the engine bay, spending a few months on just that alone. The front suspension was rebuilt using new bushings. “We repolished and mediablasted everything.” The body has never left the frame as long as Ray has owned it.
Outside, the wagon was originally Sea Foam Green. Darryl added a two-tone scheme; mostly painting the bottom half of the car and engine bay, while the roof received a new clearcoat. But Ray wasn’t allowed to do any of the painting, “that’s the one thing he won’t let me do. He did it while I was at work.”
The wheels are staggered with 18s in the front and 20s in the back. They were custom ordered from Billet Specialties by the previous owner and wrapped in Nitto Extreme ZR 235/40R18s in the front and 255/35R20s in the back.
The wagon already had an airbag suspension but the bags leaked and showed signs of dry rot. Ray picked up new air springs from RideTech along with new lines and fittings. The tanks were full of water and began to rust from the inside out so Ray mounted stainless steel tanks behind the rear seats, along with new stained wood. He then recessed the air-ride gauges into the stock dash.
Inside, the seats are from a ’65 wagon and wrapped in light green and off-white leather. The carpet is custom and the dash was painted to match the exterior.
“It was just a lot of little things, more than I originally figured,” said Ray. They replaced the passenger-side front floorboard due to damage from a sweaty air conditioner. “We just brought it back to show quality. Now it rides nice and we have fun.”
Ray’s day job is handling IT support at a major investment company. When he isn’t at his desk job or working on the wagon he’s giving back to his community by volunteering as an EMS at Fort Mill Rescue. He said he likes learning how things work, a trait he picked up from his dad, a carpenter. “I’ve always been hands on with cars and my house, like I built my own porch. With EMS you’re hands on with understanding how the body works. It’s nice to give back; adds some excitement in my life.”
Ray was unable to find out who built the car originally, but a previous owner approached him at a Goodguys event and has since asked Ray a few times to sell it. “I want to finish it and get it to where I like it, then maybe I’ll sell it, but I’m having too much fun with it now.”
Ray has had a few other hot rods, but is surprised at the response he receives when driving the wagon, “I’ve had a Camaro and a Mustang that are nicer, but when I bring the wagon around it gets more attention,” said Ray. “I think it brings back memories for us older folks riding around in the back of these when we were kids.”
One of Ray’s proudest moments with the wagon is winning Most Creative at the 2014 Spring Charlotte AutoFair at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina … but still can’t leave well enough alone.
Ray has a roof rack and surfboard for the wagon but thinks it might mess up the traditional lines. He’s currently working on updating the center console by building a fiberglass console and paint-match the dash. “It’ll pretty much be where I want it, but nothing is ever really done, you’re always changing things.”
Photography the Author