I’m staring down a slippery slope to that magical half-century mark. Just a mere 10 months from now I will be 50. I don’t feel that old. As a matter of fact, I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel like I’m maybe 30ish ... until I look in the mirror and see some old man staring back. All of a sudden I’m sucker-punched back to the reality that the hands of time are slipping by much faster than I want to admit. Here’s the rub ... at any given time there are about 30-40 cars bouncing around in my head that I would love to build before my time on this earth expires. Consider it a bucket list of sorts. Most of them are Chevys, a few are obscure—most are not. Not all are high-dollar. Here are a few examples trapped in my head. Hopefully, someday, a few will transform into reality.
Oh boy, I can see now. It’s got to have the big opera-type windows. I would pull in the bumpers a bit. Clean up the ill-fitting panels. Paint it a sinister dark color with deep tinted windows. It would have to sit low with 19-inch Rushforth Black Widow wheels with brushed hoops and exterior trim. I would throw some good suspension and Baer brakes at it. Finish it off with an ultra-quiet twin-turbo LS. Think 7 Series BMW road car that would embarrass most late-model throttle jockeys.
Drag Week Car
The model doesn’t really matter, but I would prefer something more obscure like an ’80’s Malibu wagon or some other survivor type car. I’m not sure which class to race in, just one I could get out and enjoy the Drag Week experience just to say I’ve done it. It would be a small-tire car and I would study the rules and exploit every loophole possible. Isn’t that what racing is all about?
Quickly approaching the 10-year mark since production began, they are getting very affordable. Simple, refined, elegant ... not my version. I would buy a well-used model (think rental car thrashed). First thing I would do is put it on a serious diet and shed any and everything unnecessary to function. I would ’cage it and make it loud and fast ... very fast. I could drag race it, autocross it, whatever, but mostly just tick people off at the local drive-through coffee stands trying to place their order over the loud rumble of some overcammed, ProCharger supercharged LS powerplant. It wouldn’t do any one activity well, except boiling tires off at will. It wouldn’t be comfortable to drive. The paint wouldn’t be perfect. But it would be the one car I would take on errands and not stress it if there were a shopping cart resting against the fender.
1962 Bubbletop Bel Air
This is arguably the sexiest car Chevrolet ever produced. One of the last true classics before plastics invaded the production process. I know that is a bold statement and in stock form they do leave a little on the table. “Wheels and stance make the car,” is my mantra and these cars absolutely transform with an altitude adjustment and correct wheels. My build would be simple, keeping with the mostly stock appearance. I would hide a bunch of details that would easily be overlooked. I love the bold pattern and colors the interiors from this era had. A bench seat and three pedals would be mandatory. Power would come from a stroked 409 with fuel injection. The engine would look like 1962 with all modern electronics hidden away. This one would simply fall under the less is more category.
This is the one I will own and start on by the time this goes to press. 1955 Chevys are my roots. I bought one as my first car when I was 13. It’s time to get back to that car as a tribute to turning 50. The plan and design are consuming my thoughts and keeping me up at night. How do you build a ’55 a certain way that hasn’t been done before? I’ve got almost every detail worked out. I don’t want to give away too much, but I can say there is a certain black ’55 Chevy that graced the silver screen years ago that many a young man fell in love with. The plan is simple. What if Mr. Falfa still owned that car and it kept getting updated throughout the years. What if he redid that car today but kept some of the key features that make it so iconic. What if?
Other cars worth mentioning are: a 1970 Chevelle without stripes and a nasty large-cube big-block, a 1979 Z28 with perfect gaps and stance, a 1970’s shorty van (yes, I want one ... bad), a clean C10, the usual mid ’60’s Corvette, and many more.
Time to get busy.
What’s on your Chevy bucket list?
Photography by Tommy Lee Byrd; Robert McGaffin