We all build performance machines for different reasons, whether it's a link to our past, a chance to relive a teenage dream or just the appreciation of days gone by. Every person has a reason that's as different as his or her car. For Prince Herzog of Huntington Beach, California, his reasons for building this 1941 Chevy Coupe are a combination of all of the above, and a few others of his own.
Since he was of driving age, he has been tinkering with cars and trucks of most every vintage, from '37 Fords to full-size Chevy "Sport trucks." His '41 was built to be a reliable runner that he and his wife can hop into and hit the road to a car show or take on an out-of-town, two-day mini-vacation (What most of us call Saturday and Sunday).
After making the initial vehicle purchase, the car was dropped off at Pro Design in Santa Ana, California, where owner Mike Filion and his team of craftsmen, each skilled in their own area of expertise, got busy on the transformation. The first step was, of course, to fully disassemble the vehicle down to a rolling chassis before setting it up on the frame table. Brandon Smith (the chassis guy) stripped the frame down until the two bare framerails remained, grafted a Heidt's Mustang II front crossmember, then added chromed, tubular upper and lower control arms with coil-over shocks and Wilwood disc brakes. Out back, the chassis was fitted with a four-link and Panhard rod, while a narrowed nine-inch rearend stuffed with 4.11 gears and Wilwood disc brakes delivers the power to the wheels. Speaking of wheels, 17 x 8 Budnik Mag-nums run up front, while monster 18 x 10s fill the rear wheelwells. The billet rollers are wrapped in 255/40R17 and 285/35R18 Continental AquaContact rubber bands.
For motivation, Engine Supply, also in Santa Ana, went through the 1994 Corvette LT1 motor to freshen it up, since Prince had plans to put some serious miles on this car. The 4L80E transmission was also gone through and cleaned up before being mated to the LT1. The engine/tranny combo was dropped back between the nearly completed framerails for a trial fit. Tom Dawson (the header guy) built the custom headers that snake around the steering column on the driver's side and between the framerails before the frame was once again torn back down and powdercoated by Olympic Powdercoating. Olympic applied the ceramic coating to the headers, as well.
While the chassis was being built, the Pro Design guys got busy on the body. The stock steel hood center was welded up and the front and rear fenders were narrowed one inch on both sides and welded to the body to tighten up the profile of the car. A custom rear roll pan was also built to fit the narrowed profile. The bumpers were pulled in, then sectioned to wrap around the body for a tighter fit. To maintain a smooth appearance, the filler panels between the bumper and body were shortened up and recontoured to fit the shape of the "new" bumpers. As a finishing touch before going to chrome, the bumper bolt holes were welded up and smoothed out. The keylocks were shaved and all the corners of the doors were rounded off. The body was then put back onto the frame to double check all the clearances and gaps before Michael Bernardo's Body and Paint, in Garden Grove, California, laid down the flawless PPG Isuzu Chariot Red Pearl paint.