AUGUSTA – Edwin Little was actually trying to buy a 1958 Olds 2-door hardtop when he wound up bringing a 1937 Chevy Business Coupe home.
“This car was owned by Mitch Kamp for 32 years. It had sat in a corner of his shop for all that time. He had put the engine and transmission in it and that was about as far as he got,” said Little.
“I was trying to buy that Oldsmobile in the fall of 2003 when he called and asked if I might be interested in the ’37,” he recalled. “I ended up buying both of them, but I sold the Olds because I didn’t really need it.”
With the help of his son, Mark Little, he tore the ’37 apart.
“We took it clean off the frame,” he said.
“When the body was in bare metal, it was impeccable, absolutely no rust on it,” marveled Mark Little. “It was the easiest car I ever worked on.”
“I had a ’37 Chevy just like this back in 1948,” said his father.
“Well, maybe not “just like this.” This 1937 Chevy would not be a strict restoration project, but a street rod.
“I’ve done several cars,” Ed Little noted. “I was raised on a farm and I’ve always done mechanical work all my life. I’ve monkeyed with old cars a long time.”
He worked at the oil refinery in El Dorado, but did true “shade-tree mechanic” work for a small repair shop when he wasn’t at his regular job.
A series of health problems for Little meant the Chevy coupe would be a long-term project, spanning nearly a decade. The car eventually was moved to Mark Little’s shop, where the father-son team spent evenings and weekends working on the car.
A Mustang II front suspension, complete with rack-and-pinion steering and 2-inch dropped axles was installed. Lowering blocks were used to bring the 1973 Nova rear end down an equal amount.
Ed Little said the ’89 Chevy smallblock V-8 was left basically stock, with the exception of an Edelbrock intake and carburetor. Even the stock valve covers were retained, along with the factory cast iron exhaust manifolds, which now flow into a Walker muffler-based dual exhaust system fabricated by Kevin Kaiser at his American Muffler shop.
Body modifications were kept to a minimum, with smaller custom motorcycle headlights added to each front fender. For a cleaner look, Little did away with the vent windows and installed one-piece glass in each door, along with electric window lifts, door releases and locks.
Although the owner had a pair of old grilles to fit the car, they were in bad shape and he opted for a beautiful laser-cut stainless steel grille, complete with a Chevy emblem in the center.
There was never any thought given to chopping the top of the pristine coupe body, which was given a beautiful finish of PPG Fleet Green paint, a vintage-looking hue, applied by Brandon Wegerle at Coops Auto Designs.
To set that off, Little chose bright orange steel wheels accented by chrome spiders and beauty rings. Milemaster Touring SE radials, measuring 215/75R15 in the rear and 205/70R15 up front, were picked for smooth highway cruising and work well with the 700R4 automatic overdrive transmission.
A tilt steering column from a Chevy van was mounted under the dash and topped with a 40 Ford-style 2-spoke steering wheel. An antique-looking mushroom-shaped shift knob adds to the vintage ambience.
The project came with a Southern Air air conditioning system, which was installed with vents in the modified dashboard and the handbuilt center console, which also houses the sound system and climate controls.
Roger Munza of Jim’s Upholstery used several cream-colored leather hides sourced from Cessna aircraft surplus to upholster the interior, which consists of a set of 60/40 Ford Ranger pickup seats. The same material covers the custom door panels, headliner and even the underside of the trunk lid.
Ed Little shortened up the long trunk space, building a bulkhead that allowed for some storage behind the seats, and that area also received the custom upholstery treatment.
Little said he may not be as limber as he used to be and sometimes needs to have a chair handy while he’s working, but he still loves working on old cars.
“I’m always looking for something unique. I stay busy,” he grinned.
And son Mark says the time spent with his dad on this project will always be a prized memory. “I think I feel closer to him now than I ever have,” he said.
Reach Mike Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.