Ron Moore isn’t embarrassed to admit he spent 25 years building his first street rod.
“That’s half my married life,” he says, and he’s quick to credit his wife with some good advice on transforming a rough 1935 Chevy two-door sedan into a truly beautiful automobile.
“She understands my addiction. I wanted to keep the basic lines to it and Peggy decided ‘no chopping, no flames,’ ” Moore recalls.
“I bought the car from Rick Prather for $500 in 1989. It was stacked up on a trailer and he was planning to turn it into a sedan delivery. He had wood panels in the back windows and had laid out the lines where he was going to cut a back door into it.
“I scrapped that idea immediately,” Moore said. His plans evolved over the years as he taught himself how to weld and fabricate metal parts needed to fix the tattered fenders and body panels.
“I widened the rear fenders 3 1/2 inches and the running boards to fit the wider fenders,” he said. “There was a lot of wood inside these old cars, and I replaced the wood in the door pillars with metal.
“Instead of chopping the top, I raised the floor an inch, using 1-inch square tubing.”
The idea was to hide all of the wiring, brake and fuel lines under the raised floor, which was then covered in plywood with access panels cut into the wood. That, in turn, would clean up the underside of the chassis, with no plumbing or wiring showing from below.
Using the stock ’35 Chevy frame as a point of departure, he modified the chassis to accept a V-8 engine and more modern suspension components. It took him three tries to come up with a front axle that worked for the project, a Jelly’s 6-inch dropped tubular axle that mounts Wilwood disc brakes. A Ford Escort rack and pinion steering unit was bolted in place.
Under the rear of the frame, Moore installed a 4-bar suspension with ’87 Cadillac disc brakes. It carries a GM 10-bolt rear end, narrowed 6 inches by Holzman Race Cars. The differential is fitted with a set of 2.73 gears for easy highway cruising.
Chunky BFG T/A tires, 275/60R15’s in the rear and 185/70R14’s at the front, ride on old-school Tru Spoke chromed wire wheels.
To power his Chevy, Moore found a swap meet buy on a recently rebuilt Chevy 350 V-8 engine. It is basically stock, save for a performance camshaft ground by Jerry Wilson to match the Inglese intake manifold mounting four gorgeous Weber 44 IDF carburetors.
“That was one of the first things I bought. I had to plumb the inside of the intake to supply vacuum to the carbs. But I figured, ‘Why not? I’m only going to do this once,’ ” Moore said. He also installed a set of specially coated stainless steel block-hugger headers, along with full-length stainless exhaust and Speedway steel-packed mufflers, which creates a wonderful rumble when the car is fired up.
Moore wasn’t satisfied with his efforts to patch the rusted-through tail pan of the body, so he took the car to Chris Carlson in Mulvane to clean up his work. Carlson also came up with an improved running board mounting system for the Chevy.
Wanting to retain the period look at the rear of the car, Moore enlisted Corey Conyers to create a one-of-a-kind metal spare tire cover, which was hand-formed over the spare tire itself. It is so closely fitted that to remove it, you have to let a little air out of the tire.
Moore wanted to install a Rootlieb 3-piece custom hood assembly on the car, but he also wanted to retain the original horizontal louver design of the original hood. So he carefully cut the louvers out and grafted them to the new side panels.
After convincing Carlson that the sedan really did not need a top chop, Moore rebuilt the oak inner structure of the roof opening, with a thin metal panel used to mount an original-looking fabric roof upholstered in Mercedes-Benz weatherproof material.
With the body work finished, Moore selected a custom Root Beer color for his Chevy.
“My car buddies call it `Beer Bottle Brown,’ ” he chuckled. For accent, he had Chad Ward lay down some ultra-fine pinstripes in the same buckskin tan color that covers the finished chassis and the velocity stacks on the engine.
Inside appointments were handed off to Scott Downey’s Auto Upholstery, which used a set of Italian leather hides sourced from Cessna executive aircraft surplus, to cover modified Glide Engineering bench seats, fore and aft. The Grant banjo-style steering wheel was wrapped in the same material, while tan cloth was used for the hand-stitched headliner.
Moore said he was a little perplexed by the dashboard that was in the car when he bought it, only discovering later that it wasn’t a Chevy part, but a 1933 Pontiac dashboard. It looks perfect for the job, fitted with Classic Instruments and controls for a Vintage Air air conditioning/heater system.
Rounding out the interior modifications are a tall Gennie shifter and Cadillac power windows.
The only problem Moore has encountered after a quarter century of painstaking work is that some people don’t know what they’re looking at when they see his ’35 Chevy.
“They’ll bring other people over and say, `My uncle had a Ford just like that,’ ” he said.
Thus, the vanity plate on his car: NO FORD,
Mike Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org