While there are probably a great many people in the street rodding hobby who can say that they "grew up with the little-page books," few can probably say that they actually learned to read via the little pages! That's because 32-year-old Dave Paras, owner of an auto glass repair business in Peabody, Massachusetts, grew up at the knee of Bob Paras, his dad and an auto body repairman.
Bob's business was fixing cars, but he also customized them on the side for more than 10 years out of his shop on the west side of Peabody (a town about 15 miles north of Boston). The little-page books were always around the shop (even after they switched to the "big" pages!) and that's how young Dave learned how to read. He was immersed in the old car and customizing hobby from his earliest memories, and now it's part of his genetic makeup.
Dave is the type of rodder who lives by his own rules, loves what he does, and is always working on something new (whether it be a kustom or a hot rod). His ideal garage wouldn't be filled with cars off of today's assembly lines, but rather with the likes of a '51 Merc, a '50 Ford, a '29 Ford sedan, a Model A coupe, or a '58 Olds. You get the picture. But rodding is different for those in the Northeast. Having to contend with winter months and a government that has never looked too kindly on the rodding crowd has made the hobby a hard one to enjoy. You've got to really want to do it if you live there.
Being a younger rodder is a bit harder, too, as some of the old guys just don't want to give up their stash of vintage tin. But, after talking with Dave awhile it's soon understood that this kid is genuine, as is his love for the hobby. How many 14-year-olds buy a '58 Olds as their first car, as Dave did in 1987?
Ten years after the Olds purchase Dave continued to pursue his rodding hobby when he found, and bought, a beaten (Dave actually called it a "badly butchered abandoned project.") Deuce pickup for $2,500. When he saw the Deuce it was evident that if it was going to become roadworthy, someone would have to really want it.
The car's condition was lacking, to say the least: Though the Deuce was already channeled, the body was just sitting on the frame; somebody had already tried to chop it, but had done a poor job; and the bottom of the doors and cowl had rusted off. So, Dave pulled out the Sawzall and cut-off wheels and first lowered the lid a few inches and then raised the floors, which channeled the hauler down to where you have to bend over to look inside! After nine months, Dave got his truck on the road, and ran it in primer with a full set of fenders and running boards. A few years later, the truck underwent a rebuild, was chopped again and, in this incarnation, fenderless (the primed and flamed fenders are still hanging like artwork on the wall of his shop).
But the latest rebuild (we can't say "final," as they're never finished, right?) happened last year and took a couple of weeks to do with the help of his dad. The big change this time around? Gloss black paint! But the essential hot rod stayed the same, based on a '34 chassis, which was heavily Z'd out back. A Model A crossmember (from Dave's rodder friend Dan Bodek) helped lower the nose a bit, as did a '34 axle (with a 4-inch drop) and a '34 spring with a few leafs removed. A good friend of both Bob and Dave Paras, Christy Massios, supplied a complete 8-inch rear out of Granada, as well as the 11-inch drum brakes ('41 Ford drums were used up front).
In classic hot rod mode, parts were gathered from anywhere to make everything work right. Parts that were used include a steering column out of a '66 Mustang, a steering box from a '48 Ford truck, a Chevy Nova master cylinder, a Toyota Camry Panhard bar (for the rear), and a gas tank taken from a Triumph. A 14x6 and 15x7 chrome reverse wheel combo was shod in rubber that Dave carved into whitewalls himself.