Choosing to build a street rod can be a life-altering experience--not only in a monetary sense (the hobby has the ability to drain your life savings), but also in the sense that it can affect your interactions with brothers, sisters, moms and dads, friends, co-workers, and people you don't even know. So why would anybody want to get into the hobby on a business level? For hard-core enthusiasts, it's as natural as breathing.
Todd Larson, along with his twin brother, Mickey, lived on the peripheral edge of the hobby for many years (not that it was a lifetime, mind you, they're only 32 years old), but the hot rodding bug bit early as the twins helped out in their dad's garage building race and show cars. Having moved from Oregon to Wisconsin, and then later to Michigan, Glenn Larson and his boys enjoyed the normal Midwest hot rod routine: Work in the garage during the winter months and enjoy the car shows and drag races in the summer.
After high school the boys moved back to Oregon, where they got into the print trade (running offset presses and printing booklets and posters), but still took time to mess around with cars on the side (like true hot rodders!). In 1995, Todd picked up a '46 Chevrolet for $2,500 from a family friend. A few years before, Glenn Larson had put a Chevelle front clip under the Bow Tie, so Todd and Mickey were already familiar with the car. With help from their dad and Les Schoonover, they got the car roadworthy.
Todd drove the car in primer for a couple of years but when the brothers heard about the Hot Rod Power Tour in 1997, they thought they'd like to go. They did the Eugene to Los Angeles to Detroit and back to Eugene excursion and, along the way, met a lot of really great folks. The duo was so impressed with the trip that they drove on the Tour each of the following three years.
After the first Tour the brothers realized that the hobby was calling them so they decided to sell all of their printing paraphernalia and move to Southern California--the Mecca of hot rodding. They landed in Huntington Beach, just a few miles from where the "Donut Derelicts" gather ritualistically in the wee hours every Saturday morning to discuss every aspect of the hot rodding world.
Todd went to work for Mick Jenkins (who is now the shop foreman at SO-CAL) and Mickey found work with well-known Swedish customizer Bernt Karlson at Classics by Bernt in Stanton, California. Though they had their respective jobs, the brothers also worked together out of small shop in Stanton. By 1998, the Larsons left their 9-to-5 to open Twins Custom Concepts in Orange. One of the first cars they completed was the "Tsunami" show truck used by GM at the 2000 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. That car was followed in 2001 by the Kenwood Cadillac, a stylized '63 convertible powered by a Northstar motor and equipped with all of Kenwood's latest stereo gear. Painted black with leopard graphics, the high-profile Caddy brought the twins into the limelight.
More work for large firms followed, but the twins hadn't yet done a lot of work on street rods, a direction where they really wanted to take their business. With the success of the Caddy, Toyo Tires called the brothers in August of 2002 and asked if they had anything that could be used in the Toyo booth at the 2002 SEMA Show (only four months away). Todd said he had his old '46 Chevy coupe, but it would have to be completely rebuilt if it were to be used as the focal point of Toyo's booth.
Toyo accepted, so Todd and Mickey decided that they would not only finish Todd's Chevy, but also do a lot of extra body modifications that would help showcase their talents as customizers. The chassis still had the Chevelle crossmember Glen Larson had installed nearly 10 years before. One trick the twins did employ was using one of the frame's crossmembers as a tank for the Firestone airbags. The 4-inch round crossmember makes for an 8-gallon tank, enough to raise and lower the car from profiling stance to driving height. The rest of the chassis includes a Ford 9-inch rear (3.25:1), triangulated rear four-link, and Koni shocks on all four corners. For an updated look, Twins went with Intro for a set of their road wheels, which are 18x7 and 20x9 GT Sport 5 wheels wrapped in Toyo rubber (215/40 fronts and 255/40 rears).
The engine is a basic 350 bored .030 to 355 cubes and reassembled by Todd and Glenn. Painted light pewter (to match the chassis) by Todd, the V-8 uses an Edelbrock 750 carb and intake manifold to get the go-juice into the combustion chamber. A Chet Herbert cam and Chevy 202 heads do their job, and spent gasses exit through a pair of Other Guys Headers and out a Magnaflow exhaust kit, which includes 2.5-inch stainless tubing and a set of stainless steel Magnaflow mufflers. Fuel and brake plumbing was done by Thomas Loddby, who has been on the Twins team since they opened in 1998. A stock-spec 700-R4 trans was also used in the build up of the drivetrain.
Having to finish the car on short order didn't cut the Twins' creativity when it came to bodywork. Typical custom tricks (filling the cowl vent and wiper holes as well as rounding the corners of the doors and decklid) were accomplished, but the real time-consuming work was a result of how Mickey had envisioned the nose of the rod. In 2002, British car manufacturer Cooper had released their updated version of the Mini, and Todd liked the design of those headlights. As with any new car design, getting parts from a newly introduced car is tricky (and usually expensive).
Todd and Mickey, with $500 headlights in hand, reshaped the front fenders so they'd accept the unorthodox shape of the Mini's headlamps and redesigned the grill (and got Tom Evans to make a custom insert from billet aluminum). Aluminum inner fender panels also had to be created, and the bumpers were brought up closer to the body, which meant new gravel guards had to be made, too. Smooth rocker panels replaced the stock rocker trim and all four wheel arches were reshaped to give the rod a more aggressive look. Those familiar with a stock '46 Chevy coupe will notice the pie-cut and peaked hood and how it flows around the new grill surround.
The updated look of the rod's exterior would be matched inside the coupe with floating seats and the use of carbon fiber. The seats, buckets from a '92 Honda, are attached to a custom bracket that makes them appear as though they're floating above the carpet, just as the shifter does. The design of the dash was completely changed and large-face Auto Meter gauges were mounted in a new center console. Auto Upholstery of Orange covered the seats with a leather and carbon fiber mix and then used woven wool for clean and simple carpet design.
A special mix of House of Kolors paints were made up (called Autumn Pearl) and sprayed by Mickey's old boss, Bernt Karlson. To set that color off, the bumpers, grill surround, and wheel centers were all painted pewter, which looks both rich and techno at the same time. The car was completed on time (thanks to the rest of the Twins team of Thomas Loddby, Anders Berg, and Janne Forsvik) and shown off in the center of the Toyo Tire booth at the SEMA Show, with absolutely no one in attendance knowing that the car was built in just a few months!
Todd and Mickey hope that the Stylemaster (their name for the Chevy) not only shows what the Twins are capable of in terms of hot rod building expertise but, by working with artists such as Steve Stanford and Chip Foose, what the face of hot rodding can look like. Just don't ask Twins Custom Concepts to build your hot rod dream car in 90 days!
Todd drove his '46 Chevy in satin primer for years before completely recreating the car fo
The 355 Chevy was rebuilt and painted pewter by Todd and Glenn Larson. Innards include a C
The '92 Honda Prelude seats, recovered with leather and carbon fiber material by Auto Upho
...due to a custom bracket that suspends them and the shifter box over the wool carpet.
The dash was filled and reworked with a new centerpiece that houses five Auto Meter gauges
Mounting the 2003 Mini Cooper headlights was a real pain!
The grille was redesigned and Tom Evans made a new insert.
The bumper, which was moved in closer to the body, was painted pewter to match the engine
Cross-drilled and slotted disc brakes, supplied by Raybestos, are found on each corner, as
Todd Larson (left) with brother Mickey of Twins Custom Concepts.
|1946 Chevrolet coupe|
|Frame custom||by Twins C.C.|
|Modifications||2 x 4 rails, Chevelle front clip|
|Rearend / Ratio||Ford 9" / 3.25:1 Posi|
|Rear suspension||Deuce Factory triangulated four-link, Koni shocks, Firestone airbags|
|Rear brakes||Raybestos disc kit |
|Front suspension||Chevy IFS, Koni shocks, Caprice spindles|
|Front brakes||Raybestos disc kit |
|Master cylinder||Corvette C4|
|Front wheel make, size||Intro, 18 x 7|
|Rear wheel make, size||Intro, 20 x 9|
|Front tire make, size||Toyo, 215/40-18|
|Rear tire make, size||Toyo, 255/40-20|
|Other chassis items||8-gallon air tank in crossmember|
|Displacement||355 (350 .030 over)|
|Machining / Assembly||Todd & Glenn Larson|
|Camshaft||Chet Herbert |
|Cooling fan||16" electric|
|Radiator||'96 Volvo 960 (yes, Volvo)|
|Heads factory||2.02 fuelie|
|Manifold / Induction||Edelbrock Performer, single Edelbrock 750 carb|
|Air cleaner||ball milled |
|Ignition / Wires||stock HEI|
|Headers||Other Guys Headers, Riverside, CA|
|Exhaust / Mufflers||2.5" stainless by Magnaflow / polished stainless Magnaflow|
|Shifter||'98 Cadillac Eldorado|
|Body style / Material||coupe / steel|
|Body mods||fenders reshaped for headlights|
|Hood||nosed and peaked|
|Grill insert||by Tom Evans, Trik Products|
|Bodywork||Twins C.C., Orange, CA|
|Paint type / Color||House of Kolors / Autumn Pearl|
|Painter||Bernt Karlson, Customs by Bernt|
|Headlights / Taillights||2003 Mini Cooper / custom by Twins C.C.|
|Bumpers||smoothed and colormatched (pewter) to frame|
|Dashboard||custom by Twins C.C.|
|Insert / Gauges||carbon fiber / Auto Meter|
|Wiring GM||harness by Glenn Larson|
|Upholsterer||Auto Upholstery of Orange, Orange, CA|
|Material / Color||leather & vinyl / titanium gray|
|Other interior items||carbon fiber panels|