Ever wonder what it means when you dream about driving or owning cars? We're not talking about the typical daydream of cruising in an open roadster down the coastline while your boss drones on with his extended speech about synergy, but rather the dreams that visit you in the middle of the night while you are in the deepest throws of REM.
Some say if your dreams involve driving, then the vehicle is really an expression of how you are moving through life. Recurring dreams sometimes happen when there is something in your life that is unresolved, and it's your mind telling you to work it out. We're not sure what experts would say if you dream about blown small-blocks or open cockpits, but like Sigmund Freud once said: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
For some, a past memory is a hard thing to let go. At almost 50 years old, Jeff Romig, from Three Rivers, Michigan, can easily recall the day in 1973 when Larry Romig, a cousin, offered him his '51 Chevy. Larry had originally bought the car in Colorado Springs for $300 upon his return from Vietnam in April 1968. Although the '51 arrived hooked to a chain and dragged by another car, Larry thought it a good starting point for 15-year-old Jeff.
Over the next summer, Jeff used his $600 in savings to restore the once-green coupe and get it on the road. The work included giving the 216 straight-six engine a valve job and other engine work while he banged on the exterior in his high school auto shop class. He got a local body shop to let him do the sanding on the car before it was painted bright red, and the interior was finished off with new door panels, carpet, and seat covers from J.C. Whitney.
A true hot rodder's car is never truly finished, and Jeff's still needed some work (the driver's door would open by itself on hard righthand turns), but it got him by and he drove it his entire senior year in high school (while dating the woman who would later become his wife). As with most newlyweds, garage space and life in general sometimes override the need for a hot rod in the garage, so Jeff sold his ride, and regretted it for years.
Jeff got on with his life and created a successful career with Eaton Corporation (he's currently a vice president and general manager of the supercharger and performance products division of the company's automotive group), and began to dream of having another '51 Chevy, though this one would have a few minor adjustments.
Jeff found his current ride a couple of years ago in Southern California (painted the same green as the one he'd been given in 1951!) and soon had it back at his house awaiting its transformation from a doddering old cruiser into a cool red rod. Now with a job that comes with a high level of responsibility and requirements of time, Jeff entrusted the rebuild of his Chevy to Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists (C.A.R.S.) in Belews Creek, North Carolina. If the C.A.R.S. name sounds familiar, it might be because of the new reproduction '69 Camaros they assemble that are produced in conjunction with Hot Rod magazine (with all brand-new parts, including a freshly stamped '69 Camaro sheetmetal body).
But beyond its foray into building new/old Camaros, C.A.R.S. is also an expert restoration and hot rod-building facility. Sheetmetal fabrication is the company's specialty, but assembly, trim repair, paint, and upholstery are all facets of the business, so taking on Jeff's coupe was not a problem for the crew.
The stock 115-inch Chevy chassis was retained, but boxed and then updated with Eaton Aeroquip braided lines, a Moser Engineering 12-bolt (4.88:1) with an Eaton Posi, and a Mustang II front suspension from Fatman Fabrications. The IFS uses tubular A-arms and stainless coilovers while the rear was built using leaves that were lowered 2 inches from stock by Eaton Detroit Spring. All four corners come with SSBC Elite disc brakes as well as Boyd Coddington wheels (17x8 and 18x9) wrapped in Pirelli PZero Rosso tires (235/45ZR17, 255/55ZR18).
Jeff's day job as a VP at Eaton Corporation means he knows a thing or two about engine performance, so it should be no surprise to learn his small-block is a gearhead's dream come true. Wegner Motorsports started the assembly of the V-8 with an aluminum LS2 block (with six-bolt, cross-bolt mains), a 4340 steel crank, 6.100-inch rods, and 4-inch aluminum pistons for a total displacement of 366 cubes. WAR Max-Motion 6 CNC heads, set up with a 2.00/1.55-inch valve combo, dual COMP Cams springs, and 1.7:1 ratio rockers are fed by an Eaton/Magnuson supercharger system with exhaust exiting through a pair of Tri-Y headers from Wegner Motorsports and stainless steel Flowmaster mufflers. A Keisler T56 Viper six-speed trans helps get the beast down the road in short order. The engine and trans combine for a rating of 578 hp at 10.68:1 compression, and is good for 565 lb-ft of torque.
The engine configuration began with an aluminum LS2 Gen III block, machined and assembled
The air intake for the supercharger is a nice bit of work, mounted off the edge of the rad
Taken in the early '70s, this photo shows Jeff when he was in high school just after he fi
Classic Automotive Restoration Services also completed the interior of Jeff's ride, using
The dash was smoothed out and filled with Auto Meter gauges (with red backlighting), with
A Hurst shifter selects the gears, while a Kenwood stereo system and Infinity speakers sup
The coupe's body is about as straight and perfect as you'd expect from a high-quality body restoration company, and C.A.R.S. added a Bitchin' Products smooth firewall, tubbed rear wheelwells, and a one-piece '51 Olds windshield (the original Chevy windshield was a two-piece) before the crew covered their work with a DuPont Chroma Premier Honda Milano Red, which is about as red as you can get!
A trip to the in-house upholstery shop was next, and C.A.R.S. covered the Rod Doors split-bench front and rear seats with a granite-colored Ultraleather while using a two-tone smoke combo on the door panels and in the trunk. The dash has been smoothed out in preparation for the whiteface Auto Meter Phantom gauges (with red backlighting), and a boost gauge for the supercharger was installed in the pod on top of the dash where the car's clock used to be. A Vintage Air cooling system was also installed, as were power windows and a Kenwood stereo system (with Infinity speakers) that all work with the help of an American Autowire Highway 22 wiring system. To finish off the interior, a polished aluminum Flaming River Elegant Waterfall steering wheel was mated to one of the company's polished-aluminum steering columns.
Soon Jeff was able to take his ride out on the open road, and he's never been happier. Being such a hot rod enthusiast, he knows he's lucky to have a job where he gets to mix his work with pleasure, and his Chevy is an extension of those good times. The '51 has picked up a few awards since being completed, but the real reward for Jeff is being able to live his dream, and you don't need a psychologist to tell you what that means to him!