1937 Chevy Business coupe - Doin' Daddy Proud
A Daughter's Love For Her Father
From the July, 2008 issue of Street Rodder
By Jim Rizzo
Photography by Randy Lorentzen
Lori's '37 is the epitome...
Lori's '37 is the epitome of cool. Her plan was to restore the coupe so it retained the look of the original car her dad had loved, but to update it with all the modern performance, safety, and convenience features she deemed fitting for an everyday driver-she sure hit the mark. Its original 71-year-old paintjob was meticulously saved and newly sealed by Butch Lynch of Uncle Bitchin's in Temecula, CA.
Most of us who build and enjoy hot rods do so because we're lifelong gearheads. We cut our teeth on car magazines and drooled over hot jalopies and show cars as kids; as we grew older, most of us graduated to building and owning, and our motivation became the pure love of the automobile. In the case of Lori Fujii's way-cool '37 Chevy coupe, love was yet again the motivator-not for the vehicle itself, but the love of a daughter for her dad.
Lori's story began years ago while her father, Tad Fujii, a consummate hot rodder, spent his time wrenching on and driving a '40 Ford. Though he enjoyed the Ford, he'd had his eye on a stock '37 Chevy Business coupe belonging to an old family friend. The Chevy had been stored in a barn over in Compton, California, since 1953, and Tad had tried for years to get the owner to sell it though to no avail.
Years later, just before Tad's 60th birthday, Lori decided she'd try to buy the old coupe herself as a surprise birthday present for Dad. Hoping for the best, but steeled for the worst, Lori contacted the owner, who, much to her delight, not only agreed to give up the Chevy, but after hearing the reason she wanted it so badly, actually gave it to her for free. Needless to say, her dad was both surprised and thrilled with his gift.
In her quest for a well-performing...
In her quest for a well-performing and reliable ride, Lori opted for a 350-cube small-block as the coupe's powerplant. The GM crate engine was equipped with an Edelbrock cam, intake, and four-barrel carb, along with an aluminum water pump, a small-body HEI distributor, and a pair of Corvette valve covers. The SBC was backed by an Art Carr-prepped 200-4R, a custom driveshaft, and a 9-inch Ford rearend.
After 41 years in storage, Tad and his daughter towed the coupe home, and, Lori noted, it was one of the happiest days of her father's life. With his birthday present ensconced in the safety of the family garage, Tad set about planning his long-awaited build. He intended on taking his time and working slowly-a little bit here, a little bit there-as this was to be his retirement project.
Tragically, just 11 months after his birthday, Lori's dad was killed in a car accident. As one would imagine, the family was devastated; they barely knew what to do about anything, let alone the fate of the Chevy. All Lori knew was it was really important and special to her father, so she could never part with it. The unfinished coupe went back into storage.
Ten years passed before Lori made the decision to finally finish the project her father started. She knew her dad would have built it to drive and enjoy, so she planned on doing the same. Her goal was to build a totally reliable daily driver that kept the Chevy looking exactly as it had, both inside and out, when her father began his rodstoration. So, with much help and guidance from friend and co-worker Bruce Gray, the pair meticulously planned every step of the build using the skills of a group of professional-including, but not limited to, Garrett Wilson of Burbank-based Hollywood Hot Rods, Mark Lopez of Upland, and Butch Lynch and Dennis Ricklefs of Uncle Bitchin's in Temecula-to bring their plan to fruition.
As you can see, and as you might imagine, Lori's coupe ended up just as she had wished-a patina'd, stock-looking car with all the comforts, performance, and reliability anyone could wish for. Plus, a multitude of cool custom tweaks were added that she'll enjoy while driving her new hot rod daily-just as her father would have done.
Lori learned the fine art...
Lori learned the fine art of parts procurement during the process. She became quite adept at swap meet and eBay hunting, and pretty handy with aftermarket parts suppliers' catalogs, as well-though, true to her plan, the Chevy looks as if it were rolled out of the barn yesterday.
The interior is every bit...
The interior is every bit as nice as it was when the car rolled off the assembly line. Above and beyond fresh mohair upholstery done by Elegance Auto Interiors, the '37 is now equipped with a Vintage Air unit, power windows-operated by the original window cranks-and a top-of-the-line stereo system. The original seat has been fitted with a power seat track assembly pirated from a '70 Caddy and seat heaters controlled by the original Chevy heater switches.
The interior of Lori's Chevy...
The interior of Lori's Chevy is actually the trickest part of the car. The aforementioned air conditioning utilizes hidden side vents and a center vent disguised to look as original as possible. The original radio dial face is now the tachometer and the volume and selector knobs control the car's foglights and Newport Engineering intermittent wipers. The original instruments have been internally modernized by Redline Gauge Works, as well.
At first glance, Lori's coupe...
At first glance, Lori's coupe looks just as it did the day she and her father towed home the project from its previous 40 years of storage. She retained that look, while updating it as a daily driver, in tribute to her dad, who we're sure would be rightfully proud.
The original column drop was...
The original column drop was fitted to the new Flaming River steering column topped with a Juliano's banjo-style steering wheel, and there's a hidden switch in the driver's door armrest that controls the passenger-side window. Another neat item is the custom acrylic shift knob-it contains a couple of filter-less Camel cigarette butts that were in the ashtray when Lori and her dad towed it home years ago.
|Facts & Figures |
|Lori Fujii |
|West Lake Village, California |
|1937 Chevy Business coupe |
|Frame / Manufacturer ||modified stock / Chevrolet |
|Wheelbase ||112.3" |
|Modifications ||custom crossmember, Total Cost Involved (Ontario, CA) |
|Chassis plumbing ||steel |
|Rearend / Ratio ||9" Ford / 3.50:1 |
|Rear suspension ||Chassis Engineering Inc. (Riviera Beach, FL) leaf |
|Rear brakes ||11" Ford drum |
|Front suspension ||IFS, Total Cost Involved |
|Front brakes ||disc |
|Master cylinder ||Master Power Brakes (Mooresville, NC) |
|Steering ||r&p |
|Front wheel make, size ||The Wheelsmith (Santa Ana, CA), 15x6 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||The Wheelsmith, 15x8 |
|Front tire make, size ||Dayton, 205/75-15 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Dayton, 235/75-15 |
|Gas tank ||Rock Valley, stainless 20-gal |
|Make ||Chevrolet |
|Displacement ||350ci |
|Camshaft ||Edelbrock (Torrance, CA), #2102 |
|Water pump ||FlowKooler |
|Cooling fan ||16" electric |
|Radiator ||Walker Radiator Works (Memphis, TN) |
|Alternator ||160-amp |
|Heads ||GM, iron |
|Valve covers ||Corvette |
|Manifold / Induction ||Edelbrock |
|Ignition / Wires ||HEI / 8.5mm |
|Headers ||iron manifolds |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||21/2" mandrel-bent / Mustang |
|Other engine facts ||dress-up items custom knurled by Nimmo Machine (Costa Mesa, CA) |
|Make ||200-4R |
|Converter ||2,400-rpm stall, Art Carr, Art Carr Performance Products (Abilene, TX) |
|Shifter ||Lokar (Knoxville, TN) |
|Trans mods ||Art Carr |
|Driveshaft ||custom, Inland Empire Driveline (Ontario, CA) |
|Body style / Material ||Business coupe / steel |
|Body manufacturer ||Chevrolet |
|Hood ||stock steel |
|Bodywork ||Butch Lynch, Uncle Bitchin's (Temecula, CA) |
|Paint type / Color ||original lacquer / black |
|Painter ||touch-up by Butch Lynch, Uncle Bitchin's |
|Striping ||Dennis Ricklefs, Uncle Bitchin's |
|Headlights / Taillights ||halogen / stock |
|Outside mirror ||SO-CAL Speed Shop (Pomona, CA) |
|Other body items ||chrome by Sihilling Metal Polishing (Santa Ana, CA) |
|Dashboard ||modified stock-appearing |
|Insert / Gauges ||stock / Redline Gauge Works (Santa Clarita, CA) |
|Stereo / Speakers ||Custom Autosound (Fullerton, CA) |
|Air conditioning ||Vintage Air (San Antonio, TX) |
|Insulation ||Dynamat, LizardSkin, Tru-Max & Acoustishield |
|Wiring ||American Autowire (Bellmawr, NJ) harness installed by Bruce Gray (Newport Beach, CA) |
|Steering wheel ||Juliano's Hot Rod Parts & Interior Products (Ellington, CT), banjo |
|Steering column ||Flaming River (Berea, OH) |
|Seats ||modified stock |
|Upholsterer ||Mark Lopez, Elegance Auto Interiors (Upland, CA) |
|Material / Color ||mohair / olive |
|Carpet ||beige |
|Seatbelts ||Juliano's three-point |