"My plan was to build a late '50s, early '60s rod, so it had to have a vintage engine. I was thinking Caddy motor," Matt says. His friend Jamie Macrakin, provided the lead on a '59 390 that he scooped up for $150. Machining and assembly was done at Wholesale Machine in San Diego, California. To continue the period appearance, Matt dressed up the engine with a pair of finned aluminum Offenhauser valve covers and helmet air cleaners on the triple Holley 94 carburetors. It took him a while to locate the Edelbrock three-pot aluminum intake he needed. He finally located one by accident. When talking to a friend about it at a swap meet, his friend's friend overheard and told Matt that he had the manifold he was looking for hanging on a nail in his garage. The exhaust manifold is the stock '59 Cadillac piece. Matt built the side pipes from some old-style lakes pipes he had in his own garage, and added a pair of Glasspack Blue Streak mufflers for the proper tone.
Fitting the Cadillac onto the 'rails required making new radiator mounts, sliding them forward to fit the stock fan and the engine between the firewall and the Walker radiator. A Wilcap adapter matches the 390 to the Turbo 350 transmission. Although he wanted an automatic trans, he also wanted the looks of a stick shift, so a Gennie automatic shifter was the answer. The devil shifter knob is yet another swap meet specimen, thumbing its nose at the Stewart-Warner Wings gauges in the Auburn-style Parr dash insert inside a homemade Deuce-style dash. Gary Timm contributed the '51 Merc steering wheel, restored in Matt's garage and mounted on a column from The Hot Rod Company. Robert Ortiz in San Diego used red and white vinyl to transform an old Ford van bench into a '50s-style roadster seat-and covered the inside panels to match. Wiring duties were handled by Paul Dunn, and Bob Lindeken handled the glass.
It took about two-and-a-half years for Matt to get the roadster pickup on the street. "What really helped me stay focused on the project was a little saying: Dream it, build it, drive it." Matt's enjoying the "drive it" portion of that little proverb now, but told us that he's already made some progress on the "dream it" and "build it" stages of his next project.