Along with his family, Lamar Lewallen has been involved in the automotive repair business for more than two decades (by selling cars, repairing them, filling them with gas, or towing them) and, though he’s not retiring, he decided to finally take some time to build something for himself—something to recreate the feeling he had with his first car but do it up this time with a more modern build.
After spending a couple of decades doing your job, you’d expect to be able to get some kind of reward for all of the hard work you put in. Way back when, folks used to get gold watches when they retired but, with gold now above $1,400 an ounce and most people carrying cell phones, what can you do for yourself for all the sweat equity you’ve put in?
Under the old Cadillac air...
Under the old Cadillac air cleaner is a pair of Edelbrock 600-cfm carbs that feeds the 421 small-block Chevy (bored 4.155 and stroked 3.875). Patriot heads were used, as was a Howards camshaft. A Tremec TKO 600 was bolted up and the motor can produce 490 horses at 6,200 rpm.
In 2005 Randy Lewallen, Lamar’s nephew, found a good candidate, a ’48 Ford long door coupe at a Goodguys event in Ohio. Lamar found it was an original California car and in excellent shape, and Lamar states it only took him 20 minutes to decide on the $8,500 price tag. The time wasn’t right to start the build, so the Ford was put into storage for four years while he continued to work at the body shop he owns near his home in Douglasville, Georgia.
Lamar guesses he’s built more than 20 cars (a handful of them award winning, too) and, once he decided to begin the project, he ended up talking the car over with Alan Johnson from Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop in Alabama. With the finished concept in his head, he started working on the car from the ground up.
The stock chassis was boxed and braced (with the help of Robert Brannon of Lula, Georgia), and a Heidt’s Superide independent suspension (with sway bar) went in up front. The setup came with 2-inch-drop spindles, Pro Shocks with adjustable 500-pound springs, an antiroll bar, and a Roberts Panhard bar. The rear was dialed in with a limited-slip Ford 9-inch (3.90:1) assembled with 31-spline axles, a NASCAR-type antiroll bar, another set of adjustable Pro Shocks, and a pair of drilled and slotted Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes.
Lamar turned to Alan Johnson’s...
Lamar turned to Alan Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop for the leather interior to his ’48 Ford. They stitched it up, made the bench seat, and created the cool saddle pouches for the door panels. There is a Vintage Air A/C system in the car as well as an ample stereo system. Big Classic Instruments gauges (a speedo/tach on the left, a quad gauge on the right) fill the dash, and a repro ’40 Ford steering wheel was color-matched to the car’s exterior.
Wilwood discs were used up front, too, as was an MBM master cylinder with a 7-inch booster, a Wilwood proportioning valve, rack-and-pinion steering, and a Roberts pedal assembly. Steering was completed with a Flaming River column and a repro ’40 Ford steering wheel. Rounding out the chassis was the addition of the 18-gallon steel gas tank and the Halibrand Sprint wheels (17x8) wrapped in General Altimax HP 215/50-17 front tires and 255/60-17 rears.
Power for the hot rod comes in the form of a ’72 Chevy small-block that now boasts 421 ci of displacement. Matt Bishop (Mableton, GA) did the required machine work and assembly on the motor, which uses a 3.875-inch stroke Eagle crank, 6-inch Eagle rods, 10:1 JE pistons, and a Howards cam in the short-block. Patriot aluminum heads, equipped with Howards 1.6 rockers, was topped with an Edelbrock manifold and a pair of 600-cfm Edelbrock carbs.
The rest of the drivetrain comes in the form of a Tremec TKO 600 transmission that was assembled by Keisler in Knoxville, Tennessee, with a Centerforce flywheel and disc, along with a Lokar shifter and an aluminum driveshaft from Drive Line Services. A ConceptOne front runner belt system was also used, as was an old Cadillac air cleaner that was retrofitted to mate to a pair of four-barrels. Hedman 1-5/8-inch headers, along with 2-1/2-inch stainless steel exhaust tubing, were installed along with MagnaFlow stainless steel mufflers. When all was said and done, the engine produced 490 horses at 6,200 rpm and 534 pounds of torque at 4,200 rpm.