George Poteet’s name should be fairly familiar to anyone who has followed the hot rodding scene for the past two decades or so. Though some of the cars he’s had built over the years (and there have been dozens) have won the Don Ridler Memorial Award and been featured on the cover of STREET RODDER as well as The Rodder’s Journal, what most folks don’t know about him is that he might possibly be the most generous man in hot rodding.

Literally dozens of shops across the country can thank George for picking their business as a place where he wants a car built and, not so long ago, he had more than 10 different cars going together at the same time in various locations. That’s a staggering number really, especially when you consider he already owns more than 100 cars.

For some well-established shops, it’s a sign they really know what they’re doing. But George has also picked rod builders who are new to the scene and, in doing so, puts the newbie on the proverbial map. Some of his cars are scratch-built (such as the Don Pilkenton–built ’37 roadster that won the Ridler in 1996 and the AMBR in 1997), some are made from a stack of aftermarket parts (like a Brookville roadster pickup), while others start with an original car that gets either heavily modified (like the ’54 Plymouth-based, Viper-powered Sniper from 1996) or subtly reworked (which would include the gold ’40 Ford pickup or the black ’32 Ford Sedan Delivery that were both built at Dave Lane’s FastLane Rod Shop within the last few years).

The way it works is George usually gives a builder the raw car, some ideas about how he’d like it done, then leaves them alone to build it (in the eyes of most shop owners: a perfect customer!). But living in Memphis, Tennessee, George didn’t have to go far for his latest ride. Steve Legens of Legens Hot Rod Shop is based in Martin, Tennessee, and he recently finished a ’66 Chevelle 300 for George. You know when George likes what you do, as he shows it by coming back as a repeat customer.

For some time George had wanted to build a black 1955 Chevy and had some particular ideas of what it should look like because he had been dreaming about this car since he saw one just like it back in 1966. He had just parked his four-door ’50 Studebaker next to a flat black ’55 at the local community college, and George says he thought “it was the most beautiful thing that I’d ever seen.” It obviously made an impression on him, with its mile-high stance, chrome wheels, and ’64 Chevy bucket seats because, 45 years later, that’s the car he wanted Legens to create for him.

George found a ’55 210 post in Cincinnati and turned it over to Legens with a list of improvements he would have made to that car from 1966 if he could have. George wanted chrome wheels, a flat-black paintjob, a ’64 Impala interior, a metalflake steering wheel, a red ’n’ white Sun tachometer, a shaved hood, and station wagon one-piece bumpers. Anything else and they’d talk about it.

Legens got the concept and started with a blasted and powdercoated frame that soon received a Ford 9-inch Currie rear (3.73:1) and disc brakes up front. Lakewood Industries ladder bars were bolted up, too, and Wheel Vintique 15x7 and 15x8 chrome reverse wheels were shod in Kumho 215/75 and P235/70 rubber.

The engine is a dressed-up 350, topped with an Edelbrock 2x4 carb-and-manifold combo (with twin 500-cfm carbs under a pair of air cleaners Legens modified). A shrouded flex fan and original Cal Custom valve covers exemplify the correct era, but a Powermaster alternator and a Griffin aluminum radiator are contemporary items that add a little peace of mind over the stock factory items. Mallory supplies the spark and Hooker Headers extract spent gases through a powdercoated 2-1/2-inch exhaust system. A Richmond five-speed transmission was requisitioned, and gears are selected using a Hurst shifter.

For the body, Legens smoothed out the decklid (adding one of their new smooth decklid latch kits) and the hood plus reworked the bumpers. The front had all the bracket holes filled; it was narrowed, then mounted close to the body. The rear had the boltholes filled, too, and was also narrowed, but then had a centersection from a station wagon added, which allowed the license plate to mount on the bumper instead of the middle of the decklid. Sherm’s Plating did all the chrome work, which contrasts the PPG flat black paint and flat clear Legens sprayed over the exterior.

The look of the car so far could be called “basic,” but the Black Widow really comes alive when it gets to the interior. Not only was the choice to run ’64 Impala SS interior pieces a great one, but the color choice of the material (metalflake blue) really lends itself to the era George was aiming at. The interior appears to glow under the white headliner.

Legens used parts from Ciadella Interiors in Tempe, Arizona, (who specialize in ’53-64 Chevy fabrics and interior pieces) and made whatever else he needed himself. The Black Widow theme is prevalent, and Legens had the name and spider logo placed throughout the car and even had small medallions made to inset into the car’s interior where the SS logo used to be. You’ll also find the logo and name inside each of the small Classic Instruments gauges in the Erco housing mounted under the dash and wiring from American Autowire is used throughout.

Up on the steering column is a Mooneyes metalflake steering wheel and a Sun Captain America tach and, if you look on the dash where the clock used to be, you’ll find a portrait of George covered with the glass from a magnifying glass. Another subtle (but time-consuming when it came to fabrication) item are the door handles. Using ’64 Impala armrests required moving the location of the door openers, which meant Legens had to modify the doors to work that way, too.

One thing you can say about George is, even though he has so many cars, he likes to drive them as often as possible. The evidence of that is actually how he met Legens in the first place: Legens’ shop did body and paintwork on several of George’s cars because, as he puts it, “I am pretty rough on some of the drivers that I own.” George also states he’s “been dreaming about cars since the ’50s” and that “no one loves any and all cars any more than I do.”

So, in a nutshell, he has them built because he loves them and, once done, drives the snot out of them. If any reader of STREET RODDER had the incredible opportunities George Poteet has worked hard to make for himself, would they do it any differently? Probably not. And George is just happy to spread some of that love around.

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