The gauges in Garry’s Chevy...
The gauges in Garry’s Chevy might be reminiscent of a Bulova wristwatch from the ’40s because the builder, Mike Keller, had Jason Rushforth draw up some concepts with that in mind before Mike made the gauge surrounds himself.
For those who believe you cant go back, they obviously havent met Garry Crawford. Based in El Dorado, Kansas, Garry has spent most of his seven decades in the small towns around Wichita, which includes going to high school in Ellis.
Garry was one of the 57 people in the class of 1962 at USD 388 (go Railroaders!) as was his friend, Jerry Keller. As a senior in high school, Garry owned a ’40 Chevy and, over time, sold it but never forgot about having one. As most hot rodders know, cars are extremely important when growing up, but living in rural Kansas in the ’60s it meant freedom to Garry.
The thought of owning another ’40 Chevy was never far from his mind and, decades later, as one of his friends was having a car built, Garry thought he’d like to relive a bit of his youth, too.
He turned to the son of Jerry Keller, Mike, who had caught the rod and restoration bug early on in his life. At 14, Mike was rebuilding his first car, a ’66 Mustang he bought at the age of 12. Taking them apart, fixing what was wrong, and putting them back together eventually turned his avocation into his vocation.
By the time he was in his early thirties, Mike opened up a shop devoted to restoring old cars and building hot rods and, in 2009, expanded his Big Creek Restoration into a 10,000-square-foot shop located in Ellis. So when Garry asked Mike to locate a ’40 Chevy for him, he obliged, finding a suitable candidate in Columbus, Ohio.
The 40 Chevy is usually not on the top of the list of most peoples Best Looking Hot Rods, but Mike was out to change that. He contacted Jason Rushforth, an automotive illustrator and wheel maker based in Tacoma. Mike and Rushforth kicked around a bunch of designs for Garrys Chevy, but it was only after Mike had remembered the design of a vintage wristwatch from the 40s that the concept started to gel.
RideTech ’bags help the Chevy...
RideTech ’bags help the Chevy with its profile and the PPG Vibrance cinnamon candy over a copper base was applied at Big Creek Restorations in Ellis, KS.
The seats are out of a ’95...
The seats are out of a ’95 Lincoln Mark VIII and covered in leather by Xibit Customs.
The dash was reworked and...
The dash was reworked and smoothed out in steel by Mike, who added the ’46 Ford trim piece above the custom dash vents. The ’40 Ford steering wheel is a LimeWorks unit, bolted to a Flaming River column.
The design would become integral to the car’s interior layout, and Rushforth and Mike also reimagined the car’s exterior. The grille on a ’40 Chevy isn’t particularly memorable and, following the design he and Rushforth worked out, Mike reshaped the front fenders that sweep back an inch more than stock. Mike also made a new, thicker grille surround out of 18-gauge steel, which was shaped by hand with a hammer and dolly.
The insert is made from billet tubing shaped with two different dies on Mikes Pullmax machine, and the bars were finished in his English wheel with a little extra finessing being done over his knee. A host of other custom touches accomplished was welding the rear fenders to the body, flush fitting the glass, fabbing front and rear gravel shields, filling the cowl vent, adding hidden hinges, and creating a new dash.
Big Creek Restorations fabbed...
Big Creek Restorations fabbed the cam covers for the 376-inch LS3 motor, which was purchased from Street & Performance. Big Creek also made the created the exhaust system for the car, from the headers out to the Flowmaster mufflers.
As mentioned earlier, the dash incorporates a vintage watch design, which Mike describes as rectangular, but kind of rounded off. The dash top and sides were left alone, but he created a center pod that houses a one-off gauge. Mike made the surrounds for the gauges (speedo, mini tachometer, the fuel/volt cluster, and the oil pressure/water temp cluster) by first making the shapes from wood and then having them cast in bronze. They were then finished in chrome and fitted with mechanicals from Redline Gauge Works in Santa Clarita, California, and gauge faces Mike made up. Below a trim piece (from a 46 Ford) there are vents that run across the base of the dash for the heating and air conditioning, and a Flaming River column supports a 40 Ford steering wheel from LimeWorks.
Though the factory grew the chassis wheelbase by about an inch between 1939 and 1940 (to 114 inches), Mike opted to add another inch for the Art Morrison chassis under Garrys ride. A Currie 9-inch went in out back (equipped with 31-spline axles) along with an Art Morrison four-link, shocks, Wilwood 13-inch disc brakes, and a bag system from RideTech.
Up front one of Art Morrisons independent units went in, which included another set of RideTech bags and 13-inch Wilwood discs. Kugel Komponents supplied the brake pedal assembly and Big Creek restorations fabbed up a new 20-gallon gas tank out of 16-gauge, 304 stainless steel. The car rolls on 18x7 and 20x10 Foose Knight wheels shod in Pirelli P-Zero Rosso 225/45R18 and 295/40ZR20 rubber.
Under the hood is a ’10 LS3 (376-inch) Chevy motor (purchased through Street & Performance) backed to a 4L80E trans. Everything is smooth, clean, and uncluttered in the engine compartment, which features an aluminum radiator from Best Radiator (Hays, Kansas) tucked under a custom cover that incorporates a custom LS3 badge. Big Creek also made the stainless steel headers and exhaust system, which uses a pair of mufflers from Flowmaster.
Once the extensive body modifications (i.e. headlights frenched) were completed and the custom parts and pieces were finished (such as reshaping and flipping the bumpers), Mike rolled the Chevy into Big Creek Restorations paint booth and sprayed PPG Vibrance cinnamon candy over a copper to get a rich-looking finish for the car. Chevs of the 40s supplied the one-piece bent windshield and Dans Polishing (in Adamsville, Tennessee) completed all of the cars chrome work.
Xibit Customs in Hays, Kansas, got the call to stitch up the rod’s interior, and they used a two-tone caramel and butterscotch leather combo to cover the headliner, door panels, custom rear bench, and Lincoln Mark VIII front bucket seats. Lizard Skin insulation is used throughout the interior, and wiring from Rebel Wire connects all the car’s vitals. Garry is kept cool with a climate system from Vintage Air, and he can listen to his favorite tunes via an Audison stereo system that includes several Hertz speakers placed throughout the interior.
Pirelli rubber (225/45R18...
Pirelli rubber (225/45R18 and 295/40ZR20) wraps the 18x7 and 20x10 Foose Knight wheels.
Once the car was finished, Garry decided to run it through some car shows before he gets it home and starts putting some miles on it. In short order, the Chevy picked up a STREET RODDER Top 100 award for 2012, a Terrific 12 award from Goodguys, and was named America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod at the Goodguys West Coast Nationals in Pleasanton, California, last August.
Well it’s a safe bet that things might have worked out different if Garry had rolled up to the Ellis High School parking lot in this ’40 Chevy, but even after 50 years of waiting, Garry can now relive just a little bit of his youth.