You almost have to squint to see the possibilities of customizing a '48 Chevy Stylemaster. And while it seems '49 and later Chevys were tailor-made for the sleek and rounded lines of a customizer's torch, the '48s hadn't quite gotten there.
Frenched headlights are the norm for most any custom, and Jim's are accented with pinstrip
When a friend of Jim Eckard told him about a '48 Chevy that was for sale on the Internet back in 2008, Jim's initial thought was "'48 Chevys are butt ugly!" but he decided to look at the advertisement anyway. Jim had recently sold his '32 coupe and was looking for another project and, having been into hot rods and customs for more than 50 years (at 17, he owned a '49 Chevy while still in high school), he was open to anything.
Jim, who lives in Glendale, Arizona, called the seller, who was based in Beavercreek, Ohio. After some discussions and looking at more photos, Jim bought the car and had it shipped to him. It showed up in worse condition than what he had anticipated as it had been kept in storage for years.
After he replaced the tires and got it up and running, Jim took the Chevy to a local rockabilly show, and folks kept asking him if his car was the one from the High School Confidential movie. After checking into both the movie (a 1958 black and white film starring Mamie Van Doren full of '50s teen angst and hell-raising hot rodders and weedheads) and the person responsible for creating one of the cars in the film, namely legendary customizer George Barris, Jim learned more about his car.
Jim's got a little friend keeping an eye out in the back window.
Taillights from a '59 Cadillac were modified and fit to the rear of Jim's Chevy.
The side windows were deleted when the chop was done (4.75 inches in the front, 6 inches i
For a climatic drag racing scene in the movie, a chopped '48 Chevy is supposed to crash and roll over, though because of its stance and weight it was unable to do so on cue, so the director reportedly ordered the car dropped from a crane onto its roof to create the desired effect. Barris had built two identical cars for the movie, one of which was the crane-drop car. But was Jim's car the survivor?
As Jim did more research, it turns out his '48 Chevy was built in 1985 and, at best, might have been influenced by the car in the movie but it wasn't the original movie car. When asked recently where the movie car ended up, Barris wasn't sure where it was, though others and Jim believe it might be somewhere in the Midwest. Undeterred, Jim continued to work on the car and, working with a budget over a period of time, upgraded to a crate engine and rebuilt trans, as well as having the car repainted.
The chassis under the car only retains 6 feet of the original, as a '74 Nova front clip was added while an '80 Olds Cutlass rear suspension system went in, and air shocks are found on each corner. Steel wheels (15x6) wrapped in Coker BFGoodrich rubber (215/70-15 and 235/75-15) are topped with '57 Cadillac hubcaps.
Steel 15x6 wheels are topped with '57 Cadillac hubcaps, with the fronts shod in 215/70R-15
Auto & Truck Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, did the work on the 350 engine, which was installed in front of a smoothed firewall and outfitted with a COMP Cams camshaft, a Moroso aluminum water pump, early Vette valve covers, an Edelbrock manifold, and twin Edelbrock carbs. A TH350 trans was also bolted up, which is fitted with a Hughes 2700 stall converter.
As with any custom, most of the work was in the body and, from the chopped top down, Jim's car has a lot of it. Almost 5 inches were taken out of the windshield posts and 6 inches from the rear area. The posts were then leaned forward 4-1/2 inches and the side windows filled. The vent windows were removed from the doors and the backlight is made from a Ford Granada windshield.
A frenched radio antenna was added to the passenger door's fender section and '40 Ford fender skirts cover the rear wheel openings. The rear fender seams were also leaded smooth, and other custom tricks (nosing, decking, frenching, shaving, and so on) were all performed correctly. The grille came out of a '46 Chevy and '59 Cadillac taillights are used out back. Other custom touches include smoothed-out bumpers and a pair of 112 Appleton spotlights added to the windshield posts.
The split-back bench was covered in marine-grade Naugahyde, finished with maroon piping. E
The engine is a 350 Chevy, reworked by Auto and Truck Specialists in Glendale, AZ. A COMP
Jim Eckard's '48 Stylemaster
Arthur's Auto Body and Frame in Phoenix covered the car in a special non-metallic maroon blend with Chavos Pinstriping (from Phoenix) following up with lots of pinstripe. Except for new carpet added by Hot Rod Interiors in Peoria, Arizona, the interior in Jim's ride is 28 years old. Even the stock clock from 1948 still works (if you wind it up) and, years before Jim owned the car, George Barris autographed the glovebox door. An A/C and heat system from Vintage Air makes cruising in his sled a lot more comfortable, and a marine Naugahyde is used over the split-back bench seating.
After spending more than he thought and investing more time than he imagined, Jim Eckard is finally having a good time with his chopped Chevy. He's been hitting the car show circuit in the Southwest when he isn't cruising it in and around the greater Phoenix metro area, and he recently displayed the car at the 2013 Grand National Roadster Show (where he placed Third in the Early Custom 1935-1948 class). He also picked up a STREET RODDER Top 100 award at last year's Goodguys show in Scottsdale. Both show and go, Jim's Chevy can do it all.
Just the Facts
Owner: Jim Eckard
Appleton 112 spotlights are in each A-post, and are embellished with the same five-point s
Vintage Air's A/C and heating system has been installed, as well as a '48 Chevy steering w
There is a Barris crest on the glovebox door, and inside is where you can find George Barr