When a street rodder is faced with filling out a tech sheet on his car so it can be featured in a magazine, he's usually at a loss to sum up the years of work in a few pages of notes and still have room to thank all the friends and others who helped along the way. Ours is much the same dilemma in trying to encapsulate the story of this year's annual Road Tour car from beginning to completion.
This is STREET RODDER's 11th such vehicle, built by a professional shop using all the great components from the street rod and performance aftermarket and demonstrating its quality/safety/performance through a whirlwind 25,000-mile tour of this summer's national rod events. Although the annual Road Tour car is assembled and finished by a professional shop, all the components and techniques utilized are available to the homebuilder. Our rod this year is nominally a '34 Chevrolet standard coupe, yet there isn't a single 1934 Chevrolet part on the car, nor any part that isn't available new today. If our Road Tour continues to prove anything over the years, it's that there has never been a better time to build a street rod! Often the hardest part of building a car today is dealing with the myriad of choices. You have the luxury of selecting the make, year, body style, and all the running gear and accessories that make it your own automotive statement.
For 2006, our builder of choice was none other than Boyd Coddington, whose three-decade career as a machinist, designer, wheel manufacturer, car builder, and television star ("American Hot Rod") has made him a household name, even in non-rod households! If you've seen his TV show, you know his exceptional crew is always facing tight deadlines, yet consistently produces a stunning end result. Our car's editorial deadlines and event schedule for the summer really put the pressure on, but the Boyd Boys came through 110 percent on our three-window, as you can see by the photos.
Professional builders, just like street rodders at home, have a wide choice of products to select for assembling a car, and our '34 had the benefit of quality gear from the cream of the aftermarket suppliers, many of which have been selected for previous Road Tour vehicles as well. Products you can bolt in and use with confidence--from chassis and suspension to bodies to engines and transmissions, accessories and more--make life easier for amateur and pro builders alike. As with any car build, after the decisions of make and year were made, the chassis and suspension was the first big selection. Our '34 Chevy boxed frame from the Roadster Shop has the right dimensions for any '34 Chevy standard body (they also make chassis for the larger Master Series cars) and the strength to handle any drivetrain we might have chosen. Coupled with the smooth-riding, great-handling independent front and rear Superide suspension from Heidt's Hot Rod Shop, we had a superior foundation for our hot rod coupe. Wilwood disc brakes and adjustable Aldan aluminum coilover shocks are used all around to complete the chassis.
What was to sit on top of this state-of-the-art chassis would be a brand-new reproduction fiberglass '34 three-window body from Outlaw Performance, who also supplied the fenders, running boards, dash panel, grille shell, gas tank cover, and splash panels to complete this rustproof coupe. Even better, it's already chopped and fitted with power windows on delivery!
Once these two major components of our Road Tour car were delivered to Boyd Coddington's Hot Rod Shop, the body was bolted to the chassis, and roll-around tires and wheels were installed so the rest of the work to be done could be visualized and planned. While some members of the team worked on fitting the fenders and running boards, others began the drivetrain installation and the fitting of the many other pieces that make up the puzzle of a complete vehicle. You've seen the bumper stickers that say, "One day at a time," right? Building a car, regardless of the size or complexity, can be tackled one part at a time. If you have a trained crew with you, you can install, modify, or paint perhaps three or four pieces at a time, as long as everyone isn't working in the engine compartment all at once! Homebuilders and pros alike rely on good note taking and a written to-do list to work against, upon which each checkmark becomes a satisfying step toward the completion of the car.
We combined the 1 hp/ci power of a GM Performance Parts Ram Jet 350 engine with a completely reworked 200-4R overdrive automatic from Gear Star Performance Transmission Inc., who offers a 2006 Road Tour package to STREET RODDER readers. This bulletproof transmission/converter/cooler/cables/fluid package can handle twice the power of our GM-warranted fuelie motor, and the Ram Jet is the easiest EFI motor to hook up that you've ever seen. It comes complete with a simplified and very clearly marked harness and its own compact computer, plus a palm-size code reader if any troubleshooting is ever needed. You can enjoy the mileage and performance benefits of EFI without hassles.
Great packaging in compact spaces is just one of the benefits of the Vintage Air Front Runner accessory drive system we added to our engine with low, fixed alternator and compressor mounts, a single serpentine belt, and an OEM automatic tensioner. The polished pulleys and 706 Sanden compressor complement the performance of the Gen II SuperCooler (heat and cool unit) to be mounted behind the coupe's dash.
For some of us, a car has to have the right sound before it passes from the street rod phase to the "hot rod phase," and luckily we had the help of the R&D crew at the PerTronix exhaust facility to ensure nothing wimpy came out of the tailpipes. Doug's Headers and Smithy's Mufflers are two famous brands under the PerTronix corporate umbrella. Not only did we find out they had efficient tri-Y headers that fit various street rod applications, but they constructed a first-class exhaust system for the Road Tour coupe, from exhaust port to chromed tailpipe tips. Midway through the system on each side, they flanged in something we haven't seen much of before--a pair of their electric exhaust cutouts that really work!
With the bulk of the powertrain and suspension bases well covered, the coupe project had to take a few steps back before moving forward. After Boyd's bodymen had finessed every body panel, including the new three-piece aluminum hood crafted by the artisans at Marcel's Custom Metal Shaping, the phase began where everything must be labeled and disassembled. The chassis could be stripped and sent out for powdercoating, the exhaust components went their way for thermal coating, some parts were chromed or polished, and the body parts received a double-dip at the hands of Greg Morrell, Boyd's painter for the last 12 years. Two-part PPG products were used throughout the process of painting our coupe, with Lion's Mane metallic/pearl basecoat, followed by four coats of catalyzed clear. (Vibrance color Lion's Mane, DLV 8007 primer, DLV 8087 sealer, 908325 ground color--three coats; 908325/2 mid color--three coats; DC 4010 clear coat--four coats.) Following the rubout of the cured paint with fine wet-and-dry paper and buffing, the body was shiny, slippery as a wet bar of soap, and ready for final installation.
The work frenzy that followed is the time when extra helping hands are really important if you're trying to make an event deadline. Technicians were all over the finished frame: tapping holes here; attaching suspension components and the Flaming River steering; and installing the engine and transmission, radiator, driveshaft, fuel tank, shifter, and a host of other items that are easier to bolt down at this phase than after the body is installed, which was the next plateau to climb to. All the labeled bags of fasteners could finally be installed in their exact-right application, for good!
As the last of the polished Wilwood calipers was installed, all of the brake components and attendant stainless steel brake line plumbing could be attached to the chassis, running from the master cylinder out to the front and rear lines. With all the lines and fittings snugged up, Thomas and Dan bled the brake system with new fluid.
Bolting on the rolling stock of Wheel Vintiques Lakester Series 88 wheels and fresh rubber finally brought us to the "real" rolling chassis stage that meant our coupe was ready for the powertrain and body. These and other final phases of construction on our 2006 Road Tour '34 Chevy coupe will be covered in the final part of this saga in next month's STREET RODDER, where you should be able to view our PPG-bronzed beauty in full color!
The Roadster Shop built a new set of boxed '34 Chevy 'rails for our project, and then bega
A dummy Chevy engine (and we mean that in a nice way) and trans case are used to set up th
The Heidt's Superide IRS rear crossmember is attached to the rear of our chassis at each s
Seen outside the chassis with all its polished components, the Heidt's IRS has an aluminum
High performance, low maintenance, excellent torque and fuel economy, and great starting i
Lots of good performance parts go into the hand-assembled and dyno-tested 200-4R trans fro
Seen here at the early stages of assembly outside Boyd Coddington's Hot Rod Shop, uniting
As delivered, Outlaw bodies come equipped with latches and power windows installed, and th
Piece by piece, the various body parts were carefully fitted and expertly bodyworked to fi
Part of the finished beauty of our engine will be the polished parts of the Vintage Air Fr