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A look inside Paul Boden’s Chev paradise

5 January 2015

While there’s no denying that Wellington’s Paul Boden is a Chev man through and through, he’s a firm believer that your taste buds can alter as you get older. His newly acquired taste for the Dodge brand is testament to that. Staying with the food analogy, Paul says “The blue oval is like eating blue cheese; you either love it or hate it” — and he’s simply not a lover of blue cheese … or, in this case, the blue oval.

Paul’s love of cars goes back to his early teens, when you could throw a V8 into just about anything and drive it on the road without too much fuss. In true teenage style, Paul did exactly that with a number of cars. This was the start of many years spent under a hood and keeping true to his passion. Ever since he was 17, Paul has owned at least one V8 at any given time.

The decision to move just out of town and get a bit of land was probably driven by the desire to put up a couple of sheds to house the growing collection. It also allowed for the addition of a hoist, and Paul says, “Those of you who have one will know how invaluable they are. Those of you who don’t have one, get one!”

The sheds have an evolution story of their own: what started as a single shed has now evolved into six. With that many, you’d expect a few great rides, and Paul’s collection doesn’t disappoint. 

The 1955 Chev wagon is one of only a few in the country and is used more or less as the family wagon for events held around the local area. Paul’s owned the car for around seven years now. The aftermarket power steering that has been fitted makes it easy to jump into and drive. Under the hood is a 350/350 combo backed with a nine-inch diff. 

The 1947 Chev delivery has been a labour of love. It arrived from Missouri after being purchased online and was in desperate need of some loving. After spending over a year at the fabricator’s getting a new floor and most of the sills and bottom of the guards replaced, the car’s rebuild began. It was a full body-off job, and every single thing on the vehicle has been repaired, replaced, or upgraded. Although it may not look like it, the Chev drives like a dream. It runs an HT Holden front end and a 283ci small block Chev backed with a Powerglide and 10-bolt diff. The original seats have been reupholstered and the plan is to leave the vehicle in the patina state, for now at least. 

At the other end of the speed scale is Paul’s selection of higher performance vehicles — all Chevs, of course. After drag racing in his late teens and early 20s, Paul’s remained an avid fan ever since. Four years ago, he hit the drag strip again in a ’55 Chev Sport Coupe that he imported from America complete with 540ci big block and Powerglide. Paul recalls that, on the first pass, “I shat myself, with the front wheels lifting a metre into the air off the start line”. To date, he’s run a best of 9.7 seconds, which isn’t bad at all considering it’s a full steel–bodied car. 

Paul says he is finally driving the car, rather than the car driving him, with a few wild rides to begin with. His drag pit crew consists of “Cooter, Cleatus, and Rev”, to whom he’s ever-thankful for all the support they have given him over the years. With the new strip close by in Masterton, there are no doubt many more wild passes yet to come.

Paul’s interest in speed isn’t simply straight-line focused. His desire to try circuit racing became a reality this year when he joined Central Muscle Cars, running a 1968 Camaro in Group 2. The car came out of the US and was in quite a state of disrepair. However, with some time and money having been thrown at it, it now looks the part. “It was a steep learning curve and I’ve still got a long way to go. There were certainly some testing times, but I learnt a lot in year one,” Paul says of the switch. 

Sadly, the season had mixed results, with a blown engine, a broken gearbox, and a number of other issues, including alternator-charging problems, which all occurred at different meetings. After finishing on the podium in one of the final races, though, Paul’s looking forward to competing again next year, now that he’s more prepared. 

Paul wants to extend a huge thank you to his friend Johnny, who has helped him and had a lot to do with the build of the car, as well as to Marty and Dave, who shared crew duties during the season. He would also like to thank Kiwi Shipping, John from Red Line Oil, and the guys from DC Trading for their support this year. 

When the drag car was purchased, a small sign on it read ‘Wasted Wages’. Paul liked that, so it has become the team name for both the drag car and the circuit car. “People often walk past the car, say the name, and then chuckle,” Paul laughs.

The other ’68 Camaro in Paul’s collection is an SS/RS with matching numbers, 396ci big block engine, and factory-fitted Super T10 manual gearbox. Paul bought the car out of Texas a few years ago, and it always turns heads, whether cruising the streets or on the strip.

The third ’55 Chev in the fleet is a plain, old four-door sedan, but it hauls some arse thanks to a 383 stroker engine and a four-speed Muncie. “It’s one of the more fun cars to drive,” mentions Paul, who enjoys being not too precious about the car. 

Made in the same year as Paul is his sweet little 1963 Chevy Nova. It is in original condition and still has the original six-cylinder motor. Paul found the car while at Long Beach Swap Meet. 

“I was admiring a similar ’63 convertible Nova, when a guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was looking to buy one,” recalls Paul. “That led to a drive into suburban LA to view this particular car. A friendship started that is still going” he says. These days, you’re more likely to find Paul’s partner, Jen, behind the wheel, than Paul himself. 

With so many running cars, Paul’s still keen to get his hands dirty and has recently been working on a ’66 Dodge Coronet he’s owned for a few years. After spotting one at a drag meet in Fontana in the States a few years back, Paul bought his own. The colour was chosen and the decision about how he wanted the car to look was also made. The car is now well on the way to realizing that vision. It currently runs a 383, but the 440 that Paul has managed to get his hands on will eventually be transplanted into it.

When asked how a 1956 Ford T-Bird got to live in this mix of Chevs, Paul replies, “There’s a simple explanation; it belongs to Jen, but I have to admit it’s a head-turner, so it’s allowed a space in the garage.”

The ‘Man Cave’, as it’s referred to, is a fairly recent addition, although the collection of memorabilia has been over 30 years in the making. A Coke fan from an early age, Paul has collected various pieces over the years, but it wasn’t until recently that it was all put together in one room. The red, white, and blue–themed room also sports a collection of Chevrolet and Mopar mementos. The 348ci W-block engine was purchased with the intention of dropping it into a ’62 Impala, but the car was sold and the engine now makes a worthy showpiece and talking point.

With so many cars on the go, as well as a full-time job, it’s a wonder there’s any time left, but Paul’s also currently the president of the Wellington Hot Rod Club and really enjoys organizing events and functions for the group. He says, “Membership is growing; maybe it’s the ‘no meetings’ policy that’s the attraction. Why have a car if you don’t want to drive it? Right?”

While Paul admits that cars are an expensive hobby, his philosophy is simple: “Spend the money on something you love; you never know what evils are around the corner.” 

Paul’s collection shows that if you have a passion for something, you can make it happen. It’s refreshing to see someone so passionate about it all, and we wish him the best of luck for the upcoming circuit and drag seasons.