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Concept Corner: deluxe sleeper

21 June 2017



Early ’50s Chevs are not usually associated with performance. Chuck a supercharged LS and an Art Morrison chassis into one, and you might just be onto the ultimate pro-touring sleeper

“I haven’t got an out-there concept I’d build; however, I am a big fan of the ’50s styles, and one of my favourite cars is Ian Rainbow’s ’50 Chev Business Coupe,” says David. “I think he really nailed it.

“I’d street rod a ’52 Chev Deluxe coupe — a cross between Ian’s ’50 coupe and the 2011 ‘Icon Derelict’ ’52 coupe [google it if you don’t know about this one]. It would be reasonably stock looking but a real sleeper.

“Chubby Morrow would do the bodywork. I’d keep all the stainless-steel trim but remove the hood bird, smooth the hood centre seam, mini-tub the rear inner guards, and alter the wheel arches by shaping both front and rear tail ends to give a more streamlined look and custom touch.

“Ian Handley would upholster the interior in dark brown distressed leather, keeping the original seats but with mild bolster support. I’d keep the dash original, with modern gauges, and fit an Ididit steering column.

“Julie at Counties Auto Painters would paint the body a dark green and the roof white. 

“The biggest change would be underneath, though. I’d change the chassis to an Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) custom chassis, with the best road/race brakes available from Wilwood, Brembo, or AP Racing — unboosted, if suitable — with large-piston calipers.

“I’d have it sitting on 18×8-inch and 18×11-inch Circle Racing Wheels — Billet Smoothies, with the centres painted green to match the body, and polished hub caps — with 245/45R18s on the front and 315/40R18s on the rear. Chubby might have to alter the inner front guards to accommodate the front wheel size on full lock. 

“Our ’56 is so fun to drive with the 502 and T56 combo, and it’s hard to consider an auto, so, to be a little different, I’d opt for the supercharged Edelbrock LS 416 mated to a Tremec T56 Magnum transmission, and the AME-supplied nine-inch LSD with 4.3:1 ratio and 35-spline axles.

“I wouldn’t install air conditioning and would keep the original outside fresh-air ducting to under the dash.

“I’d have Tim Kerr at Pro Coat Cermakrome-finish the custom two-inch equal-length stainless-steel primary headers and three-inch stainless exhaust pipes that would exit just behind the rear wheels. 

“The car should be suitable for some occasional track time / fun, so maybe some front racing bucket seat mounts and full-harness belt guides could be installed for a quick changeover if required. Dreams are free!” 

Justin’s View
Justin from the LVVTA says: “That all sounds pretty straightforward from a certification point of view, and, as a bit of an early ’50s Chevy fan, I think it also sounds pretty darn cool. 

“The installation of the Art Morrison frame wouldn’t be too much of an issue; just so long as you used the catalogued chassis for the ’49–’54 Chevy, and made sure that the car itself had clear registration history, so that it didn’t tip it into the scratch-built category. That means that, while all of the chassis and related modifications would need to meet the applicable LVVTA requirements, the car itself could keep its original door latches, and all of the other issues that can crop up once a vehicle becomes scratch-built from a compliance point of view become irrelevant. 

“Your body and inner guard mods for the mini-tubs are straightforward, as are your brake, engine, and drivetrain mods; you would just need to make sure that all of the requirements from the applicable sections of The New Zealand Car Construction Manual or the relevant LVV standards were met. 

“A set of removable harness belts would be a good idea for hitting the track, but you’d need to have lap and diagonal belts fitted for cert, to fulfil the requirements of Section 14.31 of The New Zealand Car Construction Manual — Seatbelts in Old Vehicles and Scratch-Built Vehicles. This requires that web-clamp inertia-reel retractor lap and diagonal seatbelts must be fitted in each front outboard seating position of any modified production low-volume vehicle, both with and without a fixed roof, that has undergone significant mechanical modifications, carried out for the specific purpose of achieving a substantial performance improvement, and thereby changing the vehicle’s driving characteristics to more those of a modern vehicle. 

“This sleeper-style car hits the spot with me, and to have something that’s equally capable on the strip or circuit would make it a car that you’d no doubt clock up many kilometres enjoying. I look forward to seeing this one come to life!”

Your thoughts on last month’s Mad Max–style FG Falcon concept:

Andrew McMillan: Ya can’t make toffee out of dog shit.

Zach Harris-O’Keefe: Mighty Car Mods’ Mad Max S15 with a V8 was pretty ugly, and loud as fuck — much like this.