Sammy Furlong, Jr.
'56 Chevrolet 210 Coupe
We usually choose a winner for Young Gun of the Month by going through the membership forms, finding a member with a cool story or outstanding pictures of an awesome ride, and finalizing the decision by running it past the rest of the staff for second opinions. It's not an exact science, but it seems to work pretty well. This month's winner, however, was hard to overlook.
What you may not know is that while my name appears on most of the Young Guns-related stuff in R&C, there is another person working silently behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. His name is Doug Anderson, and if it weren't for Doug, I surely would have tipped over long ago. It turns out that Doug is something of a Shoebox Chevy fan, and when Sammy Furlong E-mailed us some digital pictures of his breathtaking copper '56, Doug went absolutely nuts. He made the pictures wallpaper for his computer and immediately printed out some more to show around. As soon as I saw the pictures, I knew he was right; we had ourselves a Young Gun of the Month
According to Sammy, hot rods and customs run in the family, and he's been afflicted with the high-performance bug since childhood. Inspiration for his super-sano Chevy came from a love of '60s-style customs and the legendary Larry Watson's work. Of course, even back in the heyday of customizing, very few paintjobs looked this good. What makes the Shoebox even cooler is the fact that Sammy shot the car himself in his garage, using PPG Radience Kandies, including Orange Glow, Sterling Silver, and Grandeur Blue flames all buried under House of Kolor metalflake. The car is slammed with drop spindles and cut coils up front and lowering blocks out back, while Astro Supremes and skinny whites lend a custom touch. Inside the cockpit bucket seats and a console were yanked out of a '63 Impala SS and covered in white rolls and pleats. Power comes from a vintage four-bolt 350 Chevy with lots of chrome goodies on top.
As the December '03 Young Gun of the Month, Sammy will receive a $400 gift certificate to Mooneyes, where he can pick up lots of cool stuff for his Chevy or for his next project, a chopped and channeled mid-'30s Chevy pickup. Perhaps a new set of whitewall slicks or a pair of finned valve covers would fit the bill. Congratulations, Sammy, if you ever make it out to Southern California, you owe Doug a ride!
Blood, Guts, and Glory
I'm tired. Not yawning a lot and thinking about fluffy white sheep bouncing over my bed tired, more like bones aching, feet dragging, speech slurring, head feels like it weighs a thousand pounds tired. Why so exhausted, you ask? Is it because I was up all night partying like the true hardcore hot rod journalist you all know me to be? I wish. The more likely culprit is the fact that I've been wrenching and parts running morning 'till night, seven days a week, for the past two months trying to get my roadster project finished before the '03 Americruise (check out the progress in this month's issue) while still trying to make it look like I'm actually performing my regular tech editor duties simultaneously. Things have been a little tense, too, since building a car under time constraints can be a very stressful adventure. This is why I want to take a minute and reflect on exactly what it is we do, and why we do it.
What would make a perfectly sane and well-meaning individual decide to spend all of his free time and every spare penny he can scrounge up on an object, an old car no less, that will never run as efficiently or conveniently as a newer one that can be purchased for less money? What would make this guy spend hours on end puzzling over the best way to fabricate a firewall or gauge panel, when perfectly nice ones can be bought straight out of a catalog? The answer is glory.
Since starting my project, I have had a steady stream of visitors flowing through the shop. Some are fellow gearheads, hoping to lend a hand or, more likely, sit on a crate and "stupidvise." Others are old-time hot rodders from the neighborhood hoping to catch a glimpse of what the "kid" is up to. Then, of course, there are the total outsiders, and every one of you knows who I'm talking about. These are the neighbors and friends who don't know anything about cars and don't want to. To them we are an oddity, something interesting and perhaps useful, but an oddity nonetheless. Of all these different types of visitors to the shop, none of them can truly understand what the final goal of the project will be. They can't envision the car rolling down the street on fat bias-plies or whitewalls with super smooth lines. They cannot hear the crackling of the open pipes or feel the soft rolls and pleats. What outsiders see is just another old car, while we see a canvas, a statement, or a possibility.
What's so cool about our hobby/lifestyle is that we all experience different types of visions. Ten guys from ten different neighborhoods will all see the same car and come up with different conclusions about how to make it cool. When I first started drawing pictures of Model A roadsters and lakes modifieds, I had a picture in my mind of an early-'50s-styled car with gold or tangerine paint, cream scallops and wheels, tuck 'n' roll upholstery, and lots of traditional pinstriping. As the car has come together over the past few months, most of my visitors have been puzzled by some of my choices. However, I am confident that the finished product will be bitchin', because it will look just the way I wanted it and I built it with my own two hands. I'm eagerly awaiting the first time I fire the motor, and soon after I plan to be roaring down the street scaring the holy hell out of my SUV-driving neighbors.
My point in all of this is that we could follow the beaten path, buy a fuel-efficient little jellybean car, and blend in with the rest of the crowd, but we don't. It takes a lot of guts for a young person to become involved with this hobby. Lots of time, work, commitment, cash, and ingenuity, too, but the payoff is huge. The payoff is the glory of wearing an ear-to-ear grin as you pound the pavement in a rolling homage to the rod gods that you built with your very own hands.
Blood, guts, and glory (and lots of sweat, too) is what this club and this magazine are all about. Take a minute and pat yourself on the back for being one of a select few. You're a Young Gun. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm heading off to bed. -Dan Dan.Kahn@primedia.com