There are people out there who have been reading custom car magazines for a long time. Those people have probably seen many of Frank Livingston's rides in feature articles over the past three, four, five decades in numerous American and international automotive magazines. Some people may even remember seeing this eye-catching '49 Chevy fastback sedan way back in the June '56 issue of Car Craft (CC). They'd be mistaken. Sort of.
Yes, there was a cool '49 that looked a lot like this one owned by a guy named Frank Livingston in that old issue of CC. It was the same Frank, but it was a different Chevy. That '49 from the '50s made its public debut at the Oakland Roadster Show in 1955, a year before the Car Craft story. Frank decided to rebuild the car in 1956, making a few changes including a new interior, some elaborate scoops on the rear fenders and front quarters, and a cool two-tone paint job. The Chevy reappeared in that condition on CC's January '58 cover.
Although Frank ultimately sold that first '49, it had ignited his lifelong passion for customs. His collection has included a couple more '49s in addition to a '51 fastback, a '49 Merc, a couple of Fords, and several Oldsmobiles. His latest is, once again, a '49 Chevy. It was a mild custom when he bought it a few years ago. The idea was to give it a little tweaking and drive it "as is," until Frank's wife urged him to re-create his old '49. He took her advice, borrowing from the look of his first car when it debuted in Oakland-but with a few subtle alterations, most noticeably the '50 Olds one-piece windshield, flared rear fender skirts and rockers, and rear fender scoops.
In addition to looking like his first '49, the new flashback fastback is getting the same kind of attention the original one did, including the Outstanding Nostalgia award from the Grand National Roadster Show in 2002. We're glad to see Frank's cool custom Chevy-a product of the '50s reproduced in the '00s-on the street, and we're proud to give it its magazine debut.
Frank LivingstonSan Leandro, California'49 Chevy Fastback Sedan
Drivetrain: The mostly stock straight-six was finished at the time Frank took ownership of the Chevy. The 235 is dressed up with a Moon finned aluminum air cleaner over a single Weber carburetor and is matched with a finned aluminum Wayne valve cover. Transmission is a Hurst-shifted '58 Chevy Syncromesh manual three-speed, sending torque back to 3.08:1 gears in a Nova rearend. Norm Ramaoldo at Pete's Hydramatic in San Lorenzo, California, has done most of the recent mechanical work.
Chassis: The fastback still rides on the factory chassis, modified with Mustang front suspension components. In the rear, Oz Welch from Oz's Customs in Oroville, California, added airbags from Air Ride Technologies.
Wheels & Tires: Of course they were bias-plys on the original Chevy, but seeing as Frank drives this car on a weekly basis, he opted for the performance of radials with the look of wide whites, a combo offered by Coker. The rubber rolls on 15x6 chrome smoothies at all corners.
Body & Paint: Most of the metalwork was done by Oz Welch. The car was already nosed, decked, and shaved in its mild custom form. Since Frank bought it, the '50 Olds windshield and rear fender skirts and scoops were added. The rear fenders were extended 6 inches to fit '51 Frazier taillights. The front of the car was entirely reworked, with the hood rolling into a custom grille opening filled with a modified '55 Plymouth grille bar. Oz shot House Of Kolor Pagan Gold over a gold base, with diamond dust added to the clearcoat. The finish is accented with subtle pinstriping above the headlights and on the decklid.
Interior: The interior, finished by Bob Devine at Devine's Custom Interiors in Martinez, California, is a nice mix of yesterday and today. The factory dash and speedo were maintained, next to a contemporary under-dash gauge panel, tilt column, vinyl-wrapped Billet Specialties wheel, and console which houses the sound system, CB radio, and airbag controls. The stock seats were beautifully recovered in pearl white and gold vinyl at Devine's.