If you love spending your time working on cars, open a shop. Maybe we should rephrase that. If you love spending your time working on cars that belong to other people, open a shop--because once you do, you might as well forget about having the time to wrench on your own ride. There your rod will sit, in a far corner of the shop, waiting to get finished "someday."
Greg and Sharon Hayes learned that lesson with their '34 Chevy. Not this cabriolet, but a five-window coupe they found 10 years ago during a vacation to Florida. The Hayes fell in love with the car, bought it, and towed it home to New Brunswick, Canada. Greg found a '34 frame for the coupe and got busy building an engine and transmission.
About halfway into the project, Greg and Sharon opened Main Street Auto Service, a three-bay garage. The business became such a success that, like we could've predicted, all work on the '34 came to an abrupt halt. After three years, Greg figured out that if he was going to drive a finished rod, he was going to have to find one, well, finished. He sold the coupe to his brother and started looking for a car in a more complete condition.
The search ended with this cherry red '34 cabriolet, owned and built by Brian Harper, also from New Brunswick. In putting together this street rod, Harper struck the just-right balance between contemporary and retro styling elements. One false step in either direction and the car could've been an excruciating collision of themes.
The cabrio was already done to the point where Greg and Sharon could drive it home. Of course, being a rodder, Greg wasn't happy leaving the car alone, although most of the additions he's made have been amenities like the stereo system, heat and air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, and rear air bags--all added to improve the comfort of the car on long road trips, exactly what the Hayes are into. For a guy who spends his days working on other people's cars, Greg is happy to own the rod originally built by somebody else. For one thing, he can appreciate the talent and taste that Brian Harper put into this well-done Chevy. For another, every day not spent working on a car--his own or anybody else's--is a day that can be spent behind the wheel of this beautiful '34.
Greg & Sharon Hayes
Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada
'34 Chevy Cabriolet
Things definitely get "new-timey" under the hood, where hot rodding an electronically controlled engine takes a combination of mechanical and computer talent. In this case, the chip on the '86 LT1 was tuned to raise the top speed limiter, taking the whip to 325 horses. The Corvette 4L60E electronic gearbox is modified with a TransGo shift kit for better shifts and longer life expectancy. The GM 7.5-inch rearend is loaded with 3.73:1 gears and an Auburn posi.
The original '34 'rails were boxed and fitted with new crossmembers. A Heidt's IFS with dropped spindles was bolted up front with a four-link setup at the other end. The brakes are front discs and rear drums from a '91 GM S-10 pickup. Greg improved the stance and ride with a pair of air bags from a Freightliner cab controlled by an '89 Olds 98 auto-leveling unit.
Wheels & Tires
Full fenders tone down the big 'n' little look, accomplished with blackwall radials on 15x6 and 15x8 American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs. Rear meats are 285/70R15 Sport Truck T/As; front tires are 195/65R15 Touring T/As.
Body & Paint
The body was finished using 'glass components from Old Chicago Street Rods plus a hood top and sides from Rootlieb. Builder Brian Harper spent a lot of hours behind a block sander to achieve some perfectly smooth panels, covered in Milano Red--a Honda color--by painter Stuart MacPherson. The Carson top was chosen to match the interior upholstery. The original-looking door handles are set up with an electric door lock actuator for high-tech getting in. Bumpers are repro '34 Chevy stainless steel, and the headlight stanchions were removed from a '35 Chevy pickup, found in the woods of eastern Canada.
A set of '95 Pontiac Grand Am buckets were cut down and recovered in a contemporary tuck 'n' roll style by BJ's Upholstery (Moncton, New Brunswick). VDO Royale gauges were chosen for the clean-looking Outlaw dash. The LeCarra Mark 9 wheel turns a tilt column. A Kenwood stereo with Pioneer speakers provides cruising music.