Back almost a year ago we showed you what our ultimate dream cars would be if we could only have one car to drive for daily duties and pleasure. At the same time we asked you to send in your ideas for dream cars and we would pick the best one and have Thom draw it up and give it to you. Well, we couldn't pick just one, so we picked a prewar and a postwar winner based on uniqueness, detail, and daily driver practicality.
How about a car with some of the most beautiful lines you've ever seen? I'm talking about the '61 Catalina/Ventura. This car is shorter than the Bonneville by several inches in wheelbase and overall length. Drop it a few inches, and run some modern aluminum wheels (not too large) that are reminiscent of the factory eight-lug wheels, along with a four-wheel disc brake swap. This ride needs some wide whites, about 2 1/2 inches.
Of course it's got to have a 421 engine! The stock rearend is plenty strong, so just drop in a 4:11 posi, and add a five- or six-speed to take advantage of that great Pontiac torque.
Slim down the front bumper and pop in a custom grille. Install Lucas headlights, and remove the stock taillights. Make use of that concave back panel for a taillight treatment that is a takeoff from a '66 Grand Prix, or perhaps a '66 GTO. Install the license plate below a skinny frenched rear bumper (think '67 Camaro thin). Run dual exhausts out the back, cut into a custom rolled pan. That exquisite roofline don't need nuttin'. And leave those vent windows alone; vent windows are neat!
The interior doesn't need that much, but a mid-'60s T-bird wraparound back seat would set it off nicely, along with front swivel buckets and a custom console. Tuck 'n' roll works for me.
What color to use for my dream car? How about factory light blue with a white top and add some fogging in medium blue to accentuate the curvaceous flanks.
The '36 Chevy has one of the best profiles of any sedan delivery with its short cargo area, curved back door, and long narrow hood. The delivery would be fun for a cross-country tour, or hauling goodies from the swap meet. Best of all, it could be built in a backyard garage without stealing the kids' college funds.Under that long narrow hood would be a 302 Wayne 12-port Jimmy. Cast headers and 2 1/2-inch duals would deliver that distinctive note below the back bumper. A Richmond 4:1 First gear five-speed gives good dig. A Currie 9-inch with tall gears makes for easy cruising.
The chassis would be set up low with a nice rake. A Fatman IFS and POSIES parallel leaves would be used. Special care would be taken to get the 15x5 and 16x7 dark red steelies with rings and '49 Chevy caps positioned just right in the fenders.
The biggest headache as far as the bodywork will be replacing the wood structure with metal. To help the lines flow up front, the grille shell would receive a vertical pie cut. This would position the top of the grille back 2 inches and down 3/4-inch. The stock headlights are dropped 4 inches straight down. A bullnose replaces the bird. The teardrop blister vents in the hood sides are kept. The bumpers are retained to accentuate the lowness, but shortened brackets tuck them in close to the body. The running boards keep their mats. The vent wings are gone, but original handles stay. The gennie taillights and stanchions are used to go with the art deco styling. The paint is dove gray with a touch of maroon and white Tommy The Greek-style pinstriping.
Inside there is a split-back bench and door panels covered in oxblood tuck 'n' roll. Stock gauges are converted to 12-volt. A Limeworks column and Cragar-style four-spoke wheel are used with a column mount tach. A '50s-style shifter lever is homemade. The cargo area will have oak planks with stainless runners.