It's not out of the ordinary to have to hunt all over the place for the parts you need to put together a hot rod. What makes it unusual is when those parts were all on the car in the first place.
That's what happened to Mike Busateri 10 years ago when he bought this '32 Chevy coupe. Mike was 19 at the time, working at a Milwaukee car dealership. One day he asked one of the body shop workers if he had any old cars.
Actually, Mike tells this story better than I do. -Tim B
One day I asked one of the body shop workers if he had any old cars. He told me about a '32 Chevy he had for sale. He had pieces of the car stored at all these different properties he owned. I drove all over the city looking at the frame, tires, boxes of small pieces, suspension, and finally, the body. I quickly bought the car that day at a great price but had to get everything home somehow. I borrowed a trailer and truck and started on my journey. I got lots of help loading everything on the trailer, but when I got home, I had to lift everything off myself-including the body. That was tough..
Now that I had the car, I started thinking about how I wanted it to look. I pictured a chopped and channeled coupe with a slight rake to it. big tires in the back, smaller ones up front, on chrome reverse wheels. I always liked the Beach Boys coupe and how it sat.
The '30s Chevys had tons of wood in them, so my first step was to remove some of the rotten wood and replace it with 1-inch square tubing. My brother John and I cut, fabricated, and welded around 200 feet of reinforcement steel in place of the wood. I replaced all of the lower- and mid-car wood, but left the door and window support wood because would be easier to cut through and support the body when I chopped it. I chopped it myself in my mom's garage, supporting the top of the car with rope to the rafters so that when I cut it, it would be easy to drop back on. I took out 2 1/2 inches from the top which was just enough being that I am 6' 3" tall.
Now that the top was chopped, I needed to focus on a frame, suspension, driveline, and the channel. I originally planned to use the stock '32 Chevy frame but it was very bulky and would've been hard to channel the body over it. Also, the suspension is a parallel leaf front suspension and I wanted the Ford transverse spring-over look. I used a Model A frame made out of new steel 2x4 and 2x3 inch steel. I sought the help of Bob Frank at Rod's plus where he set me up with two rails and a one inch lower front crossmember lined up and welded in a frame jig. The rear of the frame was fabricated and mounted when the body was fit over the frame.
I own a '55 Buick with a 322 nailhead engine and I love how it runs and sounds, so in keeping with my love for nailheads, I chose a 401 nailhead that had built for my friend's '54 Buick by a well-known builder from the area. It ran well but had suffered a lot of abuse. It also had the Super Turbine 400 automatic trans behind it. I decided to tear it apart and rebuild it. My dad Jon teaches engine rebuilding at a local technical college, so I brought it there for the machine work and assembly. I was also working at the school at the time so I was able to spend my break time and time after work getting it together. The block was in good shape after we hot-tanked it. We bored and honed it 0.030 over and decked the surface 0.010. The new pistons were so brittle that when I pressed the pins out they shattered into pieces. The new pistons were 11:1 compression dome top 0.030 over. I decided to put in a new stock cam knowing that the nailhead sounds great with it. We surfaced the heads 0.030 due to some warping but we got them flat. The crank was ground 0.020 under and installed with some fresh bearings after the mains were round out. I had a few of the pieces chrome-plated like the pulleys, water crossover, and fan blade. I assembled the engine with all new gaskets, then dressed it up with some finned aluminum valve covers, valley pan cover and spark plug wire covers. I painted the engine mocha-metallic but changed my color scheme later to what you see.
The rearend is a '57 Ford 9-inch that used to be in a T-bucket. My dad and I completely rebuilt the rearend center section. It took me about two years to find exactly what make and model had the narrow style drums for this particular rearend.