Ever since he was a kid, Frank Johnson has been interested in cars. And ever since he was a teenager, the cars he's had the most interest in have been Chevys. Years of working on hot rods gave Frank the skills to do welding, bodywork, painting, and even upholstery, but raising his children and paying off his mortgage didn't always leave him with the time or money to use those skills to build a car to the level he really wanted to.
That changed about seven years ago. His last kid had grown up, his last house payment had been made, and Frank had just retired. Now all he needed was a hot rod project. He hadn't been looking long when he found out about a tired but stock '32 Chevy coupe for sale 15 miles up the road.He'd been up that road before when the owner first purchased the car. Frank knew back then that this was the car he wanted to build. Even battered and covered with rust, the coupe's looks were timeless. The lines were similar to the more popular Ford Deuce, but with one very important feature that no Blue Oval product could ever have: a Bow Tie emblem on the grille shell. Frank contacted the man and asked him if he had any interest in selling his recent purchase. No way, was the reply, especially not to a hot rodder.
Now, 25 years later, Frank was back on that road, hoping for a different answer. The Chevy, still rough and rusty, hadn't been touched since the last time he'd seen it. The owner told Frank he wanted $8,000 for the neglected car, figuring it would get rid of the pesky hot rodder. When Frank agreed to the price, the man started stalling until Frank finally assured him that he had no intention of chopping up the coupe. The owner agreed, and Frank was on the road to building the Chevy he'd always wanted.
As you can see, he kept his word. The body remains unchopped, unchanneled, and unsectioned. Extensive work was done, however, replacing the original wood framing and repairing the original sheetmetal. Frank filled the top, shaved the door and trunk handles, replaced the hinges, and modified the hood to open from the top.
When it came to powering the coupe, a small-block was the obvious choice. Rather than selecting an early offering, Frank went the contemporary route and chose a '94 LT1 small-block and an automatic overdrive transmission, which was kept stock.
The interior was imaginatively updated a couple of decades using components from a '55 Chevy-most noticeably the '55 dash and door panels. Two-tone leather seats complete the successful transformation.
The greatest benefit of building the rod he's always wanted is driving it, and Frank takes the '32 on road trips three or four times a year. On the highway or at shows, the coupe always gets a lot of attention. Believe it or not, the Chevy's biggest fan is Marvin Gilkerson, who didn't want to sell it to a hot rodder, but he is now proud to show people the car he used to own.
Rod & Custom Feature CarFrank JohnsonWinchester, Kentucky1932 Chevy coupe