When this '27 Chevy modified roadster made its appearance at the Grand National Roadster Show in January, a lot of people were asking the same question: "Why isn't this competing for the AMBR award?"
Why Tiffany Collins' channeled, early '60s-style show rod wasn't displayed in the main hall with the contenders for the big prize, and how it would've done competing against some of the big boys, are hypothetical questions several months later. But, one thing's for sure: This car's amazing.
Tiffany had wanted a roadster for a long time and found the potential raw material, a '27 Chevy touring, for sale on Craig's List. Her husband, hot rod builder Dan Collins, was in Texas, picking up another project at the time, so she and a friend drove out to Temecula, California, to see the Chevy in person. What she found barely qualified as a car-a rusty husk is more like it, stripped to bare metal and propped on a pile of tubing and old shopping carts.
Today, the body is the only remaining part of what Tiffany hauled home from Temecula. As you can see, even a basket case can become cool. All it takes is imagination, patience, and in this case, a talented builder in the house.
Without a chassis to work from, Dan had to design and build a fresh frame. He used 2x4 tubing, tapered from rear to front, and massaged every inch, so the scratch-built 'rails don't look scratch-built. Elements of the touring sheetmetal can still be seen, but the dimensions were shortened and narrowed to drop the body over the 'rails. Nick O'Teen painted the whole thing. And, since you can't have an early '60s show rod without lots of chrome, Astro Plating (Sun Valley, California), and Artistic Silver Plating (Long Beach, California) applied it everywhere-from the gas tank to the driveshaft, not to mention suspension and steering components.
Dan says the only mistake they made on the car was calculating the budget. He figures he could've built a pair of '40s-style rods for what Tiffany has in the roadster. But, what's money when you have a hot rod like this to drive? Since debuting the modified at the GNRS, Tiffany has shown it in Sacramento and Fresno. The crowd reaction at each of these high-profile shows was overwhelming. Just think what it's going to be when she gets this roadster on the road.
Tiffany and Dan knew the roadster was going to be a modified as soon as they started planning the buildup but bounced around a little when thinking about the theme. At first, they talked about building a '40s-style rod-picture this car with dark monochrome paint, blackwall rubber, a Flathead, and minimal brightwork. But, Tiffany wanted something very driveable, and Dan already had a running small-block and lots of parts to fit an early '60s build, so they cranked the style dial 15 years forward. It's hard to believe a car that looks like this was born out of practicality, but that's the way it went.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1927 Chevy Modified Roadster
The handbuilt chassis is as impressive as the engine, body, and interior, and pulls the whole car together. Dan designed and built the frame from 2x4-inch tubing, tapered and pinched, then kicked up in the rear to match the contours of the body-and rolled in the front, where the frontend hangs from a suicide perch. A dropped I-beam, tube shocks, hairpins, '40 Ford drilled drums, and spindles, all treated to plenty of chrome, add to the impression. The rear also includes tube shocks and '40 front drums, along with modified ladder bars, and a Model T buggy spring. He hung a Model T steel gas tank over the '46 Ford banjo rearend (with a flipped housing) and stock Ford axles.
The 283 Chevy small-block is the same one Don packed into his in Limelight '38 Ford pickup a few years ago. Now, it's running three Holley 94s with Stelling & Hellings bell air cleaners on a polished Offenhauser intake. Rewarder Headers in Camarillo ceramic-coated the homemade headers that blow the exhaust note past the driver and passenger. Burbank Radiators built the narrowed radiator. Details like the cove in the firewall and cowl to fit the PerTronix distributor, painted and polished finned valve covers, red plug wires, and copper fuel lines are low-key elements that make the engine stand out, even at the GNRS. Pop's Tranny Shop in Reseda built the B&M-shifted Turbo 350 transmission, spinning a chromed custom driveshaft from Wenco Driveshaft.
Wheels & TiresDan and Tiffany went with polished 15x7 American Racing TTO five-spokes in the rear, contrasted with 15x5 chrome steelies from Wheel Vintiques up front. The choice perfectly suits the car's overall brightness and evokes the early '60s show rod era. The skinny bias-plies from Firestone are period-appropriate and measure 8.20x15 and 5.60x15.
Body & PaintBelieve it or not, this body was a neglected shell when Tiffany saved it from near-disintegration. Dan changed every proportion of the '27 Chevy touring sheetmetal, shortening it from four-to two-door dimensions then subtracting an additional 5 inches. The body was narrowed 4 inches in back and 6 at the cowl. The dash rail area rear of the cowl was extended to fit the custom-built windshield. A vintage grille shell of unknown pedigree was filled with a modified '58 Thunderbird insert. Illumination comes from Lucas Flamethrower headlights and Model A taillights. When it was time for paint, Dan and Tiffany handed the project to Nick O'Teen in Sun Valley, California, who shot the pearl-white base and the well-blended panels in various shades of purple.
InteriorDowntown Willy in Carson, California, stitched the pleated pearl-white vinyl covering the custom seats. The purple carpeting was picked to go along with the exterior panels and the narrowed '20s-era Dodge dash. The steering box and column are also '20s Dodge parts, converted to cowl steering in the past and installed underneath the dash, controlled by a Mooneyes vinyl wheel. A glass knob tops the twisted shifter from a '39 Ford Top Loader.
Owner Web page: www.myspace.com/oldgoldgarage