Cars of one form or another have always been a part of Ron Snodgrass' life. His first car at 16 was a four-door '40 Chevy, followed by a number of stock Model Ts and a '31 Chevy five-window. Then, he shifted gears and ran a '55 MG TF and an Austin Healey after moving from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California. Once settled in this hot rod mecca, it occurred to him that stock antique cars and old sports cars weren't really suited to SoCal traffic, and the growing desire for a hot rod became one that needed his attention.
His first ground-up build was a '27 T touring that he still owns, complete with 327 and Jag IRS. A great freeway driver, the T served him well (you wouldn't keep a car for years that you didn't love, would you?) and was soon joined in his stable by a lovely survivor '39 coupe that is stock, apart from speed equipment on its Flattie, Durant monoleaf springs, and big 'n' little whitewalls. A DP90-coated '32 five-window is probably Ron's most used car, though, with a bone-stock '53 Bentley, completing the eclectic collection until 2002, when he found this '35 Chevy two-door sedan in Arizona. "I really like the '33-34 Fords but am not keen on suicide doors, and the Chevy is similar in design," he told us. "I found the Chevy on eBay, and what was so nice about it was the fact I purchased it from the original owner's son, who had restored it in 1958 and driven it through college. The idea was to install modern running gear, wheels, and tires, and build a resto rod, using the 44-year-old paint and upholstery, which was still presentable."
Of course, we all know how projects snowball, and Ron's Chevy was no exception, though the original plan lasted a while. With an '87 IROC Z28 motor and 700-R4 trans installed, consideration needed to be given to upgraded brakes, steering, and suspension, though the plan was still that resto rod theme. Unfortunately, the guy entrusted with the work wasn't as careful around that old paint as he could have been, and once it received a few nicks and scratches, Ron knew the paint would need redoing anyway when the idea of a roof chop was presented, so the rear tire carrier was lost along the way, too. Three inches were removed from the roofline, the vent windows disappeared from the doors, and the big recess in the firewall for the stock straight-six was removed to make space behind the dash for air conditioning. A Heidt's IFS was also installed at this time with rack-and-pinion steering. By now, it was 2006, and with the bodywork primed and the body panels refitted, a few more tweaks were made to make the lines flow more smoothly, such as extending the lower edge of the front fenders between the running boards and the wheel arch to eliminate the upward slope.
With a new build team now working on the Chevy at the Jalopy Shoppe in nearby Escondido, the project stepped up a pace, with a hand-fabbed pedal assembly, a '55 Chevy rearend with Olds axles hung on SO-CAL Speed Shop ladder bars, new steel floor panels to replace the wooden originals, and Air Ride ShockWaves on the frontend to achieve the stance Ron was after. One of the biggest challenges with the build was gapping all the panels perfectly, no easy feat on a wood-framed car, such as the Chevy, as well as packaging everything into the body. Pretty much the only space to fit everything was behind the dash, which is packed with the A/C unit, the electric cowl vent motor, the fuse box, and the engine computer. Although, the area behind the rear seat now houses the battery and stereo system, the compressor and air tank for the front ShockWaves live under each front fender behind the wheels, and the exhaust system includes electrically operated cutouts ahead of the mufflers.
The Jalopy Shoppe's Jim Benitez laid on the PPG Vibrance Silver Star paint. Special jigs were fabricated to enable the whole car to be painted at one time with all the fenders and running boards in place but spaced away from the main body. This enabled the heavy metallic paint to be sprayed in-line with all panels coated, simultaneously.
By late 2006, the Chevy was almost complete, the goal to have it on display at the Grand National Roadster Show in January. As so often happens, the last few weeks leading up to the show saw later and later nights put in to ready the sedan, and it actually went straight from Ron Mangus' upholstery shop to the show, where it won a class award.
What started out as plans for a nice resto rod long-distance driver morphed into a very elegant rod that saw a few local shows last year, along with a few trophies, while Ron and wife Sandie shook it down and fixed a couple of very minor teething problems. Ron actually drove the car in stock form for a year before tearing it down and has big plans to hit some of the major shows in California, Nevada, and Arizona this year.
Rod & Custom Feature CarRon & Sandie Snodgrass
1935 Chevy Standard Sedan
ChassisThe stock chassis is still under the car, and in fact, the body was never separated from it during the build, even though the front half is now boxed and the crossmembers were strengthened. A Heidt's Mustang II-based IFS was installed, along with a Chassis Engineering antiroll bar, ShockWaves, and ECI disc brakes, which are operated using a Corvette 7-inch chrome booster on the firewall. A power Mustang II steering rack keeps everything pointed in the right direction. Out back behind the axle is a Rock Valley 18-gallon stainless steel gas tank.
DrivetrainAn '87 TPI 350 Chevy was selected to power the sedan, with limited dress-up equipment, since Ron's intention from the outset was to build a driver that would require minimal maintenance, with no need to raise the hood at shows. Machined by HDS in Escondido and assembled at the Jalopy Shoppe using mainly stock parts for reliability, the engine wears chrome valve covers and a Billet Specialties air cleaner, along with Shorty's headers that feed into a 2-1/4-inch system that features electric cutouts "for fun," to quote Ron. A 700-R4 trans and custom driveshaft by Oceanside Drive Shaft connects to a '55 Chevy limited-slip rearend, which uses Olds axles and the Chevy drum brakes, suspension coming by way of SO-CAL Speed Shop ladder bars, Carrera coilover shocks, and a custom Panhard rod.
Body & PaintManufactured in Canada, the '35 Standard sedan body is still remarkably stock-looking, despite the 3-inch roof chop. That's probably because it retains its stock bumpers, grille, headlights, gas filler, hinges, and rubber running board covers. What look like the original taillights are actually '34 Chevy lights on modified stands, while a '34 hood ornament leads the way. The lower edge of the front fenders were pie-cut and realigned to flow in line with the running boards, the A-pillars were laid back ever so slightly, the spare wheel carrier was removed, and dual electric windshield wipers replaced the single original. Much time was spent aligning panels and ensuring the panel and door gaps were consistent before Jim Benitez laid on the PPG Vibrance Silver Star paint.
Wheels & TiresAfter much deliberation throughout the build, with even steels or wires considered at various points, Ron opted for 17x7-inch Intro Titan wheels all around, with a 4-inch backspacing. Wanting matching tread patterns, front and rear, Goodyear Eagle RSA tires were chosen, 215/50R17 up front and 235/65R17 out back. These totally fill the rear fenders, with the bare minimum clearance 'twixt rubber and sheetmetal on both sides of the tire!
InteriorWith just days to go before the '07 Grand National Roadster Show, the sedan was fired up for the first time and delivered to Ron Mangus' upholstery shop, where the Snodgrass duo opted for a sea-foam green leather and suede interior, with speckled black and gray wool carpet. Classic Instruments SG Series gauges now live in the stock dash, which hides a Vintage Air A/C unit; a one-off framework behind that removable dashboard mounts the Flaming River tilt steering column, which uses a Billet Specialties wheel. The Jalopy Shoppe's Mike Sholes custom-wired the sedan, which features more electrical components than it would first appear, such as a flip-down rear license plate, those exhaust cutouts, the air suspension controls, and the power cowl vent, among others. A 10-disc CD changer and Custom Autosound head unit live behind the one-off folding rear seat, which matches the modified Glide front bench.
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