After building a few cars, I needed a break and decided to take a different route and buy a couple already done. Then I came to realize I never liked any of the cars I bought because I didn't build them. All I wanted to do was take them apart and start over. So I decided to build a new car that I could enjoy. I contacted a person I knew who owned a few Chevy bubbletops and asked him to let me know if he ever came across a '62 Bel Air bubbletop because I wanted to build one.
A few months later he contacted me to tell me a friend of his had put one on eBay and that he had put a bid in on it but didn't really need another car. So I got in touch with the seller, who told me that the car was ready for paint. So I contacted the person I knew to find out some more info. He told me he was good friends with the seller, who did fine work and was respected among the 409 crowd. He also told me he knew the car and it was everything the seller said it was.
I respected his opinion because he owned some really nice cars, so I took the plunge and bought it sight unseen. When I got the car home it looked really good and I figured I did OK. After it sat for a few months I decided I was ready to get started on the project. It started well and after getting a few things done the project was going smooth. Then it went all downhill.
I found some body filler under the roof skin inside the car that looked out of place. After poking a screwdriver through the roof I knew there were problems. One thing led to another and I found out the truth about the car. I had made a bad deal. They spent more time hiding stuff that was wrong than if they had fixed it right. A good friend of mine once told me if you make a bad deal make up for it in hard work, and that is what I did.
I had the car stripped and could finally see what I had purchased, and it wasn't much. If I had looked at the car before buying it, I still would have, they did that good of a job hiding what was there. I started to round up sheetmetal and found a good roof skin, doors, fenders, and decklid, and ordered a pair of quarters and rockers. I also went back through and fixed the floorpans and replaced the inner wheelhouses.
The body needed a great deal of metalwork to save it. Once the body was solid again it was time to smooth the firewall, remove door handles and emblems, and do a lot more fabrication. One of the hardest parts of the build was trying to make the car sit right with the 20- and 22-inch wheels. The frame needed to be C-notched, the body mounts and shocks were relocated, floor work was done, and the front inner fenders were raised.
As work continued, I contacted my friend and car designer, Jason Rushforth, to go over some ideas. We went through many different designs but finally came up with one that would work.
After getting the engine, transmission, and suspension mocked up it was finally time to tear down and get some paint on the car. Since I work for an automotive paint store (Wesco Autobody Supply), I have a lot of great products at my fingertips. The other nice part of working for a jobber store is that I know a lot of body shops. My friend, Mike McKinney, who owns Riverside Collision, let me have run of the place to get the car painted.
Once the car had some shine it was time to do final assembly and to get Todd Kramer to sew up the interior. Assembling a car that I'd never taken apart was one of the hardest parts of the process. There was a lot of trial and error. I set a goal to have the car finished to take to the Del Mar Goodguys show and it was coming fast. The last two months before the show involved a lot of days and nights to get the car finished. There were plenty of times I didn't think it was going to make it, but it did. I had a lot of friends there to help me at the end, but my friend Wade Bonds put in a lot of hours at my shop helping on the build and cleaning up after me.