How many of you can claim that the custom you're driving these days is the same car you rode in when you were 2 years old? Not many, although when we were at the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus last summer, we met a guy who fits that description.
Dwayne King was too young to remember the day in 1966 when his dad, Larry, came home with this '47 Fleetline, but he does remember riding around town in the back seat of the car a few years later. By the time Dwayne was 8 or 9, the stock-condition Chevy had been parked. It stayed parked as Dwayne got older and more interested in cars. His interest was stoked by his Uncle Mike, who owned a few fast cars, and would let Dwayne ride shotgun from time to time.
By the time Dwayne was in high school, riding shotgun in somebody else's cool car wasn't nearly as appealing as driving his own. When he starting taking auto body classes, he rescued the family Fleetline and returned it to the streets, driving it for four or five years. After a couple of moves, a marriage, and starting a family of his own, he put the car aside, until he was ready to tackle a body-off build. By now the Chevy was in desperate need of some fixing before it was too late. In addition to performing a lot of rust repair, Dwayne added a Mustang II frontend and replaced the drivetrain with a Chevy 400 small-block, TH350, and Chevy 10-bolt rear-and followed the trends of the early Nineties with a peacock green monochrome paintjob and a gray cloth interior. If you'd been at Charlotte, Columbus, Louisville, Pigeon Forge, or other shows in the area during the Nineties, you might remember seeing the car.
By 2004, a decade of driving and some seriously outdated styling necessitated another rebuild. This time he took it further, narrowing the rear frame and installing an Air Ride rear triangulated four-link and a Fatman MII frontend, and replaced the tired 400ci small-block and transmission with a balanced and blueprinted 355ci engine and a rebuilt Turbo 350.
Dwayne told us that painting the car turned out to be the toughest part of the job. His original decision on flat paint was based on the belief that it would be easier to maintain-but after three unsuccessful tries by the first painter to shoot it right without stripes and rough spots, he decided to have the top painted in glossy gold. That turned out great, but made the lower body look worse in contrast. Finally, after blocking the rest of the sheetmetal and reshooting the doorjambs, Dwayne took the car to a friend who did a fantastic job with the black suede.
To look at the car today, you'd never know the story of past neglect, wear and tear, or botched paintjobs-outside of Dwayne telling it. But that is a real part of the story of the car, the same as Dwayne's riding in the Chevy as a 2-year-old. Today, Dwayne still goes for rides as often as he can, and the car looks better than it ever did. Considering how long the car's been in his family and the amount it gets driven, we suspect there's more of this story waiting to be written.