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By 2004, a decade of driving and some seriously outdated styling necessitated another rebuild.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.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Sod, West Virginia
1947 Chevy Fleetline
Dwayne made most of the modifications to the chassis, including adding a Fatman Mustang II frontend to the stock GM framerails. The front suspension now includes airbag springs and Monroe shocks, in addition to an '88 Mustang power steering rack. The rear 'rails were narrowed and fitted with a Currie 9-inch limited slip rearend with 3.00:1 gears, located with an Air Ride Technologies triangulated four-link air suspension. Brakes are Chevy discs in front and Ford drums in back. A 16-gallon polyethylene fuel tank sits in the stock location.
The '80 Chevy 350 small-block was sent to Kearney, Nebraska, for machining and assembly at Blueprint Engines. When it returned it was a balanced and blueprinted 355 (0.030-over 350) muscled up with 9.5:1 Keith Black pistons, a SCAT crank, and GM Vortec heads. The Edelbrock 750 on an Air Gap manifold is topped with a cool-looking finned air cleaner from O'Brien Truckers, a good match for the Edelbrock Classic aluminum valve covers. The stock ram horn exhaust manifolds fit the car better than tube headers and feed 3-inch exhaust tubing with Flowmaster 60-Series Delta Flow mufflers. Dempsey Atkinson in South Charleston, West Virginia, built the Turbo 350, using a shift kit and a Jegs converter.
Body & Paint
Fans of the '47 Chevy would probably agree that these cars were born with the proportions of a custom. Dwayne emphasized those lines by eliminating locks and handles, fender trim, and hood and deck brightwork (keeping the Fleetline badge on the deck)-and by frenching the headlights and filling the fuel door. He molded the rear fenders to the body and molded the extended front fenders to the narrowed grille. D.T. Hoffman applied the chrome.
After the first painter's failed attempts to get the paint right, Dwayne found Charlie Schoolcraft in Clendenin, West Virginia, who shot the Sikkens Fool's Gold over the top and down the deck. The rest of the car was painted DuPont Hot Rod Black by Tim Coleman from Cross Lanes, West Virginia. The decklid pinstriping was added by Darin Allen from Killer Designs by Darin in Flatwoods, Kentucky.
Wheels & Tires
Dwayne added hot rod flavor to the custom with his wheel and tire choice, mounting a pair of fat P275/60R17 Goodyear Eagle GT II rear tires on 17x11 reverse gray-center Salt Flat Specials from American Racing with three-bar spinners-a good combination, don't you think? The front tires are P215/60R16s on 16x7 rims.
Front seats out of a Pontiac Fiero and rears out of a Gran Prix were upholstered in black and white vinyl to make them look like they belong in a '47 Chevy. Bob Evans from Lancaster, Ohio, did the tuck 'n' roll work. The dash was modified with Auto Meter gauges. A Budnik Flat-Track CV-3 steering wheel turns a Cadillac tilt/telescoping column. The floor console from a Ford Falcon houses the Air Ride controls and gauges. A Lokar shifter and Speedway Motors pedals are other aftermarket additions. Dwayne wired up a JVC stereo and Pioneer speakers.