If Chuck Williams was trying to follow the crowd, he built the wrong custom. When I ran across his '53 Dodge Meadowbrook Suburban at the Nashville Nationals last June, it was situated far away from the high-profile parking area. The wagon caught my attention partly because I couldn't remember ever seeing one before, and partly because a friend had just led me all the way across the Titan Stadium grounds to show it to me.
Later on, a Google image search turned up only about half a dozen different '53 Dodge station wagons. Not all of them were finished and only one of them, this one, was modified.
Chuck has owned a few Ford and Chevy rods and customs, but he told us that his father always had Dodge pickups when Chuck was growing up, and that he himself owns three Dodge trucks now, so there's definitely something in the family tree that is rooted in Dodges. In the summer of 2003, he was hunting around on eBay and happened to run across this one. The fact that it was located fairly nearby, was a two-door wagon, and was a Dodge got him interested enough to call the seller. The condition of the car, low mileage, local history, ability to move under its own power, and the $1,500 price tag got him interested enough to haul it home.
One of the first things he did was contact Art Morrison Enterprises to order a custom chassis built around their Air Spring frame which uses an adjustable Air Ride Technologies system. When the chassis got to Chuck in Arkansas, he added temporary body mounts, dropped the wagon body on the 'rails, and hauled the car all the way back to Washington.
"You might be wondering why I traveled from Arkansas to Washington to have the work done," Chuck said. "I had lived in Washington from the late Seventies until I retired in 2000. My first street rod, a '34 Ford three-window coupe, was built in Seattle. A few years later, I got into drag racing. That's when I met Tim Levin from Marysville, who built and fabricated my 2000 Dodge Dakota Pro Stock race truck, which also has an Art Morrison chassis. So, when I started this project, Tim and Art were the first two people I contacted."
In Marysville, Tim located the body on the new chassis and replaced the temporary body mounts with permanent parts-and built a new firewall, floor, and wheel tubs. The tubs and massive rear tires reflect a drag racing influence that continues under the hood; the Mopar Performance Hemi was machined and assembled by Matt Hensley in Knoxville, Tennessee. Chuck balanced that influence with the overall contemporary custom flavor of the wagon. Neither of those two styles prevents the Dodge from being what Chuck always intended it to be: a driver. In addition to local shows, he's taken it to regional and national events. Wherever he shows it, it's gotta be the only '53 Dodge wagon around. And wherever he drives it, he's sure not following the crowd.