But there were a couple of problems. The '49-54 Chevy suspension/steering/brakes were a great improvement over the '48-earlier Knee-Action type, but something (asbestos?) got taken out of brake shoe relinings, and stopping was iffy with the rebuilt stock brakes. Also, with the car on such a rake, the long lower A-arms tended to hit on the ground in big dips on the freeway (not good). And, finally, they also took something out of the rope-type rear main seals for the '54 six, and I blew out six trying to remedy it before giving up. By that time (latter '90s), Heidt's had a weld-in Economy M-II suspension kit, complete with rack-and-pinion, dropped spindles, and 11-inch GM brakes. And Master Power Brakes had an under-the-floor Corvette power brake/pedal assembly. I had these installed by Frantic Fred Badberg, along with a low-mile '60s 283 sitting in another Street Rods Forever club member's garage, along with a free Turbo 350 I had rebuilt locally and a similarly priced early Nova 10-bolt rear. After rebuilding the engine and adding matched Edelbrock Performer cam, manifold, and carb, along with long-legged 2.73 rear gears, this combination is surprisingly peppy, yet still gets 25+ mpg. In fact, I recently had Fred add a semi-hidden Vintage Air system (my first-ever car with A/C!), which didn't hurt mileage but really helped on a summer trip to Phoenix.

Of course, all this time I was too busy using the car to stop and paint it, even though it was supposed to be the prime subject of a How To Paint Your Car book I was writing. Then I had a substantial setback when the hood flew up on the freeway, wrinkling much of the never-bent frontend and busting out the windshield. This precipitated a teardown of the car, some home-brewed metal straightening with a bottle-jack and 2x4s (and help from my intrepid wife, Anna), and finally a glossy coat of Lincoln Dark Jewel Green basecoat/clearcoat, inside and out, sprayed and rubbed out in my garage. See, that's the problem with the build-it-as-you-drive rod construction program. It takes a while, especially if you have unplanned setbacks.

While I had to drive mine as I worked on it, Bob knew his '54 would be a longer-term garage project. Having the aforementioned 305/700-R4 wrecking yard combo ready to install, he got a Heidt's bare crossmember, which he welded in himself, and went to the wrecking yard to get actual Mustang II A-arms, spindles, springs, steering, etc., along with GM brake discs and calipers. Bob also fabricated his own motor mounts, modified the stock K-member for a trans mount as well as his own concoction of a Mustang dual master cylinder and Corvette dual diaphragm power booster and custom under-floor pedal. Bob also used an early Nova 10-bolt rear (3.08 ratio), but had it narrowed inch with custom Mark Williams axles to fit the 8-inch early Americans in the narrow fenderwells. (I had the backs of my and David's wheels trimmed about inch by Eric Vaughn for clearance.) Bob did all of this, with his trusty Lincoln wire welder in his home garage, in about six months. But then this project stalled as he and Vicky bought a new house and got busy raising two very active teenage daughters.