So it took both of us, for different reasons, 14 years to finish these cars. Coincidence. And David's was started five years before that. But this yields some interesting comparisons. When we launched Dave's Project '53, we used an RB's Obsolete bolt-in crossmember kit (being about the only available) and got all the components, including brakes and strut rods, from a Mustang II at a wrecking yard. No under-floor power brakes were available, so we used a bolt-in non-power Corvette unit from ECI, but this provided marginal stopping until we swapped on Heidt's dropped spindles with 11-inch GM brakes. That's what's still in the car now, and the braking is less than optimum. Plus, with the front sitting so low, the brackets for the strut rods will hit the ground if David isn't careful on bumpy roads. Knowing this, I opted for Heidt's fabricated A-arms for my car, which eliminate the strut rods. Still, the M-II crossmember kissed the pavement a few times before I raised the front 1 inch with new, slightly stiffer springs.

When Bob first installed his M-II front, he also used the stock strut rods. But, seeing several improvements over the years, he recently opted for a Total Cost Involved retrofit lower A-arm setup using Firestone airbags instead of springs, eliminating the struts. But there's a twist. Bob's true daily-driver is a Peterbilt, so he knows how airbags work as suspension. (And, if you own your own big rig, it helps if you have the tools and talents to maintain it.) So there is no pump or tank in his '54; Bob plumbed his system with two air lines running to the rear, fitted with Schrader valves, which he can fill with a regular air hose and tire gauge. This makes the front ride fully adjustable, but he sets it where it looks and rides best and leaves it. He similarly added air shocks to the Posies rear springs so he can raise the back a bit when he has extra passengers.

A further comparison of these cars is that they are all garage-built. Since David's was a project to promote new products, it has a lot of aftermarket components. But I still did the majority of the work on it in my garage. Of course I built my own car in the same garage, doing a few things more than once. But Bob is even craftier and meticulous. That's another reason his took so long. He not only fabricated his own firewall, fender panels, fan shroud, etc., but he also wired the car, built the brakes and suspension, and so on. Further, he did things like adding or subtracting strips of metal to the hood edges to make it fit perfectly and spent similar time making the doors and trunk fit and latch. He doesn't do his own paint (he did the bodywork), but he made the painter respray the car three times before he got the right fine metallic in the Audi silver/pearl and got all parts to match. Even though it's totally built to drive, Bob's car is stunning in fit and finish.

Finally, it's no coincidence that Dave's and my cars look similar, since I built both. But the fact that Bob's is nearly identical in year, body style, stance, and wheel/tire choice is true coincidence. Dave and Bob are both a decade younger than I, so it's not an age thing. The only big differences in these cars are the exterior colors and the upholstery treatment. The fact that mine has a 283, Bob's has a 305, and Dave's is a 350 is simply interesting. They all run and drive very similarly. In fact, the biggest similarity among these three is that they were built to drive.

But that leaves one big question: are these rods or customs? The answer, of course, is yes and no. They're definitely not throw-back, tail-dragger customs with wide whites, lakes pipes, spots, and skirts. The mag wheels, big 'n' little blackwalls, slight rake, tachs, and floorshifts give them hot rod flavor. But all three have custom touches like dechroming, peaked hoods, custom taillights, a recessed license, a Frenched antenna, modified grilles, and so on.

They might not look as cool as their bagged and slammed brethren at the weekend cruise or show, and I'd lower mine some more if it didn't hit the ground. But I think all three of these boxy Chevys look pretty darn good, just like they would have in the high school parking lot 20, 30, or 40 years ago.