The amazing '60 Chevy custom you're looking at has been making the rounds of the top-shelf indoor shows for the last couple of seasons, attracting trophies along the way. But according to owner and builder Pete Kroeker, the car was borderline too bad to build when it first showed up at DMK Customs in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada.
"It was a very rough project car, and the customer wanted to know what to do with it. After looking it over, I told him to throw it away. His original intent was a mild driver, but with the exception of the roof, fenders, and doors, the car was junk. He could buy a completed mild driver for far less than what he'd drop in building this. His best option was to sell it for parts...or we could 'play' a bit. My son Ian and I came up with some concept drawings, and the owner decided to update the car with a chassis swap. We found an '86 Chevy Caprice as a donor. The intent was still to keep it low-key with some minor body mods; however, this changed as the project continued to grow and take on a life of its own. Things progressed so well that we even managed to get legendary painter Gene Winfield involved with one of his famous color blends.
"The day before Gene was to arrive, the customer brought me some bad news: he would not be able to finish the car. We talked about it and decided to go ahead and paint the car anyway, and we could talk about it again later-which we did. After some discussion with my wife and business partner Dawna, we decided that we should buy the car and finish it ourselves. All we had to do was come up with the money and time to get it done. As self-employed car builders in a very conservative part of Canada, with seven kids to raise, this caused some financial concerns-but for some reason the bank agreed to a loan (signing in blood helped, I guess). We were off-on a year and a half of macaroni dinners and building our own custom Chevy."
During the course of Pete and Dawna's build-up, the '60 continued to move from piece of junk to piece of art. The '86 Caprice chassis was put to good use, and a four-corner air bag suspension was addedb. The '86 Chevy drivetrain found its place in the project as well. A '67 Buick Riviera was employed for a variety of interior parts, upholstered in white vinyl. Pete put his sheetmetal talent to the test with bumper-to-bumper modifications to every panel on the body, cutting and stretching and channeling and adding and subtracting to intensify all of the Impala's character without obliterating any of its identity. Likewise, Gene Winfield's amazing blended cream-to-gold-to-copper paint job (the man's 82 years old, for crying out loud, and can still shoot paint like this) serves to intensify Pete's bodywork.
"As the project neared completion, Gene asked me if I would be interested in displaying the car at the Detroit Autorama in 2008. I have built many cars for many customers over the years, but had never entered one in competition. My agreement accelerated the building schedule (more macaroni!), and we made it to the Autorama with a not-completely-finished Chevy. Two weeks later, Kevin Lee with Rod & Custom called with the offer of some magazine exposure. This caused us to raise the bar on the build even higher. We ended up connecting with Kevin at the Grand National Roadster Show earlier this year.
"At the GNRS awards ceremony (sitting beside Tommy Otis, behind Jay Ohrberg, and in front of Blackie Gejeian) all that time, hard work, and macaroni paid off. And when the Chevy won First in Class, a dream came true."