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."
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Pete & Dawna Kroeker
Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada
1960 Chevy Impala
The 1960 frame was replaced with 'rails from an '86 Caprice, kept stock and treated to some blasting followed by a coat of PPG DP90 epoxy primer and another of PPG single-stage black. The Air Ride Technologies ProRide suspension and GM cop car heavy duty anti-roll bars at both ends make the car handle better than it ever did in the early days-with 11-inch GM discs and stock GM drums bringing the ride to a reliable halt.
Underneath all that cool custom sheetmetal there's a Chevy small-block engine. Ken Ferdig Automotive in Blackduck, Minnesota, put together the '86 Chevy 350, which runs an aluminum intake with a single Holley 600cfm four-barrel and wears a pair of finned Cal Custom valve covers. A Billet Specialties V-Trac pulley system dresses up the front. Hedman exhaust headers run into 21/2-inch exhaust pipes corked with Flo-Pro Performance mufflers. Ken also built the 700-R4 automatic, modified with a shift kit. The driveshaft and axles are stock, tied together by a GM posi rearend.
Wheels & Tires
Following the style established in the Sixties, the Kroekers wanted 15-inch 5-spokes for their custom, and chose 15x8 and 15x7 Cragar Unique Super Supreme composite wheels. Wide whites are the perfect complement to Winfield's paint and the white vinyl upholstered wheelwells, and these P225/70R15 and P235/70R15 roadworthy radials from Diamondback Classic do the job.
Body & Paint
For a project that was once on the verge of getting its plug pulled, this Chevy has been treated to a pretty amazing makeover. Long as it looks, the body was actually shortened 3 inches before getting channeled over the frame. The front edges of the fenders were extended 11/2 inches and the fender tops dropped 3/4 inch; the '89 Buick Regal hood-widened with sheetmetal from other '60 fenders-now spans the entire width of the nose from fender edge to fender edge. The deck got the same treatment with the decklid stretched across the top of the extended fins. The rear quarters were bulged slightly over the rear wheels and customized with side scoops loaded with aluminum bullet side trim. The grille and grille opening were modified and '67 Riviera headlight housings were sunk into the opening. The '60 Impala front bumper was narrowed, tucked, and smoothed. A fabricated front pan was added and the turn signals were relocated to a mesh panel. At the other end, another pan and taillight panel was created, and the rear bumper was reworked with a front bumper center section. Bodywork was done by Pete along with Adam Robinson. North Star/Fairmont Plating in Winnipeg did the chrome and Triple G Glass in Winnipeg did the glass.
The sheetmetal work continues under the forward-tilt hood, where a full perimeter engine compartment cove runs from the firewall, around the custom inner fenderwells, to the radiator shroud. The owner-built custom engine cover was made from a '60 Impala quarter panel.
The perfectly-blended DuPont custom paint could only be the work of Gene Winfield, who hasn't lost his touch after half a century of doing this stuff. Pete finished it off with some vintage-style 'striping.
Bowtie meets Buick in the interior of the Kroekers' custom '60, where the seats, door panels, and center console (plus shifter) were all taken from a '67 Riviera, and recovered in white vinyl by Otto's Custom Upholsters in Beausejour, Manitoba. The car retains the distinctive '60 Chevy dash and stock gauges, along with a reduced-diameter '58-60 wheel from Classic Steering Wheels on an ididit tilt column. The rear package tray was once a '59 Impala dash top. Chris LaBonte and Steve McDonald.installed the custom sound system-a combo of Focal and Alpine speakers, an Audison amp, and an Alpine receiver. The kick panels have been cut out for the front speakers and the vents from the Hot Rod Air A/C system. Controls are installed behind the ashtray lid.
Owner contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org