Considering they're just a collection of metal, plastic, rubber, glass, and cloth, it's odd that we can become so emotionally attached to some cars. Memories of road trips, events, or just good times spent in them can strengthen that bond. Those we feel that connection with usually stay around for some time, while others get sent down the road surprisingly quickly if they do nothing for us. Then there are those special cars, which mean more to us than simply the fact that we built it ourselves or hold affection for that particular body style. Mike Stowe's '35 Chevy coupe sits firmly in that category, for this was his father's last street rod, given to Mike by his mother when his father passed away in 1983.
As Mike told us, "At age 15 I fell in love with cars and my father told me if I wanted one I'd have to build it myself. By the time he and I finished my '49 Chevy convertible, I was given it for my 16th birthday, and we were both hooked. He built many show cars throughout his life, the first being a '32 Ford, which he chopped, channeled, and sectioned, while I'm still driving a '40 Ford coupe that I've owned for more than 50 years." It was in the late '70s that Mike's mother and father travelled to Pennsylvania to pick up an original '35 Chevy chassis, which was put together with a small-block Chevy before being slid under the coupe that was finished in tan with dark brown fenders.
When Mike inherited the Chevy, it took a few years before he had the desire to redo it, in the meantime racking up a great many miles and experiences until he wore it out. In 1990 it came apart, with an '87 IROC motor and 700-R4 trans dropped into the rebuilt chassis. At the time it had a steel body but the fenders, tailpan, and running boards were from A-1 Fiberglass. With new glass, new headlights, and a manual sunroof, Cragar wheels and white paint completed the exterior, with dark blue leather over Cadillac Cimarron seats on the inside.
After 15 years of driving the Chevy like this, Mike felt it was again time for a makeover. "My first task was ordering a completely new chassis from Barry Lobeck, with Heidts front suspension, a 9-inch Ford rear, and an entirely fresh brake system from Stainless Steel Brake Corporation. Dayton Wire Wheels custom-built a set of powdercoated real knock-offs to match the paint on the top half of the car." With the body shipped off for bodywork, John McLeod of Classic Instruments found a set of steel fenders and running boards at a swap meet, then hand-formed a new tailpan from steel to replace the only fiberglass panel now remaining. Upon disassembly it was discovered that the majority of the original wood was in bad shape, so the mammoth task of replacing it was undertaken by Terry Sierocki, a local woodworking expert. If you've ever worked on a Chevy from this era or seen one taken apart, you know just how much wood there is in there, how integral it is to the structural rigidity of the body, and how complicated a job it is to replace it!
One of the biggest challenges of the rebuild was getting the bodywork straight, especially given the custom-mixed dark blue metallic used on the upper half. This was topped by the challenge of getting the vintage fuel injection working properly on the '61 Corvette 283. Mike entrusted Chuck Smith to rebuild the injection unit, which now performs as it should, an advantage given that the Chevy was designed and built to be a daily driver, just as it had been for Mike's father. As he told us, "It will continue to be my daily driver until I get the urge to redo it again in another 15 years. My goal is to wear it out by driving it so I will have to rebuild it again!"
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Mike & Chuck Stowe
Boyne City, Michigan
1935 Chevy Standard Coupe
Lobeck's Hot Rod Shop fabricated a chassis for the coupe to stock dimensions, adding a Heidts independent front suspension with coilovers. SSBC front disc brakes, booster, and master cylinder combine to slow the coupe from speed. In the rear a 3.25:1 geared 9-inch Ford axle turns the rear wheels, located by a four-link and Panhard rod, and suspended on another pair of coilovers.
Ray Baker machined and built the '61 Corvette 283, adding a COMP Cams 'shaft but otherwise leaving most internal components stock. The fuel injection system was rebuilt and bolts to the stock intake manifold, while those valve covers that so many people want for their later small-block came as stock on this motor. Custom block hugger headers feed an HPC-coated system employing Flowmaster mufflers, while Be-Cool aluminum radiator does exactly what its name suggests! Backing the vintage small-block is an '08 Tremec five-speed with Center Force clutch, flywheel, and disc, with a Hurst shifter allowing driver input.
Wheels & Tires
Those Dayton Triple Cross knock-off wires measure 15x7 at the pointy end and 17x8 at the blunt end, cosseted in Pirelli 175/65R15 and P225/55ZR17 rubber respectively. Powdercoated to color-match the top half of the coupe, they fill the fenderwells perfectly.
Body & Paint
Jim and Bob Lewis went to great lengths to straighten the old Chevy sheetmetal and align all the panels before squirting the PPG custom two-tone and adding a metallic effect stripe between the two colors. While there are no major bodymods immediately obvious, a serious undertaking was the replacement of most of the structural wood inside the sheetmetal. Subtle alterations to the outside include the use of a truck grille to eliminate the crank hole, while a Cadillac sunroof was installed.
An extra panel added below the dash does a great job of hiding the A/C unit as well as providing a mounting place for switches and A/C louvers. Mike sits in the same Cadillac seats that survived the last redo, though this time there's a Lecarra 'wheel on an ididit tilt column for him to hold on to. Blue leather was used on the seats and door panels, with dark blue wool carpet below. Great Lakes Motor Works tackled the wiring, using an American Autowire kit, as well as installing the Kenwood stereo. Classic Instruments built a set of custom gauges with dark blue and silver faces to complement the two-tone color scheme, as well as rebuilding a '57 Oldsmobile clock to finish off the dash.