Back in 1994, I was 18 years old, having just graduated high school. My father (Larry) and I had been tinkering with a '66 Chevy truck for about the past year, but hadn't made much progress on it. The truck was mostly torn apart, and its small-block engine was being built at a local machine shop. But we weren't in love with this particular truck. A friend of ours who owns a garage door business was a fellow hot rodder who was always dragging home something cool that he discovered in someone's garage, and usually got for nothing.
This particular summer of 1994, our friend had been dragging home several '47 Chevy Aerosedans (Fleetlines) to complete a project of his own. On a normal weekend visit to his house, I spotted one sitting behind his shop and became very intrigued by the long, sloping roof of the body style that is unique to this particular model, hence the Aerosedan. After a few days of haggling we struck a deal with our friend and dragged the '66 C-10 to his house and then loaded up the '47 Chevy.
Immediately, my best friend and I tore the car completely apart, had the body and frame blasted, and started the chassis and bodywork. The project drug on into the summer of 1995, I began to get bored with the college classes I was taking, and on a spontaneous whim I enlisted in the Air Force. The military kept me away from the Chevy for a few years, but my dad made a little progress in my absence. When I finally made it back home we wasted no time jumping back onto the fat-fendered Chevy.
It was probably about 1999 when the car finally got completely finished-although it didn't look anything like it does now. It had shaved door handles and a few other mild mods. It was a street rod, a '90s-style street rod at that (18/20-inch billet wheels, bright Porsche Blue with crazy graphics, and tan leather interior). The car was driven a lot for several years before eventually ending up in the back of the shop, as other projects had consumed our attention.
In 2005 my father was once again diagnosed with cancer. Being that he and I are so close, it was hard for me to sit by and watch him deteriorate to any level. I wanted a way to give him hope, something to look forward to when he did eventually beat the cancer. The '47 sat in our shop covered in dust, a half-finished project we'd worked on over the past couple of years when we had the motivation. My father's voice echoed in my head: "I wish that car was still running ... I always did love that car."
In January 2008, I knew within about three months that my dad would be able to get around-just in time for the Lone Star Round Up in Austin, Texas. So I told my guys in the shop, "We are going to get the Chevy back together by the Round Up for 'Pops' " (that's what everyone calls him). Some of them looked at me curiously because the car was in a deteriorated state. Being that as it was, we set out to make the best of the situation. I found a '46 Chevy front clip on the HAMB, because I like that grille more than the '47, and put bumpers back on the car. I pie-cut the hood about 2 1/2 inches, stretched the rear fenders back 3-4 inches, and molded a '55 Chevy front bumper upside down on the rear with '52 Chevy bumper pieces. All the original trim had been shaved off in the '90s, so it was a smoothie at this time. We ran out of time for the Round Up, so we sprayed it a Satin Red, had Pat Maxwell pinstripe the car really nice, and added some steel wheels with Coker whitewalls for a custom look. Pops drove the car to the show that year ... I have seldom seen him happier.
Shortly after the '08 Round Up, we started to have problems with the high-horsepower 383 small-block we'd built just prior. It became evident that we were going to have to pull the motor out and take it back to the machine shop. Discouraged, I tried to make it a positive event. This became a good reason to put a real paintjob on the car, and of course do a few more mods that I didn't get to finish previously. The car was stripped apart and prepped for paint while the engine was being reworked. This all came about around December, about four months from the '09 Round Up.
I love the color gold. We have a gold '55 and I was aching to have another gold car. I started mixing some House of Kolor paints until I came up with the shade that's on the car now. I think it came out perfect. The car finally started going back together about three weeks prior to the show, and as always, it was a last-minute deal. I dug through my stock piles of stainless trim and found some that looked close and modified it to fit the sides of the car, changed the hubcaps on the front to the '57 Caddys, and whipped up a hand-fabbed set of rear skirts.
Finally, the car had come together in a way that I had only imagined. It was a big hit at the show, and my dad was thrilled and proud to drive it on that rainy weekend. Shortly after, we took it to Cy Fair Upholstery and had a simple pleated leather job done, which finished it off. Now the car gets driven very often.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Sean & Larry Ornduff
1947 Chevrolet Fleetline
Along with a full airbag assist system, the '47 Fleetline's stock "top hat" frame has been updated with a Heidts Mustang II independent frontend as well as four-link-located Camaro rearend. For braking, standard-issue GM-derivative discs (front) and self-adjusting drums (rear) provide stopping power, while a power rack-and-pinion unit offers nimble guidance behind the wheel. (All chassis work by the owners/Ornduff Hot Rods.)
A rather potent small-block Chevy mill-383ci strong-now replaces the fairly feeble old 216 straight-six that once powered the Fleetline decades prior. The V-8 was built up by G&G Performance in Rosehill, Texas, and features an all-Eagle rotating assembly, AFR aluminum heads, Holley/Edelbrock induction, and an MSD ignition. Block-hugger headers and a set of traditional glasspacks give the '47 its audible distinction. Backing the SBC is a 700-R4 by Terry Martin Automotive (Tomball, Texas) outfitted with a Hughes converter.
Wheels & Tires
Coker Tire's proprietary radial wide whites wrap a quartet of Wheel Vintiques 15-inch steelies, with the fronts getting treated to '57 Cadillac hubcaps (the rears had to settle for none thanks to a set of custom-made skirts).
Body & Paint
After an initial phase in Satin Red dress, the '47 was given a more formal, fitting attire: custom-mixed House of Kolor Gold Metallic, applied by Sean Ornduff. Beneath its flashy new exterior, there's plenty of Ornduff Hot Rods handiwork: pie-cut hood, frenched headlights, shaved driprail and door handles, molded and stretched rear quarters, and the aforementioned skirts, among numerous other touches. Bumpers are a mix of a stock front unit and a '55 Chevy front morphed (along with pieces from a '52) into the molded rear unit. Side stainless is a custom-fit add-on as well.
In stark contrast to the exterior of the Ornduff Aerosedan, the interior is quite simple, but very clean nonetheless. A monotone tan theme uses satin painted surfaces such as the dash and garnish moldings paired with pleated leather seating/paneling and loop carpet by Cy Fair Upholstery (in Cy Fair, Texas). Steering wheel of choice is circa '62 Impala atop a GM tilt column; gauges are from Classic Instruments, housed in a custom, molded panel.