"With the '52 body over the new chassis you could still see the bottom edge of the Malibu rockers," he admitts. He ended up extending the '52 rockers. With the chassis laid out, he positioned 1x3 tubing horizontally where he wanted the rockers' lowest edges, which happened to be an inch or so above deck. He trimmed away the existing rockers about a 1/2 inch below the doorsill, had some sheet bent, and used it to span the gap between the trimmed rocker edge and the tubing. "At the front wheelwell the rockers are about 1 1/2 inches lower than stock, and at the rear wheelwell they're about 2 1/2 inches lower," John says. What's more, the tubing is actually the lower edge of the rockers, and orienting the tubing sideways meant John was able to tie them into the Malibu's inner rockers. "The wheelwells on those cars are really square and boring," John says. So he cut each wheel opening from its quarter, narrowed it 1 1/2 inches, and sliced and spread its rear corner. "Now the back of the wheelwell matches the B-pillars," John says. "It gives them a bit more of a forward motion." He then reattached the openings a tick more than 2 inches lower than stock so their leading edges aligned with the dropped rockers.
The bubble in a stock '52 quarter ends about 1 inch above the stock rocker, which amounts to more than 3 inches higher than the lowered rockers. In this particular body's case, the extreme sectioning made bullets of the bubbles' leading edges. "Well, I wanted them to sit flush with the bottom of the rockers, so I sliced the whole shape apart and put it back together with a rounder curve," John says. Now the quarters' softer bubble shapes end at the base of the rockers right in front of the wheelwells. "The rear bumper was ridiculously too high, so I moved it and the quarters 3 inches down," John says. What's more, he narrowed and flipped the bumper. "The gravel pan has an interesting shape but it usually goes below the upper edge of the bumper," John notes. "So I trimmed it down and welded it to the top of the bumper. I didn't want it to look extremely molded, so I welded some round rod around the edge of the pan where it overlaps the bumper." Finally, he welded the bumper and pan assembly to the body, thereby restoring the strength lost by trimming the body's stock inner structure.
The prior owner may have sectioned the car 6 inches, but the amount John put back into the rockers meant he needed to section the front fenders only 4 inches, which he did above the wheel arches. He left the hood stock, theorizing, "This car is so radical in so many ways that it doesn't need a sectioned hood." He did, however, shave its seam and weld the nose trim to it. He gave the front bumper the same treatment as the rear, only he made the gravel pan. Trimming the grille surround let the parking lights sit directly on that pan.
The grille bar is anything but conventional: it's a camshaft from a 425-horse 60-series Detroit diesel that John split and bent to match the grille shape. "I have a theory that every car has to have a hook, something that sucks people into it, something that's kind of controversial without being too annoying," he surmises. "I got a lot of support and really positive feedback from a lot of people on the HAMB, but not everyone was happy with the grille insert. But there were 10 pages of people talking about it, so I thought, 'I think I got it right.'" But more on that later.