About the time John was sorting out the last details of the body, Ken Ransford and Frank Bevacqua were sorting the details for Top Ten Hotrods & Customs to host one of Gene Winfield's metalworking workshops. "So I asked Bevacqua if Winfield would paint my car while he was here," John says, acknowledging the idea as a long shot. "Well, he agrees to stay another day and shoot it," he says, still pondering the improbability. "My car wasn't even close to paint," he admits. "I had six weeks to get the car from basically a few spots of filler to completely done, primed, and prepped for that kind of paintjob. I do bodywork on my own cars, but I've never done anything that extensive." But after a sky-high quote and after having a few offers fall through, that's exactly what he did. "I ended up taking a full week off of work and actually got it done right here in our basement."
The rest can only be described as a whirlwind. A Sikkens rep and friend of Bevacqua's offered a booth at the Sikkens training center, which turned into a 16-hour marathon custom-paint tutorial. "They were totally behind us 100 percent," John says. "And since it's a training booth it has glass all the way around so students can see what you're doing-which was good so people could see Winfield do the process of a blend job."
Though John said he intended to unveil the car in late February at the Abbotsford World of Wheels, an offer to debut the car at the 61st Grand National Roadster Show alongside Winfield's newly restored shop truck only invigorated his sense of urgency. "My wife [Jennifer] said, 'You know, you're probably never going to get another opportunity to do something cool like that again, so just do it.'"
With only two weeks on the clock, John scrambled, improvising an interior along the way. Ken Ransford offered his car trailer, John's brother-in-law loaned him his truck, and without even a passenger to keep him company, John embarked upon a 1,400-mile journey. "I just put a message on my phone saying I wasn't available for a week and a half, which made a lot of people mad. But oh well, life goes on."
And it paid off. Remember the thing about the camshaft for a grille? "Well, we ended up winning the Kustom D'Elegance Award," John says. "It was funny because people would always say 'Barris would never put anything in a car like that.' Well, we get this award and George starts talking about the car. He says, 'The coolest thing about that car was that it has a camshaft for a grille,'" John says. "Oh that's so cool-that's the thing that he remembers about the car. I was so flattered. Right or wrong, it's just one of those things that makes people talk about the car. I wouldn't have ever dreamed of that happening," John concludes. "Here I am a Canadian guy building a car in a basement out of stuff that I had lying around. I couldn't have hoped to do any better with it-it's not a perfect car; it's just a homebuilt thing. But it all came together. And at the last minute I go there and end up winning that award. It was a Cinderella story you might say."
Yeah, after the way it started, we might just say that.