Do you remember what you were doing 30 years ago? Harold Fogle does. He was trying to convince the owner of this 1948 Chevy Fleetline Aerosedan to sell it to him. Once it was finally his, and despite an enthusiastic start, it wasn't until 2007 that the build began in earnest, the car debuting at the NSRA Nats East a mere 18 months later.
It seems Harold has always had a soft spot for the Fleetline body style. As he tells it, "As a kid, I enjoyed hanging out with my uncle, Kenny, who taught me how to work on cars. I helped him work on his '48 Fleetline and was able to put my first motor together at the age of 12 with his help. When I was 17, my uncle asked if I wanted to buy the car from him, so we worked out a plan whereby I could afford to buy it. During my five years of ownership, I gradually made modifications; it felt good to be the first person in town to put a V-8 in a '48 Chevy. I then sold the car to buy a '57 Chevy that I'd had my eye on, but I realized that I missed the '48, so I searched for another. I learned from a friend that his neighbor had a '48 in his backyard, but he wouldn't sell. For the next few years I persistently expressed interest in the car, as it was in a lot better shape than my own. Finally he gave in and sold it to me for $500.
"The car already had a '56 235 six-cylinder motor, which I rebuilt. My plan was to restore it, so I had the body blasted, put on a coat of zinc chromate self-etching sealer, and began bodywork. At the time, my son Keith worked at an upholstery shop after school, where he met a rodder named Dave Pompell, who convinced him that he should try to buy my '34 Buick five-window from me and rod it. I didn't want to sell it, but Keith was persistent, so I gave it to him. He then took over my home garage with his project for the next five years!"
Harold worked as an auto painter and fixed up and sold wrecked cars to support his car hobby until Keith finished the Buick. Finally able to return to the Fleetline, it wasn't long before he moved, the project going on hold once again. Harold says, "Time went by fast and I realized I'd spent 20 years working on family and friends' cars and houses and not my own projects. In 2007, I went with my son and his buddies to the Goodguys show in Charlotte, and while there mentioned to Keith that I'd like to finish my car. He said we should work on it every weekend to get it done, so in January 2008 we got started. We worked well as a father and son team, installing a Heidts Mustang II frontend, mounting the motor and trans, and a 10-bolt rear.
"We tackled the bodywork together, welding the rear fenders on and Keith frenching the Caddy taillights, while I fitted a pair of NOS '46 front fenders, given to me by my buddy Ronnie Thomas (though I had to splice the grille section of the original '48 fenders into the new pair as the grilles mount differently). With the exterior done and primed, we tackled the interior, reworking the dash, before blocking and re-priming the outside a couple more times. With the '08 Lexus paint laid on by our friend Mike Westmoreland, we could assemble the car for the final time. It was really starting to come together, but we couldn't get the LT1 motor to fire. It was our first experience with an LT1 and 4L60E trans, which we wanted to use even though we knew nothing about them except that they run great! With help from our friend Bobby Jenkins, we resolved the engine issues and were aiming to debut the car at York, when I accidentally drove the Chevy into the garage doorframe. With time running out, you can imagine the choice words that went through my mind at that point!
With the tan vinyl interior fitted, matched by the steelies and wide whites, Harold, Keith, and his grandson, Corey, made it to the Nats East in York, despite the setbacks. Now it's time to tackle Corey's '34 Ford. Something tells us Team Fogle is on a roll now and we won't have to wait another 30 years to check that one out!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1948 Chevy Fleetline
The '48 still rides on its original chassis, which benefits from a Heidts Mustang II IFS sourced from Southern Rods, 2-inch dropped spindles from JW Rod Garage, and an '82 T-bird rack-and-pinion steering hooked to a '72 Chevy pickup column. Harold and Keith Fogle fabricated the motor and trans mounts, installed a 10-bolt Chevy rearend with Moser axles, and added four-wheel disc brakes from Speedway Motors. When we shot the car at the NSRA Nats last year, they planned on installing a four-link with RideTech suspension in the rear. It only had 100 miles on the odometer back then, but it was always intended to be a driver, and air suspension should go a long way to smoothing out the Virginia bumps.
A stock-but-rebuilt 4L60E sits under the floor, bolted to an LT1 with Street & Performance fuel injection under a fabricated cover, incoming oxygen fed through a Billet Specialties air cleaner, which mounts front and center behind the Speedway aluminum radiator. Alan Grove accessory brackets mount the chrome alternator and A/C compressor up and out above the GM Performance valve covers, while Speedway headers feed a 2 1/2-inch system fabricated by Culpepper Exhaust, using Smithys mufflers.
Wheels & Tires
Though the Fogles debated for some time on rolling stock to suit the car, we really can't imagine it with anything other than the Wheel Vintiques 16x6 smoothies it wears now, shod in 205/70R16 Diamond Back rubber with 3-inch whitewalls.
Body & Paint
Harold and Keith welded the rear fenders to the body, frenched '59 Caddy taillights, the antenna and the tri-bar headlights, smoothed the trunk and hood, welding the two halves of the latter into a single panel, flush-mounted a custom gas door, smoothed the firewall, and fitted '46 front fenders, but used the '48 grille. Mike Westmoreland laid on the '08 Lexus Noble Spinal Mica topcoat before the Fogles fitted up the car and installed smoked glass.
The original seats still grace the interior of the Fleetline, now covered in tan "soft touch" vinyl by Cliffton Wilkins. Harold installed the Kenwood stereo and speakers and now sits behind a '54 Bel Air steering wheel while looking at TPI gauges, which sit in the redesigned dash featuring eyebrows to match the speedometer and clock. Where a speaker once lived in the center of the dash, there's now a central air duct for the Southern Air A/C.