Steve Frisbie can drive pretty much whatever he wants. If you don't know his name, you probably know his shop, Steve's Auto Restorations. His company has turned out some of the more noteworthy cars this industry and the veteran car restoration industry have known.
In other words, as far as cars are concerned to Steve, the sky's the limit; if he can dream it, his crew can build it. So when he got it in his head that he wanted a conservative-colored 1948 Plymouth coupe, they naturally obliged. After all, postwar Mopars with mouse-colored mohair interiors are the stuff dreams are made of.
No, they're not. If we could erase the last 40 or so years, a period that made anything old cool, we would land in a place where Plymouths were most square. They were sensible cars; working-class fathers smitten with Chrysler's claims of sophisticated engineering and machining bought these modest transportation tools for their practicality, not their performance.
But what motivated Steve wasn't the car's coolness-or lack of it for that matter. No, Steve's dad was one of those Plymouth-owning dads. "This is the very first car that I remember belonging to my father," he says. In fact, you could say that car was the fountainhead of Steve's life's work. "I can remember riding in his '48 Plymouth and standing on the front seat looking at that beautiful chrome and wood-grained dash and I just fell in love with the car."
But Steve's dad probably wasn't like most Plymouth-owning dads. He had a Richfield service station. He went to the local roundy-round races. He also drove a number of soup jobs, his Mayflower coupe among them. It had at least a two-pot intake and possibly a high-compression head as Steve recalls. In other words, Steve's pop was pretty cool and so was his car. So when he saw a nearly perfectly preserved dark blue '48 coupe for sale-one just like his dad's-he bit.
"I first saw the car advertised in Hemmings Motor News as an original 28,000-mile car," he begins. The seller was the second owner, and true to Plymouth form the first was conservative: a little old lady, a school teacher of all things. An illness forced her to park the car early and a short commute meant it didn't rack many miles until then.
To paraphrase Steve, the project was basically a restoration with a cherry on top: the car really only needed the results of a few years of bump parking smoothed out before Steve personally applied the fresh coat of the car's original Chevron Blue-in nitro-cellulose, of course. The body went back together with an assortment of restored and NOS trim. We'd tell you more about the interior, but beyond describing it as original right down to the cloth, we don't know what else to say about it.
Just as his ol' man took liberties with his Plymouth, Steve took liberties with his recollection of it. Time has proven that wheels and stance can make just about anything look cool, so Steve obliged by modestly lowering the car. He also upgraded the antiroll bars, steering, and shocks, but otherwise left the rest alone. Beyond the reproductions of the wires that Motor Wheel & Rim made for the '53 Dodges and the radial whitewalls mounted to them, the remainder of the car looks stock.
But it isn't. Though he didn't take the exact route his dad did, the modest hop-up personality makes Steve's coupe so much like his dad's car: They're both sleepers. Rather than mess with the six-pot wheezer, Steve hired Vancouver's Earl Floyd to recondition a '55 vintage Dodge Red Ram Hemi. It wears an Offy intake and three Stromberg 97s and bolts to a five-speed manual transmission. No, it's not the fastest thing out there, but with 200-odd horsepower and five closely spaced gears acting on a 2,900-pound car, it's certainly capable of keeping up with today's hot iron.