After channeling and roughing in the body, Woolery delivered it to Dick, who turned it over to Shawn Harvey, thus initiating the slippery slope of excess. "We told him to get the car nice enough so it would look good in flat black," Woolery says. "Well the instant it was in filler primer, Dick started seeing little things here and there." Though Woolery held his ground on an economical finish, "I just couldn't do it," Dick says. Woolery recused himself. "At that point it was at Dick's house so it was out of my control."
Then detailer Jason Kilmer dropped by. "So he sees it and starts putting his two cents in," Woolery says, groaning. "The whole time I've been arguing to not paint the car but Dick just couldn't leave it alone. He had to paint it."
But what color? Resigned to the idea of shiny paint, Woolery took Dick color shopping. "We were looking for something that came out in that (early '60s) period," Dick says. Then it struck them.
General Motors called one of the colors applied to the '59 Pontiac Royal Amethyst Poly, but to everyone else, "It's pink," Woolery says. "Everybody who sees it thinks that Helen picked it. Nope. That's Dick's choice. And really, it's the right color for that car," he says. Shawn Harvey, who worked on the '36, juiced it. The least Kilmer could do after encouraging Dick to paint the car was cut and rub the finish.
"Paint changed everything," Woolery says. "Now that we had a fresh new paintjob, Dick's like 'Well, do we really want to run a used engine?' " Dick bought a rebuilt Y-block, an old stock piece from Hagen's Hiway Auto Parts, a local obsolete parts emporium. Woolery and his sidekick, Russell Jadin, disassembled it to replace the rings that probably took a set over the years and, for good measure, replaced the cam with a lumpier one from Delta Camshafts. Toni Rosser at RT Hot Rods helped out by scaring up hardware. "It's the only real hot rod parts store in this area," Woolery says.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. "Now that we were going to paint everything, and we already had the engine apart, we should probably grind the block smooth," Woolery says. "Stupid move," he admitted. "Have you ever ground a Y-block? It's a high-nickel casting.
"That's when things started getting out of control," he says. He delivered the Offy manifold and rocker covers to his polisher, Paul McNeely. "He knows how fussy I can get. Dick's fussy too. So instead of doing a normal job he'd do for a normal person, [McNeely] just went overboard," Woolery says.
Detailing is like a C2 narcotic; a little bit is too much and a whole lot is never enough. "Things just started snowballing," Woolery says. "Then we noticed that we needed more chrome here and there. In one sense it went along with the '59-60 theme ... but we tried to keep it from being too gaudy," he says. If he only knew what he was in for.
When Paul Reichlin got the body, he got a box of '59 and '60 magazines, and the following request: "Make the upholstery look like something that's supposed to be in there," Woolery says.
Study show cars from the decadent period that turned hot rods into show cars, and you'll know the potential danger in such creative license. The upholstery world changed due in part to the "factory custom" era ushered in with the '58 models. Suddenly, trimmers had a host of wild pearls, metallics, brocades, and patterned foils from which to choose and a free-for-all ensued. For the sake of one-upmanship, trimmers frequently turned good taste right on its head. Pleats went every which way, piping outlined shapes that weren't there, and unlikely material pairings met in unlikeable ways. Interiors got, for the lack of a better term, hideous. Still, Woolery affirmed his faith: "[Reichlin] is the best you can get."