Growing up in England, I know about rusty cars, but it’s fairly safe to say that Pennsylvania’s Ed Wilson has me beat. Despite appearances now, the 1934 Chevy coupe spread across these pages was certainly no peach when he found it. As Ed describes the purchase, “I bought the car off of eBay from Whitey Ballanger in Connecticut. It originally started life as a dirt track car but was never finished. The body was channeled but just sat on the frame. A friend and I drove to Hartford to pick it up, we left at 5:00 a.m. with a hurricane chasing us; and it rained the whole time until we got home at midnight. Coming home we were driving through rain so hard I couldn’t see the car on the trailer and when we finally arrived the rockers were gone and the body had fallen down over the frame and pulled apart. It was only held together by the roof. Almost all of the wood fell out of the car because it was rotten and all of the glass was missing. The wooden deck on the trailer had wood screws and busted glass lying all over it. I would hate to have been following me with everything falling off of the car!”
Obviously not one to be deterred, Ed dove headlong into the project, utilizing the original Chevy chassis from the firewall back, but fabricating his own front rails, kicking them up by 3 inches, and lengthening them over the originals by 3 inches at the same time, giving the coupe a 115-inch wheelbase. The chassis work didn’t end there though, as it was Z’d 3 1/2 inches at the front and 4 inches in the rear. With a sound foundation, what was left of the Chevy bodywork was channeled 5 inches over the new frame, before Ed grafted on ’34 Ford rear quarter, and ’33 Chevy rear wheelwells and firewall. After all that work, the hefty roof chop probably seemed simple, the roof bows being the only non-metallic substructure now remaining in what was originally a heavily wood-framed body shell. A ’34 Chevy truck gave up its grille, which Ed shortened by 4 inches, before the mix of Ford and GM sheetmetal continued with a 3/4-inch narrowed ’40 Ford dash.
Clearly a man of many talents, Ed handled all the modifications, body, and paintwork himself, though he turned the 348 Chevy mill over to Scottie Miner of Miner’s Machine Shop in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania, for machining and the buildup of the short-block. The ’59-vintage block was bored 0.030 over and uses 11.5:1 pistons (with valve reliefs cut in) machined to give 10:1 compression. A 409 cam now opens the valves, while fuel is delivered through a sextet of Holley 94s on an Edelbrock manifold with Eelco linkage and fuel log. Offy valve covers flank the induction system, while a Vertex magneto lights the fire. Ed fabricated the lakes-style headers, which comprise the coupe’s entire exhaust system.
Continuing the do-it-yourself theme of this build, Ed rebuilt a Muncie four-speed, added a Zoom clutch and pressure plate, and bolted it behind the 348, operating the clutch and brakes via ’62 Chevy truck master and slave cylinders. Those brakes, incidentally, are ’40 Ford all around, with Buick 90-fin drums up front. Ed selected a Winters quick-change centersection, mated it to ’37 Ford axle tubes, and hung the completed rearend on a Model A buggy spring and crossmember. A split Ford wishbone locates the rear, with hairpins doing the same job at the sharp end for a 4-inch dropped axle.
After making a seat for the coupe, Ed had it covered in rolled and pleated leather by Wayne Gembe of Wayne’s Upholstery in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and though Gembe stitched the headliner and door panels, Ed installed them, along with the carpet. Tim Helser, of Easy Street Auto Glass in Cascade, Maryland, cut all-new glass, though it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Ed is already learning to cut glass, and has bought a sewing machine. Ed, you’re my kinda hot rodder!
1934 Chevy Coupe