Some years ago, back in the day of competitive publishing houses, the term "custom rod" was coined and applied to a particular style of post-1948 automobile. In short, though in and of itself those two words together had been used in the past in varying applications, it was used to describe what was perceived to be the "modern street rod". But it didn't always get translated as such, oftentimes receiving quite negative responses. To me, it was just a phrase, but obviously, not everyone saw it as I did—nor did they have someone pushing it upon them with such internal vigor as to nearly force a particular acceptance. Nevertheless, I got it, regardless how I personally felt.
Well, as time went on, the magazine which carried that certain namesake has gone by the wayside, but what of the cars that did and still do fall under that modern custom description? I'm here to tell you, whether or not you agree(d) with the whole custom rod thing, those cars are not only still around, they're still being built. And I'm not just referring to the big billet-wheeled, lavish creations spilling out of shops such as Trepanier's and Foose's, rather, simple, mild, and expertly executed cars like Bob Provin's pearly Olds 88.
From the onset, Bob's Holiday Coupe appears to be just that—a mild custom hardtop Olds. But upon further inspection you'll see where the untypical custom aspects come into play: super stylized yet elegant (and mind you, not overly modern) interior, precision-transplanted 455 Olds mill mated to a 700-R4 overdrive, and appropriately updated chassis, featuring electronic power disc brakes and freshened suspension. And it should be noted that with the exception of the upholstery (done by Joel Mattix, Boss Custom Interiors), Bob handled the bulk of the build, including the flawless application of the PPG Magnolia Pearl exterior coating.
Had Bob chosen to go with a tripled-deuced J2, white tuck 'n' roll, and a set of US Royal bias-plies, we'd have not of been equally as eager to feature it (actually, we would!). However, the mildly modern touches seem to set it apart in quite a unique manner. Maybe not so much a custom rod by the literal definition of the term, but nonetheless, a contemporary interpretation of such...and a damn fine one at that.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1956 Oldsmobile Holiday 88
Beneath Bob's stately Olds still resides its original chassis, though not quite as it rolled off the showroom floor over a half century ago. Stock coils and leafs have been replaced with 2-inch dropped springs from Eaton, Bilstein mono-tube shocks dampen the ride, a custom sway bar was added for stability, and electronic power disc brakes replace the factory front drums.
Bob opted to stick with Oldsmobile power under the hood, albeit now courtesy of a 1970 455 that currently displaces a respectable 462 ci. With Edelbrock/Holley induction, HEI ignition, and a full owner-built custom exhaust system (including headers), just as much work went into the performance aspect of the engine as did the appearance, as you can see. Behind the V-8 is an 1987 GM 700-R4 overdrive.
Wheel & Tires
Each of the four corners has been treated to Fiesta-hubcapped 15-inch steelies off a Caprice, wearing P235/75R15 wide whitewall radials from Diamondback Classic.
Body & Paint
Prior to applying the eye-catching PPG Magnolia Pearl White, Bob not only managed to fit and finish all underlying panels to perfection, he also nosed the hood, decked the trunk, and shaved the door handles. Post-paint, Bob reworked and polished all remaining exterior trim to accompany replated bumpers, bezels, and so on.
While Joel Mattix/Boss Custom Interiors (Evansdale, IA) gets the credit for upholstering duties, there's much work that went into the Olds' inner confines before any of the French-seamed, pleated 'n' patterned vinyl was laid out. From the half ididit/stock steering column (using Kugel shift linkage and topped with a Billet Specialties Vintec wheel) to the custom center console, reformed 1963 Impala bucket seats, and miscellaneous stainless accent work, Bob spent plenty of time personalizing the interior. Further additions include Vintage Air and a Custom Autosound stereo (installed by Mattix).