As the restoration of my own collector car proceeds at a snail's pace, I often think about picking up an already finished summer toy so that I don't have to continue to miss out on all the car guy fun of cruise nights, shows, and just the pleasure of driving a cool car on a sunny afternoon. After all, it's just no fun to go to the ball park if you don't have a glove, right? So I submit to you this way cool 1951 Chevy Styleline Deluxe coupe, chopped and flamed, with a tidy 350 Chevy under the hood - could you have more fun this summer behind the wheel of this car rather than standing on the sidelines? Oh, hell yes.
Just finished by the way too busy guys at RKM Performance Center, this Chevy is full of familiar parts and solid, well-tested modifications that result in a car that looks great and drives well with no surprises. When it arrived at RK Motors Charlotte, it already carried the beautiful copper metallic paint, but it just didn't quite pop the way a car like this should, so we took it upon ourselves to dress up the front with some ghost flames, then clear coated the entire car for a high-gloss shine that will stand out at any show. You can tell from the photos that the front end has been completely reworked, from the molded-in chin to the billet grille in a reshaped opening to the frenched headlights and turn signals, this car is pretty far removed from stock. Moving back, you'll find a nosed and decked hood, and farther back, you can see that the roof has been expertly chopped about four inches, giving the car a lean, hunkered-down stance that is very reminiscent of the customs built in the '50s.
This Chevy has been completely de-chromed, and the door handles shaved (the doors are opened via remote using solenoids), and the rear fenders have been molded into the body for a seamless look. Out back there are taillights that look like they were cribbed from a '39 Ford and then frenched in and dressed up with blue dots. And instead of a bumper, there's a custom fiberglass roll pan that gives the rear a finished, sanitary look that really calls attention to the giant chrome megaphone exhaust tips underneath. Oh, yeah, dig the fender skirts - retro and super cool on this car. They fit well and are a snap to remove and install without tools. In short, there isn't a panel on this entire car that hasn't been modified, adjusted, or tweaked to give it a unique look that will turn heads.
The car just came back from our glass shop, where new tinted glass has been installed throughout, including the chopped 1-piece windshield (the windshield was originally two single flat pieces of glass), side glass and backlite. The weather stripping is also new and seals this coupe up very nicely for all-weather comfort.
Powering this killer coupe down the road is a very streetable, brand spanking new 350 cubic inch V8 Chevrolet crate engine, topped by an Edelbrock intake and a 4-barrel carb. There's enough chrome dressing up the engine bay that you know it's not just a stocker in there, and the firewall has been smoothed to add to the custom look. Serpentine belt systems drive the power steering, water pump, and alternator, while block-hugger headers dump into a true dual exhaust system featuring Flowmaster Mufflers that sound perfect. The engine is backed by a TH350 3-speed automatic transmission for easy cruising. The rest of the chassis is a combination of original 1951 Chevy steel and some upgraded pieces like the front K-member that holds the Mustang II type suspension and power rack-and-pinion steering system, and the elaborate K-shaped transmission mount that says to me that this rod was built to last. Out back you'll find a GM 10-bolt rear suspended on leaf springs with conventional tube-type shocks replacing the original lever-action models that came on all 1951 Chevys. The original fuel tank has been removed, making room for those big exhaust tips, and a new fuel cell mounted in the trunk handles fuel storage now. The floors have been painted black, and I see that the front floors in the passenger compartment have been replaced, but the rest looks like OEM steel. There are 11-inch disc brakes up front, with drums in back for reliable stopping power identical to what GM was putting in cars for decades. It all rolls on a set of ultra-traditional (and exactly right) chrome wheels with baby moon hubcaps and trim rings, with new 215/60/15 Cooper Cobra radials at each corner.
The interior is a great place to spend time, and in this car, you'll be spending a lot of time in here cruising to various shows. The interior is fully finished in a combination of tan leather and a tweed cloth that looks very vintage and strangely correct in this car. The front seats are power buckets, with the controls on the center console which is a neat feature. The original dash was retained, then stuffed full of classic-looking AutoMeter gauges. The chrome center panel originally housed the radio and speaker, but today it is a decorative addition to the interior, and still features a pop-out ash tray. The clock in the center of the dash is mounted in its own pod, and if I had to guess, I'd say that it was an accessory unit since it looks so similar to the pods used to mount tachometers in Chevy products in the early '60s. The steering wheel is downright gorgeous, with a burled walnut look to the rim and a billet center that recalls classic banjo wheels from the '40s and '50s. A new Sony CD stereo is front and center in the custom center console, right above the B and M shifter for the transmission. The door panels are well detailed and restrained, and I really like the low-mounted interior lights behind the doors to make climbing into the spacious back seat easy. I can easily see taking a family on an extended vacation in this car with all the room back there. In the well-finished trunk you'll find the battery and a fuel cell. On order and to be installed is a Billet Specialties rear-view mirror and license plate bracket.
The clock is ticking. It's 73 degrees here on the day that I'm writing this, so the cruising season is upon us. It's not too late to get behind the wheel of a great car this year, one you can proudly take to any cruise or show, and one that will drive you there in comfort. This is a killer car, well sorted, with a reliable power-train that can be serviced anywhere, upgraded suspension and disc brakes! It's comfortable, spacious, and very unique - why build another “me too!” fiberglass rod when you can own a full custom that's ready to rock today? Call now.