Conway’s Classified Coupe
It’s no secret that a running, driving car is always going to be worth more than a pile of parts. There’s the peace of mind knowing that the project you’re buying has the potential to make it home under its own power. Is it going to be perfect? Absolutely not. But when all the pieces are there, the motor fires and the trans shifts, the light at the end of the tunnel (i.e. cruising to the hamburger stand on a Friday night) seems a lot closer.
In a way, it’s like writing versus editing. Most of the time, tuning up a feature story is far more straightforward than starting from scratch. It’s all about making the correct cuts and the right modifications. But today’s installment isn’t about writing—it’s about a project car that was put up for sale more than half a century ago.
The story starts in the fall of 2013 when I was writing my first installment of “Scenes of the Crime—an Interactive Look” for The Jalopy Journal. Its premise was simple: dig through old Hot Rod Magazine classifieds, pick out my favorite cars and see if the houses and garages where they were built were still standing. Much to my amazement, many of them were—and you can check them out here.
In the years that followed, I’ve dove into vintage classified ads on multiple occasions, plotting my return to that bygone era with a pocket full of cash. Thanks to HRM I would have the correct addresses—and sometimes phone numbers—to locate the cars and check them out. Hey, a kid can dream, right?
But sometimes there was no address. Although I’d like to think that was the case with the ad above, I have a feeling I messed up the cropping while scanning and lost the rest. Oh well. We’re not here to discuss street numbers and zip codes—we’re here to talk about hot rods.
This particular ad drew me in for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the car has impact. It’s a ’33-’35 Chevy coupe that has been nicely chopped and heavily channeled. The cowl was cut and the rear wheelwells radiused to accommodate those massive piecrust slicks. Underneath, it was pretty advanced with its 100-inch “ultra-light space frame,” CAE tube axle and narrowed rear. Even though it wasn’t included in the sale, the 6×2-fed Buick nailhead with megaphone zoomies seemed like the perfect powerplant—especially if that 6-71 was thrown in the mix. Considering all the componentry and all the hours that went into this thing, $750 (a little over $6,000 in today’s dollars) sounds reasonable.
The coupe reminds me of a whole lot of good things, ranging from Jack Ditmar’s “Lil’ Screamer” to Littleman’s “Death’s Doorstep” Model A. Cliff Conway was well on his way to building one hell of an Altered, I just wonder what ever happened to it. Looks like a project worth finishing, don’t you think?