Dianna Maier’s ’57 Chevy No­mad

Street Rodder - - Contents -

What makes a car ex­cep­tional? You can’t re­duce it to trick parts; plenty of aw­ful cars have been built from top-shelf stuff. The num­ber of mil­lion-dol­lar “misses” out there sug­gests that money isn’t ev­ery­thing, ei­ther. And ac­cord­ing to a photo feed that I fol­low, one builder’s cre­ativ­ity is an­other’s butch­ery.

But ev­ery once in a while one rises to the top. Last year Goodguys Rod & Cus­tom As­so­ci­a­tion dubbed Ron and Dianna Maier’s (Hills­boro, Ore­gon) ’57 No­mad, “Shomad,” the Street Rod Head­quar­ters Cus­tom of the Year. It’s by all means ex­cep­tional. Ron owes the honor to the crew, Aaron At­nip and Mark Spur­lock, di­rect at Ore­gon’s A&M Deluxe Cus­toms.

Be­cause of them, Shomad is in­cred­i­bly elab­o­rate. So we’ll dis­pense with the usual and get straight to the point. Though hardly sim­ple, the chas­sis is the sim­plest part of this car. So we’ll start there.

It’s a pair of Art Mor­ri­son En­ter­prises perime­ter ’rails tied to­gether on one end with the com­pany’s front sus­pen­sion and a Dutch­man Mo­tor­sports IRS setup. The tube cross­mem­ber de­sign pre­vents any­thing from hang­ing be­low the frame.

The driv­e­train con­sists of an LS7 backed by a 4L80E, both of their cases sanded smooth and un­nec­es­sary holes and bosses filled with epoxy. The ex­haust starts with a set of stain­less Street & Per­for­mance head­ers that feed what be­gan as a pile of 3-inch man­drel bends and Magna Flow muf­flers.

The body got 3-inch whee ltubs and new floors shaped to ac­com­mo­date the Mor­ri­son frame. Ex­actly 2 inches came from the top’s height and the drip-mold­ing re­veals now meet the quar­ter-panel.

Chevro­let gas­keted the head­light doors to the body to ease pro­duc­tion but tight­en­ing up the joint elim­i­nates the rub­ber. Re­mov­ing the bul­lets let the bumper’s grille open­ing grow the 6 inches needed to match the body’s grille open­ing. A grille made from 1/8-inch stain­less bar stock and a bil­let-alu­minum floater fills that open­ing. Nat­u­rally the bumpers mi­grated closer to the body and the fen­ders got re­shaped to tighten their fit.

Rais­ing the front wheel open­ings 2-1/2 inches bet­ter show­case the 18x8 Boyd Cod­ding­ton Flare wheels and 255/45R18 Toyos. A cus­tom-made rocker mold­ing ties that open­ing to the rear open­ing, which also comes up 2 ad­di­tional inches to show off the 20x10 and 295/40 combo. Re­shap­ing the area be­tween the tail­lamp to tail­fin lets the body work with­out the cus­tom­ary side trim.

The rear bumper got tighter seams, cut-down guards, and a fab­ri­cated li­cense plate sur­round. The mock ex­haust out­lets ac­tu­ally func­tion and the quar­ters got re­shaped to match the rear trim’s pro­file.

The tail­gate has an in­ner struc­ture that turns it into a one-piece hatch. It opens by gas springs tucked up against the roof­skin. It has a func­tional power win­dow and a late-model latch.

The dou­ble-walled in­ner fen­der pan­els con­ceal the cli­mate-con­trol lines and wiring. The dou­ble-wall core sup­port con­ceals the en­gine’s dry-sump tank and makes up the front part of the air in­take. The re­main­der flows to the en­gine, a stock hood V-badge defin­ing the two pieces.

The flat fil­ter mount cor­re­sponds to the hood’s sec­ond skin. An air in­let made from sheetmetal in the like­ness of the orig­i­nal hood spears mounts in the mid­dle of the hood. Scratch-built hood and fen­der trim bet­ter matches the bumper’s new shape.

Un­der­hood pan­els and the fire­wall fea­ture a stepped pro­file. That step re­peats in the belly pans. Flanges welded to the bot­tom side of the bumpers sup­port the pans at the ends of the car.

Four ’00 Monte Carlo seats make up the cor­ner­stones of the in­te­rior. Fab­ri­cated seat shells and trim close off the seat backs. Elim­i­nat­ing the speaker grille and glove­box

makes room for the Hot Rod Air cli­mate­con­trol sys­tem. Split­ting the stock panel and graft­ing two more gauges and their re­spec­tive in­di­ca­tor lights up­dated the dis­play with­out chang­ing its aes­thetic. The cen­ter of the dash sweeps down into a steel con­sole that car­ries the insert de­sign to the Gen­nie shifter. A lid be­low the ra­dio flips open to re­veal a com­part­ment for the RideTech con­troller. The con­sole ex­tends rear­ward to part the rear seats and ex­pands to make the rear-seat hous­ing. Mod­i­fied fac­tory dash vents mount to the con­sole to sup­ply air to the rear oc­cu­pants.

After com­plet­ing the me­tal­work, A&M de­liv­ered the car to Ben Con­ley at Ben’s Cus­tom Paint in Ore­gon City, Ore­gon. Con­ley took the car from bare metal to color sand­ing/buff­ing. The ma­jor­ity of the car got a com­bi­na­tion of House of Kolor Shim­rin2 FX Kar­rier Base (Zenith Gold S212Q01), FX Kos­mic Sparks (Gold Rush FX62.HPI), and FX Kos­mic Kolor Styling Pearl (Green S2FX35.HPI). The top and var­i­ous de­tails got DeBeer Refin­ishes’ pearl white. The driv­e­train and in­te­rior com­po­nents wear a satin-fin­ished cop­per. Sherm’s Cus­tom Plat­ing in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia, treated the bright­work. Kevin Batey at Auto Glass Past and Present in Van­cou­ver glazed the car—no easy task con­sid­er­ing the wrap­around side win­dows.

Once painted, the car took a trip to Gabe’s Cus­tom In­te­ri­ors in San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia. Ear­lier, Tavis High­lander (High­lander Con­cept Ren­der­ings) helped de­sign the seat and door panel up­hol­stery pat­terns, which Gabe Lopez and crew ren­dered in col­ors of Gabe’s choice. Dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase, the A&M crew de­vel­oped a num­ber of com­po­nent de­tails. The cen­ter con­sole, for ex­am­ple, has a pat­terned-stain­less sheetmetal insert that mim­ics the fac­tory ma­te­rial. CON2R in Beaver­ton, Ore­gon, made the checker­board pat­tern for the gauge faces on a 3-D printer in the like­ness of the pat­terned sheet. The same pat­tern ap­pears in the horn but­ton. The coves in the fab­ri­cated rocker cov­ers bear a ma­te­rial very sim­i­lar to the mesh in

the head­light doors. A&M used fac­tory knob es­cutcheons for var­i­ous con­trols around the in­te­rior, top­ping them with be­spoke knobs by Kus­tom Knob­works.

The com­pany also fab­ri­cated the in­te­rior rearview mir­ror in the like­ness of the Ha­gan Street Rod Ne­ces­si­ties mir­ror heads.

Make no mis­take; this is an elab­o­rate car with a lot of trick com­po­nents. But I’d ar­gue that it’s a num­ber of other things that ac­tu­ally make this car ex­cep­tional. For starters, the pri­mary mod­i­fi­ca­tions all point in the same di­rec­tion: the lower top, big­ger wheel open­ings, and wider mouth cul­mi­nate to make this car look more ag­gres­sive with­out com­pletely al­ter­ing its iden­tity.

And the mod­i­fi­ca­tions are con­sis­tent through­out—tweak­ing the head­light and bumper fit and the quar­ter-panel shapes may seem su­per­fi­cial but to leave those parts alone would at­tract the wrong at­ten­tion.

Re­peat­ing el­e­ments like the stepped pan­els in the en­gine com­part­ment and belly pans or bring­ing the out­side in by way of color make a pat­tern, and hu­man brains love pat­terns. Mod­i­fy­ing ex­ist­ing parts like the gauge insert rather than sim­ply re­plac­ing them make de­signs more re­lat­able. And rather than hide the fas­ten­ers, the A&M crew made a spec­ta­cle of them. It seems triv­ial but hon­esty in de­sign is highly un­der­rated.

To be fair, these are only a few of the things that make this car stand out. But those few things make a very valid point: think of a de­sign as a whole rather than just an amal­ga­ma­tion of parts, and it’s al­most in­evitable that it’ll turn out ex­cep­tional.

For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence:

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