It followed me home, can I keep it?

Brent Dowell

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So, sort of accidently drove to dallas/Fort Worth this week, and well, this followed me home.

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Just kidding.
This is the 1946 Chevy Fleemaster Sharons father bought brand new off the lot in 1946. Theres a whole lot of family history with this car, but Lets just cut back to the year 2000. Sharons Mother was tired of seeing this jalopy taking up space in the driveway, and as a present to her, Sharon and I decided we'd drag it with us home to Antioch and restore it.
Brent_Chevy.jpgMonroe_Chevy.jpgSharon_Chey.jpg

At this point in time, it had been worked on by the kids in the 70's who had yanked the engine out for 'reasons' but never got it put back in. They for some reason had stuffed the inoperable engine in the trunk.

Well, I worked on it pretty good for a few years. Took the body off, had it dipped,stripped, primered, I'd cleaned up the frame, got brakes working, found a working 6cyl engine for it and painted the frame and the bottom of the body, but never really got it running. We moved to Reno in 2006 and we dragged the Chevy up to reno with us and there I completely stalled out on the project.

Around 2017 Sharon was channeling her mom and got tired of seeing the Chevy sitting in the driveway. Her brother had just retired and had restored a chevelle and though the Chevy would be a good project for him to work on. So he drove up from DFW and dragged the chevy back with him. I will admit I had mixed emotions at that time, but I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do as he had probably been the one that wanted to restore it back in the day and hot rod it up a bit.

Well, Life will do things as life will, and Eric was tragically killed in 2022. He and his wife were traveling from Texas to their vacation home in Michigan. They were stopped on a freeway at some sort of congestion when a drug addict felon driving at a high rate of speed slammed into the back of their car. We had a celebration of Life for Eric last year in Barstow (Did I mention that Sharons dad had worked for the railroad in Barstow and that was where the car was originally) and Eric's wife Teresa suggested I take on the project if finishing up the Chevy. The intention is that I will get it running, and at some point we will pass it on to one of Sharon's nephews who we hope will have some interest in it.

Eric had done a lot of work to it, installing a new modern front end, steering, small block v8, automatic transmission, lowered it, etc. He did a great job of painting it and putting in some new seats and upholstery.

It's not quite 100% done yet and I was told he never really got it to the point where it was driveable, so that's my task. I need to take it the rest of the way.

The good news is that there's no body work required or painting. I just need to figure out what the punch list is. He left behind a stack of papers and receipts, and perhaps even a diary of what he had worked on and when. Hopefully I will get that and be able to dig into things a bit more.

Well, Guess I need to get busy and get some sort of garage built this summer to store it in. In the meantime, I'll rig up a temporary structure to protect it. Once I get the garage built I'll be able to start working on it this fall/winter.

Some metrics on the trip I just took. I left Monday morning at 7:30am and got back on Thursday evening at 7:30pm My apologies to Don and Vaughn for not getting in touch and working out a meetup, but I was just kind of in the mood to get the whole trip over with.

It was 3337 miles, 4 days, 84 hours there and back.
266.72 gallons of fuel at an average cost of $3.76 per gallon for a $1,002 total.
Average mpg unloaded was 14 with the empty trailer. With the trailer loaded I had an mpg of 9.5.
12.51 mpg average for the entire trip.

Not bad for a 24 year old pickup truck. I had installed a new Head unit in it that ran Android auto that really helped with navigation for the trip, as well as some TPMS sensors to monitor tire pressure in all of the wheels. For someone who seems to enjoy worrying about things, those 2 items were vital to my mental health during the rip.

So there it is. This will be a bit of a project, but it's so close to being complete, I don't anticipate too many issues.


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What a journey all of these old survivor cars have, yours though has it verbalized. Sorry about Sharon's brother. Good on you to let it go and now to get it back. One of the nephews close enough to wrench on the weekends with you on it to grow the love for the history of the car and then the car itself?
 
Awesome car! When you said it needed an engine the first thought in my mind was "LS swap". Sounds like Eric had the same thought. :thumb:

And no apologies needed...you were a man on a mission. We'll catch it next time. :thumb:
 
What a journey all of these old survivor cars have, yours though has it verbalized. Sorry about Sharon's brother. Good on you to let it go and now to get it back. One of the nephews close enough to wrench on the weekends with you on it to grow the love for the history of the car and then the car itself?
Unfortunately, not close enough, but we will see.
 
Should be a fun project to see to completion, and good to see you're keeping it going for the family.

Soo...more importantly, where's the garage build thread??? :D
Soon, I've barely recovered from the drive. In fact, I think I need another day of rest. But then it's all about measuring and laying out where and what size.
 
SUWEEET What a cool project and car. I love to see these old cars brought back to original. Shame to make it into a hot rod.
One problem with restoring to one back to original condition is that cars of that era drove like tractors, especially at modern highway speeds. Having one with a modern suspension and drivetrain will make it much more desirable (and safe) to actually drive and use.

Back in the 1984 I bought a brand-new Ford Bronco II. Not a sports car by any stretch of the imagination, but it drove and rode well. Shortly after that, my sister bought a '72 Mustang Mach 1 with a factory 351 Cleveland motor that had been blueprinted and nicely fine-tuned. Not long after I got my Bronco II, she let me take her Mustang out for a test rip, and that thing was flat-out scary. It handled like a tank and rode like a covered wagon. Fast as all get out in a straight line on a smooth road, but as soon as it hit a bump or curve, it became a wrestling match keeping it on the road. Even driving it around town and not getting carried away with speed, it was a horrible driving experience. The difference 12 years of development made was mind blowing. And these days that Bronco II in original condition would feel just as scary compared to just about any modern car on the road. She eventually sold it to a co-worker. A few weeks later he and some buddies were out on a Saturday night, and he lost control on a curved 2-lane road and ran it backward into a huge cottonwood tree. Based on the skid marks, the police estimated he hit the tree at about 120 mph. His three buddies died at the scene, and my sister's co-worker died a couple of weeks later due to third degree burns over most of his body. My sis carried guilt from that one for many years.

Nostalgia is a powerful drug, but it's not always a good one. ;) I think keeping the original look (which is indeed very cool) but modernizing what's under the body is a very sensible thing to do unless you strictly want to park it in a museum.
 
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One problem with restoring to one back to original condition is that cars of that era drove like tractors, especially at modern highway speeds. Having one with a modern suspension and drivetrain will make it much more desirable (and safe) to actually drive and use.

Back in the 1984 I bought a brand-new Ford Bronco II. Not a sports car by any stretch of the imagination, but it drove and rode well. Shortly after that, my sister bought a '72 Mustang Mach 1 with a factory 351 Cleveland motor that had been blueprinted and nicely fine-tuned. Not long after I got my Bronco II, she let me take her Mustang out for a test rip, and that thing was flat-out scary. It handled like a tank and rode like a covered wagon. Fast as all get out in a straight line on a smooth road, but as soon as it hit a bump or curve, it became a wrestling match keeping it on the road. Even driving it around town and not getting carried away with speed, it was a horrible driving experience. The difference 12 years of development made was mind blowing. And these days that Bronco II in original condition would feel just as scary compared to just about any modern car on the road. She eventually sold it to a co-worker. A few weeks later he and some buddies were out on a Saturday night, and he lost control on a curved 2-lane road and ran it backward into a huge cottonwood tree. Based on the skid marks, the police estimated he hit the tree at about 120 mph. His three buddies died at the scene, and my sister's co-worked died a couple of weeks later due to third degree burns over most of his body. My sis carried guilt from that one for many years.

Nostalgia is a powerful drug, but it's not always a good one. ;) I think keeping the original look (which is indeed very cool) but modernizing what's under the body is a very sensible thing to do unless you strictly want to park it in a museum.
Oof, what a story. So sad. I'm sure this beast will handle much, much worse.

My intention is to make this thing as safe as possible, under the covers. I don't really have a go as fast as I can mentality (anymore). But we'll see l how this thing handles once its up and running.
 
i used to have a 69 mach 1, with a 351 windsor engine (i had heard that clevelands went through valves). never had any of the problems that vaughn encountered. the only time it scared me, was when a cousin of mine and i went to a movie, and i wanted to make the light that had just turned yellow. i said hang on, and hit it. doing about 40 at the time, and about 100 feet or so from the intersection. when i punched it, we took off, then the passing gear kicked in, that tail end hunkered down, and we were doing over 60 when we cleared that intersection, with the light still yellow....
 
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