(from January 2004)
Photos by Sam Trent, story by Michael B. Kelly
George Simoneau not only has a love for 1937-39 Chevy Coupes, having previously owned a really nice turquoise 1938, he also has a neat story to go with his current ride, the 1939 Chevy Coupe you see here. You see, George has known of this exact car since the 1960s, when it was a drag car. Powered by a 409 and a 4-speed it would run quarter miles in the 12 second zone at Connecticut Dragway. In 1968 a Providence Fireman purchased the car and put it on the street with the addition of a 400 horsepower 427 engine, Turbo 400, 12 bolt rear end, and four N.O.S. fenders with running boards. It was driven in this configuration for a while, then sold. Resurfacing for sale again in 1980, George decided he would be the next owner. He left it as it was for a while, then decided a few changes were in order, so he removed the straight axle and installed a 74 Jaguar XJ6 front end. The following year it was time to give it more power, so George dropped in a 66 L88 motor, as well as a 9-inch Ford rear end, enabling 11.80 elapsed times in street trim. Then in 1985 George decided to move from Rhode Island to Florida, and as a result he sold the car.
However, figuring he would never see it again was a mistake, as he spotted the car in 1997 at the Early Irons Easter Rod Run in Orlando. George then sold his current ride, the before mentioned turquoise 1938 Chevy Coupe, and in the deal took the 1939 in partial trade. Figuring the car must have been meant to be his, George decided a total rebuild was in order.
George got started by first purchasing another car for a better frame to build off of. A rear 4-bar frame clip from Art Morrison was used, with a Currie 9-inch Ford equipped with Strange axles and Aldan coil-over shocks. The front was given a Heidts Mustang II unit with narrowed tubular A-arms, a power Mustang rack, and big Baer disc brakes with GM calipers located in the front and rear. To get that ground scraping stance a Shock Wave system by Air Ride was used in the front and back. Power now comes from a 1996 Corvette LT-1 350 fitted with Jet Hot coated exhaust featuring fully adjustable custom made hangers, and a 4L60E automatic handles the shifting.
Getting the rest done would then be the job of Kidd Darrins in Melbourne, Florida, who performed many subtle and not so subtle modifications - all of which cant possibly be mentioned here. The hood was welded down the center to eliminate the OEM center hinge, a custom brace ensures everything stays stiff, and new easily removable side panels were hand fabricated. The cowl recess was cut to accept newly engineered aluminum hinges with gas shocks, and a new latch panel was fabricated above the new Grill Art grill to accept the custom hood latch. A set of 1940 Chevy headlights were used, while out back the taillights, bezels and lenses were custom made to match the shape and style of the new headlights, and are now molded into the body. Late model Ford Escort reverse light units are now used as front parking lights and turn signals. The running boards were smoothed and contoured to the fenders, and Porsche side view mirrors were used with custom made mounts welded to the doors. All the body panels were then painstakingly hand fitted, with metal added to achieve precise gaps at all panel joints.
Once the body mods were up to Kidd Darrins high standards it was then disassembled and put on a rotator to finish the bodywork and receive paint on the top and bottom. The frame was then given the finishing touches and the two rejoined. With the late model Chrysler medium metallic blue pearl Sikkens basecoat / clearcoat paint in place the side mouldings at the belt line were hand made using brass, then chrome plated. They add a nice touch of bright work, and accent the polished American Torque Thrust II rims (18x8 front, 18x10 rear).
Inside youll find more of Kidd Darrins craftsmanship. The Dakota Digital dash module was made to fit the original 39 dash gauge bezel, the glove box was welded up, a Dakota Digital clock was installed within a hand fabricated and polished aluminum bezel, and a fabricated door in the center of the dash opens to reveal hidden switches. More hidden switches to control the Air Ride suspension swing out from the custom panels that conceal all the under-dash wiring when the car is started, and swing away up under the dash out of sight when the key is turned off (they are also fitted with an override switch to keep them in the down position when desired). Lower seat pans were fabricated to slide with the Glide Engineering front seat, covering all of the seat frame at all times. Custom armrest and power window control pods were crafted, and are adorned with custom made aluminum moldings to accent the interior colors, which consists of two tone blue and platinum, with smooth and simulated perforated pearlescent vinyl.
Taking more than five years to complete there are many things that might go unnoticed. They include the custom headliner moldings at the door openings, the fact that the interior window garnish moldings were added to in an effort to achieve proper alignment of the door to quarter window moldings and to achieve precise gaps when the door are closed. Plus the completely custom fabricated interior in which there are no seams or stitching on the panels anywhere (not even on the complex shaped armrests) for a smooth finished look.
While George may have known of the car for 40 or so years now, and had owned it once before, it is hard to argue that it now looks the best it ever has, with completion coming in September of 2003. CN