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Project Car SOTU Straggler: 1931 Chevrolet 5-Window

Scott Ith May 12, 2015 Project Cars 9 Comments


This is not my car, but it is in my garage, and all of my projects are on hold for the moment, so here’s an update on my friend’s 1931 Chevrolet 5-window coupe, which we dragged out of some guy’s back yard a few weeks ago.

This thing is, by any measure, an ambitious undertaking. It is a body (well, let’s be honest, parts of a body) and a frame. So all it needs is everything.  Literally everything. The body is held together with tiedown straps and some of the old original Fisher Body Corporation wood.


Where would one begin on a project like this? Does it really matter? After a bit of discussion and a few beers, we decided that the body needed to be at least tied together in some manner so we could set it aside while we figure out suspension, drivetrain, etc. These early Chevrolets had most of their skeletons built of wood, including wooden floors, which rotted away over the decades. That is a primary reason that you seldom see one still on the road. This car doesn’t retain a single piece of its original floor. Just air.


The trunk is from a different car and will take some massaging to get it into place, but the trunk is not the primary concern.

The immediate goals are to:

  1. Replace the wooden body structure with steel
  2. Get the cowl tied to the main part of the body
  3. Make doors swing
  4. Channel the body over the frame
  5. Build a floor

No big deal, right? So we started with some body patch panels so we could get an idea of at least where the doors should line up.


I should mention that the goal is to build some sort of rat rod/traditional hot rod. It won’t have a bunch of skulls and parts made from PBR cans, but it may not have 100% period correct parts either. Just a simple, honest, drivable hot rod is what we are going for here.


Hey look, we’ve accomplished something. How do you eat an elephant? One patch panel at a time.

This car belongs to the same friend who helped me assemble the EV Midget racer. Those of you who have followed my less-than-illustrious Hooniverse career know that I’ve started with a body and a frame before – to what I consider great success. We keep telling ourselves that this is just like that…only bigger.

Stay tuned.

  • I can make you a really good deal on a 1938 Plymouth L-head six with a three-speed that would look great in that.

    • Alff

      You should hold onto it, in case you need to modernize a PD Coupe at some point in the future.

      • Tempting, but I’m losing my storage space in Oregon and therefore would like to see this stuff be put to an appropriate use sooner rather than later. I’ll haul it all to Seattle if I have to, though. Of course.

    • 0A5599

      I suggest shipping the 5-window to Oregon, installing the Plymouth drivetrain, then driving it home.

      • I think I got rid of my spare master cylinder, so at least the return drive will be spirited.

  • That last shot causes me shame. My metal skills are garbage.

    • dead_elvis

      Having even “garbage” metal skills puts you ahead of me, and probably a boatload of other Hoons. Learning to weld is one thing that pretty much anyone can do. Doing it well is a whole ‘nother thing entirely.

  • Cameron Vanderhorst

    Kingsford Charcoal was started by Henry Ford as a way of using wood scraps from Model T production. The More You Know™

    Nice metalwork so far! I had a deposit on a Model A roadster body & frame at one time, but I wisely decided that it was beyond my limited funds, time, and ability.