Picture enjoying a cool, clear day relaxing next to the banks of the Cumberland River on the Backside of LP Field in Nashville, where the Tennessee Titans take to the gridiron. The azure skies allow the bright sunshine to reflect off the mix of old historic red brick and modernized glass and metal buildings on the skyline of downtown Music City.
Off in the distance I hear the rumblings of a deep-throated machine echoing between the buildings. As I look around to see where this familiar sound is coming from, I begin to see a dark shadow streak between the trees in the distance.
Like an angry animal, the deep howling of this engine seems to be getting closer. My imagination starts to run wild, seeing images of 80’s horror flicks of cars coming alive and chasing me down the road.
Finally, it reveals itself as a low, sleek black beast. It turns the corner and aims directly for me. As it rumbles closer to me I realize I was getting myself all worked up for nothing…well, maybe I shouldn’t say “nothing.” Seeing timeless modified hot rods with loud open exhaust always raises the excitement level, as well as my adrenalin.
This beautiful ’37 Nash LaFayette is owned by “Crazy” Eddie Rochelle and his lovely bride, Sarah. Eddy, who is a retired boxing trainer, has been hot rodding for as long as he can remember. He jokingly tells me he got his start in this hobby when he painted his tricycle yellow and he hasn’t stopped yet.
Long curves and sloped lines, these old classics weren't designed on a computer, it was all done by hand.
These two have been married for over 34 years and lucky for Eddie, his wife enjoys hot rodding as well, or at least she allows him to enjoy it. They travel to shows together and with any couple who has been together a while, have plenty of stories to tell on each other. And Sarah told me a story that has to be shared.
Eddie was driving a custom built rat rod one day. Sarah was following behind him and both were coming out of Nashville. She noticed earlier one of the back tires was wobbling a little and told him he might want to check it out. Of course like any other man would respond, Eddie just responded by telling his wife not to worry, it would be fine.
A few miles down the highway while taking an off ramp, sure enough the tire comes flying off, rolls up a rocky embankment and stops a few hundred yards up the hill. Sarah said Eddie just calmly moved over to the side of the road and gently sat the car down. Then the two went on a search to find the tire.
I learned something from that story; the older we men get, the smarter our wives become.
As far as this car is concerned, it has to be one of the sleekest and coolest Nash’s I have ever seen. The car seems to float on air only inches off the ground. Its smooth curves and lines are elegant yet, muscular. This car turns heads where ever it goes, with people walking up and asking if ZZ Top owns it (true story).
The first feature you can’t help but notice are the polished aluminum reversed upside down headers protruding out of open sides of the engine compartment. The sound these pipes produce can only be explained by the deep growl of a rabid animal. It’s deep, raspy and mean as hell.
The sound of open pipes gives hot rod enthusiasts chill bumps, racing heart and cold sweats. Feelings that are hard to understand from outsiders
The little touches to any custom build make for a big impact.
Have you ever seen a car that appears to be in movement even when it's standing still?
It only takes a splash of chrome here and a touch of pinstripe there to bring out the hidden features of a hot rod.
These pipes are connected to a mildly radical small block 350ci Chevy. A classic tri-power carburetor set up feeds the fuel to this brute. It is polished and looks great with the open side panels, allowing for free air flow and to show off this power plant. All this motor is bolted to a 5-speed Camaro transmission to help push it across the asphalt.
The car has an Air Ride system on all four corners, with a Mustang II front end with disc brakes and a Camaro rear end. When let down this car lays flat and does a belly rub. The wide white rubber wrap around old style Rocket “Radar” Wheels for a timeless classic look. With a wide and low stance it will come at you fast and hard.
Prior to getting this car in the condition it is in now, Eddie had known custom car builder Jason Graham of Portland, Tennessee. Jason created a slick chop top that defines the curves and makes this Nash appear to be moving a hundred miles per hour, even when it’s standing still.
Some people like the over the top radical look, others are more subtle. This car has a great mix of both.
The Nash LaFayette was built between 1934 and 1940, at that time they were considered to be a smaller and less expensive car than the rest of the line up. Looking at what has been done to this one I wouldn't consider it one of the more inexpensive options.
One very small thing that Eddie didn’t like was how far out the ’59 Caddy taillights protruded out of the rear fenders. So, he did what any full blooded hot rodder would do, he took them out, cut them in half and screwed them back in. I must say it looks great how that subtle change made a difference.
Eddie also told me this car has been painted about five times, even using a cheap pail of flat black bought from a local hardware store. But when it was time to make this classic shine, Eddie recruited the help of the “Bondo Kid.” And as you can see that deep dark black with layers of clear make this beauty sparkle in the sunlight.
Hot rodders come from every walk of life and are usually people willing to help others and not afraid to get there hands dirty doing it. Eddie and Sarah have a passion and love for this hobby and each other. These two are what it's all about!
When you jump inside the cockpit you see it has been completely customized by Ridge Custom Interiors. They took the back seat out of a 1937 Chevy and re-upholstered it. The headliner, dash and door panels have all been covered to match the seat.
The gauges are from Dolphin Gauges and the rest of the interior is touched with billet and custom pinstriping for accents.
At every angle you look at this car there is a classic, timeless yet elegant look about the styling. It’s no wonder Eddie has won awards at places like the Ducktail Run, Goodguys Nashville Nationals, Redneck Rumble and the Voodoo Hoodoo.
Eddie and his wife have owned this car for just over three years now. However, like other knuckle busters, this isn’t the only rod he has. Eddie also owns a ’61 gasser ‘Vette, ’71 Mustang and two ’31 Model A’s with chop tops. Sarah has a one of a kind 1946 chopped gasser prison rat bus, which can only be seen to be believed. Recently Eddie sold a highly customized 1950 Chopped ‘Merc to a guy in Australia for a decent price.
Just as Eddie explained to me, “You aren’t supposed to become attached to cars.” He fires up this classic muscle, the compressor lifts the car to drive height and he begins to rumble down the road. I’m sure I will run into Eddie and Sarah again, I am just wondering what kind of custom rod it will be at that time.
It's cool when you meet people who are so passionate about this hobby. No matter what kind of car you prefer, most people are left in awe when they see cars from days past. Times when real workmanship went into every vehicle.