As hot rod enthusiasts, we are passionate about our cars. Whether your taste is a factory original with a few performance mods or a highly customized radical rolling work of art, most hot rodders can at least appreciate the work we put in to all of them. Most of the time our hot rods become an extension of our own personalities.
We search for just the right ride in hopes that it will be the beginning of a long and exciting journey with each other. However, there are times when what we think we are getting and what we actually obtain couldn’t be farther apart. And just like some relationships, they get off to a very rocky start.
Such was the case with Sebastian Poole when several years ago he came across a 1949 Chevy Fleetline, which was owned by a middle Tennessee car builder. In the early days of this new century work began to customize this car and had been sent to northern Kentucky. The goal was to give her a chopped top, however when she returned it had definitely been chopped. In fact it was more like it had been hacked.
The builder decided to get rid of this now distraught old car, feeling it would be too much work to fix and sold it to another hot rodder. This guy owned it for a while when Sebastian’s interest began to peak and as he mentioned to us, “It was love at first sight.” After negotiating with the owner, the two agreed on a title swap.
Sebastian signed the title from his ’89 Chevrolet S-10 with a built small block 350 and he then became the proud owner of this classic Chevy that had the chopped beginnings of a cool old school lowrider. He figured he could massage and mold her into a one of a kind custom girl. And this was how this tormented love affair began with “Betty Blue.”
During the trade of his S-10 Sebastian also acquired a 1956 Bel Air 4 door chassis. The chassis had the original drive-train with a 265ci straight six, Powerglide transmission and rear-end. He decided the first thing he wanted was to wake this girl up. He pulled the original chassis out and slid the ’56 chassis under her.
He then swapped the 265ci for a mild Chevy 350ci to give her a few more horses. He bolted the engine to the Powerglide and kept the ’56 rear-end. Next, in order for him to stop this lady he installed new brakes all the way around her. She was well on her way back!
Prior to Sebastian taking ownership of her, she had already been sand blasted both inside and out, had the door handles shaved and headlights frenched. However, there was still a lot of work ahead of him to get her presentable. Since he works at Franklin Auto Center in Franklin, Kentucky he was fortunate enough to have access to the tools of the trade to get this hefty job done.
One of the first things he did was get to work on that hideous chop job. This took a lot of man hours and frustration to smooth out, but he was determined to get her looking good. Having 4 1/2 inches off the front and 5 off the back was just right for what he wanted for her.
Working his way around her body, Sebastian found himself filling many holes. He couldn’t find any patch panels, therefore where they were needed he would have to fabricate his own. Most people know the hood on those early Chevys were two pieces, he decided to fill and smooth it out for a much cleaner look.
He installed a grille from a ’51 Chevy and ’52 Chevy parking lights with a molded top bar. Adding “52 Ford bezels set in those frenched headlights really set her off when she came running at you. In the rear Sebastian molded a set of ’53 Packard tail lights into the fenders. Hanging the stock front and rear bumpers completed the outside of the car.
When he moved to the interior of the car he was able to start with a blank canvas. It had already been stripped of everything. Sebastian was able to get a hold of a 1960 Chevrolet dashboard, which he thought would look great with some massaging. After cutting 6 inches out of the middle and about 5 inches from each side, he was able to make it fit.
I wanted to get rid of this piece of crap and almost gave up. I wanted to buy a car that wasn’t all hacked up, to start fresh.
This “work in progress” is much better than when he first began, but not finished. Are they ever? Sebastian told us, “I wanted to get rid of this piece of crap and almost gave up. I wanted to buy a car that wasn’t all hacked up, to start fresh.” He went on to say, “I probably got ripped off, but looking at Betty now, it was worth it.”
Sebastian during the day is a mechanic, but by night his creative side comes out. He transforms himself into a hot rod artist. He has the talent through paper and pencil to bring to life how he sees the hot rod lifestyle. This is probably why he didn’t want to give up on his baby, “Betty Blue.” As he said, “Since the day I have had her it’s been like a love hate relationship.”
He has plans to gussy Betty Blue up a little more by adding scallops, a little pinstriping and of course she wouldn’t be complete without the flame thrower exhaust heating up her backside. All in all, Sebastian is glad he stuck it out with her and in his own words, he’s “Kinda in love with her again.”