Nearly fifty years ago Gary Crawford was cruising around in his first car, a 1940 Chevy Coupe. As an adult he’s had the opportunity to rekindle some of those fond memories of days gone by, and also managed to capture the GoodGuys Most Beautiful Street Rod in America award with his ’40 Coupe build pictured here.
The build of this ’40 coupe was commissioned by Crawford and the task assigned to the son of Jerry Keller, a high school buddy of his. Jerry’s son Mike and his crew at Big Creek Restoration built the car based on a design by artist Jason Rushforth.
Changes to the coupe are dramatic in the right places and subtle in others, without ruining the look of the original, but rather enhancing where General Motors left off. Flush fit windows and shaved door hinges give the body a clean appearance. The front end has been resculpted with a custom-built grille surround and insert. The front fenders have been reshaped and the hood also pie cut and sectioned. Details on the rear of the car include a flipped ’46 Ford rear bumper and ’39 Chevy taillights.
The team at Big Creek Restoration got the rest of the body details just right. The car wears the right amount of chrome, not overstated, not too understated. The sheetmetal has been sprayed with PPG Vibrance Cinnamon Candy over a copper base. From a distance it looks as though it should have rolled off the assembly line this way. This type of attention to detail and planning likely played a role in this car taking home the Top Honors.
Power comes from nothing less than a built LS3 engine cranking out 480 hp and backed by a TCI 4L80 transmission and Currie 9-inch rear end. Flowmaster exhaust plays the only kind of tunes you need to hear when cruising in a rod of this caliber. It all sits on an Art Morrison Chassis decked out with RideTech air suspension, riding on Foose “Knight” polished, 18- front and 20-inch rear wheels.
Award winning details continue on the inside with plush leather interior perfected by Xibit Customs. An art deco style speedometer and other instruments were cast in bronze and built in house by Keller. He also built the dash.
The use of some exterior color is also not overdone on the interior, there’s just enough to tie everything together. Notice that the door panels feature a lighter colored leather on the upper half matching the seat inserts, while the lower door panel matches the darker seat and carpet color – nothing but class!
We would venture to say that Gary Crawford and Jerry Keller, two friends from high school, never dreamed decades ago that they’d be cruising around together nearly fifty years later, let alone in a car this cool. Nor could they have imagined it possible that Keller’s son would be the one to make it possible. Crawford had said he wanted to build this car “a little nicer” than the one he had in high school, and it appears that he exceeded that goal by a long shot.
This car will make an appearance at the Good Guys Southwest Nationals, November 16-18 in Scottsdale, AZ and will be part of the Champions Arena exhibit featuring the Good Guys “Terrific 12″ national award recipients. Congratulations Gary from all of us here at Rod Authority, job well done!