Sometimes you just have to go nuclear. On those occasions, you go big or go home. Ryan Stoiber went big. He built his 1935 Chevy Roadster pickup from nothing. Along the way, he incorporated personal touches including parts from his father’s career as a tool crib master at a local nuclear power plant.
Back in 2007, Ryan and his dad came up with the plan in a resort bar while on vacation. It was there where the discussion of building a hot rod first came up. A vision was drawn up on a bar napkin and the planning stage began.
At the time, Ryan had two small children, so he knew he wanted to have a four-seat vehicle. He also wanted it to be a roadster. Ryan grew up riding in his dad’s 1989 convertible Corvette. Ryan just loved that convertible feel, so it was a must-have for him.
Two weeks after returning from the trip, it was time to start building. A neighbor down the street who was rebuilding a 1947 Ford provided Ryan with an entire front axle, complete with spring and brakes for $150.. Ryan rolled the whole assembly down the street and straight into his garage.
A Family Affair
Once there, Ryan and his dad laid out the 2×4-square tubing they aquired. Estimates were devised for suspension, engine, and cabin layouts. Forty hours of welding later and the two had a rolling chassis.
A rear axle from a 1999 Chevy S-10 was acquired from a junkyard. Ryan’s mindset was simplistic. “I wanted to keep the build simple. So, I could walk into any parts store if something broke and be able to get what I need to fix it,” Ryan explained. “We had no idea what it was actually going to be. We wanted kind of a new old-school vibe.”
It Takes A Village
Ryan may not have been aware of it at the time, but it appears his dad put the word out about the project. His dad’s hot rod buddies started showing up with all manner of cool elements to help get the build on the road.
One of the first arrivals was a 1935 Chevy cowl with the original wood in it. Apparently, it sat in an attic for years, and it was time for it to see the light of day. A second friend showed up later with a 1935 Chevy grille. The bottom was rusted out from sitting outside for years. The rust was cut out and the fabrication began.
At that point, the project had a solid skeleton and things were progressing nicely. Unfortunately, a new workshift meant less time was available for Ryan to work on the project, so it sat idle for about six months. Finally, the pair was able to get back to work and things came together quickly from there.
“We got the sheetmetal and took it to a friend’s shop. He restores Duesenbergs and Model A’s. He has lots of machinery and he made a die to go into the Yoder. That was essential because the 35 Chevy has a double beltline on it. There is a fat one and a skinny one. Well, I’m short. I can’t have the sides too tall. So, that allowed us to match the bodyline for the 35-model year. My friend ran the machine, and my dad and I hand-hammered the bodyline all the way around. It took us three 4×8 sheets of metal, and the right machinery to make it work,” Ryan beamed.
In order for this whole project to come together, it really became a community effort. Ryan and his dad spent the better part of two years working on the project together with help from many friends and generous donors.
After driving it for about a year, Ryan was ready for something different and once again, the family stepped up. Ryan’s uncle, who owns a body shop, helped him get the paint he wanted. The blue is a factory 2012 Chevy Camaro color with a 15-percent flattener in it. Ryan did not want the look to be too glossy.
Once the paint was sprayed, it was time to fill all of the rivets with seam sealer. This was essential so water wouldn’t leak into the channel of the frame. Ryan explains this as quite the experience. “You squirt a little in and then smooth it with your finger. After it dries it shrinks so you have to go over it again. We spent probably close to two days just doing that,” he said with a smile.
His Hands Shake
Once it was painted everything was put back together. Then Ryan had a family friend pinstripe the whole ride freehand. “The guy that did it lives in Tecumseh, Michigan, and at the time he was about 70 years old. His hands shake something terrible until you give him a brush. Then he is just solid as a rock. He did the whole thing freehand in an hour and a half,” Ryan explained.
Throughout the last few years, there has been a discussion of including some kind of top for the ride. Ryan remembered, “Last year, we drove to Cleveland, Ohio, for a show in March. I don’t trailer it because I just don’t want to. I want to drive it. Anyway, when we drove through the tollbooth on the turnpike the guard gave me some hand warmers.”
“We had on full Carhart overalls and a coat. We had gloves, full helmets, and face shields. They thought we were crazy! Don’t get me wrong, when the weather is bad it’s tough, but this is what we gotta do. I’ve only trailered a couple of times and we get home way faster by just driving!”
We Built It For Us
These days the car spends most of its time driving back and forth to various shows in the Ohio area. Ryan said, “It’s been done for nine years now and we have been all over with it. It’s been to Woodstock, Pittsburgh, The Monster Mile in Cincinnati, Kentucky, Indianapolis and the Indy 500. I hope when people look at it they enjoy it and are able to appreciate the fabrication that went into it. It’s a homebuilt hot rod and there’s just not anything else like it. In the end, we built it for us. The style and all the features are geared toward what we wanted in a hot rod.”
After all of the hard work and time, we agree that Ryan has one unique rod. The time spent on the build process is a testament to the fabrication quality Ryan and his dad are capable of. Maybe even more important, it is a reminder of the relationship they share and their mutual interest and love of motorsports.