Recycling is the process of converting waste material into new material- an alternative to disposal. Recycling can prevent the loss of potentially good material and reduce consumption of fresh raw materials. Obviously, hot rodders have known this for years.
Recycling was a necessity throughout World War II. During the war, significant material shortages due to war efforts made it necessary to recycle materials, steel among the most important recyclable.
The struggles of war claimed much of the material resources available, leaving little for the civilian population. Could be why 1920’s and 1930’s vehicles are in short supply today – those old bodies helped the war effort by becoming tanks and airplanes. Recycling efforts continue today via “clunker” laws, but vehicles of the fifties and sixties are popular for rebuilding and hot rodders are the original recyclers.
Such is the case for the rare ’60 Chevy Brookwood station wagon owned by Mike Brown of Dousman, Wisconsin. Mike had chatted with John Staples at the Wisconsin Dells car show where he’d entertained purchasing the car. Later, at the Annual Back to the Fifties event in St. Paul, Minnesota, he saw the ‘60 again. After talking to John, Mike knew for certain the Brookwood Chevy wagon would soon be his.
John had bought the ’60 Chevy two door station wagon in all its weather-worn patina from another St.Paul, Minnesota, acquaintance. John liked shiny paint and told friends the wagon would have it after he’d purchased it. He proceeded to do the body work necessary to straighten out the 57 year old panels. When the body was finished, John had Johnson Auto Body in St. Paul shoot the glossy two-tone paint.
Neither Mike nor John had been privy to how the car had been recycled and unknown to them was the fact that the Brookwood wagon rebuild started as a Christmas gift in 2014 from a son to his father. Mike had no idea the ratty two door Brookwood wagon needed a lot of help before it showed up in St. Paul.
The car was originally built in Denver, Colorado, from a, well, the best way to describe it is a ‘hulk.’ It had sat under trees in northern Colorado for the past thirty or so years weathering greatly and slowly becoming nothing more than a shell.
Before it was parked, the previous owner’s kids had tried to modernize it but they found updating a car wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. They’d managed to pull the original steering box and fit a later model power steering unit – but wouldn’t even bolt up to the stock frame holes.
In anticipation of the ‘new’ steering box working once installed, the original steering column was tossed. Wiring had been cut out from under the dash and the front seat was tossed. No one knows what the kids had planned to replace it with. The driver’s side window mechanism had been pulled in an attempt to add power windows and when that didn’t work out, they didn’t bother to replace it so the floor suffered – needless to say melted snow and bare metal don’t mix, the floor eventually went away.
The hole afforded several Raccoons a fairly warm home thru several winters and the green shag carpet covering the rear smelled like it. On the rear cargo area and the tailgate were paint spatters, possibly the old wagon had been used as a painter’s truck in a previous life and the driver’s door held remnants of an old logo of some sort.
A low miles big block Chevy engine had been saved from a friends wrecked car along with the T-400 automatic transmission and was transplanted into the ’60 after the entire front suspension was rebuilt with new springs, ball joints, brake drums and brakes. A dual master cylinder was put in place of the old single master and new lines run to all wheels. The rear brakes were rebuilt as well.
The gas tank was removed, cleaned and sealed and a new sending unit installed along with new fuel lines. The rear underside of the car was shot with Lizardskin insulation and the rear end cleaned and painted.
A ’60 Chevy four door sedan sitting in a local junkyard donated a ‘new’ cowl cover and wiper arms and a fortuitous swap meet find included a rust-free tailgate complete with the rear window roll up mechanism.
The car was completely rewired with a Rebel wire kit by Len Hoogland and the dash instruments were removed and refurbished. That same ’60 sedan gave up its steering box and steering column. A ’61 Impala wheel was used. The dash was painted a Cadillac Champagne color as well as the garnish moldings.
After the floors were replaced and sprayed with Lizardskin on both sides – inside and under – Cool-it Thermo-tech sound deadner was laid down, jute padding was added and then carpet. The roof was insulated before a new headliner from Classic Industries was installed. Ed Banes Upholstery of Littleton, Colorado, gets the credit for the interior, redone in Tan and Chocolate Brown vinyl.
When asked about driving the ’60, Mike Brown, the current owner and an aficionado, answered “It’s probably the most comfortable car I own.” Mike has several vehicles in his current collection but sold one of his 1957 Chevy 150 models to be able to purchase the wagon. Mike said he’s put about 3,500 miles on the car since purchasing it in July of 2015 and loves the horsepower of the big block. Mike said he plans on taking the wagon to several large shows this coming summer and enjoying some highway miles.