Recycling At Its Best: From Basket Case To Show Case

160629_081536_2Recycling 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.

what it looked like when we got it

The hulk after it was removed from its resting place of 30 years. The wagon had seen better days but wasn’t far enough gone not to restore.

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.

As the car was licensed

The wagon the day it was licensed. Complete with patina, the car had come a long way from resting under a tree for 30 plus years.

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.

20160708_180407

Quite the difference, wouldn’t you agree? New owner Mike Brown shown in the car. Two-tone paint did wonders.

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.

Left: The wagon under construction. Frame has been cleaned and painted. Right: The big block also has been cleaned and painted and awaiting its new home.

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.

Big block in place

The big block engine and T-400 transmission in place. New suspension and new brakes installed. Firewall has been painted in this photo.

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.

Left: The rear cargo area has new vinyl floor covering installed. Right: Door panel consists of tan vinyl and rolled and pleated fabric. Carpet kick panel framed with chromed trim.

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.

IMG_421142

The seating was done in tan fabric and vinyl with dark brown piping. a ’61 Impala wheel had been installed.

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.

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
Read My Articles

Classic Street Rods in your Inbox

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Rod Authority, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Rod Authority NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

We'll send you the most interesting Street Rod articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Rod Authority NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Hot Rods & Muscle Cars

Classic Chevy Magazine

Corvette Enthusiasts

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • Classic Chevy Magazine
  • Corvette Enthusiasts

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Rod Authority - The #1 Authority for Street and Rat Rods

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading