There are occasions in one’s life when a song can cause memories to flood back. Such is the case with the 1976 release of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” We’re not going to give away the owner’s age, but when Rod Ulven of Onawa, Iowa, had a 1960 Chevy Biscayne in high school, he never really forgot the good times he enjoyed in that car.
Seger’s lyrics are an anthem to those guys that owned a cool high school car, “And we’d steal away every chance we could. To the backroom, to the alley or the trusty woods.” Rod’s friends would say when he wasn’t cruising the main street of his home town he was out in the ‘trusty woods,’ but they wouldn’t speculate exactly whom he was with.
Years passed, life and marriage and work took precedent and when things settled down, Rod figured he was ready to relive a little of his youth. He began to search for another ’60 Chevy sedan. Of course, Rod has a little ‘better’ cash flow than he did when he was 16 or 17 and a ‘builder’ would certainly get the ‘neat’ items he couldn’t afford with his first ’60.
Enter the typical ‘little old lady’s car,’ parked in a swap meet space in Fremont, NE. William Wonder, a friend of Rod’s, immediately called him with the car owner’s name and number. With the exception of minor scrapes and bruises because the old gal had difficulties getting in and out of her single stall garage, it appeared clean and straight.
A week later, Rod was in Fremont looking over the worn, but presentable ’60. He knew the minute he laid eyes on the car that this one would be painted black, the same color his HS ride had been.
The original 283ci engine ran good, and the Powerglide shifted smoothly on the 60-mile drive home. After parking the car, Rod began the disassembly to see what he’d purchased. He removed the front clip and called a friend, Rod Cutler, in Colorado and told him to ship the pair of straight, rust-free fenders he had.
Stripping the interior, he discovered three floor pans and one floor brace needed replacing. Not exactly wanting to tackle this job by himself, he enlisted another friend, Tom Templeton of T & L Auto and Truck, for the floor work.
With the floor finished, the body and paint work was farmed out to Donnie Kuhlmann at Kuhlmann Collison Repair in Onawa. Kuhlmann straightened out all the grooves and creases inflicted by the ‘little old lady,’ installed lower quarter sections, filled the extra seams and nosed and decked the car.
Rod wanted the ’60 to look like his high school Biscayne model so he removed the Bel Air tail lamp surround trim and the Bel Air quarter spears and “rocket” trim- replaced them with smaller Biscayne “rockets,” Kuhlmann then covered everything in four coats of PPG Ebony Black, buried beneath three coats of clear…looking a mile deep!
That tired old 283ci wasn’t going to work with the new look. Initially the sedan got a ’68 Corvette small block – 365 horse 327ci engine. This engine served the ’60 well for a while, until Rod ran across yet another deal. . .a complete, 1960 date-coded 348ci engine.
This time, he took the build seriously, punching it out .30 over and having it balanced and blueprinted with 10:1 pistons, a Crane roller cam and valve train assembly. An Offenhauser dual quad intake with matching 500 cfm. Edelbrock carbs tops things off and a Mallory distributor fires the beast. The only give-away to the 348” engine being new are the red ‘Edelbrock’ logos on the carbs. If those logos weren’t there, no one would know this wasn’t the original engine to the ‘60!
To make heading this beast down the road a little easier, Rod added a newer 605 power steering gearbox with adapter plate, hoses and pulleys from Late Great Chevy in Orlando, Florida. To assist in stopping, he upgraded to power disc brakes from Classic Industries and to provide a good ride, added red urethane bushings and heavier sway bars to the suspension.
Rolling stock features BFGoodrich Touring TAs (215/60R 15” front and 255/60R 15” rear) mounted on 15 x 7” and 15 x 8” chrome Cragar Street Pros with tri-bar spinner caps. Exhaust is vented through an aluminized 2 ¼” exhaust with 3-chambered Flowmaster mufflers.
Last, but definitely not least the sedan needed a new interior. Rod called on Chas Dillender of Oakland, Nebraska, to handle the needlework. The interior features the original bench seat covered in gray naugahyde and gray salt ‘n pepper tweed, with custom Chevy Bowties stitched into the seat backs. The door panels follow the same design except the emblems are actually late model Malibu ‘wave’ emblems. The dash was also custom covered in gray naugahyde. A LeCarra steering wheel tops the column and a cover was stitched up in gray naugahyde to match. Black carpeting covers the floor and trunk.
Trunk has room for the requisite car show canopy.Rod added a set of black ‘Designer’ Autometer gauges, an Autometer tach and Freddie Wonder installed a custom Autosound AM/FM stereo with Kenwood amp, Pioneer 6-stack CD changer in the trunk, and 6 x 9” Infinity speakers. Vintage Air A/C and heat keep the car comfortable summer and fall.
Rod and and his wife Jean make beautiful music heading down the highway in that ’60 on the way to the next car event with the 348 singing under the hood. The deep black paint, comfy interior, and a sound system set the right mood…just like Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.”