To many, a shop is as important of a creation as building their hot rod(s) that go in them. Mac Frederick, who lives near Shelbyville, Illinois, is no exception. Still in his 30’s, Mac developed a love affair with all things related to ‘50s and ‘60s nostalgia which extends far beyond his 1955 Chevy.
Mac’s first hot rod possession was a 1955 Chevy 4-door at the ripe age of 12-years old.
“I sanded on that rust-bucket and cleaned each individual part on that car before I was old enough to drive,” he says. “Just before my 16th birthday, I scored a ’55 Chevy 2-door post that I customized and drove the wheels off all through high school.”
Mac developed an appreciation for all things nostalgia beyond his cars. He operates a successful concrete business along with his father and brother. While working at various locations, they picked up old signs and other memorabilia. He constructed a steel building on his homestead titled B&H Speed and Custom; it is now brimming with his collected artifacts.
“The speed shop sign above my shop door is named after my sons, Boone and Hank,” Mac continues. “I took them to the local dragstrip and car shows. Even at their young age, they wanted their own racing t-shirts like they saw others wearing. We had some shirts made with a pic of their ’55 and made up the logo; it has stuck ever since.”
The 55’s 396 Chevy is bored .060-overbore and uses an Isky Cams solid flat tappet Z33 grind and a cross-drilled General Motors Performance steel crankshaft. Mildly ported GM iron 215 heads use Harland Sharp 1.7 roller rockers are under an old set of Cal Custom valve covers. Credit for the long-block build goes to Richard Ketchum of Ketchum Engines.
Mac used TRW forged pistons that calculate to 8.5:1 compression. The 6-71 blower is set up with pulleys to make just shy of 7-lb of pressure at wide-open-throttle. Mac uses what he calls “special recipe” Edelbrock Performance 750 carburetors. Though there is nothing “high tech” visible to onlookers when the front end is tilted, there is a Holley Performance/MSD-6 ignition system hidden to keep the supercharged engine lit.
For the drivetrain on the Chevy, there is a Turbo 400 with a 34-element sprag converter that was built by his friend Wayne Snearly from Findlay, Illinois. The 12-bolt differential is from a ’69 Camaro. Mac put in 4:56 gears and mounted it with vintage Ansen Ground Grabber bars and leaf spring packs he personally built from various cars.
Rolling stock uses vintage Fenton Gyro wheels on all four corners. The slots measure 11-inches wide out back and 3.5-inches up front. Mickey Thompson 295 ET Street tires drive the ’55, and the fronts are “generic skinnies,” as Mac puts it.
One of Mac’s fondest memories came from photos of his shop and sons that circulated online. “While I was working in the shop, my young sons would watch hot rod movies on a small TV projector like a mini drive-in. The photos also showed my ’55 in the background,” Mac continued. “I heard from the daughter of Richard Ruth. She saw the pictures. Ruth is the original builder of the ’55 Chevys used in American Graffiti and Two-Lane Blacktop. I told her I worshiped everything about those cars he built.”
Mac received a call from Ruth himself who saw the photos and heard about his tribute car. “We talked for a long time, it gave me goosebumps,” he describes. “I was even lucky enough to have him sign the glovebox door on my ’55. Those are some serious memories I cherish.”
The relatively tame 327 Chevy in his new Model A project will host an Offenhauser tri-power setup but will be a mild-mannered driver compared to his other hot rod. Mac says with a smile, “If I want violence, I’ll drive the ’55.”
Mac found a 1959 Chevy dashboard during a recent junkyard crawl he is currently modifying for the coupe. His next goal is to find a ribbed roof panel from a donor car to fill the coupe’s roof. For rolling stock, he uses Cragar S/S wheels with Towel City Tire pie-crust cheater slicks on the rear and Rocket Racing Launcher spoked wheels up front. He uses a Super Bell dropped-beam axle in the front and a 9-inch Ford rearend mounted on QA1 coilover shocks.
There is no great rush to complete the coupe. Just like his hardcore workshop and adjoined diner, he finds cool stuff here and there to continue the build.
The diner has provided a lot of memories for the entire family. “It’s cool when we have big groups here,” Mac says. “For one party, we grilled 150 cheeseburgers and pumped a lot of ice cream. It was so much fun.”
One such story is the rare Jadeite green 1945 Frigidaire refrigerator seen at a local auction. “The fridge was plugged-in and worked well, so the price started high,” Mac says. “When the auctioneer got down to $25 as the starting price, I quickly held up my number, and with his impatience, I immediately got it. It still amazes me that it runs like a top and I spent 25 bucks.”
Another of his favorites is his 1957 television in the diner. Mac describes how he bought it at an antique store on the cheap, but not working. He installed new TV inner workings and plays black & white movies through the original aquarium lens. Mac says, “I just love doing that kind of stuff.”
Mac remembers the background of the yellow Formica iced table in the shop. “Becky and I bought that at a secondhand store,” Mac spells out. “The seats were 1950’s hideous (laughs). The owner said an old boy named “Blind Bill” owned it. Everybody asked Bill how he could stand that ugly table. Bill said, I don’t care – I’m blind.”
Some items hold personal memories. “My son was having a rough day at grade school, so I picked him up to spend the rest of the day with me,” Mac says. “I dragged out some magazines for him. He sat at that table and cut all those hot rod pictures out and put them all over my shop cabinets. I sprayed shellac on them, and they’ve been there ever since.”
“Many people who visit the shop ask about all of those black marks on the road,” he says. “Those are good times, I respond. I ask friends to do me a favor and sign my guest book when they visit with a burnout. Just this morning, there was a big Dodge dually pickup trying to do a burnout with a load of firewood stacked above the cab. I loved it.”
If you’re ever out and about in central Illinois, take a moment to stop by B&H Speed Shop. It may be more of a shop to build hot rods rather than a prim-and-proper “museum,” but the Fredericks have put the tone of hot rod heart into their shop. You can even “sign the guest book.”
You won’t regret it.