Image of title
Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop
Bobby Alloway Lets Us Take a Peek at What’s Coming
By Gerry Burger | Photography by Toby Caldwell
Image of Bobby Alloway
There is a diverse group of hot rods being built at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop. From a 1956 Chevrolet to a pair of El Caminos, they will all receive the patented Alloway look when finished.
Image of Bobby Alloway & Garage
There is a diverse group of hot rods being built at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop. From a 1956 Chevrolet to a pair of El Caminos, they will all receive the patented Alloway look when finished.

or some reason I am always interested in that first car. Bobby Alloway’s first car was a 1956 Ford “post car.” It was quickly replaced with a 1965 Plymouth Sport Fury with a 426 wedge underhood, followed by a 1970 AAR ’Cuda. He enjoyed these muscle cars and still has a great appreciation for the muscle car era, but in the early ’80s he was drawn back to the classic Ford hot rods, particularly the Model 40, 1933 and 1934 Fords. After some changes at his “day job” he decided to open a hot rod shop in Louisville, Tennessee; this was in 1992. And the rest, as they say, is history—but history doesn’t happen overnight.

Over the past 40 years or so there have been several milestone cars/hot rods that put Alloway “on the map.” There was the super-slick 1933 Vicky that won the Ridler in 1985, and then 10 years later when Alloway’s own flamed three-window coupe and Tom Clark’s matching flamed roadster visually and figuratively set the street rod world aflame. First impressions are often indelible. The image of those two black flamed hot rods roaming the country together forever cemented the Alloway image for me and many others. Say Bobby Alloway and black with flames comes to mind. That vision would be short-selling Alloway and the entire crew at Alloway’s Hot Rod shop, as they build diverse makes, models, and years of hot rods. Like most shops, cars of the ’50s and ’60s are now fair game, and cars such as Kathy Lange’s Painless Performance/Street Rodder Street Rod of the Year–winning 1958 Edsel prove the point. Currently, there are three Chevy El Caminos under construction in the shop (one 1959 and a pair of ’70s) along with a C2 Corvette, and while the body styles may range from a Deuce roadster to a 1958 Impala, they all have some common traits. First and foremost is quality; every car to leave the shop is built to an incredibly high standard. Second is functionality. Alloway-built cars can take to the open road. Third is the whole wheel/tire combination and that wicked stance that defines the “Alloway look.” Just the fact that the “Alloway look” exists is a testimony to the man and his shop.

So how does one achieve that iconic look? Well, it would be nice if there was a formula or more modern terms, like “there’s an app for that,” but unfortunately neither exist. As for the stance, it is a bit of a conspiracy. It often begins with the car and a set of wheels sighted from 55 feet away. The suspension has been removed from the stock chassis and the car is rolled outside with dollies under the stock frame. The wheels are then tucked up under the body and floorjacks raise and lower the front and rear of the car while Alloway gives it the eyeball from about 50 feet away. Once again, no need for calculators, lasers, or levels, just one man working the jack while Alloway provides directions, “come up a little in back, no not that much, down a little,” then to the front, “drop it down a bit, go a little more.” The process continues until the final order comes, “that’s it, right there.” Having witnessed this process for the abovementioned Edsel, it is a very simple process that requires one important tool: a great eye.

With the wheel/tire combo and stance set it is finally time to take critical measurements, and this is where the conspiracy comes into play. These critical measurements are generally sent off to co-conspirator Art Morrison for a completely new chassis, including engine and tranny measurements.

Speaking of engines, part of the Alloway image was built around the big-block Chevy motor. It was the engine of choice for many of his cars. Today you can find engines ranging from a Coyote in an Edsel, a Cammer motor in a 1961 Ford, and so diversity continues underhood.

As for body modifications there is a heavy dose of respect built into all Alloway cars. Respect for the original design. Recognizing the beauty in the original car is key to making subtle modifications that actually improve the look, always conscious that the goal is to improve the look rather than change the look. For that reason, there are no changes made simply for the sake of change, and often when asked why a certain body modification was performed the answer is this simple: “I thought it would look better that way.” Top chops and other modifications are done much like the stance, tweaking things until you find the sweet spot. Often the best modifications are the ones most difficult to see, like a recontoured fender opening or a slight rake on the grille.

As for Bobby Alloway the man, much has been written about him and we are here to tour his shop not write a biography. He’s a low-key guy with a warm, friendly approach to life. Soft spoken, he is not one to brag about things like winning two AMBR trophies, the Ridler, or any number of awards. Like most people who are truly good at something, he prefers to let his work do the talking. While Alloway still works on the cars in the shop, he is quick to credit his talented team at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop for their fine work. The crew includes Joe Bailey, Josh Bailey, Jeff Plemons, Jordan Boone, Toby Caldwell, and Glenn Shabbas. Together this prolific shop turns out about six cars a year, not counting the annual Shades of the Past giveaway car. Every car is different, and we can guarantee every car is special.

Image of Bobby Alloway attending to some wiring and dash installation
Bobby Alloway attending to some wiring and dash installation on a C2 Corvette. There have been a string of very cool Corvettes rolling out of Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop in recent years.
Photo of El Camino
The unique styling of Brian Kilgore’s first-year El Camino will be carefully enhanced during the build. Flat fins, flat roof, and a large windshield define the look. First step is the proper stance.
Picture of Alloway builds
While many Alloway builds incorporate a complete chassis swap, on this car the original “X-frame” found is retained. The rear suspension employs a Currie 9-inch rear with 4.56 gears. Note the thicker-than-original top half of the chassis tunnel designed to add rigidity.
Image of The Currie 9-inch Ford rear
The Currie 9-inch Ford rear is positioned in the frame with RideTech control arms modified to be adjustable with Johnny Joints by Rock Jock.
Image of Rear axle assembly
Looking from the front we can see the rear axle assembly is largely a bolt-in affair. The 4.56 gear is perfect for the TREMEC TKO five-speed by American Powertrain.
Image of Art Morrison front clip
Here we can see the Art Morrison front clip is in place, complete with tubular control arms, rack-and-pinion steering, and yet-to-be-installed coilover shocks. A 454 Chevy engine by Jeff Taylor Performance will power the 1959 El Camino.
Image of Chassis work
While the chassis work was being performed, the body was sent off for media blasting. As you can see this is one cherry El Camino. Modifications will be subtle and effective.
Image of 1956 Chevy
Curtis Atkins brought his 1956 Chevy in after less-than-satisfactory bodywork at another shop. The car is being built for his 17-year-old son. It’s good to see young guys carrying on the hot rod tradition.
Picture of Jeff Plemons is busy carefully sanding window areas
Jeff Plemons is busy carefully sanding window areas of the B-pillar prior to a primer coat. After body repairs and fresh paint, the car will go through final assembly.
Image of White El Camino
Jerry “Scoot” Rice is going to have one wicked El Camino. The AME frame will support the 496-inch Chevy big-block engine and TREMEC five-speed combination.
Picture of A box tubing brace
A box tubing brace is bolted in each doorjamb on the 1958 Impala to prevent any unwanted body sag. After spending untold hours perfectly gapping the doors it is important to brace the openings.
Image of Josh Bailey checks the distributor firewall
Josh Bailey checks the distributor firewall clearance on the big-block Chevy powering Marty Miller’s 1954 Corvette. New front and rear body clips have been grafted onto the car.
Image of an AME chassis
An AME chassis ensures the Corvette will handle the power provided by the big-block Chevy engine and TREMEC five-speed.
Image of This view of the Corvette sitting high
This view of the Corvette sitting high on a lift illustrates the art of wheel and tire fit and overall stance. This Corvette will be superior to the original in every way.
Image of Boss 429 powerplant built by Jeff Taylor Performance
Once again, an AME chassis supports the big power coming from the Boss 429 powerplant built by Jeff Taylor Performance. All that power is passed through a five-speed tranny from American Powertrain.
Image of a braced 9-inch Ford rear
A braced 9-inch Ford rear will be able to handle the power, and the stepped framerails allow for big tires. Note the tight fit on the huge exhaust pipes.
Image of Square roof line
We always liked the square roof line of the 1963 Ford Fairlane. This particular Fairlane will shock a lot of folks with that big Boss 429 underhood.
Image of The underside of the Fairlane is super slick
The underside of the Fairlane is super slick, and Jordan Boone is handling the detail work to prepare it for the final finish.
Picture of the 1963 Fairlane chassis
The 1963 Fairlane chassis is now in its final finish, awaiting final assembly before being reunited with the body.
PIc of Sanding the Adams Rod Shop–supplied fiberglass Deuce roadster
Scott Emert is busy sanding the Adams Rod Shop–supplied fiberglass Deuce roadster body. This will be the Shades 2021 giveaway car.
Image of Shades of the Past 1932 Ford highboy
The Shades of the Past 1932 Ford highboy giveaway roadster is really taking shape here, while a very cool 1951 Ford Victoria is being prepped in the background. Because the Shades 2020 event was canceled this roadster will be given away in 2021.
Image of Roadster body
Of course, the bottom of the roadster body is finished to the same high standard as the rest of the body.
Image of Finished primer
Here the roadster is in finished primer and almost ready for some PPG Urethane paint. We can’t divulge the color to you right now.
Picture of Joe Bailey puts the final cut
Joe Bailey puts the final cut on the giveaway roadster parts; final finish is fast approaching.
Image of three El Caminos being built at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop
There are currently three El Caminos being built at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop. This one is powered by 496-inch big-block Chevy motor and rides on an AME chassis.
Image of Bobby Alloway
Bobby Alloway making some quick alterations to accommodate a new body on the shop rotisserie.
Pic of Forming and fitting an exhaust system
Forming and fitting an exhaust system is a time-consuming task, but such attention to detail is all part of building a world-class hot rod. Here Scott Emert puts the finishing touches on this tailpipe.
Image of 1957 Ford wagon
Every so often Alloway sneaks one of his own cars into the shop. A new Vintage Air system, power steering, and, of course, some wheels and tires are scheduled for the 1957 Ford wagon.
Image of Josh Bailey is busy forming a bracket
Josh Bailey is busy forming a bracket in the next room. The father-and-son team have worked together at Alloway’s for many years.
Image of Alloway’s own 1966 Corvette
Alloway’s own 1966 Corvette was originally yellow. It was in storage since 1972 after which he resurrected it, painting it black, with black top, and maintains the original black interior.
Image of 1932 Ford Brookville highboy roadster
Somehow it seems fitting that even Alloway’s office is filled with black, big-block–powered hot rods. Here a 1932 Ford Brookville highboy roadster belongs to Alloway himself.
Image of Alloway builds over the years
This is a selection of Alloway builds over the years. It appears that while Mr. Alloway does champion the use of PPG Alloway Black the fact does remain, he can paint hot rods in other colors and they too look the part!

Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop
(865) 977-9140

Modern Rodding | September/October 2020