Project 1955 Chevy Wagon... Replacing Rear Tirewell Sheetmetal
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Cross Paths
More Shock,
Better Ride:

Coilovers for
Your Tri-Five
Better Fuel

Custom Filler
Door & Neck
More Shock, Better Ride:
Coilovers for Your Tri-Five
Better Fuel Delivery:
Custom Filler Door & Neck
an Early Ford
Restraining an Early Ford article snapshot
July 2021
Preview Issue
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Modern Rodding CONTENTS
July 2021 Table of Contents article snapshots
Brian Brennan
Industry News
New Products
Those Supporting Our Industry
Feature of the Month sponsored by Optima Batteries
Larry Olson’s 1958 Chevy Impala
By Brian Brennan, Photography by John Jackson
Feature of the Month sponsored by Optima Batteries
Bobby Alloway’s 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster
By Brian Brennan, Photography by John Jackson
Steve and Faye Mitchell’s 1966 Buick Skylark
By Brian Brennan, Photography by Grant Cox
Dave Rocha’s 1926 Ford Tudor Sedan
By Dale Moreau, Photography by the Author
Denny Merritt’s 1950 Buick Sedanette
By Joe Greeves, Photography by the Author
Four-wheel disc brakes give our DeLuxe plenty of stopping power
By Ryan Manson, Photography by the Author
Removing the spare tirewell in your Chevy wagon
By Brian Brennan, Photography by the Author
Videography by Ryan Foss Productions
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We look at Aldan’s Direct Fit Road Comp Coilover Conversion and Billet Aluminum Shocks
By Ron Ceridono, Photography by Nick Licata
Part 2: Fresh fuel from filler to Flathead
By Gerry Burger, Photography by the Author
If you’ve ever started a car without a Neutral Safety Switch you know the rest of the story
By Brian Brennan
Modern Rodding July 2021 cover
On the Cover
The 1958 Impala is a one-year-only Chevy and as such is highly desirable and sought after by hot rodders who like to have a good-looking custom that lends itself to a unique look. Our cover car belongs to Larry Olson of South Dakota and was beautifully done by Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop looking both the custom and performance part with its 409-based W-motor resting between the Morrison ‘rails. Neatly tucked in the background is Bobby Alloway’s latest personal ride, a Brookville-bodied 1932 Ford highboy roadster powered by a 427 Chevy representing a vintage L71 435hp Tri-power–equipped big-block V-8. Photo by John Jackson.
Duralast official oe replacement parts of Modern Rodding
Modern Rodding ISSN 2692-2371 (print) ISSN 2692-238X (online) Issue 10 is published monthly by In the Garage Media, 370 E. Orangethorpe Avenue, Placentia, CA 92870-6502. Application to mail at Periodicals prices is pending at Placentia, CA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Modern Rodding, c/o In the Garage Media, 1350 E. Chapman Ave #6550, Fullerton, CA 92834-6550 or email ITGM at Copyright (c) 2021 IN THE GARAGE MEDIA. Printed in the USA. The Modern Rodding trademark is a registered trademark of In The Garage Media.
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Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
Brian Brennan headshot
Time Flies—One Year Later
By Brian Brennan

his is our July ’21 issue and that makes Modern Rodding 1 year old. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by, but then again this past year has been like no other—regardless of how you measure time! The July issue represents our anniversary and the beginning of our second year producing the best in the world of hot rodding to car guys, and gals, the world over in both print and digital format. And we would be remiss if we didn’t have social outlets such as Facebook and Instagram along with a website ( for each brand.

It was back in March of 2020 on Friday the 13th that In The Garage Media (ITGM) opened its doors for business. We’ve been told we have impeccable business timing as that was also the same week that the governor of California shut everything down. Yes, flawless business timing. It was just a few weeks prior that many of your favorite car magazines were shuttered. I can remember sitting around at the Grand National Roadster Show (not realizing this would be the last car show I would attend for a long, long time!) thinking about what was next for me and our hobby. What would I be doing in the coming months and possibly years ahead? Actually, the times were difficult back in the day when Street Rodder came into being as we ran head long into the Arab Oil Embargo (1973-1974) so it should have given me (us) a forewarning of times ahead. While those were difficult times, I wouldn’t say it was more difficult than the year that has just passed. Of course, we still have a ways to go but there are plenty of indications that all of us are heading in the right direction. Yet, it would seem that while the times may have been a bit rocky, it allowed us to achieve a foothold from which we could build. And build we have as we plan on being around for years to come.

We began with two titles, Classic Truck Performance (CTP) and Modern Rodding (MR). In that first year both books were bimonthly, with CTP beginning with a June issue and MR beginning with a July issue, and so it was for the remainder of 2020. Once 2021 rolled around both titles became monthly while January saw In The Garage Media add one more brand, All Chevy Performance. With all three titles up and running it’s been an exciting time. None of us, whether it be the advertising staff, the office staff, or those of us in editorial, have had much time to do little else except keep our individual focus on the job at hand.

Rodding Around
John McLeod signs a program for an event attendee
Hall of Fame plaque reading "John McLeod of Classic Instruments"
John McLeod portrait
red gear icon John McLeod of Classic Instruments is Inducted into the Darryl Starbird Rod and Custom Hall of Fame
Since 1977 Classic Instruments instrumentation has continually been handcrafted in America. Owner John McLeod attended the 57th Annual Darryl Starbird National Rod and Custom Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was inducted into the Darryl Starbird Rod and Custom Hall of Fame. McLeod received the award for the impact that Classic Instruments has had on the hot rod industry.

“To join the ranks of industry icons such as Boyd Coddington, Troy Trepanier, George Barris, and Posie, just to name a few, is certainly an honor that I never would have expected,” John says. The entire team at Classic Instruments congratulates Dan Woods, Chris Ryan, Ron Covell, Eric Geisert, and Penny Pichette for their entry into the hall of fame as well.

Many well-known rodders have been inducted into the Hall of Fame over the years. It’s the once-a-year get-together where many of rodding’s legends assemble to say “hi” to one another and welcome new members. The staff at Modern Rodding wants to take this moment to congratulate McLeod on receiving this prestigious award—well deserved.

Modern Rodding NEW PRODUCTS
1. Dakota Digital RTX application; 2. Duralast Pump Fan Clutch Kit; 3. Strange Engineering bolt-in shocks
Dakota Digital RTX application
Duralast Pump Fan Clutch Kit
Strange Engineering bolt-in shock
1. Slicking Up a Shoebox
Dakota Digital is now offering a new RTX application fitting the 1949-1950 Ford passenger car (PN RTX-49F-X, 1949-1950 Ford Car RTX system; there are also metric/custom variations). This instrument system attaches directly into the stock metal dash opening, including an all-new machined aluminum (chromed) housing. Styled after the original equipment found in the 1949-1950, all backlight options are user-selectable within the RTX Series.
For more info, contact Dakota Digital by calling (800) 852-3228 or visit
2. Ensure a Cool Drive
If you’re finishing up a late-model engine swap into your classic, Duralast offers a Water Pump Fan Clutch Kit to help you bolt in a cooling system that was engineered to work together—ideal for LS engine swaps.

Each kit is supplied with a new water pump, fan clutch, serpentine pulley, mounting hardware, and gaskets. The pump is designed to meet or exceed OE performance and quality with a heavy-wall housing, a permanently lubed bearing assembly, and a precision-formed impeller for maximum coolant flow and efficient performance.

To finish your cooling system update, check out the Duralast Gold line of thermostats with a larger-than-OE opening to increase coolant flow. All thermostats provide consistent temperature response with high-grade stainless and copper construction to stand up to the most demanding cooling systems. Find your Thermostat and Water Pump/Clutch Fan Kit at your nearby AutoZone.

For more info, check out Duralast by visiting your nearest AutoZone auto parts store or visit
3. Comfy Cruising
Strange Engineering continues to expand its successful line of bolt-in shocks for Mopar, GM, and Ford applications. These aluminum body shocks for your Mopar offer a wide range of valving that can be adjusted for any application, ranging from street to track. The lightweight aluminum shocks are available in single- and double-adjustable configurations that can be externally adjusted for quick and precise tuning. The Strange shocks are a valuable tool to alter the response of your suspension for various conditions, giving complete tuning control.
For more info, check out Strange Engineering by calling (847) 663-1701 or visit
Modern Rodding FEATURE
Low, Wide & Handsome typography
By Brian Brennan Photography by John Jackson

n 1958 General Motors celebrated its 50th year of production and in so doing introduced anniversary models for each of its brands. Founded on this one-of-a-kind occurrence, the 1958 Chevrolet models were longer, lower, and wider than its predecessors.

This 1958 Chevy Impala Blends the Lines Between Cruiser and Performer
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The 1958 Chevy Impala was the first with dual headlamps and the tailfins that grew wildly through 1957 were replaced by deeply sculptured rear fenders. Another key design element of the 1958 Chevy Impala were the three taillights per side. Lesser models that year had two and the wagons a single taillight per side. More design elements intended for the Impala were the crossed-flag insignias above the side moldings, as well as bright rocker moldings and dummy rear-fender scoops. The Impala nameplate was first seen on the 1956 General Motors Motorama show car that was more Corvette than passenger car. The name Impala was taken from the African antelope because of its smooth flowing lines and graceful movements. The “antelope” became the car’s logo. The 1958 Chevy Impala has long been recognized as a prime candidate to build as a custom—or in today’s vernacular, a Street Cruiser.

Heading for the hills of South Dakota is Larry Olson’s immaculate looking and performing 1958 Chevy Impala as it rolls out from beneath the doors for the first time at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop (AHRS) in Louisville, Tennessee, under the watchful eye of Bobby Alloway. He’s long been recognized for his “mile-deep” PPG black paint covered in 2002 clear, signature wheels, and hot rod stance. This Chevy Impala is the only 1958 AHRS has built and it may be one of the finest of any of the shop’s builds.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
By Brian BrennanPhotography by John Jackson
Parts Car
Optima Batteries logo
Optima Batteries logo
What Did You Do With Your Downtime? Bobby Alloway Rounded Up Leftovers and Built This 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster.

ou build enough projects and you end up with leftover parts—lots! Most of us can’t part with these remnants so we store them away on a back shelf, in an outdoor storage unit, in the farthest reaches of our garage, or someplace where we won’t forget them, which we do almost immediately. We instinctively know should we not use these remnants and that someday they will make great currency for something that we will need from another rodder who has stored their excesses.

This past year, 2020, was most unusual and many of us had time on our hands that we wouldn’t normally have enjoyed. Plenty of us worked on our current rides, plenty of us started new projects, and that’s where this story leads us. Bobby Alloway’s latest ride is a 1932 Ford highboy roadster that was literally built from decades of surpluses.

Bobby’s name should ring a bell with hot rodders as his Louisville, Tennessee, shop, Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop (AHRS), has seen pass under its roll up doors all manner of hot rods, from street rods to muscle cars to street cruisers. Keeping the staff working during the pandemic created “fill in” time in between customer projects. Bobby decided he wanted a mellow 1932 Ford highboy roadster and now was the time to build it. He still has his 1933 Ford coupe that has been with him since the ’80s, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he has one of his proprietary SpeedStar roadsters holed away.

Modern Rodding Tech
Restraining an
Early Ford
Four-Wheel Disc Brakes Give Our DeLuxe Plenty of Stopping Power
Installing disc brakes
By Ryan Manson Photography by THE AUTHOR

hen it comes to the immediate prewar Ford passenger cars, it could be argued that they have more in common with the later, fullsize passenger cars from the ’50s and beyond than the preceding models that came out earlier in the decade. Comparing a 1930 Ford Model A coupe and a 1940 Ford DeLuxe coupe, aside from their similar suspension design, the two bear almost no similarities. Like comparing a Neanderthal to a modern Homo sapien, the Model A was rudimentary in design and simple in sophistication while the 1940 Ford was a more refined design, showcasing the evolution that happened within a single decade while the nation was knee-deep in the greatest depression in the history of the industrial world. Upgrades were continually made to the Ford line throughout the ’30s, beginning with the introduction of the V-8 engine in 1932. Safety not always being a subject at the forefront of the Henry Ford engineering department, the Blue Oval held out introducing hydraulic drum brakes until 1939. An oft-upgraded item for early cars, today these drum brake systems are lacking in both a safety and performance standpoint when it comes to the later, early Ford cars.

So, when it came time to start assembling the suspension components for our 1940 Ford DeLuxe here at Clampdown Competition we knew we were going to go with four-wheel disc brakes. It was also decided we’d be better off starting with a new chassis from Fatman Fabrications with its modern, Mustang II–style IFS up front, rack-and-pinion steering, and a 9-inch Ford rearend located by a triangulated four-link. Four-corner coilovers will also be used along with sway bars, front and rear, with the intention of getting our old Ford to perform and ride like a more modern vehicle than Henry originally designed. We’ll be using stock-style 1940 Ford wheels from Coker Tire, so our DeLuxe will still look the part, but with the blown Chrysler pumping out double what the original Flathead was capable of we’ll be in need of some serious stopping power.

Wilwood Engineering is a name that’s become synonymous with high-performance disc brake systems since its inception in 1977. Today, they’re one of the most installed stopping systems in a number of aftermarket applications. Their Dynalite line of forged four-piston calipers serve as the baseline for a number of Wilwood’s brake kits and when used with their large, vented rotors will make for the perfect fit for our 1940. Their internal rear parking brake design will allow us to use a traditional floor-mounted Lokar handle, mated using a set of their cables.

Modern Rodding Tech
This is what we are starting with: a 1955 Chevy wagon loaded with patina and not much else! Our Modern Rodding project car will be seen a lot over the coming months as we have plans for lots of cool tricks and upgrades.
By Brian Brennan Photography by THE AUTHOR Videography by Ryan Foss Productions
When Less is More
Removing the Spare Tirewell in Your Chevy Wagon

ll of us grew up knowing how to change a spare tire or we learned quickly while parked on the side of the road. Odds are we haven’t changed many flats in recent years as a result of tire technology, better roads, and the cell phone that have transformed the way we live. So, what to do with the spare tirewell in our ’50s and ’60s cars as they, for the most part, no longer comply to the specs of our new tire sizing and wheels of choice. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared, but that’s a story for a different page.

The 1955 Chevy wagon in these photos is Modern Rodding’s very own project car with the work to be handled in our In The Garage Media Tech Center. (We will also be unveiling our Model A roadster in the coming months.) This will be the first of a long string of stories that will deal with everything from removing the spare tirewell that now provides for a larger gas tank mounted underneath to upgrading the tailgate and the surrounding sheetmetal. A little background on the 1955 Chevy wagon as it is offered in both two- (Nomad) and four-door wagons. Our four-door is a six-passenger, seven-window wagon that’s in need of a lot of help.

Chevrolet made a dramatic change to its body design in 1955 with the new smooth straight panels on the hood and sides. This was a noticeable change from previous years, which was still reminiscent of the prewar styling. Aside from the flatter panels, the wrap-around windshield and rear glass, and the noticeably different taillights, the new look clearly distinguished itself from early models. It was also the first-year style and performance were combined through the introduction of the 265-inch V-8. As you can tell from the photos our 1955 Chevy wagon has seen better days. In other words, patina is alive and well and lots of work will be needed to bring our 1955 Chevy wagon back to summertime drivetime specs while keeping the “character” years of use and abuse have produced.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
By Brian Brennan Photography by Grant Cox
Passed Along
This 1966 Buick Skylark Has Gone From One Family to Another

he Buick Skylark began its run in 1953 to mark the 50th anniversary of Buick. Then in 1961 General Motors introduced a trio of compact cars: the Tempest (Pontiac), F-85 (Olds), and the Skylark (Buick) that ran for several years through 1963. Then in 1964 the Skylark, because of its success, became its own line, which brings us to the 1966 Buick Skylark belonging to Steve and Faye Mitchell out of Oklahoma that was oh-so neatly put together by Kyle Gambrell at Laid Back Recreations (LBR) in McLoud, Oklahoma.

1966 Buick Skylark gauges closeup
Modern Rodding Tech
Aldan’s Gary Nelson took charge of making the suspension swap on this 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. Nelson recommends having the alignment checked whenever front suspension work is done.
Sophisticated Suspension for Tri-Five Chevys
We Look at Aldan’s Direct Fit Road Comp Coilover Conversion and Billet Aluminum Shocks
By Ron Ceridono Photography by Nick Licata

ver the years American manufacturers have produced a number of automobiles that quickly reached icon status with enthusiasts. Remarkably General Motors managed to do it three years in a row with the 1955, 1956, and 1957 Chevrolets. With outstanding performance and crisp, clean styling, these cars were instant hits with hot rodders and remain so today.

While the styling of Tri-Five Chevys is timeless, the same can’t be said for their performance. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to update components like the running gear, steering, and brakes and now Aldan American has done the same for the suspension system. With their bolt-on Direct Fit Road Comp (PN 300119) front coilover and rear shock kits, those beloved Bowties can have improved ride and handling with a ride height from stock to 2 inches lower.

There are a number of advantages with coilover shocks when compared to more traditional suspension systems. Coilovers are compact and allow the suspension’s spring rate to be optimized by changing the easily replaceable coils that are available in a wide range of rates. In addition, altering ride height can be done by turning the threaded adjuster on the shock absorber body to change the preload on the springs.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
A 1926 Ford Tudor Sedan is a Rare Sight
By Dale MoreauPhotography by The Author

hen is the last time you saw a hot rod Model T sedan? For most, it might be Lil’ John Buttera’s beer bottle brown ride on the September 1974 cover of Hot Rod. Nothing else since has come close to that—until now.

After finding a fairly good 1926 Ford Tudor sedan a few clicks from his home, Dave Rocha and rod builder Brent Housley took the four-hour drive to pick up the parts. They found it was in great shape for its age and even included an original frame. The frame was used for reference points as the new homebuilt frame came together.

Fantastic T typography
Modern Rodding Tech
The original 1936 Ford gas cap was housed in the driver side taillight. Unfortunately, those gennie lights were not slick enough for our postwar custom look.
Fill ’Er
Part 2: Fresh Fuel From Filler to Flathead
By Gerry Burger Photography by the Author

ecently we set about removing the old fuel tank and installing a new Tanks Inc. fuel tank in our 1936 Ford phaeton. The removal of the old gas tank and installation of the new unit went as expected. When we last left you, we had a brand-new fuel tank and no way to get gasoline into said tank. All of this is part of our postwar custom approach to the car with no spare tire, custom split bumpers, no top (Carson Top may come later), and 1940 Packard taillights. The original 1936 Ford gas cap extends up through the driver side taillight. Clever in its day, but when the taillights left so did the fill cap.

We figured there were two basic choices: a simple stock-style gas cap and grommet protruding through the fender or we weld in a gas-fill door. After working this hard to slick the rear of the car, the last thing we wanted was a gas cap sticking out of the fender.

After installing a Classic Instruments fuel gauge sending unit, the tank bolted in as a direct replacement with a simple piece of rubber fuel line connecting to our existing fuel line on the car. Before we go any further, we want to remind you, if you are working around any gas tank, please exercise the utmost caution. Grinding and welding can ignite fumes.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
Powerful Presence title
By Joe Greeves Photography by THE AUTHOR
Big-Block Chevy Power Moves This 1950 Buick Sedanette

hat’s the philosophy that has evolved over the years for Denny Merritt, owner of Merritt Auto Repair in Georgetown, Indiana, established back in 1987. While Denny enjoys building custom cars for clients, he likes it even more when he has time to create unique additions to his own collection, like this deceptively stock-looking 1950 Buick Sedanette. His latest is part of a long line of customs to include a 1970 Barracuda, a 1940 Ford, a 1971 El Camino, 1972 Avanti, and a 1948 Studebaker pickup. He takes his individualistic approach one step further, smiling when he says, “Everything I do eventually expands into something that I wasn’t planning on doing!” The results always seem to justify the extra effort since his cars regularly find their way to the winner’s circle.

This 1950 Buick Sedanette is a good example of finding unique raw material where the “De-Merritt” touch could fuse art and technology. From the toothy grille and fastback rear, the Buick’s silhouette is immediately recognizable as the embodiment of ’50s styling. When Denny discovered it in Louisville, Kentucky, he was happy to find it was a California car with virtually no rust. Acquired in 2012, Denny kept it until 2016 when planning was complete and work began. The customizing process took another four years with virtually everything under its vintage sheetmetal upgraded to new millennium standards while keeping the exterior deceptively stock. Only the wheels and low-slung silhouette hint at the transformation while the impressive exhaust burble underscores the power lurking beneath the side-opening hood.

The first step was separating body from chassis and having both dipped to ensure a rust-free future. The original framerails were reinforced then upgraded with a Nova clip and a 10-bolt GM rear with 3.73 gears. In order to eliminate future parking woes, a modern Flaming River power rack-and-pinion steering wheel ensured the heavy Buick could be guided with just one finger. The same theory applied to the huge set of Baer brakes with six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors. They are the biggest Baer makes, capable of bringing the big rig to a stop in an impressively short distance.

Modern Rodding Tech
It’s Always Best to Start in Neutral
If You’ve Ever Started a Car Without a Neutral Safety Switch You Know the Rest of the Story
By Brian Brennan
Handling a neutral switch
Handling a neutral switch
It’s Always Best to Start in Neutral
If You’ve Ever Started a Car Without a Neutral Safety Switch You Know the Rest of the Story
By Brian Brennan

t’s not much of an accessory, it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s simple to install, and it’s one of those things you really shouldn’t live without. Not having one could cost you a great deal. The Neutral Safety Switch (NSS) is something that every hot rod should include, and for good reason. If you have ever driven a hot rod without an NSS you understand what can happen should you forget to go through your “pre-start checklist.” I have seen firsthand the damage and injury that can be caused when there isn’t an NSS within a car’s starting sequence. I have seen beautiful hot rods rearrange cinder block, jump off the ramps on a trailer, and, worst of all, an innocent bystander severely injured. You never want to be responsible for something like this—you will always remember your lapse in good judgment. We checked in with American Autowire, Bowler Performance Transmissions, and Lokar Performance Products to gather some info on the NSS.

A Little Background
The SEMA show came into being in 1963 and it was right about this time that one can trace the movement of safety equipment from racing to street cars. During the ’60s the brand-new cars would be unveiled at the local new car dealership in September. All of us first noticing the horsepower numbers did recognize the rapid growth of the safety equipment that was coming along for the ride, so to speak. I remember my first new car, a 1967 Chevy II Nova SS, with its 327, four-speed, Posi rearend, and disc brakes, outfitted with safety goodies that I hadn’t seen on my 1950 Studebaker Commander or my 1956 Chevy. (I didn’t order A/C or any power accessories because that robbed horsepower and I was a drag racer.) For 1967 my Chevy II came equipped with a dual master cylinder braking system along with a warning lamp, a four-way hazard warning flasher, side marker lights, shoulder belts, and a fully collapsible energy-absorbing steering column to go along with what was already on board. Those of you who have been at this hot rod game for a while may recall in December 1971 General Motors recalled over 6.68 million 1965-1970 Chevrolets with defective V-8 engine mounts—and that included my Chevy II! (NHTSA Recall 71-0235, now 71V-235.) Something about the left motor mount breaking, the engine would torque, and the throttle would stick wide open. Even I could see this problem. Common safety devices found in motorsports, such as seatbelts and disc brakes, were invented for motorsport applications and found their way into production vehicles. Although most production vehicles have had an NSS as early as the late ’50s, their use on manual transmissions was mandated by the SFI Foundation and became commonplace in the early ’80s on all production vehicles.
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Thanks for reading our July 2021 preview issue!