May 22 Marks 20 Years Since I Bought StarDust, The Smokin’ 53 Chevy Hot RodPosted on May 22nd, 2010 2 comments
That’s right kats and kittens, May 22nd means I’ve had this beauty for 20 years on the button. That’s half my life, by the way. Longer than I’ve known my wife and most of my friends, longer than I’ve been able to legally drink.
You’d think by now it would be done!
But when you have an antique car that you work on yourself, you’re never really finished. The short story is, I bought her at a yard sale in a little community that went by the name of Birdland in South Jersey, and drove it home.
Within a few months I’d added a set of tires, rebuilt the carb, got the brakes working, put new seat covers, installed a new fuel pump and did some bodywork, enough to get her primed. By summer she was on the road. I drove her around primed gray for over a year while I got the lettuce together to get her painted, and by September 1991 she was seafoam green with a white top and chocolate interior.
I drove it around like that for ten years, to fun places like Wildwood and Cape May, Ocean City and Smithville, NJ. Then in June 2000, we moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. StarDust came with us on a flatbed behind the 22′ moving truck.
Once down here (with a two-car garage) I decided to totally re-think her, make her a wild custom ride. I started with engine – adding a 4-banger carb and headers with duals to the original six, then cut the top like a cabriolet, then…the FINS. Yes kids, in true 1950’s custom fashion, I hand-built 33″ fins on the back of this baby, working them into the contours of the car.
Then I installed the leather seats from my Father’s Cadillac in, added a purple rug and custom center console with a pop-up DVD player, and chrome spokes. Recently I rebuilt the braking system from the ground up, and added a new high-torque starter to make her start up easily and more reliably. She’s running great now, and looks decent although she’s still in black primer (I plan to paint her metalflake candy purple before I kick the bucket).
I’d really like to put a Mustang II front suspension and a dual master cylinder on her in the near future, but that front end’s more work than I can handle myself. I’ll have to take it to a shop for that, and frankly I ain’t met no kats in SoFla that I’d trust her with!
Twenty years is a long time to have a car. I have a feeling this car will outlast me. I have a lot of neat pix and info on how I built it at the StarDust Chevy website, http://53ChevyHotRod.com. Check it out if you have some time. It’s a gass, baby!
-Krazy Chris reporting from under the car, next to a palm tree in Sunny South Florida
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