Derek Hall describes the car that showed up at his shop: “It was still painted and had all the trim. It looked like a nice restoration … till I tore it down. It had been rear-ended so hard that I had to basically cut the back of the car off and start almost from scratch.” He and Travis Thornburg shaved the driprails and formed smaller flared ones in their place; shaved the door handles; smoothed and resized the bumpers, bringing them closer to the body; streamlined the taillight bezels and manipulated the panels to match; and reshaped the roll pans. Hall also cut away the Goodmark cowl-induction hood’s inner structure, aligned it with the carburetor, and fully welded the seams. Arguably the car’s most visibly radical change is its grille. “I wanted something like a more modern grille without going to billet,” Hall says. “I was standing in my buddy Doug Standerfer’s shop sort of crying on his shoulder about what I had in mind. He turned around and pointed at a ’56 Chevy grille and asked, ‘You mean something like that?’ I held it up and it laid right in there the way the Chevelle grille did. It blew me away.” To pull it all together and commit the design to paper Hall consulted artist Jeff Allison. “I can’t draw like [Allison] but I love to give an owner an idea of what’s in my crazy-assed head. [Allison] was able to be that bridge. He’s probably the only guy in my area who can do that.” Hall made the perimeter from 11/2-inch square tubing and chose Headwinds slash-cut Mariah headlights for their aggressive brow and their blend of original looks and modern styling. A High-Intensity Discharge system lights the way. Doug Standefer (“…my mentor,” Hall credits. “He set the tone for my craftsmanship.”) applied the black Lusid Technologies single-stage urethane at his shop, High-Caliber Customs. Spokane’s Tripleplate Chrome and Bumper refreshed all of the plated surfaces.
“I designed the car around Frank—I explained that (a car) has to be more than pretty; it has to be functional too.” The centerpieces of the cockpit are ’07 Ford 500 front and rear seats. “I modified them to look a little more like something that would’ve come in a Chevelle,” Hall says. He called upon the shape created between the gauge and glovebox to fabricate a new dash-wide insert. He eliminated the glovebox entirely as the Vintage Air climate-control system consumed whatever space it offered. To preserve the interior’s distinctive GM flavor and to avoid the cliché look of cars built with aftermarket parts, Hall replaced the knobs on the Vintage Air climate-control system with Chevelle knobs that he modified to fit. Below those he fabricated a center console that mirrors the dash insert’s shape and cleaves the area between the buckets. They look the part of aftermarket pieces but the vents in that console and dash came from an ’04-08 Ford pickup. He drew from the GM parts pile for the power-window switches and the reproduction rosewood steering wheel on the GM-inspired Flaming River tilt column. Beyond that wheel and between its spokes is a set of Dolphin gauges. Jay Cleveland wired the car with a Painless Performance kit. Finally Vanhouten Upholstery and Apparel trimmed the seats, panels, dash, and doorsills in a combination of black and charcoal Canyon Grain from Nassimi’s Symphony Collection and the floors in gray square-weave carpet. Hall explained the moment owner Frank sat in the finished car. “A lot of what I’d been telling him over the past five years suddenly made sense to him,” he says. “He can catch the shifter by barely moving his hand. He has plenty of headroom. The seat angles are right.” CHP