It's a joy for many to have a classic car restored to its former glory or better, but it is even more special when there is a close tie with its history. Such is the case with Bob Guider, of Alamo, and his 1934 Chevrolet Master five-window coupe.
When new, Guider's 1934 Chevrolet cost $580, or about $10,250 in today's dollars. It had the 80-horsepower Blue Flame 206.8 cubic inch, six-cylinder engine; mechanical brakes; and the Dubonnet front suspension -- sometimes called "knee action," as it worked in a similar fashion as the human knee.
There were two series for Chevrolet in 1934, the Master Series and the Standard Series. The Master Series sat on a 112-inch wheelbase, while the standard used a 107-inch wheelbase. The body is steel over a wood frame with the nailheads still visible when the trunk is open.
The 80-year-old car has always been garaged.
"This '34 Chevy was given to me by the original owner, a longtime family friend, in 1968 or 1969," Guider said. "The car was in Riverbank (near Modesto) and had 105,000 miles on it. The motor was rebuilt at 75,000 miles, and the body was perfect.
"It had the original factory paint pattern of a dark green body with black fenders and wire wheels. The interior had mohair seats and it was 100 percent stock."
Starting in 2000, he started making significant modifications. "When I acquired the car, my whole intent was not to make a street rod out of it, but I wanted to put a better front suspension underneath it and some decent hydraulic brakes."
Guider, a hot rodder since high school, has a car nut's dream situation with a barn-sized garage with tons of equipment and other vehicles waiting to be restored. Now with time, a great facility, and mechanical knowledge, it's no wonder that additional modifications were forthcoming. He has done about 98 percent of the work himself and with friends.
"In addition to the re-manufactured Mustang II suspension, I've added four-wheel disc brakes, a Ford rear-end and rebuilt a small block 350 Chevy V-8 engine along with a 350 turbo automatic transmission."
That meant moving the radiator forward slightly and installing two electric fans, one on each side of the radiator to keep the engine temperature at the proper level.
Guider and his wife are both tall, so he took 2 inches off the package tray and moved the seat back for more legroom. Bob Divine's Pittsburg upholstery outfit redid the interior with soft, leatherlike Naugahyde.
Guider repainted the car purple, but a friend was not too impressed. He told Guider to leave the car with him and he would give the car back to him when done right.
"He changed the color slightly to a rich pearl coat purple, and it does look much better," Guider said.
Guider installed all new glass, power steering, a fancy stereo system, vintage air conditioning including a heater, five-spoke American racing wheels, tilt steering wheel and cruise control. He acquired a ridged roof panel from a 1958 Ford wagon to replace the old factory soft top. "It had the right contour," he said.
Guider took off the "continental kit" spare tire so he could better use the large trunk and added a second taillight for safety and appearance. He drives this car about 3,000 to 4,000 miles a year.
I always like looking for the "gee whiz" features of classic cars. The one that impressed me about this 1934 Chevy is the clock that is built into the right side of the inside rearview mirror. One winds the clock by pulling a cord straight down, and then the cord retracts for additional pulls until fully wound. Car clocks were notoriously poor in those days, but this 80-year-old clock still keeps perfect time.
It took five years and about $18,000 to $20,000 to complete this project. Guider said at one time his '34 Chevy was appraised at $65,000, but the market has softened since then. He estimates in today's market its value is more like $30,000 to $40,000. He has no plan to sell the car but indicated that at the right price his plans could change.
There's no question that Bob Guider is a car nut, but the unusual thing is that his wife, Maria, is too. She wants a pickup truck from 1958, the year she graduated from high school. "I told Bob I want one with hips," she said as she wiggled her hips and looked at her husband.
So Guider is converting what originally was a 1958 Chevy Styleside (no hips) truck to a stepside box (hips) with the rear fenders exposed.
Gotta keep the wife happy.
Have an interesting vehicle? Contact David Krumboltz at MOBopoly@yahoo.com.