Big Al's Featured Car's
The S & M "39" Chevy of Steve Crook
Text & Photos by John Carollo

Traditional Hot Rods RULE! In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, the traditional hot rod aspect of our sport has grown faster than Wall Street has been dive bombing. What makes this type of car, or in the case of Steve Crook of Eastlake, Ohio, a truck, so popular is that they are easy to build and the rules of engagement for traditional hot rods are very clear. This kool movement subscribes to the theory that no parts newer than 1964 are allowed on a car or truck. They build ‘em like its 1963 and that means no billet and other modern goodies are used. That keeps costs down and builder originality up but it’s actually more about having a ride that looks like it just drove out of the early ‘60s. And that fits the whole scene with music, hairstyles and clothes from the era. It also includes a renewed interest in pin striping, tattooing and other ‘hand’ arts such as sheet metal sculpting.

Steve is a ChevHead so when he wanted to build himself a work truck, he started with a 1939 Chevy truck he found in Illinois formerly owned by a Preacher. That was the good news. The bad news was the car was in pieces. But as Steve is the ‘S’ in S&M Auto Body with the cool catch phrase of “Dominate the Streets,” he already has a sense of humor so the whole ‘in pieces’ thing was no problem as he didn’t have to spend much time taking it apart.

First things first for Steve was shortening a ’46 Ford car frame by a whopping 28 inches. Then he threw on a few more brand F parts such as a ’32 straight axle, spring and ’40 spindles. To suspend the axle, he tossed the original wishbone and used traditional hairpins with batwings. In the rear, Steve said he lowered it the same amount as the front; “Till it looked good.” His choice for rear end was the traditional nine incher with 3:50 gears and locker hung on a ’23 buggy spring with hairpins and NAPA shocks. The steering box came from a Vega; the wheels are from a ’34 Ford with 16 inchers in the front and 15s on the rear. On paper, that doesn’t sound so good, but one look and you can see its right. Up front, there’s a set of tall, Firestone bias ply 600-16 tires with cool, low slung Firestone Dragster 820-15cheater slicks in back and snazzy whitewalls all around.

For power, Steve kept his Chevy truck a Chevy by dropping a 350 with ported 882 heads. Barry, from Commercial Engine did the head work and building chores. It’s mostly stock except for the Comp cam, B&M ‘Mail Box’ style air cleaner and Weiand intake that sports the Weiand 142 blower and Holley 700 CFM carb. He lists the valve covers as “old” and made his own headers. A ’67 Powerglide handles shifting with a TCI 2200 RPM stall converter. Inside the ‘Glide, Steve slid in Kevlar clutches, 176 planetary gear, manual valve body and a hardened input shaft. If it sounds like he had some foot stomping music in mind, you’re right. This little 2500 lb. package has a career best of 12.86 at 113 mph. We’re thinking he regularly surprises people at the track where he admits to beating on it.

Still keeping things simple, the truck’s interior, already more utilitarian than lush, uses Mack truck seats, seat belts out of a World War II plane and a Speedway steering wheel. There’s no air, no heat and ventilation comes from the Safari front windshield. He used diamond plate for access panels, and threw on a Summit tach and Hurst Quarter Stick shifter. If you ask Steve about the truck’s wiring, he’ll tell you it came off a roll at the NAPA store two blocks away and Scott McCrystal did it.

 

Steve will talk more about the body as that’s the component that’s seen the most changes and stands out the most. He did the bodywork at his S&M Auto Body where he whipped this truck into a healthy four inch chop. But what makes it look so fine is the 12 inches of channeling it received. And to keep it all in proportion, he hacked an incredible four FEET off the bed! Unknown origin, swap meet tail lights with blue dots bring up the rear. The part that gets the most looks is the stock ’34 Chevy grill complete with chrome bird on what used to be the radiator cap.
The paint is DP Epoxy Brown and Scott Menke did the Groovy lettering and pin striping.

Steve is a member of the Slick Devils Car Club, a bunch of folks that are totally spun into traditional hot rods – just like Steve.
Watch for ‘em, their numbers are growing.