On August 1, 2009 Divine One Customs purchased a ’56 Chevy Bel Air two-door hardtop, no post. Owner Misha Munoz got the itch to attempt to complete the entire rebuild in time to unveil at SEMA 2009. Upon delivery of the new project on August 10, 2009, while pushing the ’56 in, Misha realized this was going to be the shops’ toughest challenge to date, with less then 3 months to complete.
Our team hit the ground running peeling off the paint layers on the car. (You could quite literally peel off some layers of paint.) While disassembling, they found that they weren’t the first ones to perform some surgery. Old beer cans (which they kept for proof) had been used as body fillers. Soon they realized that this car had an unfair amount of rust. Every time they removed or sectioned a panel, rust, dirt and even a rock or two fell to the ground. The entire floor, braces, quarter panels, roof sections, door skins, door bottoms, fender sections, trunk sections, and frame were completely rusted. At the end of disassembly, the car resembled a block of Swiss cheese more than it did a car.
Misha immediately got in contact with their friends at CARS Inc. for some help. With such a demanding deadline, we didn’t have time to wait for shipping. Misha jumped in his truck with trailer attached and made the drive across state lines to the CARS Inc. warehouse. After ten hours and a lucky avoidance of the California wildfires, Misha pulled into the shop with parts in tow at 10 p.m. on Friday evening.
The team laughed at the thought of no sleep, and got busy with their new parts immediately. It was going to take some serious dedication to turn this rusted jalopy into a custom beauty in just 11 weeks.
With the future of the shop and it’s reputation on the line, they invested every penny they had. Moving forward we began sandblasting, sectioning and coating every panel. As if having the body work and paint in show condition wasn’t enough, they added the challenge of dropping in a LS1 turnkey engine with a 700R4 transmission for some extra bite on the pedal. The arrival of the LS1 was just what the team needed for a little “kick in the pants”. Even after realizing they took on a lot more work then they planned, the team of five fellas didn’t back off the challenge. Instead, they gave up their weekends, evenings, lunches, dinners and sleep all while fighting off colds and flu’s. The real kicker is, they continued to take in customers’ jobs.
There was only eight days left till the Bel Air needed to be at SEMA. There was still paint and final assembly to be completed. By the grace of energy drinks by their sides, oldies blasting through the radio and a team that never says never, they completed the custom in time and better then expected.
photo by: Vegas Pro Studios
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