JIM SMART October 17, 2022 All Feature Vehicles
The first post-war years were spent getting back to a new normal, and by that time Americans had been through more than two decades of industrial-strength misery.
The Great Depression was followed by the horrific losses of a world war in two theaters. We mourned our dead and wounded and learned to cope with our losses. When the war ended, automakers were faced with the great challenge of retooling for peacetime and getting product back into dealerships.
Detroit put 1941-vintage products in showrooms in 1946, which made it possible for people to buy new cars. However, these first post-war automobiles were lackluster and dated at best.
“Stance is everything to me, along with how a car runs.”
In 1949, Detroit automakers went head-to-head with totally new designs, which signaled a true end to the war and the beginning of a new era of automaking. Chevy and Ford were clearly the most visible redesigns. Chevy’s redesign was a super slippery execution with old-school bolt-on quarter panels and the Stove Bolt Six, yet it had a lot of character.
“I wanted to build a 1949-54 Chevy, which prompted me to look on Craigslist like everyone else has,” Eric Conner of SoCal Suspension told us, “I am not a dreamer, I am a ‘get this stuff done’ type of guy.” Eric went on to say, “A friend of mine in Upland, California, found this ’50 Chevrolet sedan. So I took a little drive north with my trailer and got it. It was rough, to say the least. I hauled it back to San Diego and gutted it completely.”
You can imagine Eric’s rush of euphoria when it was time to tear into this car, “I’m a suspension and motor guy, not a painter or body person,” Eric notes, “So I started with the chassis.” Eric stresses how important stance is to the way a car looks. “Stance is everything to me, along with how a car runs,” Eric tells us.
Eric’s approach to car building is pretty fundamental. He began this build with an independent front suspension, frame reinforcement, 4-link rear suspension and airbags. When he had a roller, he and his buddies went to work chopping and shaping raw steel. “A lot of late nights for sure,” Eric laughs. Once Eric had the body and chassis work out of the way, he fitted it with a 5.7L V-8 and transmission along with a GM rear axle from an ’85 El Camino to create a shakedown vehicle ready for testing. “Oh, and did I mention being on the interstate wearing goggles?” Eric adds. Once Eric’s research and development efforts were complete, he stripped the car down to the bare shell and hauled it to Nick Battaglia of Loose Cannon Customs in San Diego for cosmetic surgery and a House of Kolor urethane treatment.
Old Chevys need to be Chevy powered, so Eric went with a 1997 vintage small-block Chevy Vortec V-8 4L60E overdrive automatic and a 10-bolt rear axle in order to thrust his custom ride into a new age of power and durability. Mechanicals coupled with sweet aesthetics make the experience, and Eric has finally arrived at the pinnacle of what he knew he could do.
1950 Chevrolet Sedan Deluxe
Owner: Eric & Sage Conner El Cajon, CA
Builders: Eric Conner, SoCal Suspension; Nick Battaglia, Liny’s Auto Upholstery