“I have no idea how many hours I have in it,” said Cliff Miles of his newest creation, which looks like a ’35 Chevy but is actually a modern car under a (mostly) vintage body.
Miles recently finished bringing the Chevy back to life in his shop south of Denison.
He’s had the car out on the road a few times since he finished working on it, but he hasn’t burned the tires off, yet.
“But I will before this guy (the new owner) comes to get it,” he said.
Miles has been working on the car since 2018.
He considered a variety of colors for the car, but the Chevy’s buyer settled on an expensive hue called “Glory Red.”
“If you buy a new Chevy pickup with it (Glory Red) on there, it’s about a $2,000 extra,” he said.
Miles thought he had someone lined up to paint the car, but when that didn’t work out he painted it himself in his shop.
“I had to buy a new paint gun to paint with and I painted it right in here,” he said.
The car received four coats of color and five coats of clear.
“I’m not going to say how many coats of primer – but a lot of them,” Miles said.
Painting is not one of the parts of the project that he enjoys very much, he said.
He put a modern Chevy pickup motor in the car along with a modern transmission.
“I had a place in Texas do the wiring on the harness kit because General Motors has wires going everywhere,” he said. “They simplify things and they also hop the motor up a little bit.”
He said it runs well.
His philosophy is to build cars that will be driven – not stored in a shed.
The Chevy has air conditioning, power steering and power brakes.
He fabricated the frame, floorboards, rear suspension, most of the front suspension and the lower halves of the doors.
Miles completely reworked the rack and pinion steering assembly and built the exhaust system from scratch.
He also installed a system, of his own design, to keep the rear-opening “suicide doors” from opening while the car is in motion.
Something new – and disappointing – on the project was the quality of parts that he received from overseas manufacturers.
The first set of digital gauges, which required a lot of programming, didn’t last very long.
“I told Nancy (his wife), ‘Let’s go for a cruise in it,’” he said. “We went down and filled it up with gas and there wasn’t a gauge left working after that.”
The next set of gauges had different sending units.
“I had to change the temperature gauge, the oil gauge and had to take the gas tank down after it was full of gas and change the sender in it,” he said.
He said he’s also had trouble for the last four or five years getting gears that aren’t noisy because the manufacturing has moved overseas.
He had to change the rear-end gears on the Chevy for that reason.
“If these people that made the laws had to change gears, they’d be doing something about this,” he said with a laugh.
“A lot of your suppliers now say in their catalogs if they are made in USA. I try to buy USA stuff, if I can.”
Miles taught himself all the skills he uses on his car projects.
He said he doesn’t like having to stick to the rules that a restoration project would require because he likes doing his own thing.
He already has another car in his shop, but its story is a little different.
The 1936 two-door Pontiac custom coupe, owned by Mike Krajicek, of Denison, was stolen in February 2014 and recovered just over a week later. It suffered significant damage as the thieves had started to part it out and cut it up.
Miles was already familiar with the car because he built it about 30 years ago.