The Chevies of 1937 were touted by GM as “the complete car, completely new,” and represented the most expensive retooling in almost ten years - $26 million. The drastic styling changes were courtesy of Jules Agramonte, who designed the beautiful ‘34 LaSalle. “Box girder” framing was introduced in ‘36 on the Standard models, replacing the composite wood and metal framing. It was used on the complete line of Chevies in 1937, allowing the cars to be wider, roomier and much more solid, plus reduced the weight by 150 lbs. Engine power was at 85 hp, same as the Ford flathead V8s, with a new synchromesh transmission. Chevy offered six models at prices ranging from $600 to about $730.
Owners Bill and Sandie Weeks, of SE Cedar Rapids, found their ‘37 in Galena, IL, early in 2006. It was in pretty good shape, having been built in 1991 with a 350 V8, TH 350 transmission, Nova subframe, ‘82 Corvette rear suspension, 3.73 gears and 4-wheel disc brakes. Its Beretta Green paint caught the eye of the previous owner of City Revealed, Craig Walton, and the car was featured in the July 2006 issue.
The Weeks stored the ‘37 in their attached garage, and unfortunately had backed it in for the winter putting the engine quite near a small gap in the cement floor and the garage door. This allowed frigid Iowa winds to direct their punishment on the engine block, cracking it. Bill and Sandie figured then was a good time for major changes.
After some initial planning, Weeks dove in, procuring a front end kit from JW Rod Shop, of WI, with Heidt’s parts, new shocks, rack and pinion steering, crossmember, etc. He then contacted a retired Ottumwa High School auto shop teacher who stubbed in the subframe. From there, Weeks installed suspension and steering parts. A new 350 engine block was machined by Gary Meyer of Motorhead Mfg, in Ely, boring it to a 357. Bill and good friend, Virgil Dietz, owner of Automotive Enterprises and provider of parts, put things together, completely “rollerizing” the engine and adding dual 4-barrel Edelbrock Endura Shine carburetors and intake manifold. Horsepower is estimated well over 400. The TH 350 tranny was replaced with a 700R-4, giving it an overdrive, improving mileage and making it a nice driver.
The interior received a complete make-over, which was somewhat of a joint effort, started at Tom’s Auto Trim in Independence. Weeks later had a change of heart on the door panels so those were re-done by Jordan Bernanke of Amana. There was also a problem with the headliner, which Bob’s Auto Interior, in Center Point, helped to solve, along with upholstering the new console that Weeks had built, and installed the new carpet. The glove box now contains a multi-media system with digital screen.
Most would agree that the most eye-catching feature of the ‘37 is the amazing paint and “ghost” flames. Chris King of King’s Rod Shop in Keota, is responsible for the Molten Orange over Pot-of-Gold Hot Hues colors. The paint, along with rare American Racing “artillery-style” wheels, make a striking combination. This certainly had much to do with one of his first trophies after the re-do, earning a “Best of Show” at the Wayland Lions Club Show, in 2017.
Weeks caught the “car bug” at an early age, like most of us, being able to identify specific cars at a distance which is almost impossible now with all cars looking very similar. He also credits his father with instilling the idea of preserving older cars, rather than heading to the dealer. Bill and Sandie are justifiably proud of the gorgeous ‘37 and don’t regret any of the time, money and effort put into it. When asked in the interview, “Exactly when did you finish this project?” Bill wryly replied, “Maybe next year.” Yes, there’s an unfinished trunk, but we all know that they’re never ever really “done.”