Dream 1931 Chevy Coup emerges
“Bub” Lovelady wanted nothing more than to purchase his dream car — a 1931 Chevy Coupe. There was just one problem: they sell like hot cakes.
“I couldn’t get to them fast enough,” he said. “I would go to look at one and someone would have already bought it. It seemed like an unending battle.”
But that all changed when he saw an advertisement in Penny Power for “the ideal fixer-upper hot rod.” Immediately, he knew he wanted it. But there was no phone number listed — just an address — and he knew that the chances of him actually coming home with the car were slim to none.
“It’s hard, because you know that, if it is worth anything, buyers are going to be lined up waiting to buy it,” he said. “I was prepared for it to be another failed attempt, but I also knew that it was worth the risk. You can’t just buy these beauties anywhere. You’ve got to really hunt for them.”
But Lovelady went anyway, hoping that it was still in the owner’s driveway — and he was not disappointed. Immediately, he struck a deal, promising to return the next day with a $3,950 check.
“It was a good thing I did, because the next day when I got there, someone was waiting to look at the car,” he said.
He drove the car back to his home in Marion, and started to overhaul his new purchase.
First, he ripped the car down to its frame. Lovelady said it was hard work, but he enjoyed it.
“I’ve always been fascinated with how things worked,” he said. “One day, when I was 10 years old, my father gave me a lawnmower to fix up. I ripped it to pieces, and got it to work. Ever since then, I’ve just loved tinkering on things. It relaxes me, especially after I get home from a long day at work.”
Then, he started rebuilding the car to “look like it was built in the 1950s or 1960s.” Lovelady said he did most of the work himself, but elicited the help of a few friends to do some of the more difficult work — like the bodywork and paint job.
“It’s always important to surround yourself with people who know more than you do,” he said. “For me, that included having someone put in the leather seats and doing the paint.”
Lovelady also added new springs, a tubular engine and transmission cross members to stiffen the frame. He also had a custom-built Jelly front axle with a 4-inch drop to give the car additional appeal.
He also outfitted the car with a basic 350 Chevy V-8 crate motor, a ‘54 Cadillac air cleaner and a set of block-hugger headers. Instead of using the original bumpers, Lovelady used a set of custom tubular stainless steel nerf bars. He also tucked a set of Wheel Vintiques steel wheels, fitted with Coker wide whitewalls, inside the fender wells.
The remodeled car also features a gray tuck and roll leather interior.
“It was one of the few things I knew I wanted, but couldn’t do on it myself,” Lovelady said. “It was wonderful to be able to put it in the hands of a master craftsman. It took a lot of time and money, but I’m pleased with the results — and that’s all that matters anyway.”
Lovelady put some “luxury items” in the car as well, such as air conditioning.
“I wanted it to serve a purpose, to be dependable,” he said. “For me, if I was going to take this car anywhere it needed to have air conditioning. It can get mighty hot here in the summertime.”
The whole project took Lovelady four years to complete. It took him countless hours out in his two-door garage and poured thousands of dollars into the project to make sure the vehicle looked “just right.”
Now, as he looks back on his work, he is pleased with his efforts and is looking forward to driving the car around Marion County — and beyond — this summer.
“I love that I can attract attention with my car,” he said. “People just love to look at them, and I love to talk with them about it. I would much rather talk to people about it than myself.”
Lovelady and his wife, Linda, go on afternoon drives each Sunday with the car.
“We go everywhere in it,” he said. “But, you have to watch where you are going. Even a small rock can make a dent or chip the finish. You can’t take it out in wind either. It’s not aerodynamic like all of the cars built today. It goes all over the place in a bad wind storm.”
But, despite the satisfaction of a job well-done, Lovelady is getting the itch to tinker again.
“Sometimes you can’t help it,” he said. “It gets in your blood. But if I want to work on another car, I’d have to get rid of this one. I don’t know if I am ready to do that. I’ve invested a lot of money and time into this car.”
Lovelady said that, if he does decide to sell the car, he would have to put a price tag of at least $40,000 on it.
Lovelady has won trophies with his 1931 Chevy Coupe at numerous antique car shows. He plans to bring his dream car to more shows again this year, as long as he still has it and hasn’t sold it in order to start work on another dream car.