MOTOR Austin

The Auto Enthusiast's Guide to Austin.


Some Assembly Required - Part 2

By: motoraustin 6/9/2016 8:00:00 AM

1950 Chevy Styline

This article is Part 2 of a 3 part series titled "Some Assembly Required". It chronicles the steps I went through to go from no car to custom car.

In my previous article "Some Assembly Required - Part 1" I talked about why I decided to build a custom car.

In this article I'm going to show you how I worked with one of the best custom car builders in Austin to transform my 1950 Chevy Styleline Coupe Deluxe grocery getter into a stunning Chevy Custom.

I've broken this article down to the following sections:

  • Who I picked to do the build.
  • How I found the right car.
  • How we (we being key) planned the project to ensure success.
  • The first phase of the build - cut the roof off!

The first step, find a builder.

The Builder

Murphos Rods and Customs Austin Texas

To build a complete custom from the ground up, with a chopped roof and air bags (chopped and dropped), the choice was easy for me.

I chose Murpho's Rods and Customs in South Austin.

I met the owners, Murph and Liana, when they first set up shop in south Austin in 2011. They knew the custom car scene was growing fast in Austin and they wanted to be a part of it.

I attended some of their shop events (ok, parties) over the months and I appreciated how easy they were to talk to. They didn't have the "we're too cool to talk to you" attitude I have experienced in the past.

I floated the idea of building a custom for MOTOR Austin. I raised all my concerns and doubts. The conversation ended with "Lets do it!"

Here are the main reasons I chose Murpho's to do the build:

  • They understood I had a tight budget.
  • They were willing to work in phases, as my budget allowed.
  • They were committed to making sure the project was a success.
  • They don't run their business "on the side".
  • They have years of experience building customs.
  • I was very impressed with the current projects in the shop.
  • Murph's personal ride is a 1950 Chevy custom.

Anytime you attempt a project of this scope there are going to be risks. However, I felt confident that I selected a highly skilled builder and a competent business owner. We also adequately identified and addressed the risks of the project.

The next step was to find a good car.

The Search

1950 Chevy Styline Custom on Trailer

I probably spent a year monitoring Craigs list, some hot rod forums and a few classic car dealers.

I checked out several cars but rejected them if they were disassembled, didn't have a title or I didn't like the seller (bad vibe).

I finally found an all original 1950 Chevy Styleline at a tiny used car lot on highway 306 just outside of New Braunfels.

The body was in great shape for a 60 year old; no rust or hidden damage found. It had a clear title and was in running condition.

I felt pretty comfortable about the condition of the car and about buying from the seller.

The search was over.

I bought it on the same day and returned the next day to take her home.

The Plan

1950 Chevy Styline at Murpho's

Now that I had the car in my garage I was ready to meet with Murpho's again to come up with a plan.

Because I had a tight budget I wanted to make sure that at a minimum I would have a solid running vehicle. The last thing I wanted was to run out of money and have a bunch of parts to bring back home and fill the garage.

The project would be broken up into individually funded phases. The car would always be a roller at the end of each phase. They also agreed to store the car if I ran into cash flow issues (and I did. Will discuss later).

Everything was a go!

I bought two sturdy plastic storage bins to hold all the small bits that would be removed from the car while they were working on it. I also bought a car cover to provide protection if they had to roll it outside for a while.

I trailered the Chevy to the shop to begin the transformation (Photo above). She even looks better just hanging out in the shop!

The project phases and order were pretty logical.

The key thing was to ensure the car was a roller at the end of each phase. If something happened to me or my money stream, at least the car could be rolled onto a wrecker. This was very important!

The phases we decided on were:

  • Top chop.
  • Rust repair and body work.
  • Notching the frame for air suspension.
  • Mustang II front end.
  • Glass.
  • Air bags and compressor unit.
  • Engine and transmission.
  • Paint.
  • Final assembly (12v conversion).

At the end of each phase we would discuss and agree on the scope of the next phase.

Needless to say, the first phase, cutting the roof off, well, that should be pretty exciting!

The Chop

1950 Chevy Styline at Murpho's

Who do you trust to cut the roof off your car? Yeah, choose wisely!

The chop was probably the most labor intensive phase. It was also the most fascinating part as I got to see how the original bubble shaped roof was transformed into a sexy streamlined shape.

But wait! Before taking a saw to the roof, an elaborate bracing structure was created to keep the body from warping.

Once the bracing was in place the roof was completely cut off, including the window frame around the doors.

About four inches of the front roof pillars (A Pillars) were cut out, as you see in the photo above.

After lining up the A pillars, you can see that the roof moved forward by a few inches (see above and below photos).

1950 Chevy Styline Chop B Pillar

Note how the B pillars don't line up. That's not a problem. The B pillars will be reconstructed and angled forward, further enhancing the streamline flow.

1950 Chevy Styline Chop Roof

The rear window was cut completely out, leaving about a four inch border around the top and sides (see photo above and below).

1950 Chevy Styline Chop Rear Window

Murph eyes the position of the rear window to make sure the lines flow. It has to be perfect before any further work is done.

Now it starts to make sense. Take a little time to stare at the details of this photo.

Since the roof moved forward by a few inches the rear window section now lays flatter giving it more of a fastback look.

With the roof and rear window positioned properly it's time to start filling in the gaps. Note the slight gap at the bottom of the rear window and the larger gaps on either side of the window.

Also note the interesting slices in the roof, giving it the flexibility needed to align to the new position of the rear window.

1950 Chevy Styline Chop

The chop is almost done. The doors have been reconstructed. The B pillars are now aligned and angled forward. The gaps around the rear window have been filled. The roof was finessed to flow smoothly to match the new slope of the rear window. That's a lot of work.

Watching this whole process was quite educational and amazing. Very few people understand or appreciate the time and skills required to do this type of metal work. It is Art.


We're not done yet! In the next article I'll show you the completed project.

Some Assembly Required - Part 3


If you missed the beginning of this series you can find it here.

Some Assembly Required - Part 1


Looking for a custom car shop in Austin?

Custom Car Shops in Austin


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