Gerry's 1940 Chevrolet

My website tracks a nine-year journey in the restoration of my car "Ruby", to preserve a piece of automotive history.

Paint & Body Work

But weeks turned into months and the work progressed slowly.  I had taken many digital pictures of everything I did that would prove very helpful years later when the final assembly took place and my memory would fail me as to what went where and how.  There were times I would walk out in the garage and see my car in pieces, the parts in Ziploc bags and in boxes everywhere and think , "Can I really do this?"  I would never share those thoughts with my wife until much later, I wanted her to continue to believe that I was a master mechanic!

Most auto restorations always seems to have a nightmare story, mine is no different.  At the time I was working with a young man who painted custom motorcycles.  After seeing some of his work I thought he would do a great job on my car.  Without going into details, I got my car back with paint runs all over the body!  I was told he could wet sand all the runs and it would look good.  After paying for this terrible job, I was bummed!  I redirected my efforts to find a good body and paint man.


This body and paint work now required additional work to be removed and corrected.  I would need to find someone who would take the body down to bare metal and start over!  I also decided I didn't want my car to be black! 

After attending many car shows, one man’s name came up again and again as a great body man – Frederico Gonzales.  After taking my car to several body shops I turned my car over to Frederico.  As it turned out, it took five months to do all the body work and paint.  Once again with the help of the VCCA I was able to get a complete list of correct colors for 1940.  We selected Ruby Maroon metallic.  Getting the correct mixing  codes was difficult because in 1940 the cars were painted with lacquer.  We were using a polyurethane paint.  The finished paint was truly magnificent and well worth the wait!   


Almost all of the glass on a 1940 Chevy is flat, with the exception of the rear window. With a buffer and glass polishing compound I was able to remove the rust stains and restore the rear window to near perfect condition; the other windows were replaced with the correct new glass which is thicker than the glass on today's cars.

The best part of this journey has been the people I have met along the way, who were always ready to offer their suggestions.  Before I had the glass installed I needed to clean and repaint the window regulators which are inside the doors.  I needed 8 leather washers as mine were shot.  I searched everywhere and could find nothing!  I even visited a classic restoration shop in Scottsdale that only worked on very high end cars.  Many old foreign cars used leather washers.  They were the wrong size to fit the Chevy.  A mechanic told me to go  buy some old belts and cut pieces off for the width I needed.  Many times this is what we do, he said!  It will work perfectly, trust me.  I should have paid him for that advice!


The original chrome bumpers had to be replaced, but all other chrome was polished and reinstalled.  The stainless steel grill and trim pieces were repaired, polished and buffed to perfection.  While the pieces, cleaners, polishing compounds and perseverance were easily accessible, the clips and other pieces required to reinstall these items were not always easy  to come
by.  Again through a VCCA member I was able to find the correct clips to install the stainless steel trip trim to the body.

The repair of the dash and gauges brought about a whole new realm of frustration.  I was able to locate some NOS (new old stock) for several of the gauges.  The remaining gauges I was able to rebuild and refinish to make them good as new!  This was a lot of detail work, but not highly technical.  I think building many models as kid gave me great training for this.


After countless experiments with brushes, sponges, rollers, thinners, paint kits and techniques, restoring the original wood-grain look of the dash and window moldings
seemed impossible.  A boost to my spirits and renewed commitment to complete this project came when I learned about Grain-It Technologies, a shop that still uses the original process for wood-graining that was used by all the many  manufacturers in 1940.  We packed up the pieces and shipped them off to Florida.   A few months later the repaired and restored parts were returned as - magnificent pieces of art! The results of their restoration were incredible!  The dash took the interior to a whole new level and I have never regretted letting someone else do this part of the project!


My wife, Nancy, has been very supportive and much help to me on this project.  She found a local retired Motorola engineer who rebuilt old radios as a hobby.  Two radios came in a box with the car and we assumed they could be rebuilt into one working unit.  This guy’s house was like a museum, filled with many antique radios, all in various stages of repair.

He took one look at my radios and said they were from a 1948 model.  He proceeded to bring out a huge old radio shop manual with musty yellow tissue-paper-like pages that told the whole story.  As he pointed to what I thought looked like a road map, there were schematics of the correct radio and circuits for the 5-tube radio for a 1940 Special Deluxe Chevrolet.   He gave us the correct serial and model numbers to look for.  This guy really knew his stuff.  Nancy eventually located the correct rebuilt radio on e-bay, it was installed and works perfectly.  Remember, there are no transistors in this radio; you have to wait for the tubes to warm up.


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