While a Chevy four-door sedan isn’t the most common choice for a hot rod, Joe Italiano proves that done right, they look stunning
This article on Joe Italiano’s ’34 Chev sedan was first published in issue no.17 of Street Machine’s Hot Rod magazine
THERE is a pretty good reason why most people prefer to build Fords from the 1930s instead of Chevs. A lot of that reason is that they had V8 engines in them from the factory that were easy to work on, easy to hop up and they could easily be lightened by removing the fenders — and as a bonus, they looked even better! But let’s face it, when you look at the stock standard Fords and Chevs of the early-30s, the Ford designers just got it right, especially between ’32 and ’34.
Then comes along Joe Italiano in his more-door ’34 Chev and completely blows my theory out of the water. This is one seriously good looking car, regardless of the stunning candy apple paint, flash leather interior and stunning detail throughout the car, this car just sits right. The stance, the wheel and tyre combo, the polished rims against the mile deep paint, it’s just a gorgeous car to look at.
It’s no spring chicken either, it’s been around since 2005, but prior to that, Joe had owned the body for almost 20 years, purchasing it in 1980, before he finally decided to get busy with the build. It was no rotting piece of junk though, the body and fenders being in really good condition when purchased, but Joe did perform a few rust repairs early on in the piece before the body went back into storage waiting for its day in the sunshine to come.
The candy apple red paint looks a mile deep and those ghost flames are actually applied in multiple layers to get the desired effect. It’s a classy combination that is set off beautifully by the highly polished Billet Specialties Legacy rims
While the body remained unchopped, the roof was filled with a ribbed insert — for extra comfort — and a couple of other small changes were made to the body. The rear guards were widened a small amount, the fuel filler was hidden and onepiece glass fitted to the front doors, eliminating the quarter-window and cleaning up the lines immensely.
One thing is certain, Joe didn’t get this killer stance by getting the parallel leaf springs in the front of the chassis reset, nope, he did the smart thing and went straight to Rod City Repros who put together a full chassis package for him. It’s set up with a stainless IFS with adjustable Aldan coilovers up front and a 9-inch out back that’s held in place with a polished stainless four-bar. There’s also an LSD and 4.11 gears in place because Joe likes his hot rods to have a bit of poke.
The Billet Specialties Legacy wheels are a very close relative to the fabled Halibrand — one of the greatest wheels you can stick on a hot rod — but the good thing with these is that they are billet wheels and polish up like chrome. They’re only 15 inches in diameter and the 265/70 and 185/65 make sure there’s plenty of sidewall and just the right amount of rubber rake to give this more-door some hot rod attitude.
When Joe cranks up the Chev, the exhaust note is a lot angrier than you’d expect from a car with such classy looks. The 383 stroker is heavily cammed and has a proper hot rod rumble when idling and an angry bark when kicked in the guts
There’s plenty of attitude hiding under the bonnet too with a 383 stroker wearing a pair of Brodix-11X heads and sucking the juice through a 650 double pumper on top of a Weiand high-rise intake. Block hugger headers get the noise out the back — and what a sweet noise it is. There’s a Turbo 400 with a 3500 stall, a necessity due to the aggressive cam profile which creates a very tough note at idle. Not surprisingly, everything in the driveline has been smoothed, deburred and then painted to match the body.
T.C. Motor Trimming did a stunning job on the all-leather interior, covering electric Toyota Cressida seats in the front and a Ford Telstar seat – heavily modified – in the rear. The floors are covered in matching cream carpet and the headlining is crushed velour
And how about that body? Xtreeme Custom Restorations got the bodywork arrow straight before applying a few secret tricks to make the PPG Wineberry really pop. On a car like this, one that’s so classy and tasteful, the ghost flames were the right choice. As much as I love a wild set of flames, there’s a time and a place.
This car just oozes luxury and that theme continues into the interior with a full leather interior courtesy of T.C. Trimming. The electric front seats are from a Toyota Cressida and the rear is a heavily modified Ford Telstar unit. All four doors feature billet armrests from Big Al’s Carponents that have been modified to accept the electric window switch. Dakota Digital gauges fill the billet insert and a Billet Specialties wheel points you in the right direction. There’s a/c for those stinking hot Perth summers when all the rod runs are on so that you can cruise around in comfort and style.
When it first hit the scene, the sedan took home a swag of trophies and also got invited to MotorEx Sydney as a Meguiar’s Superstar. So there you go, proof that: If you can’t afford a Ford, dodge a Dodge and buy a Chev actually works. Just make sure you get that sucker down nice and low. Here’s the blueprint.
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and although Joe might have got his hot rod finished first, it was his son Ralph who managed to get his car into SM Hot Rod first. We featured his S.C.o.T. blown, flathead-powered ’32 5-window back in 2010, and you know how we were talking about the subtle ghost flames on Joe’s car. Yeah, Ralph wasn’t having a bar of that. He wanted it black with the most bad arse set of flames he could get.
While Ralph’s ’32 (did I mention it’s a Ford?) has also taken home its fair share of trophies, including Motorvation Grand Champ, it’s no slouch thanks to its 300 cube H&H flathead. Joe’s got another project that’s almost done, another Chev, but this one’s a ’47 pickup done in a Pro Street style with a massive big-block in it. It’s a pretty safe bet it’ll be a nice hot rod.
JOE & VICKY ITALIANO
1934 CHEVROLET SEDAN
Paint: PPG Wineberry
Type: 383 Chevrolet
Inlet: Weiand high rise
Carb: Holley 650DP
Heads: Brodix – 11X
Cam: Comp Cams
Radiator: Custom built
Exhaust: Polished stainless twin 2.5in
Box: Turbo 400
Converter: Dominator 3500 stall
Diff: 9-inch, LSD, 4.11 gears
Front end: Rod City IFS
Shocks: Aldan coilovers
Brakes: Wilwood 4-spot (f&r)
Rims: Billet Specialties Legacy
Rubber: GT Radial 185/65/R15 (f), Kelly Charger 265/70/15 (r)