How Cody Walls transformed an $800 ’59 Chev into the coolest wagon on earth

Photographers: John Jackson

Cody Walls had only three things on his wishlist when he went looking for his next car: “It had to be low, it had to be a wagon, and it had to have a six in it.” Pretty short list if you ask us, but as you can see, Cody managed to nail all three of those requirements with his ’59 Chevy Brookwood, and then some! This is one of those tricky cars, the kind that looks pretty straightforward when you first look at it, but the closer you get the more it just draws you in.

Cody hails from Dover, Delaware, not too far from Washington DC and a part of the US that sees a bit of snow during the winter, so as you can imagine, finding clean old cars is an almost impossible task. Being a young family man, he didn’t have a whole pile of cash to spend, so he had to set his sights pretty low. Eventually he found a base-model ’59 Chevy Brookwood wagon in Casper, Wyoming for the princely sum of $800 – perfect for what he had planned.

“Over in California they chop the tops on everything and they don’t do that a lot over here; the east coast back in the day was known for hot rods with channel jobs,” Cody says. “I thought, why not do it to the wagon? The floor’s rotted out, the work’s almost already done, thanks to Mother Nature. The amount of snow and moisture we get around here, the cars always rot out from the bottom, so I guess that’s why we’re known for doing that.”

This isn’t your regular channel job, though. It’s dropped four inches at the front and two inches in the rear – I guess you could call it a wedge channel – and combined with the two-inch dropped spindles and Slam Specialties airbags it easily meets the first criteria of Cody’s wishlist. That wedge channel also gives the car a bit of a nose-down rake, and with the sills still a few inches off the ground it doesn’t look like the suspension has collapsed.

_embed _2The channelling isn’t the only body mod either. Cody got hold of a nine-seater version of the wagon – would you believe they were called a Kingswood – and used the rear floor section to mount the third rear-facing seat. That car also sacrificed its roof skin so that Cody could continue the ribs from the roof on to the bonnet, which flips forward to open. The door buttons are turned down from a stainless steel bolt and operate on all of the original hardware, a simple but very neat touch.

If you’re wondering about that grille, it’s out of a ’60 Mercury and was in such good shape that Cody didn’t even get it rechromed. He had to pull the front guards in about half an inch each side to make it fit and created a front beaver panel from various parts of a ’56 Pontiac, ’67 Camaro and some leftover metal from the Kingswood roof skin. Waste not, want not!

_embed _3Like the exterior, the interior also looks pretty straightforward until you start to delve a little deeper. The standard dash has been kept, but it’s been modified by shaving the two smaller gauge pods that flank the speedo and fitting a ’64 Pontiac steering wheel. The trim on the seats also looks pretty factory, but it’s a combination of the standard pattern trimmed with houndstooth from a ’60 Impala, with a bit of hot rod tuck-and-roll thrown in for good measure. The company that did the work, Ciadella Interiors, stitched up the covers to Cody’s specs and then he fitted them himself.

_embed _4The engine bay is where this car steps ahead of most other mild customs. Whereas most custom builders in the US are happy to give the bay a once-over with the de-greaser, Cody has gone to town. Those inner fenders are cut-down ’59 Chevy front fenders flipped side-to-side. With the airbags and channel job, the yres sat up so high that there was no way the standard ones would work. This is such a smart and stylish solution and really shows how clever this build really is.

Australia has had a long love affair with hot sixes, so it probably doesn’t seem that odd to most of us to see the big in-line in the engine bay, especially with those familiar-looking triple SUs. Well, they are actually Datsun 240Z carbies, made by Hitachi. They’re a pretty rare sight in the US though, that’s for sure, and even in Australia we don’t see them as often any more. But check this donk out! It’s one of the most sweetly detailed engines you’ll see anywhere and definitely one of the nicest six-pots we’ve seen.

The engine itself is a 292ci Chevy six, which once saw duty in a UPS van. “The motor blew up so they got a new one from the factory and then the truck got totalled, so it hardly had any miles on it,” Cody says. One thing is certain: they didn’t look this flash in the UPS vans! The engine block has been smoothed over and topped with a 12-port head of Brazilian origin, and there’s a Schneider cam in there for a bit of lump.

Don’t go looking for one of those intakes, though. Cody made that himself. “I started with an intake off a Datsun 240Z,” he explains. “Originally, the 240Z only had two carburettors, so I ended up having to buy another manifold and cutting it up. I knew I didn’t want Webers because everyone has Webers; I wanted something different and something cheap – 240Z carburettors are cheap around here and I had time, so why not?”

_emebed _5Cody calls himself a family guy with not much money, but what he does have is talent, and once he took time off building cars for other people and did something for himself, this is the result – absolutely stunning. All from a bloke just 30 years old, so there’s plenty of time for him to build a bunch more cool cars.