“This car was built to put your surfboard or your family in and go somewhere.” Jeff Zaccardi told me when I interviewed him about the Nomad. Jeff became a car guy in high school, his first car was a 1956 Chevrolet and he has been hooked since.
After his 1956, Jeff’s dad purchased a van to make business deliveries in and passed down his 1951 Sedan Delivery to Jeff. A Chevrolet devotion followed Jeff though most of his life, he now owns both a 1955 and a 1957 Nomad and says he is looking for the right deal to pick up a 1956 and make the set complete.
According to the “Auto Museum Online” The 1955 Chevrolet Nomad was considered a “Halo” vehicle and was created to focus attention on the brand. Many small touches It was only manufactured for 3 years as the original 2 door, 6 passenger wagon. Jeff told me he thought only about 20,000 of the 1955s were manufactured, he was very close, 25,750 to be exact. Chevrolet shared the body style with its sister company Pontiac, where it was marketed as the Pontiac Safari. Much to the dismay of General Motors, neither car brought in great sales, so manufacturing ceased in 1957 and 1958 revealed a transformed body type leaving the hardtop style design behind. Jeff feels it was a good progression for the model, but the original Nomads will always be his favorites.
Jeff’s 1955 Nomad underwent a complete overhaul. Bennyz Rod Shop did a generous amount of body work stripping the car down to the skeleton and building it back piece by piece. “This Nomad has new quarter panels, floor board, wheel wells, doors, you name it- we replaced it.” Benny says, admitting he and Jeff had no idea the damage they would reveal when they started the project. The metal work was a challenge, but the car is truly remarkable now. In the end, it has gorgeous two tone turquoise and white paint job. They ironed out the hardtop that in Jeff’s words “looked like some kids had jumped on it.”
The paint job is set off with 47 pieces of custom chrome, from Northwest Chrome in New Plymouth and lightly smoked glass. Ciadella Interiors in Tempe crafted the upholstery and recovered the bucket seats then worked with Jeff to ship everything North. Phil and Kevin Huff of Hailey did the engine work, upgrading the original 265 V-8 to a Chevy 502 and Jeff couldn’t be happier- “Well,” Jeff added, “it does only get about 8 miles to the gallon. Of course, I’d drive it if it got 3 and gas was $10 a gallon, I just love driving my cars.”
By: Krystal Swank
I have known Benny a while and have heard more than a few of his stories. It’s not a surprise that many of them start with cars. One I enjoy is about a little boy riding on a 5-gallon bucket behind the front seat of his dad’s blue ‘40 Ford Coupe headed to the New England Dragway. There they watched drags and checked out cars. His dad often raced his Coupe against another ‘40 Ford small block, 4 speed car, maroon in color. In 2012, Benny bought a Coupe of his own. Our March blog features Benny’s 1940 Ford Coupe.
The ‘40 Ford Coupe is a treasure in itself but this one really has no equal. There is something for everyone to love about this beauty. From the custom back-up camera drilled through the rear license plate to the TV mounted in the trunk- it is loaded with custom tricks. As we walk around the car, Ben introduces her to me, feature by feature. Beginning with the hand-crafted tail lights, they cut slits in the rear metal fenders and heat bent tinted plexiglass to fit inside, then sanded the seam smooth and gloss painted over them. Nice! From there we admire the one of a kind paint job, crafted with much help from Jeff Devey, that features a side stripe with a smoke finish. Benny tells me they actually trapped soot from a torch with the candy coat for a unique and artistic touch. It has a great gloss finish and since the car was built to show, the pin stripe even carries under the hood and across the fire wall. That leads us to the engine, dripping with chrome and featuring 2 Edelbrock carburetors, its nearly as beautiful as the paint. Even show cars care about performance so the Coupe also has air ride suspension. The hood has been trimmed down 2” to smooth out the large “nose” of the historical Coupe and it has a V-butt windshield that eliminated the original metal central frame. The suicide doors have custom rounded corners and the front fenders have been smoothed out. Since this tour was in the garage, I promised to take Benny at his word for the “wicked sound system.”
“Okay Benny, I have to ask what inspired you to trip out this car?”
“Well, we actually did the work over about 2 and half years for a client named Burt Webb.”
“Really?” I asked, “Tell me about Burt.”
“Burt” he said, “used to come in and lean against this post in the shop. He started each conversation with, “You know, I was thinking….” From there an idea would build and snowball and we start customizing something else. He picked colors and things but really gave us a lot of artistic license and was always open to ideas. It was a great project.”
When the project was finished Burt started showing the car- everywhere. And he started winning- everywhere. This rod is a true crowd pleaser, and everyone loves her. Burt has a wall of trophies for his efforts. As Benny mentions this, he stops and looks up thoughtfully “You know now that I mention it, when I bought the car, I didn’t get the trophies.” He did get a great ride though, watch for Benny on the streets of the Wood River Valley this summer, if you’re lucky, you might even get a ride.
Family cars are a special thing. And although the passion for cars hasn’t been proven genetic, it can often be traced from generation to generation. The story behind this 1967 Cyclone GT is the passion of a father that became the passion of the son. Jeff Pohlman’s relationship with this car began in 1985 with a family road trip to Aimes, Iowa. Jeff remembers riding in the family motorhome over the endless Kansas black top, a car hauler in tow. His dad, John, found this car through the treasure hunt grapevine and made it a family adventure to go get it.
When they got it home, he remembers his dad using it as an occasion car, driving it at whim Saturdays or after work just enjoying it in an everyday manner. One of Jeff’s best memories is riding down Blue Lakes, Beach Boys on the radio and his old man squealing the tires at every light.
John unfortunately lost his battle with cancer in 2005 and the car passed to Jeff. He knew he wanted a remod restore, so he called Benny. Jeff had a vision. They began by narrowing the rear end, added a 4 link suspension and coil over shocks, and swapped out the factory gauges. And when Mark Kidd rebuilt the motor Jeff was all Ford. A lot of guys will remodel a Ford and throw in a Chevy block but he wanted to stick with original 390 FE block. He is proud they were able to step up to 455 horsepower and 575 pounds of torque and keep the Ford motor. “This car was 1 of 1581 4 speeds built in 1967 and I didn’t want to take that away.” he told me. “I had a vision when we started and as we went along Benny and I idea swapped a bit. He would get an idea and call me, “Hey Jeff, what do you think of this or that?” Come to think of it, I don’t know if we ever disagreed. Benny really made the vision happen. We dedicated a lot of time and money to the project but the result was phenomenal. When my dad’s friends saw the car, they all said we did it right and that felt really good.”
Sometimes a great story can come from the color choice of a remodel. When I asked Jeff about the Cyclone this is what he said. “I picked the color and I think Benny wept a little when I did. But I have always loved the look of really high gloss black with shiny chrome. It can be really tough to get a great black finish, but Benny really came through and the car looked great.”
The car went on to earn awards in every show they placed it in, including Best Ford in Show at the Twin Falls Car show, and 2nd in its class in the Boise Road Show. But the best Jeff told me was, “All of us standing by the car waiting to hear the results of the MVEI President’s Choice at Joe Mama’s. When they called my name, I was overcome. I will never forget it.”
I asked Jeff if he had plans for another remodel in the future…well he said, “There’s a 1966 Ford Fairlane convertible my dad also left me in my shop right now.”
Nothing gets us quite as excited as a nice set of wheels. So, when we were contemplating our choices of cars for our first blog, some goodies came up. Ford Mustang…Chevrolet Nomad…Ford Thunderbird. All beauties, and all made our top ten projects of the year, but the 1957 Thunderbird is my dream car! Get in line boys, we can write about your honeys next, but this time it is my turn and I am going to make you drool over a classic.
This car entered production in 1955 and literally created the personal luxury car market. It was a direct response to the Chevy Corvette. However, Ford did not market this lady as a sports car. She was made for luxury and named for supernatural beings of power and strength. A one of a kind beauty, she was a car who could steal hearts on a Sunday drive and still go 150 mph on the salt. With white wall tires, leather seats and options for both hard shell removable or folding fabric tops, the Thunderbird was luxury comfort on wheels. And Ford sold them 23 to one over the Corvette.
When Keith Thompson handed us the keys to his supercharged 1957 Ford Thunderbird Model F, Benny played it cool. “Sure Keith, we’ll help you clean her up.” But this “F-Bird” is 1 of 211 1957 F-code Thunderbirds ever produced! Damn!! When you want to talk power, she has it, built to dominant the 1957 NASCAR circuit, the Thunderbird Model F triumphed taking 27 national races that year to Chevy’s 19. Benny repainted her in show quality. Since then, he and Keith have worked on several more projects together.
When you ask Keith, who owns a handful of Ford’s finest, “Why Thunderbirds?”, like so many who love the iron horses, he has a story. A story of a boy who riding to school on a bus, drove by a car lot and fell in love. Her beauty was captivating, her paint glistening in the sunlight, her chrome grill sparkling, a lady of the highest order. She stole his heart in an instant and her name was T-bird.
By Krystal Swank
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