Summit Racing Equipment and several top parts manufacturers have teamed up with American Resto Mods of Buford, GA to build a 1949 Chevy step van for Top Gear on History co-host Rutledge Wood. Wood will drive the van on the 2013 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be working with Summit Racing on this project,” Wood said. “Summit Racing is the ultimate candy store for guys like me—they have virtually every part you will ever need, and if you need help, you can talk to actual people who know their stuff and get things like a hot rod step van. That’s a big deal in my book.”
Rutledge Wood is a gearhead’s gearhead. Not only does he engage in automotive antics with Top Gear on History co-hosts Tanner Foust and Adam Ferarra, he hosts NASCAR Trackside Live on SPEED Channel and collects vehicles like our T-shirts collect grease. Wood has owned over 55 cars and trucks, ranging from a 1966 VW Double Cab and the 1968 Dodge Charger that was Kyle Petty’s high school ride to a Buick Roadmaster Wagon and a 1975 Bricklin SV-1.
So it makes perfect sense that Rutledge’s latest project is an aluminum breadbox on wheels. The Chevy step van is something that Rutledge has been dreaming about owning since his college days.
“I used to pass a van just like this one all the time when I was at the University of Georgia,” Wood said. “The day I went to inquire about it, it was gone. So when I found this one, I knew I had to have it.”
Wood found the Chevy in late 2012 and decided it would be the perfect vehicle to take on the 2013 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Since it had to be the coolest breadbox on the Tour, Rutledge entrusted the build to American Resto Mods.
“Tons and tons of custom work needed to be done to make this thing cruise down the road,” he said. “I knew I needed to do it right and find a shop that I could trust, and I hit a home run with American Resto Mods.”
Mike Karbowski and the team at American Resto Mods began working on the Chevy in late 2012. The goal was to build something cool with big horsepower, but also make it reliable and comfortable for long distance drives like the Power Tour.
“We tossed the stock frame and replaced it with frame from a 1999 Chevy 2500 HD pickup,” Karbowski said. “We modified the frame to fit the van’s wheelbase and C-notched it in back to accommodate a rear axle flip kit. We did a lot of nipping and tucking to get the van body to fit over the frame, but everything sits nice and low, and we have modern suspension and brakes as a bonus.”
American Resto Mods wanted to deal with the best when it came to parts, so they enlisted the help of Summit Racing Equipment. With the help of its family of manufacturers, Summit Racing supplied:
• Chevrolet Performance 525 HP LS3 crate engine and engine controller kit
• Performance Automatic Street Smart 4L80E transmission kit
• Summit Racing headers
• Be Cool Power Cooling Module
• ididit steering column and Touch-n-Go keyless ignition system
• Energy Suspension Hyperflex bushing kit, sway bar bushings, and motor/transmission mounts
• Vintage Air climate control system
• American Autowire wiring harness
• Classic Instruments Bomber Series gauges and bezels
• Yokohama Parada Spec-X tires
• EBC brake rotors and Power Stop brake pads
Other components include a full MagnaFlow exhaust system and one-off 20- and 22-inch wheels from Asanti Wheels.
What’s Happening Next
Well, a lot, actually—the goal is to have the van ready to go for the Hot Rod Power Tour, which is the first week of June. There’s a drivetrain to install, brakes and suspension to rehab, an interior to stitch, and a thousand and one other jobs. One item American Resto Mods doesn’t have to worry about is paint. Rutledge wants to keep the aluminum body au naturel with just a good scrubbing to remove decades of grunge and oxidation.
We have some initial build photos to share with you, plus a short video by Rutledge his own self talking about all the horsepower he’ll be getting from the Chevrolet Performance LS3 motor. We’ll be bringing you project updates and videos as we get them; you can also track the build on American Resto Mod’s website.
Thank you very much for the write up!
That truck ought to fly even though it might be a little heavy. Keep some extra tires around Rut. What a smoker.
[…] can get an overview of Rutledge Wood’s 1949 Chevrolet Step Van in our original post on the project, see build photos on the American Resto Mods site, and look for future […]
[…] we introduced you to Top Gear on History co-host Rutledge Wood and his latest project, a 1949 Chevy Kurbmaster step van, we promised to bring you more updates on […]
That notch is scary looking.
Please rebuild that c notch in the frame, that is absolutely ridiculous….I see in the another picture more metal is added but i dont see what more that is suppose to do, especially the terrible welds. How are you a car guy, and how is summit in on this with such poor workmanship and unsafe fabrication being done…..I wouldnt trust a 200 lb. guy to jump on that frame. There is a reason the factory rails are 2×4 or 4×4 and beyond, not 1.5″ thick piece spanning 6-10″ as a main stucture. Put jack stands way at the front and way at the rear of the frame, so that the suspension is hanging freely and tires are not touching the ground. Now get two guys 200 lbs. each to jump up and down on it. I would assume the frame will look like a banana at this point, but If it survives than add another guy. A safe frame Should handle 4 guys easily jumping on it without bowing. Keep in mind suspension has to be hanging free, you’re checking frame rail strength. Which looking at the pictures….appears to be very unsafe. American Resto Mods, please step up your standards and quality. Although stuff like this keeps me in business correcting nightmares like this….please correct this issue, your name, shop, and lives are potentially on the line here…I actually thought this was a car joke meme making fun of someone’s hackjob, didn’t realize it was a real build….Eric Douglas your comment says it all….
God that notch is scary. Tell me you guys don’t get paid to weld?
Rutledge, My son has a ’64 Chevelle SS, sent a letter to Andrew, but there just too many common dominators between you two, that you really ought to consider doing his SS on Lost in Transmission. Both have the same last name of Wood, one day difference in your birthdays, his is 04/23/65, you both live in N.W. Ga less than 35 miles apart, both are college graduates, both have two daughters and his oldest daughter’s name is Rachael, spelled a bit different than your bride, but still coincidental. Get a copy of H. Grady Wood III letter he sent to Andrew, read it and see if you agree, that there’s a lot in common between you two.
H. Grady Wood Jr., his dad
[…] 6. Rutledge Wood’s LS3-Powered 1949 Chevy Step Van […]
looking for someone to change my 1956 grumann stepvan into a 4×4 chassis brakes suspension steering I’m ready to start need good advice thx 831 8189766