1941 Chevy Coupe
(Submitted by Van Lee Richey of Mosinee, WI and story told by Ron Unertl of Waupaca, WI)
The good news is that I received a Bell & Howell movie camera for my eighth grade graduation present, which I did take some movies of the car with.
Back years ago I had all my movies put on tape. On the very day I got your letter I gave the tapes to a friend to put on disks. I should have them back in a few weeks. I personally am no computer wizard but I’m sure my sone can transfer them back. I will see if I can fix you up with some photos or video of the car.
A little info on the car: From about the age of 12 the only car I ever wanted was a 1939 or 1940 Ford Coupe. When I turned 16 I got my drivers license (I still carry my temp in my wallet, it’s dated May 24, 1954.
As soon as I got my license, I started to bug my dad about a car. I found a 1939 Ford at Lempke Ford in Mosinee. It didn’t have a trunk lid and was used to hall chickens to market, but was in good shape. Dad did not want me to have a Ford V8. He knew how I drove, anything I owned had to go wide open. The old Fords would do well over 100 with just a little work. I think he got tired of me begging. One morning after getting home from the mill he told me he found a 1941 Chevy coupe and would I like to go look at it. I said it was not what I really wanted but I would like to look at it. The car was on a small farm out past Liberty Hill off to the left of old 51. The body was near perfect, it was I believe a deluxe model with lots of chrome, however, all the fenders were dented in. Seems the young man that owned it got drunk one night and decided to re-landscape a couple of neighborhoods just north of the old high school. He took down a bunch of small trees and lots of shrubs. The judge gave him a choice of jail or the army. He took the army and I got the car.
I was 16 years old, I knew nothing about body work, had no tools and very scant finances. But was determined to build this car into a custom hot rod of my own design.
We got the car home about 4:00pm and by 5:00pm had most of the excess chrome removed. I remember that my mom thought I was crazy. I became friends with Lovie down at Lovies Auto Body Shop, I got my primer thinner and lead from Lovie. My tools consisted of my dads old white gas blow torch, two body dollies, a claw hammer, a lead file, an old electric drill with a disk, sanding blocks, and a big flat screwdriver to spread the body solder (didn’t know about maple spreaders & bees wax).
My paint equipment was my mothers old Sears pig style vacuum spray gun. I sprayed a lot of thin primer surfacer.
I also purchased a set of Craftsman sockets and box & open end wrenches. I straightened the fenders, no bond was invented or body glaze, just hand hammered and some light leading, and lots of primer and sanding. All the leading was done with the blow torch and screwdriver.
The car was actually done twice, it was first painted a dark gray, it looked tough but did not show off the car well. I think I reworked the car the summer of my junior year in high school. I decided to install the Mercury grill shell, this was also done with no welding or brazing. I releaded the fenders and did the hood at this time. I set the car up for dual exhaust but did not have the money or equipment to do it. My first year at Stout, I put in a new 1953 Chevy GM short block, I fitted this with a set of dual carbs. The car still would not crack 100mph, about 98 flat out. I went through four engines, three transmissions and one rear end in the four years I owned it. I got a 1954 Low Boy Champion Studebaker my junior year of college, rebuilt a Commander V8 and dropped it in but that’s another story.
My brother, Dave, got the Chevy and drove the hell out of it until he got a 1957 Corvette in I think 1958 that car was faster than you could drive it. After about 125 the rear end began to lift.
The last time I saw the old ‘41 it was sitting on blocks by an apartment building located on the old Schmidt farm property on old 51 on the south side of Rothchild. I was working at Boeing in Seattle, WA at the time so it was probably 1967-1969. I wanted to stop to see if I could find the owner but was with my folks who were late for something. Do you happen to have the ID number on the car? I could never find it. I called Helback Insurance as it was insured by his dad, but he does not have the records. I have attended many car shows over the years hoping to find it but to no avail.
Story told by Ron Unertl, the first owner. In 1955, Ron Unertl built this 1941 Chevy Coupe. I was the fourth owner of this coupe and I had it the longest, about 11 years. Ron has all the work he did on reels of film. The picture in front of the NAPA store is, I think, of the car now. Van Lee Richey.
Let us know if you can Round It Up!
Originally posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 at 10:59 pm
Category: Auto Round-Up News