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The Giveaway Car Wouldn't Go Away

The Giveaway Car Wouldn't Go Away
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Rex Evchuk’s 1934 Dodge Cabriolet was constructed in 2000 as a Goodguys’ giveaway car. Roy Brizio Street Rods managed the overall build on a a fiberglass ’34 Dodge convertible body from Frank Miller of Coach & Chassis Works. Sponsors donated parts from an Alumicraft grille to a Mopar Performance Viper drive train. Sid Shavers stitched up the car’s original bench seat interior.

The 1934 Dodge Viper Cabriolet is rated at 450 hp. “It has plenty of snot,” said Rex and the sound of the red engine that peeks trough cut-outs on the hood sides backs him up on that point. The Tremac six-speed transmission conducts power flow to the Ford 9-in. rear end—actually an Air Locker solid positraction rear axle. “It is a nice car and it’s set up real good so it goes down the road well,” says Rex. “It has coil springs all around and an independent front suspension.

After the car was finished, it was involved in an accident during a Goodguys show in Des Moines, Iowa. Rex learned about the car from Sunset Curve Auto Parts, a salvage yard 25 miles south of his home in Iola, Wis. The owner called Rex about the Viper-powered hot rod that he had taken in with a batch of insurance claim cars. Due to a high asking price, Rex passed on the car.

A little while later Rex called JR about a “rebuilder” Cadillac. Rex went to Sunset Curve and also took a look at the Dodge. He liked it, so he and JR came to an agreement on price and clinched a deal. “It was kind of weird,” Rex recalls. “I guess he couldn’t find anyone else interested at the price he first had in mind.”

The car was built for as a giveaway. Rex talked to Gary and Marc Meadors of the Goodguys who had put about 2,100 miles on the car. “The final drive they took was to the Des Moines Goodguys’ show on 4th of July weekend in 2000,” Rex said. “At thet show, two guys drove the car and crashed it.” According to what Rex was told, the man driving a Chrysler and Mopar Performance engineer. An unidentified young man was in the passenger seat. The car turned upside down, rolled over, did a barrel roll and went end over end several times. “This really messed the car up,” Rex said. “It was not a good thing.”

When Rex got the car the body was “essentially junk” but the chassis was salvageable. The Viper drive train was pretty much intact, but the rear end had some issues. A tube was bent and the rear axle was messed up. A couple of the car’s wheels were ruined. Rex says the interior “was not great.” There were some other issues, but there was no serious structural damage. Rex owns a company called Waupaca Machine Repair and was the perfect person to get the car.

“Rex contacted Frank Miller at Coach & Chassis Works and asked him to build another body. He took the rolling chassis and what was left of the original body to Pittsburgh to have another body made. Then he rebuilt the car. “It probably took me two years to put it back on the road,” Rex says. “It’s a nice car now. We drove it to Louisville, Ken., a couple of times and went to ‘Back to the ‘50s’ in Minneapolis a few times, too. We drive it wherever we want to go.”

In 2003, Rex took the car back to the Goodguys’ event in Des Moines. “They pretty much ignored me,” he recalled. “They really didn’t want it to ever resurface.” Rex eventually met Gary Meadors at a SEMA Show sometime after he finished rebuilding the ’34 Dodge Viper Cabriolet. “I told him it was too nice a car to turn into junk,” says Rex. “I explained that I knew it was savageable and told him that we were enjoying the car and having a good time with it. He was all right with the way we carefully rebuilt the car and the respect we had for it.”

Marc Meadors helped Rex and got him a couple of things that were supposed to be with the car. “He had the CD player, which had never been installed. It was just sitting on his desk and he sent it to me, along with some extra keys and other stuff,” says Rex. Marc realized that the car was going back on the road and decided these things should go with it. “They are really OK people to deal with,” Rex stressed. “They just wanted to get past the bad PR.”

 

Rex was the perfect owner for the wrecked car.

 

The Viper-powered ’34 Dodge was completely rebuilt.

 

Rex had the original builder make a new body.

 

Rex finished the car to a better state than before the crash.

 

The interior required a bunch of work.

 

The original engine survived in good shape.