1934 Chevrolet Master Sedan Hot Rod

Article and photos by Karl Eriksen

I first saw this Hot Rod on the way to Vernuepan last September 2017 when we all met at some ungodly hour at a garage along the N7. The Convoy we were meant to travel in split up quite soon into mini-convoys and so I got an extended view of its backside. It made the trip there and back without any problems, while attracting heaps of attention along the way. 

It’s a superb creation by Steven McCarty, who havening raced himself for many years, runs a family workshop, preparing Formula Supercar (which his cousin Ryan and Michael McCarthy race) and building various cars.

Steven found the car, a 1934 Fisher-built Chevrolet Master Sedan in aa backyard in Sedgefield when he drove through there in 2009 em route to Plettenberg Bay. It was an abandoned chassis and body that someone had stripped down and is believed to have originated in Outshoorn. He bought it and had it transported to Cape Town. The car itself served as a storage area where the parts were kept – but not everything was accounted for. Everything was packed out to see what there was to work with. 

The fenders were not usable. But the chassis was still in in a fairy good condition, as was the cab. However the floorplan was rusted away. Even if he wanted to go the route, a restoration was out the question. But driving a classic car is not really his sort of Jack Daniels, so after looking at different scenarios, Steve decided that, given what he has to work with a box shape sedan – that he would go with the ‘40s Salt Flats look. 

While he was building the car during the initial stages, he wasn’t 100% sure of the route he was going to take, and his ideas changed as he went along, so he got hold of the wheels fairly early on in the process as it was necessary to sort out the rake of the car, the ride height, the axle height and the front and rear suspension. Even though the size of the tyres weren’t available back in the day, Steven liked the look of them, and went for a set of Hercules HP4000 tyres, 295 in the back and 225 upfront all framed by white wall inserts. The wheels are BMW 3 series pressed steel. Chris Walters widened the rear rims to 10 inches and reversed the center of the front rims in order to clear the calipers. Baby Moon hubcaps from Wheel Vintage round everything off perfectly. 

The original chassis was straightened, strengthened and boxed, while the steel-over-ash wood cab was channeled 4-inches over the chassis. A new subfloor was built, including new structure steel tubing, and the roof was filled. Satin black paintwork provided the ideal canvas for the custom pinstriped that was done by Steve Mohacsy.

Steven liked the bonnetless look of the car they ran back then – for cooling purposes the ease of access – which suites him perfectly. He had a bonnet but swapped it for a pair of headlights which turned out to be only good enough to hang on the workshop wall.

He managed to get a period style modern 8.5 inch halogen lights from the States, and fitted 1950 Pontiac tail lights at the rear.

When Steven looked at pictures of the cars that raced back then, he said most of the where Fords with Flat rears, but the Chevys had a ducktail ending at the back, so he bobbed it. But this exposed the overhang of the chassis rails, which he had to shorten accordingly. Then he didn’t have anywhere to hang the rear leaf springs, so he decided to go with independent Jag rear suspension because it incorporates the 3.05:1 open diff, brakes and rear suspension all in one. But he didn’t want to go for a straightforward bolt-on cage option, so he made new cross members for the rear of the chassis and says that it was quit a job getting the height and geometry of the cross members just right. He drew them up with CAD, made them up separately and fitted inside the chassis rails.

In order the get the three different axis just right, he came up with a way to adjust it, and then welded it in place when those parameters were met. He removed the Jag suspension from the cage bolted it into the new cross member and made-up race car-style trailing arms which stabilizes the Jag rear end, as well as wrap-up bars under the chassis so that the bolted-on diff can’t rotate. In effect, the body and style dictated the rear suspension. With the front suspension, because everything is visible, he kept to the true hot rod style and used the original Chevy solid axle, but in order to attain the right stance he had to change the leaf springs. The springs eyes were reversed and a couple of leaves were removed by Saayman’s Spring Works to get the lowered rake, with custom dampers by GT Shocks.

Coming from a racing background, Steve is fussy about brakes and he got an engineering company to fit the Jag spindles on to the Chevy stub axles so that he could run the Jag vented disc on the original front axle with Jaguars XJ6 4-pot calipers, with the original Jag dual circuit master cylinder and servo. The rear brakes are Jaguar XJ6 inboard discs.

The Chev 307 cubic inch V8 was built by Stuart Logie. It sports a Edelbrock Performance Cam, Edelbrock Intake manifold, flattop pistons, Holley 600cfm carb with vacuum secondary and manual choke. Holley mechanical fuel pump and HEI distributor. Sound from the dry lake-style exhaust headers is tamed by removable baffles. The transmission is a GM TH350 3-speed autobox with cable shifter and propshaft was custom-built by Propshaft Engineering. Side steering was converter to cross-steering because of the placement of the exhausts. Steve kept the original steering column and steering wheel. Using the original Chevy tie-rods and installed an Isuzu KB steering box with a GM universal joint.

The original fuel tank hung off the back of the car and this was replaced by a 50-liter fluorinated tank located behind the seat. It’s in a cradle and a firewall isolates it from the passenger compartment. Because the tank fills from the top, the access had to be in the post or the roof. But as the tank sits so high, the filler had to be mounted on the roof.

Obviously, the battery had to be relocated as Steven wanted a clean firewall. The Master brake cylinder was also relocated to under the car. 

The interior looks great with VW Golf 4 front seats and the rear seat was made up from a Totyota Venture seat. The upholstery was redone by Frans Du Toit Trimmers. Autometer Old Tyme black imperial gauges suit the interior perfectly in their laser-cut dash panel. Steven did all the wiring and electrical work of the car himself.