Viper Power In A 1948 Chrysler Town And Country

A little over three years ago, Goodguys Rod and Custom Association founder Gary Meadors was searching for his next car. He found a 1948 Chrysler Town and Country Convertible on eBay, and purchased the car without taking a close look at it.

When we talked to him about his purchase, he commented that when he saw the car it should have been pushed into a ditch and covered up. But Meadors said he loves a challenge, and decided to keep the car despite it’s condition. As you can probably tell by some of the pictures, much of the body was like Swiss cheese by the time it was stripped down.

Gary has been a Mopar fan since the days of his first car, a ’47 Plymouth, that he customized and lowered. He liked the long, narrow hood of the Town and Country and decided that a long, narrow engine would best suit the car. His engine choice was a perfect fit: a V10 Viper engine from a Dodge truck, complete with the automatic transmission.

The car went to Art Morrison for a chassis to support the car and Viper engine. The choice was simple, and before long it was returned to Meadors as a rolling chassis with four-wheel disc brakes and coilover shocks all around. The rest of the car was in boxes, and he and long time friend Bob Bauder knew that the car needed to go to someone who could turn the car into the Thom Taylor sketch that began this project.

So Gary called on Scott Bonowski, owner of Hot Rods and Hobbies, to complete the project. There wasn’t much to work with, and this Town and Country became the epitome of the word “build”. Scott says the floors were so rusted out that they couldn’t bolt much of the body to the car.

They literally had to build the car from the few decent components left on it, and trying to hang the heavy wood panels on a skeleton frame was a chore. Throughout the build, the Viper engine went through a few transitions just like the body: putting things together to check for the fit, and then pulling it apart to work on it some more. But seeing it all come together is nothing short of incredible.

The ’48 made it’s debut at Del Mar this year, and like the true gearheads that they are, Gary and Scott drove the car to San Jose to Sid Shavers for an interior and a top. Gary said they froze their butts off, wearing shorts and sandals, driving up over the pass in the cold and mist. But as he says, “it’s all survivable”, so it was just another trip for him to make.

We talked to Gary after the photo shoot at Jay Leno’s Garage, and he told us he plans to drive this car to Columbus, Ohio, for the 15th Goodguys PPG Nationals this year. He told us that Jay had asked him about driving it so far, and if he was worried about what would happen to it on the road. Gary is a true enthusiast, though, and it’s always been a part of his repertoire to take his family on week long treks across the country in a hot rod.

Gary says, “Whatever doesn’t fit in the car doesn’t go with us”. We’re guessing with the length of this restomod he can fit a lot more in it than he can with his ’32 Ford. It’s truly a beautiful car with the power under the hood to back it all up.

About the author

Michael Harding

Michael is a Power Automedia contributor and automotive enthusiast who doesn’t discriminate. Although Mopar is in his blood, he loves any car that looks great and drives even faster.
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