There are 2 types of people in this world—OCD and non-OCD. Aaron Watkins from R.A.W. Rods Restorations & Customs is OCD. Aaron started building cars when he was 16, but at the urging of his peers (some might call it peer pressure) he started up a legitimate shop.
R.A.W. officially opened its doors 3 years ago and ever since then, they have been churning out some pretty impressive street cars. He doesn’t have the fanciest shop or the most expensive tools, but when you look at the finished project, you’d be none the wiser.
We covered his shop wagon while it was being built, and it was enough to get us interested. That car is completed and just as incredible as we suspected it would be, so look for an article on that car soon.
When he originally posted his thread entitled “Project Blue Pearl” on Pro-touring.com, it seemed like a pretty straightforward job: take a bone stock 1950 Chevy 2 door sedan, drop an LS1 in it, sprinkle it with some other goodies, paint it up pretty, and send it on its way.
As time continued and the project progressed, we began to realize that this build was heading in a not-so-straightforward direction. Not because of the parts, per say, but because of the resourcefulness and attention to detail being projected by Aaron.
The ’50 Chevy arrived to the shop in pretty much immaculate condition. The customer was given the car by his elderly aunt as repayment for all of the years her loving nephew had taken care of her. It’s not clear whether she was the original owner, but she had owned the car as long as anyone could remember, and aside from a little fender bender on the right rear quarter, all of the sheetmetal was straight and nearly rust free.
This left plenty of time for Aaron to think about the needs of the customer. The car is being built as a driver, not a shower. Accordingly, the car needs to be comfortable and easy to work on.
That’s where being mindful of your customer turns into obsessive attention to detail for R.A.W. “When we build a car, we try to keep it simple so that our customers can get parts without difficulty and work on their car easily if something happens on the road,” Aaron explains.
It’s obvious to us car folk, if you transplant an LS1 with a GM 4L60-E transmission into a car that originally came with a 216ci and 3 on the tree, there is going to be a wee bit of fabrication involved, but what about the tiny details? For the suspension goodies, it was a no brainer to contact the pros at TCI Engineering for front and rear suspension components that perform. R.A.W. is an authorized TCI dealer and they count on them for many high-caliber builds such as this.
While it’s easy for a builder to get wrapped up in the fab while forgetting about the person driving, but if you are thinking like Aaron, you will be sure that when you fab the tranny tunnel you check twice for foot room—and make some if there isn’t any.
When you choose to stray away from the crowd and go with an 8.8” rear end rather than the more popular 9” in the name of simplicity and the ease of finding parts at your local parts store or junkyard, you are thinking like Aaron. If you remember that “at some point someone might have to change this thing” while installing an e-brake and decide to weld nuts under the e-brake box so it only takes one person to install the e-brake from the inside—you are thinking like Aaron. And if you don’t forget the armrest with cup holders for the back seat, you are thinking like Aaron.
That last one may have taken it too far, but the point is that the list of things considered on behalf of the customer is a mile long – and everyone can appreciate that. There’s going to be a lot more going on with this car, but from what we’ve seen so far, if you’re like us, you can’t wait to see it until it’s done. Hence, we bring you another project in the making from Aaron at R.A.W. Rods.