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Car Crash: An Inventor’s Hot Rod

A feature here at the Daily Driver is the Car Crash.  Breathe easy – no actual cars were harmed in the making of this crash.  That would be a crime, and a cryin’ shame.  Our Car Crash is much more fun – in a “crash a party” kind of a way.  If you’ve ever seen a vintage car and wanted to see the interior or wondered about its restoration process, then the Car Crash is just the post for you.  Join us as we explore the details of a gorgeous vehicle…

We recently checked out the Street Machine and Muscle Car Nationals and found some fantastic vintage steel, but then we came across Jim’s 1930s Chevy, we put on our brakes.  Check out the picture below… can you figure out why we stopped?

Jim Nelson’s 1930s Chevrolet is an unbelievable example of what hot rodding is all about.  He built this car in the ’60s, and many of the cool modifications done then are still going strong on the car today.

This supercharger setup is what really caught our eye. Originally, the supercharger was from drag racer Lil’ John Lombardo, which Jim ran for many years. In the ’80s it was changed to a Stage 1 BDS supercharger.

Jim hand built the manifold, intake and drive himself.

The motor is a GMC 330 cubic inch inline 6, running 7:1 compression and 12 lbs of boost.

A roll-up windshield?!? This was stock on these cars, and something we had never seen. The roll-up windshield then directs the air to the floor through a vent in the dash.


The car has many special items on it to give it a modern car feel in an old car body, like cruise control and electric windows. The original electric windows were hand built by Jim (he hand cut the gears) in the ’60s.

Cool tiny details are all over this car, like the beautiful Chevrolet engraving on this wind wing.

On the far side, just in front of driver’s seat, there is a vent – that is the air conditioning, which is also on the passenger’s side. Jim did not have enough space to put the unit under the dash, so he installed it in the back and then routed it under the seats.

Jim has taken his car to many shows over the years, and he has the stickers and badges to prove it!

This console is filled with switches, controls, and all kinds of fun things that Jim invented.  You heard that right, invented!  But we will get to that in just a bit. The console itself was built from the right hand side of a 1958 Chrysler dash.

One of the most popular elements of the car are the little bullet hole stickers, bought by Jim in 1969 for 15 cents each. We had a laugh about the fact that the least expensive addition on his car gets the most comments.  Talk about a return on investment!


This Chevy is huge part of Jim’s family. It has been the focal point of many a happy occasion, as it was used for his own wedding and the weddings of family and friends. It even helped him get a job (he was able to show off his inventions as part of the interview). Over the years, Jim has continued to invent, and it has brought him great success.  He now spends his time managing his own manufacturing company, Hi-Plas (Highland Plastics), where he is surrounded by the machines he has created and modified.


As I mentioned above, the console controls many a cool invention from Jim – just check out the video and you’ll see two breathtaking examples. The first is a hide-away stereo that actually turns on when it is fully extended. The real show stopper though is a tilt and telescoping steering column that Jim invented in the ’60s. This one knocked our socks off – we must have watched it 4 times before we even recorded it (thanks to Jim for being such a good sport and hitting the button, again and again!).

Part renaissance man, part mechanical wizard, and 110% hot rod enthusiast, Jim has to be one of the coolest car guys we’ve ever met.  His passion for invention is unparalleled, and his vision is both functional and beautiful.

Hats off to you, Jim!  You’re one cool cat!  Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us.  And readers, if you see this car at a show… STOP.  Take the time to see what this car is all about – this is one you can’t miss!


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