Imagine stumbling across an old rusted car in a field. In this case, it’s a 1955 Pontiac. It’s clearly been sitting abandoned for years. Decades more likely. No one has moved the car in a very, very long time. And everything that could be rusted… is rusted. Most folks look at such a situation & say “There’s nothing for me here.” But Shawn Jones isn’t most folks. Shawn saw this ’55 Pontiac sitting abandoned & unloved… and gave it a new chance at life. However, it’s certainly not a conventional life.
Sometimes the most dilapidated cars can make the best projects.
Shawn got to work by finding an old Chevy S10 as a donor car. He used the chassis & suspension from the S10… and sold-off all the other parts he didn’t need to break even on the purchase of just $1,200. Next stop – LKQ for a good old fashioned junkyard LS engine swap. A cheap 4L80E transmission is mated to the motor. This was definitely not a swap with parts readily available. But no real worries – Shawn custom designed the motor mounts himself to get the LS to sit as close to the firewall as possible.
Of course, any good off-roader needs a good suspension…
So QA1 designed a completely custom setup for this 1955 Pontiac. It rides supremely smooth both on & off the pavement. Shawn & his wife actually drive this car every chance they get… & have put over 16,000 miles on it in just about 2 years time.
Initially, Shawn purchased a set of 10” wide tires, but once they arrived, he quickly realized he needed something a bit wider.
The Pontiac is now fitted with a set of 33×12.50 General Grabbers.
TredWear supplied the custom tire letters, which spells out Shawn’s shop… Schweaty’s Speed Shop. In order to fit the enormous tires, Shawn did quite a bit of cutting on the body work. That’s the fun part. The fenders were not the only things cut. In fact, most of the body panels are shaved/cut in some capacity… getting the car’s curb weight down to somewhere around just 3,000lbs.
Shawn made the ’55 Pontiac a family project whenever he could.
His wife did all of the lettering & graphics by hand, using just $20 of paint from Tractor Supply Co. Shawn’s son helped de-pin all the connectors on the wire harness, since the entire harness had to be reworked to function in the car. Now this ol’ Pontiac communicates via bluetooth to a tablet located in the dash that has most of the readouts… minus the tach, fuel, & AFR… which are separately located. The engine remains mostly stock for daily driveability & reliability.
Since the majority of this 1955 Pontiac was plagued with rust…
Shawn had to get creative with some solutions to keep aesthetics & functionality. Both the front bumper & skid pan were welded in-house & custom made. The original trunk floor was rusted out, so a new floor was welded in & the fuel tank was relocated. The tank itself features an easy-access lid for the fuel pump, in case it were to ever need servicing. Rust claimed most of the factory rear quarter panels, so Shawn made his own patch panels. The rockers were custom made using square tubing. And the floorpans are basically stitched together using the floor pan from the S10 donor car… plus bits of the ’55 Pontiac pan.
Shawn & his wife drive this car a lot…
Therefore some creature comforts were added to the build. One of which – is working air conditioning, a luxury during the hot summers in Tennessee. Another luxury – is the sound system. There isn’t an obvious radio or head-unit in the car, and that’s because Shawn uses a completely wireless bluetooth system. With the flick of a switch on the dash, Shawn’s phone pairs to the bluetooth module, and he can control the volume from his phone. Shawn even added Amazon cup holders intended for a boat. The center console is made from an old ammo box, and the armrest latches onto the original ammo box lid. Seats are incredibly comfortable Procar units. Shawn originally had a set of el cheapo eBay-style seats, but they were not great for extended trips. All in all – despite its rough appearance, this old Pontiac interior actually ain’t a bad place to be.
Thanks again to Shawn over at Schweaty’s Speed Shop for letting us shoot this amazing & inspiring machine! Be sure to follow his work on Instagram, @schweatysspeedshop where you’ll also find a very wild Superbird Nascar build which has been pieced together this year. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
Text & photos by Ben Battles