SP RIDES: The ‘NIFTY1’
By Michael Kitchens
There’s a huge variety of classic automotive enthusiasts on this island. Francis “Butch” Meyer is one of many who have spent almost the entirety of his life loving cars. At the age of 15, Butch’s first car was a 1948 Chevy 4-door Sedan. Given to him by his brother, who was a regular at the Kahuku Drag Strip, the car was affectionately named “Rusted & Busted.” Count 53 years later and his latest ride is anything but rusted or busted.
Every enthusiast has a history, and Butch is no different. Although his family members were big Chevy lovers, he started out working with Honolulu Ford eventually moving up from deliveries to parts sales. Proving that traffic has always been bad in Honolulu, he moved to Cutter Ford in 1974 to be closer to his home in Ewa Beach. While working at Honolulu & Cutter, he was able to develop friendships and connections that have contributed greatly to his love for automobiles throughout the years. Now retired after 33 years of service, he enjoys cruising with the “Lunch Bunch” and attending local meets.
Butch’s current ride is simply a classic — a 1951 Chevy Bell Air Hardtop that oozes quality from top to bottom. Purchased in 1965, the car originally had a 4-door body and has gone through a regular progression of change ever since. He credits primarily Marshall Kaichi and Gary Gibo for building his ride along with some help from others along the way.
One of the first transformations was a 2-door body swap Butch acquired for an unbelievable $15 back in 1968. Since then, it’s had five different paint jobs. Kean Clark of Maui handled the paint job —a gorgeous orange burst of color that reflects the light in spectacular shifting hues.
A fantastic conversation piece for Butch is the fact that this Chevy is rocking a 1990 Ford 5.0 engine. How’s that for your heartbeat, America?
“Everybody gives it a double-take. I love it,” says Butch.
The engine is custom built with a full range of goodies including roller rockers, roller lifters and roller cams. Featuring dual quad tunnel ram carburetors, the engine is mated an all Ford drivetrain consisting of a C4 transmission leading out to a 9-inch rear.
The ride also features some gorgeous 15- and 18-inch Pentias created by Intro Custom Wheels. Layered in 225/45ZR17s in the front with 295/45ZR16s in the rear, the entire set really gives the car a fantastic stance.
Butch’s interior really provides a fantastic contrast to the rest of the car. Upholstered by Al’s Auto Upholstery, it features creamy, pearl white seats stitched to perfection and even the trunk is done up in the same fashion. A highlight of the cruiser’s cockpit is the flamed steering wheel made by Grant. Butch was ecstatic upon finding it during a mainland cruise with the car.
“I would have bought it for $500 if the guy asked for it … I bought it for $180, went into the parking lot and installed it right there,” he says.
As gorgeous as this car is, it’s no show queen. Butch spends a ton of time keeping the car prepped and shining, simply because he drives it every weekend. Both he and his wife are lifetime classic car aficionados, and spend a large majority of their time enjoying both his 1951 Chevy and her 1932 Ford 2-door sedan.
“I can’t see spending all that money and not driving it,” says Butch.
I can’t either.
Engine: 1990 Ford 5.0, roller rockers, roller lifters, roller cams, dual quad tunnel ram carburetors.
Drivetrain: C4 Transmission, 9″ rear
Interior: Custom Pearl White Upholstery by Al’s Auto Upholstery, Grant Steering Wheel
Exterior: Custom Orange Paint by Kean Clark
Wheels/Tires: 225/45ZR17s in the front with 295/45ZR16s in the rear on 15 and 18-inch Pentias by Intro Custom Wheels