Fred Bosselman’s 1959 Chevy Sedan Delivery Proves that Some Cool Cars Do Come Back
The spark of hot rod enthusiasm was lit for many of us by a car we drove in high school. It’s hard to say whether it was the cars themselves our own youthful energy that were the bigger drivers of our initial automotive infatuation. Our cars presented us with a taste of freedom, a chance to travel, explore, and move around independently. Our youthful exuberance pushed us to test our limits in those high school rides, performing parking-lot burnouts and donuts and occasionally engaging in backroads speed competitions that assessed both our skills and our risk tolerance.
For Fred Bosselman, it was a 1959 Chevy sedan delivery that helped lay the groundwork for a lifelong auto addiction. We can only imagine how cool his bat-winged, long-roof hauler was with radiused rear wheel openings making room for wide slicks and a healthy 427c.i. big block rumbling under the hood. It sounds like the sort of car that could help a young lad establish high school hot rod hero status back in the day.
Like so many high school rides, Fred’s delivery eventually went down the road to a new owner. Fred went on to become active in the family business – a truck stop that ultimately grew and expanded into a variety of related ventures like fuel and propane services. In many ways, fuel and transportation became a way of life for Fred.
Fred’s old sedan delivery might have remained just a memory of his youth had a friend not discovered the remains of it sitting in a row of trees out in the central Nebraska countryside years ago. He recognized the car and clued Fred in on its location. Many would have considered the car too far gone to save, but nostalgia can be a strong motivator. Fred bought the Chevy’s remains and started on the journey back to hot rod glory.
Fred enlisted the help of Snyder Street Rods in Hastings, Nebraska for the car’s resurrection. The shop’s team of Mike Snyder and Dean Gerberding helped put together a ground-up rebuild strategy that started with an Art Morrison GT Sport chassis that incorporates a performance-based independent front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and a four-link rear suspension locating a 9-inch rearend with 3.70:1 gears. With Wilwood four-piston disc brakes at each corner and 18×8- and 18×10-inch Schott wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber, the Chevy had a fresh foundation that Fred couldn’t have even imagined back in high school.
Developing strong, street-friendly horsepower can be done with a wide range of approaches these days. Fred opted for something a little more sophisticated and sedate than a rowdy big block and had the Snyder team fit a 6.2-liter LS3 V8 from a 2015 Camaro in the Morrison chassis. It cranks out plenty of power thanks to performance enhancements like a custom sheet metal intake (which was aqua dipped with a carbon fiber finish) and ceramic coated headers from Morrison. A DeWitts aluminum radiator was added to keep things cool, with a Vintage Air Front Runner system driving all the accessories. A 6L80E six-speed automatic transmission ensures low-rpm highway cruising, while QTP electric cutouts ahead of the Flowmaster mufflers let Fred relive some of the open-header thrills of his youth.
Bringing the sedan delivery body back to life was no easy task. There were acres of sheet metal to repair and straighten before any paint could be applied. Mike and Dean used Impala patch panels to repair some of the typical Midwest quarter panel rust, while aftermarket floor pans were welded in and modified to accommodate the Morrison frame and overdrive transmission. The liftgate’s inner structure was rusty, so the team found one with a rusty outer skin and solid inner structure and combined the best parts to make one good gate.
After getting the metalwork complete, Mike and Dean spent countless hours prepping and block sanding the body before laying down the PPG paint – a rich and brilliant hue from Painthouse known as Randy Apple Red III. The beautiful color is accented by fresh chrome from Ogden Chrome, including the aluminum trim.
The deep red exterior was complemented inside with brown paint on the original dash, which was fitted with Dakota Digital VHX instruments and a Flaming River column topped with a Billet Specialties wheel. The Upholstery Shop in Grand Island, Nebraska stitched two-tone leather on the Procar bucket seats and built custom door and side panels to match – including panels to finish off the cavernous rear cargo area. A Lokar shifter was added to the custom console, Vintage Air was installed to keep temperatures in check, and an American Autowire harness was used to get everything connected.
The sedan delivery was finished up last year, just before things got shut down due to COVID. The Chevy did manage to snag Best Truck honors at the Omaha World of Wheels show, as well as the Meguiar’s Magnificent Masterpiece honor at the Goodguys Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals in Des Moines. Since then, Fred has been driving and enjoying the car regularly – often with those exhaust cutouts wide open. No doubt the sound brings back some great memories and helps transport Fred back to those carefree days when a cool car and the open road were the only things that mattered.
Photos by Damon Lee