I hope no one minds, but I (Tracy) am going to make the story about this 1949 Chevrolet Step Van a little personal because a few of my long time friends are involved with this one (to check out the build post on this project, please click here). Most of you out there know our customer, Rutledge Wood, from either NASCAR on Speed or Top Gear on History. I know Rutledge from our “hard parking” days at the Varsity Meet on North Avenue in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I discovered the beautiful addiction to cars around the year 2000, and when I did, Rutledge was already a prominent fixture in the local scene and had been for years. He had a crew (boob crew), and a brand (Rutspeed), that none of us took very seriously at the time. It all evolved out of the combo of internet forum chatter and real life camaraderie at shows and races. No one knew back then that our happy-go-lucky, car-dude friend would become a household name one day.
His rise happened sort of suddenly, it seems. One day he was doing some marketing junk with Speed, the next thing we knew he was a full-fledged NASCAR reporter hanging out with Kyle Petty! As if that wasn’t enough, rumors of a US version of Top Gear started floating around and tons of people in the industry were chomping at the bit for a stab at the position of hosts. At the time, most of us didn’t even know that Rut was in the running. I’m not sure if it is because he is a super humble guy, or if he just wasn’t allowed to say anything. Either way, you can imagine how proud we were to hear that our buddy was going to be a host on one of the most talked about shows to debut in the auto world.
Of course, there are people who love the US version of Top Gear and there are people who absolutely despise the show. Those on the despising side of the fence usually claim that it is nothing like the long running original version out of the UK. My opinion is that it doesn’t have to be like the BBK Top Gear to be cool. Nonetheless, I think it’s sweet that a down home car guy moved his way up and landed such an awesome gig. Out of all of the people I have met during my career in the auto-world, I think he really deserves everything that comes out of the show. Rut is one of the most authentic people I have ever known and his personality on TV isn’t an act. He is genuinely a very charming and funny guy….who really loves cars.
Now, it seems like forever that Rut has been running around with NASCAR and Speed, and History just kicked off its 3rd season of Top Gear. All the while, Rutledge has never forgotten about any of us old school Atlanta car scene folks. In fact, he often goes out of his way to share whatever he can with us. He loves nothing more than to give back to his friends and folks in Atlanta. For me, he has always been there to give me a shout out and provide a good industry reference for my knowledge and work. For others of us, he is a customer, and for a few, he is a business partner.
Recently, Rutledge partnered with a few of my long time car peeps in an apparel company called Volatile. Guy and Brandon started Volatile last year out of the love for cars and good design. Rutledge announced his involvement in January of 2013. Back in the day, Guy used to design all of my event flyers for me and all 3 of us (Guy, Brandon, and I) went to the same college. I was super stoked to see the designs coming out of Volatile and it seemed that they were picking up steam rather quickly. At the same time that Volatile was ramping up, Rutledge happened upon and purchased a 49 Chevrolet Stepvan—a ride that he had been dreaming of since his college days. Once he got it home, he decided along with Guy and Brandon that this would be a perfect vehicle to represent Volatile as a company. Seems like it is the perfect choice to haul Volatile gear to all of the events.
Eventually, he decided to employ American Resto Mods to the task of getting it road worthy for the 2013 Hot Rod Power Tour. For now, our job includes dropping the aluminum body on a ’99 Chevy 2500 HD frame, transplanting in a thumping fuel injected Chevy LS engine, and popping on a rowdy sounding Magnaflow exhaust. We are trying to talk him into a custom T-shirt cannon for the roof. Only makes sense, right?? We haven’t heard back on that mod yet.
Anyhow, since Rut has a pretty busy schedule, it looks like Mike will be driving the Step Van out to thePower Tour for him. He’ll meet us in Arlington, TX with Kyle Petty to take over from there. After the tour, the 1949 Chevrolet Step Van is expected to make it back to American Resto Mods for some more work to finish it off.
Make sure you check out Rut on Top Gear every Tuesday at 9pm on History. Also, be sure to check out Volatile for the brand new Rutspeed T-shirt!
Thinking about heading out for the 2013 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour? Check out this handy dandy UNOFFICIAL guide we created for all things HRPT 2013! Please feel free to SHARE it with your friends.