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Published 8/31/23

A Tin Woody for Modern Times

WORDS: DAN HODGDON

PHOTOS: LUCAS PRIAMO

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How do you update a time capsule? For Mike Goldman Customs, installing a Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System in a 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe Wagon is part of the answer. However, the Meridian, Mississippi-based shop took painstaking steps to not significantly alter the “Tin Woody.”

Rather, they seamlessly integrated modern technology into the beloved piece of automotive history.

This 1952 Tin Woody, built by Mike Goldman Customs, features a Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System.

Talbert Goldman and his father – the namesake of the company – showcased the vehicle at the Gandrud Chevrolet booth during July’s Goodguys Summit Nationals at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. As one might expect, the unique wagon attracted plenty of attention.

The Goldmans built the vehicle for Kevin Kirby from Bowling Green, Kentucky, whose uncle had previously worked with Mike Goldman Customs on a 1957 Chevy build. Impressed with the Goldmans’ work, Kirby asked the team to take on the Woody at their shop, where they performed an extensive rebuild of the vehicle over the course of two and a half years. When they began, it needed new floor plans and was rotted in many areas. Today, it’s hard to believe the vehicle was ever in such disrepair.

At the heart of the modern version of the wagon is a 430-horsepower Chevrolet Performance LS3 crate engine.*

A Chevrolet Performance LS3 crate engine* is found under the hood.

The LS3 is paired with a SuperMatic 4L70-E four-speed automatic transmission to complete the Connect & Cruise package. Dozens of similarly factory-matched engine-and-transmission combinations are available from the Bowtie.

“It’s the most reliable deal out there,” Talbert Goldman said of the Connect & Cruise option.

“It simplifies the whole project,” he added. “If you have any issues you plug into it and you work on it and go from there. It makes it so simple.”

The Woody sits on an aftermarket Art Morrison chassis that significantly aided in the installation of the powertrain package. However, the wagon originally featured a 235 cu.-in. inline-six engine and three on the tree. As a result, some modifications to the firewall and transmission tunnel were required.

“It all dropped in, everything worked itself out, but with anything custom you’ve got fabrication that goes along with it,” Goldman explained.

This may look like wood, but it’s actually paint.

A special highlight of the Tin Woody is the paint, which is true to the original style – down to the painted woodgrain. In fact, that painted sheet metal is where the vehicle’s nickname comes from. At the show and hotel during the Goodguys weekend, the Goldmans surprised many attendees by revealing the intricate woodwork was actually painted. Paul Quinn of Design Brilliance, in Morton, Pennsylvania, was responsible for all the woodgrain paint on the body.

“That’s the way they were so you’ve got to keep it original,” Goldman said.

Kevin Kirby’s wife, Lynn, asked that the rest of the Woody be painted in a green earth-tone shade but it had to be metallic. When they found the car, it was a brown color with deteriorated wood paint. The Goldmans, together with Lynn, found a Porsche color to fit the request.

Mike Goldman Customs also added the wagon’s billet-aluminum trim, while Jon Wright’s CustomChrome Plating in Grafton, Ohio, was responsible for the vehicle’s chromework. The car rides on perfectly complementary Schott wheels with Wilwood brakes.

The classy interior features a variety of modern upgrades.

Mike Goldman Customs was responsible for the entirety of the build outside of the interior. Sewn Tight Custom Interiors in Louisville, Kentucky, did all the upholstery work. The interior’s medium-chocolate color continues both the earth tone of the paint and the dark wood in the dash. Dakota Digital gauges, a Vintage Air system and New Relic power windows are just a few of the modern upgrades.

A vintage cooler sporting stickers from various states sits in the back of the wagon, and the vehicle’s owner also has a house in Panama City, Florida. The Woody will fit right in along the ocean.

Mike Goldman (left) and his son Talbert are award-winning builders.

Over the years, Mike Goldman Customs has become a renowned shop, and at Goodguys Columbus was showing a variety of its recent award-winning builds. The staff often uses LS power and Connect & Cruise packages for their reliability, as Goldman noted. Their work is held in the highest regard; currently the shop has a backlog of more than three years.

With builds like the 1952 Tin Woody, it’s easy to understand why.

Be sure to keep watching The BLOCK for more Chevrolet Performance builds from Goodguys Columbus and a wide variety of other events.

*Because of its effect on a vehicle’s emissions performance, this engine is intended exclusively for use in competition vehicles. This engine is designed and intended for use in vehicles operated exclusively for competition: in racing or organized competition on courses separate from public roads, streets or highways. Installation or use of this engine on a vehicle operated on public roads, streets or highways is likely to violate U.S., Canadian, and state and provincial laws and regulations related to motor vehicle emissions.

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