Inspired by his father, Lee followed in his foot steps to create his own vision of the automotive.
Words by Josh McGowan
Photography by Tony & Carmen Matthews
Lee Well has been a car enthusiast from before he could even drive. At age 14 he had is first car purchased despite the fact he was years away from being of legal age to even drive the thing. Having left school at 16 and gaining a general engineering apprenticeship, Lee knew that his life would revolve around machinery – you could even blame his father who regularly worked on his own vintage cars throughout Lee’s life, the inspiration was certainly there.
It wasn’t until after leaving school and setting out in world where the young Lee would be fully transformed into a car enthusiast. As he explains, he and his two siblings all were driving now, so his parents were looking to relocate to somewhere will a larger driveway for all of the new motors. After finding a great house situated in a village with enough space for 12 cars, they noticed that the building was attached to local village garage.
“The garage (at that time) wasn’t advertised for sale, but my father persuaded the owner of the garage (who was incidentally the owner of the house as well) to sell both properties to us. This was my entry into the car world.” Lee informs us.
Now with a fully functioning garage attached to their home, there was no stopping Lee and his father setting out on their journey of leaving behind boring standard model cars. Instead focusing on reworking and remodeling their favourite types of cars in their new Worksop, the Well family would be spending their time on more exciting projects. As Lee fondly remembers, “, It was only a matter of time before I diverted away from what I call ‘modern tin’ to something older and more interesting.”
Like most other boys of his generation, Lee was raised on classic American TV and films. Most of these commonly featured hair raising action sequences, and always had a stunning American car model in the midst of all of this – The Dukes of Hazard, Bullitt, Smokey and the Bandit, Two Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point and Christine, the list goes on. This led to Lee having a love for American model cars. “I was drawn to the flamboyance, the toughness and the full on bad ass looks of these cars, nothing of which I was getting working on modern cars.”
It would not take long for Lee to get his first American mode, which was a 63 Chrysler 300. It would take even less time for him to go on and purchase his second model, a 62 Ford Galaxie convertible. Satisfied for the time being, it would take another five years before Lee decided to treat himself to something new, and this time he had making the decision to import the car from America itself. A 1968 383cu Dodge Charger was the model of choice, but the savvy Lee thought why not get an upgrade on the model. As his charge was imparted it fetched a nice price, and he used this to import a 68 charger 440 RT model.
Since then he hasn’t looked back on his importing ways, “Following on from that I’ve imported all my own rides which include 1940 Ford Woodie, 1968 Camaro, 1951 chopped Merc and a 51 Ford F1 Stakeside. This Stakeside was absolutely bog standard so I knew my next truck purchase needed to be on the other end of the spectrum.”
This brings us full circle to how Lee found the 47 Chevy that we are currently admiring. After finding the model on EBay, he took the bold decision to buy it there and then, despite having never seen it. Yet for Lee it was a no brainer, it was everything he was looking for at the time, “It had all I was looking for in a custom truck Air ride, suicide doors, chopped cab, door poppers, a pretty neat cream tuck n roll interior and a fresh 350cu crate motor. Best of all for me, it was a manual box. From what I could see in the photos, all was good.”
Upon its arrival it became clearer that the truck would require a little TLC, which Lee was more than happy to provide. Yet there was quite the list of things that needed fixed, which makes this custom job that more impressive. Lee breaks down for us the condition it arrived in and what he had to do to solve the problems.
“The truck came from a dry state, so the air compressor, tank, solenoids and batteries were all open to the elements on a rather horrid plywood bed. A lot of the airlines had joiners in them (which I couldn’t really understand why?) so I basically ripped out the bed, air-ride system and suspension and started over, but reinstating the bed with chequer plate and concealing all air-ride systems and batteries etc. in a chequer plate tool chest mounted behind the cab.
The truck had no front or rear bumpers, so I bought a couple of stock blade bumpers and sourced various over-riders from Jaguar, MG and Hillman Imp and fabbed up to give it that ‘tough’ look. The rear bumper I cut to make bumper quarters which gave me a perfect space to mount an old WW2 Ambulance flood lamp for a reversing light.”
After this, it was on to the aesthetics of the truck, which were in dire need of a facelift.
“The original door cards where awful looking in the flesh, so I junked them and just covered the inside of each door with American vintage number plates that I had collected over the years.
The front end (even after installing cool bumpers) still looked a little on the bare side. I searched for an original Chevy hood ornament but wasn’t going to be held ransom to the ridiculous prices people were asking for them, so decided to give it my own treatment. Cue the vintage adjustable spanner for hood ornament and bull horns up front for the Boss Hog look.”
After all of the hard work and time put into making this 47 Chevy one of a kind, Lee seems more than happy with the finished product, and we can’t blame him, who wouldn’t! It’s sure to be the envy of many car enthusiasts on these shores, considering it’s a custom import job.
“The truck was my daily driver and could be driven scraping along the floor or at a regular looking height -depending on my mood!!”