01 This is the profile that designer Eric Black sketched out for the Lucille roadster

A Look at The Craftsmanship of an Award-Winning 1934 Chevy Roadster

By Ron Covell

One of the highest honors in the indoor car show circuit is being named America’s Most Beautiful Roadster at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona. In the show’s 72-year history, this is only the second time this prestigious award has been given to a Chevy Roadster (non-Ford), but once you see the details of this spectacular roadster you’ll understand why it is very deserving of the honor.

02 a rendering with some of the modifications listed and with the custom-built convertible top shown
Here’s a rendering with some of the modifications listed and with the custom-built convertible top shown.

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Jeff Breault commissioned Devlin Rod and Customs to build his 1934 Chevy roadster “Lucille,” which was a multi-year project. While the allover appearance is of understated elegance, Tim Devlin and his dedicated crew put an inordinate amount of time into refining every detail and bringing them together into a tightly orchestrated final product. Designer Eric Black was brought on early in the process, and his drawings set the tone for the entire build.

Chevrolet made very few roadsters in 1934, so finding a good car to start with was the first obstacle. With patient dedication, Breault found a donor car in decent condition. One of the first major decisions was to have Roadster Shop build a custom chassis; they did a spectacular job. Knowing the car would be fenderless and channeled, they built frame rails to match the curvature of the body while kicking up enough in the rear to accommodate full suspension travel at the desired ride height.

03 The custom chassis was built by Roadster Shop
The custom chassis was built by Roadster Shop, featuring a completely original design for the independent front suspension, utilizing pushrods and bellcranks to operate the longitudinal coilover suspension units mounted inboard of the frame rails.

There are some notable parts of the chassis build, and one most people see right away is the custom-fabricated independent front suspension. The design features uniquely ribbed outlines and pockets on each of the control arms. The coilover suspension units are mounted horizontally, carefully fitted inboard of the frame rails and operated by a pushrod and bellcrank. This gives the front of the car an exceptionally clean look—similar in function to Formula 1 cars but with styling appropriate for a modernized ’30s vehicle. The brake discs run behind a beautifully machined component that resembles a backing plate with a scoop on the front edge. The caliper is tucked in at the rear edge, nearly out of sight.

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04 Since the roadster chassis is channeled, the entire floor was removed
This is an early fitting of the body to the frame. Since the roadster chassis is channeled, the entire floor was removed.

The design of the crossmembers on this Roadster Shop chassis is unlike any we have seen, with curves and angles that lead into the gorgeous, complex floorpan built for the body.

The body modifications are extensive, with virtually no panel left untouched, yet the allover appearance retains the core styling of a 1934 Chevrolet but with more grace and elegance. Countless hours were lavished on unique details like the hood hinges, custom DuVall-style windshield frame, hideaway convertible top, and the gorgeous upswept tail pan, which allows a peek at the Winters quickchange rear end. The hood is lengthened, but it retains the original side vents with custom-made trim. The grille shell is chopped, raked, recontoured, and extended. The doors are lengthened, and a special hinged panel was constructed to conceal the convertible top when it is retracted.

05 the elegant, one-of-a-kind front suspension
The grille shell is fitted into place here, and you can get a better view of the elegant, one-of-a-kind front suspension.

The Chevrolet LS3 engine is heavily detailed, too, with Alan Johnson–built injector stacks. These have the traditional Hilborn-style look but incorporate hidden electronic injectors. Johnson also made a special set of valve covers with more traditional styling. The custom headers had the fully rounded look of a detailed casting.

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There is more incredible work than we have space to cover, but look through the photos, and you’ll gain a new appreciation for what it took to do the body modifications on this stunning Chevy roadster. MR

06 1934-chevy-roadster The motor mounts were fabricated in a style that matches the front control arms
The motor mounts were fabricated in a style that matches the front control arms. The coilover suspension units are just barely visible below the mounts.
07 A new floor was made to follow the flowing shapes of the chassis
A new floor was made to follow the flowing shapes of the chassis. The transmission and driveshaft covers are being fitted here.
08 This is the start of the inner structure at the rear of the roadster body
The grille shell is fitted into place here, and you can get a better view of the elegant, one-of-a-kind front suspension.
09 This is one of the more convoluted floor pans we have seen
This is one of the more convoluted floor pans we have seen, and later photos will show how superbly it blends with the contours of the chassis.
10 The wheel well openings were sized to work with the tires
The rear portion of the body was completely reconstructed. The wheel well openings were sized to work with the tires, not the layout for the OEM-style beads that will be placed on the inner wheel well panels.
11 They are being tweaked off the roadster in preparation for being fitted to the body
Here are the inner wheel well panels and the start of the rear pan. They are being tweaked off the roadster in preparation for being fitted to the body.
12 The fit and alignment will be checked before finish-welding
The rear panels are tack-welded into place here. The fit and alignment will be checked before finish-welding.
13 The hidden door hinges are completely custom fabricated
The hidden door hinges are completely custom fabricated. Note the progression from the early version on the left to the graceful, finished versions.
14 Great care was taken to give everything an OEM look for this Chevy Roadster
Here’s a look at the rear edge of the cowl showing the custom-fabricated door jambs and the pocket for the top hinge. Great care was taken to give everything an OEM look.
15 Nearly every part of the doors is custom made for this Roadster
This is the start of the inner structure for the door, showing the pockets the hinge plates fit into. Nearly every part of the doors is custom made.
16 The custom door panels are being test-fitted here
The custom door panels are being test-fitted here. On the cowl, note the new metal featuring twin curved beads, adding strength and style.
17 The only original metal left is the small portion with the curved top edge
Here’s the next step with the door. The only original metal left is the small portion with the curved top edge leading up to the cowl.
18 a small panel with a reinforced X bead was added to the inner structure of the door
Before final assembly of the door, a small panel with a reinforced X bead was added to the inner structure, giving it additional strength.
19 The sturdy hood hinges were completely hand fabricated
The sturdy hood hinges were completely hand fabricated. They allow the hood to hinge from either side or the entire hood top can be removed by pulling two pins. Believe it or not, the grooves in these parts were made with a table saw!
20 No CNC here–all the shapes were hand-fabricated in the traditional way
Here’s a closeup showing the knob that extends through the firewall allowing the hood latches to be operated from inside the car. No CNC here–all the shapes were hand-fabricated in the traditional way.
21 The greatly modified grille shell is mounted with all fasteners hidden from outside the car
The greatly modified grille shell is mounted with all fasteners hidden from outside the car, and the hood latch rails provide substantial support at the top.
22 The allover shape was made in two pieces, with a welded seam down the center
The new hood top is started here. The allover shape was made in two pieces, with a welded seam down the center. The side beads will be added later.
23 A reinforcing strip is welded to the front and rear edge and two stiffening strips are fitted
The hood top has lots of reinforcing. A reinforcing strip is welded to the front and rear edge and two stiffening strips are fitted from side to side and plug welded.
24 The new Roadster hood side is trial fitted
The new hood side is trial fitted.
25 A section from the old hood sides containing the vents is test-fitted
A section from the old hood sides containing the vents is test-fitted to the new hood side.
26 The windshield frame was machined from aluminum billet
This is a great view, showing how the lines of the body converge toward the front. The windshield frame was machined from aluminum billet, then carefully hand-massaged to get the proper fit and contour.
27 Here the folding top mechanism is being adjusted for the roadster
Here the folding top mechanism is being adjusted to ensure it fits the windshield and the rear body panel perfectly. You can also see the subtle wedge shape given to the body.
28 With body panels primered, you can appreciate the care spent finessing the gaps on the Chevy Roadster
With body panels primered, you can appreciate the care spent finessing the gaps.
29 you can see how the complex shapes blend together beautifully
With the body and chassis flipped upside down, you can see how the complex shapes blend together beautifully. Fits like these do not happen by accident.
30 The gaps on the underside were given just as much attention as those on the top
The gaps on the underside were given just as much attention as those on the top.
31 Here you can see the unusual approach Roadster Shop took with the custom chassis crossmembers
Here you can see the unusual approach Roadster Shop took with the custom chassis crossmembers. They have a section similar to an I-beam, but with curved and angled webs. Careful thought was given to providing room for the exhaust system.
32 This is a peek inside the finished hood side after painting the roadster
This is a peek inside the finished hood side after painting. Note the beefy reinforcements on all edges and the hollow structure strengthening the bottom where it attaches to the custom chassis.
33 Looking inside the hood top you can see how beautifully the seams have been finished roadster
Looking inside the hood top you can see how beautifully the seams have been finished, and how the sculpted aluminum braces fit snugly against the transverse reinforcements.
34 Here you can see how the convertible top cover hinges up of the roadster
Here you can see how the convertible top cover hinges up. The robust hinges for the decklid can be seen here too, done with the same attention to detail as the rest of the project.

Sources
Devlin Rod and Customs
(316) 265-2088
devlinrodandcustoms.com

e. Black Designs
@eblackdesign

Miller Electric Manufacturing Co.
(920) 734-9821
millerwelds.com

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