Keith Goettlich’s 1937 Chevy Custom Nailed it
1937 Chevy Coupe with Hot Rod Pinup Kelly Lindahl
Car Owner: Keith Goettlich – Click any picture for full size
As with most car guys, automotive make and style preferences are more often than not generational; Traits passed down through generations just like hair or eye color. For Keith Goettlich, it was a passion for Buick’s, and more specifically, their legendary Torque-bomb Nailhead V-8s that Keith inherited from his father.
Keith’s father, like few others in the 60s, steered away from the more popular (and generally cheaper) Bowtie and Blue Oval route and took the path less traveled in the big displacement horsepower wars with a 1964 Buick Wildcat ragtop sporting a 425 Nailhead guzzling leaded gas through dual quads. This would spark Keith’s lifelong passion for Buicks vertical valved line of V8.
Keith would build a few customs and rods throughout the years, including a 1933 Pickup that gained quite a bit of recognition along the East Coast. Each ride containing his signature trait: A Nailhead tucked in where most would expect to see a SBC. The Nailhead made Keith’s creations a bit more memorable, and before long, people began to contact Keith when they had Nailhead parts to scrap or move to make space in their garage.
After a few hot rods, Keith caught the Gasser bug and a buddy turned him onto a 1937 Chevy on the other side of the lower 48 in Modesto, CA. A gasser build had already been started on the car and Keith had plans to keep true to traditional Gasser form: Straight axle, Olds rear, but with a big Nailhead spinning the back tires.
While acquiring the Chevy, Keith noticed the traditional scene seemed to be going through a bit of a gasser craze. The consistent use of Nailheads should highlight Keith’s aversion to following popular trends, so he changed course and decided to go the way of a Harry Westergard style mild custom.
The transformation started with the textbook traditional body modifications – shaved handles, nosed front, and decked rear. More exclusive modifications followed, such as frenched in 1941 Studebaker lights in the rear (that “had to have” part that required the wallet gut check), a recessed license plate and quite a few subtle changes up front. 1938 headlights were used in place of the originals and lowered 2.5” to fit flush with the louvered spear treatments that line the sides of the hood. Keith also fabricated custom brackets to bring the bumpers in closer and round out the flowing lines.
To bring the roof lines down to a more suitable stance, Keith enlisted friend and famed East Coast builder Dave Paras of Paras Rod and Customs. Keith assisted with the 3” chop but is quick to give credit for the smooth refinements to the chop. When the bodywork was finished and all welds smoothed out, Keith shot the restyled coupe with 1970 Mercedes Dark Red.
It should be no surprise that a Nailhead somehow found its way underneath the hood. A 401 that Keith picked up from one of the various donors previously mentioned; likely out an early 60’s Le Sabre. Before installing the Buick power plant, Keith rebuilt the 401 and threw in a bigger cam and vintage Fenton valve covers to ensure the Nailhead’s look and sound matched its reliability. Dual factory quads sit atop the 401 and quench its thirst for petroleum; a nod to his father’s preferred setup. Where you might expect to find a Dynaflow backing up the 401, Keith opted for a 700R4 to take advantage of the OD on the long commutes to shows up and down the East Coast.
No corners were cut in giving the Chevy its pavement scraping stance as a Heidts Mustang II front-end was installed up front along with an AirRide system. Keith used sleeves in the rear along with a 2.5” notch in the frame to achieve the California rake.
Of course wide whites are used at all four corners and authentic Cadillac Sombreros add a dash of elegance to the front 15×5 steelies wrapped in Firestone 670-15s. A closer look reveals radials in the rear, but a set of Foxcraft skirts keep the rears hidden. Why radials in the back you may ask? Well Keith not only drives the 1937 Chevy to events all over the East Coast, but also pulls a 1963 Scotty trailer along with him on trips. How many of you can say that?
Keith’s unique accents brought about by a passion and years of experience in the kustom car culture continue throughout the interior. A cluster from a 1953 Olds replaces the factory gauges and added a 1951 Chevy butterfly steering wheel mounted to a custom steering column Keith built himself. Cabernet naugahyde pleated inserts outlined with bone white rolls, and cabernet piping adorns the stock 37 bench seat. The classic tuck and roll was laid out by Keith’s late friend Paul Letourneau who completed all of Keith’s interiors for the last 10 years. Paul’s unfortunate passing came just 2 weeks after Keith hand delivered him a copy the 1937s feature in Rodder’s Journal.
What’s next for Keith? Well, another build is in the works and after seeing his 1937 Chevy grace the pages of Rodder’s Journal, rest assured the bar has been set high. Chances are it will have a Nailhead, it will have dual quads, and what will likely be the newest signature of a Keith Goettlich build – plenty of coverage from automotive journalists.
Photos by Trent Sherrill
Model: Kelly Lindahl