1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Sport Coupe
Robert Cserhalmi of Sweden
Customs of Sweden
Old Iron, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as “Waste pieces or disused articles of wrought iron which is suitable for reworking”. Metal that is only good enough to be in a scrap yard or worse, melted down to be turned into something else entirely. Now this may sound a bit on the harsh side but in our world, it is a fate that is all too common for the cars that we love. So, with that being said, this easily could have been the fate of the 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster below if it wasn’t for the love, care, and attention given to it by its owner, Robert Cserhalmi and the car he proudly calls “Old Iron”.
“I have always loved traditional kustom cars, although this was my first, world circumstances at the time built it to what it is today”. I’m sure plenty of us reading this article are guilty of our project cars quickly “Snow-balling” in time and money aside from the original plan, and with this ’48 it did snowball. Robert who lives in Sweden, acquired the Chevy in 2015, from a transporter who brings cars over from the U.S. where he found this one in Virginia. Robert admits that a fair bit of work was done to the car, it had a small block chevy under the hood, was already chopped, and it was a presentable car that he enjoyed until about 2018 when the paint started showing its age. I think we all have an idea of where the story is going to go from here…..
I’ve always been a believer in the saying “Never buy a car, sight unseen, you never know what you’re going to get”. However, every car that I have ever bought was always located fairly close to where I live and all it would take was some windshield time, or a quick flight to go check it out and make my final decision.Luckily for me I live in the U.S. and have found American cars are easy to buy. Robert has never had to go transatlantic to buy a car. Thus understandably Robert didn’t have much of a choice when it came to buying his amazing Chevy.
After several years of driving the ’48 the car was in need of some TLC mechanically and cosmetically. He took the car over to Old Iron Kustoms, located in Källebäcken, Sweden. It is owned by Daniel “J:Son” Johansson and Cristian “Cheva” Carlsson. They specialize in building traditional hot rods and customs, mainly American style. You may have seen their work before if you troll any hot rod or custom car social media. So, when it came to choosing a shop to do work it was pretty easy for Robert, and that is when the story starts to take a turn.
“My goal was just to have a good, reliable drive” ahhh those famous last words that we have all told ourselves time and time again. Robert says originally, he just wanted the car to be mechanically overhauled including suspension which is a simple task for any hot rod shop. But then the issue with the paint came into the conversation. Like I said before, when Robert bought the car it was already chopped. Sadly, as we all know clever photography you can hide even the worst of body work. “It was obvious that whoever chopped this car originally did not have access to an English wheel”. After they addressed the cracked paint issue, they uncovered a roughly stitched together roof and poor welds. Which were all covered with no less than 1” of bondo on the entire car.
Robert knew the car had to be stripped down and wanted it fixed. The team over at Old Iron Kustoms assured him that they could fix it, now it was all about playing the waiting game until it could be finished. Now for any car owner waiting for your car to get finished to drive is a fate worse than death. But just then the world decided to throw Robert a bone and make his wait a little easier……..A GLOBAL PANDEMIC IN 2020!!! I bet you never thought a pandemic would bring about good news but being that in 2020 the entire world was locked down from any real sort of social interaction. Robert decided that since global conditions made it so that he could not really drive or enjoy his car in the way that he intended given the current environment. He talked to the guys over at Old Iron Kustoms and they decided to go “full bore” on his build. Since time was now on their side, they changed the plan from presentable driver to full blown show custom that you see in these pictures.
Since I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to mechanics, that is always where I like to start with my own cars. Personally, I want form and function, but the function is what is going to get me home at night. The frame is actually the stock frame, but it does have a pretty significant kick-up in an effort to get the stance right. In the rear there is a 10 bolt rear end with 3.08 gears, a K-link and bags. In front, they went with a simple Mustang II for drivability and comfort with coil overs and of course disc brakes. This all sits on U.S. Mags aluminum sombrero styled rims and wrapped in American Classic 6.70 15”tires.
If you lift the hood, you’re going to find a tastefully detailed small block chevy from RPM Racing linked up to a TH350 trans. The 350 is packed with a Comp cam, Edelbrock heads, Edelbrock intake topped with a Holley Sniper EFI kit, MSD ignition, and the ramhorn exhaust manifolds are exhaling through a custom-made stainless dual exhaust. Aside from the performance, the jewels in the engine bay include a smoother firewall, modified Cal Custom valve covers, and a Cadillac batwing air cleaner modified with fins to match the valve covers. The paint of this build is matched to the exterior of the car, which compliments the metallic gold block.
This car was heavily influenced on the exterior by the West Coast customs, that were typically seen throughout the 1950’s. However being that Robert is also a big fan of early 1960’s American cars as well
, he wanted to tie in that theme as well. He credits Magus with the restyled interior. Originally when Robert got the car, the interior was red and white. This was not going to work with his new vision, so he had the 1964 Thunderbird seats wrapped in white leather and gold stitching. The idea of using gold was due to the fact that he thought it would be a nice contrast against the white leather. Originally the idea was to use silver, but he thought it would make the interior look too “bleached” against the white leather seats, headliner, and door panels. I will have to admit, I think he was right! Besides the seats, the door panels are accented with stainless from a Volvo Amazon (I’m assuming that those pieces are relatively easy to get in Sweden), and a custom-made center console. The dashboard was lovingly attended to by shaving the gauges and relocating them through a set of NVU gauges and the steering wheel is a 1961 Impala with custom center. Yes, in case you’re wondering the trunk upholstery is equally as stunning and detailed topped with a custom filler cap that has been aptly detailed with the name of the car (gas tank also comes from a Volvo Amazon).
Let’s get to the fun stuff, having a car that performs well is one thing. But when you have a car like this with beautiful interior, the exterior must match. Upon looking at the poorly pieced together roof, it was decided that it needed to be fixed, and fixed the right way. It was decided that the roof would be chopped 3” in the front and 5” in the rear to achieve a proper motorboat stance. Of course, that is the most obvious of the modifications, but I’m all about the details. As we already know, Robert’s car is ’48 but the grille is actually a modified ’46 Chevy grille and is a perfect addition. It was given a one-piece hood which was nosed and peaked, and the front was further complimented with a pair of ’52 Cadillac headlight bezels and the lines were added to the front fenders as they were also being reshaped, along with a reshaped and tucked front bumper.
Continuing to walk around the car, looking at the side profile you will notice the doors have been radiused, shaved, and you cannot overlook the custom-made rocker moldings & skirt bloomers which Robert credits Old Iron Kustoms for making and Retroshtern for all the plating on the car. The rear fender seams have been molded to the body and a pair of flush mount skirts were made for Robert’s Chevy. In the rear, you’re going to find that the trunk lid has been decked, the rear bumper has been reshaped and tucked closer to the body. The bumper has been fit with ’48 Ford bumper guards which now house the taillights, and in the center a ’49 Chevy license plate guard was used.
What really ties this car together aside from the stunning visuals, is the exterior color. I wish I could tell you what exactly it is, but I will tell you this. I looked at this car for a solid 20 minutes at the 2022 Grand National Roadster Show admiring every little detail that was done to it before I realized that the car was not actually black. This effect is due to the intense amounts of pearl in the paint, when I saw the car, it was housed indoors, and it really takes light to make this paint come alive. “We decided on a pearl paintjob instead of a more traditional candy paint job due to the fact that this car originally was meant to be a driver. Pearl paint has the ability to be blended and touched up in the event of chips and scratches. Unlike a candy paint job which cannot be blended to the same effect”. Robert credits the paint as a Franzen design, and it took roughly 2.5 to 3 months in the paint booth alone to get the desired finish.
You really have to tip your hat to Robert for dreaming this one up. He took a car that most would have given up on and used his amazing skills & passion to rebuild this car into an absolute show stunner. Remember, Old Iron is not necessarily bad metal, it’s just metal that needs to be rebuilt and we are glad that this one was. For those of us here in the states who are eager to see this car in person, I hope you can refund your flight because there is no need to fly to Sweden to see this one. It recently sold on 01/27/2024 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ to its new owner Robert Shippy. Out of respect, I will not say what the hammer price was but here’s what I will say, “Old Iron” is now the highest selling 1948 Chevy in history, a testament to an incredibly well built and stunning vehicle. So if you live in the area of Phoenix, AZ, keep your eyes open on the boulevards and you may just catch a glimpse of Old Iron cruising the streets.
Fleetmaster Sport Coupe modified with a 3” Chop in the front & 5” Chop in the rear
Modified to fit 1946 Chevrolet Grille with One Piece Hood
Stock Fenders reshaped in the front with Rear fenders molded with Custom flush mounted fender skirts.
Shaved door handles
Nosed hood and Decked trunk
1952 Cadillac Headlight bezels
Reshaped bumpers to be tucked in closer
1949 Chevrolet Bumper License Plate guard
1948 Ford bumper guards with custom tail lights
Rounded door corners
Custom rocker moldings
Metal / Body Work by Old Iron Kustoms. Sweden
Sikkens single-stage black pearl paint with mixture of brown and purple pearls.
Paintwork by Anders Franzen of FranzenDesign Custom and Paint. Sweden
White leather with Gold Stitching upholstery by Magus Bilsadelmakeri & Tapetse. Sweden
1964 Ford Thunderbird Bucket Seats
Stock 1948 Chevrolet Dash shaved & modified
New Vintage USA Gauges
1961 Chevrolet Impala Steering Wheel with custom center cap
Tilt Steering Column
Custom center console
Custom aluminum finned sill plates
Volvo Amazon trim on door panels
Custom made fuel filler in trunk
Audio System hidden to keep traditional look
Trunk & Door poppers
Stock 1948 Chevrolet frame with C-Notch & 4-link triangulated kit in rear
10 Bolt GM rear end 3.08 ring & pinion gears
Volvo Amazon Fuel Tank
Chassis Fabrication by Old Iron Kustoms. Sweden
Mustang II Suspension Front Kit with Coil Springs
Rear suspension with air bags & gas shocks
Suspension Work by Old Iron Kustoms. Sweden
Front: Disc brakes
Rear: Drum brakes
15” x 6" US Mag Aluminum wheels inspired by 1957 Cadillac hubcaps wrapped in 6.70 Coker American Classic Bias look Radial whitewall tires
RPM Racing 350 Small Block Chevrolet engine; Metallic Gold paint color
Cal Custom Finned Valve Covers
Edelbrock intake with Holley Sniper 4 Barrel Carburetor
Modified Cadillac Batwing Air Cleaner
Rams Horn Exhaust Manifold
Modified Cadillac Air Cleaner with Custom top
Engine Work by Lasse at RPM Racing
Turbo TH350 Automatic Transmission
Transmission Work by Lasse at RPM Racing
Custom Stainless Exhaust
American Autowire Wiring Harness
Chrome Plating by Retroshtern Restoration
Stainless Polishing by Old Iron Kustoms
Buff Out and Polish of Paint by Habo Bilvard
Aluminum Work by Innovator Boats
Grand National Roadster Show 2023 : Second Place Traditional Custom
Sacramento Autorama 2023 : Crystal Award of Excellence, Outstanding Undercarriage, Outstanding Engine, Outstanding Display
Darryl Starbird National Rod & Custom 2023 : Fine Nine Award
Multiple Awards at Local Sweden Car Shows 2022