GOSHEN, CT – Parked in his barn in Goshen is a non-running 1931 Chevrolet sedan that Skip Shattuck bought when he was a teenager growing up on Long Island in the 1960s. It was his first car and provides a tantalizing entry point into this RIDE-CT story of why decades later he bought a 1934 Chevrolet Master roadster and had it restored.
“I was a kid in high school, just got my driver’s license. I wanted an old car and really I was looking for a Ford, but I didn’t know anybody that knew anything about them,” Shattuck reported one sunny fall day.
There was, however, a man in his neighborhood named Guy Roese who was knew about old Chevrolets. “He said, ‘There’s a lot of Fords around. The Chevies are rarer, but they’re kind of interesting in their own right.’ He’s the one who got me hooked on Chevies and within a week of meeting him, I had my first car,” Shattuck said.
Roese owned a 1934 Chevy roadster that he occasionally let Shattuck drive it while mentoring the youth. “I just fell in love with the car and I always wanted one, but they were very hard to find,” he said.
Part of reason for their rarity is that the model featured a wood body and lacked glass door windows, using window curtains instead. Consequently, rain water would get inside, rotting the wood and rusting the metal. “There’s a high loss because of that,” Shattuck said.
It wasn’t until 2008 that he spotted one in Watertown, N.Y. in a Chevy car club magazine. “It wasn’t a complete running car. It was a project,” he said.
He quickly called antique car restorer and fellow Vintage Chevrolet Club of America member Dave Sylvain, who lives in Andover, CT. Sylvain agreed to accompany him to look at the 1934 roadster, but not before he divulged a secret.
Shattuck recalled, “He said, ‘Are you sitting down?’” Sylvain then disclosed that he owned the actual roadster that Roese had when Shattuck was a teenager. “It’s kind of a unique connection where we kinda went full circle. I restored this as a tribute to the mentor and we also have the car that my mentor had,” he said.
It took 11 years – until 2019 – before the roadster was delivered to Shattuck because what he basically bought was parts. “Nothing in the body was connected. There was nothing bolted together. It was just sheet metal panels and wood that we could use as patterns, but it wasn’t good enough to reconstruct, so we had to build a whole new wood body for it,” Shattuck said.
The Chevy’s 207-cubic-inch, six-cylinder engine (with three-speed manual transmission) got rebuilt and its exterior got painted two-tone green in original factory colors. “G.M. was putting a lot of emphasis on color and style,” said Shattuck. The model year “1934 was first year with fender skirts, which was a dealer installed option that got painted to match the car.”
Matching chrome strips on sides of the metalwork covering the engine and on the fender skirts give it pizzazz. “It just kinda has that art deco look,” Shattuck said. “It just gives a nice balance. There’s a nice flow to it. General Motors really nailed it as far as a good looking car.”
What also sets Shattuck’s 1934 Chevrolet Master roadster apart from his 1931 Chevy is the technological advances. “A ’31 Chevy drives like a ‘30s car and the ’34 actually drives like a ‘50s car. It has an independent front suspension, which is very unusual for cars in ’34, so it gives a very good ride, much better than a normal car form that era,” he said. “It keeps up with traffic as long as you’re not on the Interstates. It drives fine.”
Shattuck takes the ’34 Chevy to shows and out for pleasure rides. He opted for a high-end restoration “not because I’m interested in having it judged at a national level,” rather because Sylvain was capable and because of the model’s connection to his youth.
Still to be restored is his first car – the 1931 Chevrolet. It will be done sometime in the future simply as a “driver.” He said that hopes to have it done “within the next five years.”
See the 1934 Chevrolet Master in action in this YouTube video…
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