1946 Chevrolet Special Deluxe 8.2-litre V8 Hot Rod


  • Photographed with Damon Hill and Jeremy Clarkson at the Footman James 'Parliamentary Classic Car Run
  • Powered by a 502 cu.in Chevrolet V8 that’s said to produce 502 horsepower
  • TH400 three-speed automatic transmission with a competition Hurst shifter
  • Had reportedly been a drag racer for a number of years before it was converted to its current specification in 1985
  • Evocative of the ‘70s and ‘80s American hot rod scene with a chopped and raked roof, traction bars and Halibrand wheels
  • Road registered and equipped with rear seats and a reversing camera
  • Comes with power assisted steering
  • Magazine featured vehicle

The Appeal

Few automotive experiences are such an assault upon the senses as an enormous and bright yellow V8 hot rod with five hundred horsepower…

Allow us to introduce ‘Rolling Thunder’, a 1940 Chevrolet Special Deluxe that’s been anything but stock for much of its life. Converted to its current specification and striking ‘school bus’ yellow colour scheme in 1985, it has since been well known in the British hot rodding scene. 

It hasn’t seen much use in recent years, so now’s the time for someone new to take on this magnificent machine and, dare we say it, work of art.

The History and Paperwork

  • Had reportedly been a drag racer for a number of years before it was converted to its current specification in 1985 by Keith Baker of Classic Cycle Works in the UK
  • Imported into the UK on 5th March 1982, and the paperwork remains with the car
  • Previously lived and drag raced in the Los Angeles area where it was a racecar on slick tyres
  • Became the property of UK-based American Car Imports (ACI) in 2001 via Ireland in a part exchange deal
  • The car has been driven very little in recent years and has spent some time in dry storage
  • Running and driving, although the vendor advises that it will likely be in need of some recommissioning work
  • UK road registered
  • Was regularly MOT tested up until 2012 but does not currently have one
  • Featured in an old edition of Classic American magazine, and a copy of the article is supplied

The Interior

  • Black Richmond Vinyl seats
  • Racing harnesses
  • Wilton carpeting
  • Retains its period correct dashboard
  • Fitted with rear seats and even a reversing camera

This Chevrolet’s interior bears all the hallmarks of a hardcore racing car with its numerous additional instruments, prominent Hurst shifter and Budnik custom billet steering wheel. That said, there are still plenty of creature comforts, making this a generally comfortable vehicle, especially for a hot rod.

The seats are especially comfortable and you’ll note there’s even a row for rear passengers. The door cards are upholstered and most of the floor is carpeted, which helps soften the raw edge off the whole hot rod experience.

We could see little in the way of wear to any of the seats or indeed the remaining soft furnishings. As a custom car, it’s likely not seen heavy use over the years, hence the few signs of wear.

Besides the copious aforementioned instruments, we also noticed a GPS for accurate speed readings and even such modern conveniences as a reversing camera! Believe it or not, there’s some usable luggage space behind the beautiful custom fuel tank as well. 

Considering that this is a powerful hot rod, ‘Rolling Thunder’ is surprisingly user friendly, and we understand that it was often spotted outside coffee bars around Hampstead and the King’s Road.

The Exterior 

  • Said to be all steel construction apart from the rear wings
  • ‘School bus’ yellow paintwork
  • Chopped and raked roof 
  • Equipped with traction bars and Halibrand wheels

Besides the fact you’ll have heard it coming, this Chevrolet’s great size, chopped top and lairy yellow colour scheme mean it cannot fail to pass by unnoticed. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for those who like to maintain a low profile, although you’d certainly be able to leave in a hurry should you need to…

With styling that evokes the hot rodding scene of the 1970s and ‘80s, ‘Rolling Thunder’ really looks the part with a great stance which is clearly inspired by the ‘gasser’ aesthetic. We understand that the roof was chopped and raked back in 1985 and it’s at this point that the car received the striking yellow paintwork it continues to show off to this day.

An open-sided bonnet, or ‘hood’ given that it’s about as American as apple pie, shows off that gargantuan V8 crate motor. We particularly enjoy that de-bumpered look at the front and the bespoke bumper at the rear. Other small details such as the Chevrolet emblems on the running boards really make this build feel bespoke.

The Halibrand wheels are unashamedly of their time and look fantastic. The aforementioned yellow paint will naturally exhibit the odd blemish here and there and the bodywork isn’t perfect, but it looks to be very smart overall considering parts of the shell are now 83 years old! Underneath, all appears in really good order with no obvious signs of any serious corrosion.

We’re informed that the body is all steel with the exception of the rear wings which are made from glass fibre.

The Mechanics 

  • 502 cu.in (8.3-litre) Chevrolet V8 crate engine
  • TH400 three-speed automatic transmission
  • Equipped with power steering
  • Exhaust bypass switch
  • Runs and drives, but in need of a good going over before use

As well as for show, this hot rod was very much made to go. With a simply huge carbureted V8 apparently churning out 502 horsepower (which is one per cubic inch), it’s capable of turning petrol into noise, smell and swift progress at an almost alarming rate.

Having been in dry storage and not seen any use in some time, as well as the very custom nature of hot-rods, this vehicle is being sold as requiring a good going over before any use.


If you’re looking for something that’s really quite mad, then we can heartily recommend ‘Rolling Thunder’. 

Truly unique and undeniably awesome, don’t miss this unrepeatable opportunity to acquire something really special.

Notice to bidders

This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1946
  • Make Chevrolet
  • Model Special Deluxe
  • Colour Yellow
  • Odometer 60,388 Miles
  • Engine size 8300
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Town Harlow
  • Location Essex
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
16 bids
  • Fo•••• £30,000 05/04/23
  • sh•••• £27,750 05/04/23
  • Fo•••• £27,500 05/04/23
  • sh•••• £25,500 05/04/23
  • Fo•••• £25,000 05/04/23
  • sh•••• £23,000 05/04/23
  • Fo•••• £22,500 05/04/23
  • ro•••• £21,000 05/04/23
  • Fo•••• £20,500 05/04/23
  • Fo•••• £18,500 05/04/23

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