Hank Groves / Woodstock, IL
If you work it right, the Car Craft version of the American Dream is that you work hard for most of your life, build a business, and then when you get older you can take the time to build all the cars you wanted to build when you were a kid but didn’t have the shop, money, or expertise. That’s Hank Groves’ story. He started a small business building specialty shelving for storing firefighting gear, which turned into a very successful venture that eventually allowed him to turn part of his shop into a great place for building cars. Hank’s into all kinds of performance cars, even though most of the cars in the shop at the time of this photo are street rods. He’s even started a small street rod company called Street Rod Center (StreetRodCenter.com). What got our attention was the big-block–powered S-10 pickup that is his parts chaser, but there’s plenty of muscle in some of these other rides as well. Hank’s a regular car crafter with an interest in just about anything with wheels.
The ’40 Chevy coupe is no slouch. It might look tame, but it has a GM Performance Parts 572ci Rat motor between the framerails that makes 620 hp. Backing up the big-block is a TH400 automatic with a Gear Vendors Overdrive and a 9-inch rear with a triangulated four-link all mounted to a Roadster Shop chassis.
While difficult to see, the green ’52 Ford pickup is a driver as well, with a 350ci small-block Chevy and a 700-R4 overdrive automatic.
The bright-red ’30 pickup uses a 5.7L LS1 for motivation and is backed with a T56 six-speed and a 9-inch Ford.
Longer-term projects include this ’40 Ford coupe that is slated to receive a radical LSX engine backed by a five-speed manual that will also rest on a Roadster Shop chassis. Behind it is a ’47 coupe that will also be eventually rodded out. On the other side of the shop out of the photo is a chopped ’32 sedan that’s getting its wrinkles smoothed.
Our centerpiece for this photo is Hank’s ’94 S-10 GMC Sonoma sporting a 468ci Rat motor shoehorned into the engine bay, backed by a 4L80E and a 4.56:1-geared 9-inch with fat tires. This is the shop’s parts chaser, and it is equipped with fully functional A/C just to make the trips to the parts store more comfortable.
Hidden behind the ’30 pickup is a phantom ’26 Model T sedan delivery that also sports a big-block Chevy for power. Hank uses this car as his display vehicle for firefighting shows. He says it never fails to draw a crowd. He also says it required a pair of two-door sedan bodies and a ton of custom body work to pull it off by Hank’s two rod builders, Chris Jones and Dave Collins.
As with any good hot rod shop, there are plenty of ongoing projects, including this ’49 Ford pickup on the hoist that sports a 302 small-block Ford spinning an AOD automatic, and his grandson’s ’47 Chevy sedan.