Every once in a while, it is necessary to see just how far you can go, and for one Metal Fabricator that came in the form of a 1991 Chevrolet Caprice Wagon.
Most successful businesses these days have fancy websites and social media for advertising, but for Kim Gough, there is no need for social media, because his work speaks for itself. And nothing showcases raw talent and ingenuity like his purple 1991 Caprice Station Wagon.
Flashback to 1998, Kim and his then wife Robin were in line to get into the Street Machine Nationals at the Du Quoin fairground’s in Illinois. Out of the corner of his eye Kim spots a purple lowered 91 Caprice Wagon. Kim looks to Robin and says “imagine that thing with a big block in it!” and “It would be like his and hers rides” (as they were currently driving a matching body style 95 Impala SS).
That simple idea, which started out as a joke quickly turned into a reality. Kim called the bank and got a loan by noon, and when the Street machine nationals were over that weekend he drove the purple wagon home. Comically when they got the wagon home they found out the front was lowered with hydraulics, but the back was lowered with 300 pounds of steel plates.. Talk about bad gas mileage!
What started as a simple engine swap quickly escalated into nearly a two decade build. Seeing that the wagon was bought at the street machine nationals in 1998, when it was completed it debuted at the same show 17 years later!
After purchasing it, Kim drove the wagon the rest of the season and then started started tearing it apart. Originally the plan was to keep the purple paint because it had custom 80’s airbrush work from the previous owner. But when removing the floor with a plasma cutter Kim accidentally melted some of the original graphics, and just like that a budget build turned into a full custom project, In other words “That Escalated Quickly!” They built the new frame right away but the engine took some time.
Power comes from a Keith Black all aluminum 540 with a 8-71 BDS Blower overdriven 20%. A 16 injector Holley EFI and a custom Nitrous system handles the fuel delivery. The wagon has a fully built 700r4 reverse pattern manual valve body. The rear suspension consists of an Alston Fab 9 rear end housing and 4 link with 35 spline axle with 4.30 gears. Kim tubbed the wagon and installed Boyd’s wheels (back when they were still made in the U.S.) He has 15x14’s on the back with 33x19.50 Mickey Thompsons and 15x6’s with 205.70.R15’s on the front. The wagon has a full custom exhaust by Robert Carrasca with tuneable 80’s style SuperTrapp mufflers. The luggage rack was also removed and the holes were filled. The entire rear floor is removable to access the custom fuel cell and suspension.
Kim fabricated a custom dash and a steel centre console that continues to the middle seats as well. It has custom grey leather seats done by Andy Laird and the paint is Passion Pearl expertly done by Josh Lester at Rocket Paint and Performance.
Kim built a twin rail 1 5/8th inch round tube rear frame at his shop. The wagon has full air ride on all four corners by Air ride Technologies. NO STEEL PLATES THIS TIME!
The hood is actually split into two, the unique design was created by welding two separate hoods together, one of which came from a wrecked cop car! He also installed a fibre glass roll pan and the existing shaved door handles were retained.
Kim distinctly remembers making custom headers over thanksgiving weekend, almost missing dinner in the process. Not all builds happen right away, sometimes life gets in the way, or sometimes simple builds turn into extravagant ones. There are no limits when you have a handful of creative minds with one goal. This build truly showcases the talents of each builder Kim has at his shop. In a way, this is what happens when a simple build escalates into the coolest thing you can take to the grocery store.
Kim enjoys bringing it out each year for their local car show “Maple City Cruise night” in August and occasionally to other events or just for a rip down the road.
Kim would like to thank Bob Alexander at performance transmission out of Clinton Illinois for building the transmission, Larry Wright for assembling the engine, Josh Lester of Rocket paint and performance for doing the paint, Andy Laird for doing the interior, and special thanks to Robert Carrasca, Josh Lester and Jason Allen for all the invaluable help. Lastly, much appreciation to Kim’s ex wife Robin for not taking half the car in the divorce!
Kim is originally from England, but moved to Canada with his family in 1974. He remembers being so enamored with big American cars as a kid. In England most cars were much smaller and normally didn’t have V8’s. His dad wasn’t into cars but he had a paper route and everyday he would stop his bicycle and look at a big Gold car with a black wing.. Later on he found out the car was a 1971 Mustang Mach 1. When he was 7 his dad let him shift their 1966 Ford Cortina, which sparked a passion for all things automotive. Regular rides to school in a neighbors Red E-type Jag cemented his interest in performance cars.
It was a huge cultural change moving to Canada at 14 years old, but Kim remembers sitting for hours on the side of the road by his dads office just being fascinated by American iron. In 1978 his family moved to Monmouth Illinois for work. Being 18 he decided to tag along, just to see what it was like. It must have been good, because 45 years later Kim owns and operates a very successful fabrication shop called Metalcrafters in the same small town! Specializing in all kinds of metal fabrication and one of a kind custom hotrod builds. If you can dream it, He and his team can build it!
Currently Kim has a few fun projects on the go, including a 70 Chevelle wagon (Goldie), 2008 Pontiac G8, 92 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser with a cammed up 6.2L aluminum LS, 76 Grand Torino with a tunnel ram 572, 2017 fully custom chevy 3500 express van, 1969 Chevy panel van with a blown LS with a 6speed manual, 2023 Camaro (the Kimaro) convertible, 1978 Ford LTD and a 2007 Chevy 1 ton Dually to haul them if a trailer is needed!
Kim daily drives a 2013 Avalanche and a 1996 OBS Chevy half ton work truck. In the future Kim would love to build a 70’s hotrod Cadillac hearse or a blown Rolls-Royce.
At 63, Kim is now semi retired, having built a successful business and hiring top notch employees who after decades are more like family. In his spare time he and his trusty pup Sparky load into his Custom Express Camper Van and road trip back to Canada where he bought a house in the same town his parents originally moved to! He spends 6 months of the year in the States and 6 months in Canada. Kim has worked very hard to build the dream life,
from humble beginnings in England, wide eyed fascination in Canada to building a reputable fabrication shop in Illinois. Kim is proof that “Living the dream” is possible!
Article by Miranda Kurpe (MNK Photography)
Photos by Miranda Kurpe (MNK Photography)