When Ben isn’t working on illustrations for hot rods, custom cars or designing graphics (shameless plug – www.streetroddesigns.com). He spends his time working on his station wagon (along with all the other cars/trucks he owns), that’s right – station wagon. In this interview he tells us about its current state and where he’d like it to be one day.
What’s your real name? (What’s your online screen name?)
Ben Meissner, 406nova or SRD art
Where do you live?
Eagle Mountain, UT
What do you do for a living?
I own and run Street Rod Designs where I design and illustrate hot rods
and custom cars, do T-shirt designs, and all types of graphic and
marketing design. www.streetroddesigns.com shows a few samples.
What GM(s) do you currently own?
1979 Olds Cutlass Wagon, 406 small block Chevy power
1977 Chevy Suburban 3/4 ton 2 wheel drive, 454 power
1976 Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton lifted 4X4, 406 power
1974 Chevy Nova street-strip, 406 power
1973 Chevy Nova resto-mod, 406 power
What got you into GM(s)?
I guess it’s in the blood, my grandfather worked in a GM plant in NY for
his entire career. When I was 12 I got my first Hot Rod mag and inside was
a photo of a Nova doing a smokey burnout. At that point I knew I wanted a
Nova and have always owned at least one Nova since I was 17, back in 1987.
What made you build a 1979 Oldsmobile cutlass wagon?
I needed something with better than a Suburban mpg that could haul my
vendor booth stuff to car shows. I knew a rodded station wagon would haul
stuff just fine and as a daily driver catch a lot of attention. With my
company name on the side it’s like a free rolling billboard. Most folks
build Malibu wagons, I like it because it’s not like everyone else’s yet
still a GM. I got a great deal on it too, I drove it home for only $300.
Have a favorite story to tell about your wagon?
I love what people say about it. Once after pulling into a store parking
lot a little kid said to his brother, “Check it out dude! That guy’s car
sounds like a truck! Cool!” I often hear things like, “Hey I’ve seen your
car running around. My wife thinks it’s ugly but I think it’s way bad!”
My greatest memories with it are by far taking my kids drifting around the
neighborhood in the snow. They all think it’s awesome to drive down the
What’s next for your wagon? Why?
Full Pro-touring treatment as seen in my artwork, I want to get into and
do well at auto-crossing later this year. Eventually I want to slip my
drag Nova’s built 406 into it and try my hand at drift racing. I’d love to
put the imports to shame with a big ol’ family car station wagon. I’ve
joked with my wife about getting 1 woman and 3 kid mannequins, strap them
in the car with helmets on and put some bags of groceries in the back
while I slide around the course. Lol!
What was your favorite modification? Why?
My wagon follows my tradition of dare to be different, and my favorite mod
was dropping it in the weeds and adding the 16″ wheels. Why? It’s crazy.
Who would slam a station wagon?? It’s a suspension drop so it’s that low
all the time, every last speed bump. ;)
Who has helped you the most along the way?
I started reading car mags at 12 and got most of the basic concepts down
before I could drive. Since I started driving I’ve been blessed with a
great deal of very kind mentors that have opened up and shared insight and
direction along the way when I needed it. There are too many to list but a
big thanks to them all.
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend?
Being a designer, my local hero is Dave Kindig of Kindigit Design in Salt
Lake City. From what I’ve seen in his shop it’s the place if you want a
high dollar sculpture on wheels built in Utah. He has a great sense of
what good design is. There are a lot of shops that build hot rods, but
Dave builds show winners.
I used to work for a shop called Excel Autocraft in Sandy, UT. Mark also
has a great attention for detail. His forte is immaculate muscle car
restorations and some mild hot rod stuff. After working for him I gained a
strong understanding of why you go the extra mile to make sure everything
is done just right.
For everyday needs and high performance help, Vince of Lung Automotive in
Lehi, UT is the guy I would take any of my cars to if I couldn’t work on
Rattle can semi-gloss black on factory white
Cowl induction hood scoop
A few stickers advertising my business
.030 400 small block Chevy, 9:1 Eutectic pistons
Factory 400 heads, roller rockers
Comp XE268 cam
Dual plane air-gap intake, Edelbrock 600 carb
K&N 14×6 air cleaner sealed off to the hood
Pertronix upgraded HEI ignition
Hedman headers, 3” single exhaust through a 40 series Flowmaster
Factory stock TH350 and 7.5” rear with 2.41 highway gears.
AGR 12:1 ratio steering box, billet steering u-joint
Lowered springs for 3” drop out back and 3.5” up front.
16 x 8” Trans Am GTA wheels, 225-50 and 245-50-16 Z rated Goodyears
Factory rally gauge pack
Tach, trans temp, and air/fuel add’l gauges
Grant steering wheel
15.70’s @ 88 mph at 4500 ft altitude
Blistering 2.45 60’ time
221 hp and 282 ft/lbs dynoed at the wheels
19-20 mpg without overdrive