Ride of the Week: Ken Hower and his 1948 STYLEMASTER

Going to car shows in SoCal is a unique experience in many ways, but one of the things I enjoy most is the unexpected. 

There’s always a car show unicorn that invariably appears and wows the crowd. But it doesn’t have to be a huge show. 

Last month, I headed up PCH to the Murphy Museum for a Chevy show. It was small, at about 15 cars, because of the overwhelming fire activities that were still going on. Those who did come just did so to get a break from the smoke and clear their heads. For me, I had gone about two weeks without seeing anyone smile, so it felt good to see people recovering and trying to make the most of their days.

While there, I met Ken Hower. Normally a printer repair technician, Hower has been on workers’ compensation for the last 17 months while trying to recover from a hand injury. So, a car show was just the thing.

Hower brought in an amazing and super rare 1948 Chevrolet Stylemaster sedan delivery wagon. It is a stunning piece of Chevy history, customized in a beautiful dark aqua and silver leaf. 

“Well, these cars were built on a car chassis as opposed to a truck chassis,” Hower explains. “They were used as work vehicles mostly in and around town for making deliveries, etc. You know, the local grocery store, the hardware store … that kind of thing. This is why they only have a 12-gallon gas tank and [are] not meant for long trips.” 

The car is unusual and rare because it came as a Stylemaster. Hower explained that as all the pretty chrome and stainless appointments. 

“Most sedan delivery wagons were ‘plain Janes,’“ he adds.

Hower has owned this SDW for less than a year and has done most of the mechanical work, fixing a cracked block and more.

“This car runs like a top now,” he said. “ … I actually got this car in a horse trade, so [I am] looking for a new home for it now as I have too many cars! It all sounds good, owning multiple classic cars like this but, truthfully, it’s hard to keep up on seven cars.”

According to Hower, he never saw himself owning this genre of car (known as a Bomb.) But having had this one for a while, he gained a new perspective. 

“I saw similar cars around in clubs and while I appreciated all their time and effort, was never on my radar,” he said. “When I drive it around town, it turns some heads for sure and attracts lots of attention.” 

The paint and silver-leaf striping makes the car a show winner.

But, let’s let Hower explain: “The paint, silver leaf, striping, and airbrushing really works. The paint is a stock GM Color from 1992 called Dark Teal Blue Metallic. There’s a small metal flake in it that really glitters. Depending on the light, it goes from a very deep blue all the way to a really gorgeous blue green. A guy named Mike from the San Bernardino area did the silver striping, but that’s about all I know as I found a receipt for it in the glovebox. Folks ask all the time who did it … and do I have his number.”

Hower basically cruises around to shows and fun events in hopes that his wheels will catch the eye of their next owner. But you’d have to be a very unique individual to own this one. It’s the epitome of “car culture.”

And finally, Hower’s best story goes like this.

“So, I go to the gas station and fill her up with gas and fill some air in the rear bags ([the car] has manual fill rear airbags),” he said. “Then I get ready to put the air in and actually start and the end on the fill line blows apart. The rear end drops down to about 2 inches from the asphalt. I look around and I find the parts, but can’t get the ferule back on correctly. So, [I had] no choice but to drive the car back across town with the butt dragging. Had to cruise and try not to hit any bumps or potholes. Was the weirdest ride I ever had and I was cracking up the whole way blasting ‘Low Rider’ by War.” 

And what does Ken love about driving in Malibu?

“It’s the epitome of the SoCal lifestyle,” Hower said. “When I take my ’62 Vette or the ’68 Camaro convertible out and head south to Malibu … the drive from Mugu Rock to Sunset just couldn’t be any better. Thought about moving once … but then I woke up and realized … it really couldn’t get any better than this.”

Gratitude goes a long way to making your life a complete package. Ken gets this and lives the car lifestyle. Hopefully, he can find someone who loves this car as much as he does. Have a great week, folks!

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.