Chris Merrifield, NewStream Enterprises, wins prestigious National Street Rod Association award
Chris Merrifield of NewStream Enterprises was pleasantly surprised when his 1941 Willys Swoopster was chosen as a finalist at the National Street Rod Association’s (NSRA) Mid America Street Rod Nationals in Springfield, Missouri, this past May. He was shocked when his car beat out thousands more of the top cars in America to become the 2018 Pro’s Pick of the Year – one of NSRA’s most prestigious awards.
Chris Merrifield grew up building cars and cruising the streets with friends. He refers to his high school days in the 1970’s as the “era of muscle cars.”
“Back then, there weren’t any malls to go to. What was popular then was fixing up cars and cruising around,” Merrifield said.
Since his first car in high school, a 1972 Z28 Camaro, Merrifield has built, restored and shown more than 40 hot rods. After he would fix up one vehicle to his exact liking, he would sell it and look for a new challenge – each time gaining more passion and experience and taking his skills to the next level.
After selling a 1932 roadster built by Boyd Coddington, American Hot Rod star, in 2017 Merrifield had the opportunity to purchase a 1941 Willys Swoopster. He was struck by the car’s custom, nontraditional and unique style: sleek, low and high-tech. Its history was nothing short of impressive either. The Swoopster made multiple national appearances including being featured on ESPN2, Goodguys and Super Chevy.
After purchasing the car, Merrifield made some minor mechanical and suspension upgrades. Throughout the year, Merrifield participated in numerous local charity car shows for fun. In September 2017, the 1941 Willys received the Grand Champion Award at the Street Machine Nationals in Springfield, Missouri. The Swoopster’s fine-tuned, custom details make this hot rod truly magnificent:
MINI Cooper headlights
Concealed, flush-mounted taillights
Rotating electric license plate
Paint: Lamborghini Yellow with custom graphics
Billet Specialties wheels (front: 18x7”) (back: 22x10”)
TIG welded, stainless steel boxed frame
Custom Mustang II-based front end
Alden Chromed shocks
Full Air Ride Technologies system with 6” drop and lift
Chrome A-arms and traction bars
White face Classic Instruments gauges
Hidden drop panel under dash housing ignition, switches, stereo and DVD system
Custom seats, door and floor panels covered in leather, suede & ostrich
Trunk housing 24” LCD monitor for the DVD system
Engine Compartment Upgrades
Street and Performance-built LS1 350 crate engine with aluminum heads
Aluminum radiator with electric fans
Ceramic headers and flowmaster polished exhaust system
Street and Performance-built 4L60E transmission
Fully chromed Ford 9” positraction rear end 3.89 gears
The Swoopster’s impressive build paved the way to receiving the Pro’s Pick of the Year award on Sunday, August 5, at the NSRA finals in Louisville, Kentucky. Merrifield’s hot rod was put on display at the Kentucky Expo Center, and has been featured on NSRA’s Facebook page. In addition, Merrifield received a plaque to commemorate his achievement. The car will also be featured in the NSRA monthly magazine, Street Scene, in October 2018.
What’s next for Merrifield and his Swoopster? He hasn’t quite decided yet.
“After winning this award, I feel a bit more attached to the car than I have been with others,” Merrifield said, “But if someone were to name the right price, I’d be open to finding a new challenge.”
For now, the 1941 Willys Swoopster will sit in his garage in Springfield, Missouri, as he continues his career and day job as Director of Operations at NewStream Enterprises.