- Frame off restoration
- GM ZZ4 V8 / 355hp
- 700R4 4-speed automatic
- 10-bolt rear / 3.73 gears
- Air conditioning
- Power steering
- Four-wheel disc brakes
- 17/18" Billet Specialties wheels
While best-known for their classic good looks and pure American style, late 50s Chevrolets were the hot rod of choice for many a young gearhead. Dominating drag strips and terrorizing stoplights long before the likes of Tri-powered GTOs and Hemi-powered Mopars, these cars carry a nearly universal appeal that makes them a perfect platform for amazing bowtie builds. A fitting example would be this award-winning '55 210 sedan which mixes a fire-breathing ZZ4 V8 with substantial drivetrain upgrades and a comfortable custom interior to create one irresistible old school muscle car. If you've been searching for a striking Chevy showpiece but want something that's a heck of a lot more fun than a stuffy restored-to-original car, this spectacular tri-five's combination of vintage style and modern performance can't be beat!
The subject of a four-year frame-off restoration, this '55 was definitely built for keeps. From the first glance to the last, the car exudes a sense of quality that only comes from countless hours of work and a few serious credit card bills. With laser straight panels and impressive panel fitment, the body sets the standard for what to expect from the rest of the car. There are no notable modifications but the car carries a custom look nonetheless. Covered in black and silver PPG paint, the car offers a timeless color combination atop its timeless design. The paintwork presents extremely well with depth and luster that would give most modern luxury cars an inferiority complex.
To support the paintwork, a long list of show quality trim pieces was called upon. At the front of the car, a bright chrome bumper sits below a wide Ferrari-inspired grille and a familiar red, white and blue Chevrolet badge. The grille is framed by a pair of clear parking lights while round halogen headlights cap off the fenders above. A chrome jet hood ornament tops the sleek hood which terminates before a smoothed cowl. Around the greenhouse, showroom quality stainless trim wraps around lightly tinted glass for a crisp modern look. As a 210, the car didn't have an excessive amount of side trim, so keeping the car clean was a straightforward process. The side profile starts with traditional Chevrolet scripting at the front of the fenders, backed up by round chrome mirrors, chrome door handles and familiar side trim that breaks up the silver and black paint. At the rear of the car, the relatively subtle fins are capped off by new trim which surrounds a pair of modern LED taillights. A second Chevrolet badge occupies the center of the deck lid while, below, a pair of stainless exhaust tips jut out from beneath a second show ready chrome bumper.
Lift the hood on this tri-five and you'll be carried to a valley of chrome surrounded by PPG silver foothills. Under the bright work, a GM Performance ZZ4 crate motor cranks out 355hp worth of motivation for this cruiser. At the top, a finned chrome cover tops and open element air cleaner and a 675cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor. Below, a polished Weiand intake manifold sits wedged between aluminum GM heads with 58cc chambers. Billet Specialties finned chrome valve covers and breathers match the air clean cover perfectly, offering a cohesive look to the engine. The reflective theme is continued at the front of the engine where a polished alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor spin off of engine power. Trace the air conditioning lines and you'll find they've been routed through the fender well for an extra clean look. At the front, a polished aluminum radiator keeps the mill cool with some assistance from a dual electric fan setup. The firewall has been smoothed and remains largely accessory free with the exception of a polished Wilwood master cylinder. Turn the key and the small block rumbles to life with a mellow exhaust note befitting of the car's clean and classy look.
Put this Chevy on a lift and the high quality build continues to reveal itself through rock solid satin black floor pans, fresh hardware and a clean chassis. In the center, a reliable GM 700R4 four-speed automatic transmission keeps the car highway friendly. From there, power is channeled down the driveshaft to a 10-bolt limited-slip rear end with 3.73 gears. Stance is important on tri-fives and this one achieves its rake with the help of TCI drop spindles and two-inch drop springs up front. The back is held in place with a set of Posie slider springs which sit inside of the frame rails thanks to a pocket kit. When the roads get twisty, the power rack and pinion steering is a welcome addition as are the upgraded brakes with Wilwood slotted, drilled, and zinc coated rotors at all corners. With the upgraded suspension and show-worthy brakes, wheel choice mattered on this car. Luckily, the builder nailed it with polished Billet Specialties Rail wheels in sizes 17x7 and 18x9. Those wheels meet the ground through a fresh set of sticky Nitto tires.
Open the doors and a custom black interior comes into view, mixing classic tri-five styling with sleek updates. Seating is provided by a pair of fully adjustable bucket seats up front with seating for two more in the back. Wrapped in fresh black leather, the seats are every bit as good to sit in as they are to look at. In the center, a sculpted full-length center console conceals a Kenwood AM/FM/CD head unit, controls for the power windows and storage space. From the driver seat, the dash retains much of its stock appeal but features an updated gauge cluster that monitors speed, revs, fuel, water temperature, and oil pressure. A bowtie-stamped grilled insert runs the length of the dashboard, offering a subtle spin on the original design. Below the dash, a custom filler panel ties the new center console into the original dashboard while hosting vents for the updated HVAC system. Control of both the transmission and front wheels is granted through a polished tilt column topped off by a leather-wrapped billet steering wheel that matches the car's style perfectly. From the tidy black carpet to the stylish leather headliner to the fully modernized door panels and their billet accessories, every inch of the interior has been customized tastefully and thoughtfully. Behind the seats, the theme is continued with more black carpet and quality leatherwork lining the trunk.
The sale of this '55 includes a huge stack of receipts that provides great insight into how much it really costs to build a car of this caliber. There are also component manuals for items like the Kenwood head unit and the fan controller. To back up the car's “award-winning” claim, there are quite a few trophies the come with the car. They include:
Dale Earnhardt Auto Show, 2011: Best of show (The Earnhardt's Choice award)
Food Lion AutoFair, 2011: Carolina Classic Chevy – Best of Show
Steele Rubber products 2011 & 2012: Best of Show
Sports Page Cruz-In, 2012: Best of Show
Food Lion AutoFair, 2012: Best Overall Paint
New Convenant 15th Annual Car Show, 2012: Best of Show
Shades of the Past: Billet Specialties Pick & J.T. Payne Memorial Award
JR Motorsports Annual Car Show, 2012: Best of Show
Sure, there are a lot of nice tri-five Chevrolets on the market, but how many are built to this level and carry this kind of individual appeal? With a high quality restoration and a spectacular color combination that's a complete knockout at shows, this '55 is the kind of car that draws crowds and sets standards. If you're looking for an exceptionally nice tri-five that's twice as much fun and twice as reliable as an all-original roller, this '55 210 is your ticket!