How I got the 55

10_29_12 004Here’s the story of how I got my 55.
When I decided to get rid of my old Corvette, I started looking for another station wagon.
I used to have a 1968 Impala 4-door wagon.
I painted it blue with yellow flames and dropped a fire-breathing 468/T400 into it.
I love wagons.
They’re cool, they carry all your gear and you don’t see a lot of them.
It came down to either a 1966 or 1970 Chevelle wagon, or a 1955 Chevy wagon.
I wanted a good foundation for a daily driven hot rod – a 2-door with a 350, power front disc brakes, power steering and air conditioning.
It took me a few months to find exactly what I wanted.
And when I found it, it was on eBay.
As luck would have it the auction was scheduled to end while I was up at Lake Nacimento with my buddies Joey, John and Jack for our annual water-skiing trip.
Our campsite at the lake was notorious for having bad cell reception.
The only place up there we got any reception was out on the lake on the skiers dock.
I told the guys ahead of time that I was watching a car and the date the auction ended, so I may need some alone time that day.
The day had arrived and I was the hi-bidder.
About half an hour before the auction was scheduled to end, Jack tore his lower back skiing the slalom course.
It took three of us to pull him into the boat he was in so much pain.
After we’ve got him in the boat, we start getting our gear together so we could take him to the hospital.
Then I heard Jack say: “Wait a sec, isn’t your auction ending in a few minutes?”
Joey looked at me and said – “Seriously?”
Without missing a beat I said: “Yeah… Thanks Jack. Not even 10 minutes to go.”
The auction ended and I was the hi-bidder!
…but the reserve wasn’t met.
When we got Jack down into Paso Robles I had a message from the seller saying he’d accept my bid if I’d still like the car.
So I actually ended up winning the auction on the skiers dock at Lake Nacimento.
…And we got Jack safely down to Paso Robles for treatment.
But getting the car was a whole other ordeal.
The 55 was located in upstate New York.
So I got a quote to take the 55 coast to coast – New York to LA.
What I didn’t know is that upstate New York isn’t New York City.
Apparently the 55 was up in the hills and none of the car transporters wanted to drive up there to get it.
So I waited a little over a month to get the car.
It was killing me.
When it finally arrived it was a thing of beauty.
…except that the old California blue plates it had on it in the pictures were missing.
I asked the transporter about the old blue plates and he said he didn’t know anything about the car coming with blue plates.
And they weren’t worth enough to file an insurance claim.
I figure someone’s got a nice set of CA blue-plates in their garage somewhere.
But I reported them stolen so no one could use ‘em.
After the transporter left I pulled the 55 into my garage.
While I was waiting for it to be picked up and delivered I had some time to browse at the Summit Racing website…
Before I even had the car I had already ordered a K&N air filter and an Optima Red Top battery for it.
So now that I had physical possession of the 55 I decided to put in the new air filter and install the new battery.
I had some 20w-50 motor oil & filters left over from my old big block Blazer so I popped the cork, drained out the old oil and put in all new motor oil & oil filter.
Then I pulled it into the garage and I parked it.
I shut the garage door and I looked at it.
And it was good.
So that’s how I got it .
This is what it was when I got it:  a 1955 210 Handyman Station Wagon, 350/T350, AC, PS, Power Front Disc Brakes.
It was a great foundation for building a cool, reliable daily driver.
And that’s what I’ve done with it.
I’ve build a good, reliable daily driven hot rod that just happens to be 60 years old.
After I registered it I took it to Santa Monica Radiator & AC.
I asked them to go thru it and make sure the cooling system was up to the task and the AC blew cool.
Then I took it and had an alarm with remote power door locks, an amplifier, iPhone interface and speakers installed.
I like having to just hit the remote to unlock the doors.
It’s set up so my iPhone charges and plays Pandora at the same time.
And I kept the original radio in the dash so it still looks stock.
It was coming together, but it was missing something…
Seatbelts.
That’s right, it didn’t have seat-belts.
I looked it up and seat-belts were a dealer installed option back in 1955.
Pretty nuts huh?
So I ordered a set of seat-belts and had ‘em installed professionally.
In the mean time I got bored and changed out the rear end gear oil to some Mobile-1 synthetic I had lying around from my old Blazer.
And I put in a 3-pack of AutoMeter gauges, Oil Pressure, Volts and Water Temperature, so I could keep an eye on the engine.
As I was driving it around, getting to know it, I remember going down Olympic blvd.
The speed limit was 35 and I was cruising right along in the slow lane enjoying myself when all of a sudden I went over one of those humps at a cross-street…
The springs and shocks must’ve been original because after I went over the first hump the car launched upward.
After we crested the hump I felt the whole thing bottom out.
All I heard was grinding metal on asphalt.
It was horrible.
Mind you, I was only going 35 mph.
I knew it was time for a new suspension.
So I ordered up a set of Bilstein shocks, front coil springs, rear leaf springs and polyurethane body bushings from Classic Industries in Huntington Beach.
I even drove the 55 down there to pick it all up.
It was the longest drive I’d done in it since I’d gotten it.
And it ran great.
I parked and went in to pick up my order.
When I came outside to put the rear leaf springs in the car there was a guy taking pictures of it.
“Is this yours?” he asked.
“It sure is.” I said
“Do you mind if I take some pictures? I work here at Classic Industries. I saw you pull up and had to come down and take a closer look. You don’t see too many of these 210 Handymen around. They’re pretty rare.”
Pretty nuts huh?
Then I loaded up the wagon with my new suspension and headed home.
When I got home I put in the Bilstein shocks and rear leaf springs.
The next morning I started to put in the polyurethane body bushings.
And I got ‘em all in but two.
The bolts had rusted together, so I took it to Santa Monica Brake and had ‘em saw out the old bolts and install the new front coil springs.
I forgot to mention – I got the coil springs with a two inch drop to lower the front end a little bit.
With the new springs, shocks and bushings the 55 was riding like a dream.
But it still had the old wheels on it…
My buddy Bill Springer had a set of vintage 60’s 5-spoke mags he wasn’t using and he said they’d be perfect for the wagon.
They would’ve been perfect, and they looked sweet, but the rears were 10 inches wide and they just wouldn’t fit under the rear end of the 55.
But Bill had a friend with a set of 17-inch American Racing Torque-Thrust II’s just laying around.
He’d bought ‘em for an old Camaro years ago and he never used ‘em.
They fit the 55 perfect.
And I sold Bill the old wheels & tires from the wagon.
Yahtzee!!
After that my Pop asked me what I wanted for Christmas.
“You know you need something for that new car of yours.” He said And he was right.
I told him if he got me the mufflers, I’d buy the headers and we’d get free shipping thru Summit Racing.
He said sure thing and then got me both the Headers and the mufflers and said “Merry Christmas Jeff.”
He’s the best.
So there it is.
So far I’ve got a 1955 Chevy 210 with a 350 engine, T350 transmission, AC, PS, Power Front Disc Brakes, K&N air filter, Optima Red Top battery, Bilstein shock absorbers, new front coil springs, new rear leaf springs, Auto Meter Oil, Temp, Volt gauges, and an integrated iPhone charger/stereo system.
I think the 55 is coming along very nicely.
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