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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210

    2Loose '55 Chevy Sport Coupe, 396 LT1, T56

    Good Morning,

    I got my driver's license in 1957 in my Dad's yellow and white '55 Chevy Sport Coupe, with the little 265 sbc he had bored out to 283 ci. With two small 4bbls, a solid lifter cam, and dual "smitty's". And he had found a 4sp for it somewhere (early Corvette? don't remember....), for it's day it was considered fast, and we easily left the "hot rods" with the flathead V8's in the dust! What I remember most about that motor is it would wind up to amazing rpm's and hold together. I'm now 71, and my memory is not as good as it used to be, but I am sure 7,500 was no big deal with that motor! I do remember that Dad thought he was making close to 300 hp with the motor. It was not fast off the line, but the acceleration as the motor picked up rpm was just amazing, particularly in 1957 for a sbc!

    So I have always kept my eye out, and finally found a '55 hardtop I could afford, in pretty good condition, about 7 years ago. Did a little work on it, but eventually put it in storage as I worked on other rigs (see my introduction to this forum here( LINK to my introduction post). Started collecting various parts, as money allowed, to try to put together a decent handling '55 Chevy, this rig might fit the current definition for a pro touring or a g-machine when it's all done.

    I had a '93 Z28, LT1, 6sp Camaro that I totaled. Kept the motor and trans. The motor has been upgraded to a 500 hp 396 ci, keeping the EFI and using an FAST controller. Now I just need to put it all together.

    Haven't decided what to do with the rear suspension. Right now it is minitubbed (unfinished) with a narrowed 9", 4.11 gears, detroit locker, and relocated leaf springs with the old style "slappers". Have a set of CalTraks to replace the slappers. Would like to upgrade to a triangulated 4 link with good coil-overs some day. Front suspension will get Global West tubular a-arms, 2" dropped spindles, disk brakes, coil-overs. Need to think about steering too, looking at best way to to a R&P setup. Also trying to decide if I need a full cage, or just put in a roll bar.

    Yesterday was the day to pull the hardtop out of storage, and haul it up to my main shop 15 miles away and get started on it. Will post pix and keep this thread going as the car comes together.

    When I bought it, the motor was a wheezy, oil leakin' 350/350 combo, on stock rims with stock suspension, stock interior, and the magnet found a bit of bondo here and there.



    This pix was just before it went into storage:



    Here's a concept drawing I did when I first got the car:





    There are lots of decisions to be made, bucket seats vs the bench. Dechroming vs keeping the Bel Air trim. Just how far do I want to go with the frame. Have visited both Jim Meyer's shop and Art Morrison's shop, both offer quality products.

    Or do a body off and setup my own custom frame (a whole lot more work, but I feel capable of doing it). It's just that at my age, just how far do I want to go with this car?

    This is what I pulled out of storage last Sunday and towed up to my shop:


    Aloha from Maui,
    "2Loose" Willy


    LINK to the '55 Hardtop project home page
    LINK to all my projects home page
    I get older n slower = My cars get older n faster
    Picture Trail


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Goin' through my storage room, sorting through parts I have accumulated for various projects, and left over parts from "finished" projects (come on now, ya know they are never "finished"....), there are some parts I just can't find. They are hiding from me!

    I know I had a complete Global West front suspension setup for this car, tubular a-arms, 2" dropped spindles, disk brakes, have found everything but the spindles, should have been there with the other parts, but nope! Can't find 'em!

    Frustrating!
    I get older n slower = My cars get older n faster
    Picture Trail

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    texas
    Posts
    529
    Country Flag: United States
    Looking fwd to this one, not 2 many shoe boxs in this croud. I,ve dreamed of building one that handled ever sense I sold mine way back in the day. The one that got away. I sure miss her.
    This is Larry Callahan adding to Rocky's profile.

    I'm sorry to say that we have lost Rocky.

    RIP....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Ma.
    Posts
    5,049
    Country Flag: United States
    It should be a fun ride! Nice project.
    Wayne
    Car FINALLY home !!!!!! lol
    Project FNQUIK https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...ghlight=FNQUIK

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Jersey Shore
    Posts
    609
    Country Flag: United States
    Sweet! Love the fact that its a hardtop too! You will have to be careful with the front suspension and brake parts you choose if you want to get it anywhere near the ride height in your drawing. (unless you dont mind running high offset front wheels) My dad and I have a pro-touring style hardtop that we spent lots of time working on the suspension and brakes to run a very low static ride height (dropped almost 6") Let me know if you have any Q's on that stuff id be glad to help!
    -Chris
    '69 Corvette
    '55 Chevy Hardtop
    AutoWorks Middletown, NJ
    @autoworksnj for corvette and shop car pics
    https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...e-Build-Thread

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Thanks Chris,
    I've Global West tubular a-arms, they have added caster built into them, w/ 2" dropped spindles and disk brakes. Single piston calipers, I might have to upgrade the calipers, but will start with these and see how well it does.

    In the tear down phaze right now, just started pulling stuff off the car yesterday, engine compartment is a mess, greasy, old stiff wires running everywhere, brackets welded here and there to hold various things, just pulling it all out and will work to get it a really clean setup when I start putting it back together.

    Have a Rain Gear wiper setup that fits under the dash, so the wiper motor will disappear from the firewall. Both my 50's trucks have the master cylinder and a remote power booster under the floor, making for a really clean looking firewall, am going to look at if this can be done with this car.

    The LT1 clutch uses a hydraulic setup, so might look for one of those double hung dual master cylinder setups that reside under the dash. Checking fluids on those can be a hassle I would imagine.

    I would love to change out the rear leaf springs for a triangulated 4 bar setup with coil-overs, but that's down the road aways....

    I still have the bucket seats from my wrecked 93 Camaro, am thinking of using those.
    A lot of work though before I get to that....
    Aloha,
    Willy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Miami
    Posts
    2,264
    Country Flag: United States
    glad to see another box around!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Hey, us "boxers" are around, I think just that many of us just kinda hide....

    There's a couple tri-fives around here that I could never keep up with when I had my '93 Camaro all fixed up....

    Just found out that the cowl tag tells me that the colors originally were "India Ivory over Navaho Tan", will have to check out what that "navaho tan" looks like, might be a cool color.....
    I get older n slower = My cars get older n faster
    Picture Trail

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Planit Oahu, Hawaii if you don't belive me check shipping prices
    Posts
    231
    Country Flag: United States
    I see you are here also.
    what type of mini tubs you going to put in?
    the photos reminds me of my uncles '55 Bel air, and '56 convertible at least I have his '64 Impala SS convertible.
    Bryan

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Planit Oahu, Hawaii if you don't belive me check shipping prices
    Posts
    231
    Country Flag: United States
    I see you are here also.
    what type of mini tubs you going to put in?
    the photos reminds me of my uncles '55 Bel air, and '56 convertible at least I have his '64 Impala SS convertible.
    Bryan

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lombard, IL
    Posts
    545
    Country Flag: United States
    Real Deal Steel, now makes mini tubs for tri fives so you dont have to widen yours. I bought a pair, they are thinner than the stockers, but made very well and fit nice!
    Dan
    1971 Chevelle Maliboo Convertible 496/4L80E
    1956 210 2 door Sedan 8-71 blown 468/T400

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    I'm good at fab work, don't mind using the originals, moved over, and filled in. Here's a peek at what I did on my '55 gasser last year....


    That gave me 15" of room after pulling the springs out. Went with ladders and coil overs on the gasser, will keep the leafs on the hardtop, with CalTraks, and have already moved them under the frame rails.

    With the gasser, I didn't build it to be "pretty", the hardtop is going to be nice and clean, and built to handle and run hard. I'll clean up the new tubs so they look like stock in the hardtop.

    The goal is to have a really reliable hard runner that we can ship to the mainland and take a couple of months for some extensive touring in this car. Runs about a thou each way to ship a car to SF or LA these days.

    Good to run into you over here, Bryan, much Aloha to you....
    Willy

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Started pulling the front end apart....


    Now pulling the suspension off, then the motor/trans come out, then the doors come off, then the body is going up in the air.....
    Wish I had a "rotisserie"....
    Willy

    Page 2 LINK....

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Got the front frame stripped and the motor/tranny is now out....


    Not sure if I have room to hoist the body up off the frame, am looking at it. It would be good to get it all clean and fresh paint under there, and put in some new body mount donuts....

    Then hang the new motor/tranny in the frame and fab some good stout side mounts. I have a custom way I like to do it, let's see how it comes out....

    Aloha,
    Willy

    LINK to my page....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    2,210
    Country Flag: United States
    looks like a great start to the project. We have a few customers with 55's and 56's in the middle of builds. There is just something incredibly cool about these built up as a PT style

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Something I always wanted to do, and now finally getting able to do it....

    I think I'm going to just jack the body up off the frame enough to get under it and clean and paint. There's too many projects going on around me at the "Old Dudes Shop", not much room, so am thinking just jack the body up enough to get under it and make everything clean, painted, and put it back together...
    LINK to the Old Dudes Shop Page....

    Started working on the floors today, chipping, scraping, cleaning it up, not too bad really, but some definite thin spots I need to address....




    And still need to weld in the "minitubs" and some other pieces in the trunk....


    Usually I fill in the piece behind the rear seat solid, but might make the back seat a flip down so a surfboard could be put in the trunk through this area into the back seat, or any other long object....

    I have the front bucket seats from the '93 Camaro the LT1 came out of, and the back seat, thinking of adapting it to this car....
    Aloha,
    Willy


    Set up a page for the work on the floors and trunk....

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Vinland Kansas,66006
    Posts
    647
    Country Flag: United States
    I love the tri5's car's. I will be watching this build come togather.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Looking for some opinions on what works well these days for steering upgrades in these old shoeboxes. What's out there? Power steering upgrades that will fit with side motor mounts and Hooker Super Comp full length headers? Any new R&P setups that will fit well in the stock frame? Wish I had the money for one of the aftermarket C4 frame setups, but I will "make do" with the Heidt's tubular suspension, dropped spindles, and coil-overs, it's a very nice setup....

    For now am cleaning up this mess I have, getting everything removed and degreased:

    Aloha,
    Willy

    LINK to my 55 HT project...

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    210
    Am also wrestling with the idea of whether I should put in a roll bar or not. It will not be road raced, there is no venue here for that, although there is an SCCA group that does the autocross stuff, would like to run this car through that when I get it complete....

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Jersey Shore
    Posts
    609
    Country Flag: United States
    We've got a concept one power steering box on our '55. Love it! Perfect amount of assist for a performance car and the ratio is quick too (12.7 maybe?? I think the stock box is 16+)
    I have a set of super comps waiting to go on but from the looks of it they will fit. Currently have 3/4 length headers on there now with side motor mounts and no fitment issues. Solid motor mounts help with the front frame sag too.
    -Chris
    '69 Corvette
    '55 Chevy Hardtop
    AutoWorks Middletown, NJ
    @autoworksnj for corvette and shop car pics
    https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...e-Build-Thread

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