2828 Wiregrass Rd. Lakeland, Fl. 33810
Classic Chevy Club
I had been looking for a tri-five Chevy for several years. Everything I looked at was either restored and way more than I could afford or they were butchered up. I wanted an original car. One day in May, 1984, on my birthday, my daughter called me after school and said she had found a ’55 Chevy for me. They were having a Classic Car Club of America car show at Cypress Gardens and her school bus went right by the Gardens. This ’55 was not in the show, but was parked near the road with a for sale sign on it. I went to look at it and was sold on it at once. It looked great to me, but in actuality, it had lots of mechanical problems. Two days later I reached a price agreement with the owner and it was ours. I knew these cars from the time they were new cars; I had had a ’56 Bel Air 4 door hardtop in 1960.
I bought the car as a daily driver and started repairing things right away that were not working right. In about October I was convinced by a friend to enter a car show with him. Much to my amazement, I got a first place in the 55-57 class.
As soon as we bought the car we joined Classic Chevy International and also a local CCI club. I drove the car every day as it was my only car other than my wife’s. This car was just what I had been looking for, but I wanted to make it better. I had attended two Classic Chevy International Conventions and wanted my Chevy to be as nice as those that I saw in the shows. At this time in history most of the show cars were restored to original and very few were trailered. I wanted mine to be originally correct in all ways.
In the fall of 1986 I bought another car to drive daily and put this in the garage to start a 4 year restoration. I had the engine rebuilt at a machine shop and the Powerglide rebuilt at a transmission shop. I completely disassembled the car, including all components. The paint and body work was done by Lloyd and Jeff Brekke at Lloyds Auto
Restoration at the Bartow Industrial Park. They only use Sikkens paint and all the other products in the many coats of primer are Sikkens. That paint that was put on in 1987 is still on the car in most areas. I did all the restoration of the components, the chassis, interior, wiring, and reassembly.
When the car was finished in August of 1990 we had a coming out party for the car and invited many of our friends to come see what we had been talking about for 4 years. Over 50 people passed through our garage that Sunday afternoon.
When finished I was ready to show the car. My wife and I had made a commitment to ourselves that we were not going to trailer this car, but drive it to all shows, no matter where that was. 19 years later, we are still sticking to that commitment. One of the things I did while restoring it was to use products that would allow me to drive it and still be able to clean it easily for show.
The nice thing about this car is that is just an ordinary car that does what it was designed to do. I drive it down the road and stay with the traffic. If it rains, I turn on the wipers and keep going. If it gets cold, I turn on the heater. If it gets dark, I turn on the lights. I am very careful with the car, but I wouldn’t say that I baby it. I drive it just like I do all my cars. I think I have shown that you can drive an old car, enjoy it, and still be able to show it and do well.
To date I have driven it 26,000 miles including one trip to Western Pennsylvania to drive it on a 5 day tour with the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA). In AACA judging it has received a first junior, senior, grand national first, and grand national senior in 1996, which requires at least 390 out of a possible 400 points. It has also collected 24 preservation awards as well. To see how it was holding up I entered it in another grand national meet in 2007 and received another grand national senior award. In Classic Chevy it has gotten 2 gold awards and 14 platinum awards as well as best paint, best interior, or best engine 14 times. Several times it received two bests at the same show. I have recently joined Vintage Chevrolet Club of America and shown it once, getting a first junior in that club. These awards don’t come by chance, for a national show I normally arrive two days early so I can do a thorough cleaning and detailing. It pays to clean.