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A Labor of Love

From Cutting Grass, to a quarter-mile pass

Mike Harrington Jan 13, 2006

For most of us, yardwork and mowing the lawn is something that we would rather not think of. In fact, it's something that we would rather not have to even do. And if we can, we'd much rather give the neighborhood kids a couple of bucks to do the dirty deed. Well in 1985 a 15-year-old kid named Bryan Wilde was all too happy to be that kid doing your dirty deeds.

When I think back to my own lawn mowing adventures as an early teen, the couple of bucks that I made were quickly spent at the movies that Saturday night trying to meet girls. Being wise beyond his years (unlike a majority of 15-year-old boys), Brian actually saved his money. Since his preteen days, Brian can recall looking through the latest car magazines and wanting what he saw. And what he wanted was an old car he could hot rod around town in.

When his father noticed the determination in achieving his goals, a deal was made that he would match his son's earnings dollar for dollar. It wasn't long before Brian had enough in his pocket to start hunting for his project car. It just so happened that an Uncle had a friend who was selling a '56 Chevy. At the time Brian was unaware what a '56 Chevy looked like, but he knew he liked '55s and '57s. After looking at it, he fell in love and purchased the '56 for $1,500. After the purchase, Brian's dad drove it home for him, on account of Brian still being too young to drive!

This was just the beginning. Throughout his teenage years, Brian worked hard at saving money to build up his '56. After another 2 years had passed and more money was saved, Brian and his Dad started doing its first rebuild. Over the next few years he drove it every chance he got and even took it to Maryland's International Raceway for some Friday night drag races.

In 1994 the 350 was replaced with a 454-inch big-block and this engine swap prompted a second rebuild, which would last the next few years. The '56 has been nosed, decked, shaved and has had all the metalwork from the frame to the body completely redone. At that point, it was time for the paint, Mercedes Ivory and Indigo Blue, which was shot by Steve Lagana. In 2001, the bug to once again drive his car bit. And before the new interior was installed he took her on her maiden voyage, only to have rain and mud splattered all over the car. Such is life.

Shortly after, Kings auto upholstery of Roanoke Virginia did the custom interior and his dream was finally complete. From mowing lawns all those years ago, to the's been a journey for Bryan Wilde, and half the fun has been getting there.


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OwnerBryan Wilde
Vehicle'56 Chevrolet
Engine'73 454 big-block bored .030 over balanced and blueprinted, machined by Mancini Machine of Baltimore Maryland and built by Chris Duelley. estimated 500 hp at 6,500 rpm
TransmissionT-400 with a TCI torque converter
Rearend9-inch with Mark Moser Axels and 4:11 gears
FrontHeidt's 2-inch drop spindles, pro shock coilovers and disk brakes
RearSprings are HAL coilover, brakes are 11-inch Ford drums and an S&W Ladder bar with coilover shocks
FrontBoyds Vintage II 15X6, 3-inch backspacing
RearBoyds Vintage II 15X10, 3 1/4-inch backspacing
FrontBFGoodrich Radial TA & Drag Rails P215/65R15
RearBFGoodrich Radial TA & Drag Rails P315/60r15
ExteriorDanchuk grill, stock hood with Bird shaved, front and rear bumper by Bumper Boyz, Sikkens GM Indigo Blue and Mercedes Ivory paint by,Steve Lagana
InteriorPontiac Sunbird Bucket Seats, covered in Soft Touch in Bone. Royal Blue carpet by Kings Auto Upholstery, Inc, and Dakota Digital gauges, topped with a Colorado Custom Steering Wheel
StereoSony Xplod with a Kenwood amp and speakers

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