So many of us fondly remember the days of high school and the opportunity to slide behind the wheel of our first car, but we’re willing to bet that most of you reading this didn’t get to cruise a machine like Greg Land’s 1955 Chevy 210 hardtop to school every day. Of course, back then the ’55 didn’t quite have the same appearance, but the old-school cool, without a doubt, rocked the blacktop in his Indiana homeland.
“My parents took me to see American Graffiti as a young teenager, and then we looked for a ’55. Dad found ours for sale in southern Indiana,” says Land.
When the car was purchased, it was all black with a 283ci engine wearing a single four-barrel carburetor, and according to Land, was “mostly stock.” The car’s been in his possession ever since, and the story only gets sweeter.
Land enlisted his then-girlfriend Trish to help him polish a tunnel-ram manifold for the car in his unheated garage in the Indiana winter. When she agreed, that’s when he knew he had a keeper.
“When I proposed to her, I had the ring, flowers, champagne, and candles in the trunk. I invited her to the garage with the pretense of showing her something new to the car. I asked her to grab me a screwdriver out of the trunk, and as she went to the back of the car, I turned out the lights as she found the ring presentation. She said yes, and we just celebrated our 30th anniversary,” says Land.
In fact, Trish was picked up for their first date in the car, and it’s been a focal point of their relationship ever since, as it was used in their wedding with Land’s brother acting as chauffeur.
“I drove this car to work and Indiana State University before we started hot rodding it,” says Land. “As life went on and the old 283 and original master cylinder and brakes grew tired, the car was stored in the garage.”
Sometime around 1981, Land sanded the car down to bare metal in his parents’ garage/alleyway before his cousin Bill Simrell welded in new headlight buckets and painted the car. His mother, who was an upholstery professional, helped to restore the full interior around 1982 with a light grey velour fabric, but those hard miles piled up and eventually it was time for a full restoration.
It’s also made it through two job relocations and the birth of a daughter in 1999. Although it was pushed to the back burner for quite some time—the car was stored from 1996 to 2008.
When there was finally enough time and money to turn the car into his dream restoration, Land dropped the car off at Time Machines in Hudson, Florida, for the full, wallet-emptying, frame-off restoration treatment it deserved.
Land, who is a comic book illustrator by trade, laid pen to paper and came up with his vision for the “Outlandish” project, depicting his vision of the perfect ’55.
And what a perfect machine it’s turned out to be. For simplicity’s sake, and ease of restoration, the choice was made to use one of Art Morrison’s GT Sport chassis, which features mandrel-bent rectangular tubing and a triangulated four-bar rear suspension design. The suspension holds up a 9-inch Ford with 5.35:1 cogs that rides on a set of Strange Engineering coilover shocks.
In the front of the car, Heidt’s suspension is installed, including fully chromed tubular control arms, 1-inch-diameter sway bar, power rack-and-pinion steering gear, and ididit tilt-wheel steering column. Strange coilovers keep the stance just right, while Wilwood brakes are placed at all four corners to slow the heavy Chevy down.
Assisting in achieving stance perfection, are a set of Bonspeed Thrust wheels that are custom-made for Time Machines. They measure 19x7 in the front and 20x12 in the rear, with 225/35R19 and 335/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport rubber wrapped ’round.
In the interest of solid performance without a monster price tag, Land selected a Chevrolet Performance Parts 502ci Ram Jet crate engine. The engine wears a set of aluminum cylinder heads, a tunnel-ram-style high-rise intake, and pumps out 502 horsepower at 5,100 rpm along with 565 lb-ft of torque at only 3,200 rpm. The Ram Jet has been dressed up with a Spectre Performance pulley system, Billet Specialties valve covers, and had the intake manifold color-coordinated to the car. It’s backed by a 4L80E transmission.
Mike Staveski and the team at Time Machines went above and beyond on the reconstruction of this mean machine.
On the inside, the dash was smoothed out, the heater controls and ashtray were removed, and the A/C vents moved to the dash insert area. Although Land spends more time listening to the rumble of the big-block through the custom-bent Time Machines 2.5-inch exhaust, the car does have a full Sony audio system installed by Brian Bojinoff of Time Machines along with a full complement of Classic Instruments gauges so he can keep tabs on the engine. The audio and HVAC controls are hidden in the glovebox and the transmission controller is hidden in the console.
Vintage Air’s retrofit A/C system blows through a set of Billet Specialties vents, while the interior upholstery was designed by Land and executed by the Time Machines crew. A set of mid-’90s Mopar seats had the headrests removed and were reworked and re-covered by Bojinoff in Velocity Dune/Ostrich Ultra Leather, while the custom console was a Land/Bojinoff collaboration. A black carpet and custom Time Machines door panels finish off the interior.
The Time Machines crew continued their work on the exterior. The floorpan, trunk pan, and lower quarter-panels have all been replaced, while the firewall received the smoothing treatment and any non-essential holes in the inner wheelwells have been filled in.
The exterior of the ’55 has numerous modifications to bring it to Land’s standards. The original steel hood has been shaved, an Eckler’s re-pop grille is installed, and the front bumper is one of Eckler’s Smoothie designs.
Addition by subtraction also took place when finishing off the exterior, as the hood bird, emblem, antenna, fuel door, and fender scripts have all been removed. A Rocky Hinge electric fuel filler setup is installed behind the driver’s taillight for that trick finish.
“I just wish my mother was still alive to have been able to do the interior this time,” says Land. “I keep a square of the old upholstery with the registration to honor her.”
Outlandish, for sure. It’s also one man’s vision of his perfect ’55 sedan. Who are we to argue?