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Glenn Robinson’s 1955 Chevy Is a 23-Year-Long Dream Come True

The Long Road: Glenn Robinson’s 1955 two-door took more than 20 years to complete, but was worth the wait

Greg Acosta Feb 8, 2016
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To some people, a car is just a modern convenience; nothing but metal, plastic, glass, and rubber designed to get you from Point A to Point B. Then, to others it’s a status symbol; the more expensive and flashy, the better. Then, there’s a third category; one in which automobiles are regarded as something special—worthy of time, effort, and love. Firmly in that third category are Glenn Robinson and his wife, Rebecca, of Santa Ynez, California. You see, these folks have a passion for cars, which brought them together. When they were still just dating, every weekend, while some couples might have gone hiking or bicycling, these two gearheads would go to the local convenience store to pick up the latest Auto Trader, and anything else that might have “For Sale” ads in it, with the hopes of finding a 1955 Chevy two-door post. An unorthodox couple’s activity, to be sure, but it was their ritual. Then, one day, it happened—they found their ’55.

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“We came across a yellow 1955 Chevy in the old Auto Trader,” said Robinson. “I called the number and met with the owners, who turned out to be a young couple. We spoke for hours.” Robinson learned that the car had been in the couple’s family for its entire life, and had only changed hands once prior—between family members. “We not only found the car we wanted—and for only $6,500—but we met some great people as well,” reminisced Robinson. “As soon as we got the car, we started making plans. The car was probably 95 percent done and looked like the ’55 in American Graffiti. The car was definitely set up for Pomona in the late 1970s.” He drove the car around town as it sat for two years before it was torn apart. “We worked a lot of hours at work to get the parts to build our dream car,” Robinson said of he and Rebecca’s journey. “Most of the parts were gotten through birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day gifts.” One thing Robinson found out in the process of acquiring parts over time was that warranties expired based on purchase date not install date and new versions of products were constantly being released. “There was a lot of excitement as I checked off parts on my list, especially when I finally decided it was time to start the project. It killed me that once I started sorting through my half-decade-old collection of parts only to find the raw metal items had started to rust. Here I have a perfect, rust-free car and these brand-new parts were rusting from 5 years in storage.”

Undeterred, Robinson continued his work on the car, then fate introduced him to someone who would change the whole course of the project. “I was running errands and I spotted a clean ’57 (that looked familiar) in the parking lot of one of the stores. The owner happened to be there, so I walked over and started talking to him. Turns out, I recognized the car from the cover of Chevy High Performance and the owner, Chris Jensen, and I exchanged phone numbers,” Robinson related of his chance encounter. He ended up going to Jensen’s then-backyard shop and seeing two more cars he recognized from covers of magazines. “That first trip to his shop was the beginning of a great friendship,” said Robinson. “I started stopping by and helping him after hours, and one day, he showed up with a trailer and the ’55 went for a ride to his shop.”

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Once at the shop, the plan was pretty straightforward; while Robinson got the engine and transmission—the really expensive parts—lined up, Jensen would get the chassis dialed in. Of course, as the saying goes, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy,” and it changed and evolved. “Over the years, the car would go through steps of completion, and then get covered up again and stored in the corner of the shop,” Robinson recalled. During the build, Jensen made the transition to doing the hot rod thing full time, starting Central Coast Hot Rods. The ’55 made the transition to the new shop, and while getting the business up and running took a huge amount of time and effort, the car was never far out of sight or mind for either Jensen or Robinson. Then, right before a trip to SEMA, the pair decided it was time to wrap up the adventure. They went back to the drawing board for the final iteration of the car, with plans to use the latest and greatest parts from their upcoming trip to the largest automotive trade show in the world to complete the Chevy.

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The 1955 two-door post features lines sharp enough to cut you if you aren’t careful. Central Coast Hot Rods laid silver white pearl over BMW Graphite Grey for a stunning two-tone color combination. Power one-piece side windows eliminate the factory vent and window, the front bumper has had the bolts shaved, while the rear bumper has been shaved and tucked. The car sits on U.S. Mags Spade wheels, 18x7 in the front and 20x15 in the rear, wrapped in Mickey Thompson SR Radials. Moving underneath, the car features a Chris Alston back-half with four-link kit. Up front, Jim Meyer rack-and-pinion, along with tubular upper and lower arms, 2.5-inch drop spindles with Air Ride Technologies front and rear systems keep the ride nice and tight.

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Under the hood, a 582-cubic-inch Shafiroff big-block, with a World block, Dart Pro 1 CNC heads, and some seriously heavy-duty internals turn the dyno to the tune of 788 horsepower and 780 lb-ft of torque. A Brooks Racing Enterprises custom 1,050-cfm Dominator sitting atop an Edelbrock Victor Dominator manifold feeds the combination. Custom 2 1/4-inch Lemons headers funnel the gasses through Spintech mufflers. The power is sent back through an Art Carr 700-R4 transmission with a 3,500-stall Art Carr converter, back to a Dana 60 rearend with 4.11 gears. The engine bay is clean as a whistle, with hardline heater hoses, hidden wiring, custom inner-fenders, firewall, and electric master cylinder. A unique under-bellypan covers the trans cooler and electric fan in the rear. Inside the beauty, Auto Meter gauges adorn the dash while a Billet Specialties steering wheel and B&M Stealth Pro Ratchet shifter (mounted to the seat to accommodate both Glenn’s and Rebecca’s driving position) completes the driver-car interface. Custom carpet and door panels, along with a one-piece headliner add the final touches to the interior of this killer ’55.

“When I saw the car in its incredible two-tone paintjob, I realized that sticking with one project from age 23 to 45 was completely worth it, unlike some of my buddies who ran through money on a bunch of different cars, never finishing a project,” said Robinson, joy in his voice. Now, after all those years in the shop, the car still stays there, because as both Robinson and Jensen say, “It’s the shop car.” Regardless of whether the car is sitting in the shop or cruising the highways of California’s central coast, it turns heads and is proof that sticking with a project pays off in the end.

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1955 Chevy Black Restomod Big Block 04 11/22

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