“I don’t know if this sort of thing is even interesting to other people,” Pete A. admits. We disagree. There’s more to his 1955 210 than it being just another cool car.
“My best friend in high school, Rich, had all series of the Tri-Five cars,” he continues. “We would spend countless hours—weekends, at night—under the hood of that car. Tearing it apart, putting it back together. Redoing the motor. You name it; we did it on that car. I really learned, cut my teeth, on that car.”
You could even call that car a springboard, of sorts. Because of it one friend got a 1957 and another a GTO. “Me?” Pete asks. “I got a 1970 Chevelle Super Sport. That car was really together.” In other words, he really dug it.
“But that ’55,” he reflects. “That was the car. I always had the passion for that car.”
There was only one problem: He didn’t have one. And he was in no way able to just go out and buy one, either. Pete may have learned how to wrench on his buddy’s ’55, but that was decades ago. Like when that time a president was facing a grand jury. No, not that one. You know, the other one. The hotel break-in thing.
Anyway, that’s to say it was a long time ago. Pete went off and did other things since then. We forget things over time. We don’t keep up with buying tools, either. So just to catch up is an expensive, years-long endeavor, not to mention the time necessary to just build something. “And I didn’t want to just go out and buy a car at some auction,” he says. “You don’t know what you’re getting into at auctions. I certainly wouldn’t.” That meant he had to build a car. “I told my wife that, when I’m able to do it, I’m going to build a car from the ground up.” So he went shopping.
“Well, I have some of the world’s best car builders in my backyard,” Pete says. “But they specialize in other types of cars. Could they do it? Absolutely. But that’s not where their passion is. I looked for people who built Tri-Fives.”
He found his Goldilocks of shops about half-a-day’s drive north of his Bay Area home. “Nobody down here has heard of MetalWorks,” he admits. “But when I called, I talked to Jon (Mannila, shop owner). I like that.
“I told him what I wanted to do and we talked about the Tri-Fives he’s built,” Pete continues. “He was interviewing me as much as I was interviewing him.” Apparently they liked each other enough to initiate a build.
But there’s that problem again: No car. “Jon found one for me,” Pete says. “The interior was missing, no engine or trans—a real mess. It was perfect!”
Today this ’55 really is perfect, at least as close to it as possible. “I wanted it elegant and super clean,” Pete notes. “I wanted to keep some of the nostalgic look of the car—not chop it or alter the wheelwells or shave the door handles. I just wanted it clean.
“Now, on the inside I wanted the convenience of today’s technology,” he continues. Actually, the interior is the most altered part of the car, at least of its body. He’s particularly proud of the reshaped dash. “Some people will like it, some won’t, and that’s fine,” he admits.
“Together we built something that’s beyond anything I could ever imagine,” Pete brags. And he’s not talking about just the car, either. “I’ve spent time with Jon and his wife and his kids and they’re an amazing family. The whole team at MetalWorks, I couldn’t say anything good enough. (Jon)’s a businessman but I call him a friend,” he says.
And that’s precisely what started this whole adventure 45 or so years ago: Friendship. It’s important to guys like Pete, who’s still close with his pal Rich.
“Other guys would join us,” Pete reminisces. “We’d just hang out in the garage and have a great time just horsing around on that car. I mean it was the thing that brought us together.”
And now that he has one of his own, well … that’s pretty cool, too.
|Owner||Pete A., Northern California|
|Type||Chevrolet Performance LS3|
|Injection||MSD Atomic ECU with spark control|
|Ancillaries||Ron Davis radiator, SPAL electric fans|
|Exhaust||Ultimate headers 2 1/2-inch primaries, Flowmaster 50-series mufflers|
|Output||430 hp at 5,900 rpm; 425 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm|
|Transmission||Chevrolet Performance 4L65E|
|Rear Axle||Dana 60 (AME Multilink IRS), 3.73:1 gears, limited-slip carrier|
|Frame||Art Morrison Enterprises|
|Front Suspension||Unequal-length tubular control arms, 20:1 DSE power rack-and-pinion steering|
|Rear Suspension||AME Multilink|
|Brakes||Wilwood 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers front, four-piston rear|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels||Budnik Famosa 19x8.5 (5.5-inch backspace) front; 20x12 (6.75-inch backspace) rear|
|Tires||Pirelli P Zero 235/40 front, 315/35 rear|
|Dash||Stock steel, shaved humps|
|Upholstery||Black leather, 1957 seat-insert cloth|
|Upholsterer||Jon Lind Interiors (Springfield, OR)|
|Audio||Alpine 7-inch navigation, signal processors, amplifiers, and speakers by MetalWorks|
|Instrumentation||Dakota Digital VHX|
|Steering Wheel||14-inch Budnik Famosa III|
|Column||Flaming River (integral shifter)|
|Carpet||GM Daytona weave|
|Body Prep & Paint||MetalWorks Classics (Eugene, OR)|
|Paint||Glasurit 90 Line waterborne, black and charcoal|
Photos: Chris Shelton