Unorthodox: Contrary to what is usual, traditional, or accepted. Needless to say, this 1955 Chevy 210 was built a little differently. It might look like a well-sorted, modern hot rod—and it is—but it was built by a group of guys who normally make things like parade floats and 3-D artistic displays for companies like Vanity Fair and Disneyland. So where's the connection? How did they go from parade floats to hot rods? The transition is simple, really. They are just a bunch of guys who are both creative and know how to build stuff—two skills that go hand-in-hand with building custom hot rods.
Steering the ship is Craig Bugajski, owner of Artistic Entertainment Services, who also happens to be the owner of the 1955 Chevy 210 we'll be talking about today. He's the idea guy and the one who ultimately calls the shots. But when it comes to their dabbling in hot rod building, he fully acknowledges that they'd be nowhere without Mark Beardsley. Mark is a true gearhead who's been a diehard mini-trucker for years and spends every free minute going to car shows and building stuff. So, between Craig and Mark and a company made to facilitate creativity and turning ideas into reality, the jump to building cars was actually pretty natural.
It all started about eight years ago when the guys were looking for something to tinker with at the shop in Azusa, California, during breaks and after hours. Craig always had an affinity for 1955 Chevys so that's where they started. He found one for a couple grand that needed some work—actually a lot of work—which was perfectly fine with them. It was nothing more than a frame and body complete with copious amounts of rust. Since fabrication and metalwork was right up their alley, that was no problem and they got to work. Once they started working on the 1955 they never stopped. It's had multiple engines and transmissions over the years and even to this day Craig sees plenty of room for improvement.
At the end of the day—or at least at the time we wrote this feature—Craig's 1955 Chevy 210 is as follows: The foundation of the car is an Art Morrison GT Sport chassis complete with a Ford 9-inch rearend and 4.11 gears. The 9-inch is controlled by a four-link suspension system while up front are tubular A-arms. At all four corners live Koni coilover shocks as well as beefy Wilwood brakes, which are supported by a CPP master cylinder, booster, and proportioning valve.
Visually, Craig wanted to "stay true to what the car is and was," meaning he didn't want to meddle too much with the inherent style of the 1955. Body modifications were pretty minimal then with the major changes including shaving most of the trim and filling in the gas door (which was relocated behind the driver side taillight like 1956 Chevys). Speaking of taillights, those were sourced from Danchuk as well as the sideview mirrors and a new grille. Paint was next and Craig decided to spray the car in Silverstone Pearl from Valspar covered by a few PPG clearcoats. The final touch to finish off the look of Craig's Tri-Five was a set of American Racing Salt Flat wheels measuring 17x6 in the front and 17x8 out back.
When it came to the engine that would power Craig's Chevy, it seems no one could really decide what was best—or at least until its latest powerplant went in. First the car saw a 383 small-block Chevy paired with the current 4L60E transmission, then two engines later they finally settled on the current setup, which started out as a four-bolt main 350. They rebuilt the engine from the ground up, boring it 0.030-inch over and then using forged RaceTech pistons along with reconditioned rods, ARP bolts, and a steel crankshaft. Above the steel crank went a custom ground hydraulic roller camshaft. The top end of the 350 got a set of Dart Iron Eagle heads with COMP 1.6:1 roller rocker arms and an Edelbrock RPM Airgap intake manifold. A Holley 750 Double Pumper feeds the small-block air and fuel while an MSD billet distributor sends out the spark. Finally, a set of Sanderson Headers are hung on the small-block and send the exhaust gases rearward and out through a pair of Flowmaster mufflers.
The whole process took a while—about eight years—but it was a great exercise for Craig and his guys, showing them what they were capable of. Since the start of the 1955, they have now built or worked on a total of eight cars and trucks, including a 1931 Ford, 1972 Bronco, and 1923 T-bucket, and enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, they enjoyed it so much Craig decided he might as well start a whole other business out of it! As we speak, they are in the process of moving their hot rod program across the street into a building all of its own under the title CHB Motorsports.
But back to the 1955. When we asked Craig if there was anything he'd do differently if he had the chance to build the car again, his answer, simply put, was yes. "It was our first car so you're always looking at it feeling what you want to fix or do differently," Craig told us. A little humility and the goal of perfection can go a long way, so we can't wait to see were CHB Motorsports will end up. But for now, this gorgeous 1955 Chevy seems like a pretty good start.