To say that the billet wheel is an important aspect of hot rodding as we know it is a bit of an understatement—it, and the subsequent accessories it spawned, is really a cornerstone of our hobby. Since its adaptive inception some four decades ago, only one pioneer of the Machined Aluminum Age is not only still around, but forging forward like nobody's business: Billet Specialties' Glenn Grozich.
The manufacturing trade has pretty much been a part of Glenn's entire life. Before he graduated high school or was even licensed to drive, Glenn worked with his father at the family machining business where he first began integrating his work with a passion that, at the time, his father didn't quite understand. That passion of course was hot rods, which Glenn initially made one-off parts for his own, and by 1985 he saw what he thought was an opportunity to offer machined aluminum product to the hot rodding public, and hasn't looked back.
While many companies have come and gone, Billet Specialties has not only remained a mainstay in this industry, they've continued to evolve since creating those two-piece directional wheels in the late '80s. But one thing hasn't changed: Glenn's addiction to hot rods and muscle cars and, well, cars in general. He's still got his first—that Deuce coupe that served as a test bed for his early product development—as well as some you and I will only dream of ever owning. His latest, a 1955 Chevy 210, is something he just happened to stumble across late one night in the parking lot of the hotel he was staying at in Tennessee: "My friend Buck and I ended up calling the owner and getting him out of bed to come down and talk to us," Glenn recalls. A deal was made, but as you can imagine, it wasn't long before the personalization phase kicked in and, " after a few months of owning it, I sent it down to Troy's for a few modifications."
Now, by Troy being Rad Rides by Troy, we all know that the word "few" is not something that applies to much of anything that happens there—and Glenn got more than a few things done under Trepanier's care. First and foremost was some minor chassis work—in other words, the old foundation was rolled out and a brand-new Art Morrison GT Sport Tri-Five chassis put in its place. The small-block the 1955 drove in with was also ditched in favor of a slightly more potent 540ci big-block with a TREMEC five-speed to match up with the Strange Engineering 9-inch. The engine has accordingly been outfitted with a Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine system, their throwback vintage air cleaner cover, and script-etched valve covers. And those wheels that mount to Wilwood rotors (with custom Rad Rides edition calipers), they too are indeed Billet Specialties—but since this is the owner's car, they're one-off numbers Glenn calls the "Knuckle" in 18- and 20-inch diameters with Michelin Pilot Sport radials.
The Chevy's mirror-like black exterior got some fresh accent updates courtesy of Sherm's Custom Chrome Plating while the interior received new OE-style square-weave carpet from Bill Hirsch to complement the square-pleated Del Ray vinyl-covered bench seats and door panels. Before giving the 210 back to Glenn, the crew at Rad Rides installed a full Pioneer sound system, updated the gauges with Classic Instruments All American Tradition series with a column-mount tack, and added a four-point rollbar for safety's sake.