1955 Chevy Bel Air Convertible - One Thing Leads To Another

Two Years, And A Drop-Top '55 Is Reborn

Mike Harrington Jun 25, 2006 0 Comment(s)
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What is it with us car guys and gals? Why can't we just leave well enough alone? Is there something so compulsive in our nature that if we see a snag in a sweater the temptation to pull that thread is overwhelming? Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, an angel and a devil pop up on our right and left shoulders. One tells you to pull that thread and see where it goes; the other voice is that of opposition, telling us to leave well enough alone and it will be alright.

Well, we wouldn't have this magazine or even be writing this article if we listened to that voice of reason. And Tom Simmons would not have this prize-winning '55 convertible if he too had listened to that voice.

It all started when Tom put up his '40 Ford for sale and/or trade. It wasn't too long before someone came knockin' on his door with a trade, which turned out to be a body-off restoration '55 Chevy convertible. The floors, doors, and quarters had all been replaced, and yes, this car was nice and in great shape. The catch, however, was that the doors didn't fit right. Tom discovered this a few days after delivery of his trade. (Here's that proverbial thread we spoke of earlier).

Immediately, the '55 was sent to Temecula Rod and Customs. It was there at the shop that the doors and hood were ground down, while extra material was added to make the gaps perfect. From that point on, Tom just kept pulling and pulling that thread, and one thing led to another. Soon the car was completely torn apart and off of the frame. Not long thereafter, the sinking feeling of being "in too deep" hit Tom. Now what do you do? You've gone this far, might as well plow the rest of the field right? The engine was pulled out and bored 30 feet over, balanced, blueprinted, and turned into a stout 406, backed by a Tremec six-speed. At 406 hp, this Bel Air could run with the big dogs.

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Tom also replaced the rearend with a Currie 9-inch, Strange Engineering 35-spline axles, and a Detroit Locker limited slip running 3:50 gears. Up in front, he had 2-inch drop spindles installed, along with Heidts upper and lower control arms, Air Ride bags, and Wilwood brakes. The wheels are one-off creations from Evod Industries, so you won't find them on the shelves anytime soon. Inside the Chevy, Lexus eight-way adjustable power seats had to be cut down to fit inside the topless shoebox. Red leather was Tom's choice for the upholstery and it sets well with the black and silver paint. Armando's Upholstery did the interior-a job so well done, it's fit for a king.

Now that Tom has spent a good deal of his retirement money on two years of the construction, he plans to drive the heck out of it this summer. Isn't that the way it should be? So the moral of this story is: If it ain't broke, break it...that way you'd have to fix it.

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