Give me a week to think about it." These dreaded words were uttered by the former owner of this double nickel Chevy when Rex Marshall asked about buying it. Before this story launches any further, a flashback in time will help shed some light on the details of this tale.
In the late 1960s, a high school student (for his senior auto shop project) built this very car you see here. And a high school kid with a radical car can sometimes be like a monkey with a machine gun. We can only imagine what kind of horsepower hijinks a high-schooler and a hot rod can be involved in, but a scant five years later this '55 was parked due to a blown engine. It sat on the side of the family garage for years collecting dust. And it was during this time period that another high school kid fell under its spell, Rex Marshall.
Rex vividly recalls seeing this car everyday as he passed it on his way to a buddy's house. Then one day in the mid '70s it was gone and that was that. Decades passed and Rex spent his time collecting Corvettes and other go-fast GM vehicles, but still, his high school impressions of that straight-axle '55 were alive. It was in 2001 while bench racing with a buddy that the homemade hot rod came up in the conversation. After several minutes of reminiscing and wondering what happened to it, Rex decided he would actually try to find out where it was.
The best place to start any search is the location in which the missing object was last seen. Over 26 years had passed since he last seen the car, so back to the scene of the crime, or in this instance, the house where the gasser was once parked. After knocking on the door and explaining to the occupant of the house why he was there, the man at the door proclaimed himself the owner of that '55 Chevy and informed Rex that he still had it and that it had been in storage for 20 years. He then asked Rex if he wanted to take a look at it.
What a terrible briar patch for any hot rodder to be thrown into-of course he wanted to see it! The car hadn't changed a bit in all those years. The red metalflake paint job, American mags, '64 Chevy bucket seats, fiberglass tilt front end, the straight axle, and even the Mickey Thompson Eliminator slicks were still all there. Rex held his breath as he asked that magic question: "Have you ever thought about selling it?"
The reply from the owner was, "Give me a week to think it over, then call me." After the longest week of his life, Rex made the call. The owner was starting to get sentimental, and we all know what that means. After some very careful word smithing on Rex's part, the owner stated "Well if I were to sell it, I would have to have at least 2,000 bucks for it; give me a week to think about it."
Once again the hands of time dragged slowly around the clock, and another very long week was spent wondering if this '55 would ever go. A week later Rex arrived at the garage, only this time he brought some extra loot to sweeten the deal. And true to form, the owner balked and said he was going to "fix it up someday." (How many times have we all heard that one?) Then suddenly he asked if Rex would pay a little more for it. Twenty-five hundred dollars later, Rex was the proud owner of a genuine surviving '55 Chevy hot rod.
Once the tall boy was back home, Rex tore into it and paid particular attention to keeping the period correct 1960s look and parts, which included just about everything. The interior was redone with some help from Danchuck, but kept faithful to the '60s-style 4-inch square upholstery pattern and '64 Impala seats.
And if that wasn't enough the all-important red metalflake paint job was applied just as it looked back in the day. Only Rex had to learn how to spray the metalflake, because no local painters knew how to do it. The gasser currently has a 1973 small-block currently displaced to 400 cubic inches and backed by a 5-speed Borg-Warner transmission. This small-block is cleverly disguised to look like a 409, and fools lots of people who glance at it.
A Pontiac/Olds rear running 4.56 gears delivers the power to the pavement while Ansen wheels hold the Mickey Thompson hides that are being smoked.
Don't think for a minute that this is some silly malt shop memories cruiser. Nope, this vintage rod is never trailered and has made it to the dragstrip and will stand the front wheels while taking off from the line. Rex's best time in the Chevy has been 11.90 at 115 mph and this was done at an elevation of 2,700 ft above sea level.