Over 50 years ago, in 1958, Minnesota's Jerry Gaboury had a hot, yellow '55 Chevy Del Rey gasser--complete with his name boldly lettered on the firewall and red with yellow pinstriping everywhere else. In 1959, he came across a low-mileage '58 3x2/280hp 348 engine and a T-10 four-speed transmission at a nearby wrecking yard. He decided to be one of the very first in the entire USA to transplant a W-motor big-block 348 into a '55.
But before he did, the engine was bored 0.030-inch and fitted with high-compression Jahns pistons. The stock cam was replaced with an Isky 505 race cam. The heads were ported, headers installed, and a Spaulding Flame Thrower magneto ignition came last. With some steep gears, Jerry proceeded to clean house at the drags the next three summers. Later, in 1962, he decided to sell his torrid '55 in order to build other street and strip machines. Today, Jerry campaigns a 7.40-second, Chevy-powered, nostalgia front-engine dragster.
In 2007, his younger brother, Jimmy (he was 12 in 1962) was talking to potential customers at his Customs, Rods & Classics restoration and car sales booth at the "Back To The '50s" car show. Two older guys then inquired if his older brother once had a hot, yellow 348 '55. After answering affirmatively, one exclaimed that he bought it in 1962 and still owned it. He then thought that Jimmy ought to buy it. Shortly thereafter, Jimmy and his son, Justin, made a very secret trip to the east side of Minneapolis to see it. The owner had driven it a few thousand miles in '62-63. The 2008 odometer reading was a mere 13,345. He then parked it in 1964. It sat idle, totally intact and untouched for the next 44 years. A sale price was soon agreed to and the car was trailered to Jimmy's Custom, Rods and Classics facility in Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
Jimmy then put the Del Rey in a hidden, secure area of his shop and told no one of his purchase. Justin was sworn to secrecy. The '55 was then given a high pressure washing and clean up. Then it was brought back to-spec, mechanically--brake system, carbs, gas tank, vintage electric fuel pump, cooling system, suspension, engine cylinders, oil and filter, battery, etc.
Jimmy then chose to reunite the '55 Del Rey with his brother Jerry in surprise fashion at his upcoming grand opening and car show. The '55 was loaded into an enclosed trailer and stored next door in Fahey Auctioneers' garage. On midday of the grand opening--when the place was packed with customers, onlookers, Dualateer Car Club members and family--Jimmy slowly excused himself, then drove the '55 around the corner, then directly toward Jerry and the crowd. Jerry was said to have exclaimed, "I used to have a yellow '55 like that one."
His jaw then dropped when he realized that it was his old '55 and his brother was behind the wheel! After many hugs and high fives, Jerry and Jimmy hopped in and blasted down Main Street in Belle Plaine to a thundering ovation. The '55 is now on showroom display at Jimmy's Customs, Rods and Classics and will probably soon be repainted and detailed. For more story highlights and photos, visit: http://www.jimmyscrc.com.