Much can be said about a long-lasting relationship, whether it's with a spouse or a car. Some cars stick around for a reason, and this '55 made it through several years of neglect, only to be completely restored and given the hot-rod treatment by Randy and Kathie Frye of North Carolina. The couple has been happily married for quite a while, and the 210 has been with them nearly every step of the way. It was around for many special occasions, including the welcoming of two little Fryes, Brandon and Devin, who are now 36 and 30, respectively.
Without question, the car is a beloved family member, and though it sat for many years unused, it got what it deserved in September 2005. Many modifications and dollar signs later, the Fryes have a killer car that has all the ingredients to turn heads-the right stance, the right sound, and a cool color combination.
If you're wondering how the car came about, you can thank Kathie for spotting it on her way home from work, back in '72. The green '55 sat on a local car lot, so she rushed home to tell Randy about it, and the couple headed back to town to check it out up close. Randy told us, "We went back to the lot and made the purchase the same day."
After paying the local car salesman $275 for the two-door post, Randy and Kathie enjoyed the car for a few years, just as it rolled off the lot. Wanting to restore the car, Randy knew he had to support his family, so the project was put on hold for the better part of three decades. In 1995, the '55 sat untouched, while Randy concentrated on restoring a '55 Bel Air that he bought from his father. He spent two years rebuilding the Bel Air, and promised Kathie he'd start on the 210 soon, although it would be several more years before the project began.
Randy started by stripping the original chassis down to the bare rails and changing a few things to allow for wider rubber and a much lower stance. Up front, he disposed of the original suspension, in favor of a Heidts setup, consisting of tubular control arms, adjustable coilovers, and two-inch drop spindles. The new spindles allowed for disc brakes, so Randy slid a set of '80 Malibu rotors into place and then installed a Classic Performance Products steering box to replace the worn out original.
Moving rearward, Randy modified the leaf spring mounts and bolted up a pair of Posies three-inch drop springs to create an aggressive stance. All his efforts paid off, as the car sits perfectly over a set of 15x7 and 15x10 Americans, wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber. The rear wheels bolt to Lincoln 11-inch discs, which were adapted to the narrowed Ford 9-inch rear end. After four inches were taken from the housing, it was packed with a 3.70:1 gear set and a limited-slip differential. Add to this a one-inch sway bar on both ends, and you have a well-mannered Tri-Five, no matter what the driving activities include.
Underhood, you'll find a clean and stylish engine bay, with a 327 resting between the rails. Randy sent the '68 vintage engine to Harrington's Machine Shop in Taylorsville, North Carolina, to be bored 0.030-inch over and prepared for assembly. From there, Randy installed a GM crankshaft, and then slid the JE pistons and GM connecting rods into the cylinders before torquing all the hardware to spec.
The cylinder heads are of the GM Bowtie variety with angled plugs and all sorts of valvetrain goodies. An Isky flat tappet camshaft spins in the block, while an MSD distributor sends fire to the combustion chambers in an efficient manner. Fuel atomization is handled by a Holley 650cfm double pumper bolted atop an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, while a beautiful tune is played by the Street & Performance headers and Flowmaster mufflers. The 327 wasn't built for racing, but the high-winding small-block holds its own, and looks good, too.
Behind the aptly-equipped engine is a TCI 700-R4 overdrive transmission, with a 2,200 rpm stall converter and a Lokar shifter, which pokes through a sea of green carpet. Dave Grogan stitched the leather in a simple design, which is tasteful and comfortable for Randy and Kathie. Beige Ultraleather is wrapped around the stock seats and custom door panels, while the dash wears paint to match the exterior. Randy filled the ashtray provision in the dash for a much smoother look and installed a custom cluster filled with Auto Meter gauges. He then finished off the interior with a Billet Specialties steering wheel, a Kenwood stereo system, and a Vintage Air setup to make the '55 a pleasure to drive, no matter the climate.
Since the car had been stored in a dry area for many years, rust was not an issue, and the bodywork process went quite smoothly. Randy did have to swap the factory inner wheel houses for larger tubs to fit the wide tires out back, and he smoothed the firewall while he had the welder out. He tossed the original bumper and bolted a station wagon bumper into place, so the license plate could be moved from the trunk to the bumper.
Just those simple modifications make a big difference in the car's appearance, and Butch Lackey put his expertise to the test by straightening the long body panels.
After several cycles of blocking and priming, the car was deemed ready to paint, so Michael Canter mixed the materials and blasted it on. Most of the car wears Neptune Green, while the top portion is coated in Shoreline Beige, making for a clean contrast. Color sanding and buffing came next, as Randy wanted a flawless finish before installing the original 210 trim. The finished product speaks volumes of the efforts put forth by everyone involved.
After a little over a year of hard work, Randy and Kathie were able to hit the road in their '55 once again and pick up where they left off in the '70s. Randy admits his family came first in the '80s and '90s, when the car sat in storage, but he never chose to sell it during that time. Now, it's simply a member of the family that's finally getting the attention it deserved.