When Tri-Five enthusiast Derrick Moreira set out to acquire a classic '55 Chevrolet, probably the last place he expected to find one was in New Zealand.
"I had been talking with some of the top car builders in the country about what it would cost to build a state-of-the-art Tri-Five Chevrolet, including the likes of noted car builder Roy Brizio, and it was always the same story-a couple hundred grand. Then I spotted an ad on the internet listing this lime green and silver, 454 big-block, '55 Chevy 210 Delray for sale, and the price was right. The only problem was that it happened to be in New Zealand."
Oh, is that all?
Intrigued by all the features listed, Moreira (who owns a number of killer rides, including a pair of big-block Willys coupes-one blown, one carbureted) contacted the '55's owners, Scott and Theresa MacKenzie. The MacKenzies are noted street rod aficionados in their native country, and in 2004 had just sold their prized '56 and were looking for a new project. While attending the 2004 NZHRA Street Rod Nationals, Scott and Theresa were shown a series of photographs of a '55 210 Delrey two-door sedan that was a U.S.-built drag car, offered by Darrell Bone from well-known NZ vendor Chuck's Restoration Supplies.
The long and the short of it was that the MacKenzie's bought the '55, and arranged for delivery. When the Delrey was unloaded in the their driveway, the little girl who lived next door was prompted to ask, "What is that pile of junk in your driveway, Mr. MacKenzie?" At first glance, Scott and Theresa were thinking the exact same thing!
The term, "sows ear" would have summed it up quite nicely. Typical with an ex-race car, a lot of non-essential trim and sheetmetal parts were missing. However, the car was solid, and it just so happened to have a 454 big-block bored 0.030-inched over and a Turbo 400 already installed.
Once the body and chassis were separated from each other, MacKenzie delivered the dismantled chassis to Hamilton Sandblasters. Then, chassis master Steve Bartrum worked his magic, starting with the addition of a six-inch-narrowed 2.79:1-geared Currie Enterprises 9-inch rear riding on a set of Bartnum-fabricated and chrome-plated four-bars hooked up to QA1 coilover rear shocks.
Up front, the factory '55 Chevy independent front suspension was modified with the addition of a pair of Classic Chevy two-inch-dropped front spindles, QA1 front shocks, a Classic Performance front anti-sway bar, and '79 El Camino front disc brakes working in conjunction with a Classic Performance master cylinder and power brake booster. Steering is handled by a Classic Performance/GM power steering box.
Wheels and tires consist of a set of 18x7 front and 20x12 rear Colorado Custom billet wheels rolling on P235/40x18 front, and P335/35x20 rear Michelin high performance radial rubber. Upon reassembly, virtually every component on the chassis was either chrome-plated or coated in lime green or silver.