Most of you won't admit it, but car guys are sensitive, which according to Webster's Dictionary, is an adjective, meaning: one who is receptive to sense impressions. We take this to mean car guys are affected easily by senses, like hearing the rumble of a high-compression big-block, seeing a slick paintjob on a classic Chevy, or smelling the sweet aroma of 110-octane fuel. And let's not forget about the feeling of fine leather. The '56 Chevy 210 on these pages stimulates four out of the five senses, and we're pretty sure you could make it a full sweep if you packed a lunch.
The owner's name is James Grimes, but most folks call him Whitey. He's from Georgia and bought this '56 from a fellow in North Carolina, but the deal was struck in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Within three days of buying the car, he located and purchased a GM Performance Parts 572 crate engine, so he didn't waste any time when it came to gathering parts. As for the actual build-up, it was a 14-month project, and it resulted in a flawless machine with tons of power.
Plans called for extensive chassis modifications, so Grimes (and his brother Ricky, who was a huge help with the endeavor) called upon another team of brothers when it came for fabrication and metal work. Ricky and Richie Pierce are from Calhoun, Georgia, and began the chassis buildup by adding new framerails out back, as well as the necessary tabs and brackets for a ladder bar rear suspension. They moved the rails inward to make room for lots of rubber, and rolled a narrowed 9-inch rear into place (which is packed with a Strange center section and capped off with Wilwood brakes). Coilover shocks soak up bumps and keep the massive BFGoodrich drag radials planted at all times, while the 15x12 Weld Rod Lite wheels are tucked nicely into the wheelwells. A set of 15x7 Rod Lites wrapped in Michelin rubber ride in front, and finish off the race-ready look.
Up front, the Pierce brothers installed a Checkered Racing front suspension, which consists of 2x3-inch boxed rails, Mustang II components, and rack-and-pinion steering. The new front suspension features tubular control arms, QA1 coilovers and Wilwood brakes, and the Pierce brothers tied it into the original frame with plenty of additional bracing to keep it strong. When most of the chassis work reached completion, the Pierce brothers mocked-up the engine and determined that a 3-inch recess in the firewall would provide sufficient weight balance and plenty of room in the engine bay.
The 572 is just the way it came from GM Performance Parts, but when you're talking about a 720-horse Rat, that's nothing to sneer at. With a forged rotating assembly and 12:1 compression, the bottom end is plenty stout, while the aluminum rectangular port cylinder heads are a nice fit, as this massive big-block requires lots of airflow to produce such prodigious power. These GM Bow Tie heads are packed with 2.25-inch intake valves and 1.88-inch exhaust valves, so massive quantities of air can travel in and out of the 118cc combustion chambers. A mechanical roller camshaft controls the valves, and features 266-degree intake duration, 274-degree exhaust duration and 0.714 inches of lift on both sides. Combine this with a pair of electric exhaust cutouts and you have a ground-pounding big-block with enough grunt to back it up. If the cutouts are closed, outgoing air passes through a 3-inch exhaust system, which leads to a pair of Flowmaster mufflers.
Up top, there's a Bow Tie intake manifold to draw in fuel and air from the Demon 1,090cfm carburetor, while the GM late-model HEI distributor lights the fire. Accessories are run by a Street & Performance serpentine belt system, and a Griffin aluminum radiator with dual electric fans keep the whole operation cool. With 685 lb-ft of torque underfoot, a stock transmission was out of the question. Whitey chose a highly-modified TH400 automatic with a PTC torque converter featuring a stall speed of 3,500 rpm. Moving further back, you'll find a custom 3-inch diameter driveshaft and a Strange ring and pinion with a 3.70:1 ratio.
When the Pierce brothers moved onto the body, it was the typical Tri-Five problem areas that needed replacing. New quarter-panels and door skins, as well as inner and outer rocker panels were necessary to rid the two-door post body of rust. Patchwork was necessary on the front fenders, and a 2-inch cowl induction hood replaces the original unit. From there, Brian Black took over and handled the bodywork on the '56 before laying down the PPG materials, mixed in a custom silver-green and white. Countless hours of sanding, buffing and polishing resulted in a fine finish, and a few miles of flawless trim accent the body.
Inside, there's an expanse of green leather to match the exterior, all stitched by the crew at Hot Rod Interiors by Chuck. The shop wrapped custom seats in green leather, and added white ostrich-skin inserts for a nice touch. A custom console rides between the bucket seats, while hand-built interior panels attach to every known surface inside the Chevy, including the trunk. The dash retains its classic styling, but upgrades such as the billet aluminum trim, Classic Instruments gauge cluster and chrome ididit steering column spruce it up a bit. Vintage Air keeps the cockpit comfortable, and it's operated with the original heater controls to keep things simple.
A total of 14 months and lots of dollar signs went into the buildup of this fine '56, and the finished product speaks volumes about the efforts.