Dave of RD Automotive found the shell of this 1955 Chevy 210 in Johannesburg. He’s always been partial to the ’55, ’56 and ’57 models and chose the one he has now simply because it was available.
Owner: Dave Page. Article: Karl Eriksen. Built: RD Automotive
It was in a relatively good condition, although the door sills, floorboards and back bumper section were rusted. The body panels themselves were still sound, but the car was painted in a black tar-like substance that hid the original colour. This proved quite difficult to remove. The biggest job by far was converting the original 4-door sedan into a 2-door car. Dave and his business partner did it themselves.
Photos by Antigrafika
He says the reason for him doing this is that the 2-door is far more sought after and there are very few of them in the country. Nobody really wants a 4-door. He got all the 2-door version specifications he needed off the internet and followed them exactly. The front doors had to be lengthened and the posts moved back (this is the only real difference between the two versions). The difficulty was getting the doors right, and these had to be cut in half and a 175mm wide steel section welded in. These then had to be worked and bent every which way so that they fitted the frame and closed properly without any gaps.
The rusted floorboards had been repaired with fibreglass when he got it, and that too had to be removed and replaced with steel. Dave initially thought of painting it a dark blue/pearl white. But instead drove around looking for a colour that would be more appropriate for the car. Then when he saw the new Kia with its ‘techno orange’, his mind was made up. He says: “It’s a bit jazzy without being too in your face.” I have to concur. It’s like being enveloped by a rich moving sunset, with a silver lining.
All the chrome work that wasn’t re-chromed, was replaced. The interior has been kept to its original look. Dave says he considered putting in bucket seats as many people do with such rebuilds. In the end, he decided to keep it looking as original as possible.
The upholstery could have been neater, and he’s not too happy with some of the lines not matching up. Unless one is quite finicky, it’s not really that noticeable. The seat springs have quite a bit of life in them though. So even if the shock absorbers failed on a road trip, they would probably serve as sufficient compensation.
The engine is a Chevy 327 with a 600 Holley four-barrel carburettor and Edelbrock performance intake. It sounds like an angry lion squeezed into the small end of a funnel. This sound is deadened somewhat on the inside by the soundproofing that Dave has done. Such as boxing up the boot and using the same material that is used around air conditioning ducts, in the doors and back panels. He has also mounted the body to the frame with 10mm hard-rubber blocks instead of bolting it directly. This dampens any vibration coming through from the chassis.
The transmission is a Turbo 350 Auto box. All the steering components, front suspension, gauges, windscreen and dash trim were imported by Ralph at Motown Auto. It comes from classic Chevy parts supplier, Danchuck, in the States. The suspension has two-inch drop spindles in front, and the original front drum brakes were converted to disc. Dave’s gone as wide as he could with the rear tyres, without interfering with the springs. He says the car tends to roll as it is, and changing the springs to the inside of the chassis would exacerbate it. The wiring was redone by Clarke Auto Electrical.
While we were talking about the car, some people came over to gawk at it. I said to Dave that he must get this a lot. He says that what is nice is that the car always gets a very positive response because of its age. Unlike a Ferrari or Porsche, where people think you’re showing off, people are genuinely interested in the Chevy. I noticed that there were no wipers, and although Dave has the wiper motor and blades, he’s decided to not install them. He reckons the car looks better without them.
He says that you don’t take a car like this out in the rain anyway, so he wouldn’t really be using them in any event. Once he has built a car, he quickly gets bored, so it won’t be long before he starts on his next project. Likely it will be a fibreglass kit, ’32 Ford. He hasn’t done any road trips yet, as the car has only recently been completed. I could see that his son is itching to do one though, as long as it’s him behind the wheel (I recognise that glint in the eye). As the Chevy drives off, it’s like two sunsets converging against the horizon.