Every guy remembers that one car you always got excited about as a child. For me that car has always been the 1956 Chevrolet 210 Two Door Sedan.
My introduction to the Tri-Five occurred when I was about four years old. I had family members who actually used to race stock cars and the car of choice at the time was any of the 55-57 Chevrolets. At last count I know the family sent at least six Chevrolets to the junk yard after several seasons of racing. I shudder every time I think about how many cars were cut up and eventually sent to the scrap pile.
In high school I owned a 1955 Bel-Air Two Door Hardtop. I was sixteen at the time so my parents actually bought the car. My mother found the car in a garage where it had been sitting for over 15 years. We bought the car, brought it home, cleaned it up and got it running. I later had to sell the hardtop. I always knew I would own another one, some day.
In 2000 I began the search for a car. I was living in Northwest Arkansas so I looked in Arkansas and all the surrounding states. I watched internet ads for over two years. I looked at some cars that were great project cars and some that were not fit to be a dog house. In fact, one was a dog house in Ft. Worth. I drove all across the great state of Texas looking at cars. Finally in the fall of 2001 I found a car in Arlington that had promise. I contacted the owner and we struck up a deal. My dream was finally completed that cool fall night as I drove home in my 1956 Chevy with the windows rolled down, that V8 rumbling, and the wind blowing through the vent windows. What a feeling. At the time I purchased the car my daughter was about to turn three years old. I have never been one to name my cars but my daughter coined the car as Daddy’s Old Car and the name has stuck.
Since 2001 I have completed several projects on the car. I fought electrical problems, oil leaks, missing parts, suspension issues, and many other items since purchasing the car. The car had a frame off “restoration” completed about two years before I bought the car. The previous owner did a decent job. However, it’s the details that get you.
In the fall of 2002 I began my first major project, rewiring the entire electrical system. Like any project on these cars you start out with a plan and it usually grows to five times the size before it all done. I learned a great deal by putting in the new harness. My daughter also learned all the different tools. She is a great helper. It took me about six months of weekends to finally get it all finished. In the Spring of 2003 I completed the wiring project and it fired up on the first turn of the ignition and everything worked. It was a great sense of accomplishment.
After getting the car back together I decided it was time to get a tune up done. When the garage flushed the radiator they must have knocked just enough rust out to create more than one leak in the radiator. I then decided to replace the stock radiator with a custom PRC aluminium radiator. I have learned that anytime you hear the work custom that means it want fit, there are not parts available, and well your own your own. I started my project with just replacing the radiator. The next thing you know I had the entire front end off the car down to the frame. It took another four months of work and I missed almost all of the summer working on the car. I finally got it all back together about a month before the Good Guys Nationals at Texas Motor Speedway.
In October 2003 I entered the car into the Good Guys event. My father came in from Houston and we spent an entire day getting the car cleaned and ready for the event. It was an awesome weekend. The weather was great (e.g. no rain) and we had a great time. The best part of the trip was that the car overheated waiting in the stop and go traffic to enter the speedway. As I pulled into the parking lot the overflow bottle was running over. We were not at Good Guys for more than five minutes before I was ripping out wires on the electric fan and getting the fan kicked on. Made for a nice water puddle under the car.
Since then I have entered the car in two other events. I participated in a Fright Night Event in Frisco last year. The car took 2nd in 50’s cars as People’s Choice. It was fun for others to recognize the work of a long summer and winter and get awarded a trophy. In February of 2004 I entered Autorama along with Steve Pratt and Larry Rollow of DACC. It was one of the better Autorama events in many years. Despite the snow on Saturday the crowds were really big. We meet several past and future members of DACC at Autorama. Best of all, all three of us took home an award in our class. My 56 210 was awarded Outstanding in Class for 1955-1959 Conservative Hardtop.
This past spring Steve Pratt (Authentic Automotive) was gracious enough to help me install a new power steering system in the car. It took us a good day of work but the system works great and I can actually drink a vanilla Coke while driving the car now. I have also ordered all the parts to rebuild the entire front suspension along with a front disc brake kit. My plan was to get everything done before Autorama. The parts did not show up on time so I have just been enjoying the car and driving it since March.
Almost everyone who asks about the car has another great car story about the one their father, uncle, grandfather owned when they were young. It’s fun to share the stories. I really like getting the car out. I drive it to church and around town. I always get a thumbs up or a kind comment when I pull the car out of the garage. More often than not if my daughter is outside she will usually gather all of her friends and say, “Do you want to ride in my Daddy’s old car?”