5.7 liter LS1 V8
Tremec 6-speed manual transmission
Custom leather & suede interior
Air conditioning / Hidden MP3-compatible audio system
Ridetech ShockWave air ride
Schott Modsport wheels
Narrowed Ford 9-inch rear axle / 3.25 gears
Fatman Fabrications front suspension / Ridetech rear suspension
Modified mostly-original body / Viper Blue paint
Power rack-and-pinion steering / 4-wheel disc brakes
Over the past few years, many of the world's finest tri-fives have graced our RK Motors Charlotte showroom. According to sales, '55-'57 resto-mods are often considered our best offerings. And it's easy to see why when cars like this Viper Blue 210, an offering that backs proven LS1 power with an upgraded drivetrain and custom leather upholstery, are casting bright glares in our sedate photo booth. It's pretty evident that this Chevy was envisioned as one of the coolest cruisers on the strip. And, judging by initial reaction, perception certainly mirrors reality. If you're searching for a sizzling custom that mixes fully sorted mechanicals with great aesthetics, you've found your next classic!
The essential part of building a jaw dropping custom is: knowing EXACTLY when to hold back. And, with an icon like the Chevy tri-five, even the subtlest touches go a long way. Naturally, the pros who massaged this wagon's California body paid plenty of attention to the fundamentals, but their primary focus was creating the most perfect surfacing possible. That surfacing is founded on mostly-original panels that are impressively flat, displaying nary a ripple or wave anywhere. As expected, those straight pieces ensure fit and finish that's significantly above '50s factory fodder. Speaking of factory, the car's original trim was removed, subjected to $3,500 of hand polishing and carefully reinstalled. And that stainless is highlighted by a glossy coat of Viper Blue 2-stage that blows traditional pastels straight out of the water!
One thing about classic car guys is they're uncanny ability to methodically plot, plan and execute even the minutest details. The guy who built this spectacular cruiser probably spent weeks doing just that. At the front of the car, a body-width bumper anchors a Satin Black grille behind clear parking lamps, a traditional Chevrolet crest and chrome-trimmed headlights. At the top of that grille, a smoothed, "Chevrolet" branded hood utilizes a reversed factory latch to adopt the forward-tilt look popularized by the car's Corvette brethren. At the back of that hood, capped wipers lead smoked glass, which is like new all the way down to its 1-piece front passenger windows. At the base of that glass, Bel Air profile spears traverse shaved doors that are accented with correct mirrors. And at the back of the car, a custom smoothie bumper frames correct taillights, bright Chevrolet badging and modernist, center-outlet exhaust tips.
Tilt the aforementioned hood and you'll find 5.7 liters of LS1 V8 that makes over 300 horsepower! Straight from the factory, that proven mill combines a sturdy aluminum block with lightweight aluminum heads, coil-near-plug ignition and aluminum flat top pistons to create razor-sharp throttle response and a torque band that's as wide as Texas. At the front of the engine, factory serpentine components spin GM-spec ancillaries just beneath a painted and bowtie-branded air cleaner. Once air enters that cleaner, it flows through a painted, "LS1" branded throttle body to a painted intake, which is bolted down over completely stock internals. High-octane fossils are provided by GM electronic fuel injection. Spent gases roar through factory-spec headers. And cooling comes courtesy of a custom aluminum radiator that's sandwiched between three electric fans. Aesthetically, the Cast Silver mill and its assortment of bright accessories seem right at home inside their smooth, body-matched frame. And details like braided hoses, polished fluid reservoirs and a small Summit fuel pressure gauge ensure this Chevy walks a fine line between looks and performance.
Not surprisingly, the bottom of this show worthy bowtie continues the theme of pairing proven hardware with enhanced technology. Behind the awesome engine, a tough Tremec 6-speed makes good use of a narrowed Ford 9-inch, which is built with 3.25 gears and sturdy Moser axles. Turns come courtesy of power rack-and-pinion steering. Four disc brakes scrub speed. Large-diameter exhaust pipes feed Hooker Super Competition Aero Chamber mufflers. The car's Satin Black floors hover on a Satin Black frame, which rides on a Fatman independent front-clip and Ridetech 4-link rear-half. That suspension adds swagger via Ridetech ShockWave air ride, which kneels thanks to dual air tanks. And that hardware rolls on sweet Schott Modsport wheels, which spin 225/45R18 Bridgestone Duelers in front of 315/35R20 Bridgestone Duelers.
Pop the doors and you'll find a custom, completely reworked interior. Front and center, a quartet of leather and suede buckets mixes modern lap belts with modern power adjustment for the car's driver and front passenger. In front of those seats, a blue-stitched dash anchors blue-lit Dakota Digital telemetry, Vintage Air Streamline controls and a blue-lit Dakota Digital clock in a custom, hand-fabricated instrument panel. At the base of that dash, a custom, full-length console centers a sturdy shifter between bright power window switches, hidden Ridetech hardware and components for hidden, MP3-compatible audio. That console floats on like-new carpet, which bridges the gap between billet foot pedals and leather and suede door panels that are dotted with brushed handles. The driver spins a taut Budnik steering wheel around a tilting Ididit column. And the passengers stow gear in a custom cargo hold that, when electronically popped, hides its contents under a custom Tonneau.
Sporting a detailed restoration that would probably take a second mortgage to duplicate, this 210 rolls on the right side of impressive. It's a highly desirable tri-five that's been carefully fitted with all of the right stuff to be one seriously cool cruiser. If you're dreaming of the perfect blend of lavish '50s style and modern, reliable performance, you've found your next classic!