What do you do when you’ve spent the last thirty years building elite show cars and all you want now is a driver that you can enjoy with your wife or take to car shows? You know that if you build one yourself, it’s not going to turn out to be the driver you had planned on but will most likely end up back on the elite show circuit. The best plan is to buy one ready done and just make the alterations yourself which should see you not strip to the bare bones and build it back up…as long as you keep a tight leash on yourself!
Peter Olver found himself in this predicament, having spent the last few decades building a number of top award winning street rods which consisted of a ’32 Roadster ,’33
coupe, ’32 three window and ’34 Sedan. Having stepped away from the scene in the early 2000s and moving his attention to other priorities, Peter still had a hankering for something that would satisfy the classic V8 urge running through his veins. While on a trip to the States, he was down in Dallas, Texas and came across a neat 1955 Chevrolet 150 post for sale. “I liked the simplicity of it, the fact that it has very little trim on it gives it a clean look” says Pete. Largely ignored for many years by the American modified car scene, these two door budget rides came out in their day with sparse trim on the body and lend themselves well to being modified as a cool cruiser and are now just starting to attract attention. With a previous build on the shoebox Chevy completed in 2004 and with very little miles put on the clock since then, the car was relatively fresh. Having a good look over it, Pete was satisfied it had been done properly and he layed down the required green backs before shipping it back to our shores.
With a stroked and detailed 400 c.i. Chevy donk pushing out 500 HP located in the smoothed engine bay and backed up by a Turbo 700 box, this baby’s no slouch on the street and could do alright on the strip too. All that power is fed to the road thanks to a 1959 Corvette rear end . By running the Corvette’s single leaf spring setup, it allows those tough looking 17” American Racing wheels to slot perfectly under the rear quarters while 16” rims up front finish it off in the rolling stock department. Two inch drop spindles and three inch lowering blocks give it that timeless stance that suits this classic American iron so well.
The Tropical Turquoise Blue sedan arrived in Australia in February and after getting it home, Pete subsequently set about partially tearing it down to arrange the necessary adjustments to his own liking. Pete resides in country Victoria and with mainly two lane roads between himself and his destinations, driving on the left side of a vehicle has its challenges especially when it comes to overtaking maneuvers around large vehicles. Visibility becomes a serious problem and for this reason, he converted it to right hand drive using a power rack and pinion steering kit from Rod Collins. To help with the road performance, tubular A arms replace the old 1955 units allowing for a better castor on the front wheels giving the driver greater steering control. Stopping power is courtesy of a set of aftermarket discs up front while drums do their anchoring duty at the rear.
The paint job has been left relatively untouched as it is still in excellent condition from its last respray and Pete didn’t want to mess with the subtle mauve and blue pin striping which adorns both flanks of the car and the boot. With the bonnet and boot shaved of its jewelry, Pete enhanced that smooth look by bolting on a set of aftermarket “smoothy” bumpers, doing without the over riders and bolt caps. To complete the minimal theme, the taillights were swapped for a set of custom items while upfront, custom Headwing headlights give the operator better night vision also vital for driving on country roads. Those roos don’t appreciate classic rides like we do! To keep it as the driver it is intended to be, the underside of the tri-five Chev has been finished in a standard sub frame black making it easy to clean, no detailing required! While we’re under here, exhaust gasses exit via extractors modified to suit the right hand conversion through to a twin system with tailpipes tucked neatly under the bumper.
While the outside maintains a minimal look in the bright work department, inside it’s a different story with all chrome and alloy trim retained. Complimenting the classic trim is a set of aftermarket billet dash inserts and an Ididit steering column with old school column shift. A full set of Dolphin gauges look the part while helping Pete keep an eye on all vital information regarding mechanicals and electricals. A cool optional extra found on this ride are the wind down rear windows giving the rear passengers that “air through the hair” feeling when cruising. The interior had been upholstered in tweed with turquoise piping but Pete prefers the feel of leather and had the seats, roof and door trims redone by Phil of Daylsford Upholstery in tan leather with matching carpet. To keep a consistent look throughout, the boot received the same makeover including spare tire and battery box. The original A/C and heater controls keep the ’55 theme alive while operating the aftermarket aircon which is vital on those hot summer days. Peter from Creswick Auto Electrical was given the job of rewiring the whole car and has done a great job of hiding the bundles of coloured spaghetti.
Pete plans on keeping this one in his company along with his VC Brock Commodore and CVZ8 Monaro although, with a twinkle in his eye, he says there maybe plans brewing for a ’32 rod……just as a driver though!! Yeah, right Pete!!