A 1955 Chevrolet is the foundation member of the legendary Tri-Five club because it is one of the 1955-57 Chevy models that defined the rock and roll era of the late 1950s and are still rock stars in today’s vintage car hobby.
We at MyStarCollectorCar believe the ’55 Chevy looks best as a two-door post model, so we were drawn to a resto mod version that is a tribute to the famous gasser ¼ mile race cars from drag racing’s past.
The car in question may have resembled a vintage gasser, but it had enough modern upgrades to make it a serious road warrior that could handle a mega cruise like the 2022 Coasters trip across Canada, beginning in Newfoundland on the Atlantic Ocean and wrapping up in British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean. The Coast-to-Coast car adventure covered over 5000 miles (8000 kms) and may well be one of the longest regularly scheduled car cruises in the world.
Martin and Betty Kuener are the co-owners of the 1955 Chevy resto mod and took their long-distance cruise in their gasser tribute car with the Coasters last summer. Martin purchased the car 12 years ago and began to breathe life back into the ‘Chevy after it sat in a barn for five years.
It took Martin another five years to build the resto mod because he wanted to combine the old school gasser style with new age technology to get the best of both worlds from his project.
The ’55 Chevy now sports a 2007 LS2 small block mated to a 4L60 automatic transmission that can handle the powerful new age engine and deliver excellent performance in the bargain. Martin chose a 2000 Ford Explorer rear end because it already had disc brakes, but mentioned it needed to be narrowed to fit the ‘55 Chevy.
The ’55 also sports a Posi-trac differential with 4:10 gears for quick starts-or hauling their 16-ft. trailer when called upon for that duty. The car’s modern tranny gives the resto mod Tri-Five lower RPMs at higher speeds, despite the lower gear ratio in the Chevy’s new diff.
The Chevy LS series engines have become a popular choice for hotrodders because they offer plenty of horsepower and many aftermarket products that make them more compatible with vintage cars, including the 1955 Chevy.
Consequently, Martin was able transplant an LS2 engine and 4L60 tranny into his ’55 Chevy during the build process. The car also has modern electric 2-speed wipers with a pulse setting, along with an aftermarket power steering system that delivers a firm and positive feel to the driver.
Martin was able to mimic the car’s classic gasser stance with beefier front coil springs originally built for the heavier (by comparison to the lightweight aluminum block LS2 engine) factory six-cylinder engines offered in many 1955 Chevies. The net result was an easier load for the springs and a higher front-end stance for Martin’s Chevy. Tubular upper control arms made it easier to dial in the car’s alignment.
Sharp-eyed MyStarCollectorCar readers will notice the unusual rear-view mirrors on the ’55 Chevy. Martin added motorcycle mirrors to the car’s original configuration on both sides so he could see the trailer when it is towed behind the Chevy.
The hood scoop was donated by a late 1960s heavy-duty Ford truck, while the front seats came out of a 1965 Chevy car.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.