Only veteran motor heads were able to experience the Golden Age of the Tri-Five classics. They were so popular back in the days that you could see them everywhere as they cruise along the street or speed through the dragstrip.
Craig Crawford from Wichita, Kansas, was not able to experience the Golden Age but that did not stop him from admiring the beauty of the Tri-Five classic cars such as the Chevy 210 he owns. “As a kid growing up in the small town of Newtown, Kansas, that’s all we did, was work on cars. I always wanted a ’55 with a big-block in it,” said Craig. Like most builds that take several years to finish, Craig’s plans got changed and schedule extended. The original plan was to build a car that seemed liked it as all brand new in both the exterior and interior design.
“I bought the California chassis [the “one-piece” frame] at a swap meet two years before I got the car, then I started looking for the car. My friend Mark Bauer found it. He’d owned it in the ’80s. I bought it for $10,000 here in Wichita,” Craig recalled about the time he got the chassis and donor car. When he completely disassembled the body, he discovered a grueling reality. The entire floor was completely rotting away. Mark Bauer, who owns Bauer Restoration from Wichita, Kansas, stepped in to help with the body, he welded in a fresh floorboard and fabricated the mini-tubs so Craig won’t have to worry about the body anymore. Craig wanted a daily cruiser and not a dragster, so he built the chassis with a stance just right for cruising. The brakes did not need to be extra special, Craig installed Chevy 11-inch front disc and 11-inch Ford rear drums.
To power the car, Craig wanted to be practical and save some money, so he decided to use a stock big-block 502 cid crate engine. To ensure that reliability of the engine, some forged internals and a low compression ratio was added. The only aftermarket upgrade the engine got are the Earle Williams headers and the MSD ignition system which makes the engine’s performance still factory spec. This left a lot of empty space for future upgrades whenever Craig decide to add some more power to the engine. Even though it is stock spec, the crate engine is still able to produce a considerable amount of horsepower. The 502 crate engine is then matched by a Chevrolet 4L60E transmission that directs power to the Currie 9-plus rears with a Detroit Lock Differential and 3.89:1 gears. With a 502 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and a torque of 565 lb-ft at 3,200 rpm, Craig is more than happy with his ride’s power.
The 1955 Chevy 210 were built to be big and wide to accommodate the large profiles most adults have at that time. Craig’s 210 brings the exact same feel as it was over 60 years ago. It features a bench seat that has a Glide Engineering center armrest, cloth upholstery, vinyl, door panels, and kick panels that really speaks the 50s. The interior upholstery was done by Walt’s Upholstery from Mulvane, Kansas. It was again Mark Bauer’s turn to bring life to the 210, he prepared the body by smoothing every surface and then applied the PPG White and Silver two-tone finish.
Craig’s imagination for his dream car was coming into reality as it was slowly built from top to bottom. Even after a year has already passed since the 210 was complete, Craig still gets excited every time he gets the chance to tell the story about his dream car.
Craig has been asked if ever he was given the chance to change something about the build, what it would be. Craig’s answer is always “nothing”. For him, the car is just perfect and it is exactly how he imagined it to be. According to Craig, the hardest part about the project was that “It was the first time I ever built a fuel-injected car.” There are two things he really likes about the 210, the wing window that provides easy access and the vent pull on both sides of the dashboard which were popular before ACs were used but Craig actually installed a Vintage Air HVAC to keep things cool during his daily cruise.
Craig has regularly visited car shows in Loveland, Colorado; Iowa; and Texas. One his trips back from Loveland, he hit a deer that was standing on the interstate. “Very messy. That poor thing was everywhere and in everything. The grilled meat smell made it all worth it, though,” He said. You can be sure that this 1955 Chevy 210 is no garage queen and has been used as a daily driver by Craig.
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