Put a group of car guys together and it usually doesn't take long before they begin talking about their first rods. Harvey Bagshaw is no exception, and he'd happily recount nearly endless stories about his first car. In fact, he may even look to either side, lower his voice, and with a chuckle tell you how, as a teenager, his driver's license was suspended while running his '56 Chevrolet 210 sedan through the gears one night on Long Island.
He bought the car 42 years ago. Customs were popular and it wasn't long before the car was lowered, nosed, and decked, the doors handles were shaved, and the car was fitted with a set of loud pipes-emphasis on loud, please.
In the mid-'60s, the car became a drag racer in what was then a Gas class. During the mid-'70s the sedan became family transportation for wife Gay Lynn and four children, a complete turnabout from dragstrips and cruise nights.
Harvey decided to change the car's focus one more time in the early '80s. The result is what you see here. It took a long time to reach this point. In fact, the sedan has seen four engines, six transmissions, four rearends, two sets of upholstery, and five paint jobs.
Harvey owns Starlite Auto Body in Mattituck, New York, a collision shop located on the eastern end of Long Island. Behind the business is a smaller shop for his personal vehicles, and that's where he can be found most evenings.
He worked on the sedan when he had time, and it wasn't until he made the decision to go the full-custom route that work took a whole new turn. Harvey's friend Mark Reynolds played a role in the makeover.
Harvey said his aim was to make the car symmetrical from front to back. We'd say he achieved his goal! The front and rear pans were molded and are protected by matching nerf bars. The grille is from a '58 Corvette.
Notice how the profile of the headlight openings matches the profile of the openings for the custom-built Lee taillights. The headlights were tunneled by using '54 Mercury extensions. The rear wheelwell openings now match the front wheelwell lines, and the rear quarter-panel also matches the front fender panel. The trim is from a '58 Chevy.
A custom needs a chopped top, Harvey said, so he took 2 1/2 inches from the lid and then molded a scoop on the rear section of the top. Harvey painted the custom with House of Kolor Candy Urethane Burgundy that looks as good today as it did 20 years ago.
The 327ci engine came from a '62 Corvette and boasts a roller rocker valvetrain, Z/28 cam, and Edelbrock manifold with three Rochester Deuces. Harvey's sedan rides on Astro Supreme wheels mounted on 205R75x15 tires in front and 215R75x15 in back. Whitewalls are the narrow style.
Inside, the upholstery is done in white pearl Naugahyde pleats with accents to match the exterior paint. Chevy bucket seats are used in front, and the spacious rear seating was borrowed from a '60s Thunderbird.
Harvey has owned a series of other cars, but the '56 is his favorite. There are no re-builds planned, Harvey said. He's got the car just the way he wants it.
Long Island, New York
Drivetrain: Although this car's drivetrain has more lives than a cat, the fourth and final engine is a 327ci engine out of a '62 Corvette. The engine is equipped with roller rockers and an Edelbrock manifold with a trio of Rochesters and is backed by a '56 GM three-speed manual.
AChassis: Air ride wasn't available when this custom was originally constructed, so it is raised and lowered by hydraulics. The rear of the frame was C'd to get the car to drag the ground, otherwise the suspension is pretty much original. The rearend is from a '64 Chevy and houses 4:11 gears.
Wheels & Tires: Harvey's sedan rides on Astro Supreme wheels wrapped in a combination of 205R75x15 and 215R75x15 skinny whites.
Body: The front and rear pans are molded and protected by a pair of matching nerf bars. The grille is from a '58 Corvette. The profile of the headlight openings matches the profile of the openings for the custom Lee taillights. The headlights are frenched using '54 Merc extensions. The rear wheel openings now match the front wheelwells, and the rear quarter-panels match the front fenders. To accent the symmetry, Harvey added trim from a '58 Chevy. He also took 2 1/2 inches out of the top and molded a scoop on the rear section of the top. Dual antennas were sunk into the left door.
Paint: Harvey painted the custom with House of Kolor Candy Urethane Burgundy that looks as good today as it did 20 years ago.
Interior: Barton's Auto Upholstery stitched the Chevy's pearl white pleats with accents that match the exterior paint. Chevy buckets are used up front and the spacious rear seating was donated by a '60s T-bird. The trunk was upholstered to match the interior and a special cover was made for the area between the radiator and the grille assembly. The steering wheel came from a '58 Chevy.