Roy Brizio, in case you haven't heard, is into '32 Fords. He owns, builds, and breathes '32 Fords. I'm pretty sure he dreams about them too, although I don't really want to research that one. Basically, '32 Fords come out of his shop almost as fast as they did off of Henry's assembly line.
So what's up with this '55 Chevy? Well, it's not as unfitting for the "King of '32s" as you might think. Back in the early '80s, Roy built a big-block '56 for his first paying customer, Reggie Jackson. His long-time employee, Jim Vickery, drove a '56 daily for eight years. Jack Stratton, head chassis fabricator at Brizio's, just finished his own '55 210. Roy is also building a '57 for a customer as we speak, and already has a few more Tri-Five orders lined up for the coming year.
But that's other people. What made Roy purchase his own '55 project? "I wanted to give my guys something new and different to work on," is his explanation. But with Tri-Five Chevys gaining so much popularity as of late, it seemed a logical move for more than a few reasons. You can already see Roy's typical "less is more" attitude translates just as well into a Tri-Five Chevy as it does into a roadster. But, as usual, it took a lot of work to get there.
Roy started the project with what looked like a fairly straight, mostly complete '55 Chevy 210. The body was gutted, removed from the frame, and immediately sent out to get chemically stripped. What came back appeared to be a demolition-derby car, possibly a figure-eight chain race veteran. The good news was that the floors were virtually perfect, as were the firewall and roof. The quarters, though, were at one point "widened" for slicks and beat by both blunt and sharp objects, then repaired very badly.
Joe Compani, body and paint guru at Brizio's, began by cutting out each rear quarter and welding in new panels, and then Brizio's crew patched up all of the minor rust in the typical areas: window gutters, driprails, and rockers. After all of the extraneous holes were filled in the firewall and a new rear apron was welded in, the body finally began to look like it had some custom potential.
When it came time to set the body on a frame, Roy opted for an Art Morrison chassis. It was set up for a small-block Chevy with a Tremec five-speed, and came equipped with fully polished front and rear suspensions. Brake lines were already installed, and the detailed instructions made setting the body on the frame simple.
Once they had a roller, Roy had to decide how he wanted to modify the Chevy. Besides having obligatory traditional hot-rod cues, Roy wanted his car to be somewhat of a custom. The hood was filled and peaked, the decklid filled, and fuel filler door removed. Joe scratch-built some killer parking lights and installed a custom grille. To further clean up the Chevy's lines, the vent window dividers were removed by installing a Specialty Power Windows one piece door glass kit.
The most noticeable custom cue on the car, however, is the color. Though it isn't entirely unprecedented, painting an entire '55 Chevy Pagan Gold takes some gonads. Roy deliberated on the color for quite a while, toying with different shades of gold and orange, but he wanted the car to be "noticeable," and I think he chose the right color for the job.
So the King of '32s hasn't forgotten his roots, but he has broadened his repertoire. Roy will definitely exercise this one as much as his other cars; look for it on the Americruise in June. And don't be surprised if you see a few more Tri-Five Chevys roll out of Brizio's shop in the near future.