Some guys build a new rod or custom every few years; others craft one and keep it forever. The latter option may sound a little boring to the former group, but there are advantages to hanging on to a ride for the long haul. First, you can rebuild it every so often to suit your changing tastes, and each time it's kinda like getting a new set of wheels. Plus, you never have to utter the words, "Boy, I never should have sold that car!"
Brandon Meddock has owned this '56 Chevy for 16 years. It's the only hot rod he's ever had. It was also his first car, purchased with the help of his parents, Ken and Geri, when Brandon was just 14. Even then he knew a '56 Chevy was a cool ride; he particularly liked the versatility. "It could go from a dragstrip look to a conventional street rod look," Brandon says. "Also, the details were interesting, like the gas filler in the taillight."
The car's first rebuild, completed in late 1990 by Brandon with help from mom and pop, could be dubbed "Pro Street lite." It had a stout 327, TH350, Guards Red paint, black interior, and 10-inch Center Lines stuffed in place without wheeltubs. Nothing too noteworthy by today's standards, but it was nevertheless a very cool high school driver for Brandon. Not only that, he had the foresight to keep the Chevy when he left home for college; he just stored it in his parents' garage to await its next incarnation.
It's worth noting that Brandon studied industrial design, with an automotive emphasis, at Academy of Art College in San Francisco. That led him to Southern California and a career as a clay modeler, first in Ford's design studios and now at Honda. Education and career refined Brandon's design sense; so did a growing interest in traditional hot rods. All of it influenced his Chevy's second coming.
Oddly enough, it was a '46 Ford--a Fresno-area rod with no hood, triple carbs, and a red firewall he remembers seeing as a kid--that Brandon kept thinking about as he tore into his '56 again. "I knew it was going to have whitewalls and steel wheels," Brandon says. "I also knew it had to have a white firewall with stickers." A theme was slowly emerging. Brandon calls it a "late-'50s, early-'60s drag car look." We prefer to think badass backstreet brawler.
Many of the ingredients were already in place. The stout 327, for instance, merely needed fresh gaskets before being dolled up with vintage-style Edelbrock valve covers and dual Carter AFBs on a Weiand intake. Ditto for the TH350--all it required was a more appropriate Lokar nostalgia shifter. The black Naugahyde upholstery with red piping worked with the new theme, too, as did the owner-built rollcage.
The key changes came outside. Brandon tackled his first priority quickly--spraying the Ivory-colored firewall (a key factor considering that he often cruises the car sans hood). Flames had also entered the equation, but not just any fire would do. Brandon wanted period licks with fat, tapered outlines. To achieve the desired look using single-stage paint, Brandon sprayed the black pinstripe first, then laid down the Guards Red and India Ivory, overlapping the black slightly with both. This left a clean pinstripe edge once everything was color-sanded and buffed.
As striking as the flames are, they're almost overshadowed by the plain-Jane wheels (we can just picture the guys with 20-inch billet rollers shaking their heads in disbelief). Somehow the gloss black steelies help complete the Chevy's "incomplete" persona--that no-nonsense, just-back-from-the-dragstrip, don't-mess-with-me demeanor that oozes from every seam. McGaughy dropped spindles and 2-inch lowering blocks do their part to enhance the surly attitude with proper altitude.
In the end it all boils down to wheels, tires, stance, and paint. Those elements define most rods and customs, and they're exactly what set this '56 apart from other Tri-Five Chevys. Brandon is certainly excited with the way those ingredients came together; then again, this Chevy has never disappointed him. "I wouldn't do anything different," Brandon says. "Everything we did made sense at the time, or was the right choice for what we could afford." Right choices, right time, right car--no wonder he's kept the Chevy all these years.
Brandon & Mandy Meddock
Lake Forest, California
'56 Chevy 210 Sedan
Brandon assembled the '64-vintage 327 back in high school; it just needed a little freshening up this time around. The stout small-block runs Keith Black pistons, an Erson cam, Corvette "fuelie" heads, and Manley valves. Topping it off is a Weiand intake, twin Carter AFBs, and owner-crafted Hellings-style air cleaners. Edelbrock valve covers, a Griffin radiator, and a Moon coolant recovery tank help complete the look, while a Mallory distributor and S&S headers take care of spark and fumes. Backing up the mill is a TH350 with a TCI converter and Lokar shifter.
A stock frame provides the foundation for this fire-branded Chevy. The 3.55:1-geared stock rearend gets help from KYB shocks, 2-inch lowering blocks, and owner-built traction bars, while McGaughy dropped spindles, lowered springs, and disc brakes get things down up front.
WHEELS & TIRES:
Brandon turned to Pete Paulson for the 15x7- and 15x8-inch steel wheels, which were powdercoated black. They're wrapped in Coker Classic whitewalls, size 215/75R15 and 235/75R15.
BODY & PAINT:
Stripping the car bare and doing a bunch of bodywork wasn't necessary since Brandon had done that on the first go-around. This time he just made a few repairs, scuffed the surface, and started spraying. He began by masking off the flames (with help from mother Geri, we might add) and spraying the black outline striping. Next he laid down the Valspar Guards Red and India Ivory, overlapping the black slightly with each. This left him with the most uniform surface possible using single-stage paint. Body mods include a shaved hood (the bird is gone) and license-free front bumper.
The cabin fits the car's theme perfectly--bare bones and basic. There's no radio and no air conditioning, just lots of black Naugahyde, a little red piping, VDO gauges, a Moon tach, Danchuk seatbelts, and an owner-built rollbar.