2nd Chance

James Lail of Lincolnton, North Carolina had been working off and on for more than four years building a 1955 Chevy two-door hard top when a garage fire consumed the car, building and all of the equipment it took to build they Chevy. The loss was made even worse because the car was going to be his 2½ year-old grandson Noahs ride when he grew up. Without a garage or any tools, James almost decided not to try building anymore projects. But with his grandson, in mind he rebuilt the garage, bought more tools and went looking for another project. In 2006 in Denver, North Carolina he found a ‘55 Chevy 210 series sedan for sale that been sitting in a building just waiting on him to give it a second chance.

The Chevy had no motor or transmission, but the body was in pretty good shape considering its age with the normal amount of dents, dings and rust they accumulate over the years. After removing the body from the frame, it was time to get help from friends Del Slifer and Scott Taylor with some media blasting to see what the old body really looked like. The bare metal told the tale and a phone call to Chevy Classics of Greenville, South Carolina had reproduction sheet metal from CARS Inc. on the way. The boxes of new metal from CARS Inc. allowed James to replace the trunk floor pan, quarter panels, doors, hood and inner/outer rocker panels. The only parts that were salvaged from the Chevy that was in the fire were a perfect set of front fenders that were to be given a second chance on this car. After all of the new metal was in place, a good friend by the name of Carl Taylor, who is an excellent body man, came over to help get the body laser straight. Many months of block sanding transitioned into weeks of water sanding and that moved everything closer to the painting stage. A phone call to another good friend Ray Hinson, who has many years of paint and body experience, was given the job of making sure the final prep and paint were done correctly. James had no problem spraying the PPG Mercedes black but knew that the PPG Mercedes silver can be tough to shoot so he passed the gun over to Ray. After painting, many hours of water sanding and buffing led to the mirror finish that the car has now. The original stainless trim was brought back to life by hours of careful polishing by Ray; the original rear bumper was rechromed while Danchuk supplied the new front bumper.

The stock frame of the Chevy got just as much attention with the installation of a rear pocket spring kit with Posies Super Slider Springs on the rear, a power rack and two inch TCI drop spindles with two inch lower springs are on the front. The combination of these changes gave the ‘55 the stance that James wanted. The killer tire & wheel combo is Billet Specialty Rail’s 18” x 9” and 17” x 7” wheels mounted with 265-55-18 & 245-45-17 Nitto radials. Stopping power for the car comes from Wilwood’s four wheel disc brakes and master cylinder package. The drivetrain is a GM Performance ZZ4 that has been topped off with a polished Weiand intake and a Holley carburetor. The engine compartment is painted and polished from the Auto Rad radiator to the Lokar dipstick mounted on the firewall. The horsepower moves from the dressed out engine to the rear wheels thru a 700 R4 transmission and a 3.73 posi geared rear end.

The interior of the car features Vintage Air ac/heat, Custom Rod Gauges package, Flaming River tilt steering column dressed out with a Billet Specialty steering wheel, Kenwood sound system and all of it brought together with American Auto Wire. To keep things simple and not too many phone calls James used Hot Rod Express in Maiden, North Carolina as his supplier on most of his aftermarket parts. When mocking up the interior, James went with a pair of bucket seats from an Eclipse which meant that he needed an upholsterer who could design a rear seat to match them. James chose Pharr Custom Interiors of Iron Station, North Carolina to install the full leather interior. This is where James, the owner of the Chevy, worked with James, the owner of Pharr Interiors, and between the two they came up with a killer interior. 

Roughly 8 ½ years went by since James had started on the first ‘55 and ended up finishing the second Chevy. Now with over 4,000 trouble free miles on it, James is glad that he took the initiative to give this idea and project a second chance. On another note, his grandson Noah is now older and not quite as interested in the ‘55 as he once was but he still calls it his car while James is thinking about maybe building a ‘66 or ‘67 Chevy Nova. Well, there probably is another project in James future and no matter what it is, we know when he is through with it, he will be Cruisin in Style.


Manufacturers & Shops

American Auto Wire • AutoRad • Billet Specialty • CARS Inc. • Chevy Classics of Greenville, SC • Custom Rod Gauges • Danchuk • Flaming River • GM Performance Parts • Holley • Hot Rod Express • Kenwood • Nitto • Pharr Custom Interiors • Posies Rod and Customs • PPG • TCI (Total Coast Involved) • Vintage Air • Weiand • Wilwood

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