The Danchuk giveaway car built for the 2015 Tri-Five Nationals was at SEMA and it was my teen-age dream machine come to life. When I saw the metallic blue “post coupe” on display, I couldn’t believe how closely it resembled the car I wanted to make when I was 18 and got my driver’s license.
My dad had promised to buy me a car if I went to community college instead of an expensive design school. But that car never did materialize and shortly before it was time to take my driver’s exam, my grandfather offered me his ’55 Chevy 210 Del Rey coupe with the 265 V-8 and Powerglide.
It wasn’t long before I had the J.C. Whitney Catalog marked up with all of the parts I needed to buy. They included a hood scoop, a pair of black vinyl bucket seats, a straight-line floor shifter for the automatic, a set of fat tires and a body work kit so I could nose and deck the hood and trunk.
It was the era of the gasser wars, but I didn’t want to build a real straight axle car for the street. However, I did want that look with the front bumper removed and the front coil springs stretched a bit. In my mind’s eye, the car would be metallic blue (the Del Rey was green with a cream top) and might have some pin striping on the rear deck and maybe a name like “Blue Lagoon” or something like that written on it.
Of course, I had no money to buy anything except gas. I lived in New York and had no garage where I could work on the car. I also had absolutely zero experience with working on cars. I did try to smooth out the hood and shape little fins on the back with Bondo, but all I did was make a mess.
In the fall of 1965 I started college. By my second semester I was married and having kids. The car managed to last long enough to bring one child home from the hospital. Sometime after that, it stopped running and I wound up selling it for $50. In the early ‘70s I bought a ’54 Chevy that had the same color scheme. It reminded me a little of the Tri-Five, but it wasn’t the same.
I think about building the car I wanted back then a lot today. In fact, I even have the 265 V-8 sitting over in my shop. That’s a start, but it’s a long way from my dream car. However, that car I saw at SEMA is my dream come true. All’s I have to do is find an affordable ’55 Chevy 210 post coupe. Well, I guess I’d better keep dreaming away.