If you ask any hot rodder if the perfect Tri-Five Chevy exists, you’ll likely hear a story that starts with, “back in my day,” or “this one time I saw.” In reality, the 1955-1957 Chevrolets are some of the most popular cars among purists, hot rodders, and racers of all kind. Maybe it’s the classic good looks. Maybe it’s what the cars have done for the automotive world. Whatever the case may be, more than 60 years later, anyone who claims to be an automotive enthusiast still gets excited when they see a 1955, 1956, or 1957 Chevy.
What makes the perfect street car leaves a lot of room for debate? Is it a rat rod that simply assaults the senses, a pickup truck sitting on the rockers, or something so brutally powerful that it has no business being on the street? No matter what your style or flavor, the debate over the perfect street car has gone on for decades. Gary Brown of Buford, Georgia, may have found the winning combination with his sleek, subtle, and perfectly understated ’56 Chevy. This big-block-powered, five-speed-equipped real street car can be driven anywhere. You’ll get there fast, and you’ll get there in style.
At First Glance
The pristine body and restomod style grab your attention right away. It’s not until you dive into the details, however, that you realize how meticulously each aspect of this build has been executed. Nothing is missed, and the level of perfection is so high, that it’s easy to overlook the little things that would make most other Tri-Fives stand out in the crowd. The body lines and trim rival that of today’s hand-built supercars. When you look at the body, you can see the hundreds of hours that were spent perfecting each panel.
The car was built at Alloway Hot Rod Shop in Louisville, Tennessee. Bobby Alloway injected his infamous blend of beauty and power into this classic Tri-Five. The body lines have been meticulously aligned, and all the trim laid out the way the factory wished they could have.
The Seafoam and Ivory color scheme gives it the perfect amount of classic good looks to tie it all together, and the hues bring a taste of nostalgia to an otherwise modern build style. There isn’t much stock about this Tri-Five, but the throwback colors might make you think twice before finalizing your opinion.
A Look Inside
The interior is where you’ll find the bulk of this car’s originality. It’s a perfect blend of stock style, modest custom touches, and modern improvements. At first glance, your attention is grabbed by the factory bench seat. Its original-style cover is unassuming, but adds the classic elegance Tri-Fives are known for. When you look a bit deeper, the cool factor is instantly increased when you realize the car is sporting a manual transmission.
The Hurst shifter handle fits perfectly with the bench seat, and almost looks like it could be original. If you didn’t notice the shift pattern on the simple white knob, you probably missed the fact that it has overdrive! Further inspection gives you a deeper look into the efforts made to bring the car into the 21st century.
Under The Hood
Open the hood and you’re met by an amazingly detailed big-block Chevy. Its custom-painted valve covers and matching air cleaner steal your attention away from the Holley Dominator carburetor and aluminum cylinder heads, all these things hinting at a wolf in sheep’s clothing living between the frame rails. Under the pretty bits, sits a 547ci behemoth that cranks out 800 horsepower.
Kessler Racing and Machine in Maryville, Tennessee, built the engine. The block is filled with go-fast parts that are able to produce power levels that were simply unheard of when this car rolled off the assembly line. Topping the forged internals is a set of RHS aluminum cylinders heads.
Although aluminum was not a material used for factory cylinder head castings in the ’50s, it looks so natural in this engine bay that this fact can easily slip past you. The 1050 cfm carburetor introduces the air and fuel mixture into the engine handily. While 800 horsepower may sound like a lot, Gary tells us you can drive this car anywhere, at any time, and use real pump gas.
Connecting The Dots
Big horsepower is useless without control. Behind the engine sits a Richmond five-speed transmission, which flawlessly handles the power and torque. The driveshaft spins the gears inside a 9-inch rearend housing. This allows every bit of torque and horsepower to be safely put to the ground without fear of leaving a trail of scattered parts.
The ’56 rolls on a set of ET wheels. The fronts measure 15×7, while the rears measure 16×10. To fit this wide wheel and tire package under the Tri-Five, some work needed to be done to add the essential real estate. Gary’s ’56 utilizes the factory frame with some key upgrades like relocating the leaf springs to make room. Up front, the factory components have been ditched in favor of new suspension pieces from Heidts. The upper and lower A-arms provide massive improvements in frontend geometry, tremendously increasing the cars handling capabilities and ride quality. The simple addition of modern geometry transforms these cars into handling machines with little else.
Although Gary has only owned the car for a short time, he drives it constantly, attending shows all over the Southeast. With this type of power and comfort, mixed with ultra-refined classic good looks, why wouldn’t you want to drive this car everywhere? We just hope that the next time we run into him at a show, he lets us drive it a bit!