Tri-Fives Rule: This King Of A ’56 Chevy 210 Proves That Point

Rocky Nash 1956 Chevy-1When it comes to classic Chevys, none more so than the 210 Series get more love, and there’s a good reason why. To tell the entire story, we have to go back to 1953 when the model was introduced to the Chevrolet line of automobiles.

It was in 1953 that the 210 line replaced the Styleline DeLuxe series. The Styleline cost less than the higher-end Bel Air, but had a level of luxury that was unavailable in the previous 150 Series cars. However, along came the 210, and it brought customers by droves. This new model could be had in a broader range of body styles than it’s Bow-Tie predecessors. Buyers could choose from a convertible, Sport Coupe hardtop, two- and four-door sedans, and four-door station wagons.

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Rocky’s ride is a classic and clean 1956 Chevy 210. Who couldn’t love this?

Tri-Five History

Fast forward. The 1955, 1956, and 1957 Chevy cars that are now often referred to as the Tri-Fives arrive. The Bel Air, 150, and Nomad are included in this moniker, but it’s the 1955 to 1957 210 that remains the most popular of the quartet. It’s no understatement that a cult following has grown up around it. Car clubs, as well as businesses that specialize in the cultivation and production of parts and accessories for the Tri-Fives, are still expanding and prospering today.

The original analog clock (left) was an important part of the interior restoration. The front end rides on 18x8-inch Billet Specialties wheels (right) with 235/45R18 Dunlop radials.

In the annals of car history, it’s likely that one of the most significant landmarks of Tri-Five glory was the introduction for the 1955 model year of the 265ci V8 engine. The new 265 V8 high-compression engine had an overhead valve, short-stroke design. The engine also had a two-barrel carburetor and was rated at 162 horsepower in its base form. A four-barrel carburetor version delivering 180 horsepower called the “Power Pack” was an option, and later the “Super Power Pack” option put out another 15 horsepower.

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Chrome details, such as the hood ornament, were one of the things that Rocky had to have right.

The 1955 210 Series also introduced a new chassis. By 1957, the new 283ci V8 was available, and fuel injection was available in the 210. They were also beautifully designed cars. It’s not difficult to understand why the 1955 to 1957 model year 210 cars remain the most popular of Chevy classic automobiles.

Car owner Rocky Nash feels the same way, and one good look at his stunningly well restored and modified 1956 Chevy 210 is all you need to see why. The car grabs people’s attention where ever it goes, and is the winner of so many awards that the list would fill this page. If you have attended the Del Mar, Costa Mesa, or Pleasanton, California, Goodguys car shows in recent years, you have no doubt seen this gorgeous car in person. It has also wowed crowds at the Las Vegas Super Chevy Show and the Temecula Rod Run.

The wind wings were taken out of the doors (left) to clean up the look of the car. Sculpted low and sleek, the finned taillight structures (right) are one of the most notable features of the Tri-Five cars.

Rocky’s Rod

The first thing most people see is the body and paint, so we’ll begin there. Just leaving the body alone was not something on the agenda, so a mini-tub job was done on the rear of the car. If you look carefully at the car, you’ll also notice something missing; the wind-wing windows were removed, and full glass roll-up windows were built into the doors. A Viper Red (yes, that Viper) and Black with White Pearl paint job was applied perfectly. In certain lighting conditions, the pearled Black paint appears to be a dark grey.

Under the hood, you’ll find a bright and glistening engine. This is one of the engine bays that evokes that old saying, “It’s so clean you could eat off of it.” The powerplant residing in the 1956 Chevy 210 is a built 383ci V8 stroker. It’s a roller motor, with a SCAT rotating assembly. Edelbrock aluminum heads cap the block, and an Edelbrock fuel pump and carburetor feeds the engine fuel through an Edelbrock air-gap intake manifold.

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When they say ‘It was so clean you could eat off of it,’ they were thinking of the 383ci V8 and the engine bay in Rocky’s 210.

A Performance Distributors DUI distributor sends juice to the spark plus, and exhaust gases are drained away through a set of ceramic-coated Sanderson headers. Keeping the 383ci V8 running cool is the job of a Be Cool aluminum cross-flow radiator, and its efforts are supported by twin SPAL fans. Other items sprucing up the engine bay are a Classic Performance Products (CPP) master cylinder and booster, and a CPP sector shaft augmenting the standard steering box. There are also plenty of chromed accessories to add to the engine’s sparkle such as hood hinges, air filter housing, and dipstick.

Down Under

The 700R4 four-speed automatic transmission backing up the 383ci V8 hooks up the power to a Currie Enterprises 9-inch rear axle with a 3.73:1 limited-slip differential. Rocky’s 1956 Chevy 210 not only received a modern drivetrain, but the suspension system was also upgraded. In the front, a set of CPP upper and lower tubular control arms with custom-made one-off spindles do the trick. Out back, the axle is suspended by inboard-mounted leaf springs.

From top left clockwise: A stylish and functional tri-spoke steering wheel greets the driver. A nest of Auto Meter gauges replaced the stock units. Black leather upholstery with silver piping makes a classy statement inside the 210. To keep the build ultra-clean, door jamb-mounted electrical contacts instead of wires were used to get juice to the power door locks and power windows.

Its brake system is up to date as well. We already mentioned the CPP brake master cylinder and booster, but custom Wilwood disc brakes with an inboard hat assembly are mounted front and rear. The choice of wheels and tires were not taken lightly. With a car of this caliber, rims and rubber had to be just right. Billet Specialties 18×8- inch wheels are mounted up front, and a pair of Billet Specialties 20×10-inch wheels are bolted up to the 9-inch rearend. Dunlop radial tires are wrapped around the front (235/45R18) and rear (295/40R20) wheels.

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It’s quick and fun to drive, and this is the view most others see of Rocky’s 1956 Chevy 210 on the road.

Past The Doors

The interior of the 1956 Chevy 210 is pretty sweet, too. All the seating is done in a custom black leather with silver piping to accent the exterior paint scheme and chrome pieces. Its dash and instrument cluster are as close to stock as you can get without messing things up, and it was basically restored with just minor alterations like chrome plated panels. A tri-spoked chrome steering wheel, chromed column-mounted gear shift lever, chrome floor pedals, and a group of new Auto Meter gauges are highlights of the interior updates.

Rocky is especially keen on this car, and enjoys driving it around town, when he’s not working on one of his many other cars. A collector of sorts, Rocky owns a total of seven show cars and two race cars. One of those racers is the car he used to successfully campaign on the ARCA circuit. However, the custom 1956 Chevy 210 is one of his favorites. We can see why. Who wouldn’t give a beautifully built classic Chevy Tri-Five like this all the love it deserves.

Are you a Tri-Five fan? If you’re just starting up your build or somewhere in between the beginning and the finished stage, we would also love to see how your build is going! Send us a photo and some basic information on your sweet ride.

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About the author

Stuart Bourdon

A passion for anything automotive (especially off-road vehicles), camping, and photography led to a life exploring the mountains and deserts of the Southwest and Baja, and a career in automotive, outdoor, and RV journalism.
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