Part Tri-Five, Part Viper, This '55 Chevy 210 Packs the Spirit of a Serpent

Viper-Swapped 55 Tri-Five 11 photos
Photo: Mecum Auctions
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Ever wonder why baby boomers seem to never get bored of this one handful of Chevrolets built between 1955 and 1957? Banal as it might seem to modern senses, the much-beloved Chevy Tri-Fives (Nomads, Bel Airs, 150s, and 210s) are to older boomers what the R-34 Skyline GTR was for millennials, or even what a Model S Plaid was to the Gen-Z. Speaking of stupid quick cars, this particular '55 210 Handyman station wagon's probably not too far off from a Tesla in performance, thanks to what's under the hood now.
Although not quite Plaid fast, this two-door wagon's new drivetrain will at least ensure you keep up with all but the fastest of sports cars. Back in 1955, all of the roughly two million Tri-Fives, Nomads, 150s, 210s, and all, left the factory with either a 235-cubic-inch Chevy Stovebolt V6 in roughly the same family as the Blue Flame engine found in the 1953 C1 Corvette, or a very early small block Chevy V8 with the same valve-train design as the V8 from Chevy's sister brand Pontiac. Decent engines in their day, no doubt. But we can do better now.

Some may mock the late 90s Dodge Viper V10 for only making 450-ish horsepower to the tires with over 8,000 ccs of cubic displacement to work with. But let's be real, there's something eternally cool about a V10 that should ostensibly just be a V8 with two extra cylinders added just because you can. It may be a distant cousin of a truck engine, but somehow, this only lends even better to the idea of putting Viper engines under the hoods of restomods. Once this 55 Tri-Five was stripped down to the bare chassis, that's exactly what happened to this one.

Gone is the old engine, along with whichever two or three-speed transmission left the factory with it. In their place is the same Tremec manual gearbox you would've found in a stock Viper, which links to a Chevy ten-bolt rear axle geared in 3.73, along with the suspension and braking hardware to make sure this Tri-Five can handle the grunt. We're talking a full-performance front suspension kit with tubular control arms from Heidts with leaf springs, leaves, and shocks in the rear, and riding on grippy ZR-rated tires over four-wheel disk brakes; there are definitely worse-performing restomods out there.

Add on a shiny Lavender Metallic paint job with contrasting Lavender Chamois leather interior; there's enough refinement on hand here to make you think over buying this instead of whichever Cadillac, Mercedes-AMG, or Audi wagon is priced roughly in the same ballpark. Well, that'd be the case if it hadn't already gone across the auction block. Awe well, we'll get 'em next time.
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