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’55 Chevy Bel Air Convertible

BOB RYDER October 14, 2022 All Feature Vehicles

’55 Chevy Bel Air Convertible

Like many car enthusiasts, Art Danchuk purchased this ’55 Chevy Bel Air convertible from longtime friend Harold Drake. Harold had the car sitting rust-free and completely restored in his home garage for more than 30 years. Harold’s kids used the old ragtop for a playhouse when they were growing up.

After Art purchased the car a couple of years ago, he and the crew at Danchuk began been restoring it. Art’s intentions were to build it as his daily driver. Living in Newport Beach, California, with mostly sunny days, Art’s convertible would be the ideal Pacific Coast Highway cruiser.

A healthy ’68 Camaro 327-ci V-8 was placed between the frame rails. It was decked out to resemble a simple small-block complete with the original factory stubby air cleaner. A period-correct Delco battery is mounted on the firewall.
The factory speedometer, radio and clock were all refurbished. Art installed a remote engine gauge panel (water temp, oil pressure, voltage) under the dash to keep an eye on the engine’s vital signs. The front/rear seats, door and back panels received all-new custom two-tone tan/brown upholstery with brown tuck ’n’ roll inserts and tan stitching.

The factory 15×5 steel wheels are accented with wire wheel covers. Grip and traction come from a set of Diamond Back Classic (205/75-15) white wall tires.

The body and frame were separated, and the body was media blasted to bare metal. The exposed sheet metal was massaged without using any Bondo or filler. The frame was stripped down to bare metal and powder-coated black. The factory 265-ci engine and two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission were shelved and replaced with a 327 ci from a ’68 Camaro that was rebuilt to factory specs. An Art Carr 200R4 overdrive automatic transmission was bolted behind the muscle. The factory suspension was removed and replaced with all-new NOS parts.

If you’re a classic car enthusiast who especially enjoys the 1955-57 Chevrolet known as the Tri-Five era, you’ll recognize the Danchuck name. Two brothers, Art and Dan Danchuck, formed Danchuck Manufacturing in 1968, but they didn’t start producing car parts until 1977. The company has become the number one manufacturer of strictly 1955-57 restoration parts.

In 1988 NHRA drag racing legend Tom “The Mongoo$e” McEwen approached Art and Dan about becoming a major sponsor of his wild ’57 Chevy Funny Car. With the Danchuk name on the side of the car, it was debuted at the 1988 NHRA World Finals. On its first pass it recorded a 6.05 at 233 mph, and as they say, the rest was history. It was known as the fastest ’57 Chevy.

Today, when Art is not at his Danchuk office overseeing the Tri-Five restoration parts business, he’s usually enjoying the fresh air behind the wheel of his timeless ’55.

The distinguished ’55 Chevy grille is protected by a factory wraparound bumper decked out with bumper guards. In the ’50s, aviation design influenced automotive styling; the Bel Air hood ornament is a good example.

BUILDER: Danchuk Manufacturing

FRAME: Factory

SUSPENSION: Factory, front: upper/ lower control arms, coil springs, shocks, spindles; rear: leaf springs and shocks

BRAKES: Factory drums/shoes, front and rear


BODY AND PAINT: Eddie Meeks Painting Orange, CA, PPG Harvest Gold/India Ivory White

PAINTER: Eddie Meeks

INTERIOR: Milton’s Auto Upholstery Santa Ana, CA (Milton Brito)

SEATS MATERIAL: CARS, Inc.,  beige/brown

CARPET: CARS, Inc., beige

AUDIO: Custom Autosound USA-630 head unit


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