“It won’t stop pulling,” is what we thought as Scott Miller put a heavy foot on the accelerator of his immaculate ’55 Chevy sedan on the way to the photo shoot. A grin was quickly plastered across our faces as the big-block Chevy engine belted out an impressive roar and pushed us firmly into the bench as it climbed onto the freeway.
When you’ve bought and sold close to 100 cars over the last two decades, the one you hang onto the longest must be pretty special. After taking a ride in Scott’s 210, we see why he hasn’t let this one get away. Although Scott’s been wheelin’ and dealin’ fixable Craigslist.com finds for the last several years, he’s managed to keep this ride for the past five years, despite many offers. You could say the Upland, California, resident falls into a special category of gearhead; one who, despite having an indomitable passion for cars, doesn’t get too attached to one in particular, as he is constantly buying, fixing, building, selling, and trading vehicles that may have been misdiagnosed or just poorly maintained. “I don’t get married to any one of my cars,” Scott says. “For me it’s more about the journey, not necessarily the destination.”
For the owner of Swifty Sign in Rancho Cucamonga, California, pedaling cars is only a hobby, but as a guy who is constantly scouring the Internet for his next build, Scott is always in the midst of a “car journey”. As we type this, he’s sourcing parts for a few Ford hot rods, like a ’64 Mercury Comet A/FX clone, a ’66 Mustang hardtop, and a ’59 Ford F-100 pickup—but we won’t hold that against him.
As a no rust-specimen, this 51,000-original-mile Tri-Five was coveted by Scott for a while before it was actually his. “I knew about the car since the late ’80s,” he says. “A friend, Mike McCarty, had it for 20-plus years before he eventually sold it to me and the construction began.” Over the following two years, Scott’s 210 was taken from an empty metal shell, to a fully functional cruiser that has enough grunt to make you smile every time you get happy with the throttle. At 3,600 pounds and a 115-inch wheelbase (same as a Chevelle), you would think this car would feel heavy or sluggish, but thanks to a well-planned powertrain, including a badass stroker big-block, this Tri Five is an animal on the street. We have to admit we’d be way less interested in this car if it had a ho-hum small-block underhood, but instead the 496ci Chevy that resides there sounds very angry, and after feeling a fraction of its might, we’d say this car could lay down some surprising numbers on the dragstrip. “The car has run 7.34 in the eighth-mile before, which the local track guys weren’t too happy with since it doesn’t have a rollbar,” Scott says. With all the appropriate safety gear, this car could effectively run the quarter in 10 seconds, on motor, and drive home comfortably, and we’d ask, what more could you want?
Tim Lee of Don Lee Auto in Rancho Cucamonga, California, put together a solid 496ci combination that’s pump gas–friendly (we filled up at the 76 gas station before heading to shoot), yet will pull like a freight train when you goose the pedal. That’s thanks to a 10.25:1 compression ratio from Keith Black pistons pushing against iron heads. Yes, we said iron heads. Although this engine makes a square 583 lb-ft of torque and 567 hp, it does it with a very mild list of components. Summit Racing’s cast-iron cylinder heads are fitted with COMP Cams’ 1.7 ratio roller rockers, while the rest of the valvetrain was supplied by Summit Racing. Eagle’s cast crankshaft and I-beam connecting rods spin in the crankcase, while the valves are manipulated by a relatively mild (for 496 ci) 292 Magnum camshaft from COMP Cams—the duration at 0.050 is 244. Edelbrock’s legendary RPM Air-Gap dual-plane intake is a perfect match for this engine combination, and we believe is a main reason for this combination’s low-rpm torque—almost 600 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. A TH400 transmission from Remac Transmissions gets this car up to speed and a 9-inch rear with 3.55 gears transfers the power to the ground.
An Earl Williams mini-tub kit, narrowed rearend, and some relocated leaf springs allowed Scott to fit some wide rear tires under his ’55, but other than that, the chassis is stock. The stock rear springs were ditched for some 2-inch lowering leafs from Classic Performance Products in Anaheim, California, while the front springs were also replaced with CPP’s 1-inch lowering coils. If that doesn’t add up, that’s because this ride also has some dropped spindles from Earl Williams to even it all out, giving this car one killer stance.
Everyone agrees that the stance and wheels can make or break a car’s look, but we think Scott nailed it with his choice of American Racing’s Torq-Thrust Ds all around. Disc brakes from Earl William bring this ride to a halt, while the Mickey Thompson tires roll at each corner too. To be exact, 325/60R15 M/T ET Street Radials wrapped around 15x10s roll in back, and 205/75R15s are bolted up front.
If it wasn’t for the stance and wheels, the ’55 is bone stock externally. No cowl hood, splashed graphics, shaved emblems, spoiler, or any other things to distract, just a Triple Black DuPont paintjob from Carty’s Collision, shiny chrome, and clear windows. There’s something cool about looking down a glazy hood, past an aero-inspired ornament at a road that’s being quickly eaten under the car as it rumbles and roars its way around. Scott originally wanted to build this car as a clone to the ’55 from the James Taylor film Two Lane Blacktop, but eventually decided against it. We’re glad he went the way he did.
The interior, although we thought was custom when we first sat down in Scott’s ’55, is actually a stock pattern, Scott just opted to reverse the order of the colors from the original. D&R Upholstery handled the interior of this 210, and used black and white vinyl to cover the bench seats. A Mooneyes steering wheel, a classic Auto Meter tach, and a rejuvenated stock dash cluster are what the driver sees, while a Hurst shifter with a custom cup-holding console sits in between.