We're sure we aren't the only ones who snap their heads toward whatever direction a familiar low rumble of a muscle car comes from, so while at Westech Performance Group one chilly afternoon our internal car guy senses tingled and up rumbled something we don't get too many opportunities to shoot: an immaculate '56 Chevy, the often-forgotten middle child of the Tri-Fives. It didn't take long before we were drooling over it and like some sort of feature car bounty hunter we had to have it in our CHP collection. As an executive of HHS Construction in Ontario, California, Kevin Knoblock is no stranger to having clean Chevys. His former car list is an impressive one, including a '62 Corvette, '55 Nomad, '55 Bel Air convertible, and even a '69 Camaro, but it's his current ride we were interested in: the '56 Del Ray 210 you see on these pages.
"Someone told me it had a death rattle, so we're checking it out," Kevin says, as we gazed at his clean small-block in front of Westech's dyno. "But we wanted a second opinion." After a bit of tinkering, firing it up revealed no death rattle that we could hear, just the sweet sound of a mechanical roller camshaft and a healthy growl from a 600hp small-block, but we're glad he and his friend (and fellow Tri-Five owner) Mike Radiach got it checked out that day. The car, which has been in the Upland, California, area for the last 30 years, was a straight and stock specimen even before being restored. "Mike drove this car daily for 20 years," Kevin says. Over those years, Radiach swapped the 265ci engine for a 283ci, then the 283ci for a 327ci, and finally a 350ci, before Kevin bought it and decided to give it an overhaul. After imploring his friend Mike and renting a building in Upland, the resto process began. While the frame and body were separated for paint and bodywork, Bob Lienhart at Machine Specialties put together a Pontiac 18-degree-headed 406ci small-block engine that produced 650 hp on the engine dyno. A TH400 trans and 9-inch rear were also installed to support the new power. The duo then brought in Jeff Ziolkowski for the fabrication work. Mini-tubbing the stock wheelwells, frame mods, and firewall smoothing were a couple tasks Ziolkowski completed, as well as a very cool period-correct-looking tachometer housing that's mounted to the dash. The frame and undercarriage got special treatment where all the jack dents were fixed, holes were smoothed, the control arm mounts were reinforced, and the rear spring mounts were moved in using an Earl Williams kit. The PPG black and white paint was done by Starside Design in Riverside, California, and Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Trim in Upland, California, installed the immaculate interior.
Kevin was quick to thank his friend Mike, for leading the charge on getting this Del Ray not only restored, but built tastefully. Mike also owns a super-nice Tri-Five himself, so look for a feature on his ride in an upcoming issue.
Chassis & Suspension
Jeff Ziolkowski fixed the stock frame by patching unnecessary holes, fixing hydraulic jack dents, and reinforcing the control arm mounts. Peering under the car reveals a frame that's been powdercoated a glossy black, and stainless hardware shines even on the underside. The suspension features QA1 adjustable shocks in the rear and KYB shocks in front. The V-8 front springs have been cut by one coil, while the rear has de-arched stock leaves. The frontend is also equipped with a 1-inch sway bar from PST, and the frontend's been dropped using Earl Williams' 2-inch drop spindles.
At all four corners of the Del Ray are Wilwood's cross-drilled and slotted disc brakes, while 15x6 vintage American Racing wheels wrapped in 195/65 Michelin rubber in the front and 275/60 BFGoodrich Comp TA rubber wraps the 15x10 roller out back.
The firewall, fenderwells, and frame on this killer build were smoothed. The factory chrome is all in place and the PPG paint on the all-steel body is a black and India Ivory combination that was sprayed by Starside Design in Riverside, California.
The engine in the Del Ray is a 406ci small-block by Bob Lienhart. Featuring 406ci, 18-degree heads, and a 10.8:1 compression ratio, the engine in this car is no slouch. Inside the engine is an array of good parts, including JE Pistons, a Sonny Bryant crankshaft, Carrillo connecting rods, and a custom mechanical roller from COMP Cams. The cylinder heads are old-school Pontiac 18-degree castings that have been ported and polished and it revs to about 7,200 rpm. On the dyno it made close to 650 hp and about 590 lb-ft of torque. Other neat items on the engine include an Aerospace vacuum pump and a beefy return-style fuel system. Behind the powerplant is a TH400 trans with a Hughes converter and a 9-inch rear packing 3.55:1 gears. The exhaust consists of Smiley headers into a hand-fabbed 3-inch X-pipe that extends over the axle.
From the carpet to the headliner, Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Trim in Upland, California, put together a super-nice interior for the '56, while his pal Carlos Rodriguez handled installing a wicked Alpine stereo system from Art of Sound. Fred's Custom Wiring powers the cockpit, while the advanced stereo features MP3 capability, 6x9 Alpine speakers, a hidden subwoofer, and Hi Fonics amps hidden in the trunk.