K&N 1955 Chevy Restoration Complete and Ready to Hit the Road

K&N 1955 Chevy just back from getting painted
K&N 1955 Chevy just back from getting painted.

K&N 1955 Chevy on display at SEMA in November 2005
K&N 1955 Chevy on display at SEMA in November 2005.
Our ‘55 Chevy 210 sat in the garage of K&N Engineering for years, just a shell of its former self, conjuring images of a ghostly past of Elvis Presley haircuts and poodle skirts.

We purchased it for $11,000 when it was 45 years old from a man in Hemet, California. The primer was nearly done on our Chevy’s body, the fenders and doors were painted red. It sat in our garage for 5 more years unchanged, but when the Chevy turned 50, there was a sudden urgency in the air. K&N had a plan to restore it for SEMA (The Specialty Equipment Market Association) 2005.

“We decided to do it sometime around the end of August,” said John Hudson, K&N shop supervisor, one of the key players in the restoration process. “The first thing we did was take it apart, next we had it sandblasted.” After that, it was time have the paint job done.
When that was finished we brought the ’55 Chevy back to K&N Engineering in Riverside, California, evoking a momentum that began a 20 day restoration process that took us into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes seven days a week.

”We only had 20 days before SEMA and restoring it became our day and night job,” said Brad Beltinck, K&N Special Projects Supervisor, another key player in the 55’ Chevy project. “We just put our heads together, got the parts, went to the next part, put it together and went to the next part.”

K&N decided to go with a stock look and just a hint of retro. The colors had to stand out, the way General Motors and its domestic rivals did when they dominated the auto market in North America back in the 50s. “Platinum & Sunset” were selected as the exterior colors. The bench seats of our ’55 Chevy are all original and were meticulously restored. It is a unique match to the exterior, tan morphed with a splash of orange. The carpet is grey.

K&N put in new windshields, but all the trim and seals around the new rollup windows are original. “It’s not from our Chevy, but they are Chevy parts from ’55 or ’56,” Beltinck said. The door trim is original, but the mirrors are after market parts.

“Our ‘55 Chevy frame is also an after-market part, a trend for the hot-rod industry, “said Hudson. “From there we added a set of 18- and 20-inch rims, which were custom designed for the car.”

The Flaming River three-spoke stainless steel tilt column steering wheel is in place along with the original dash. The only piece of aluminum surrounds the radio. The Panasonic CQ-C990IU radio is digital, designed to be seen and heard. “It has a screen that is programmable, we can run K&N video when the Chevy is sitting or running,” said Beltinck.

K&N engineers tried to stay away from aluminum billet pieces. “A lot of the hot roders use after market billet, “said Hudson. “We prefer stock and like to think of it as showroom stock, as if we bought the car in 1955.”

The light switches are also all original and the LoKar gas pedal is powder coated in black.

K&N worked hard to have our Chevy physically together for SEMA, it looked so together, there was an offer of $125,000 to buy our Chevy. By the way that was without the latest engine.

However, K&N could not part with its new baby.

Our Chevy will be fully equipped and make its debut in March 2006 at the Goodguys Rod and Custom Show in Pleasanton, California.

We have put a General Motors small crate motor from its high performance line. The 383 engine cranks out 425 HP. Our K&N engineers said it will go 100 plus MPH without a problem.

Our Chevy 210 has a K&N midget air box. A 4-cylinder sprint car box modified to fit on a ’55. We went from 4 holes to one on the bottom of the air filter. It’s supercharged and helps maintain the clean looking theme.

“I machined the K&N logo on the filter with a milling machine called the computer numeric control or CNC,” said Rick Daniel, a K&N Racing Development Engineer. “The idea just came to me in a vision and it came out pretty cool.”

After Pleasanton, in June 2006, our ’55 Chevy 210 will join the Hot Rod Power Tour in Florida. When we go on the road it will have an air conditioner and a complete replacement set of tires. What a car!

Under the hood of the K&N '55 Chevy
Under the hood of the K&N '55 Chevy

Interior of the K&N '55 Chevy
Here is a list of the contributing cast and crew for our restored K&N ’55 Chevy.

Build up- K&N Engineering Race Shop
John Hudson, Brad Beltinck, Dave Gonzales, John Reedy

Logo Engraving & Fabrication- K&N Engineering Machine Shop
Rick Daniel

Exterior-House of Kolor Santini Paint & Body Killer Paint
Paint: “Platinum & Sunset”
Paint & Body

Engine- Richard Hibbard Chevrolet March Performance
GM Performance ZZ 383 (425HP)

Ignition- MSD Ignition
Distributor, Coil, GAL Box, Wires

Fuel System- Accel
Super Ram DFI

Supercharger-Vortech Engineering
Supercharger Kit

Chassis- Art Morrison
Complete Finished Chassis with Suspension

Rear End- Currie Enterprises
Third Member & Axles (4:30 gear ratio)

Transmission- Keisler Engineering
Custom Conversion Kit for Borg Warner T56

Complete Clutch Components

Brakes-Baer Brakes Hydratech Braking Systems
4-wheel Disc
Hydraulic Booster and Accumulator

Wheels- Intro Wheels
Pentia Series, 20x10 rear & 18 x8 front

Tires- Toyo Tires
Proxes S/T: 255/45/R18 Front & 315/35/R20 rear

Body – Cars Inc., Danchuck and DP Classics
Misc. Trim Pieces (interior and exterior)

Radiator with Fans, Shroud and AC Condenser

Exhaust-MagnaFlow K&N Race Shop

Interior- Ron Mangus at Custom Auto Interior
Custom Leather

Steering- Flaming River
Steering Column and Steering Wheel

Air Condition- Vintage Air
Complete AC Unit

Stereo – Panasonic, MTX
Head Unit, Speakers, Amps Wiring

Renderings – J.R. Martinez Design
J.R. Martinez

For more pictures from SEMA click here.  See the K&N website for information about K&N products for your vehicle.


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