When you attend a local car show, there is typically one or two cars that really stand out to you as something special. These cars could have an over-the-top paintjob, a large-by-huge engine poking through the hood, or just be what you feel is one of the coolest cars in attendance. But, to do the same thing at a large, nationally recognized event is nearly impossible. However, at the Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals in Bowling Green, Kentucky last year, one ’56 Chevy did just that. But we need to go back a couple of decades to begin our story.
Many times, we hear a great story about how a particular vehicle was handed down within the family. While this car did come from a family member of Kevin Guidry of Arnaudville, Louisiana, it wasn’t a hand-me-down. The family ties begin when his father-in-law found the car in 1998. The ‘56 two-door hardtop was in New Orleans, and when it relocated to the in-law’s house, Kevin immediately decided he really wanted to own it. Since Kevin was born in 1956, it makes perfect sense to us.
When Kevin first persuaded his father-in-law to relinquish the keys, the car was a decent driver. Kevin was able to enjoy it in this condition for a short time before deciding it was time to build a cool, modernized hot rod.
To create what he hoped would be the perfect ’56 Chevy, he reached out to Justin and Eli Griffin of Twin States Rod Shop in Meridian, Mississippi. Kevin discussed what he was hoping to create, but left the details like design, body mods, interior, and paint, up to the guys at Twin States.
According to Justin, “Kevin allowed us to build the car how we saw fit. He didn’t even know what color the car would be when it was completed, what wheels would be used, or what the interior would look like.”
Although it was a ‘decent’ driver when disassembly began, the guys at Twin States realized some substantial metalwork was required. “Most of the metal was rusted beyond repair, but it had a decent paintjob,” says Justin Griffin. The floors from the firewall to the rear bumper were replaced, as were the rocker and quarter panels. While there was other rust repair that needed to be done, the guys added to the list by removing the factory firewall so a smooth replacement could be installed.
Choosing a color can be a stressful process. Choose wisely, and the overall finished product can be a showstopper. Make an incorrect selection, and the results can be less than satisfactory. While neutral colors can sometimes be lost in a sea of great paintjobs, the expertly applied custom-mixed Champaign and Vanilla Shake, do more than work in this application — they make the car a standout. Although this Chevy is a real show winner, it’s more than simply good looks.
Supporting the shell is an Art Morrison Enterprises GT Sport Chassis. The front is supported by a Mustang II-style suspension, while a 9-inch rear is held in place by a four-link and Panhard bar configuration. A set of Wilwood Brakes handles stoping, while a TruTrac differential and 3.70 gears aid forward motion.
Under the hood, the modernized theme takes center stage. It’s no surprise that an LS engine is filling the area between the fenders. While GM’s LS small-block has been replaced by the LT as the go-to engine in Chevrolet’s factory-delivered cars, the LS is still a great option for transplant into a classic. The LS3 under the hood of Kevin’s cruiser began as a Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise package. The 430hp engine (PN: 19301326) is filled with a hydraulic-roller camshaft with .551/.522-inch lift and 204/211 degrees of duration. With a 10.7:1 compression ratio, those 400-plus ponies can be delivered with the use of premium pump fuel. Behind the engine is a 4L60 overdrive that works flawlessly with the 3.70-geared rearend. Kevin definitely has the power he needs and the ability to drive anywhere he desires.
Inside, Erin Ruddy of Ruddy Made Interiors in Alton, Missouri, hand-fabricated many of the pieces, including the rear seat, console, kick panels, headliner, door panels, and trunk panels. Once everything was created, all of the components were covered in a Chocolate-Brown leather. The interior is artistic, functional, and out-of-this-world cool. The carpet features a square-weave pattern, and if the front seats look like something other than OE, good eye. They are from Snowden Seat Company and have been modified slightly to fit the design the team was working to achieve. The gauge cluster is from Classic Instruments, and Vintage Air keeps this cool cruiser chillin’.
As was stated at the beginning of this article, building a hot rod that will stand out in a sea of great cars is not easy. It takes a great build plan and an insane ability to pay attention to details to create a hot rod that no one will soon forget. This ’56 Chevy easily does that, and the proof comes in the form of being selected as the 2019 Tri-Five of the Year at the Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals.