Car guys are known to have varied hobbies, some like cars and football, while other might also like fishing, hunting, or even a little two-wheeled therapy with a motorcycle. Sometimes, hobbies need to be trimmed to afford the one that really drives a person’s passion.
You could say that Matt’s migration to this fun-filled ’56 was a transformation going from two, to four – but not necessarily in the way you’re thinking. It all started several years ago when he would hear his grandpa talk about his desire to get a ’57 Chevy. According to gramps, “they were a real hot rod!”
Well, when someone so influential drives home such an incontrovertible fact, it tends to stick with you. Matt Leisinger is a native of Monroe, Michigan, which is just south of Detroit and north of Toledo. Matt was well aware of all forms of American muscle. Before he got this ’56 Chevy, he owned a 2005 Harley Davidson Road Glide. One day, those seeds of Tri-Five ownership that were planted by his grandfather so many years before, began to blossom, and Matt started pining for one of his own.
His then fiancé asked him, “yeah, with what money?” A valid question, to which Matt replied that he would sell the Harley and get the Tri-Five that his grandfather always wanted. He had a plan to make it happen too. He rode the Road King down to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the 2015 Tri-Five Nationals, in hopes that someone might be willing to strike up a trade for the bike. While the Tri-Five Nats might be a great place to see and possibly buy a classic Chevy, the trade market is definitely very shallow for used Harleys.
Matt eventually located this four-door version and its trade-willing owner, in Waterford, Michigan. Matt checked out the car for around two hours before hearing the mission bells of ownership ringing in his ears. He had to be sure this was the one!
They worked out a deal, and Matt was now the owner of a classic small-block-powered ’56 Chevy. The engine was a run of the mill 350 with 041 old-school heads. The car was in pretty good shape, and Matt informs us that the only rust on the body is a little bit coming through the rocker panels, a typical issue with these cars. The trunk, floors, and other body panels are rust free, and Matt is happy if they stay that way.
Matt’s vision of the perfect Tri-Five also always included a supercharged engine, so, not long after getting the car home, he decided to make that happen in his ’56. When he pulled the intake on the small-block though, he found a bunch of metal shavings sitting in the valley. He decided to start fresh and build a foundation fitting for the huffer.
At its core, the now stroked 383 keeps a SCAT crankshaft and H-beam rods fitted with forged flat-top pistons squishing the air/fuel to a 10:1 compression ratio. With the Weiand 177 supercharger pushing in around 5 to 6 lbs of boost, Matt admits that he’s on the high end of the compression ratio. But, he relies on the Holley Sniper fuel injection to keep the air/fuel rich enough to keep the engine safe.
While it all reads quite easily, there was a lot involved in getting Matt’s ’56 ready for the 2016 Tri-Five Nats, where we caught up with him. Let’s face it, the engine needed built, it needed to be dropped in the car, and he needed to get married. You understand, all typical car-guy stuff, right? Matt and his friends (along with a gracious wife) worked out the details to make it happen, albeit on a compressed schedule.
Matt explains, “We were having a rehearsal dinner, and my buddies were at my house, working on the car!” They started to put the engine and transmission in on Tuesday, and I got married that Saturday. We finished the install and fired the engine for the first time at 5:00 a.m. the day of the wedding. The engine was originally fired using a carburetor, but then was converted over to the Sniper unit the Friday before heading out to the Tri-Five Nats. Matt started tuning it just enough so they could head to Pigeon Forge for a few days before going to Bowling Green.
When we talked to Matt, he reported that the car runs good, and is still learning. Funny thing, how marriages are so similar to EFI; they both work best if they always keep learning.