Body Swapping a 1956 Chevy 210 on Roadkill Garage
Prepping a vintage racer for the Kingman Route 66 Street Drags.
David Freiburger and Steve Dulcich are back, and right away they’re getting into something that might upset you. Remember back in Episode 69 of HOT ROD Garage, when Tony Angelo and Lucky Costa revived the 1965 NHRA H-Class champion ’56 Chevy 210? Well, Freiburger and Dulcich are capitalizing on all their hard work by swapping the solid body from Freiburger’s 1956 Chevy onto the “mint” rolling chassis of the 1965 NHRA class winner.
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To be fair, the car that Tony and Lucky worked on wasn’t completely original to begin with. The chassis was junk and the original 205hp, 265ci V8 was gone, with a random 350 put in its place. Tony and Lucky set out to bring back some of the original glory by returning the car to its 1965 class-winning spec with the help of shop manager, Calin Head.
Restoring a 1956 Chevy 210 to NHRA H-Class Spec
The ’56 Chevy 210 Coupe that brothers Marlin and John Snyder campaigned in 1965 ran in the H/Stock class in NHRA. Running low 15s, the build was relatively mild but still a national champion nonetheless. Just about everything had to remain stock in H-Class, the only real modifications allowed were rear gears and exhaust. Engines could be tuned within stock specs, but that wasn’t much more than a four-barrel carburetor and a slightly hotter cam.
Tony and Lucky found a 170hp version of the 1956 265ci V8 from an old Chevy truck and set about building to it to the spec the Snyder brothers ran in 1965. They started with rebuilt heads, adding hardened valve seats so the engine could run on unleaded gas. They swapped the intake manifold from a two-barrel to a four-barrel, topping that with a period-correct and rebuilt Rochester 4GC carburetor. Next came a cam out of a 1960s 327, generally the same as the 265 cam but with a little more lift and duration—aka a cheater cam. They finished off the build with white painted, long-tube headers and a fresh small-block Chevy red paintjob.
The HOT ROD Garage boys dropped the refreshed 265 between the rails of a freshly restored 1956 chassis, bolted a Saginaw three-speed manual to the back it and set out removing the championship-winning body from its junk chassis. Calin tried to remove some of the black paint to uncover its original 1965 racing livery, but over the years many of the panels were removed or repainted. Ultimately, Tony and Lucky were able to run 15.76 at 86.64mph at Famoso Raceway on a 100 degree day. Adjusting for weight and temperature—Tony and Lucky’s rebuild was about 300 pounds lighter, missing most of the interior and bumpers—those times were right in line with what the Snyder brothers were running in 1965. What’s most surprising is how reliable and consistent the ’56 Chevy was, especially with Tony behind the wheel. He does have a reputation for breaking things.
Prepping a Vintage Drag Racer for the Kingman Route 66 Street Drags
Fast forward a little over a year and now the old champion is in the hands of Freiburger and Dulcich. But what are they doing with it, and why? For the first time in 10 years, the Kingman Route 66 Street Drags are being held and Freiburger and Dulcich want to run the period-correct racer on some period-correct tarmac. We mentioned earlier that some of you might be upset about Freiburger and Dulcich swapping the body of the Snyder brothers old race car in favor of a much more solid ’56 Chevy body, but the reality is the old racer was practically junk. The original engine is long gone, the chassis was a rotted mess, and the body is equal parts patch panels and rust. Someone someday might restore the racer body to its original glory, but it definitely isn’t going to be the Roadkill Garage team.
After harvesting all the good interior bits from the black car—steering column, pedal assembly, dashboard, and so on—Freiburger and Dulcich gave the new body a coat of rust-inhibiting paint inside. The new body has hardly any rust (for a Roadkill Garage car anyway) and the boys want to prevent any more from eating away at the car. Let’s be real, this thing is going to spend the foreseeable future in Dulcich’s backyard with the windows down exposed to all the elements. A new gas tank and fuel lines were installed, a new alternator replaced the old-school generator, and some new rear shocks were bolted on in an attempt to tame the wheel hopping issue.
To complete the build, a sparkly new windshield was installed, and some new rolling stock was bolted on—Wheel Vintique’s reproduction Tri-Five wheels with Coker Tire Pro Tracks in back and Cragar SS Unilugs with Coker reproduction BFG bias-plys up front. Now the boys are ready haul this piece of nostalgia to run on the Mother Road!
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