Greg's '56 Chevy
Ask anyone with an old car about their favorite part and you’re sure to get an earful. Some will direct you to that big-buck custom paint job, sneaky bit of metalwork, or outrageous engine. Others will talk about the less tangible parts, focusing instead on memories of miles behind the wheel, races won, or friends made.
Greg Turner is definitely in the latter group, and his favorite part of this slick ’56 Chevy is the fact that the build was a family affair. His sons Derek and Brandon were right in the middle of the restoration. If Derek’s name sounds familiar to you, that’s because we’ve been following along with the rebuild of his Tri-Five here in the Toolbox. His funky brown ’55 just got some serious love and we documented the process. You can check that out here. Derek will tell you that the bug to build that car came from helping his dad with this ‘56.
So what exactly did the Turner clan do to this car? Well, a lot actually. Greg found it in 2009, sitting outside after the owner had lost interest in the project. After sorting out some sketchy wiring right there in the yard (Greg just retired from a 40+ year career as an electrician), it fired up and a deal was made. He made some initial tweaks to make it safe to drive and enjoyed it for a couple seasons, making little updates here and there.
Finally, in the winter of 2011, the decision was made to take it apart and do it right. Derek’s garage housed the operation, and the father and sons crew got to work. They replaced the floors and other rusty parts, ending up with a total of about 30 patch panels being welded in throughout the car. The original hood was toasted by an engine fire at some point in the car’s history, so the boys bought Greg a better hood for Father’s Day. With the bodywork wrapped up, even the paint was shot right there in the shop.
Greg built the engine himself, based on the 4-bolt 350 that was in the car. It wasn’t built to win drag races, but Greg hopped it up with time honored speed tricks like flat-top pistons and an RV cam. It’s topped by an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold and finned valve covers and air cleaner from Speedway Motors.
The suspension was also given some attention to make it more practical for long trips on modern roads. A power steering box was installed, as well as a Speedway Motors dropped spindle and disc brake kit. It rolls on the Cragar SS wheels that were on it when Greg bought it. He digs the classic look, remembering the hot rods of his youth that "were lucky to have four matching wheels".
The interior is a testament to Greg’s resourcefulness. He spotted an ultra-nice ’56 at a local show sporting a fresh leather interior. He knew the car, and knew that it used to have a cool interior with embroidered bowties. Fortunately, the owner had saved that upholstery and Greg made a deal to buy it. He also picked up some other pieces that were deemed too rough for the show car but were perfect for Greg’s driver.
With the ’56 wrapped up, Greg started doing just what the car was built for; driving. It’s been all over the place and he says it’s been very reliable. In the future, he would like to swap the TH350 and 3.08’s for an overdrive trans and deeper gears to keep the RPM’s down and make it accelerate less like a “taxicab”.
In addition to the pride of having built the car with his family, Greg also loves to talk about the miles spent with his sons driving along in their own hot rods. This car might not have a one-off set of 20” billet wheels or a paint job that requires its own insurance policy, but that’s ok with Greg. The memories are worth far more.
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