Just the Facts
Owner: Joe & Joh Bailey
There are very few iconic images that exceed the popularity of certain Chevrolets made between 1955 and 1957. Right up there with a 50-star flag, dear ol' mom, and hot apple pie, Tri-Five Chevys made a major impact when they debuted, and they happen to have been built during the time when both Chevrolet and the United States were hitting their stride.
Hot rodders have long loved to hop up, modify, and build Chevys from that era, and it can be easily argued the Tri-Fives may be the only legitimate challenger to that of the 1932 Ford roadster as the most popular hot rod ever.
A perforated vinyl headliner was created by James Custom Upholstery, which used ’55 Chevy
But because of that, one might think it would be hard to find new ways to look at the 1956 Chevrolet and find yet another way to customize it. Luckily, the father and son team of Joe and Josh Bailey didn't see it that way, and went about to prove there is a right way and a wrong way to build a hot rod—and their way is most definitely the right way.
At 59 years old, Joe Bailey has been involved with hot rodding nearly all his life. Like many his age, he started by building models of cars when he was 6, and by 19 had his first car project: a 1951 Chevy truck. By the time he was 21, the movie American Graffiti had come out, and Joe bought a 1939 Chevy coupe. From that point on he was hooked, as were all his buddies. That hot rod environment is the one his son, Josh, grew up in and, by the time he was 12, he had his first ride: a 1957 Chevy 150 utility sedan. In high school Josh got a job at Alloway's Hot Rod Shop, which not only provided a paycheck but an invaluable opportunity to learn from the best what it takes to build a hot rod the right way. Joe works at Alloway's, too, doing much of the auto detailing and paintwork
If it doesn’t look customized, then the Baileys did their job! There is normally a section
STREET RODDER first took notice of Josh back when he was 18 years old. His chopped 'n' primed 1940 Ford coupe was featured in the Mar. 2000 issue of the magazine after he took it the Goodguys Columbus show, where it won three top awards, including a STREET RODDER Top 10 award (and not a lot of primered cars have ever done that).
But it was in late 2005 when Joe received a phone call from a buddy who had found a junkyard with 54 1957 Chevys in it. About 50 miles from his home in Maryville, Tennessee, Joe decided to ditch work for the day and go check out the yard. All of the 1957s were either four-doors or wagons, but there were still a lot of extra parts and pieces. Joe told his friend he liked a 1956 Chevy two-door hardtop he'd seen, but his buddy had already bought it for $600, but he'd sell it for $700, so Joe bought it.
By late 2006, Joe and Josh had begun collecting parts and figuring out what they'd like to do with the car, and they took in some car projects to make some money to finance the project. Though the 1956 had some surface rust, the inner structure of the vehicle was still solid. They pieced together good used parts (hood, decklid, doors, and fenders) with some new pieces (floor sections and quarter-panels from C.A.R.S. Inc.) to get the ball rolling, with Josh being the primary builder.
The dash looks stock, but a lot of contemporary parts (such as the Vintage Air A/C system)
In their "spare" time, both Joe and Josh are judges at the Shades of the Past car show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and are among those responsible in handing out the show's highly coveted Top 25 award. They wanted to build the 1956 to show they not only know what it takes to do the kind of work they look for in other cars, but also illustrate the "why" something was done the way it was—the proof in the pudding, so to say. It should be obvious to anyone this is a well-built car, but it's the stuff you don't readily see that makes it really stand out.
Starting with a one-piece 1956 frame (with a single boxed 'rail as opposed to the C-channel type that's welded in the middle), the wheelbase was stretched 1 inch. Every surface of the car was addressed, which included smoothing out everything before being finished, including the front crossmember. The rear crossmember was boxed, as were all of the body mounts. An aluminum Currie centersection was used with a Ford 9-inch rear (3.70:1) and 31-spline axles, and a pair of Currie drum brakes (with SO-CAL polished aluminum Buick covers) cap off the rear. Suspension is handled by a set of Posies five-leaf, reverse-eye springs and a set of QA1 adjustable shocks, along with a set of custom traction bars.
Up front a narrowed Heidts IFS (with 2-inch dropped spindles) with stainless steel arms, QA1 coilovers, and a 1-inch sway bar were installed, while whoa is applied through a set of six-piston calipers biting into 14-inch Wilwood discs. Stock pedal arms were used, but modified with Pete & Jake's pads. The brake booster and master were also relocated by Josh. For steering, a Concept One 14:1 quick-ratio box was installed along with a column from ididit.