Hotrod & Restoration

January/February '13

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The Tri Five Market What's New and True for '55-'57 Chevys? T he Tri Five Chevys of 1955-1957 are one of the most popular, well respected and longest running types of cars in the HRR world. Up there with the '32 Ford in icon status, Tri Fives have an ever-increasing number of parts coming out in a seemingly endless supply. So trying to report the market on these parts is like to trying to build a sand castle on the edge of the ocean. Wave after wave of suppliers just keep coming as you attempt to build a current list. The same can be said for all those parts. To list the thousands available would take quite a bit more than the pages of HRR. The parts we watch are divided into two categories – Hot Rod and Restoration. Yet, fans of these Shoebox Chevys are all interested in pretty much anything that comes out for them. Any Ride Is Fair Game Much like the popular Resto Rod look for Street Rods, where the car appears stock from the outside but very much different 36 underneath, many Tri Fives duplicate that trickery. To that end, we're seeing more of a crossover in parts today than any other time. The different genres of Chevys are the reason. From pure resto to full hot rod, and now Pro Touring, folks are building their "Fives" the way they want. And speaking of Pro Touring or G Machines, folks watching the Pro scene have noticed how it is not just limited to muscle cars of the late '60s and early '70s. Now, it seems, any ride is fair game. And that includes Tri Fives. But putting a stock Tri Five against the prime generation of muscle cars is no contest. In the words of one builder, "Who wants a '57 Chevy that handles like a '57 Chevy?" So, the chassis and related parts for Tri Fives have and always will be a strong market. Those owners wanting to go all the way will find a number of replacement chassis to fit under their Chevys. Art Morrison is one of the more wellknown builders and offers a number of improvements. For one, it has a lower center of gravity for much better handling. The By John Carollo chassis is also designed for the exhaust system run within the chassis, further ensuring safe ground clearance for a lower car. Also included are rack steering, adjustable coilover shocks for front and rear, and front and rear adjustable sway bars. "More features" includes the use of a wide range of disc brake packages and nine-inch, Currie Ford style rear end. Chassis & Suspensions Another builder is Fatman Chassis, and its Tri Five chassis offers a trademark front suspension based on the Mustang II with rack steering. Fatman has been thrashing this system for years so they know how to get the most out of it. Based around a full circle, center point crossmember, the chassis are also available with air bag suspension and stainless steel components. Fatman has been building them since 2005 and today, citing the popularity, owner Bret VanDervort says they "can't build 'em fast enough!" Even before Fatman started making complete frames, they made front Tri Five frame stubs and today have built hundreds of both. Those not wanting to go the full chassis route can look into a 1955-1957 Chevy custom tubular frame upgrade kit from Eckler's. It includes custom tubular 1-1/2" steel frame reinforcement pieces that upgrade and strengthen original frame rails with an H-brace and transmission crossmember. This kit works on all body styles including convertibles and fits one- or two-piece frames. And, those wanting to enjoy the benefits of the Tri Five Chevy's cousin, the Corvette, can have '85-'96 (C4) suspension and brakes with a frame from Newman Car Creations. Offering fully independent suspension, rack steering and superior handling, these chassis fit Tri Five bodies and are built stronger with thicker material and two cast aluminum Hotrod & Restoration January/February 2013 HRR_Jan/Feb13_Pages1-63.indd 36 1/24/13 2:23 PM

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