Filed under: Folks
This is the final post from my “Dad’s old cars” series, and this last one is special. While in the Navy from ’58- ’61, my father wasn’t a typical drinking or gambling sailor- He was a car guy. This meant every weekend while many of his shipmates were burning through their paycheck, my dad was stashing cash away and thumbing through car magazines. He came across this ’56 Corvette at a used car lot in Long Beach in 1961, priced at a fair $4500. She still had the stock 210 HP 265 V-8, 3 speed trans, and original Polo White (w/ white coves) paint job with removable hardtop.
Shortly after he took the car to Tijuana, Mexico and had the interior done in all white rolls and pleats, including the hardtop headliner. The car served him well, and after discharge from the Navy, dad drove it home to Poplar Bluff to stay with his mother. His immaculate Corvette raised a few eyebrows in the small town, including a teenage carhop at the A & W, who would become my mom a few years later. She even learned to drive in the “little Corvette with the heavy clutch”, as she recalls.
Dad soon became successful at drag racing down at SEMO Drag Strip, but once the early Hemi’s showed up at the strip in ’62, he realized he needed bigger guns to keep winning in his class. 1962 also happen to be the year that Chevrolet’s new hot motor, the 327 (the first small-block with a four-inch bore) was introduced, and it was a big deal. Dad was working at the Corvette plant in St. Louis at this point, and he ended up buying a six month old 1962 Vette that had been rolled, with nothing left of the glass body. Taking measurements, he quickly realized that the new ’62 and his old ’56 had the exact same chassis dimensions, leading him to pull his complete body off the frame and dropped it right on the new chassis, running gear and all. When he was done he had the quintessential sleeper: A stock-looking 1956 Corvette with a brand new 340 hp solid lifter 327 mated to a 4 speed. The only way anyone could know something different was under that ’56, was that the exhaust pipe now came out just behind the rear wheel (as all 62′s do). Additionally, because a 56 Corvette is a smaller and lighter car , it sat up a little higher then a stock one would have. He ran a McGurk 6 carb manifold, Hedman headers and a Schiefer aluminum flywheel. To top it all off, he reversed and chromed the OE wheels, donned with spider caps. The drag racing success lasted a few more years till the horsepower race got serious in the Street Eliminator class, and dad moved on to new car projects.
Where, oh, where is this car now?