Tall Tales

Tall Tales

Half a century ago, Rod & Custom magazine challenged readers to send in pictures of the most radical street cars they could find. Not so much ones that looked good or were well constructed, but rather machines that had shock value. Seeing that it was the late-’60s, “Build ’Em Tall” was the name of the game. If the R&C staff published your submission, they would award you five whole dollars for your hard work.

Things got wild pretty quickly. Wooden blocks, re-arched leaf springs, subframes, you name it—the “Funny” look was gaining popularity. As the entries flooded the Petersen mailroom, the R&C team tossed in their two cents. “Thought all those jokes we’ve been running lately on jacked up cars were a put on, didn’t you?” they said in regards to a high-riding Hillman Minx convertible they ran in the August ’67 issue. “Catch this one, guys! We actually followed it—at a distance of course!”

In all honesty, the Minx wasn’t that bad. It certainly violated the NHRA’s 24-inch crankshaft rule and probably didn’t handle very well, but it looked like it could hold its own on the street or strip. Our subject today? I don’t think it could do either of those.

The contest is no longer running and the magazine no longer exists, but I don’t care; this ’55 Chevy would have been my submission. At first glimpse, it seems like an optical illusion. How is that chassis geometry even possible? The front end is a high-risk balancing act that incorporates what appears to be an upside down Eiffel Tower undoubtedly conceived in a place where the laws of gravity were on a prolonged vacation. The pieces are familiar, but they’ve been assembled in a way that just doesn’t make any sense at all. I’ve seen some engine setback in my day—but never like this before. To put things nicely, it’s a Zinger that’s come to life.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you view things), there isn’t a whole lot of information out there about this ’55. The backdrop looks all the world like the Midwest in the late fall, and judging by the print quality and the build style, I’d say this was taken in around 1968 or ’69. Out of pure curiosity, I wish I knew where this one came from. It’s been collecting digital dust in my archives for years under the file name “Sketchiest ’55 Chev Ever.”

With Halloween right around the corner, I figured I’d share something a little bit scary. Questionable? Yes. Offensive? You betchya. It’s cars like this that only come up in late-night bench racing sessions and even taller tales. Like a mythical creature, credible photos rarely surface. But somehow this one has, and I’d wager that it’s a shoe-in for that $5 prize—don’t you think?

Joey Ukrop



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