Barry Atkins' 1955 Chevrolet

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A photo of the Chevrolet that Red McCormick gave Ray Soff. The photo was taken the very first day Red got it, and it is the earliest known photo of the old custom. Photo courtesy of Ray Soff and Marc M.
A photo of the teal metallic version of the Chevrolet as it sat while Red McCormick owned it. This photo was taken at the Spring Carlisle, Pennsylvania Swap Meet in 1981. Photo courtesy of John Goschke, from The HAMB.
Photo courtesy of John Goschke, from The HAMB.
Photo courtesy of John Goschke, from The HAMB.
After buying the car, Marc M. began to research the history of the old custom. He talked to Maggie, the widow of Red, who sent him this old photo. Photo courtesy of Marc M.
The old custom as it appeared after Barry Atkins had restored it. Photo courtesy of Marc M.
Photo courtesy of Marc M.
Photo courtesy of Marc M.
On the 8.8.1988, while David Gregory owned the car, Ed Beauchaine used the old custom as his wedding-limo. Photo by Ed Beauchaine, from The HAMB.
Photo by Ed Beauchaine, from The HAMB.
Photo by Ed Beauchaine, from The HAMB.
Photo by Ed Beauchaine, from The HAMB.
Photo by Ed Beauchaine, from The HAMB.
The Chevrolet a car show in 1989.Photo by Ed Beauchaine, from The HAMB.
The old custom at a car show in 1999, while Robert Thompson owned it. Photo by Ed Beauchaine, from The HAMB.
The Chevrolet at the Lake Compounce swap meet in Bristol, Connecticut May 6th, 2002. At the time the car was owned by Dominic Flammia. It was Dominic that gave the car a flame paint job. Photo by Luke Karosi - Kustoms Illustrated.
The Chevrolet as it sat in 2011, when Marc M. owned it. Photo courtesy of Marc M.
Photo courtesy of Marc M.
Photo courtesy of Marc M.
Photo courtesy of Marc M.
Photo courtesy of Marc M.
After Marc bought the car, he removed the swivel bucket seats and installed 1955 Chevrolet seats that matched the Diamond Tuck from 1958.Photo courtesy of Marc M].
Photo courtesy of Marc M.
The massive swivel bucket seats that Marc removed from the car. These seats look like living room easy chairs. Photo courtesy of Marc M.
In April of 2017 Marc sold the old custom. The buyer was a collector and restorer that planned to restore it back to how it appeared in the old magazine articles. This photo was taken the day the new owner picked it up. Photo courtesy of Marc M.

1955 Chevrolet four-door sedan. According to Barry Atkins of Columbia, Connecticut, that bought and resurrected the car in the early 1980s, it was originally restyled in 1958 as a surprise birthday present for a 16 year old boy. His father bought the car, took it to a customizing shop, and told them money was no object. After the radical build was completed, the kid was disappointed that it wasn't a more popular two-door.[1]


In 2014 Stephen Krayski told Kustomrama that he remembered the chopped Chevrolet around his home of Chicopee, Massachusetts when he was a kid in the early 1960s; "I was a young boy, seven or eight years old, and to see a car that looked like nothing else on the road, let alone in a full turquoise Metalflake splendor was enough to grab this kids attention. I do remember my Dad saying it was a shame it was a four door. He was employed at a body shop and every year he got a new coupe or convertible, four doors were for your Auntie Edna! The last time I saw this beauty I believe it had either Cragar or or some other wheel with narrow whites. Not far from where this car would run, on Meadow street, was an old gas station turned body shop. Once in a while, a 1955 or 1956 Ford Thunderbird with a bubbletop would be parked outside the shop. As far as I know, the car was only painted in red oxide. I never saw the bird on the street."[2]


Barry Atkins bought the car from Bob "Red" McCormick of East Hartford, Connecticut in the early 1980s. According to his wife Maggie, Red had bought the car from a full service gas station in Durham, Connecticut. Red sold the old custom so he could buy two Cadillac Eldorado's.[1]


When Barry bought the Chevrolet, it was in a rough condition, but he decided a chopped four door would make a neat custom, so he decided to bring it back to life again. It was painted in a metallic teal, and the paint was starting to crack and flake off. At the time Barry owned Atkins Action Auto, so all the bodywork and paint were done at his shop. When Barry got the car, the top was chopped 3 1/2 inches and the suspension was lowered six inches in the back and five inches in the front. It featured canted quad headlights from a 1958 Lincoln and 1956 Packard taillights. The rear fenders were extended. it was shaved for door handles and fit with a single trim spear and a 1953 Chevrolet grille. The grille featured 13 teeth in total. Photos of the car from when Red owned it, shows it without a rear bumper. The restored version featured a rear bumper from a 1956 Chevrolet wagon, lakes pipes, fender skirts, louvers in the hood, a vinyl padded top, dual spotlights and flipper hubcaps. The hood was louvered by Red McCormick. The black vinyl interior was originally constructed in 1959, and featured massive swivel bucket seats that looked like living room easy chairs. The steering wheel came from an Impala. The restored version of the car featured a 265-cubic-inch 1956 Chevrolet Corvette engine with a Duntov camshaft. The engine was backed by a manual transmission with a Hurst shifter.[3]


Barry sold the old custom to Roy Niklasson around 1984. Roy kept on to it for a short while, before he sold it to David Gregory of Connecticut around 1985 - 1986. David traded the car to Robert Thompson of Connecticut in late 1988. Robert had the car appraised at $ 33 800 before he sold it to Dominic Flammia of Waterbury, Connecticut around 2000. When Dominic got the car he checked the engine number to see if it in fact had a Corvette engine. He found out that it wasn't a Corvette engine, so he decided to swap it for a 350 cid V8 with a Turbo 350 trans. Dominic did also install disc brakes on the car, and he gave it a red flame paint job. In 2004 Dominic sold the old custom to Dennis Pluck of Pennsylvania. Dennis kept on to it for about a year before he sold it to Marc B. and Tarra B. from Wittmann, Arizona in 2005.[1]


When Marc bought the car, he was told that it had a 327 ci engine. He checked the engine number, and found out that it was in fact a 350. He also discovered that it had a huge crack at the starter boss and would flex and eat flexplates. In went a new GM crate engine and a Turbo 350 trans. During the same operation, Marc did also fabricate new floor and trunk pans, before he treated it with rust converter, seam seal and Dyna Mat. He installed a new carpet, and removed the swivel bucket seats. The bucket seats were replaced with 1955 Chevrolet seats that matched the Diamond Tuck from 1958. Correct 1955 Chevrolet 15 inch wheels with bias ply wide whites and 1957 Cadillac hubcaps were also installed. The original builder and owner of the car is unknown, but according to Marc, Barry Atkins told him that the original builder ran a bodyshop in West Massachusetts called something like "Awleys", "Hawleys" or "Rollies". Barry could also tell Marc that the original color was red, and that the car was once shown at the World of Wheels show in Massachusetts and New York in the 1960s. The car was supposedly shown in the Radical Custom class.[1]


Sold

In April of 2017 Marc sold the old custom. After listing it without success on eBay, he finally sold it trough Craigslist. The buyer was a collector and restorer that planned to restore it back to how it appeared in the old magazine articles.[1]


Magazine Features

Hot Rod Magazine Custom Cars July 1984


References



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