Dick Stevens has always been partial to ’56 Chevys. “When I was little, that’s what I first drove,” he says. We first met Dick Stevens, this friendly man of the south, at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky last year. Stevens brought out his freshly completed 1956 Chevy Convertible for the first time in 2011 and he took home one of the coveted “Pro’s Pick” Awards. He constructed the stunning ’56 Vert that you see here in about a year’s time. It’s one of three ’56 Chevys that he owns, two of which are convertibles. “The other car was a prototype of this one” he began to tell us as we chatted about the car’s history.
A Family Affair
Stevens who lives in Mississippi, grew up with a father who was into cars. “My daddy raced cars, he worked on cars, so that got me into it from an early age,” he told us. When he’s not pursuing other hobbies, like racing cars, or dabbling high performance planes, you’ll likely find this soft spoken southern CEO working on his own cars.
Stevens had plenty of family on hand at the nationals as well. His cousin brought out an Edsel wagon, which the two traded jabs over while we talked. “Have you ever seen such an ugly car” he said to us laughing as the two taunted each other back and forth. His son Brad also brought out a ’56 Chevy pickup he and dad had constructed. Then of course there were the grandkids, just hanging out with grandpa enjoying the Nationals, just as it should be.
No Screw Unturned
My daddy raced cars, he worked on cars, so that got me into it at an early age.
Stevens began this project with an original ’56 Chevy body. “It was probably one of the best, if not the best body for a ’56 convertible in the country that I had seen,” he tells us. The car had been tucked away indoors for a large number of years, somewhere in South Dakota.
When it came time to go full-tilt on the build-up, only the best would do. The body sits on an Art Morrison Engineering frame, with a very nice lowered stance. Wilwood brakes hide behind Foose Wheels. The differential is a 12-bolt from Strange Engineering with 3.55 gears, while a Gearstar 700R4 transmission does the shifting, with overdrive keeps revs nice and low for cruising.
Steve Holcomb of Pro Auto Custom Interirors, in Knoxville, TN did the interior and top. The top itself features a real glass window, something you just don’t see a lot of. The interior is a beautiful mix of leather, billet and stainless accents. An Ididit column and Lokar shifter keep things under control. If you can hear the radio over the rumble of the engine you should know it’s from Hidden Audio. On occasions when cruising with the top up is necessary, passengers still stay cool via the Vintage Air system.
Outside the door handles have been shaved and trim has been kept to a minimum, giving the car a super clean and sleek look. And to top of the class of Southern Gentleman, Wayne and Kevin Poe of Mississippi are responsible for the knee deep black paint.
Celebrity Level Power
While the car caught our attention walking isle after isle of countless rods, customs and muscle cars, what really made us stop in our tracks is under the hood. A quick glance and even the most casual of observers stops to stare
It was probably one of the best, if not the best body for a ’56 convertible in the country.
The engine itself is a master work. While the short block on its own sounds unimpressive, a small block Chevy setup for 406 cubic inches of displacement it’s what finishes out the rest of the package that will throw many for a loop. The heads are from Arao Engineering, they’re thirty two valve aluminum heads. Yes, thirty two valves fitted on a fairly standard engine. The spark plugs drop into the top of the heads, similar to a HEMI. The incredible flow of these heads, along with a custom camshaft spec’d for the design, allows this engine to breathe deep enough to make the type of power that it does, but without having to pull crazy RPM to do so.
Adding more flare to the engine are the Webber carbs by Inglese. Everything exhales through stainless steel exhaust, and you can feel this thing rumble as soon as somebody turns the key.
Stevens and his son Brad took an award at the Nationals this year for their Chevy pickup, in the UPS commercial way category. We’re wondering what Mr. Stevens will bring out to the shows in the years to come, and look forward to seeing whatever his imagination can come up with next.
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