Sometimes I call my 1955 Chevy “My Toy,” “My Hobby” or “My Teenage Car” because each is true: the car reflects who I have been and who I am. Most people who know me know that I am a former car racer, a Carburetor Advisor for VCCA, and a Life Member in AACA. Each of those aspects of my life appears in this 1955 Chevrolet. Let’s begin the story at the Chevrolet factory in Baltimore, Maryland, where this car was manufactured on Friday, August 19, 1955, one week before the last day of production for the 1955 Chevrolets. Only 11,675 examples of the 210 hardtop coupes were made that model year, with many Bel Airs later modified by owners to look like the 210 hardtop coupe.
My 210 came in the single color of black because the factory previously ceased production of two-tones. Factory options include: 265 cubic inch V-8 Corvette engine, 4-barrel Carter carburetor, dual exhaust, small disc hubcaps, back-up lights, 3-speed manual transmission with column shifter, overdrive with a 4.11 differential and tinted glass. Dealer options include wheel covers, chrome trim surround at the door covering the gasoline cap, and whitewall tires. The car sold new in New York and I became the second owner in 1958, purchasing as a youth at Tony Mauer’s Used Cars on North 9th Street in Reading, PA. I proudly drove the car for two years as daily transportation until the racing bug got me.
Everyone knows that Chevrolet called its 1955 engine “The Hot One” because its V-8 design allowed high rpms with die-cast heads, integral interchangeable valve guides, aluminum pistons and a forged pressed-steel crankshaft. It appeared with 180 horsepower. In 1961 this 210 became my drag racer, competing on the 330-feet straightaways between turns 4 and 1 in the oval tracks at Reading Fairgrounds, Allentown Fairgrounds and Nazareth Speedway. I won “all the time.” My competitors frequently advanced the $35 required to challenge me, usually protesting a locked rear-end. There was no locked rear-end. I discovered later that the engine one of 50 “racing” 1955 V-8s with Zora Arkus-Duntov designed camshafts, of which 2 were shipped to Baltimore. This camshaft increased valve lift and duration and allowed the engine to produce 195 horsepower. It got faster the more I raced it. Periodically, I added two 4-barrel Carter WCFB carburetors or a 1962 Rochester fuel injection system.
But by 1964 I had other race cars so the 1955 became a tow car until 1965. It pulled those racers with a tow bar to many venues, including Cecil County, Maryland, where my 1957 Chevrolet wagon set the NHRA record for Elapsed Time and Miles Per Hour in a Quarter Mile. More about that another time. My Toy received a frame-on restoration from 1977 to 1981, returning to stock condition. Today its odometer reads about 74,000 miles. That restoration allowed me to compete
in AACA and VCCA.
In AACA, My Toy received straight awards of First Junior, First Senior, First (or Senior) Grand National, and Preservations in decennial series from the date of the First Junior. In the first cycle, it won these awards from 1981 to 1988 with 10 Preservations. The second cycle ran from 1991 to 2000 with a Senior Grand National and 6 Preservations. The third cycle ran from 2001 to 2006 with 8 Preservations and the Senior Chevrolet National Award in 2003. The fourth cycle ran from 2011 with a SGNR at Gettysburg in 2020. In VCCA, My Toy won with 1,000 points at Morgantown in 2018 and again in 2019.
Our members often refer to their cars as having a gender, usually female; I call the 210 “it.” That is good because “My Hobby” already takes a lot of time. My wife, Gloria, travelled to many of the races and shows, but now stays home telling me, “Whatever you want to do.” In the fifth cycle of AACA shows, I don’t know whether to enter the 210 in Class 32 or Racing, Class 24 or 24A, but I will continue show “My Teenage Car.” Accompanying this article are pictures of the 210 in racing livery, as a tow car with the 1957 wagon, and as restored.