409-Powered 1956 Chevrolet Drag Car

This 1956 Chevrolet drag car in Springfield, Ohio pushes many of the right buttons for a vintage-looking drag racer. Lacking details in the woefully short description here on eBay, we must assume this car has no racing history, and was built to loosely emulate a ’60s era locally-sponsored Super Stock drag racer. Clearly the “PLUMBERS Local 409” door lettering is a play on the car’s later 409 cid V8. If I’m reading this class table at classracerinfo.com correctly, an SS/C car would run about a 10 second quarter-mile which seems unlikely based on the visual evidence.

While there are no picture of the car’s front, the rear appears to have new or highly-polished tail-lights. What looks like a re-chromed bumper couldn’t have been cheap and almost detracts from the car’s appearance. However, if you want to ditch the vintage drag racer look, any shiny new parts represent a big money-saving plus. The vintage-style Halibrand wheels also look a little too fresh for the “Bad Apple,” but nothing that couldn’t be scuffed to match the car’s honest-looking rough edges.

Custom diamond-tufted upholstery with red piping maintains the period custom vibe. The ’55-’56 Chevrolet dash is hard to beat, and the polished bits contrast beautifully against dark colors like this black. I’m not a fan of the handcuff-friendly steering wheel diameter. I can almost feel the launch of this 409 through the Muncie 4 speed and 4.10 positraction rear end.

The seller is a man or woman of few words, and those are (groan) written in ALL CAPS, but the “GOOD RUNNING 409” looks tight. Most drag racers prefer a large single carb, but the dual-quad setup gets more points when you pop the hood to show off for your fellow gear-heads. Of course the Beach Boys rendered Chevy’s 409 immortal with their song “409.” Bypassing the heater core may have been a shortcut to fixing coolant leaks into the passenger compartment, and denies the motor a precious half-gallon of coolant. Ironically the replacement brake master cylinder is more rusty than most of the original equipment. Unlike many of today’s cars, if you drop a wrench or nut while working on this Chevy, it has a 95% chance of landing where you can find it… on the ground. Can you picture yourself wrenching on this fine 409-powered ’56?

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Comments

  1. Karguy James

    If the engine codes out to a true 409/425 dual quad engine, it alone is worth the price of admission so far. Cool car.

    • thomas j schweikert

      409 s came out in 1961

  2. JW

    Of the tri fives 56 is my favorite and this one is cool.

  3. Steve R

    As you say, the minimum dial for an SS/C car would be 10.05, most will run at least 1/2 to 3/4 of a second quicker, the fastest cars in that class will be capable of running in the 8’s if needed. You are right, the lettering is fake, it’s a bit surprising it’s not lettered up as a gasser, that’s been the hot trend for quite some time. But then again, the other poseurs would give him grief because this car doesn’t have a straight axle and isn’t jacked up.

    The car has been run through eBay twice in the last month with an opening bid of $20,000 and has had no takers. I would assume the reserve is close to that.

    Steve R

    • Greg

      Know the owner of this car. He has owned it for alot of years. It is a true 409. Had for sale at a local swap meet in September.

    • thomas j schweikert

      no where near 10 s with all that steel, a 409, and skinny tires

  4. sir mike

    Never understood those small steering wheels….

    • D-Ozzie

      Easier to drive in handcuffs after you kick your way through the patrol car window.

    • Robert White

      They looked more trick than original equipment back in the 70s. I had one of these steering wheels on my 66 Canso SD. The steering radius is much smaller so it feels more like a sporty car to drive with the aftermarket wheel.
      Moreover, most original steering wheels got swapped out because they were cracked or bent.

      Bob

  5. Dave

    Easy way to remove the rear end would be to dump the clutch.

  6. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Nice find and write up Todd. This thing looks like it’s in pretty nice shape. I love the hood, I have not seen one in many years. A cool old ride for sure. As far as the ALL CAPS ad, I never used to care for it. Now I am OK with it as it saves me from grabbing my cheaters. Thanks, Mike.

  7. Dave M

    Here is a 55 in Canada that runs 409s in his Chev and Pont.

  8. Dave M
  9. Dave M

    Love the 409s

  10. Madmatt

    I always liked the 56 Chevy,and I love the gasser look
    of the 60’s.I may get “sick”of seeing so many tri fives,
    but I always appreciate something a little different.
    I would try to keep it pretty much like it is,but update
    some pieces,while refurbishing what I could,to make this a
    dependable driver.It would be fun to see/hear it
    tearing down the street,it would turn heads for sure!

  11. jw454

    I thought I’d seen this one before. It was at the Springfield Ohio swap meet in early September a few weeks ago. The yellow sticker in the window was it’s assigned parking space in the cars for sale corral. I don’t recall what the asking price was at that time.

  12. flmikey

    Since it is not a matching numbers car, sell the engine and put in whatever you want…that 409 has to be worth a small fortune…

  13. gaspumpchas

    Very cool 56- would love to run this beauty thru the gears.the 348 and 409s dominated the strips before the big blocks came along. Have built a few 348’s and they run soo good ..you can idle one down to 500 and set a cup of coffee on the air cleaner.Recently installed a 348 in a 53 sedan delivery,with upgraded bolt in front end,and a T5 trans out of an S-10 pickup…what a beast….

    • Dave M

      Not uncommon to see 9 sec 409s.

      • Dave M

        9 sec 409

      • Foster

        Carolina Thunder was a 409 M22 true lightweight–hood, trunk, doors aluminum, bumpers fiberglass–burned down in a fire that destroyed 50+ cars

    • Old Car Guy

      348’s and 409’s are big blocks.

  14. 421HO

    This car in the 10`s as shown, would have to see time slips, and who`s driving.

    • Dave M

      What car? Just go to any 409 gathering. 7 sec 409.

    • Dave M

      Go to Ytube and punch 409s. 11.90s on this 62

  15. Dave M

    10 sec 409

  16. Dave M

    With todays tech. 2000 plus

  17. ACZ

    What a sweet combination!

  18. Tim W

    Dave M,
    Thanks for the great pics, especially the frame twisting launch. It was my Dad’s ’61 Impala 348-350 Tri-Power that first gave me car disease. I still remember standing in the back floor board trying to hold on to the front seat as he hit 3rd gear at around 80……

    • Dave M

      57 409

  19. Tyler

    A 56 post is my favorite of the tri-five models, & in this combination, this car is quite capable of making me make a bad financial decision…

  20. Dave M

    57

  21. Dave M

    1963 z11 427

    • Dave M

      specks

      • Dave M

        63 Z11 ran 11s in 63

  22. Dave M

    Canadian Pont with the W.

    • Dave M

      cool

  23. Dave M

    Corvair with 409s

    • Morley Member

      What is the ROP number for this set up? Morley

  24. Ron Bunting

    A 409 powered Corvair .Enough to make nader turn republican….

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