Blast From The Past: 1956 Chevrolet Drag Car

When I first spied this ’56 Chevy hardtop, I thought I was transported back in time and was viewing a photo spread from a 1960’s edition of Hot Rod Magazine.  And there is a good reason for that as this one-time drag car was prepared in 1966 and is still wearing its 54-year-old outfit. The originality, however, is more than just skin deep so let’s explore. This Chevy is located in West Branch, Iowa and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $9,800, reserve not yet met.

Being devoid of trim, as race cars usually are, it’s tough to tell if this hardtop is a BelAir or a Two-Ten model, both were offered in this body style and the missing stainless trim is the easiest way to make the identity. The VIN would be indictive too but the series of numbers, posing as the VIN, is in the wrong format. The chrome strip on the driver’s door card, however, does look like that used on a Two-Ten model so that’s probably the best guess.

The seller states that this car has been in “excellent storage” for all of its life but doesn’t have much else to add. Its current resting place appears to be an airplane hanger but there’s no telling where it has been actually hibernating all these years. The racing modifications were implemented in 1966 but its Corvette inspired 265 CI V8 engine would have seemed undersized by ’66 – perhaps it remained due to class rules. Whatever the case, the aluminum valve covers and twin four-barrel carburetors correctly reflect the era. There’s even a generator still in place! The seller states that this Chevy runs but offers no more in-depth detail. It has a manual transmission, the shifter is visible in the interior images, but no word if it’s a three or four-speed manual. It would be nice to know about suspension and differential modifications but those will remain an item for further inquiry.

This Chevy absolutely dates itself with its self-proclamation of “Up Tight Out O Sight” displayed on its rear flanks. Stevie Wonder’s smash hit “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” was released in ’66 and this Chevy trades a bit on the song’s popularity and lyrics. This Chevy’s trimless appearance is perfectly in keeping with modifications made to strip/street cars in the ’60s. As near as can be seen, the trim removal process, and hole-plugging follow-up, has been well executed; the body is straight and smooth. The finish is a bit flat but that may have been the original intention. The bumpers have lost some of their luster but at least they’re still in place, they seem to have frequently gone missing of drag cars of this vintage. There is no visible evidence that this Chevy ever had a run-in with a guard rail upon pulling a holeshot.

There is only one interior image and it’s not terribly revealing. There are aftermarket gauges that have been inserted into the instrument panel (a nicer touch than hanging them under the dash) and a large tachometer is prominently displayed above the dash. Beyond that, and the aforementioned floor shift, it all appears rather original – even the oversized stock steering wheel is still in use. The black seat upholstery may be a redo, it doesn’t look like the correct pattern but it’s hard to tell for sure.

Note the custom taillight lenses, another popular modification often seen on ’56 Chevies back in the day. This iconic drag car is a time capsule from a long-ago era and it has been nicely preserved. Hopefully, the new owner will continue the trend and be just as cautious a caretaker going forward.

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Comments

  1. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    Very cool, a time traveler for sure, I bet other old timers can remember what the AMF on the back of a race car stands for.

    Like 13
    • Joey

      Adios Mother Tucker….

      Like 10
      • Dave Mathers

        Cleaned up by a certain drag race announcer (me) to say Adios My Friend so many years ago!! LOL

        Like 6
  2. Steve R

    Where is the evidence it’s a race car? Six pictures of a car with a name on the quarter panels and deck lid doesn’t mean much. People naming their are street or show cars wasn’t unusual up through the early-80’s. If the seller makes a claim intended to raise the cars perceived value, which a verified racing history would, they need to back it up. They didn’t.

    Look up old pictures; race cars more often than not had class designations and/or the sanctioning body painted on the front fenders or doors as well as sponsor names, this has none of that.

    Steve R

    Like 13
    • 19sixty5 Member

      It might have made a few passes at the strip in it’s life, but with what appears to be a full interior it certainly raises the likelihood it is just an old street car. Still pretty cool.

      Like 8
  3. Somer

    Interesting piece. May have been running Modified Production. Those are mid-fifties Packard tail lights. Popular in custom conversions. Required some metal work.

    Like 3
    • egads

      Those are not Packard taillights, they are Lee lenses.

      Like 11
      • Will Fox

        J.C. Whitney specials.

        Like 7
  4. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Cool it has survived regardless of unproven pedigreed.

    Like 6
  5. Chris in Pineville

    love the AMF on the trunk.

    how many of you know what that means?

    Like 6
    • Poppapork

      American Machine & Foundry

      Like 4
      • stanley kwiecinski

        Wasn’t that’s Harley’ name way back when? I own a 1974 FXE. love till i die! i guess AMF now means; what was stated by the amf tags. sad

    • Chunk

      Adios, Mother F**ker?

      Like 10
      • Jcs

        Winner winner chicken dinner.

        Like 4
  6. Troy s

    It’s a cool old ’56, stealthy in appearance in that color and surprisingly there are no vintage stickers at all on this car. Zero. I agree with Steve, I’d like to see some old photos of it in action back then. Most of those were decorated with stickies, did AMF stand for a certain class in NHRA or AHRA rules?
    That little 265 will wind out pretty good, I’ll guess anywhere from mid thirteens to high 12’s for the mouse if it is in fact set up as a strip car. That front bumper must add some weight, unnecessarily for what it is.

    Like 2
    • Chris in Pineville

      nope.
      it stood for “adios, mother f****r”

      Like 3
      • Troy s

        If you say so it’s okay with me! Hahaha,, for some reason I think of Harley Davidson when I see or hear AMF. Maybe other things, but I’ve never given it much thought. A bicycle comes to mind.

        Like 4
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    The local drag strip bracket cars usually had their class and number on the side glass in white shoe polish. If you had tons of money to go to the major events then you’d have permanent numbers. You can still buy the single piece red taillight lenses. Had to make the ones for our ’54 at the time but it was easy to get another set of red lenses and glue the original uppers to them. Another point, most of us in those days drove our cars to the strip. Having seats for any crew guys was usually a reguirement.

    Like 8
    • Anav8r

      I seen to remember buying lenses from some International carry-all that were a perfect fit for my 54 Chevy. I think my back up lights were red, though.

  8. dennis

    This 56 is a 2 door hardtop not a 210 or handyman look at the picture there is no post between the passenger window and the backseat window

    Like 1
    • Tort Member

      No, GM offered a 56 Chevy 210 2dr. HT. This car has the BelAir dash trim which could be original or added by the owner as many 210 or 150 owners models did.

      Like 1
      • Stan Marks

        I thought so, Tort. As a matter of fact, when I first saw this, I thought it was a ’55. The 210 threw me off.

        This puppy has had a hard life. From the door frame, it looks like it has major rust issues. No surprise they have no undercarriage pics.

        BTW… Bidding is up to $15K.

  9. Tort Member

    So many like this one back in the day when car guys spent their money earned working in a gas station to make their car faster than the other guys. Probably raced on the street and at the local dragstrip in C.M.P. Memories from the 60’s in my 56 Chevy.

    Like 3
  10. Jon G

    I’m thinking biracial ownership at the least. “A little black. A little white”. “Grey Power”. Makes sense.

    Like 3
  11. Alan Hubbard

    LS swap, Brakes, Wheels, then drive !

    • 19sixty5 Member

      I am usually all about LS swaps, but in an old shoebox like this, either a screaming high revving small block or a 427 would be the way to go nostalgic way to go!

      Like 4
  12. Doug Crawford

    1960’s thru the start of the van craze in the 70’s here in Eastern Kentucky, having your street car’s name painted that big on the quarters was common. Was super cool then, kinda cringe-worthy now. 396 Chevelle named ” The Baron” , 57 Chevy named ” Hellacious “, and worst of all, a purple Triumph TR-6 named ” Sexy Six ” Arrrggghhh. Most all
    were street raced only across the interstate bridge between Kentucky and West Virginia. It was just a few feet short of a 1/4 mile. Many Saturday nights had hundreds of spectators and dozens of participants.

    Like 2

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