Ride still smooth 30 years later

by Larry D'Argis . Feb 09 2018
Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Chevrolet had a banner year in 1955. Not only did they introduce a totally new lineup of cars, they also presented their new 265-cubic-inch small-block V-8 engine. Available in three trim levels, the 150, 210 and Bel Air, there was a new ’55 Chevy for every budget.

Most, however, had dreams of owning a top-of-the-line Bel Air convertible. For Dale Neduzak of Beausejour, his quest for a ’55 Chevy began more than three decades ago.

“I purchased my ’55 on Feb. 29, 1980, and at the time knew very little about ’55-6-7 Chevrolets in general and had been on the hunt for a ’55 two-door hardtop,” Neduzak says.

On the advice of a friend, Neduzak drove to Morris to look at what was described as “a pile of cars”, where he encountered a ’56 Nomad station wagon that needed a lot of attention and a rather forlorn 1955 convertible.

Neduzak says, “The convertible attracted my interest, but the owner would only part with both cars together, so I did the only reasonable thing and bought them both.”

With the Nomad wagon sold off, Neduzak concentrated on collecting the parts required to restore the Bel Air convertible. In 1982, the car was completely disassembled and the entire floor, from the firewall back to the tailpan, was replaced with a rust-free unit from a donor car. With the body restored, Neduzak finished the car in a bright two-tone Sunfire Yellow and India Ivory lacquer paint finish.

With the body restored back to its classic elegance it was time to marry it back to the frame, but not without some upgrades. Along with the usual rebuild of the suspension, it received an upgrade to power steering, power front-disc brakes with dual reservoir Wilwood master cylinder, an alternator built into the factory generator housing, Diamondback 15-inch wide whitewall radial tires and a 3.55:1 ratio posi-traction rear axle.

The interior is finished with a beige and ivory simulated leather upholstery kit and white convertible top. Interior comforts include a tissue dispenser, day/night rear-view mirror, windshield washers, electric windshield wipers, clock, dual side-view mirrors, gas door trim and aftermarket AM/FM radio

Neduzak’s aim was to drive the car, so the restoration of the original 265-cubic-inch V-8 and three-speed manual transmission wasn’t in the cards.

Replacing them was a low-mileage 305-cubic-inch V-8 and 700R4 four-speed automatic overdrive transmission purchased from a wrecked 1984 Z28 Camaro, which allows the car to cruise effortlessly down the highway.

To keep the car as close to original in appearance, Neduzak used the original exhaust manifolds, the Chevrolet script valve covers, modified for a PCV valve, vintage glass fuel filter, cartridge style oil filter and a truck air filter that’s a close replica of the original oil bath unit. It still rings true through a full stainless-steel dual exhaust system with factory exhaust tips.

Since the restoration was completed in 1988, Neduzak has logged an impressive 135,000 miles on the odometer, with trips across Canada and down the U.S. West Coast, as well as Bonneville, Utah, and many trips to Minneapolis.

“The car has been great. Other than a few paint touch-ups and regular maintenance it’s been a flawless ride.” Neduzak says. “It sure pays to do things properly the first time.”

The licence plate on the ’55 reads “Doo-Wop,” paying tribute to the ’50s. Above the plate, the car also acknowledges his uncle Ray’s contribution to the Beausejour area. Gretsingers Garage served as the local GM dealer for the area. Today, Neduzak owns and operates Time Benders Vintage Garage. It restores not only classic vehicles, but specializes in Polaris RXL snowmobile restorations.

As for Neduzak’s ’55 Bel Air convertible, it was originally delivered to the Quebec area, but the fact that it was produced at the GM plant in Oshawa, Ont., means it carries an additional data plate over the U.S. production, verifying its build.

Produced in November 1954, it carries serial number 15 out of the 895 convertibles produced in Canada. Easily provable as the oldest ’55 Chevy Bel Air convertible in the world, it’s still the prettiest ride in town.

57ford@mymts.net

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressAbove the ’50s-themed licence plate is a nod to Neduzak’s uncle Ray.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Above the ’50s-themed licence plate is a nod to Neduzak’s uncle Ray.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressThe interior of the 1955 Bel Air convertible was finished with a beige and ivory simulated-leather upholstery kit and white convertible top.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

The interior of the 1955 Bel Air convertible was finished with a beige and ivory simulated-leather upholstery kit and white convertible top.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressThe original engine was replaced with a low-mileage 305 cubic-inch V-8 and paired with a 700R4 four-speed automatic overdrive transmission.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

The original engine was replaced with a low-mileage 305 cubic-inch V-8 and paired with a 700R4 four-speed automatic overdrive transmission.