Non-Bowtie Savvy

Gene Suel­zle’s ’55 Ply­mouth Savoy

Street Rodder - - Contents -

You know when some­one like Bobby Al­loway turns down a cus­tomer want­ing a ’55 Chevy built that kind of says some­thing about Tri-Fives in gen­eral, as far as their blank can­vas po­ten­tial­ity goes.

If you think about it, in or­der to achieve what hasn’t al­ready been done, you’d po­ten­tially wind up with a ve­hi­cle that barely re­sem­bles its for­mer self by the time you ac­com­plished do­ing the never-be­fore al­ter­ations

(prob­a­bly not a bad thing if you’re go­ing af­ter the Ri­dler …).


A ’55 Bel Air—even in its as-sold at­tire—is a bucket list car for many, my­self in­cluded ... es­pe­cially if you throw on a set of bigs ’n’ lit­tles with a nice, nose-in-th­ea­s­phalt rake. But that’s not where this is go­ing. When you’ve been at the busi­ness of build­ing hot rods for as long as Al­loway has, repet­i­tive­ness isn’t what keeps the creative juices flow­ing—but a good chal­lenge can sure do the trick … even more so when it’s a self-im­posed one. Case in point: When Louisianan Gene Suel­zle came to Al­loway’s Hot Rod Shop want­ing to have a ’55 Chevy built, Bobby saw this as an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing with an­other ’55 he had at the shop—a ’55 Ply­mouth Savoy Club Sedan. Without al­ready hav­ing seen the pho­tos,

I’m sure that would’ve evoked some rather in­ter­est­ing re­ac­tions from a num­ber of you read­ing this—but as you can see Gene agreed to the al­ter­na­tive (af­ter fur­ther artis­tic con­vinc­ing by Eric Brock­meyer), and Bobby’s chal­lenge net­ted per­fect re­sults, not to men­tion the bad­dest ’50s Mopar I’ve ever seen.

As is cus­tom­ary with the ma­jor­ity of Al­loway’s builds, Gene’s Savoy now re­sides on brand-new man­drel-bent chas­sis, cour­tesy of Art Mor­ri­son En­ter­prises, com­plete with AME’s coilover IFS and four-link’d Cur­rie 9-inch, 13-inch Wil­wood discs, and DSE power steer­ing.


And when it came to the pow­er­plant, this build stayed the theme by up­dat­ing the Club Sedan’s Hy-Fire V-8 (and more than dou­bling its cu­bic inches) with an Indy Cylin­der

Head 520ci all-alu­minum Hemi as­sem­bled by Keasler Rac­ing and Ma­chine.

Also re­ceiv­ing a needed up­date, the once-mod­ern push-but­ton shifted trans­mis­sion op­tion was re­placed with a seem­ingly less con­ve­nient floor-shifted TREMEC five-speed from Amer­i­can Pow­er­tain.

About the only por­tion you re­ally see of that afore­men­tioned chas­sis when view­ing the sedan from the ex­te­rior are the Al­loway sig­na­ture Bil­let Spe­cial­ties wheels—at least the por­tions that aren’t tucked up nice and snug in the Ply­mouth’s wheel­wells. As for the en­tirety of the ex­ter­nal makeover, it didn’t take a whole lot other than some mi­nor em­blem delet­ing, adding in­verted ’56 Chevy side trim, fresh chrome and pol­ish, and, of course, the req­ui­site PPG-based Al­loway black paint to make the vis­ual state­ment Al­loway’s known for.

The in­ter­nals, on the other hand, got quite a bit more re­design­ing with Steve Hol­comb/Pro Auto Up­hol­stery’s full-leather in­te­rior, T-bird bucket seats, and cus­tom-built cen­ter con­sole re­plac­ing the old fab­ric-trimmed bench ac­com­mo­da­tions; Clas­sic In­stru­ments one-off gauges fill­ing the dash with a cut-down Cor­vair steer­ing wheel in close prox­im­ity; and a Vin­tage Air unit tak­ing place of the old trunk-mounted Airtemp fac­tory A/C.

No mat­ter what the start­ing can­vas is, be it a Mopar, GM, or some od­dball make, if it has pro­por­tional po­ten­tial, Al­loway has a way to pos­i­tively ex­ploit it, as Gene’s ’55 clearly at­tests to. It’s some­what akin to a lyric from an old song co-writ­ten by the late Den­nis Dan­nel—“Sit­tin’ low, chromed and shiny black”—which al­though it refers to a ’55 Cad, is the ba­sic essence of an Al­loway makeover … just not quite that sim­ple.

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