Street Shaker

Street Rodder - - Contents - Chuck Vranas

♦ You never know where the base for your next project might be lurk­ing—be it in an old barn, a di­lap­i­dated ware­house, or a dis­tant field on a lo­cal farm. For Jere Lively of Erv­ing, Mas­sachusetts, his ’56 Chevy had spent the bet­ter part of three decades cov­ered with brush and trees aban­doned in the back­fields of a lo­cal nurs­ery. As the story goes, the for­mer hot rod had been left for dead with­out a driv­e­line by a lo­cal hot rod­der and long for­got­ten. When Jere be­gan dat­ing his now-wife, Suzanne, who owned the farm, she ca­su­ally men­tioned the old car in the back­field that needed to go. With­out wast­ing any time he had it hauled out for eval­u­a­tion. The car had def­i­nitely seen tough times but was cer­tainly worth sav­ing.

Grow­ing up in the small town of Mon­tague Cen­ter there re­ally wasn’t a lot go­ing on un­less you had a ticket into the coolest place around, the lo­cal junk­yard. Luck­ily for Jere, his brother-in-law, Jake Rau, worked the big crane there and of­ten brought him home dis­carded pedal cars to have fun with. This spawned into an au­to­mo­tive fas­ci­na­tion where he would later work at the junk­yard and spend plenty of time at Jake’s brother Ralph’s garage learn­ing to work on en­gines. It was the early ’60s where mus­cle cars ruled the streets and this is where Jere gained an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for ag­gres­sive big-block V-8s and straight-axle Gassers. As the years passed he owned plenty of cool rides, how­ever, a Tri-Five Chevy with a nose­bleed stance for­ever lurked in the back of his mind.

It was ob­vi­ous that the

’56 would need to get res­ur­rected in full Gasser style, laced with plenty of at­ti­tude. Jere stopped by Wil­son & Steely Kus­tom Coach­works in Athol, Mas­sachusetts, and met with co-owner Steve Wil­son with re­gard to the build. The two shared the same ideals on his new project and it wasn’t long till the roller was brought to the shop. To lay the ground­work for a rock-solid base ca­pa­ble of tak­ing plenty of abuse, the orig­i­nal chas­sis was dis­as­sem­bled and the stock frame was blasted clean and Jere boxed its front

sec­tion for added strength. Out back a vin­tage Fran­k­land quick-change rear spins 4.56 gears and is sus­pended in place by a com­bi­na­tion of Speed­way Mo­tors 42-inch lad­ders bars, par­al­lel leaf springs, Pan­hard bar, and NAPA tube shocks. Up front it’s all busi­ness with a Speed­way Mo­tors Gasser Kit set­ting the stance, com­plete with their ex­clu­sive straigh­taxle, Ford-style spin­dles, semi-el­lip­ti­cal springs, and shocks. To add plenty of whoa when needed, a Speed­way Mo­tors dual mas­ter pushes fluid through steel lines to stock drums out back and Wil­wood drilled and vented 11-inch discs and calipers up front. Link­ing it to the street you’ll find a set of clas­sic Cra­gar S/S wheels sized 15x10 (rear) and 15x5.5 (front) wear­ing Fire­stone/ Coker and Starfire rub­ber, re­spec­tively.

If you want to build a Gasser you’d bet­ter have the power to back it up. To han­dle the job Jere con­tacted Dutcher Auto En­gi­neer­ing in Green­field to build a fire-breath­ing 496ci big-block. Start­ing with a 454ci block, they mas­saged it to per­fec­tion and packed it with a Scat 4340 steel crank linked to match­ing H-beam rods topped with SRP forged alu­minum pis­tons while a COMP Cams Mag­num stick sets the beat. A pair of LPC alu­minum heads gen­er­ates seam­less power while a Weiand dual-quad tun­nel ram topped with FiTech’s Go EFI 2x4 sys­tem de­liv­ers the knock-out punch. Vin­tage Cal Cus­tom air clean­ers ac­cented by finned alu­minum valve cov­ers add just the right amount of class. An MSD ig­ni­tion lights the fire with spent gases dump­ing a set of Pa­triot Ex­haust fend­er­well head­ers to a 3-inch ex­haust with glass­pack muf­flers.

It’s all good for 650 hp on the dyno. Shifts move through a TREMEC TKO 600 five-speed trans to a cus­tom drive­shaft by H&R Ma­chine.

Bring­ing the body back to life was a mon­u­men­tal task see­ing it suf­fered through end­less New Eng­land win­ters in a field. Jere had pre­vi­ously started with the re­pairs by re­plac­ing the rot­ted floors and trunk pan with fresh steel while also re-skin­ning the roof. From there the team at Wil­son & Steely forged on re­plac­ing the rock­ers, quar­ter-pan­els, doors, and deck­lid with fresh sheetmetal. Cus­tom up­dates in­cluded the in­stal­la­tion by Jere of a tilt one-piece nose with a 4-inch Thunderbolt-style hood scoop from Scott

Rods while the W&S team shaved the fire­wall as well as all the trim and mold­ing from the ex­te­rior. The body was then made ra­zor sharp and turned over to Richard “Duck” Day to add the daz­zle with a com­bi­na­tion of cus­tom-mixed Ax­alta white pearl and blue candy along with red candy all blended with Lit­tle Daddy Roth Trip­pin’ Flake. To add the fi­nal ic­ing Steve Wil­son laid out the graph­ics, bring­ing it all to life.

In­side it’s all busi­ness, start­ing with the fac­tory dash filled with Ste­wartWarner di­als to mon­i­tor the vi­tals while a Mooneyes blue met­alflake steer­ing wheel carves the course and a Hurst pis­tol grip pulls gears. A pair of high back race seats with black vinyl cov­ers from JEGS pro­vides com­fort ac­cented by black side pan­els with alu­minum ac­cents and black loop car­pet­ing all by W&S. To com­plete the of­fice a four-point rollcage and five-point har­nesses keeps it all safe. This is one Street Shaker tak­ing over the streets of Mas­sachusetts and we dig it!

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