A Brand-New Bowtie

BOB MER­CKLE’S ALL-MOD­ERN BEL AIR CON­VERT­IBLE

Street Rodder - - Conents -

Bob Mer­ckle’s ’55 Chevy Bel Air

Ama­jor part of an old hot rod’s charm is just that—it’s old … it’s noisy … it’s nearly ev­ery­thing a new car isn’t. But for some, that par­tic­u­lar ap­peal isn’t so, well, ap­peal­ing, yet the de­sire still ex­ists. For­tu­nately, our af­ter­mar­ket has pro­gressed quite well over the years, adopt­ing many ad­vance­ments the new car man­u­fac­tur­ers have de­vel­oped in driv­e­train and sus­pen­sion that can be adapted to those old cars we love. And when it comes to early Fords, you can have one built from the ground up with not a sin­gle old part on it. But what about us Chevy folk?

For the most part, if you want a hot rod based on any­thing from the late

’40s on up, un­less you’re will­ing to ham­mer out your own body from sheet steel or alu­minum, you gotta start with an orig­i­nal car. That is, un­less you’re a Tri-Five kind of guy—that’s a dif­fer­ent story. Thanks to Woody’s Hot Rodz, Art Mor­ri­son En­ter­prises, and Chevro­let Per­for­mance, among oth­ers, you can have that ’55-’57 Chevy you’ve al­ways dreamed about—even a con­vert­ible— and not spend a minute wor­ry­ing about search­ing for, re­pair­ing, or pay­ing a for­tune for any orig­i­nal ex­te­rior com­po­nents. In essence, the charm of that old hot rod now be­comes the charm of a truly all-new one, and even though he wasn’t dream­ing of, let alone in the mar­ket to buy, that’s ex­actly what lured Bob Mer­ckle in the day he crossed paths with Woody’s owner Chris Son­dles.

“I walked into Woody’s on a whim on my way through the Cincin­nati area on a trip. I had no in­ten­tion of buy­ing a car that day, but by the time I left, I did! What the guys at Woody’s are do­ing with these new-bod­ied cars is re­ally amaz­ing. Within that short visit, Chris and I had made a plan that in­cluded most of what you see to­day—he just took it from there, gave the idea to Eric Brock­meyer, and when Eric was done with the ren­der­ing all I had to do was pick the color for the top and bless the de­sign—which I did!”

Two years fol­low­ing that chance en­counter, Bob not only had the

’55 Chevy he hadn’t in­tended on hav­ing built, but one that per­forms like no Bel Air con­vert­ible was ever

A BRAND-NEW BOWTIE

in­tended to per­form. But maybe the ic­ing on the spe­cial-oc­ca­sion cake was ar­riv­ing to his wed­ding this past sum­mer in the fresh-outta-the-shop drop-top where he and then-fi­ancée Jus­tine were mar­ried in a cer­e­mony filled with “friends, rock ’n’ roll, and of course plenty of hot rods!”

Bob may have wanted Corvette per­for­mance, which would loosely trans­late into an LS9-based pow­er­train de­pend­ing on what era Vette we’re talk­ing, but the de­ci­sion was made to go with the LSA/6L90e plat­form in­stead—still 6.2 liters of su­per­charged, 580-plus horse­power per­for­mance … but a lit­tle eas­ier on the wal­let. His han­dling as­pect re­quire­ments ob­vi­ously come in the form of an Art Mor­ri­son GT Sport Tri-5 chas­sis com­plete with their pro­pri­etary IFS, power rack steer­ing, fully ad­justable dampers, and Mor­ri­son’s state-of-the-art

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