MIDDLE Child
Drive!|April 2021
Child An Old School Build Caught Between Two Icons
ALAN PARADISE
The firstborn gets all of the attention. The last born gets all of the pampering, as well as the benefits from the lessons parents, learned raising their older children. It’s the middle child who must find his or her own way.

As it is in a family, so it went in the ’50s within the Chevrolet Division of General Motors. When the ’55 models were introduced, there was a great rumble that rippled throughout the entire auto industry. The modern Motoramic styling matched with a new Turbo-Fire V-8 engine had thirsty consumers running into showrooms. Likewise, the stunning ’57 was styled at the apex of the tailfin era and fitted with the new 283 cid engine that could be optioned with fuel injection.

As the decades rolled past, both the ’55 and ’57 Chevy models became iconic cars. Some were centerpieces of movies and television shows. The ’56, on the other hand, became the forgotten middle child. In retrospect, many historians now view the styling of the ’56 as the most pleasing of the three. With its elongated egg-crate grille, gentle rear wheel well slope and unique body trim, all giving the profile the illusion of motion, it was the ideal combination of fashion and function.

In the ’60s and ’70s, thousands of 1955-57 Chevys were modified and customized. These cars were a staple of every North American cruising and street race scene. No place was the action more intense than Southern California. It was here where budding drag racer Dominic Cardoza was an active participant. While his dragster days progressed from gas to Top Fuel, he built a smoothly running ’56 210 as a daily driver. Racer by weekend and mechanic for a Dodge dealer in La Mesa, California during the week, his Nassau Blue and India Ivory coupe was a common sight in and around club and competition events.

As priorities and tastes shifted, Cardoza let go of his ’56. Some long-timers say it was because he progressed into a more serious SoCal Top Fuel driver. Whatever his reasons, the sweet little two-door, sporting a hot small-block, four-speed and Corvette Rally Wheels disappeared into the California woodwork.

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