RADICAL IN RED
Hot Rod|October 2021
Spot All The Changes Made to This 1956 Chevy
Tim Bernsau

The trophy they gave to Don Gira’s 1956 Chevy at the 2020 Grand National Roadster Show said it right on the front: Radical Hardtop/ Sedan ’55‐’59. For Don, radical wasn’t always the plan—it’s just where things went with his middle year Tri-Five Chevy.

Don is more than a car guy. “I’m addicted to adrenaline,” he told us, and he has always been into any machine that moves under the power of an engine. In addition to his long lifetime list of streetcars, he’s raced all kinds of drag cars at all the historic Southern California tracks. His passion goes beyond four wheels and solid ground. He’s raced dirt bikes and drag boats and flown planes.

Don spotted the raw material for this project, half covered and parked alongside a house while taking a detour on his work commute. “Not for sale,” the owner told him the first and second time he asked about it. The third time, he brought along enough cash to strike a deal. He discovered that the Chevy, a 210 sedan, had been set up for drag racing, but Don wasn’t planning to build that kind of adrenaline delivery system. This time, his goal was to turn it into a cool low-key cruiser.

The first modification made was a 3-inch top chop—or rather an attempted chop. “After three months of prodding the body shop where the car was, I went to look at the car and I was shocked,” he said. “It was cut in all the wrong places and they couldn’t figure out how to put it back together.”

He got his car out of that shop as fast possible and began looking for a builder who could fix the botched top. Someone recommended JV Enterprises in Azusa, California. Once Vince Borzilieri and his builders got the top started, more ideas started bubbling up and the project was on the road to something beyond what Don had dreamed of. With a bold 3 inches sliced out of the top; the lower portion of the body had to keep up with a few modifications.

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