1956 Chevy…A Junkyard Dog
For more than a few car enthusiasts, the 1956 Chevrolet was the bow-tie trademark and the most beautiful model ever. The ’56 makes a great canvas on which to create a hot rod Masterpiece, and that’s just what he had in mind when he went looking for a Boyd Coddington Junkyard Dog on behalf of client Ron Pratte. The result was the car that launched American Hot Rod, which chronicled its creation over the show’s first four episodes. This Dog really did come out of a junkyard-in fact, it was the second of two very worn fifty-sixes that Boyd and the crew hauled out of an auto graveyard. The first, regrettably, was more than a memory and so riddled with rust that it couldn’t be resurrected. Boyd was lucky to find a more favorable specimen: as he remarked at the beginning of the search, “There aren’t many of these around.”
The second one wasn’t without its problems. Even in southern California, a 50 years isn’t kind to an automobile. For the most part, the body retains the stock sheet metal, except where the late master sheet metal worker Roy Schmidt and his crew replaced the floor pan, patched places that an overnight acid bath revealed were too far gone to be refinished, and replaced old body lead with new lead in seams and joints. “These days they use Bondo to fill the seams because it’s cheaper and easier,” Roy explained. “But we’re going to do it the old school way.” After straightened to perfection the Junkyard Dog was covered with tasteful DuPont Boyd red and white paint in the factory-style two-tone scheme.
Boyd decided to drop the body onto an entirely new chassis, an Art Morrison design. The original would have taken too much time out of the tight forty-day schedule for the build. The sheet metal men also fabricated a new firewall, since the old one would never have accommodated the new GM 502 cu. in. Ramjet engine, electronically fuel injected and rated at over 500 hp. The big-block mill sends power through a five-speed Richmond transmission to an independent 9-inch Ford rear axle and a pair of 18-inch tires.
The relatively mild appearance is offset with an aggressive wheel/tire combination consisting of 17×7-inch fronts and 18×10-inch rear diggers. Boyds Wheels of course, while tires are Goodyear Eagle F1s measuring in at 245/45-17 up front and 295/45-18 on the rear. The body boasts pristine trim and great fit-and-finish, but there are a few refined mods. The rear bumper is a Nomad selected for it’s license plate recess to counter the need to mount a plate on the deck lid, like the factory did, bumper bolts have all been shaved for a smooth appearance. The stance is aggressive, thanks to the Morrison chassis and the perfect Boyd wheel and tire combination.