November 24, 2017

Old School Cool

Posted on August 23, 2012 by in Classic Rides, Man Cave

Old School Cool

1955 Chevy Belair

My #1 son- in- law called me last Friday afternoon and told me of a local car show in nearby Alvin, TX, so I packed up my camera and met him and my daughter at the show. This show was a combination of early and late model cars, trucks, and motorcycles and it was in full swing when we arrived.  Despite being only 9:00am the Texas heat was oppressive.  We strolled around for a bit before stumbling into a black and white 55 Chevy Belair.  I’m drawn to the tri-fives because it’s what I grew up seeing my older brother (Skipper) driving and working on all of the time. The simplicity of the black and white color combination belies the real beauty of this 55 Chevy.  It’s like someone had taken a classic car and updated it with all of the modern amenities to make it faster, safer, and more comfortable, while keeping it showroom new.  The car was built by Johnny Patke and his son’s Donnie and Ronnie of Pearland, Texas over an eight year period.  Let’s break it down and see how they did it.Big Head Caps

 If you need a hat that fits…this is the place to go!


The two tone paint job was painted by Eric’s Custom Finishes 1806 Stone Road in Pearland, Texas.  It features GM white on top and GM black on the bottom.  When purchased, the body and front clip was acid dipped to remove the years of accumulated paint and rust.  Mr. Patke said that when he bought the car some eight years ago it was maroon and gray and had some problems with rust here and there.  He said that he had to cut out and replace the trunk deck floor area due to rust.  He and his sons worked many hours sanding repairing and smoothing out the body to get it ready for paint.


This was a frame up restoration. After taking the body off the frame, it and the front suspension as well the rear end were powder coated black for rust prevention.  The rear end is a 12 bolt posi-track with 3.73 gearing off of a 1969 Chevy Camaro.  The rear end has drum brakes and the front brakes are hard stopping disc brakes.  The front suspension is an updated version of the factory suspension.

                                                             Engine:1955 Chevy Belair

The small block 350 cubic Chevy was over bored .30 making it a 355 cubic inch motor.  It has a very healthy cam lope at idle.  The engine features an Elderbrock high rise aluminum intake and four barrel carburetor.  The valve covers are aluminum, and spark is provided by a MSB brand ignition and a Continental 12 volt battery.  The battery is concealed by a chromed battery box from Classic Chevy Parts.  The engine was dyno tested at Pearland high school after it was installed in the car and showed 335 horsepower at the rear wheels, with an estimated 400+ hp at flywheel.   It was assembled by Dale Bridges of Custom Performance Engines in Houston, Texas.  The cooling for this small block power house comes from a Griffin aluminum radiator, and two 10″ electric fans.  Moving rearward from the engine is a Performance brand clutch with a (Scatter-shield) bell housing, and then a Muncie four speed manual transmission.  The transmission is topped with a Hurst brand chromed shift lever and white shift knob.

Interior:1955 Chevy Belair

He used a black and silver color scheme for the upholstery. The black and silver bucket seats are out of a 2005 Pontiac GTO. The rear seat is upholstered to match the front and the custom made console, (complete with convenience lights) is from Salbana Custom and Classic upholstery. It is well appointed indeed and features an under dash air conditioning unit from Vintage Air. The windows are from Classic Chevy Parts and were tinted light black by John Simmons of Tomball, Texas.

 Wheels & Tires:1955 Chevy Belair

The front tires are (2.25 x 60 x R-17) by Extreme Performance mounted on a special 8″ custom ordered American Racing Mag wheel. They features a custom offset so the larger tires could be used on the classic 55 Chevy without tubbing the wheels wells to make them fit correctly. Custom order 10″ (offset) American Racing Mag wheels are mated to (2.75 x 75 x R-17) Extreme Performance tires are mounted on the rear.

Mr. Patke said that he got some help with this build from Wayne’s Hotrod Shop in Pearland, Texas but most of the work was done by him and his sons in their large man cave. And their man cave is something else! I had the pleasure to see it during this photo shoot, and it had all of the amenities that a man could want to be happy.

 “The only thing I didn’t see in this man cave was a juke box.”

 Till next time, be safe out there and if you see this 55 Chevy cruising by, take time to wave, honk and give him a thumbs up, because it’s really a GOOD THING to save cars like this from metal recyclers.

 Juniors Boy

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