1955 Chevrolet 210 Handyman – Journey’s with Jeff
From Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, the lowest point of elevation in North America, to the summit of Pikes Peak, Jeff Thisted’s 1955 Chevrolet 210 Handyman has been everywhere.
You may recognize Jeff as he is the live-event host for some of the biggest car shows in the United States, including Hot Rod Power Tour, the C-10 Nationals and announces AutoCross at a number of events organized by the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.
Jeff has always been a fan of wagons. Prior to the ‘55, he owned a 1968 Chevy Impala wagon that he ended up selling due to vast amounts of rust. “I first found the ‘55 for sale on eBay almost 10 years ago and fell in love. It was in good condition, and the paint and interior essentially looked the same as they do now,” he explains.
People tend to incorrectly call the wagon a nomad. Jeff’s particular model is known as a “Handyman” – a lower-priced, two-door station wagon that was offered by Chevrolet through 1957. Jeff’s goal when he first began the 1955 Chevrolet 210 Handyman project was to build it into a hot rod he could drive anywhere. He has since exceeded that goal.
What may appear to be a typical 1955 Chevy is actually chock-full of performance parts. The 350ci small-block has been equipped with an Edelbrock Performer intake, Holley Sniper EFI, with a K&N air filter topping it off. Jeff also went with Blueprint aluminum cylinder heads due to their proven ability to make more power. Bolted up behind the engine is a 700R4 transmission putting the power down through an Eaton Posi limited-slip differential with 3.70:1 gears.
The wagon’s old shocks have been replaced with new ones by QA1 to improve the overall ride quality. A crucial upgrade, as Jeff drives the grocery getter on all sorts of roads in various conditions. The Continental Extreme Contact DWS06 tires are mounted on American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels, adding to the classic look of the Chevy. Of course, stopping power is also important when climbing down a mountain such as Pikes Peak. Jeff used Wilwood 12.19-inch front disc brakes with a Wilwood master cylinder for the application then left the factory rear drums alone.
“My favorite memories are driving the ‘55 out to Colorado to visit my family. I’ve hit the old Route 66, the north & south rim of the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde National Park, the Four Corners, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Pikes Peak summit – 14,115 feet, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Zion National Park, Death Valley National Park, Badwater Basin -282 feet below sea level, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Yosemite National Park. And that’s just this year,” Jeff explains.
It is clear that Jeff is not afraid to put some serious miles on the 63-year-old wagon. Yet, no matter how many adventures he embarks on, the Chevy has proven to be incredibly reliable throughout it all.
In terms of what’s next for the ‘55, Jeff says his dream would be to purchase a Roadster Shop chassis and eventually replace the subdued small-block with an LS7. Talk about an upgrade.
For now, he plans on continuing to cruise the old wagon as often as he can. Keep racking up those miles and enjoying the journey, Jeff!