Q: Hi Greg and I feel the only vehicle less thought of nowadays more than a station wagon is a van! Well, I found a 1969 GMC Window Van about five years ago and mostly restored it. But I got tired of it and located a true barn find on Craigslist; a 1955 Chevy 210 Townsman station wagon with 74,000 original miles. I paid $10K for it and put another $15k into it and it is safe to drive and gets a lot of attention.
I always wanted a 1950's Ford, but the parts are too scarce. My family always had Ford station wagons, and I wanted one as an adult. In High School I drove a 1962 Ford Galaxie wagon and in college a 1965 Ford 500, which was a very plain sedan. However, a 1936 Chevy 2-door was my everyday driver and I always hoped to get one again, but never did.
Also, I owned a 1966 Dodge A-106 van that I converted to a camper and drove to Florida many times. Back in 1972 or so, my Dad bought a Chevy van conversion by Open Road. I ended up tearing it out and rebuilt it. Dad didn't like it, so I ended up with it. I also owned a few Honda Scooters and a 160 Scrambler.
When I turned 50 years old I got the "motorcycle" bug and started buying, repairing and flipping Triumph 500s. I also built a museum quality 750 Bonnie, but I couldn't ride it because I was so short. My brother-in-law had Harley Davidson Chopper that I borrowed to prove I could handle a big bike. I then bought a lowered 883 that I didn't keep that long. Next, I bought a Dyna Lowrider and then what I still have today - a 2003 Harley 100th Anniversary Heritage Classic.
I couldn't get used to my second wife riding on the back, so we converted it to a Trike. It has Champion Kit, which we just love!
Which brings us up to about five years ago. My family business started to do much better and there was money to be spent on all the toys of yesteryear. First was an eBay find of the 1969 GMC Window Van I mentioned above. My in-house mechanic rebuilt the engine and tranny, but it made too much noise as it needed the interior finished. My wife said to get rid of it, but it did lead to today's ride, my ’55 Chevy 210 Station Wagon.
I thought I would spend the winter looking in the trades for a Ford station wagon as I was always a Ford guy. However, no sooner did I sell the GMC van that the ad in Craigslist for the 1955 Chevy 210 Wagon showed up. It was advertised for $12K, I paid (the aforementioned) $10K, and then spent $1200 to get it inspected as a passenger car. Now it is dual registered as an antique and passenger car so I can have a vanity plate on it.
My father-in-law was an old standard transmission guy and he suggested I modernize it to make it safer, so I went back to the garage that worked on my van and I was lucky that they had a young man, 30 or so, who loved working on these older cars. Once shopping for parts, I realized that having a "Tri-Five" Chevy was much easier to repair than any Ford.
I added springs, shocks, brakes, electronic ignition, all new glass, new Dakota gauges, new front end parts, and new radial tires. The wheels were sand blasted and powder coated black at our own steel shop. The Tri Five years (1955 to 1957) Chevrolets can't be beat!
How long will we keep it? That’s hard to say as I am always looking at 60's Mustangs, Divco Milk trucks, early T-Birds, Jeep Wagoneers and maybe even a van again.
Even with all these vehicles, I was never a "show" guy. I'd rather be out on the road. I took the van to one show, nobody cared, and I took the Chevy to a Shriners Car Show and it was just okay. Sunday afternoons are better spent riding with the wife and dog!
FYI- We live in what's called South County, Rhode Island. It is the surfing capitol of the Northeast, so it really turns heads when they see my ’55 Chevy Wagon. Once a month, I drive it back and forth from Lynn, MA to Charlestown, RI. Never over 62-MPH though, and she's a great ride.
Thanks Greg for all your interesting nostalgia car columns. We love them. Alan Kline, Charlestown, Rhode Island.
A: Alan, letters like yours keep me going writing these weekly columns. Your appreciation for a Chevy even though you are a Ford guy proves that regardless of make, you can enjoy this hobby again and again.
Your recollection of the many vehicles and motorcycles you have owned is much appreciated and makes for some good reading. Thanks much for your photos and the extra information you provided on you ’55 210 wagon with the “Blue Flame” 6-cylinder engine. She’s a real beauty.