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In the Garage: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible owned by Ron Wozny
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Wozny’s striking Bel Air would be enticing enough to collectors since it is one of the fabled “Tri-Five” (1955-56-57) Chevys. But his ride also contains an optional, numbers-matching “RPO 411” engine, a 265-cubic-inch V-8 with dual four-barrel carburetors that, according to Wozny, puts out “a rousing 245 horsepower.”
The powerplant’s design was the work of engineering genius Zora Arkus-Duntov, charged by Chevrolet with developing a high-horsepower V-8 for the then-struggling six-cylinder Corvette. Thanks to his work, the 1956 Corvette’s newfound power made it a true sports car and the rest is history. Wozny says his convertible is “engineered with the famous Duntov cam(shaft), solid lifters, oversized lightweight valves, a dual-point distributor and dual exhaust. Matched with a column-mounted three-speed manual transmission that serves to enhance peak performance, it cruises effortlessly down the highway.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
For over two decades
WHERE HE FOUND IT
Wozny says the Chevy was a “barn find” in Frenchtown, N.J.
“Although it was a complete car when I purchased it,” he says, “it needed to be fully restored. I was confident that it was worth doing a complete body-off restoration. And so began a seemingly endless challenge. I disassembled the entire car. With car parts all over the house, I needed more room so I expanded the garage. With the support of my wife, Kim, and the help of our three boys, after more than three years, the project was finally completed. The result: a completely restored, numbers-matching, beautiful convertible that is factory-correct in every way.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“The rewards of completing a project like this outweigh all the challenges tenfold,” he advises.
Wozny says the car is “priceless” to him because he remembers the sight of his three sons “taking turns holding the first-place trophy on the way home from our first car show.” The Hagerty price guide says a similar Chevrolet convertible with the standard V-8 engine is currently worth an average of $64,904.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“The RPO 411 high-performance powerplant set new records at the Pikes Peak run and was dubbed ‘The Hill Flattener,’” Wozny says. “This $260 option on top of a $2,344 base price for a convertible set the buyer back over $2,600. There were 41,268 Chevy convertibles produced in 1956 and this particular one rolled off the Tarrytown (NY) assembly line on May 20,1956. All that said, it is the combined family effort and support that makes this car very special to us.”