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31 May 2022

Some people like a certain make or model of car, but then there are guys like Paul Boden who are simply obsessed.

Some people like a certain make or model of car, but then there are guys like Paul Boden who are simply obsessed

Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Rixsta Sammons

It would be fair to say that Paul Boden is a fan of ’55 Chevs. It would also be fair to say that sentence is a complete understatement. He’s not just a fan of ’55s, butis also somewhat obsessed with them, and has been ever since he first saw the iconic Two-Lane Blacktop on the big screen many years ago. However, somewhat ironically, he’s never owned a clone of the tough black two-door ’55 that’s the hero car of the movie,despite owning no less than 10 ’55s in his time. Five of those are still in his ownership today, although from that impressive collection, one thing was missing … a pro-streeter.

So around four years ago, Paul set out to sort this significant Chevrolet deficiency. Being more than happy to import a car and go through the process of getting it on the road, the hunt began abroad for the right car to fill that pro-street gap. What he found may not have been totally right, as far as something he’d be happy to drive exactly as it was, but it was the perfect base for him to build from to create what he had been envisaging. The big selling point was that somewhere in the car’s history, it had been back halved,meaning the stock rear chassis rails were cut off behind the driver’s seat and replaced with rails far closer to one another. This allowed for the car to sit down low over 15×15-inch wheels, giving it the purposeful look Paul was after. The pastel purple paint on the car, however, was not something he ever wanted, nor saw himself owning, so once it landed, the strip down and prep for the rebuild began.



Having had more cars panelled and painted than most, Paul had all the right contacts for this part of the build, Matt Hayden from Raceway Total Panel Repairs in Upper Hutt being one of them. Although it was the black ’55 in Two-Lane Blacktop that got him hooked on ’55s, there was never a plan to make a replica, although in Paul’s mind there’s no better colour for a pro-street ’55 than black. “I’m so happy with the way the car looks and Matt and his team have done a fantastic job in making that happen,” says Paul. “I put my trust in him and it has paid off in spades.” That high praise is well deserved too, as the ugly purple is now a thing of the past, replaced with the black and white Paul requested. Tri-five fans may also notice that the paint work has been broken up by the addition of reproduction Bel Air stainless trim. What they likely don’t notice though is that the rear guards have also been pumped out to allow 31×18.5×15 Mickey Thompson rear tyres to slide underneath.

Before the car was dropped to Raceway, Paul Knight of Classic Auto Restorations was called on to work a little bit of his sheet metal magic. While he’s a master of his craft,in this case thankfully not a whole lot of work was required. Instead, his sheet metalworking expertise was limited to replacing the rear floor pans and patching the floor of the car from where the American-spec roll cage was removed. As with the paintwork, Paul is highly complimentary of the metal work performed, telling us, “Paul is a magician when it comes to metal work on cars and I’m really pleased to have had him work on this car.” Sadly, with new carpets fitted all round, no one will ever get to see just how good the workmanship is.

What they will see is what’s under the hood, and that imposing bonnet scoop, although it may not be what they expect. With Paul owning so many cars over the years — Chevs in particular — he’s got more Chev engine knowledge than most and knows what it takes to build a seriously tough motor. But in saying that, he never wanted a big power motor for this car. With both dedicated circuit cars as well as — you guessed it — a ’55 Chev drag car in the collection, there was no need to compromise a good streeter by going over the top with power. Instead, all he wanted was something that made the right noises and had enough power to give a little fun on the odd occasion it’s required. The only other requirement was that it needed to be an old-school type engine to be more fitting for the overall style of the build, rather than a modern LS, or similar. “LS-type engines are easy and not that I wanted to make it hard for myself, but there is something cool about old-school tough engines,” laughs Paul, and he’s right.

So, with these requirements in mind, the perfect starting point was the big block that came with the car when purchased, although there’s now little left from that package. Paul stripped the lot down and had the block machined before it was reassembled with fresh stock-style internals. The heads it came with were also freshened and reassembled before being fitted back to the block. The fuelling side of things was taken care of by a custom fuel tank and a Holley Black electric fuel pump that feeds through new fuel lines to a Holley regulator, before landing at a Holley 850CFM four-barrel carb. From here fuel is met with spark provided by an MSD distributor and MSD 6AL ignition system, before being expelled through two-inch headers. The noise level and sound level that Paul was after is exactly what he got, thanks to a combination of three-inch pipes and Flowmaster mufflers, and the sound it emits is just right, not over the top, but not exactly subtle either.

Like many tough street and circuit cars to come out of the Wellington region, Al MacLennan and his team at Macbilt Engineering had a hand in the build, finessing various mechanical aspects, like the suspension and brakes. While the suspension had been four-linked in America, it wasn’t up to scratch, so was recreated entirely. Al’s a master of his craft and always a gentleman to deal with, a statement backed up by Paul. “I’ve got to thank him for his patience with some of my crazy ideas while building this car. Nothing is ever a problem for him, so he’s my ‘go-to’ guy, not only on this project but also a lot of others as well.” That praise can also be dished in the same direction of Paul’s go-to parts guy, Shane Johnson of 1st Auto Parts, who supplied many of the parts required.

The build all-up took just under four years to complete, with Paul doing as much as possible at home between other commitments. Now that it’s on the road, and freshly LVV certified by Danny McKenna, he’s been out and about in it clocking up the miles to make the last of the summer sun. Having planned the build-out from the beginning, it’s no surprise it turned out exactly as he’d hoped. Paul being Paul though, he’s already deep into the planning of the next project before this one had even hit the road …

This article originally appeared in NZV8 issue No. 204