Do you think the 1932 Ford is the quintessential hot rod? What about the Cobra roadster? Both are good candidates, but another company is ready to throw yet another hat into the ring. FastGlass55, based in Orange, California, has readied its molds to start producing a complete '55 Chevy!
Lowell Peterson, a hot rodder who has been building and working on old cars in his shop for the past 16 years, knew the molds for this body style had been around for years before he bought them, but since you could still find Tri-Five Chevys for a decent price a decade ago, why would anyone want one made from fiberglass? Well, all you have to do nowadays is turn on a TV and see what is happening to Tri-Five prices at various auctions around the country to figure out the real nice ones are getting snapped up and put into collections, leaving only the dregs for us regular Joes.
Figuring the time was right for his '55, Lowell and his partner/son John dusted off their molds and 'glassed up a demo, which Lowell has been taking to various shows around the country to see what the response would be. He's gotten a few confused looks from those who don't believe there is a need for a 'glass '55, but those are probably the same folks who scoffed at the idea of building a fiberglass '32 Ford three-window, and we all know there are a few of those out there now. Others realize this is the wave of the future. If you want to start out with a brand-new body instead of a 50-year-old beater, then this 'glass '55 is for you!
Folks who follow the Tri-Five market know the '55 is typically the least expensive of the three years offered for this body (the other two being the '56 and the '57). The basic kit from FastGlass55 sells for $14,900 and includes the body, front fenders, hood, trunk lid, plus hung and latched doors. A look inside reveals a complete reinforced floor as well as a steel skeleton structure that surrounds the body's perimeter (including the window openings, pillars, cowl, rocker section, and package tray area). Everything is enclosed in 10-pound-density polyurethane before being 'glassed over. All this extra work makes for one solid car (the doors shut with the loud "thunk" you want). FastGlass55 also offers other 'glass parts to help finish the car, including the front and rear bumpers as well as the dash.
There is already a huge aftermarket parts network for Tri-Fives, where you can get the rest of the parts needed to finish the car (the window regulators, for example), and any original part will fit this body, too. About the only parts not offered in the aftermarket are taillight housings and windshield moldings, but everything else is attainable through a company such as Danchuk.
Since all original parts will work on this body, it will also fit original chassis and frames. However, you know a hot rodder won't want stock items, so aftermarket frame manufacturers such as Art Morrison or Jim Meyer offer a wide selection of tricked-out chassis that would work under this body. FastGlass55 doesn't offer a roller kit at this time, but Lowell wants to see what kind of questions people ask before he rules out what kind of package he'll offer in the future.
Lowell's idea is that you can get down the road for about $29,000, with maybe $40,000 needed to make the ride complete. You, of course, are free to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on your own car if you so desire! It may be a West Coast thing, but right now Lowell is finding more folks interested in having someone build the car for them rather than building it themselves. But Lowell believes there is a facet of the hot rodding world (and maybe even the Gasser crowd) who would be interested in his '55. After all, '32 Fords took the aftermarket 'glass business by storm in the '80s-now there is a '55 Chevy available in 2006!