- The Washington Times - Friday, April 21, 2000

Chevrolet's second effort at making a V-8 engine came in 1955 and it was as successful as the first effort in 1917 was a failure.
Everything Chevrolet tried in 1955 seemed to succeed. A 12-volt electrical system was introduced, along with a lighter, yet stiffer frame. A totally new body was 2 and 1/2-inches lower than the previous models.
The 1955 Chevrolets looked good, were fast, yet reliable and sold like hot cakes. Chevrolet's slogan for 1955 was "The Hot One" and evidently was believable since the Indianapolis 500 race was paced by a 1955 Chevrolet.
Timmy Vaughn learned about his parents' 1955 Chevrolet like most kids learn about their parents' cars, by riding in the back seat with his two brothers, Michael and Clay, and by seeing who got the window seat.
By the time the 1980s arrived, the brothers' father, James Vaughn, had long since parted with his 1955 Chevrolet.
Mr. Vaughn says Timmy had acquired a small block 350 V-8 from a 1973 Chevrolet truck and had it punched out to 60 over. He then had the hopped-up engine balanced and blueprinted. "It was probably a 425-horsepower engine," Mr. Vaughn says.
Timmy then spent the next 2 and 1/2 years searching for a 1955-56-57 Chevrolet to hot rod. Most of the ones he saw were rusted out relics or ridiculously priced.
In early 1984 he found a 1955 Chevrolet 210 two-door sedan that had been purchased new at Chevy Chase Chevrolet by a Kensington man. The base price was $1,874 for the 3,130-pound car.
After a couple of decades, age sneaked up on the owner and he swapped the car in exchange for the skills of a carpenter during a remodeling project.
The carpenter kept the Chevrolet seven years, the last five stored in a St. Mary's County tobacco barn.
That is where Timmy found the 16-foot, 3 and 1/2-inch-long Chevrolet. At that time it was 39 years old and had been driven 39,000 miles. Mr. Vaughn tried to dissuade his son from buying the car since the owner wanted more than the car cost brand new.
Mr. Vaughn says his son told him it was the best car he had seen in 2 and 1/2-years and he was tired of looking. He bought the car and drove it home to Upper Marlboro, Md., with his father following in a pickup truck.
Under the engine hood was a 235.5-cubic-inch "New Blueflame" six-cylinder engine that produced 136-horsepower. It was attached to an extra cost optional PowerGlide transmission with a gear shift pattern from the left of: Park-Neutral-Drive-Low-Reverse.
Mr. Vaughn had a few friends who were knowledgable about cars take a look at the car. They all agreed it was too nice to cut up for a hot rod.
After they expressed their views, Timmy reluctantly had to agree. "It was worth more at it was," Mr. Vaughn says, "than what it would have been as a hot rod."
Timmy then turned his attention toward restoration. However, before he had time to accomplish much toward his new goal, he was killed in a traffic accident in the summer of 1984.
"The car sat for a year," Mr. Vaughn recalls as the family reeled from the tragedy.
In 1985 Mr. Vaughn decided to go ahead with the restoration project that his son Timmy had planned. He built a garage and got started on the project.
All of the stainless trim pieces were in perfect condition and had only to be buffed to a like-new sheen. All of the chrome trim was sent off for replating.
Mr. Vaughn then attacked the body and stripped it down. With the paint removed, he found a rust-free car that had never been wrecked. The original owner had kissed the garage door a time or three with the fenders, but that minor damage was easily repaired by Mr. Vaughn's talented bodyman Donnie Goreman.
The serial numbers revealed the Chevrolet had been built in Baltimore, leaving the factory wearing a coat of sea mist green the paint it still wore.
The optional extras the car had when new include:
Clock.
Lighter.
PowerGlide.
Vent shades.
Deluxe heater.
Gas door guard.
Electric wipers.
No glare mirror.
Exhaust deflector.
Traffic light viewfinder.
Chrome license plate frames.
"The car is clean as a pin," Mr. Vaughn relates. "It's always been clean."
As for the upholstery, since the seat material would rip whenever is was sat upon, new material for the seats was on order for a year. Nevertheless, the headliner and windlacing remains original. The original rubber floor mat emblazoned with countless Chevrolet bow-ties is unavailable, so Mr. Vaughn carpeted the floor using matieral found on the more expensive Bel Air models. Another friend, Pete Dillard made the upholstery all blend together.
Since this is a 210 model, the dashboard is painted in a two-tone color scheme without any chrome as the Bel Air would have. Under the dashboard are a pair of individually-controlled underdash air vents.
As Mr. Vaughn was getting all the refurbished pieces back together for reassembly, the Mattos Automotive Pait Co. offered to mix and donate the original color paint. Unfortunately, the painter somehow botched the job, delivering a slightly two-tone car to Mr. Vaughn.
In response, Mattos mixed another two gallons of the sea mist lacquer. This time Mr. Vaughn had Victor Mori apply the paint after stripping the first attempt.
Of course, time was critical now since Mr. Vaughn had pre-registered the car in his son's name at the Maxon Dixon Classic Chevy car show in Ocean City on June 9, 1991.
The Chevrolet was re-re-painted in the nick of time. Mr. Vaughn had just enough time to reassemble the car and enter it at the show where it placed second.
Since then, the car has received either first or second place trophies at countless shows.
Rolling along on original-style B.F. Goodrich 6.70x15-inch Silvertowns Mr. Vaughn says, "It's easy on gas." He reports fuel economy of a hair over 21 mpg.
Because the original owner decided not to pay for the optional oil filter, the car still does not have one since Mr. Vaughn restored it to original condition. The engine takes five quarts of oil.
The problem Mr. Vaughn has, following the first day of 2000 when he retired from the National Institutes of Health, is mileage. "How do you keep a low mileage car low mileage," he asks. The odometer just recently rolled over 41,000 miles.
"Ive always showed the car in good faith in Timmy's name," Mr. Vaughn says. "I think I've accomplished everything he wanted to do with the car."

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