BUILDING A 1956 OLDS ROCKET 88 CUSTOM
When I was in High School, my first car was a 56 Olds.
While I can't do anything about getting older, I can sure surround myself with things that were around when I was young. Boy oh Boy, do they bring back memories.
I purchased this car from a nice Gentleman in Arizona
and had it trucked to my Ranch , here on the Washington Coast.
I had not driven the car a mile when it became very apparent that there was a host of things that could be done to improve overall operation.
The car had undergone a fairly good restoration before it fell into my clutches but, as the former owner indicated, it really needed a fresh paint job and some other mechanical upgrades and repairs.
I really wanted to drive the car allot and thought it would be smart to incorporate some newer technology in the form of suspension, tires, brakes and drivetrain.
After finding a local Wizard who turned out some really outstanding customs, It was decided to start from scratch and thus a rebuild was commissioned and the improved Olds started to take shape.
The engine replacement was to be a GM, LS1 Fuel injected V8 with an automatic four speed transmission.
The interior was to be modified to include six way leather seats from a 75 Caddie and a new steering system with a Mopar tilt and telescoping steering wheel. New dash gagues and sound system will round out the modifications inside while a new Heidt, IFS Mustang ll front suspension complete with disc brakes would be included in order to improve handling. A nine in
Ford rear end, new drive shaft and a ton of body work would round out the rebuild and modifications.
As of this writing, the car has been completed and currently
working out a few bugs
Builder of the Year, Don Richardson
The completed Olds at a photo shoot for "Super Rod Mag"
A close examination would reveal the extent of the body work. Current tolerances on all door, hood and trunk gaps are better than any Lexus.
During the build, I was able to locate a source for OEM trim. The headlight bezels, tail light lenses, Rocket 88 badges and some trim are brand new. I'm sure this is responsible for the better economy.
The LS1 engine is a real thrill to feel under the hood. The performance is far superior to my 90 Corvette and gas mileage is around 24mpg. The cars weight is now under 4000 lbs due to the frame modifications and the Aluminum engine and tranny. The original weight was 4300 lbs.
Concept Drawing of the 56 Olds by Jason Rushforth of Tacoma Washington
Car has been lowered three inches giving it a much different stance.
Front wheels are 18 inches while the rears 20 inch.
The idea was to make the car safe to drive so the entire front suspension was removed and has been
replaced with a Heidt IFS, Mustang ll clone.
A Ford rear end and rebuilt leaf springs are included.
Suspension mods also include Competition Engineering traction bars to prevent leaf spring warp under hard acceleration.
The front bumper is what really makes this car for me.
I have had it modified and rechromed.
The grill has had a large center post removed and custom grill has been fabricated from aluminum and cut with a plasma cutter to exactly fit the opening.