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1955 Chevy Tri-Five Handyman Wagon – Working Class Car Turned into Royalty

Resto modded Chevy wagon at its best

Chevrolet Tri-Fives are some of the best-looking cars ever put on this Earth. That fact is unarguable. But very few of them are as lovely as this here 1955 Tri-Five Handyman wagon – property of a 34-year member of the Minnesota Street Rod Association, Billy Sampson. Billy, who was always a fan of the 1955s, intended it to be his daily functional ride. However, his Handyman wagon would take a different course.

Sampson first acquired the car from D&P Classic Chevy in Huntington Beach, California, and had it delivered straight to his doorstep in Minnesota. After going with his initial plan at first, he soon had a change of heart. It wasn’t long before Handyman’s body was off the frame and resto modding could commence. Before dealing with the technical stuff, however, Sampson and his friend Gary Wirth had first finished the body work. This immaculate Tri-Five 2-door wagon now sports grille off of a 1957 Corvette, taillight lenses taken from a 1955 Buick, and a one-piece front bumper.

Project was abandoned after that. Sampson recalls his Tri-Five wagon had served as an empty beer can container for a while. Luckily, Brandon Hansen – another one of his friends – helped put the project back on tracks. Beer cans received their eviction notice and Handyman was ready for the final stages of its makeover. This is when it had received a signature dip in the beltline. A feat every Tri-Five besides a wagon possesses. Every one besides Sampson’s Handyman wagon, that is.

Most of the frame and suspension work was done using stock parts. A GM 10-bolt rearend with 3.73:1 ring-and-pinion, leaf springs and QA1 shocks can be found at the back. Meanwhile, TCI 2-inch dropped spindles and cut coil springs can be found up front. 18-inch American Racing Torq Thrust five-spoke wheels adorn the rear, while 17-inch units sit on both sides of the hood. Both are wrapped in BF Goodrich g-Force tires. Front wheels hide GM disks, while rear wheels rely on good old drums.

Main role in the engine compartment belongs to a 383 cu in Chevy small-block carbureted V8. Just as it should. Steve Murgic at Murgics Automotive in Rosemount, Minnesota is responsible for whopping 390 horsepower it produces, however. Dart heads, a Scat crank, an Edelbrock manifold, and a 750 CFM carburetor are the main parts of the setup. Rest of it consists of Sanderson cast small-block headers, Troy Boettcher’s Jet-Hot–coated exhaust pipes, and Flowmaster 50 Series mufflers. Master Transmission in Rosemount is responsible for the 700-R4 transmission.

Finally, finishing exterior touches like the Viper Red and Black Granite paint combo are a courtesy of Ron Gorrell and his team at Unique Body & Paint. You’ll also notice a rather unconventional dash made by Brandon Hansen again. It’s the original Tri-Five Handyman dashboard minus circular double humps, and with added 1955 truck’s flat top hump. Mullins instrumentation, and Mark Walter’s Upholstery Specialties’ 1965 GTO seats and Corvette carpet round up what definitely is one incredible restoration. Billy Sampson must be proud of his Tri-Five Handyman.

Categories: Classic Cars, Tuner & Custom Cars

Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Although driving a piece of junk, Nikola is a true car enthusiast. Precious few things move him as muscle cars do – especially those from the bygone golden era. Which makes him wonder; why wasn’t he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he’s been able to enjoy the likes of Pontiak Aztek, Fiat Multipla, and their “lovely” coevals this way – right? (sigh)