Words: Stephen K. Anderson
Photography: Scott Killeen
Reprint from Super Rod Magazine, October 2002
FROM THE LOOKS OF THE 20X12-INCH COLORADO CUSTOM SLOTTED SLATER RIMS, AND THE 295/40-20 BFGOODRICH COMP T/AS, YOU HAVE TO FIGURE ONE OF TWO THINGS. EITHER THIS ’56 CHEVY WAS BUILT TO MOVE, WITH BIG POWER LEANING ON THAT TRACTION, OR IT WAS BUILT TO LOOK AT, AND YOU’D BE RIGHT ON BOTH COUNTS.
You know from your first look inside that this is a complete package, with the same unique approach in the details and matching orange-and-white leather. From the polished dash with white-faced gauges to twin roll hoops with racing belts, this ’56 took a new road. An impressive DVD video/audio console gets support from Kicker amps in the side panels and equally fine trunk. The beautiful treatment of the engine compartment, with slick valve covers, air cleaner and other bright spots, disguises the reality of 900 hp. This car is no pretender, despite its radical nature, and that’s certainly part of its appeal.
Having sold their ’33 Ford coupe a short time earlier, Denny and Jennifer Terzich took over a ’56 Chevy Pro Street project his father had started, with the intended goal of winning the Goodguys National Street Machine of the Year award. Then again, a little over a year before the event, and the published date on this magazine, the young couple hadn’t touched the car, which says a lot about the efforts displayed the next year.
Fortunately, Denny Terzich Sr. had built a good number of street rods and other machines over the past 30 years or so, and with the burden of ownership off his shoulders, he was able to see his old ’56 from a new vantage point. While changing course midstream is certainly challenging, it’s obvious from the result that this was the right move for this dual-purpose Chevy.
Father and son teamed up with all sorts of different ideas on how to change the character of this ’56, and while the senior Terzich worked his ways, his son worked alongside him, gaining knowledge as each step of the re-emergence came together. It began with the body, which needed alteration to fir the new chassis. The floor was cut away, since the body would eventually be channeled 3 inches over the frame. It was then attached to a homemade jig to ensure everything would be perfectly square as the frame took shape, and tabs were added as attachment point to the chassis.
The stock frame was mated with rear framerails from S&W, creating an extremely stiff structure to handle other components that had yet to be purchased. The new rails were welded on top of the remaining rear rails, which allowed for U-shaped notch to
clear the eventual exhaust path. Attachment points were created for the S&W control arms and Air Ride Technologies Shock Waves that fix the position of a Currie billet 9-inch stuffed with its 9+posi thirdmember and 4.56 gears-no small feat considering the effect fat traction and big power can have on a chassis. Finally, four-piston Wilwood calipers with integral e-brakes and 12.25-inch rotors deliver the final degree of control.
The front was completely worked over with a front subframe package from Fatman Fabrications, and as can be seen in the rest of the car, detailing was extensive. Tubular versions of Mustang II A-arms were joined with 2-inch dropped spindles and another pair of Air Ride Technologies bags. A 1-inch Speedway Motors sway bar was used in front to keep body roll to a minimum, and huge 13-inch Wilwood brake rotors and six-piston calipers make speed a relative term when applied through 225/40ZR18 BFGoodrich T/As on 18×18-inch Colorados.
As we mentioned, one aspect of this car revolves around performance, and since the chassis was built to function as well as it appears, a powerful engine and transmission combination was almost a given. For that, the Terziches looked to Evanuik Performance Engines in North Versailles, Pennsylvania, and before long, Merlin’s version of the big-block Chevy was fitted with an impressive blend of hardware centered on one goal. Five-hundred and seventy-two ci come by way of a 4.560 bore and a 4.375-inch stroke with Crower billet 6.405 rods and JE 11.5-to-l pistons riding a steel crankshaft.
Summit Racing’s Trick flow R-series head with 340cc chambers were fitted to the block, and a complete Competition Cams valvetrain was utilized. This includes a specially ground cam with 280/287 duration and 0.748 inch of lift with a 112-degree lobe separation. Comp” double valve springs and a combination of 1.6- and 1.7-ration roller rocker arms keep the valves in motion; the billet timing cover is also from Comp Cams. To Grain hood clearance, a Brodix high-rise intake manifold was cut down 2 inches between the top and the base, thus allowing room for the Barry Grant 1145cfm King Demon and a Johnson Rod Shop air cleaner housing.
Other points of interest include the Meziere billet water pump adjoining Zoops billet pulleys, the Milodon oil pan, a Powermaster 145-amp bullet alternator and a trick pair of valve coves emblazoned with ’56 Ford T-birds. Of course, ARP fasteners were used both inside and out, with 12-points adding plenty of detail and reliability. A Be Cool aluminum radiator with twin SPAL 11-inch thermostatically controlled electric fans adds to the reliability factor, once the MSD 6AL digital ignition fires the fuel. Finally, the custom headers from Varacolli Auto Body pass the fumes through 2.123-inch primary tubes and 4-inch collectors to 3-inch exhaust pipes feeding Flowmaster two-chamber mufflers. But rather than running the pipes out back, or to the side under the frame, the Terziches decided to take a unique turn and run the pipes right through the rear quarter panels, just ahead of the tire smoke.
Gear changes are handled by a GM Turbo 400 from Rossler Racing Transmissions with a B&M 10-inch 3,500-stall converter
at one end and a Gear Vendors six-speed overdrive unit at the other. This combination was chosen in favor of a more complex, electronically controlled transmission that would crumble under the load of a true 895 hp at 6,500 rpm, and 782 lb-ft of torque at 5,600 rpm, without nitrous; we can only imagine what happens when the button is pushed on a Nitrous Works 300hp system.
As all of these mechanical elements were coming together, the body was taking shape at Dave Matthews Auto Body in White Oak, Pennsylvania, and as you see here, the work is fantastic. New quarter panels were fitted, with modified stock inner wells retaining the look of an original, while allowing room for the BFGs. The right front fenderwell has also been reworked with a vent to feed the transmission cooler, and the surrounding areas have been cleaned up as well. Further efforts can be seen in the radiator core support, the smoothed firewall and, again, the great-looking air scoop. From underneath you can see the custom belly pans along with a new front pan that blends well with the nose and a modified ’56 bumper with ’55 guards. Beyond that, Ford Ranger hood hinges support the trunk lid, and on either site, clear taillight lenses add a novel touch; look for these in the Trimparts catalog in the months to come, because these were the prototypes. Once the PPG Concept Orange and Chevy Truck white paint had been laid, A&M Soffseal weatherstripping was fitted, along with new windows from Community Glass.
The same combination of orange and white carries over to the interior, with J.C. Auto Trim’s installation of matching leather over Glide Engineering seats, along with the adjoining panels. A special dash insert from Pete’s Fabrication houses Dolphin gauges, and a chrome Billet Specialties tilt steering column completes the link between the Borgeson U-joints and the Colorado Custom steering wheel. Slick Lokar pedals add still more detail below, where tight-loop carpet adds comfort. The audio/video system was installed by Audio Communications in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, and the combination of two Kicker amplifiers feeding an array of speakers placed throughout the interior is impressive. Finally, custom rollbars inspired by an Audi TT were installed behind the seats, along with a five-point racing harness, because as we said, this car was built to run hard, and safe.
With so much taking place in such a limited amount of time, it isn’t surprising to know that the Terzich family came to the Goodguys National with no expectations other than to be a part of the event. They actually finished working on the car at 2 a.m., just before they left for Columbus. Numbed by the yearlong trash of getting everything ready, they young couple was thoroughly overwhelmed when their car was chosen from a special group of cars as the 2002 Street Machine of the Year.
It was only later that the impact of what they had accomplished really set in, and then, at the awards ceremonies, they credited those who had made a difference. This included Denny’s father, without whom this project would never have seen completion, and Denny’s wife, Jennifer, who supported him every step of the way. Thanks to their teamwork, along with the support of numerous friends and companies, the Terziches’ original goals were realized, ant then some. SR
OF ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ASK THE QUESTIONS, “WHAT DO I NEED TO BUILD TO WIN A MAJOR AWARD?” FEW EVER FIND OUT. THE ANSWER IS SUBJECTIVE, TO SAY THE LEAST, BECAUSE THE DECISIONS USUALLY COME DOWN TO PERSONAL TASTE, AND NOBODY CAN PUT A FINGER ON THAT PULSE. AS IT TURNS OUT, MAYBE THE BEST WAY TO FIND OUT WHAT WORKS IS TO CHECK OUT AWARD-WINNING CARS LIKE DENNY AND JENNIFER TERZICH’S ’56 CHEVY. CHOSEN AS GOODGUYS STREET MACHINE OF THE YEAR, THIS CAR WON OUT OVER FOUR OTHER BEAUTIFUL MACHINES, WITH MANY SPECIAL APPROACHES AND FEATURES THAT ALL CAME TOGETHER IN HELPING TO SHAPE THIS UNIQUE MACHINE. BUT INSTEAD OF TELLING YOU ABOUT IT, WE’LL LET THIS SERIES OF BUILDUP SHOTS SHOW YOU. IT’S HERE THAT YOU CAN SEE WHAT WENT INTO THIS WILD AND BEATIFUL MACHINE, AND HOW IT WAS ABLE TO WIN OUT AS THE FINEST STREET MACHINE OF THE BUNCH.
01 After Denny Terzich Sr. moved on from this ’56 Chevy project, his son, Denny Jr., took it to an entirely different place. It was actually un-tubbed to allow room for a different suspension setup and another kind of fat traction.
02 The car has been mocked up to get some ide as to how the ’56 will look with the gian 20-inch rims in place. It looks as if they got it down cold.
03 A well-worn Chevy big block is used for position between the custom firewall and the radiator core support. The front suspension components have been mounted as well, although a great deal of work was to follow.
06 Early in the project, you can see how the firewall was cut away to clear the GM Turbo 400 automatic and the header flanges on either side. Notice the supports for the body and the Gear Vendors overdrive unit.
04 The front frame crossmember was notched to provide additional clearance for the oil pan. Although the crossmember could have been lowered, this approach allows more ground clearance.
07 The trunk floor was cut away to provide clearance for the new framerails and various supports. New tubs were added to clear the road-race-style 295/40-20 Colorado Custom rims and BfGoodrich rubber.
05 Here we can see how the inner rails planned for the original Pro Street approach are being replaced by the rails positioned farther out. Soon the inner rails were no more.
08 Looking rearward as various supports for the floor are being welded in place. From this angle, you can see how the S&W rear framerails have been grafted to the originals directly below.
09 The sheetmetal floor has been created from several panels of 18-gauge sheetmetal, as were the transmission tunnel and firewall. From here, a great deal of effort was necessary to finish it off.
10 The front suspension incorporates Fatman Fabrication’s Mustang II setup with tubular A-arms, dropped spindles and a 1-inch Speedway Motors sway bar that attaches to the lower A-arms.
11 Once the suspension was detailed and joined with Air Ride Technologies’ ShockWaves, a pair of Wilwood 13-inch brake rotors were fitted, along with awesome six-piston calipers that definitely have what it takes.
12 A look at the rear suspension reveals another pair of ShockWaves and Wilwood calipers and rotors that work in combination with the Currie billet rear end.
13 These beautiful handmade headers were built by Varacolli Auto Body using 2.125-inch primary tubes and 4-inch collectors to fully exhaust the eventual power source.
14 You can see how the exhaust opening was initially positioned within the rear quarter panel. This is certainly a high point on this car, and we loved it.
15 It’s come a long way since it was mocked up in the driveway, and there’s plenty left to do. Still, it was looking pretty good at this point, sitting right at ground level.
16 Inspired by the Audi TTs, twin roll hoops provide mounting points for the harnesses while bringing a cool look to the interior. The Glide Engineering seats await upholstery in orange and white leather form J.C. Auto Trim..
17 The body and paint work was handled by Dave Matthews Auto Body, and you can see from the many special details, and the quality of the two-tone orange-and-white paint job, that a great deal of time went into perfecting it.
18 Auto Connection handled the fabrication of the various plastic components, and you can see from the console that good things are in store.
19 Here’s another example of how the speaker grilles were molded in plastic and then finished to match their surroundings.
20 It wasn’t too long after this shot was taken that the Terziches were loading this car for the trip to Columbus, just hours before the show began. They made out fine, taking top honors as Goodguys’ 2002 Street Machine of the Year. SR