Rich Purdie's 1959 Chevy Biscayne
(from Volume 19, Issue 214)

Every car has a history to it, and for this 1959 Chevy Biscayne now belonging to Rich Purdie it started back in 2002 when he first saw this black beauty at the Goodguys National in Columbus, Ohio, when it belonged to someone else. The lines of a ’59 are one of a kind, and Rich feels that you can’t go wrong with black, red and chrome. The ’59 appeared in a magazine in 2003, and when Rich saw it, he tried to buy the car. But the builder, Bob Lowe of Springfield, Missouri, was not ready to sell. Rich kept the magazine, and gave Bob another call around Christmas of 2010. Bob still had the car, was willing to sell, so a deal was made.

The classic look of the Chevy was retained, though with some modifications. The hood was nosed, ornaments were removed from the front fenders, and they discarded the Biscayne emblems. Then the body was prepped for primer and final painting of the slick black PPG single stage paint. The rest of the body parts, such as the grille and bumpers, were restored and installed. White’s Auto Trim of Springfield, Misouri installed the lipstick red ultra leather stitched in a traditional tuck ‘n roll design, and the dash was sprayed a matching semi-gloss red. Vintage Air keeps everything cool during the hot months.

The car was lowered with 2-inch dropped spindles from Fatman Fabrications, the original springs were discarded in favor of units from Air Ride Technologies, with Bilstein shocks on all four corners. The steering was improved with a Saginaw power steering box, and the brakes were updated to SSBC 6-piston units in front and 4-pistons in the rear, with slotted rotors all around. The Chevy rides on one-off Center Line wheels, with 18x8 inch rims wearing 235x402r18 rubber in the front, and the 20x10 inch rear rims wrapped in 215x35zr20 tires.

The small block 350 Chevy engine got warmed over with a kit from Summit Racing, who provided the extra engine components to make the 350 a strong running 383 with a steel stroker crank and 11:1 compression pistons. Other items included swirl-port, big-valve heads, 650 Holley carburetor, a Comp Cam 292 hydraulic roller camshaft and roller rockers. The power is then transfered to a beefed up Turbo 350 automatic with a 2,600 RPM stall torque converter. All of the above was done prior to Rich’s ownership.

When it arrived at Rich’s house, the Chevy was still as awesome as when he saw it in 2002. However, he does like to put his personal touch on his cars, so off it went to Harbor Auto Restoration in Rockledge, Florida for an engine makeover. Owner Frank Tetro and Rich both put their heads together to give the engine compartment a “Wow” factor. They pulled the motor, painted it red to match the interior and red brakes. The hood and fender wells were removed, and the control arms were refinished. They then install a Billet Specialties serpentine belt system, along with billet valve covers and a billet air cleaner. The battery was relocated behind the seat, and the Air Ride Technology components were also hidden. The engine compartment was completely painted, including the hood and fender wells, with R&M black satin finish.

We were glad that Rich brought his ‘59 Chevy to our Beach Blast 18 event in Cocoa Beach on May 18-20, 2012. Not only did it draw a crowd while parked on the lushly landscaped winding brick promenade at the International Palms Resort, it also earned a participant voted Top 50 award among the 280 registered vehicles. It certainly caught our eye as well, which is why we asked Rich to stick around for a bit after the show, so we could shoot some pictures and share them with you here. Rich’s dream was 10 years in the making, but it sure did have a happy ending! CN