1956 Chevy Panel Truck - The Roar Of The Lion

Gilmore Racing

Bob Ryder
Oct 1, 2004
Photographers: Bob Ryder
Photo 2/2
Have you ever met a guy who seems to have all the right stuff? Well, ever since I met Ron Segal, a general contractor from Desert Hot Springs, California, I have come to the conclusion that he is that guy. Ron is a humble, generous, youthful 59-year-old Vietnam vet who enjoys life to the fullest. He shares his life's journey with his wonderful wife Susan and their four children: Brent, Larry, Sadie, and Audra. His latest flavor of the month is this incredible 50/50-bar '56 Chevy Gilmore Racing Panel. He is a true blue jeans, boots, and ten-gallon hat-wearin' cowboy. Ron is also a serious rodeo competitor who has retired to more comfortable saddles - wild street rods and custom trucks.
Driving up to his unique, gated residence, you are attracted to the beautiful desert rock and cactus landscape accented with unique original western-ranch yard art. Years ago, the house was occupied by actor Bela Lugosi, who played Dracula in the 1931 horror movie of the same title. The western and cowboy theme includes countless pieces of memorabilia and priceless western antiques, not to mention the fullsize buffalo hide stretched out on the floor and the 6-foot horn-spanned Texas longhorn steer head mounted on the wall. Ron is also a serious collector of vintage metal toys, such as Tonka trucks, western books and artifacts, taxidermic (stuffed) livestock, and wild animals, which contribute to his true-grit, cowpoke lifestyle. Out back is a spacious corral and stable that houses four hay-burners (horses) next to a four-bay garage.
Ron has been involved with custom cars and trucks for 40-plus years and his keen eye for speed and beauty has done him well. He has also been a member and president of the prestigious Over The Hill Gang out of San Bernardino, California. It's been a long-time dream of Ron's to one day own a Gilmore Racing delivery panel truck, and on the following pages, you will see Ron's dream has come true.
A second-generation Camaro IFS (independent front suspension) front clip was grafted to the original '56 frame, replacing the original straight-axle leaf-spring front suspension. A pair of Camaro front disc brakes and power booster with drum brakes in the rear are linked with stainless steel brake lines responsible for wooing the cool '56. Richard Lindy of R.C. Classics has been building customs, classics, and racing machines for the past 40 years, from the Pebble Beach De Elegance to the Indianapolis 500. Lindy has been Ron's personal wrench on all his many past custom rides. Lindy installed an Air Ride Technologies Shockwave pneumatic system up front, allowing the nose of the '56 to be gently lowered and lifted with the flip of a switch. A set of four 15x7-inch (front) and 15x10-inch (rear) Wheel Vintiques billet aluminum Lakester kidney beans with knock-off wheels are wrapped with P195/60R15 BFGoodrich rubber up front and chunky P265/50R15s in the rear.
The grunt comes from a Chevy 350ci small-block machined by the team at Race Prep in Bermuda Dunes, California. They align-bored it, decked the block, and then bored and honed each cylinder 0.030 inches over and stuffed them with TRW pistons. The cast-iron heads were reworked, and the intake ports were increased from 1.94 to 2.02 inches and polished for increased air/fuel flow rate. A pair of Jet-Hot-coated Sandersen block-hugger headers direct the high-velocity pulsations of the hot exhaust gases into a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. A Crower camshaft with a 272-degree duration and 0.480-inch lift maintains the healthy pulse, while a Ron Speal geardrive coordinates the dance of the crank and cam. The air/fuel mixture of the 350ci displacement is nourished by dual 500-cfm Edelbrock Q-jet carburetors, and cool, fresh air is captured by the massive Speedway Motors Shot Gun double-barrel butterfly bug-catcher. Also added is a complete inventory of Zoops polished billet aluminum engine pulleys, brackets, and valve covers. A Mallory coil ignites the spark to the Mallory distributor, which distributes the electric energy to the Champion sparkplugs. The crew at A&S Automotive in Palm Desert, California, assembled all the pieces, degreed the cam, and did the installation. The 400-plus hp is controlled by a Turbo 350 automatic transmission with a B&M 2,500-stall converter.
Paint specialist Stan Howton of Howton's Customs in Beaumont, California, dedicated many hours to the '56 delivery. The entire body side panels, doors, roof, and hood were reworked to perfection, primered, and then block-sanded and block-sanded again until every micro imperfection was shaved clean and smooth. After the tedious bodywork was accomplished, Howton laid out some whispy flame licks on the hood, doors, and three quarters of the way down each of the side panels. To prevent any bleeding of the House of Kolor Pearl Orange, Stan laid down a light-colored sealer and sprayed multiple coats of Exotic Oyster White Pearl basecoat. The masking was carefully peeled, and a single coat of clear was sprayed. After it was cured and dry, Stan edged the mating line of the two colors with a rich burnt-orange pinstripe, and then the entire body was buried in multiple flawless coats of clear.
The interior's dash was filled and painted the exterior's House of Kolor Pearl Orange. Guss's Upholstery in Highland, California, was responsible for stretching the light-beige leather hide and tweed over the Wise Guys bench seat. The headliner, rear side panels, rear side panel storage compartments, and doors were treated with light tweed, matching the seat insert. A darker-beige carpet was laid down in the front and rear.
A custom body-matched Grant Steering wheel caps the ididit tilt column, while Vintage Air maintains creature comfort. The audio sound system is kept simple with a Pioneer CD head unit and amplifier stuffed in the tweed-covered center console. The speakers are hidden in the rear side panels.
After developing a sincere friendship with Ron and his family over the years, it has been great to see someone enjoy life to the fullest. We also admire his '56 Chevy Gilmore Racing panel and the rest of his previous creative custom cars and trucks he has enjoyed throughout the years. It's true he's the guy with all the right stuff.
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