Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Catch-22 project car, free 1955 Chevrolet is a classic but it comes with a 30-year-old tree


Grab a chainsaw we’re going to pick up a free 1955 Chevy. If only it were that easy for Robert Capps, a 48-year-old gear head from Auburn, Alabama. 
Capps picked up this freebie, 2-door, blue and white 1955 Chevy 210 after it spent the last 30 years parked outside. "The car was free, the problem was removing the 30-year-old water oak," said Capps. "It took two people, eight hours using a chainsaw, cutting torch, and a Hi-Lift Jack to remove the car from the oak's firm grip." 


I got a free '55 Chevy growing out back.


Sixty 1955-1957 Chevys!
  This tree-hugging '55 chevy was located behind a shop west of Auburn Alabama. "The '55 was one of about sixty '55-'57 Chevys that the shop's owner had collected during the 1980s," said Capps. "During the late 1990s people would steal parts off his cars, so he sold them off." The 1955 Chevy anchored by a water oak was the last one to go, because no one wanted to do the work to remove it, until Capps came along. 



This '55 Chevy might need more than floor pans.

Room to grow 
  "We don’t really know how long the car has been sitting there, but we did count over 30 rings on the tree trunk," said Capps. "At some point, someone had cut a hole in the floor to put a floor shifter. That is where the oak tree started to grow." What you might not be able to see in the photos is that another tree had fallen on the roof decades ago, which broke the front glass out. With the front glass out, the tree had an exit route.
  Originally the Chevy was equipped with a 265-V8 and a three-speed transmission. A tree-speed was not on the option sheet.

Tree won't let go
  It wasn't a total win, the oak refused to let go of the left side of the frame rail and the Thrush Glasspack muffler. "The tree had grown around the left exhaust pipe and the frame rail," said Capps. Cutting a section of the frame was the only way Capps could extract the car and load it onto a car hauler. "The tree trunk pushed the steering column to the left five inches and mashed the steel dash forward four inches." The oak tree gobbled up a few more interior pieces in its path. "The speedometer gauge is buried inside the tree. I am told the ignition key should still be in the switch, but it too, is buried inside the tree."



A Thrush Glasspack muffler, installed in the 1970s, was claimed by the oak tree that ate a 1955 Chevy.



Future plans
 Capps, who also owns a '66 Nova, '53 Ford Customline and a '53 Chevy truck, has no current plans to restore the free '55. "I have started removing all the good parts and storing them inside," said Capps. "I had an idea to make it a 60’s-style gasser, but overall the car is in too bad of shape." Capps plans to explore some other creative ways to salvage the Chevy. "I thought about cutting the back half of the body off and splicing it on the front of a '55 Chevy four-door donor car." For now the old Chevy will not be crushed. "I still don’t know what to do with the dash that has part of an oak tree stuck to it. Maybe I could take the dash to Moultrie, Georgia (swap meet) in February and sell it." 

Do it again?
  The question everybody ask is was it worth all the time and effort for $200 worth of rusty steel? "I guess only a car guy would understand," said Capps. "The answer is always yes." 

– Jody Potter, junkyardlife.com

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More than 30  rings on the tree trunk embedded in the '55 Chevy.


The busted windshield allowed the water oak to grow up, up and away.


Robert Capps spent the better part of a day rescuing this '55 Chevy.



– Jody Potter, junkyardlife.com

Send junkyardlife your photos and story:
Email junkyardbull@gmail.com