Deliverance – Mac Coldwell’s ’55 Chevy Sedan Delivery Makes a Blue Streak Through the Black Hills
Mac Coldwell must enjoy telling onlookers that his ’55 Chevy sedan delivery was originally a work vehicle for a typewriter repairman, then (wait for it!) some under-30 observer pipes up with “what’s a typewriter?” The follow-up question might just as well be “what’s a sedan delivery?” since that body style is as obsolete as a Smith-Corona manual.
Chevrolet built such a utility model all the way into the 1970s (remember the Vega-based sedan deliveries?). Beginning to build two-door station wagons in 1955 made it easier for the company to modify that body shell by eliminating the windows and and replacing the tailgate with a hatchback rear door. Fitting only a front seat left a large cargo area available to carry items for delivery, or tools and supplies to a job site. Production of sedan deliveries was 8,811 for 1955 at a base price of $1,699.
A newspaper ad in his hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota, led Coldwell to purchase this ’55 in 1978. “It was in rough condition,” he said, “but it was running and drivable. At that time, it had a 327 and a four-speed. Later I changed it to a 406-inch stroker.”
Never completely satisfied with the car, Coldwell decided to redo it once more and get everything done to his satisfaction. He entrusted the project to American Legends Hotrods & Musclecars in Phoenix, Arizona. The build took three years and has resulted, so far, in the car being chosen as a 2022 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year finalist at the Goodguys Spring Nationals in Scottsdale, followed by a Top 10 choice at the Del Mar Nationals a couple weeks later.
Starting from the ground up, a Roadster Shop chassis was delivered with coil-over front and rear suspensions, a Ford 9-inch rearend with 3:70:1 gears, and Wilwood brakes with four-piston calipers. A Roadster Shop fuel tank was also in place where the original spare tire well had been. Schott 18×8- and 19×12-inch wheels and Nitto 255/40/18 345/40/19 radials help Mac cut the curves throughout the Black Hills of South Dakota that surround his home in Rapid City.
Modern motivation comes from a GM LS3 crate motor coupled to a GM 4L70E automatic transmission. The 376c.i. mill is rated at 525hp, which the builders reasoned would be plenty potent for the 3200-pound machine. A Holley mid-mount accessory drive system was installed, as well as custom fuel rail covers and chrome valve covers to which American Legends added the custom’s name, Deliverance, in script. Polished headers channel exhaust into custom pipes that include cutouts in case Mac chooses to occasionally bypass the Borla mufflers.
The entire cooling module, designed by Hot Rods by Dean, includes an aluminum radiator and neat air circulation grills inserted into the front apron. The engine appears to float in a smooth sea of blue custom engine shrouding.
Sedan deliveries came from the factory virtually devoid of chrome trim except for Chevrolet badges, which were left in place on the hood and the hatchback-style rear door. The hood is neatly peaked where the chrome bird once sat. The cowl panel was filled, as was the gas door after the filler neck was rerouted behind the swing-out taillight assembly. Both headlights and taillights are LED units. Flipped one-piece bumpers round off the front and rear of the body, with pockets added for the exhaust tips.
Mac constructed the grille himself, welding together bar stock and cold rolled steel into a sturdy replica of the original crosshatch pattern. Arizona Southwest Customs performed the finish body and paint work, to which beltline stainless trim strips from a 210 two-door wagon were added to accent the expanse of rich blue paint.
Earlier in the ’55’s life, Coldwell had installed a station wagon rear seat for extra passengers, or to be folded down to extend the cargo space. After new bucket seats from Glide Engineering were mounted in place, the old rear seat no longer fit into the picture, so a pair of rear buckets was fabricated to match those in front. Patrick of Stitched Envy Interiors in Peoria, Arizona, gets credit for the two-tone brown and beige leather work that fills the cavernous interior. The square pleat pattern recalls the vinyl upholstery Chevrolet used in the slightly upscale 210 Series Del Ray club coupe. Between the seats runs a full-length console that houses the Lokar shift lever, window and A/C controls, cup holders, and courtesy lamps. Lokar was also the source for the foot pedals, door handles and window cranks. Mac depends on a keyless entry but retained the outside door handles.
The dash has been filled and fitted with outlets for the Vintage Air heat and AC system. The two-tone finish matches the upholstery, as does the downsized steering wheel and tilt column from Ididit. Dakota Digital designed the one-off instrument cluster in the original housing, and American Autowire furnished the necessary wiring.
Mac Coldwell and Renee, his wife of 47 years, say they enjoy outings in the delivery around the Black Hills “every nice weekend!” The honors from Goodguys verify his decision to do the delivery “one more time,” and the choice of those who helped make it happen.
Photos by John Jackson