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This 1956 Chevy Handyman Delivery 210 was the colour of a fluorescent canary when he bought it, but apart from that, the bodywork was in superb condition.

By: Karl Eriksen  Pics: Antigrafika 

This lengthy car is just the thing I needed in my last year of school, but the ample space it provides would probably have led to me being arrested for nocturnal activities of the teenage kind. Jackie Swart bought this spectacular vehicle from his friends father, whom he badgered for fifteen years about selling it.

During this time the owner would fix the car, drive it for a little while, leave it for a few years, and then start the process all over again. He eventually wore him down and the owner relented, and he finally got what he wanted. It was the colour of a fluorescent canary when he bought it, but apart from that, the bodywork was in superb condition.

So, the greatest problem Jackie had was that the car had no papers, and the traffic department would not clear it as the VIN number had been removed for a respray. He was told that he would have to leave it there, and if they could not match it with what they had on their system; it would have to be crushed. Fortunately, a travesty was averted and through some hard work, Jackie managed to get the legalities sorted.  

Also, the chrome work wasnt in great condition and had been sprayed silver. When he and his wife discussed the future colour, they agreed that it could only be red, and he decided to continue with that scheme over the fenders. To offset this mass of red, he opted to keep the other minor trimmings original. Furthermore, he imported the side mirrors and windscreen wipers from Danchuk, who produce replicated parts for these Chevrolets.

This is one heavy vehicle and a two-ton jack had to be used to lift the doors off during its respray. I can attest to that weight because I think I almost dislocated my shoulder just trying to open the passenger door. It had no exhaust and he installed two 76mm seamless pipes, free flow boxes and two drop-downs in front of the diff. The four-speed Toploader gearbox and the prop shaft still had to be fitted. Jackie had to overhaul the gearbox and says he might replace this with an automatic one eventually, as its a bit of a mission driving through traffic with the manual.

The Chevy 327 small block was removed and painted the same colour as the car, and a new Holley carburettor was fitted. Also, the brakes (from a Chevrolet de Ville), are better than the original ones would have been, and it now has disc brakes in front and drum brakes on the rear, which have also been overhauled.

The engine compartment was a bit cluttered. Therefore, Jackie cleaned this up so that it now looks pristine, even going so far as relocating the battery to the rear of the vehicle. He says that when he got it, it stood off the ground like a 4×4, so hes dropped the suspension by 50mm by cutting the coil springs in front, and adding blocks to the rear.

Then, the load area of the car had some sort of contraption in it that had never been completed. This was removed and the front seats (also from a de Ville) were moved to the back to accommodate the kids, while the recliner seats from Jackies racing car were used for the front. The gauges are still original, apart from an aftermarket oil pressure and temperature gauge.

Also, hes installed a temporary speaker carpet in the back and is still deciding how hell eventually finish it. The roof lining is non-existent at the moment as hes removed the blue lining that it came with. He reckons he might use Masonite and upholster, instead of going the conventional route. At some point in the cars history, the panels on the side had been replaced with windows from a bakkie canopy.

When he sanded the car down in preparation for spraying he found that the panels had been welded in exceptionally well, so there wont be any cracks appearing in the edges.  The petrol cap is situated in an unusual place, found by lifting the hinged left rear-light cluster. Jackie says he often jokes with petrol attendants by offering them R50 if they can find it.

He hasnt lost yet, as they all go for the number plate first, eliciting cries of Eish! when its actual location is found.  Its only been finished in the last month or two, so it hasnt been on any long road trips, apart from a group trip to Hout Bay and a trip to Blouberg.

Jackie says that as far as he knows, there appear to be only three or four Chevrolet Handyman left in the country, so he really has acquired a rarity. I asked him what he intends to do with the car, and he says he has a thing about selling cars after the novelty of working on them has worn off. That got me excited for a moment until I realised that the price he paid for it, would be very different to the price hed asked for it.  

Article Category: Car Features