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Bill Shank 56 Chevy




In late 2015 Dick Swain send us some photos of his old friend Bill Shanks 1956 Chevy Custom. And asked if we could help locate his old friend Bill Shank for him…

Dick Swain and Bill Shank were good friend back in the late 1950 and 1960’s in California. They were both into cars, and Bill had a wonderful mildly restyled 1956 Chevy that even made it into the magazine. They kept contact up until 1970 when Bill took on a job for the FBI or CIA (Dick could not remember which of the two it was) and by that time Dick had relocated on the East Coats. They lost sight of each other, and never had contact since. On a recent search for some old photos Dick came across an envelope with four color photos of Bill Shank’s old 1956 Chevy and a copy of the October 1958 issue of Car Craft Magazine in which Bill’s chevy had a two page feature. This brought back a lot of memories, and Dick tried to find his old friend… no luck. One one of his searched he came across the 1956 Chevy’s on the Custom Car Chronicle site and decided to give it a try and as us to help him find his old friend. So if any of the CCC readers know about the current whereabouts of Bill Shank from California who had a Car Craft featured 1956 Chevy in the late 1950’s…. please let us know. Dick Swain would love to get back in touch with him.

Dick send us some digital photos of the old photos Bill had taken of his 1956 Chevy. Two of the photo’s were taken in front of Bill’s father’ Mac’s T.V. shop in Duarte California. Very interesting is that the Chevy is parked next to the Barris Kopper Kart shop truck. At this moment we do not know the connection between Barris and Bill’s Chevy. Dick thought that perhaps the Barris shop had been doing some work on Bill’s Chevy, but the Car Craft Article list all the work done on Bill’s Chevy by Virgil’s Body Shop of Monrovia Ca.

CCC-bill-shank-56-chevy-03Bill’s Chevy parked next to the Barris Kopper Kart with the Mac’s T.V. Shop owned by Bill’s father in the background. The photo was taken in 1957-58 in Duarte California.

CCC-bill-shank-56-chevy-04Bill took the photos,and was of course very proud the famous Barris Kopper Kart Shop Truck was parked next to his ’56 Chevy at his fathers shop.

Bill’s 1956 Chevy was restyled mildly restyled in late 1956-early 1957, when the car was still nearly new. The stock grille was removed and replaced with a 1956 Chrysler grille that was modified to fit the Chevy opening. The hood was nosed and the trunk decked for that desired smooth look. But the door handles and side trim remained on the car. The rear fenders were modified with a new molded taillight opening to accept 1956 Buick taillight lenses. The rear bumper ends were modified to accept new exhaust tips, a very popular trend at any mild custom at the time. The car spend about one month in the body shop and was painted a wonderful Titian Red. The two color photos of the car show it in its first version with no pin striping and with a set of aftermarket custom hubcaps mounted on medium white wall tires. The car was lowered with a bit more on the front for that nice California rake. The Car Craft article mentioned the car was dropped a full 5 inch, but the reality was a little less. Bill had the interior redone in white and maroon tuck & roll. Bill was a member of the Strokers Car Club of San Gabriel Ca.

CCC-bill-shank-56-chevy-01The Chrysler grille really changed the whole look of the car, it is a subtile touch, but very effective. 

CCC-bill-shank-56-chevy-02The mild California rake and molded in 1956 Buick taillights make Bill’s 1956 Chevy a real head turner.

Dick Day, the well know Custom Car and Hot Rod photographer shot Bill’s 1956 Chevy for a two page feature in the October 1958 issue of Car Craft Magazine. By then the car has changed a bit for its first clean version. Bill had added header plugs below the front rockers, and replaced the hubcaps with a set of 1956 Oldsmobile three bar units. By then he belonged to the Sirchers Car Club and he mounted a club plaque on the rear bumper. The Script on the front fender was removed and he asked famous Pin-Striper Tom Kelly to tripe the car in white pin-stripes.




After the car was featured in Car Craft magazine Bill installed a 1959 Corvette Fuel Injected engine. That is the last info we have on Bill’s 1956 Chevy. We are not looking to find out what happened with Bill’s old Chevy, although if somebody has any info on that we would really welcome that as well. But we are looking to find the owner of the car, Bill Shank who lived in Duarte California in 1970’s. If anybody knows anything about Bill from after 1970. Please email Rik so that we can pass it on to his old friend Dick Swain who now lives in Hagerstown MD.

Special thanks to Joe Weddles who shared the material with us on behalf of Dick Swain.


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Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

One thought on “Bill Shank 56 Chevy

  • Nice looking 56.
    As I recall, didn’t the Kopper Kart have a TV set in the bed? Could it be the the Kopper Kart was at Bill’s fathers TV shop to get this done?
    Interesting coincidence none the less.

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