Head Turning Chevy 210 Cruiser

This 1953 Chevy 210 is a Subtle Street Rod

By Chuck Vranas   –   Photography By the Author

There’s nothing quite like topping your tank and hitting the road with a tattered map in hand while cruising to a destination to meet up with like-minded automotive enthusiasts. Crafting a hot rod or custom capable of taking on the long haul requires a special talent, especially when fusing the level of dependability needed with an equal amount of allure to make sure your ride stands out among the rest. The seductive 1953 Chevy 210 mild custom laid out across our pages belonging to Matt Hayes of Dundas, Ontario, Canada, has been a fixture on the scene across the U.S. and Canada for nearly two decades, racking up well over 100,000 miles, which is milestone-worthy. By blending an iconic look with a classic performance formula he’s been able to travel to an average of 15 events across both borders virtually trouble-free without frills like heat, AC, or even GPS.

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02 The Chevy 210 s fine lines painted by Ron Gibbs of Burlington

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When your dad owns the local used car lot, growing up takes on a whole new meaning in finding the path to the promised land. For Matt, it meant spending plenty of time working at R.W. Auto learning how to help prep used cars for new buyers as well as participating in regular early morning runs to various swap meets and attending local events. Watching his dad, Robert, and uncle, Terry, regularly work on their personal car collections, as well as source and prepare a myriad of cars for the movies, helped hone his skills and allowed him to focus on what models he would like to get involved with. Eventually, it led Matt to open Hayes Detail Shop in Dundas in 1999 while also getting deep into the hobby, starting with the build of a ’31 Ford Model A followed by an extremely cool 1936 Ford taildragger. Attending countless events allowed him to gather endless inspiration to get involved in building a first-generation Chevy 210 mild custom.  Before long he was able to source a solid 1953 model in Michigan to act as an ideal base. With the final stocker parked in his shop, it was time to lay out plans for a full transformation.

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04 15x6 steel wheels with Coker Classic radial wide whitewalls on the Chevy 210

To create a perfect platform, he contacted John McFarlane of Waterdown to kick everything off, starting with separating the body from the chassis. Once the spine was blasted clean it was determined to be rock solid and McFarlane followed by first adding a C-notch to the rear as well as boxing it for added strength. Out back, a refreshed GM 10-bolt rear end spins 3.23 gears through stock axles, suspended in place by a TCI Engineering four-link with matching Panhard bar and ShockWave Ridetech air bags. For the ultimate in handling and stance, a TCI Engineering Mustang II Independent Front Suspension was added, featuring their exclusive upper and lower tubular control arms and spindles deftly matched to ShockWave Ridetech air bags managed through a corresponding control system. With all the fabrication completed the frame and components were then treated to a coating of PPG satin black. When it’s time to shave speed, a Corvette dual master moves fluid through stainless lines to Speedway Motors 11-inch discs with two-piston calipers up front and stock drums out back. For a memorable look, a set of 15×6 steelies wear Coker Classic radial wide whitewalls at each corner, sized P205/75R15 and crowned with a set of 1957 Dodge Lancer hubcaps from Speedway Motors.

10 The Chevy 210 s small block Chevy V8 engine built for long haul drives

Read More: LT4 Powered Tri-Five Chevy

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When you’re planning on driving the long haul regularly, nothing has you covered better than a well-built small block Chevy V8 engine. After tossing the factory straight-six, Matt contacted Pat Cheatley of St. George to assemble a stout 300hp mill that was up to the task. Starting with a ’70 350ci mill, the iron block was massaged and filled with a forged steel crank and rods matched to forged aluminum pistons getting bumped by a Comp Cams camshaft. Up top, a set of Edelbrock Performer aluminum cylinder heads generate plenty of power, especially when paired with a matching Performer Edelbrock intake manifold moving fuel through an Edelbrock Carburetor 550 cfm topped by an original 1957 Cadillac air cleaner. A factory GM ignition lights the fire while exhaust moves through a set of block-hugger headers from Speedway Motors to a custom stainless 2-inch dual exhaust with MagnaFlow mufflers by Canning Customs for a mellow tone. Other neat bits include Speedway Motors finned aluminum valve covers, Edelbrock water pump, and AC Delco battery. To move the goods a fresh GM 700R4 transmission from Brant Transmission links to a custom driveshaft for a smooth getaway.

13 The Chevy 210 s white vinyl rolls and pleats crafted by Gold Star Upholstery

In crafting a perfect mild custom it’s all about exercising the right amount of subtleness while also bringing the finest highlights out in the execution. Having studied a galaxy’s worth of 1953-54 Chevys over the years, Matt knew exactly what touches the body needed to bring it to the next level. He enlisted the fine talents of Grant Geddes of Paris who started with additional teeth to the grille while also nosing and decking the body, shaving the door handles, and adding 1954 Chevy tail lights incorporating Lee lenses. From there he continued by setting the gaps while also blocking the complete body to prepare it for paint. For a signature look, Grant blended a special light blue PPG gloss and laid down the vibe bringing it all to life. The PPG Wimbledon White roof with matching blue scallops completes the look with just the right amount of flair. The final icing came from the brushes of Ron Gibbs of Burlington who laid down the fine lines on the body.

16 custom pin stripe on dash of the Chevy 210

Read More: 1955 Thunderbird With Shocking Looks & Performance

Inside, the factory dash packs the original gauges while the stock column and steering wheel topped with a 1953 Corvette horn button carves a course linked to rack-and-pinion steering. A simple under dash panel cradle dials from Mooneyes and Auto Gage to help monitor the vitals while a Lokar shifter pulls gears. Seeing Matt is a member of the Beatniks of Koolsville Car Club, it’s only fitting that the car showcases an exclusive club member’s hand-painted shift knob. To add just the right amount of comfort, the factory interior was treated to plenty of white vinyl rolls and pleats by Gold Star Upholstery of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, who also handled the custom side panels, rear cover, headliner, and black loop carpet. This is one mild Chevy that makes a statement with every mile covered and we’re here to tell you that cruising to Koolsville never looked so good! MR

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of 100,000 Miles to Koolsville.

mr february 2024

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