More than 100 years ago, when automobiles first began to be mass produced, you’d fill your gas tank via an exterior cap and filler tube. Over the decades, gas caps and filler tubes moved around to different locations on both the exterior and interior of a vehicle but, in the ’40s and ’50s, a handful of cars hid them from sight altogether.
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The ’40s-era Cadillac used a flip-up taillight to hide the cap and filler, but soon Imperials, Oldsmobiles, Nashes, Continentals, and even a Peugeot would give the design a go.
Even Chevrolet’s fullsize passenger vehicle, the Bel Air, would use the feature on their ’56 model, but by the ’70s, when more stringent safety standards were enacted, the gas filler moved from behind the rear license plate or apron to a vehicle’s quarter-panel.
For vintage-minded folks who not only want the nostalgic look of a hidden gas filler behind their ’55 Chevy but want it to motorize the operation as well, then you should know about Rocky Hinge, based in Girard, Ohio.
Formed in 1996, Rocky Hinge manufactures more than 50 types of vent, trunk, and hood latches, bear claws, door hinges, folding hood props, door lock mechanisms, and more—many of which are electrically powered.
Recently, Orange County Hot Rods (OCHR) in Corona, California, installed one of the Rocky Hinge ’55 Chevy taillight conversion kits on a ’55 Chevy Handyman wagon. However, the Rocky Hinge kit is made for the ’55 Chevy passenger car line of vehicles, so some modifications needed to be made to both the wagon body and the kit to make everything fit right. The thing that took the longest in doing these modifications was the miniscule adjustments to two mounting screws that set how the unit fits in its hole during the closing operation—critically important adjustments. OCHR took it all in stride and got the job done, so follow along and see how they did it.