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ONE HEAVY CHEVY: Restoration of ’55 Bel Air a ‘labor of love’

August 28, 2012

Post & Mail photos / Robin R. Plasterer: Looking over the unfinished ‘55 Chevy are, from left to right, Tom Davis, Bob Green and Mike Herzog.

CHURUBUSCO — Every nut, bolt, fender, wire, spark plug, motor and rim have been polished, replaced and the car is brand new. But yet it is still a 1955 Chevy.
With more than 2,000 man hours chalked on it Mike Herzog, 64, of Churubusco, considers it a “labor of love” to put the Chevy back together.
Bob Green, 67, of Ege, purchased the ‘55 Chevy from his brother-in-law’s (Kerry Boggs) grandmother.
“It had 55,000 original miles on it,” said Green.
He purchased the car for his then 15-year old son, Rick, to drive but it just sat in the garage.
Enter Mike Herzog.
“Rick Green was putting cabinets in my home,” said Herzog.
“We got to talking about fixing up cars. One thing led to another and Rick’s dad, Bob, brought this beauty to my garage,” said Herzog.
Waiting until
to live a dream
Herzog has always worked on cars but had to wait until retirement from HB Fuller to put his passion to work.
“I worked as an adhesive salesman but I always dreamed of working on the restoration of classics,” said Herzog.
“I’ve always wanted to work on cars. So I built this home with this barn and I spend hours and hours out here alone just working on classic cars,” said Herzog.
He and his friend, George Baker, 67, work along side each other sometimes.
“I usually work alone, one car at a time,” said Herzog.
After he got home he’d watch television shows like Overhaulin’ and Hot Rod TV to gain tips and knowledge.
“But mainly I learned everything I know by the School of Hard Knocks,” said Herzog.
He travels to swap meets and collects parts for his many projects including a service van, a Corvair and a fiber glass muscle car.
“I get my parts from as far away as California, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan,” said Herzog.
“I attend a lot of Hot Rod events and always watch the Indy 500,” he said.
Herzog usually begins his day at 6 a.m. and works way into the night,” he said. “I listen to music while I work.”
“I enjoy restoring cars. I’m not making any money doing it but I do sure enjoy it,” said Herzog.
He goes by the name “Zogs Rods … Hell Bent Hot Rods.”
’55 Chevy update
The black ‘55 Chevy is a frame-up restoration. From the tires to the roof everything has been completely restored or changed.
“Every nut and bolt has been sanded, polished and restored to it’s original splendor,” he said.
“We flush mounted the speaker so it’s all flat,” said Herzog.
“The interior was custom made by Tom Davis, 40, of Auburn,” said Herzog.
Davis used ultra leather and suede for the interior sides and seats. Custom carpeting is on the floor and in the trunk.
“We wanted the same look and feel as it was in 1955 but brought up to 2012 with these nicer products,” said Davis, who with his father owns Interiors by Thomas.
“We custom covered the old dash and steering wheel,” said Davis.
This car is a 1955 that much is true, but it has some 210 model parts on it and some Bel Air parts as well.
“We chose Foose rims for the wider custom tires,” said Herzog.
“We bought them from Chip Foose. They were expensive but this car is worth it,” he said.
None of the men would reveal how much this total restoration would cost, but the Foose rims were $369 apiece, just to give you an idea, how much has been invested in this project.
The trunk features the fifth wheel and a CD changer.
“This car features new springs, shocks and all of the sway bars,” said Herzog.
“The foundation is new and the gas tank is made of new stainless steel. Even the exhaust is new,” he said.
“This car originally was a six cylinder. Now it is a 355 Chevy. That means it is 375 horse power and it’s a 4-speed,” said Herzog.
It has a Corvette transmission and 400 FT pounds of tork.
“The headers came off, it has custom valve covers and custom air cleaner,” he said.
Today this ‘55 Chevy has air conditioning and four-wheel disc brakes and power steering.
“We bought an alternator and air conditioner all in one unit. It has a special bracket,” said Herzog.
“There is a special cover that covers the gas tank as well as the air cover,” he said.
The car features all new tinted glass and republished trim.
“My buddy, Ed McFarland, is working on a harness for the brand new wiring,” said Herzog.
Under the hood is an on/off switch for the car.
The black car is so shiny one can see it’s own reflection.
“I have a professional paint booth in my garage,” said Herzog.
Green’s car is slated to be finished before Labor Day in order for him to drive to Auburn where other classic cars will be sold and/or sold.
Not for sale!
But Green is not selling this car.
“This is a beauty. I’m keeping this one,” said Green.
The ‘55 Chevy will be on display in Kalamazoo, Mich., Sept. 14 to 16 for the National Street Rod Association NSRA show at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds.
“Sometimes extra-ordinary people should be recognized and both Mike and Tom are those kind of people,” said Green.


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