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Bohannon Concepts Create Chevy' 55 Composite Replica

  • Friday, 4th November 2005
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Bohannon Concepts, the custom car replica company in Cookeville, US, have developed an all composite ’55 Chevy S-S which is a lightweight, retro version of the original Chevy shoebox.

The company suggested that as finding an actual steel body ’55 Chevy in respectable condition is a difficult task, the company’s Directory, John Bohannon opted to produce his own all-composite body retro using resins from Reichhold.

Bohannon got into the custom replica business fabricating composite parts for Choo Choo Customers in Chattanooga, TN. Before that, he worked with corvettes which eventually led to manufacturing composites bodies for ’32 Ford Roadsters and the chopped ’55 Chevy.

In addition to the tricked out cars, Bohannon fabricates an SS front-end for El Caminos and also produces composite front-ends for 1988-98 Chevy trucks that gives them the look of ’47 – ’54 models. These parts are marketed by Honest Charlie and Newstalgia Wheels.

Bohannon began the ’55 Chevy project by first building a “plug” car out of steel. Then, using Reichhold’s zero-shrink POLYLITE PROFILE Tooling System, he produced the moulds for the ’55 supplied by Reichhold’s distributor, Advanced Plastics.

Bohannon moulds the body out of three pieces, all through hand lay-up, using DION 6631 corrosion-resistant resins from Reichhold, also through Advanced Plastics, and then glasses them together. He puts down three layers of 1.5 oz fibreglass – COREMAT (60 mils) then lays down another two layers of 1.5 oz. glass. Bohannon says this makes the composite body so strong you can stand on it!

He bolts the mould together and glasses the seams, adding that he chose the Reichhold resin because of its consistency. “I tried other resins and got different viscosities that were inconsistent,” he explains. “With the Reichhold resin, I never have any junk or scrap parts. I haven’t had any trouble with it.”

The biggest challenge in producing the custom ’55 Chevy S-S replica is making it all fit together, Bohannon says. The largest parts of the car are the two sides and the top. The sides are almost 14 feet long and four feet tall. The doors to the ’55 are composite inner and outer structures, reinforced with metal on the inside. A sealed hinge kit is used to connect the doors to the ‘55’s frame.

In all, Bohannon says producing the composite parts for the ’55 Chevy takes about 40 hours.

He then has to paint them with automotive paint. A body can be produced in about two weeks, but a customized, turn-key car that can be driven home takes about six months to complete. Bohannon feels confident his composite ’55 will hit 105 m.p.h. in a quarter mile, thanks to the 502 cubic-inch engine donated to the HPTV project by General Motors.

Today, Bohannon has two completed versions of the ’55 Chevy S-S and three partials: 3 bodies and one combination body / chassis.

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