When Raymond Gary became governor of Oklahoma in 1955, one of his first official actions was to have the “whites only” and the “colored only” signs removed from restrooms in the state Capitol building. A former school superintendent turned businessman before entering politics, he also had the state comply with the Brown v Board of Education ruling and integrated Oklahoma’s public schools.
As the governor, he employed an African-American woman as a maid, but rather than her riding the bus to work, Gary bought her a 1956 Chevrolet 210 station wagon. That car, now restored, is the Pick of the Day on ClassicCars.com, where it is being advertised for sale by its private owner.
“This completely restored 1956 Chevy, Model 210 Wagon is one beautiful time capsule,” the seller reports, adding that the car was purchased from the maid by Bell brothers, “2 great OK City mechanics” who restored the car nearly 20 years ago.
The Bells parked the wagon for a period of time but then did a complete restoration, and Troy Bell presented the restored vehicle to his wife, Deb. The car was restored at 81,000 miles and currently showed 86,000 miles. Deb Bell died some 15 years ago and the car went into storage, though the seller notes that it was routinely taken on short drives.
The seller, who is in Lincoln, Nebraska, appears to have special interest in the car’s history, adds that the quest to find the name of the governor’s maid to add to the car’s history continues.
The seller reports that the Bells took the car down to the chassis, “replacing most parts and repainted any parts not undercoated… They also replaced the entire front-end with new parts.
“They rebuilt the original motor (265 power pack) and the original transmission (automatic 2 speed).
The interior also was restored “to its original design” but with new seats, headliner, carpet, sun visors and padded leather dah.
“Radio is not original and the only part of this car, that was not replaced like original factory,” the seller adds. “Classic Chevrolet Parts Inc., here in Oklahoma City sells an AM/FM radio that looks original for $206 including tax.
“This ’56, shifts and runs perfectly. I drove about 20 miles last weekend. Everyone takes notice.”
However, “What this vehicle needs to be completely perfect,” the seller adds. “Front and rear bumper needs new chrome (see pictures). One bad section on both. It will someday need a new starter solenoid. Or just have the starter rebuilt.
“Right rear window has a 6” long crack towards very back (see picture). Few surface rust spots on 2 doors. One is just a one spot the size of a pencil eraser (front left). Other door (rear right) has a small cluster of rust spots. See pictures of both. That is all, unless you want the radio to look original.
“My son, who worked at a few Hollywood studios, believes this would be a very sought-after car to rent out for ’50s and ’60s motion pictures. Additional notes: Car is equipped with factory air. What a luxury in 1956.”
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