NWautos: Seattle's local source for new and used autos


May 22, 2011 1:00 AM

A Chevy car club offers a sociable starting place for new restorers


Northwest Classic Chevy Club members discuss 1956 Bel Air owned by Jim and Betty Wagner at a recent meet-up in Issaquah. (Jeff Layton / Special to NWautos)


When Vicki Sutton inherited this 1957 Chevy 150 she joined the Northwest Classic Chevy Club to get advice and support. (Courtesy of Vicki Sutton)

Last May, Vicki Sutton inherited her great-grandfather's 1957 Chevy 150. She knew she wanted to restore it, but she didn't know anything about classic cars or where to learn about them.

After a search online, she discovered a local organization called the Northwest Classic Chevy Club (NWCCC), a group devoted to Tri-5s -- Chevys built from 1955-57.

Sutton attended her first meeting in September and was hooked. "I wanted to learn about cars and figured this was a good way to do it," the Bellevue resident says.

Bud Worley, of Renton, couldn't agree more. "Clubs like the NWCCC are a great resource for people who want to learn more about their vintage vehicles," says Worley, who volunteers as the club's new-member ambassador.

The club's events provide a sense of camaraderie, and its members have tremendous technical knowledge about classic autos, he says. They also have insider information on reliable mechanics and restoration specialists. Club members have helped Worley replace his gas tank and install a new transmission on his '56 Nomad.

Join the club
  • The club began in the mid-'80s and has approximately 90 active members in the Seattle area. Owning a Tri-5 is not a requirement for membership -- only a keen interest in the classic Chevys. Annual membership is $25. For more information, visit nwccc.net.

Jim and Betty Wagner, of Yarrow Point, also received plenty of advice from club members when they fixed up their '56 Bel Air.

When Jim Wagner found the car, it was rusting in a junkyard. Only the roof and a quarter panel could be saved -- everything else had to be salvaged from other vehicles. Now it's a show-quality car with a 330-horsepower 350 crate engine and a 700R4 overdrive transmission.

The group gathers once a month at Issaquah's Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in. Besides being a time to admire restored classics, the meetings feature guest speakers who lecture on subjects such as batteries and stainless steel.

Upcoming events
  • See cars from NWCCC members at these events:
  • Fenders on Front Street: June 19, downtown Issaquah. A variety of classic vehicles, including Tri-5s, will be on display. fendersonfrontstreet.com
  • Tri-5 Chevy Show: Aug. 21, Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, Issaquah. The 12th annual show, sponsored by the NWCCC, will feature more than 180 cars and trucks on display.

Meetings also provide a forum for members to discuss technical issues and share suggestions on project cars.

"Once I got into restoration, I realized that I had lots of questions," Sutton says. "It took me a while to get used to the language, like: What's a show and shine? What's a blue-dot taillight?"

Although she says she was timid at first, she now proudly displays photos of her work in progress.

Some members do their own restoration work, but others, including Sutton, just need help deciding which mechanics and specialists to use.

At a recent meeting, Sutton was trying to decide between installing modern disc brakes or classic drum brakes. She asked other members, "Do I care more about performance? Or do I want the vintage experience?"

"I always ask the wives in the group, because I know they'll give me an honest answer," she jokes.

Third-year president Mark Wadzinski joined the club in 2005 after bringing his 1956 210 four-door hardtop to an event. "My work friends don't talk about cars, and my car friends don't talk about work," he says. "I come here to talk about the things I love."