Beauty found in the flaws of this driver’s car
It rained the day Brian Maxwell drove his classic car to Moody Gardens for a Coast Monthly photo shoot. The imperfect weather was appropriate, though, because Maxwell’s Chevrolet is no pampered show car destined to travel only from garage to trailer and back. The two-tone 1956 210 sedan is a driver’s car and a car for those who like the tinkering required to keep machines of a certain age ticking along. Its imperfections make it all the more perfect.
“I like to drive it and enjoy it,” said Maxwell, Galveston city manager and a self-described gear head. “If it was too nice, I wouldn’t do that.”
The 210s began rolling off General Motors Co. assembly lines in 1953. The model held on through 1957 when it was replaced by the Biscayne.
Maxwell’s uncle, Louis Overbeck, found this one in Oklahoma and towed it back to the island for an at-home restoration. The 210’s second life began in Overbeck’s garage, where he and Woody Maxwell, Brian’s father, and Brian did all the work with swap-meet parts and occasional help from a J.C. Whitney catalog. They even did the paint, which is nice, but not perfect, so there’s no need to flinch every time a piece of gravel smacks a quarter panel.
The crew wasn’t after a hot rod. They kept the little “Blue Flame” in-line six with a two-barrel carburetor, the oil-bath air cleaner, the column-shift three-speed transmission, the bench seats, the fender skirts and whitewall tires. They added blue dots to the taillights and a pair of fuzzy dice to the rearview mirror.
“We wanted it to look like something a kid from the ’50s would have,” Maxwell said.
The work was done 25 years ago, so you could argue the restoration itself is a classic.
Maxwell bought the car from his uncle about a year ago. It needs a new seal here and an upgrade there, maybe, but mostly it’s right where he wants it to be, he said.
“My wife and I like to get in and just drive west toward the San Luis Pass bridge; let it stretch out a little bit,” he said. “It’s quiet out there. Not too much traffic.
“The best part is how people react when they see it. They just smile; I don’t know why.”