Raising the Bar with this Wicked 1955 Chevy

There’s something to be said about growing up with the coolest parents in town. For Don Hoover of Hobart, Indiana, every day was a chance to experience the evolution of automotive high performance in the early ’60s. It was a regular weekend trip when his mom loaded up him and his friends to head over to U.S. 30 Dragstrip in nearby Gary to check it all out. Seeing his quarter-mile heroes leave the line in a haze of nitro and burnt rubber combined with walking the pits to see the cars and racers up close helped set a path that he still walks to this date. There was even a legendary family trip to California where they made a stop in Utah to watch land speed racers blaze a path on the salt during Speed Week.


Turning wrenches was natural for Don and he eventually purchased his first car, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, while in high school for $400. After graduation in the ’70s he decided to turn it into a fulltime race car and was mentored by good friend Joe Gouger Sr. through the conversion. Grouger, a well-known racer in the UDRA (United Drag Racing Association) fielded a Pro Stock Vega known as the Vega Bond, also sold Don his first race engine, a hopped-up 427ci mill complete with aluminum heads. It wasn’t long until Don’s 1955, known as “The Savage,” started tearing up U.S. 30 on a regular basis. The track was also where he met his soon-to-be wife Kathy, whose passion for drag racing led her to work at the facility. Flash-forward to today and the couple have been sharing their love for drag racing ever since.

With Kathy having recently competed in Hot Rod magazine’s Drag Week in 2017 with her LS-powered 1969 Camaro in the Street Machine Eliminator Class, Don felt it was time to up the ante. He decided to resurrect The Savage 1955 Chevy, this time as a wild, LS-powered 2018 Drag Week contender, however his nephew Mark Stringer wanted to preserve the original race car and offered up his personal 1955 Bel Air as swap. A deal was made and Don wasted no time in contacting Rocky Troxell at US 12 Speed & Custom in New Buffalo, Michigan. Having worked with Troxell during the build of Kathy’s Camaro, the pair shared the vision of what it would take to create a true contender for Drag Week.

The team at US 12 got started fabricating a custom chromoly tube chassis to NHRA SFI Spec 25.5 certification standards complete with custom crossmembers and rollcage. To handle the power out back, a FAB9 housing packs a Moser centersection with 4.56 gears spinning 40-spline axles suspended in place by a custom four-link combined with fully adjustable Afco coilover shocks. Up front a Strange Engineering Ultra Strut suspension is linked to a Stiletto Pro Box rack-and-pinion. To add plenty of stopping power to the mix a Wilwood Engineering dual master pushes fluid through stainless lines to matching drilled and vented discs out back with four-piston calipers and Strange slotted discs with two-piston calipers up front. Linking it all to the street are a set of Champion Wheel 15×12 Stripster-series wheels with bead locks capped with Mickey Thompson drag radials and 17-inch Weld Racing Full Throttle–series spindle mount wheels up front wearing Mickey Thompson S/R radials.

To generate 1,500 streetable horsepower Don had Brian Robbins at Robbins Racecraft in Saint Joseph work his magic to build a fire-breathing 427ci mill, starting with a Dart LS Next iron block with 9.5:1 compression. He packed it with a speed shop full of go-fast goods, including a Robbins Racecraft forged 4-inch stroke 4340 crank linked to matching rods wearing a set of custom JE pistons and a heavy bump from a custom-ground hydraulic roller cam from Robbins Racecraft. Up top there’s plenty of seamless power from a pair of heavily massaged Chevrolet Performance LSX aluminum heads while the knockout punch comes from a pair of Bullseye Power 83mm TCT turbos matched to a Holley LS Hi-Ram EFI intake with a 105mm Holley throttle body and 220-PPH injectors. A Holley ignition lights the fire with spent gases flowing though headers by US 12 to a custom stainless exhaust. The goods move through a Jeffco Performance four-speed transmission with Gear Vendors overdrive to a custom driveshaft from Lance’s Driveshaft.

The body was stripped and fitted to the chassis with any needed metal restoration completed by the team who also crafted the custom floors, trans tunnel, and installed the carbon-fiber rear wheel tubs. From there the team crafted the custom front bumper with spoiler and tank mount, filled the cowl, shaved driprails, one-off rear spoiler, rounded door corners, tucked bumpers, and added a side-exit exhaust. The body was then metal finished and gapped to prepare it for color. Team member Brett Miller laid down the coating of PPG Envirobase 2014 Corvette Laguna accented by custom-blended charcoal metallic.

Inside it’s all business, starting with the restored factory dash with a Holley EFI digital dash to monitor the vitals while steering moves through a 13-inch Max Lightweight wheel mounted to a custom column with a Jeffco shifter to pull gears. Team member Billy D laid out a perfect combination of aluminum and carbon fiber inside, accented by a factory headliner and door panels by Vos Upholstery & Custom Auto Trim of Lansing, Illinois, who also covered the custom US 12 seats. With Drag Week fast approaching we can hardly wait to see Don’s 1955 shake the streets!

The post Raising the Bar with this Wicked 1955 Chevy appeared first on Hot Rod Network.

Tags: Utah, Featured, California, US, Chevy, Vega, Gary, Don, Joseph, Kathy, U S, Laguna, Lance, HOLLEY, JeffCo, Troxell, Billy D, Mickey Thompson, Chevy Bel Air, Afco, New Buffalo Michigan, Brian Robbins, Brett Miller, Bullseye Power, Wilwood Engineering, Holley EFI, Speed Custom, Hobart Indiana, Chevrolet Performance LSX, Don Hoover, Joe Gouger Sr, UDRA United Drag Racing Association, Vega Bond, Mark Stringer, Rocky Troxell, Robbins Racecraft, Holley LS Hi Ram EFI, Jeffco Performance

Source:  http://www.hotrod.com/articles/raising-bar-wicked-1955-chevy/

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