It wasn't that long ago that if you told your hot rod buddies that you had a '55 Buick convertible as your ride you would have gotten laughed out of the local hamburger joint. Doyle Thomas, of Tyler, Texas, knew something the others didn't-he knew Buicks and hamburgers. Aside from owning Whataburger restaurants and grilling a tasty burger (with an extra-large chocolate shake we hope!), he opted to go the street cruiser route and show what could be done. Fifties Buicks weren't considered a delicate car by any means but this was considered a performance era. It was the era of big cars, bigger chrome, developing V-8s, and the coming of age for Detroit and America.

Many of us received our introduction to Buick as a performance car because of a television show based on the California Highway Patrol. Turns out in 1955 the California Highway Patrol placed a fleet order for Century two-door sedans, a body style at that time not available to the public. It combined the Special two-door sedan body with Century power. Broderick Crawford was shown driving a two-door Century sedan during the first season of Highway Patrol. (Later he would drive a four-door Century, which was the car that the real California Highway Patrol drove.)

Why did the CHP want Buick Centurys? Well, Buick was in the midst of coming up with the first production car capable of hitting 100 mph and what do hot rodders call 100 miles per hour-the century mark! There's also the story about the Buick executive coming back from the British Isles who had heard the term "doing the century" relating to cars running 100 mph. Anyway, this type of performance is just what the CHP was looking for. And for those of us who remember riding in those cars, getting to 100 wasn't nearly as difficult as getting back down. Power was moving faster than brake technology and it wouldn't be until the mid-'60s before Detroit began offering disc brake packages.

A lifelong hot rodder, Doyle found himself hooked up with Bobby Alloway, of Alloway's Hot Rods in Louisville, Tennessee. The task at hand was what to do with Doyle's '55 Buick convertible. Wanting to make this a "max" effort, the plans began with stripping the car down to the bare sheetmetal.

Alloway's began with an Art Morrison Enterprises (Fife, Washington) chassis stretched 1 inch over stock yielding a 123-inch wheelbase. (We think you can hide a Model A in the trunk!) The 2x4-inch rectangular tubing frame is set up for independent in the front and a Winters Performance Products (York, Pennsylvania) quick-change in back. The quickie is outfitted with a limited-slip differential plus 3.50 gears, 31-spline axles, and held in place via a four-link and Panhard bar. The rearend housing is also home for Strange Engineering (Morton Grove, Illinois) coilovers, Wilwood Engineering (Camarillo, California) six-piston calipers, and 14-inch rotors. The Morrison independent front suspension utilizes Morrison dropped spindles, RGA rack-and-pinion steering, Strange coilover shocks, and a Wilwood brake package. The 14-inch drilled and slotted rotors, six-piston calipers, and master cylinder, are all brought to bear by a Kugel Komponents (La Habra, California) pedal assembly. Other corner adornments are the Alloway-designed, Boyd-built billet wheels measuring 17x7 in front and 20x10 in back and neatly wrapped in BFGoodrich 255/55R17 and 275/55R20 rubber.