Regardless of which coast you grew up on, it seems one of the most recognized rites of passage to becoming a rodder started early on when receiving your first set of Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars. With a hopped-up die-cast planted in your hand, your mind triggered an imaginary ignition and from there it was off to the races. There were never enough cars for your collection and soon enough it was time to start building model kits and reading little books to keep the fire going.

Jerry Holbrook, of Haymarket, Virginia, grew up like many of us, surrounded by plenty of visual stimulation till he was able to get his driver’s license. From there his likes centered on cars with plenty of venomous horsepower with enough attitude to shake houses off their foundation. After spending over 25 years campaigning cars at the dragstrip as well as in the show world, he finally decided to switch gears and get involved in streetable cars with just enough edge, giving them a radical personality. Being a regular visitor to the Cruisin’ Ocean City event in Ocean City, Maryland, he came across a wicked, rat-powered 1955 Chevy Bel Air just completed by Rodger Purdy Jr. of Pro Street Chassis in Chesterfield, New Jersey, that left him in awe.

Purdy had just completed an extensive two-year ground-up build of the ’55 at his shop and had brought it to Ocean City for a shakedown weekend. The pair struck up a conversation and by the end of the afternoon a deal was made and the car motored onto its new home.

The story of the car’s metamorphosis encompasses everything from design study to infusing just the right amount of aggressiveness into the mix. While looking for a suitable donor car for the project, Purdy scoured the Internet looking for a clean driver to start with. He came across a nicely represented Bel Air that fit the bill as a clean, rust-free car. What the trailer dropped off after the deal was made was nothing short of horrifying. Misrepresented by the seller, the car had endless problems, including plenty of hidden rust, but Purdy, undaunted by what he had received, decided to tear the car down to bare bones just the same and start the build. To establish a rock-solid base capable of plenty of abuse from a pending big-block V-8, Purdy fabricated a custom chassis from 2x4-inch mandrel-bent steel complete with custom crossmembers. To accommodate wide rubber out back, a narrowed 9-inch Ford rearend packed with 3.90:1 gears was suspended in place through a custom four-link deftly matched to Aldan coilover shocks. To give the ’55 plenty of capable handling, an Art Morrison IFS was incorporated and matched to 2-inch dropped Art Morrison spindles while Aldan coilover shocks soak up the bumps. Adding plenty of dazzle to the frontend, all suspension components were treated to the plating tank. To be sure that the beast could be tamed, massive Wilwood discs and calipers were placed at every corner. Once the chassis was completed it was set to roll on big ’n’ little Mickey Thompson HR-1 wheels capped with Mickey Thompson rubber fore and aft. When it came to the power department, it was obvious the car would need a big-block to get its message across. Purdy turned to Henry Jackson of C&H Performance of Cream Ridge, New Jersey, to tweak a fresh GM Performance LS6 454ci crate V-8 by adding a custom ground cam, and massaging the cylinder heads. Purdy then added a custom sheetmetal intake and crowned it with a one-off stretched Holley 1150 Dominator carb. Sparked by MSD, the beast plants the power through a Tremec five-speed shifted through a Mopar pistol grip shifter.