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.

When it came time to address the body, Purdy located a pair of factory-fresh original front fenders to which he added new reproduction rear quarter-panels, rockers, and floors to rid the car of its rusty past. He then fabricated a custom steel cowl induction hood, and completed the body updates with shaved bumpers, and stylish exhaust outlets out back. While the sheetmetal was being massaged, the chassis was also molded and mated to the body permanently. Mules Autobody of Yardville, New Jersey, blocked everything to perfection and Ron Mule laid down a decadent coating of ’07 Lexus Burgundy vibe, bringing the car to life. Once in the final assembly stages, a call was placed to Mike Lippincott to design an interior full of style, which was stitched up by Al’s Trim Shop of Mount Holly, New Jersey, using yards of soft gray and red Ultraleather. A Billet Specialties steering wheel navigates the course while gauges from Classic Instruments keep the driver in the know. It’s no doubt that the ’55 is a thunderous new-generation Pro Street car living up to the reputation Rodger Purdy has become well-known for building. All we know is that it’s going to see plenty of miles under the care of Jerry and to us that’s just plain bitchin’!

Tech Tips

What is the difference between different intake centerlines and how is this not the same as lobe separation?

By advancing and retarding a cam, you can move the intake centerline wherever you would like, but unless you have separate cams for the intake and exhaust (like the DOHC Ford), you cannot change the lobe separation once a cam is ground. Advancing the cam will make more cylinder pressure and build bottom end. Retarding it will broaden the powerband and add top end, but can also make the motor a little lazier on the bottom.

My EZ-EFI is idling very rich and unstable. What can I do?

This is almost always noise caused by improper installation. Make sure the battery positive and negative wires of the harness are connected directly to the battery with nothing spliced into them. Ensure your ignition box is no closer than 18 inches to the EZ-EFI ECU. Ensure that the pink 12V ignition wire is connected to a clean spot on the fuse block and not shared with anything on the way. If your hand-held unit is powered by the cigarette lighter, make sure the outlet is clean and not corroded or rusty.

The isolated runner advantage

In a typical four two-barrel Weber layout, each cylinder is fed by its own barrel without any intercommunication between barrels or cylinders. This “isolated runner” design ensures that each cylinder is fed exactly the same as the next, without any chance of charge-robbing or over-feeding. This results in better throttle response and an increase in torque at midrange rpm, right where street engines spend 90 percent of their time, making isolated runner carburetion systems an ideal for street use.

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