Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

Smoke Show – A Pro Street 1955 Chevy with 598-ci of Big Block Power

How many enthusiasts out there have had a project car linger on for nearly 20 years yet still had the resolve and passion to see it through? Not many. Unfortunately, life and its occasional curveballs get in the way, derailing dream projects, most of which end up getting sold. Fortunately, that is not the case for this pro street 1955 Chevy!

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

Sure, it took Phil Quinn, along with the support of his very understanding wife, Debbie, plus a network of talented car-guy buddies, more than 17 years to see the project through, but it’s done.  It’s done well. And, it is bad to the bone.

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

Phil’s love of pro street cars started back in the early ’90s when Hot Rod Magazine was promoting the Fastest Street Car in America shootouts and there were big fields of pro street cars at the races. Being from the West Coast, Phil was a big fan of the Bay Area’s Monte Berney and his 7-second pro street 1955 Chevy known as Bertha.

It was in those days that Phil, with the help of some buddies, put a Camaro subframe and 454c.i. big block into a ’56 Chevy pickup that was also back-halved and tubbed. That project took more than three years to finish, but it really got Phil into the car show scene and netted him some magazine features and even a finalist spot for Goodguys Street Machine of the Year back in 1993!

Eventually the pickup was sold to make way for the next project, a fiberglass ’37 Chevy Pro Mod body sitting on a tube chassis thanks to the help of race fabricator Dan Crisp. It didn’t take long for Phil to see he was in over his head, so that project was reluctantly traded for a Harley, which eventually was sold off so a more street-friendly project could commence. Phil was still all-in on having a pro street style car and asked Dan if he knew of any pro street 1955 Chevy projects for sale. It turned out that Dan had one in the shop that a customer decided to sell. Perfect!

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

Phil’s goal was to build a streetable ’55 Chevy with the badass looks of Monte’s Bertha. In fact, the first major mod to the 210 Chevy was to back-half the car with a four-link rear suspension and Strange 9-inch rearend. Next came the front end, which Dan also lopped off in favor of a Mustang II style assembly with tubular A-arms, Wilwood discs, and Strange double-adjustable coil-overs.

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

Phil never intended to drive a pro street poser with a plush interior, so he eventually had Dan design and install a full roll cage, built to NHRA specs. Do the X-patterned door bars make egress to the interior easy? Not at all, but once you’re in you get the full pro street experience with a taste of street car.

The Recaro seats provide more comfort than a spec race seat, even with the Impact harness tightened securely. The original steel dash houses a set of Auto Meter gauges with a Flaming River column and Billet Specialties steering wheel. The door panels were stitched by Howdy Ledbettter, who also did Phil’s first pro street pickup decades ago. Howdy also filled the interior with Dynamat before covering the custom console in leather and installing the square weave carpet.

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

The back seat is long gone if favor of roll cage bars and carbon fiber wheel tubs. Wiring was handled by Phil’s pal Curt Van Laar of Curt’s Custom Auto Repair, with an American Autowire harness and K&R Super Duty kit and switch panel to handle the race controls (line-lock, water pump, fuel pump, trans brake).

When it came time for an engine, Phil always knew it would be a big block, but he never thought it would be a 598c.i. big block built by Scott Shafiroff! He was just in the right place at the right time when the 1,100-plus horsepower engine came up available.

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

The engine is based on a Merlin III tall-deck block with an Eagle rotating assembly pushing serious 14:1 compression with the Dart Pro 1 CNC heads. A single-plane intake is topped with a gulping 1420cfm Gary Williams carb and a set of Holley Super Comp headers lead to a trick 4-inch flat oval exhaust system with Borla XR-1 mufflers producing an intimidating tone. The engine is all business, but it is painted, polished, and detailed to the nines.

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

When it was finally time for paint, Phil entrusted the ’55 to Brent’s Custom Paint where they first applied a coat of Lizard Skin under and inside the body panels and floors to keep the heat and noise at bay. The shop was also responsible for painting the engine and finally the slick silver metallic paint over the cowl-induction hood and front end with a Viper Black finish on the roof and rear quarters for a traditional Tri-five kind of two tone. There is nothing traditional about the wheelie bars, parachute mount, and the rear wing that is a duplicate of the one from Bertha, Phil’s inspiration. All the factory 210 stainless trim was buffed to perfection by Tim Dalton of The Shining with glass work by Carl’s Auto Glass.

Phil Quinn Pro Street 1955 Chevy

Seventeen years is a long time for any build, but it was all worthwhile when Phil cruised the ’55 down the road last June and entered it in his first car show in 26 years! He could not have accomplished the build without the support of Debbie as well as for his friends Dan Crisp and Aaron Warfiled, Art Hampton, DJ Phillips, Marcos Heredia, Allen Beebe, and many other hot rod pals that shared Phil’s vision and commitment to a true pro street 1955 Chevy.

Photos by Todd Ryden (Build pics provided by owner)

 

Todd Ryden is first and foremost a car guy and admits to how lucky he is to have been able to build a career out of a hobby that he enjoys so much. He’s owned muscle cars and classics, raced a bit and has cruised across the country. With over 25 years in the industry from the manufacturing and marketing side to writing books and articles, he just gets it.