Darrin Gartrell’s V10 LSX-powered ’55 Chevy
When you look under the hood of Darrin Gartrell’s stunning ’55 Chevy sedan, be sure to count the exhaust outlets. Hint: You’ll need all your fingers and thumbs. Yes, that’s a Chevrolet V10 LSX engine, and a unicorn at that.
Before we talk about the rest of his ride, let’s learn how this 700-horsepower beast came to be. More than 10 years ago, GM held a massive selloff of unwanted stuff. A friend of Darrin’s was there and literally found the V10 LSX block that had been tossed unceremoniously in a dumpster.
The backstory on the V10 is the result of an abandoned idea by GM to build the high-torque engine to use in full-size trucks and SUVs. Long story short, his friend bought the V10 along with a load of other items and hauled it home. Darrin says the block was about all that was usable. Oil pan, intake and other pieces were damaged. His friend played with the engine for a while, then sold it to Darrin.
After two years of work on just the engine, Darrin was able to hear it run. In addition to a non-traditional firing order, nothing that he needed – intake, camshaft, ignition, etc. – was available. Everything had to be custom made. He utilized friends at Comp Cams for the one-off camshaft and combined two Edelbrock Pro-Flo intakes to create the longer intake. The team at Swiftek Engineering created the valve covers.
Stewy’s Speed Shop in Alva, Oklahoma, hand built the exhaust headers. Darrin says the headers and the under-car exhaust system is perfectly symmetrical. The V10 is only one-half-inch longer, and narrower, than a traditional big-block Chevy, so fitting it into the engine compartment was relatively easy.
Power flows through a 4L85E automatic transmission to a 9-inch rearend housing 3.90 gears. Wilwood discs and Schott wheels reside on all four corners. Covington Customs in Woodward, Oklahoma, did the top-quality bodywork and applied the striking PPG Phoenix Red and black paint.
Veteran trimmer Ron Mangus stitched the interior, including the massaged 2006 GTO seats. Dakota Digital gauges and a Vintage Air system reside in the dash. One nice touch is the small control pad on the left side of the dash that operates lights, wipers, and other items, courtesy of Switch-Pros.
The V10 LSX engine spent two days on the dyno to get it to run properly, but the end result is impressive, producing 600-foot-pounds of torque between 2,500 and 7,000 rpm. That’s strong, and it gives this custom ’55 an element that’s truly unique.
Photos by John Jackson & Damon Lee