1955 Pro Mod Chevy Drag Truck - Retro Rocket - Retro-Flect
This 7-Second '55 Pro Mod Is a True Blast From the Past
"Whatever it takes." That was the motto behind Gary Glandon's wild '55 Pro Mod Chevy. Spare no expense, do it right the first time, and build something that would be the best and fastest classic truck on wheels were Gary's goals. Gary has been building drag cars and trucks for the past 17 years, the last seven of which have been out of his Southwest Custom Trucks shop in Apache Junction, just east of Phoenix.
Truthfully, the bread and butter for the shop comes from building custom daily drivers for customers that come from all over the state wanting cool retro rides. And Gary is lucky enough, due to the dry desert air, to have a well-stocked boneyard out back of the shop, loaded with early model classic trucks that are waiting to become someone's prized project vehicle.
When building a custom early model truck for show, you are working on or rebuilding something that has already been driven and proven. But when you decide to construct something from scratch, such as a race truck, it's a whole new ball game, according to Gary. Such was the case with the '55 Pro Mod. The only original piece on the whole drag truck was the steel cab, which started out as a rusted hulk out back in the boneyard.
Like most race cars, the process began with a truckload of 1-3/4-inch-od sticks of 4130 chrome-moly round tubing. Incorporating modern technology, the Southwest team created the blueprint for the racer with the aid of a CAD computer program. The computer-aided design system helps determine critical stress points and design elements that help shape the foundation for strength. To some, the chassis looks more like some sort of sick jungle-gym set. But each piece of tubing has a specific placement determined by the computer program's mathematical calculations.
After the chassis' main tube rails were laid in the jig, all the remaining sections of tubing were added from there. As the tube chassis began to take shape, the suspension pickup points and geometry were determined by the CAD program and located on the chassis. Suspension components were mounted for a final fitment before the mounting brackets were welded up. The main chassis structure was tacked, then the sub-structure pieces were aligned and tacked in place. After everything was checked and rechecked, the chassis' intersecting joints were completely welded while still in the jig.
With the chassis complete, a Ford 9-inch rearend was narrowed to 27 inches and stuffed with Richmond 3.89 gears and Summers Brothers 32-spline axles. The 9-inch is hung by a pair of AFCo coilovers and moves on a McAmis four-link system. Wilwood disc brakes with large rotors supply stopping power.
The unique front suspension was designed and developed by John Lovan, who was a design engineer/fabricator for Penske Racing and the UOP Shadow Formula One team during the '70s. The front AFCo coilover front shocks are mounted inboard of the chassis and almost parallel to the ground. The AFCo coilover shocks are linked to the Southwest Custom Trucks-fabricated control arms by a cantilever-design configuration.
Rolling stock on the front consists of Weld Racing 3-1/2x15-inch wheels wrapped with Phoenix FX 4x15-inch rubber. The traction-grabbin' rear end hooks up with a pair of Weld Racing 15x15-inch spools and 17/33-15 Phoenix drag slicks.
Believe it or not, this 440ci aluminum small-block with port/polished Air Flow heads and Littlefield huffer (which produces 25 pounds of boost) makes a whopping 1,600 hp and 1,000 lb-ft of torque running on alcohol. The Competition Cam (duration: 320 degrees; lift: 0.738 intake, 0.699 exhaust) provides the engine's inhale and exhale cycle, while an MSD coil produces the spark that's distributed from the MSD distributor, through the 8-1/2-inch MSD ignition wires. Exhaust exits rapidly through the set of SCT-fabbed 2-1/8-inch zoomie headers that were Jet Hot ceramic-coated. Moving the power rearward is a reworked two-speed Power Glide transmission and a chrome-moly driveshaft that hooks to the Ford 9-inch rearend.
The truck's short stature was accomplished by chopping the steel cab 5 inches in the rear and 6 inches in the front. And if that wasn't enough, because the steel '55 Chevy cab had a bad case of rust in the rockers and kick panels, Southwest Custom cheese-grated 13 inches off the bottom. To accommodate the cab modifications, the truck's fiberglass doors were altered at their bottom edges to fit.
The reduction continued by sectioning the cab 11 inches right down the center and moving it back 5 inches on the chassis. The fiberglass front fenders and hood were lengthened 5 inches to maintain the 114-inch stock wheelbase, which is mandatory to run any Pro Mod classes. The custom aluminum bed was whacked 12 inches in front of the rear fenders.
As the finishing exterior touch, Sherwin Williams Victory Red was sprayed by Gary and his son Scott. To create tremendous downforce, enhancing traction and eliminating lift, Southwest Custom Trucks also fabricated the massive Pro Mod wing and support struts, not to mention to huge wheelie bars out back. All in all, the truck only tips the scales at 1,732 pounds!
Behind this very cool, very fast drag truck is the dedicated and hard-working crew of John Lovan, D.J. Martin, the Glandon siblings, Michael, Scott, and Amy. When co-owner Gary Glandon is not underneath or bent over adjusting valves and rockers, he and his wife Rita are responsible for paying the bills.
This is one fast '55 Chevy, running 7.69 seconds and 178 mph in the quarter. When driver J.D. St. Cyr is not working at his desk as a design engineer for MSD Ignitions, he is belting himself into this wild and wicked miniaturized red '55 Chevy Stepside pickup. J.D. has been involved with drag racing since he was eye level to a headlight. He is known for his intimidating 660 smoky burnouts, lightning-quick reaction times, and straight full-throttle passes. He's a second-generation drag racer. His dad, "Nutts" St. Cyr, was a serious quarter-miler during the '60s and '70s and is presently helping out Gary's crew on race weekends. Nutts just finished building a Pro Street Bow Tie shoebox that is the stable mate of his other Pro Street '66 Chevy Nova.
It's only a matter of time before this miniature red '55 blasts into the 6's and breaks the 200-mph barrier. The temptation of integrating some insane nitro passes could also become a reality.