"I know street racing is frowned upon, but I was challenged to a race two years ago, and my friend said I had it in the bag. But I was still nervous," explained Louis Jackson, when describing his most memorable experience in this blown, big-block-powered Bel Air. "I won by five cars and the guy I was racing told me he had thought it was just a show car. Boy, did I 'show' him!"
While we at giant Super Chevy magazine do not condone such illegal activity, it does warm our hearts to hear Louis upheld the honor of his '55. His car exemplifies the trend of a well-turned out vehicle that can take home the gold from the show field, then tear up the tarmac on the way back from the event.
It hasn't been all roses and kisses to get the car to this point, however. Louis is on his third engine, and the guy who did the back half job before he bought the '55 made a couple of costly errors that had to be fixed before the project could proceed.
Under the hood now is a 540-inch Rat built by Button Automotive topped with Dart Pro 1 heads and a B&M 420 Mega Blower supercharger (5 psi of boost). A custom ground cam from Isky helps the whole thing make a robust 900 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 780 lb-ft at the flywheel—no problems here! Exhaust flows through a custom made set of headers exhaling through four-inch Flowmasters and five-inch oval side-exiting tips.
Power gets to the narrowed 9-inch via an M&M Transmissions manual valvebody Turbo 400. Louis went through torque converter Hell before settling on a Neil Chance 2800-stall unit, which he absolutely loves. Speaking of the 9-inch, it was built by Danny Miller's Rear Gears and employs 3.73 s and a Detroit Locker.
For rolling stock, Louis went with Weld Magnum 2.0s, 15x4-inches in front, 15x15 out back, and the rears are wrapped in Hoosier 31x18.5-in Quick Time Pros. The front suspension uses tubular control arms and AFCO adjustable coilovers, while Strange double adjustables are employed in the rear. As far as the rear suspension goes, it's a ladder bar setup with a diagonal link.
The interior on this '55 is a real work of art and its details are what actually attracted us to the hardtop in the first place, specifically the custom center console, which was built to a design Louis himself dreamed up. The front of the console is actually built from the instrument panel of another '55, and houses two A/C vents and three Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges (trans temp, boost and fuel pressure. The rest of the interior is comprised of soft Ultra Leather seats, more gauges, an orange rollcage and other amenities. It was built by High Tech. The trunk matches the interior.
Roger Ferris at Show Car Specialties gets the credit for fixing the work of previous shops, doing most of the bodywork on the car (though Louis did help with this and the paint). Roger also laid down a stunning orange paint job with subtle flames (all done with DuPont Hot Hues). Permasting Coating was used on the intake, blower case, front spindles, A-arms and trans pan.
To further differentiate the Bel Air, the gas tank door, fender extensions, cowl panel and dash seams were filled by Ferris. He did a masterful job, no doubt about it.
While a lot of people are getting off these days of the modern, clean, pro touring look, Louis Jackson's '55 has a more brutal vibe. It harkens back to a time when restraint was not considered a virtue. We love everything he's done here.
A custom ground cam from Isky helps the whole thing make a robust 900 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 780 lb-ft at the flywheel—no problems here!