When a race car is brand new it can look better than many show cars. Over time, however, they become purpose-built race cars, cars that are thrashed on, leaned over, bumped, pushed, streaked, and scratched. Maybe that's what Greg Ryden's '55 Chevy sedan will look like after a season or two of street car racing, but when we saw it in the staging lanes at the NMCA Super Series Event at US-131 Raceway Park in Martin, Michigan, it didn't look like a typical race car.
This car began life as a real 210 sedan but was morphed into a serious Pro Street car by Frameworks in Phoenix, Arizona. The steel body, dash, and firewall remain, but a one-piece fiberglass front end, doors, decklid, and rear bumper were used to shave some pounds. Also, the thick 35-year-old glass was exchanged for lightweight Lexan. The car was originally built with Top Sportsman racing in mind. The owner at the time even went so far as to make the car SFI 25.1D legal to run times in excess of 7.50 with the Funny Car rollcage surrounding the driver.
Once Greg took delivery, he needed to bring the car up to NPS rules, which meant he had to make the door windows operational, add a dash of carpet with some door panels, and install mufflers. The lights, even the dome lamp, were all wired so the car was pretty much ready for the street. It also ended up that the engine needed to be moved 5 inches forward to its original mounting location. Since he'd just finished assembling a 632, it was a perfect time to drop it in the Shoebox. The engine is a 632ci Merlin block with a set of CFE Oldsmobile Pro Stock heads. A DaVinci carburetor feeds through a Dart intake. A special cam was ground by LSM, and engine building credits go to Mike and Sherri Casey. Greg credits Tom Stiels for helping to refit the exhaust system during the engine relocation. On the track, the normally aspirated car runs consistent 8.30s at over 160 mph!
Okay, so it might be pushing it to say this '55 is street legal, but Greg has rumbled through a local cruise or two and even made a couple laps on the Woodward Avenue loop around the city of Pontiac when the Power Tour ventured into Michigan. This year, Greg didn't expect to win any NMCA titles as the top contenders in NPS are dipping into the mid-7-second range. Over the off-season there are plans to add a tunnel-ram, bigger-ratio rockers, and a few other tweaks to take advantage of the big cubic inches and get the five-five into the 7s. Greg's attitude is about getting to do some heads up racing, turning a few wrenches with friends in the pits, and seeing some great racing action. Sounds like a great weekend.