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1955 Chevy Bel Air Race Car - The Makawao Missle

Burns Rubber. Kicks Butt!

By Bob McClurg

Bill Burns' awesome '55 Bel Air has been a race car most all of its life. But from a first impression, it's hard to tell. Were it not for the fact that this classic Tri-Five sits on a huge set of drag slicks, you might mistake the clean-shaven Bel Air for a Pro Streeter. Its headlights and taillights work, so do the windshield wipers and interior dome light. And if what we're told is true, Bill is oft-time listening to the radio while sitting in the staging lanes at Maui Raceway Park!

According to Bill, the car was raced locally in the Gas class by a guy who has since moved away, but he's adamant that the current car isn't anything at all likethe car that was raced back in the '60s.

We can certainly believe that. The Makawao, Hawaii, iron worker/welding instructor spent three years and lots of cash building this awesome coral and white pearl Super Gasser.

The foundation for this beauty is a 114-inch-wheelbase, Chris Alston Chassisworks, 4130 chrome-moly "Avenger" S/G chassis kit built by Bill in his garage at home.

According to the owner, the biggest challenge was changing the chassis from what was originally 7/8-scale to full size, which required adding a little extra tubing in the rollcage area. However, the workmanship is so superb, you can't tell where Alston left off and Bill and company began.

Out back, Bill's '55 utilizes a stump-pulling set of 5.00:1 gears housed in a Mark Williams 40-spline-axle-9-inch rearend, suspended by a Chassisworks four-link setup complete with Alston/Koni double-adjustable coilover rear shocks. Rear braking comes in the form of a pair of Lamb Components 11-inch discs, while the wheelie bars are from Gary Hansen Race Cars.

Up front, the Shoebox utilizes a Lamb strut coilover front suspension with 10.5-inch Lamb Components disc brakes. Burn's '55 boogies down the track on a set of 15x3.5-inch and 15x15-inch Weld Racing Pro Star aluminum wheels, rolling on 23/50x15 and 16x33x15-inch GoodYear Eagle racing rubber.

Powering this beauty is a 468-inch Rat, featuring a reciprocating assembly of a GM crank riding on Federal Mogul Performance bearings, swinging a set of Total Seal-equipped, Super Rod connecting rods and 13.1:1 Ross pistons. The valvetrain uses components from Competition Cams and Jesel. Oiling is handled by a 7-quart Moroso oil pan and pump.

The Dart Pro-1 aluminum cylinder heads are fed fuel by a Holley 1050 Dominator carb. Lighting things off is an MSD crank trigger ignition, while the exhaust duties are handled by a pair of thermal-coated, 2.25-inch diameter, Cyclone Headers. A Roy Ferge/Transmission Specialties-prepared GM Powerglide with an A-1 manual valve body and 5,500-stall-speed torque converter spin the power through a Mark Williams custom driveshaft.

The all-steel body uses a Fiberglass Trends lift-off front end, hood, and trap door deck lid. Credit that outstanding pearl base, coral and white DuPont Chrom-A-Base paint to Bill and Dennis Tonga, who painted the car in the auto shop at Maui Community College. Brad King striped the Bel Air in gray, turquoise, and orange.

Inside trimmings are two-tone with coral, white upholstery and black trim by Kahului's Joe's Custom Upholstery. Auto Meter monitors critical engine happenings while a Perry shifter makes gear changes easy. With a curb weight of 2,500-pounds and clocking a best of 9.28-140.00, Bill's Bel Air is clearly the quickest and fastest Tri-Five in the Hawaiian Islands. And one of the best-looking, too.

By Bob McClurg
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