MUL­LI­GAN

If your first crack at Pro Street glory doesn’t suc­ceed, try, try again ... with a big blower and a hot stance

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT & PHO­TOS: Stephen Kim

If your first crack at Pro Street glory doesn’t suc­ceed, try, try again ... with a big blower and a hot stance

When the dust set­tles from World War III, the only things left will be cock­roaches and Pro Street. Like a crazy ex-girl­friend, big ’n’ lit­tles cars keep com­ing back, even af­ter your wife finds out about them. Of course, things that refuse to go away are only bad if—like cock­roaches and crazy ex-girl­friends—they have no re­deem­ing qual­i­ties. That may have been the case with old-school Pro Street, but cars like Jeff Eng­land’s su­per­charged ’56 Chevy can teach us all a thing or two about how to make a by­gone trend rel­e­vant once again.

For Jeff, the path to Tri-Five glory started as a young­ster, when he used to tag along with his dad and un­cle to the lo­cal dragstrip. “They raced a ’55 Chevy, and I thought it was the coolest car in the world,” he rem­i­nisces. In­ter­est­ingly, it wasn’t un­til sev­eral decades and many mus­cle cars later that he fi­nally de­cided to take the Tri-Five plunge.

“I’ve had a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing over the years, but mainly Corvettes and Ca­maros. One of my fa­vorites is my big-block ’69 Camaro. In 2005, I bought a ’56 Chevy from a drag racer. Since the plan was to build a Pro Street car, I felt it would make a good start­ing point for the Tri-Five I had al­ways wanted.”

As a re­tired race car, the ’56 Chevy had seen bet­ter days. “When I picked it up, the car was a rolling chas­sis with no mo­tor or trans. There wasn’t a whole lot left of the orig­i­nal body,” Jeff re­calls. “The body was wavy and badly rusted, so we peeled it way down and re­placed the trunk, doors, and quar­ter-pan­els. While ev­ery­thing was apart, we tubbed it out and built a cus­tom chas­sis for it. We worked on the car in my home shop, so the project wasn’t com­pleted un­til 2012.”

Un­for­tu­nately, the pro­longed ges­ta­tion pe­riod for the build meant that the fin­ished prod­uct was out of style im­me­di­ately af­ter the project was com­pleted. “It was a nice car, but it just didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would. We got the car done

just in time for it to not be in style any­more,” Jeff laughs. “It had a TPI mo­tor and one of the last sets of Boyd Cod­ding­ton wheels ever made. The car didn’t sit right, the in­te­rior didn’t pop, and over­all the look was past its time.”

To make the best of the sit­u­a­tion, Jeff sat down for a con­sul­ta­tion with Mike Du­sold of Du­sold De­signs (Lewisville, Texas). To­gether, they came up with a plan to mod­ern­ize the

’56 Chevy while still re­tain­ing some of that old-school vibe. “I wanted to keep the nos­tal­gic theme. I wanted it to look and func­tion like a mod­ern car without tak­ing away from the her­itage of the Tri-Five. Once the car was at Mike’s shop, he up­dated the sus­pen­sion, changed the stance, com­pletely re­did the in­te­rior, and came up with a tra­di­tional two-tone paint scheme us­ing satin.”

Noth­ing screams Pro Street like a big blower, so the out­dated TPI in­duc­tion has been re­placed by a Weiand 8-71 huf­fer that sits atop a 468-cu­bic-inch big­block. It sends an es­ti­mated

700 hp back to a GM 700-R4 over­drive and a 9-inch rearend. To help sta­bi­lize the four-link rear sus­pen­sion, Du­sold built a cus­tom Pan­hard bar and fine-tuned the ge­om­e­try. A set of JRi coilovers con­trib­utes to the mean stance, and mod­ern stop­ping power comes cour­tesy of Wil­wood disc brakes.

While up­dates to the chas­sis and run­ning gear make a huge im­pact from afar, Jeff is equally as ap­pre­cia­tive of all the lit­tle changes that make the over­all pack­age more pol­ished and re­fined. “We moved the shifter from the col­umn to the floor to bring some of the nostal­gia back. I was adamant about putting back seats in the in­te­rior to make the car pe­riod-cor­rect, which is very hard to do with tubs,” says Jeff. “The dash has been

com­pletely changed, and Mike came up with a cool idea to use Cadil­lac door pan­els.”

Af­ter a very long, decade-plus jour­ney, Jeff fi­nally has the Tri-Five he al­ways en­vi­sioned. The fin­ished prod­uct mas­ter­fully blends tra­di­tional and mod­ern, and if not for the blower scoop and 31-inch Mickey Thomp­sons, it could pass for a Pro Tour­ing ma­chine. By com­bin­ing the best of old and new, Jeff has cre­ated a big ’n’ lit­tles car that’s ac­tu­ally func­tional and en­joy­able to drive. If our hot rod­ding fore­bears were wiser, this is what Pro Street should have been all along. CHP

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