Char­lie Mag­gard’s Tri-Five is More Than a Lit­tle Sly

Drag Racer - - Contents - Text and Pho­tos by Rod Short

SIT­TING IN THE STAG­ING LANES IN THE MIDST OF HOOD-SCOOPED DOORSLAMMERS, DRAGSTERS AND AL­TEREDS, CHAR­LIE MAG­GARD’S CHEVY LOOKS MORE THAN A LIT­TLE OUT OF PLACE. There are no con­tin­gency stick­ers, wheelie bars, ’chutes or other tell­tale signs that this Chevy even be­longs here. It doesn’t get a lot of at­ten­tion from the other driv­ers as they get ready, and that’s the way Char­lie likes it.

“I’ve got a cou­ple of other cars that I race at Moun­tain Park Drag­way in Clay City, Ken­tucky,” Char­lie said with a broad smile. “I just love rac­ing and I like hav­ing some­thing to go down the track in that looks nice.”

That’s why when he went with a friend to look at a car, he saw this ’55 Bel Air that caught his eye and light­ened his wal­let.

“I went with a friend to a pawn shop to look at a Tri-Five Chevy that he was in­ter­ested in,” he said. “This car was also there. The body was in pretty good shape and it was driv­able. I re­ally hadn’t gone with the in­tent of pur­chas­ing any­thing, but af­ter in­quir­ing and then talk­ing about it, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. We looked at it on a Satur­day. The next day it was mine!”

Over two years’ time, Char­lie went through the frame and sus­pen­sion, adding new A-arms, shocks, springs for bet­ter weight trans­fer and Wil­wood disc brakes front and rear. The back end was up­graded to wheel tubs to cover the 31x15 M/T rub­bers, a 9-inch rearend, stronger axles and 4.88 gears. An eight-point roll bar stiff­ens the chas­sis while also pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion. The stock in­te­rior was up­graded with af­ter­mar­ket race seats and Ste­wart-Warner gauges.

Nyes Au­to­mo­tive as­sem­bled a 582ci big-block rated at ap­prox­i­mately 980 hp. An­chor­ing the bot­tom end is an Ea­gle 4340 crank with a Moroso pickup and pan. H-beam rods con­nect to Wiseco gas-ported pis­tons. Brodix BB-3 alu­minum heads top the short-block. A Sig Er­son solid roller cam and lifters ac­tu­ates the COMP Cams val­ve­train uti­liz­ing Manley pushrods. In­duc­tion is by Edel­brock with a sin­gle Quick Fuel 1,150-cfm Dom­i­na­tor.

Char­lie, a body shop owner, re­painted the car in PPG Tango Mu­rango, re-chromed some of the trim and bumpers and was then ready for the street and strip.

At 3,340 pounds with driver, the ’55 has run a stout 9.96 on the quar­ter at 142plus mph. Char­lie usu­ally runs shorter 1/8-mile venues where the car has a best elapsed time of 5.75 sec­onds.

With good man­ners, this Bel Air isn’t out of place on the street, and it’s pro­vid­ing sur­prises for chal­lengers on the track. That makes this Chevy a stealthy fox that can not only run, but also bite.

 BE­LOW. Nyes Au­to­mo­tive bolted to­gether a po­tent 582-ci big-block, pump­ing out close to 1,000 hp.

 ABOVE. Char­lie’s hand­i­work is ev­i­dent in the Chevy’s very tidy trunk.

 Char­lie Mag­gard is jus­ti­fi­ably proud of his street/strip nine-sec­ond (quar­ter-mile) ride.

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