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1955 Chevrolet 210 Shoebox - Uncompromising

An 8-Second, Street-Driven '55 Chevy

Photography by , Terry McGean

When we decided to do our Pro Touring vs. Pro Street comparison for this issue, we wanted to have some prime examples of each to support the two schools. Trouble is, Mike Landi's '55 Chevy is probably not representative of the average Pro Street car ... it's better. The basic idea of Pro Street is to create the look of a serious dragstrip machine that can also be used on the street, but typically, these vehicles manage to master only the look, while seeming to miss the performance mark on both the strip and the street, making them basically useless. What's the point of having a street car that looks like a race car but isn't actually either?

But Landi's '55 avoids the pitfalls of Pro Street by achieving proficiency at both-it's a bona-fide street machine that kills at the drags. In truth, we're the only ones classifying Landi's ride as Pro Street; he built it with specific goals in mind, not to adhere to a trend. The whole point was to create the ultimate street/strip ride, a car that can be driven to the track to click off blazing e.t.'s before being motored back home, all with a minimum of drama.

A little background on Landi is probably in order. Mike got his start back in the late '60s working at the now-legendary Blair's Speed Shop in his hometown of Pasadena. Later, he was one of Pete & Jake's earliest employees, helping to design and manufacture street rod parts, and still later, he did time at Gale Banks Engineering. "I've had some of the best influences anyone could ask for," says Mike, referring to the invaluable education he received from talented engineers, designers, and fabricators along the way. Today, Mike's day job involves running his business, Plan B Visual Design in Burbank, California, a shop that fabricates any manner of props, models, displays, sets, stages, and any other mechanical creation needed for film industry projects. You may never have heard of Plan B, but you've probably seen their work, possibly in a movie, commercial, concert tour, or awards show. The guys that make it happen at Plan B are a combination of artists, engineers, and fabricators-just the sort of crew that could probably build a bitchin' car. Combine this talent pool with a hardcore gearhead leader and it comes as little surprise to find that the '55 was built almost entirely in the shop at Plan B.

Once Landi got the urge to build a seriously fast car that would also be truly streetable, there was little question over what type of car it would be; Tri-5 Chevys have always been one of Mike's favorites (he figures he's owned about 25 of them over the years). But for a brutal street shoebox, a '55 sedan just seems right. A complete, rust-free specimen was located and procured, and the car was taken to Plan B to begin the transformation.

Enthusiasm for the '55 project mounted quickly among the staff, and soon everyone was involved. Mike wanted to maintain the lines of the '55 with minimal interruptions, but he knew going in that major rubber would be required to hook the beast, so it made sense to tuck the tires in the rear. Initially the rear axle was suspended by Plan B-built ladder bars, but has since been updated to an Art Morrison four-link setup. Rear framerails were fabbed at Plan B and moved in to make room for the meats. In fact, Plan B fabricated a front frame clip as well during the update, opting to use a Morrison strut-type front suspension with a manual rack-and-pinion unit in place of the modified stock suspension used previously. The Morrison front end handles better at speed and shaves nearly 250 pounds from the nose.

For power, a big-block Chevy seemed a natural, but once again, weight was a concern, so a Donovan aluminum block was employed and stuffed with a Lunati crank, Carillo rods, and CP pistons to make 540 inches. Ported Brodix heads top off the long-block, but the real attention-getter is the Littlefield 8-71 blower. The supercharger was another Landi mandate, but he was unwilling to suffer through the typical idiosyncrasies of huffed street engines. That was the major impetus for using EFI to manage fuel distribution on the Rat motor, and this is another area where Plan B's touch came into play. Under the Enderle bug-catcher is a fabricated plate that holds eight 80-lb/hr injectors, controlled with an ECU that Plan B created by combining components from several aftermarket programmable systems. The result is a blown big-block that cold-starts quickly, idles smoothly, and never surges.

Power is not compromised, however, as dyno-testing shows. Landi and crew spent considerable time on the chassis dyno at Westech Performance Group in Mira Loma, California, dialing in the combination. True to his intentions, Mike has driven the car to the track on its Mickey Thompson E/T Streets and run mid-9-second passes before driving home. However, the '55 does have a race trim configuration that sees more boost (15 pounds), full racing slicks, and open headers, which has so far been good for 8.80s at 152 mph. An average Pro Streeter? Hardly. But it is an excellent high-water mark for the rest of the field to aspire to.

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