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.
The stock dash remains intact, while a brace of Autometer gauges and rocker switches are h
In the interest of saving weight while adding strength, the '55's big-block is based on a
The fuel cell and pumps are what you'd expect to find in the trunk of a ride like this, bu
Car Craft Q&A
Car Craft: What made you decide to build a car like this?
Mike Landi: I've always liked drag racing, but I also like to drive my cars. Fast street cars have been around as long as there've been hot rods, but we wanted to do both legitimately well.
CC: How did you determine your goals?
ML: Initially, we were just trying to build a dead-reliable 10-second street car, but before we knew it the car was in the 9s. That led us to figuring out ways to control the heat and the traction to improve e.t.'s while maintaining streetability. Later, we found ways to shave some weight as well, which also helped.
CC: Anything in particular that makes the '55 more/less streetable?
ML: The EFI is the key to running that engine on the street-I don't think we could get it that smooth and reliable with carburetors. We did use 31/44-inch spherical rod-ends in the suspension to limit deflection, rather than urethane bushed ends, which would be more street-friendly. The spherical joints must be replaced every few months if the car is street-driven, so we consider them sacrificial parts.
Car: '55 Chevy 210
Owner: Mike Landi, Pasadena, CA
Engine: Aluminum Donovan big-block Chevy, 540 ci, machine work and engine development by Russell Kelly
Heads: Brodix BB-2 Xtra, ported and polished, 119cc chambers, 2.30/1.88-inch valves
Induction: Littlefield 8-71 supercharger 18-percent overdriven (16 psi), Littlefield manifold, Enderle injector, Plan B EFI system using eight 80-lb/hr injectors in custom plate between injector hat and blower
Camshaft: Crane Cams solid-roller, custom grind, specs not disclosed; lift in excess of 0.630-inch, duration in excess of 270 degrees @ 0.050, Jesel 1.7:1 shaft rockers
Output: 1,158 hp @ 7,200 rpm and 889 lb-ft @ 7,145 at the flywheel
Transmission: Turbo 400 by Mike's Transmissions, Palmdale, CA, with 10-inch, 3,500-rpm stall converter by Continental
Rearend: Art Morrison Ford 9-inch housing with Mark Williams aluminum centersection and locking differential, 4.7:1 gears from U.S. Gear, and Strange 40-spline rifle-drilled axles
Front suspension: Art Morrison strut IFS kit built by Plan B mounted to Plan B front frame clip
The Plan B crew created these removable sections in the quarter-panels to facilitate rear
Rear suspension: Art Morrison 9-inch style housing with Art Morrison four-link, Chris Alston double-adjustable Vari-shocks, Plan B rear clip with narrowed framerails and Plan B wheeltubs
Brakes: Wilwood 11-inch discs front and rear
Wheel and tires: Real Wheels by Eric Vaughn, 15x5 front, 15x12 rear, Mickey Thompson Sportsman 26/4.5-15 front, Mickey Thompson ET Street 31x16.6-15 rear
Interior: Kirkey seats and full carpeting by Paul of Sagonas Upholstery in Burbank, CA
Body mods: Louvered stock hood, removable side panels for rear tire access by Plan B; Race trim: Ed Quay aluminum deck wing, Simpson parachute pack, Flameout onboard fire system
Paint: By Brett Klaeser, Bob's Auto Body in Pasadena, CA, PPG acrylic urethane single-stage Brite Tangerine and Ivory
Cost to build: $150,000-$200,000
When the '55 was first constructed at Plan B, the stock front suspension was retained and
Back in 1969, a young Mike Landi was already racing shoebox Chevys. This '57 was not stree