Priorities are a huge determining factor in the way a car looks and performs, and it’s a broad spectrum from the high-dollar chrome trinkets of show cars to the race-inspired details of hardcore street machines. For Shannon Medley and his ’55 Chevy 210, going fast is certainly the top priority, leaving details like bumpers, interior bits and exterior trim out of the equation. He’s not alone in the madness, as his ’55 always creates a buzz at the dragstrip and generally draws a crowd. The curious onlookers aren’t interested in the bodywork or the interior—they want to know how it’s so fast.
Everywhere you look, Shannon’s Chevy is frustratingly simple, from the junkyard 6.0-liter Vortec engine to the rear suspension. By all accounts, this car’s a definite sleeper, and Shannon never fails to surprise folks at the track. He got the car in December of 2010 after trading his ’72 Chevelle for it, body for body. His Chevelle was quite the sleeper as well, running deep in to the 6s in the eighth-mile with skinny whitewall tires and stock hubcaps. And while the ’55 doesn’t really look like a stocker, it doesn’t have the go-fast vibe with its Rally wheels and rattle-can paintjob. Shannon’s always had a thing for ’55 Chevys, especially 210 two-door post cars, because his dad had one back in the day. Even with a healthy big-block, his dad’s car wasn’t nearly as fast as this one.
Shannon is known for his simple, yet quick, combinations and has proved his theory of dry nitrous kits with this build. Somehow, he makes nitrous work without a secondary shot of fuel to his advantage, while most folks wouldn’t make it out of the driveway without melting a piston. The LQ4 Vortec engine is truly a junkyard piece, snatched from a ’01 fullsize Chevy, and it has withstood a multitude of beatings, not the least of which includes a 225hp dry shot of nitrous. Thanks to a Comp Cams stick, the nearly stock 6.0 makes a ton of power on the hose, and the stock ’55 Chevy leaf springs do a great job of keeping the car hooked up, even on a small tire.
The car is very reliable, mild mannered, and quiet on the street, but when he uncaps the headers and lets a bit of air pressure out of the slicks, the flat-black ’55 turns into an unbelievable performer. It is crude because it’s still a work in progress, and Shannon plans to upgrade the car in terms of safety. The car also sees plenty of regular street driving, and it gets driven to and from the track. Shannon usually runs 93 octane in the ’55, but occasionally splashes a gallon of 110 in it for good measure.
So far, the car has run a best of 6.26 at 106.9 mph in the eighth, which is astonishing when you consider the budget of $3,500 in the drivetrain and suspension. Add in the value of the car, and Shannon has a killer street car with way less than $7,000 invested. Regardless of the car’s street-friendly characteristics, don’t be fooled by its simplicity, along with Shannon’s laidback attitude—this thing means business and receives its share of abuse.
Who: Shannon Medley
What: ’55 Chevy 210
Where: Ringgold, Georgia
Engine: Shannon bought the LQ4 Vortec engine from a friend who had sourced it from a junkyard. The 6.0-liter LS-based engine started life in 2001 and still has plenty of life left in it. The bottom end is completely original, as are the “317” cylinder heads, with the only modification being a set of LS6 valvesprings. The camshaft is a Comp Cams 275XR, with specs of 222 degrees of duration on the intake side and 224 on the exhaust, measured at 0.050-inch lift. Lobe-separation angle is 112 degrees, while maximum valve lift comes in at 0.566 inch on the intake and 0.568 inch on the exhaust. The fuel system consists of the stock ’55 Chevy tank, so Shannon keeps it topped off to prevent fuel starvation due to slosh. A Walbro 255 electric fuel pump delivers 93 octane to the stock injectors, while original coil packs light the fire. The car has never been dyno tested, but Sam Daffron tuned the car using HP Tuners software.
Power Adder: The engine combination is very simple, and so is the nitrous system. Shannon built the kit himself and spent less than $100 on swap-meet solenoids to create a two-stage dry nitrous system. He launches the car with a 125hp shot, and while the front wheels are still in the air, he hits the second kit, spraying another 100hp the length of the track. The computer adds enrichment fuel via the factory fuel injection system to keep the engine alive.
Transmission: Behind the stealthy 6.0 is a TCI-prepped TH350. It’s not a full race transmission, but it was built with a manual valvebody and a PTC 10-inch torque converter, which stalls at 3,000 rpm. The three-speed automatic sends power to the 8.5-inch, 10-bolt rear end, which came out of a ’78 Camaro. It was upgraded with Hudlow 30-spline axles, a mini spool, and a 3.42:1 gear set.
Suspension: The full-frame ’55 Chevy certainly has a few years on it, but Shannon didn’t see the need to drastically change it. He installed a cheap disc brake kit on the front and left everything else stock. The rear suspension features the original leaf springs, which are assisted by a pair of old school slapper bars and three-way adjustable shocks. Did we mention this thing was frustratingly simple?
Wheels/Tires: Traction comes from a pair of Mickey Thompson 28x9-inch slicks that are mounted to 15x7-inch Rally wheels. A matching pair of wheels rolls up front, but Shannon occasionally bolts on a pair of front runners to shed a few pounds.
Bodywork: Minor repairs have been masked by a few coats of rattle-can flat black.
Interior: He hasn’t quite gotten to the interior stage, so the car is a bit ratty on the inside. No door panels, late-model bucket seats, and a rusty steering wheel give it plenty of character. You’ll also notice there isn’t a rollcage in this car, which is alarming, but cool. Lap belts are the only safety-related item.
Performance: Shannon’s ’55 has run a best of 6.26 at 106.9 mph in the eighth-mile and has busted off a best 60-foot time of 1.34 seconds. With a 3,430-pound race weight, this no-nonsense Chevy is making some serious power. The car transfers weight nicely, hiking the left front tire on every pass. End