The trick Classic Instruments cluster houses the speedo, tach, and all the critical gauges
With the plan in place, Roger immediately got to work on the frame. Ironworks offers turnkey chassis for Tri-Fives, Chevelles, and ’58-64 Impalas, and since they’re brimming with the latest in modern technology, they serve as an ideal Pro Touring foundation. The company’s Tri-Five frames are built from laser-cut and TIG-welded flat steel plates, and boast revised suspension pickup points for optimized geometry. Up front are C6 Corvette aluminum control arms, and in the back is a custom four-link. RideTech coilovers man each corner of the car for easy on-track adjustments. “Our chassis weren’t designed to be the easiest to install, but rather they’re set up to achieve a very aggressive stance while maximizing ground clearance and optimizing suspension geometry. All of the components are tucked tightly into the frame, and the rails allow easily fitting big tires,” Roger says.
Not long after Ironworks completed the chassis, a magical wooden crate showed up from EMI. The team quickly mated the new ’55 Chevy shell to the chassis, and starting mocking everything in place. To hit the car’s emissions-legal goal, Roger installed an E-Rod LS3 crate engine from GM Performance Parts. In addition to the LS3 itself, the E-Rod package includes exhaust manifolds, catalytic converters, oxygen sensors, a wiring harness, and an engine management computer calibrated to smog-legal specs. Rearward from the cats, the exhaust exits through custom 2.75-inch pipes routed to Flowmaster mufflers. Although the Gen IV small-block is pretty much stock, it’s still plenty stout, putting out 430 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. Ironworks matched it up with a Gearstar 4L60E overdrive transmission, and a Chassisworks 9-inch rearend housing fitted with Moser 31-spline axles. With the squeaky clean E-Rod motor underhood, Roger felt that a more appropriate handle was in order for the car. “Just calling it a Bel Air seemed too ordinary. With an emissions-friendly EFI motor in a convertible body, we thought ‘Clean Air ’55’ was a much better name for the car.”
After making quick work of transplanting the running gear, Ironworks shifted its focus on tying up the last of the loose ends. Since the chassis promised an ultra aggressive stance, wheel choice was critical to the car’s overall visual execution. In an effort to stick with the car’s theme of universal appeal, Roger opted for Intro Vintage wheels. Although they’re carved from billet in large diameters—18x8 up front and 20x10 in the rear—they lend a distinctly retro vibe. They’re wrapped in gooey Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber, and taking advantage of all that stick is a set of six-piston Wilwood clamps up front, and four-pot units out back.
Upon completing the initial assembly, the car was shipped off to Kenny Davis Hot Rods (www.KDHotRods.com) for a coat of PPG Red paint. Without floors to patch, fenders to straighten, or panels to replace, the process proved remarkably fast and painless. The next stop was Recover Room Interiors (www.RecoveryRoomRodInteriors.com), where the Clean Air ’55 received a fully custom, leather-lined cabin. Afterward, the car was shipped back to Ironworks, and the crew got busy with the final assembly process. Once again, putting the pieces together proved to be a mostly headache-free affair. “From start to finish, this car was completed in four months, and for much of that time we were just sitting around and waiting for parts to show up,” Roger says. “In fact, a large portion of the build was packed into the final six weeks because some parts were back-ordered. There were some trim pieces here and there that we had to spend some time tracking down, but otherwise almost every part in the car was ordered out of a catalog, including the body itself.”
As with the rest of the car, the Tri-Five’s interior stresses functionality over flamboyan
As intended, there’s nothing too fancy about the engine bay. The GM Performance Parts LS3