As is standard practice with Goodguys giveaway cars, the Clean Air ’55 toured the Goodguys show circuit all throughout 2011 before it was handed to its new owner at the Southwest Nationals in November. That meant that Roger got to log plenty of miles on it, and he reports that the ’55 has successfully exceeded all expectations. “With the Corvette parts that are in the car, it’s not surprising that it drives a lot like a new C6. The ride quality and steering feel are excellent, there’s no bumpsteer at all, and it handles great through the autocross,” he says. “It might be just like every other ’55, but that was the idea behind this car. We drove it 1,000 miles from Iowa to Kansas, and everyone was giving us the thumbs up. Oh yeah, the car also got 23 mpg on the trip.”

Despite how nicely the Clean Air ’55 turned out, there will still be those who say it would be even cooler if it were a real ’55 Chevy. If cool is defined as dealing with the headaches, time, and money involved with trying to rescue a hopeless hooptie, then the naysayers might have a point. From a practical standpoint, however, reproduction bodies just make a lot of sense, and if EMI Tri-Fives someday catch on like Model A and ’32 Ford kit cars, no one’s going to care that they started out life incubating in shipping crates. At the end of a long day of block sanding, can you really say it’s better to start with an overpriced lump of oxidation just because it rolled off of a GM assembly line many decades ago?

By The Numbers

1955 Chevy Bel Air

Built by: Ironworks/Roger Lee

Bakersfield, CA


Type: GM LS3 small-block E-Rod

Block: factory 4.065-inch aluminum

Oiling: stock

Rotating assembly: factory 3.622-inch crank, rods, and 10.7:1 pistons

Cylinder heads: GM rectangle-port aluminum castings

Camshaft: stock 204/211-at-.050 hydraulic roller; .551/.525-inch lift, 116-degree LSA

Induction: GM LS3 intake manifold and throttle body

Ignition: stock coil packs, plugs, and wires

Exhaust: GM manifolds, custom 2.75-inch pipes, dual Flowmaster mufflers

Cooling: stock water pump, PRC radiator, SPAL dual electric fans

Output: 430 hp at 5,900 rpm and 424 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm


Transmission: Gearstar 4L60E overdrive and 2,200-stall converter

Rear axle: Chassisworks Fab 9 rearend housing, Moser 31-spline axles, 3.70:1 gears, and limited-slip differential


Front suspension: Ironworks C6 Corvette control arms and sway bar; RideTech coilovers

Rear suspension: Ironworks four-link and RideTech coilovers

Brakes: Wilwood 12.2-inch rotors and six-piston calipers, front; Wilwood 11-inch rotors and four-piston calipers, rear

Wheels & Tires

Wheels: Intro Vintage 18x8, front; 20x10, rear

Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 255/35R18, front; 295/35R20, rear