"Whatever it takes." That was the motto behind Gary Glandon's wild '55 Pro Mod Chevy. Spare no expense, do it right the first time, and build something that would be the best and fastest classic truck on wheels were Gary's goals. Gary has been building drag cars and trucks for the past 17 years, the last seven of which have been out of his Southwest Custom Trucks shop in Apache Junction, just east of Phoenix.
Truthfully, the bread and butter for the shop comes from building custom daily drivers for customers that come from all over the state wanting cool retro rides. And Gary is lucky enough, due to the dry desert air, to have a well-stocked boneyard out back of the shop, loaded with early model classic trucks that are waiting to become someone's prized project vehicle.
When building a custom early model truck for show, you are working on or rebuilding something that has already been driven and proven. But when you decide to construct something from scratch, such as a race truck, it's a whole new ball game, according to Gary. Such was the case with the '55 Pro Mod. The only original piece on the whole drag truck was the steel cab, which started out as a rusted hulk out back in the boneyard.
Like most race cars, the process began with a truckload of 1-3/4-inch-od sticks of 4130 chrome-moly round tubing. Incorporating modern technology, the Southwest team created the blueprint for the racer with the aid of a CAD computer program. The computer-aided design system helps determine critical stress points and design elements that help shape the foundation for strength. To some, the chassis looks more like some sort of sick jungle-gym set. But each piece of tubing has a specific placement determined by the computer program's mathematical calculations.
After the chassis' main tube rails were laid in the jig, all the remaining sections of tubing were added from there. As the tube chassis began to take shape, the suspension pickup points and geometry were determined by the CAD program and located on the chassis. Suspension components were mounted for a final fitment before the mounting brackets were welded up. The main chassis structure was tacked, then the sub-structure pieces were aligned and tacked in place. After everything was checked and rechecked, the chassis' intersecting joints were completely welded while still in the jig.
With the chassis complete, a Ford 9-inch rearend was narrowed to 27 inches and stuffed with Richmond 3.89 gears and Summers Brothers 32-spline axles. The 9-inch is hung by a pair of AFCo coilovers and moves on a McAmis four-link system. Wilwood disc brakes with large rotors supply stopping power.
The unique front suspension was designed and developed by John Lovan, who was a design engineer/fabricator for Penske Racing and the UOP Shadow Formula One team during the '70s. The front AFCo coilover front shocks are mounted inboard of the chassis and almost parallel to the ground. The AFCo coilover shocks are linked to the Southwest Custom Trucks-fabricated control arms by a cantilever-design configuration.
The 1,732-pound scaled-down...
The 1,732-pound scaled-down '55 Chevy recently ran a best pass of 7.69 seconds at 178 mph.
Up front are 3-1/2x15-inch...
Up front are 3-1/2x15-inch Weld Racing wheels wrapped in 4x15-inch Phoenix rubber. Wilwood disc brakes with large cross-drilled rotors create ample stopping power. Peeking out from under the front fender is the blown small-block's set of hand-fabricated zoomie-style headers.
The fiberglass body components...
The fiberglass body components - front fenders, bumper, grille, hood, doors, and rear fenders - started out as Creative Fiberglass BodyWork, but have been heavily modified by Southwest Custom Trucks. The front fenders and hood have been extended 5 inches. The rear Creative Fiberglass fenders were left alone to allow for ample clearance of the massive 15-inch wide, 33-inch-tall Phoenix drag slicks. The all-aluminum bed was fabricated by the crew at Southwest Custom Trucks.