Hot Rod Heresy: Putting a 426 Hemi In A 1955 Chevy Bel Air – Roadkill Episode 8
Hot-rodding orthodoxy dictates that it is well and good to put a Chevrolet V-8 into just about anything, but it's a crime against nature to put anything else than a bowtie-based powerplant into a Chevy. Well, Mike Finnegan and David Freiburger of Hot Rod magazine are well-known for blazing their own trails in vehicle modification and customization. To that end, the pair are building a Chrysler 426 Hemi-powered 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air gasser drag racer.
Mike and David embark on an 1100-mile roadtrip from Southern California to Oregon, picking up the pieces needed to put together Finnegan's dream car. First up is the stop in Hemet to get the body for the '55 Chevy. Although it appears that the trip is getting off to a drama-free start, the fact that the pair are using an un-tested 1973 GMC Suburban as the tow rig adds some excitement along the way up to Oregon.
Along the way, Finnegan confesses he's never seen an ostrich or buffalo in the wild, and is rewarded with seeing both in the same day, proclaiming it his 'best day at work ever.' However, as evening came, the nearly 40 year-old tow rig exhibited some of its eccentricities. Along with a spark plug wire that continued to work itself loose, some sketchy wiring done by previous owners manifested itself in headlights that would not stay on. Headlights and plug wire fixed, the two drive through the night to get up to Oregon.
Triple-digit temperatures and a long uphill grade conspire to temporarily sideline the Suburban, but after a radiator top-off, the two are back on the way. When they finally arrive at Jim Meyer Racing in Lincoln City, Oregon, the body of the '55 Chevy is lowered onto a pristine custom-built chassis, making Finnegan's Hemi-powered gasser Chevy one step closer to completion.
Watch Episode Eight of Roadkill on the Motor Trend Channel.