The Memphis Belair

UPDATE JUNE'11: With the majority of bodywork complete the shell was sent off to be dipped. Unfortunately the results were less than spectacular and we then needed to send the body off to be media blasted. The guys at Austec (Chipping Norton NSW) did a great job & my painter (Simon, Ground Level Paint & Panel) covered the car in etch primer. As expected there is a few more areas of body work required, but nothing too major...a font passenger floor pan probably being the biggest item. Just waiting on some patch panels from Ecklers in the US and we should be right to finish it off. Meanwhile the chassis got sandblasted and coated in etch primer as well, and we have now reinstalled front and rear suspension being the Ridetech Airbar set up at the rear, and tubular A arms at the front. A set of Hoppers Stoppers discs on the front compliment the discs on the full floater 9" rear end from Extreme diffs in Melbourne. Tieing the 2" dropped spindles from Castlemaine Rod Shop together is a Flaming River power steering rack & cradle, which sits only about 1" off the ground when the suspension is at its lowest!!! To cap things off a set of the Gasser style 10 spoke Rocket "Launcher" rims with Mickey Thompson front runners keep it all up off the ground, albeit only a little bit!!! So from here we will tidy up the body, reinstall it on the chassis using new urethane body mounts from Energy Suspension, and then it is off to get the roll cage installed and engine/gearbox mounts all set up. We have also got another custom touch or two I've decided to add to the body to ensure we do end up with that old skool look I'm after. Cheers for now!

Currently in the build is what will ultimately be our first "Street Strip Salt Speed Special". The vehicle has been built with NSW RTA, ANDRA, & DLRA requirements in mind. The car has been totally stripped to a bare chassis and shell, and is having all traces of the dreaded tin-worm removed. It has been mini-tubbed, had an Air-Bar 4 link rear suspension installed, and a full-floating disc braked 9" rear end. An AirPod with LevelPro control system is on its way. See the progress in our interactive image gallery...

Still to come is an engine and transmission combination that will be 100% street legal, provide ample horsepower, as well as both the low-down gearing required for strip work and the taller ratios required for the salt flats. We have already acquired 80% of the engine parts, and rest assured there will defintely be some uique aspects to the combination. Bodywise we wont mess too much with the famous Chevrolet shape, however there will be some mild kustom touches mixed in with some traditional hot rodding styling elements to ensure this ride makes not just a performance statement but a visual one as well.

With a projected 8.8lbs/ the car would have slotted neatly into BB/GS back in the early Gasser era, which ran at 8.6lbs/ for 1960-61, 9.0lbs/ for 1962-65, and then 8.0lbs/ from 1966 on. Performances were initially around 12.0s@109mph and progressed through to 8.9s@158mph. The records that closed out the 1968 season were 9.89 (Billy Holt & Fowler) & 143.76mph (Marrs Boys). Back in the day Chevy's typically ran in the CC/GS class with their blown small block combinations, but the Memphis BelAir will step up a class thanks to the extra cubic inches of the supercharged Big Block motor that will sit under the hood.

1957 Plymouth SavoyThe car isn't built to chase records, or compete in any particular class. Ultimately a car that is built for street, strip, & salt duties is not focused enough, too much of a compromise in that respect. The goals are purely that of the owner' to the local pub or car show on the weekend, to drive it to the strip and run 9's, & to hit a big number on the salt (ok we want to run 200mph, but I think Darryl Kerrigan would say "tell him he's dreaming!").

Having said that it was interesting to read about the exploits of Hot Rod Magazine editor & NHRA founder Wally Parks and his 1957 Plymouth Savoy "Suddenly". Straight off the showroom floor in 1957, the Savoy was fitted with basic safety features and a Hilborn injected 389ci Hemi, a set of Hedman headers and a 2.92 gearset.  The car was towed to NASCAR's Speedweek, where it was forced to run on pump gasoline. Dynoed at 420 horsepower, the untested combo ran a two-way average of 159+mph on the less than perfect Daytona beach surface. (

If this was achievable in 1957, surely the advancements in technology, in particular reflected in the additional horsepower that the Memphis BelAir will have available, can find another 41 mph??? Or will the unchanged laws of aerodynamics prevail...