This Naturally Aspirated 1956 Chevy 150 is a 9-Second Street Car
By Tommy Lee Byrd – Photography by the Author
Gearheads are known for pushing boundaries and often struggle with knowing when to quit. Just 1 more pound of boost, or just one size larger nitrous jet can get even the most seasoned gearhead into trouble. But when it comes to raw, naturally aspirated horsepower, bigger is always better. Such is the case with this ’56 Chevy 150, a car that has show-winning qualities, combined with big-time horsepower from a Scott Shafiroff 615ci big-block. Jason Stills owns the rowdy Tri-Five, and he isn’t afraid to cruise it around town or make a 9-second pass. It’s certainly on the extreme side of the street car spectrum, with an extensive rollcage and plenty of race-ready details, but it runs on pump gas, so that counts as a street car, right?
Jason has a racing background, but most of that time has been spent on two wheels. In addition to his motorcycle obsession, he and his father, Gene, share an interest in fast cars. Jason had a nicely detailed G-body street/strip car but he sold it on a whim to a fellow car guy who “wanted it worse than him,” to put it into Jason’s words. With a few dollars in his pocket he wanted a new project and stumbled upon this ’56 Chevy on the Internet. The car was mostly complete but needed some attention.
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After buying the car, Jason learned more about its history. He found that it was originally built by Tony Ferguson of Casper, Wyoming, and it featured a nitrous-assisted big-block Chevy. The car ran mostly on the West Coast and competed on the PSCA circuit in the Limited 235 heads-up class. After Ferguson moved onto another project, the nitrous combination was dismantled and the car was sold as a roller. It came up for sale again, so Jason drove to Texas and hauled the car home to Indiana. He immediately started picking away at it with plenty of help from his father, with hopes of building an attention-getting street car. Jason and Gene worked out the details and got the car back into racing form while also giving it some extra detail work to bring the combination to the next level.
The car’s “wow” factor comes from a beautiful two-tone paintjob and a killer stance with aggressive, black-accented wheels and race-ready rubber. The minimal 150 trim is the perfect breaking point for the mint green and black colors, applied by Jason Ferguson at Tubby’s Customs. Although it looks like it could’ve rolled off the assembly line in this color configuration, the mint green is a custom mix that fits the car perfectly. The body is steel, with the exception of the fiberglass hood, and the car still has real glass windows instead of Lexan.
Horsepower comes from a naturally aspirated big-block built by Shafiroff Racing. It’s a pump gas crate engine, coming in at 615 ci, but don’t let the big displacement convince you that this big-block isn’t street friendly. It’s built with a conservative compression ratio that can run on 92-octane, and it breathes deeply through a set of Brodix BB3X cylinder heads. A custom-grind Comp Cams solid roller was added to the mix, bringing horsepower up a little more than the advertised 925 hp. This combination cranked out 984 hp and 874 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel, and Jason’s plans for nitrous will send the big-block into four-digit rear-wheel horsepower territory.
Fuel supply is handled by an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump, feeding into an ADP billet carburetor, rated at 1,150 cfm. An MSD ignition system lights the fire and spent fumes flow through Hooker Super Comp headers, 3.5-inch pipes, and Dynomax bullet mufflers. The cooling system consists of a Meziere electric water pump and a Be Cool Tri-Five module system, which includes an aluminum radiator support, crossflow aluminum radiator, and dual electric fans. Underhood is an all-black treatment with subtle details that really make the raw aluminum components grab your attention.
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Behind the big-block is a Hughes-prepared TH400, complete with a Reed case, trans brake, and 3,800-rpm Hughes torque converter. Moving further back is a Quick Performance 9-inch rearend housing, packed with a Yukon aluminum centersection, 3.73:1 gears, and Moser 35-spline axles with star flanges. The narrowed housing allows for fitment of 15×10 RC Components Torx wheels, which feature 5 inches of backspacing. Rear suspension consists of monoleaf springs, with Cal-Trac bars and Menscer double-adjustable shocks. Up front is a traditional setup with tubular control arms, Moroso trick springs, and another pair of Menscer double-adjustable shocks to help dial in the weight transfer. So far the car has run a best of 9.95 at 134 mph in street trim, and Jason plans to dip into the 8s without taking away the car’s street manners. A dose of nitrous oxide should get him there without any drastic changes.
Inside is an extensive rollcage that wraps around Jason and ties into the chassis to provide safety and rigidity. The Pro Car bucket seats have been upholstered in original-style fabric to give it the old-school look. The original-style door panels, headliner, and functional rear seat give it added street credibility. An assortment of switches hides in the glovebox, while Auto Meter gauges replace the original gauge cluster.
We first saw the car at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. Jason was cruising the fairgrounds and turned heads as the big-inch big-block pounded the pavement. It was obvious this car packed more than just a big camshaft and loud exhaust, so we took a closer look. That’s when we saw the extreme level of detail and learned more about the setup after a brief conversation with Jason. The next weekend Jason had the car at the Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals, where he made a few test passes and took home a Lokar Top 25 award out of 2,500 cars on the property. During the awards ceremony, Jason did what can only be described as a “John Force burnout,” which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Although it’s a bit extreme for the street, Jason’s slick ’56 has an awesome combination of drag car, show car, and old-school details, all mixed into one head-turning hot rod.
Owner: Jason Stills, Evansville, Indiana
Vehicle: 1956 Chevrolet 150
Type: Dart Big M block
Displacement: 615 ci
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Bore: 4.600 inches
Stroke: 4.625 inches
Cylinder Heads: Brodix BB3X, CNC ported, 380cc intake runners
Rotating Assembly: Manley crank, Molnar H-beam rods, JE pistons
Valvetrain: Manley valves and springs, Scorpion 1.7:1 rocker arms
Camshaft: Comp Cams solid roller (custom grind)
Induction: BMP intake, ADP 1150-cfm carburetor, 2-inch spacer
Ignition: MSD distributor, HVAC coil, and 7AL Plus ignition box
Exhaust: Hooker Super Comp headers, Dynomax Bullet mufflers
Ancillaries: Meziere electric water pump, Powermaster alternator
Output (at crank): 984 hp and 874 lb-ft torque
Transmission: Hughes Turbo 400, trans brake, Hughes 3,800 converter
Rear Axle: Quick Performance 9-inch, 3.73:1 gears, Moser axles
Front Suspension: Tubular control arms, Moroso trick springs, Menscer shocks
Rear Suspension: Monoleaf springs, Cal-Trac bars, Menscer shocks
Brakes: Wilwood disc with aluminum master cylinder
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: RC Comp Hammer S 17×4.5 and RC Comp Torx 15×10 with beadlocks
Tires: Hoosier 26×4.5-17 front and Mickey Thompson 295/65R15
Upholstery: Black and white upholstery by Tony Ferguson
Material: Original-style material
Seats: Pro Car bucket seats
Steering: Billet Specialties steering wheel, ididit column
Shifter: B&M Pro Bandit
Instrumentation: Auto Meter Sport-Comp with 5-inch Tach
HVAC: Windwings wide open
Bodywork: Tubby’s Customs
Paint By: Jason Ferguson at Tubby’s Customs
Paint: Sikkens, black and Mint Green
Bumpers: Stock front, rear bumper parachute mount