DALLAS DOUBLE TAKE
Bobby Dillard and Dick Demet's
Note: In the summer of 1992, David Graves prepared a Feature of two club member’s cars that appeared in the December 1992 issue of the now defunct Classic Chevy World magazine produced by the Classic Chevy Club International which no longer exists. That feature called ‘Dallas Doubletake” never appeared in the local club’s newsletter - until now. So, take a trip back 28 years when Bobby Dillard’s beautiful ’55 original Bel Air was compared to Dick Demet’s ’55 Funny Car drag racer! Bobby to this day still has his ’55 and maintains his club membership. Unfortunately, we lost Dick in 2014, and his ’55 Funny Car ended up in Canada but now resides in Utah and is currently being updated with plans to hit the track this year.
Bobby Dillard, Cedar Hill, TX, 1955 Bel Air Sedan
THE COLOR OF MONEY
In October of 1988, Bobby first saw what was to become his mechanical pride and joy. A friend knowing Bobby’s affection for old Chevys told him about a clean looking ’57 Chevy in a parking lot in downtown Dallas and gave him the phone number from the For Sale sign in the window. Although Bobby really was searching for a ’55 Chevy V8 2 door hardtop, he couldn’t resist calling about the ’57 to find out more information. The owner told him that it was a ’55, not a ’57 and that is was a 2 door Sedan, had a 6 cylinder and to top it off, the color was GREEN! During the conversation, he discovered that the car was an original owner car being sold from the owners’ mother’s estate who had recently passed away. He had no room for an old ’55 Chevy and just wanted to get rid of it. The car had spent most of its 30 years plus in the Highland Park area of Dallas and was amazingly clean and original with only 73,000 Texas miles on it, nearly all driven on the streets of Dallas! Bobby’s hesitation to look at tehcar soon disappeared and in no time he became the second owner of this Classic Chevy!
The car was a rust free ’55 Bel Air with the original 6 cylinder engine, Powerglide transmission and worn paint and interior. In May of 1989, with his nephew Ronnie, Bobby pulled the engine and rebuilt it to new. The underhood area was cleaned up and then the car was shown a few times as an unrestored original. Unhappy with the dead paint, he decided on a frame on restoration.
The paint and body work was done by Garland Paint in West, Texas. The car was in the shop from September 1990 until August 15, 1991 and Bobby could not have asked for a finer job. During the restoration, the Japanese add on radio was replaced with an original ’55 Wonderbar, the standard heater changed to a Delux and a bunch of other items were added to the car such as gravel shields, rocker mouldings, a grill guard, full bumper guards, WWW tires, all new repro interior and carpet. All bumpers were rechromed and stainless trim polished. All new weatherstripping and window channels were added to make this old Chevy as good as new!
Since Bobby’s ’55 gets over 20 miles to the gallon as compared to Dick Demet’s 6-8 gallons per quarter mile, you should expect to see this green beauty cruising the local hangouts!
Dick Demets, Dallas, TX, 1955 Funny Car
A FUNNY ‘55
Funny Car. This description stirs up a variety of visions for different people. Ask 50 people on the street what a Funny Car is and you may get 50 different descriptions. Go to the drag strip and ask and you’ll get a description like “wild”, “colorful” and “exciting”!
The “Funny Cars” first appeared on the nation’s drag strips
in the mid 60’s, about the same time the Tri Five Chevys dominated the gas
classes. Pioneered by racers like Gene Snow and Dyno Don Nicholson, the first
ones were stock bodied, gasoline burning, altered wheelbase monsters of the
drags strips with the engine set back in the chassis for improved weight
transfer. The looked funny, hence the name “Funny Car” came to describe the
unusual race cars. By the late 60’s, they had their own professional category
in NHRA and every strip wanted to book a Funny Car Show. Today, Funny Cars are
one of the three premier pro classes in the NHRA Mello Yello Championship Drag
Racing Series with multi million dollar budgets. The bodies are made of carbon
fiber, the fuel is nitromethane and the speeds are over 335 mph. Another kind
of Funny Car is the outlaw, exhibition or nostalgia funny cars. These cars burn
nitro or methanol and run as featured attractions or at special events. One of
those is Dick Demet’s ’55 Chevy from Dallas.
This one of a kind tribute to the 1955 Chevy body style that once dominated drag strips is a complete fiberglass replica that is the ultimate ’55 Chevy Hot Rod. Dick started racing Chevys in 1959 with a ’53 Chevy that had a souped up 6 cylinder with a split manifold, 3 one barrel carbs and the like. Dick progressed through the years racing Chevys with his first “real” race car being a yellow D/Gas ’55 Chevy during the early 60’s. Having owned over seven ’55’s though the years, this was the body style he wanted to finish his racing with – and not just another yellow ’55 Chevy!
The car features parts found on any quality restored ’55 Chevy you would see at a top show. The taillight assemblies are the only stock ’55 part on Dick’s car. To illustrate the differences, Bobby Dillard parked his original ’55 next to Dick’s ’55 Funny Car. Under the body is a tubular chassis with a blown and injected 496 cubic inch big block Chevy engine. The fiberglass body and Lexan windows are stretched to an overall length of 204 inches (compared to 195.6 inches stock). The overall height of the car is 54.5 inches (compared to 61 inches stock); it has a width at the front of 60 inches and grows to a width of 74 inches at the rear giving it a wedge shape. The rear of the car has stock dimensions. The windshield is moved back 3.5 inches, the front end is extended 12 inches, and the height of the front end is 21 inches. Ground clearance at the front end is slightly better than 2 inches, a far cry from the 6.5 inch clearance on a stock ’55. The yellow paint was applied by Richard Foote and all the front end chrome and side stainless molding is airbrushed and applied by Paul Hunter.
The engine area is as different from the stock version as the body is. It’s a blown and injected big block Chevy that features solid aluminum heads, 13.2 to 1 compression, 750 lift cam, aluminum rods, LA Billet crank and much more! The Littlefield 10-71 blower and Enderle fuel system brings the methanol fuel into the cylinders from a 13 gallon fuel tank. Mileage is at the 6-8 gallons per quarter mile! A Crower 3 disc clutch and Lenco 3 speed transfer the power through a 4:10 rear end gear ratio that turns the 17 inch wide Goodyear Eagles. No, you don’t get the Eagles at the local Goodyear store! All this effort is to go fast is then stopped with a pair of Deist parachutes and JFZ disc brakes. Dick is touring the car on the show circuit and hasn’t “dropped the hammer” as of yet, but expects performance in the quarter mile to set you back in the seat at a tune of 6.40 elapsed time and a speed of 217 mph! Bobby Dillard’s ’55 wouldn’t stand a chance with it’s 20 second elapsed time and 70 mph!
Don’t look for this ’55 to cruise the local hangout with Bobby’s green Bel Air. If you do see it, it will be traveling only a quarter mile at a time and it will be going much faster than Chevrolet engineers ever intended it to go!
BACK TO FEATURE CARS