Don and Kathy Hoover are the quintessential drag racing couple: they met at the track, both enjoy racing, and each has their own racecar. The Hoovers’ 1955 Chevy project named “Savage” may look like a show queen, but these good looks are very deceiving. This all-steel shoebox Chevy has big boosted power under the hood and still can be driven to just about any car show.
The Savage began life as Don’s ride to high school and his racecar back in the 1970s. During that time he was a regular at U.S. 30 Dragstrip where Kathy worked at the timeslip booth — so essentially the car brought them together. Sparks flew between the two and they now have spent over 40 years together enjoying their hot rods. Kathy has her own LS-powered Camaro that is pretty powerful and built to take on the rigors of Drag Week.
When it came time to begin work on the Savage Don went to Rocky Troxell and the team at US 12 Speed & Custom. The shop had done work for him in the past and Don wanted them to work their magic yet again on a car that meant a lot to him. Troxell and his guys got an idea of what Don had in mind and they began to shape the Chevy into a new car.
Starting with the chassis US 12 built a custom chrome-moly 25.5 roll cage that included a four-link rear suspension that’s attached to a Fab 9 rearend filled with Moser Engineering goodies. The car rides on a set of Champion Wheels 17-inch spindle-mount front wheels and 12×15-inch double-beadlock rear wheels wrapped in a Mickey Thompson 315 drag radials.
The body of the Savage is 75-percent original steel with a few replacement panels and trim from C.A.R.S. Inc. All of the body modifications and custom paint work was completed in-house at US 12. The inside of the Chevy is filled with a custom aluminum and carbon fiber interior that still uses the factory headliner and door panels.
You don’t name a car Savage unless it has some serious teeth to back it up and the Hoover’s made sure that would happen. The Savage is powered by 427 cubic-inches of boosted LSX power that was built by Robbins Racecraft. The engine uses a Dart LS Next block as its foundation and a set of CNC ported GM LSX heads. A Holley high-ram intake, 105mm throttle body, 220-pound injectors, and fuel pump round out the engine.
A Holley Dominator ECU controls everything while a US 12 custom turbo system provides the boost that comes from a pair of 83mm Bullseye turbos. A Jeffco four-speed transmission with a Gear Vendors overdrive unit works with a McLeod Racing clutch to assist Don with the gear changes.
According to Troxell, the Savage was designed to be a driver’s car from the very beginning.
“The car was built for Drag Week and is driven on the street the majority of the time. What makes that possible is the engine runs on 92 octane pump gas and has good street manners. At only 12 psi the engine made just shy of 1,500 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and it’s capable of producing 2,200 horsepower. This car is no lightweight either, weighing it at around 3,100 pounds.”
It took US 12 about a year and a half to get the Savage built and ready to be revealed to its owners. Don and Kathy provided Troxell and his team with some insight on what they wanted and turned them loose with as much creative design as they needed.
“Our goal at the shop is to bring badass, purpose-built racecars and show cars together when we’re working on a project. I wanted Don to be blown away when he saw the car for the first time, and then really be blown away when he drove it. Our team invests their heart and soul into these builds and it really helps when the customers allow us to work on these vehicles as if they are our own. We unveiled this car to Don and Kathy at the 2018 Detroit Autorama. They hadn’t seen it with the engine or paint prior,” Troxell says.
Don and Kathy Hoover wanted their 1955 Chevy turned into a street car that had enough power on to lay down single-digit passes at the track and US 12 Speed & Custom delivered. The Savage has the grace and elegance of a beauty queen mixed with a horsepower filled mean streak of a barroom brawler.