The Virus: Dave Linn’s Sick Pro Street 1955 Chevy Bel Air

Not every automotive enthusiast has the same taste in what they think is cool. We’ve all been exposed to different types of automotive culture and builds, so when we build something it’s going to reflect what we really like. Dave Linn was caught in the middle of the Pro Street movement, and that’s what inspired him to build “The Virus”, a sinister looking turbocharged 1955 Chevy Bel Air.

Dave was your classic gearhead in high school during the late ‘70s. He always dreamed about building cars and seeing what all the big names were doing in the pages of his favorite car magazines. After graduating from high school, Dave saw the Pro Street scene explode and he wanted to join in the fun. Cars like Scott Sullivan’s 1967 Chevy II were a huge inspiration for Dave, and helped lay the foundation to build a car like The Virus.

When Dave first got The Virus in 2010, it wasn’t in the shape it’s in today. In fact, Dave actually pulled the car out of a farm field in Carrolton, Virginia. The Chevy was going to be used as payment to Dave’s chassis builder Mike Balf Race Cars for a different backhalf job, but that plan soon changed.

“This car was a purpose-built Pro Street car from the beginning. My wife Laura was involved with all aspects of this build and that makes it very special to me. It was a lot of fun being friends with everyone who worked on the build too,” Dave says.

Dave wanted The Virus to be unique, so he talked with chassis builders Mike Balf and Cody Carlson about his vision for the car. The Chevy was gutted from rocker panel to rocker panel on a chassis table so Mike and Cody could begin the car’s transformation. A full tube chassis was built for The Virus as its base. The front and rear of the Belair’s body saw plenty of custom modifications, including an integrated wing on the trunk lid.

Mike and Cody built a custom front suspension for the car that features QA1 shocks. The four-link suspension in the rear has a set of QA1 shocks that work with a Fab 9 rearend. Inside the rearend you’ll find parts from Yukon and Moser Engineering. To bring The Virus to a stop, Dave added a full set of Wilwood brakes. The car rolls on a set of American Racing Vintage Torque Thrust 17×7 front wheels. In the rear, there’s a set of 15×16 WELD Alpha-1’s with beadlocks installed by Mac Fab Beadlocks.

The Virus needed to have plenty of horsepower if it was going to be a proper Pro Street car. Dave worked with Midgette Motor Sports to build a potent 408 cubic-inch LS engine. The iron block uses a forged Lunati crank, Callies connecting rods, and pistons from Ross as its rotating assembly. Steve Morris designed the turbo camshaft for the engine. A set of CNC-machined 823 casting GM heads and Holley Hi-Ram intake with a FAST 102mm throttle body bring air into the engine. Behind the rowdy LS mill you’ll find a 4L80E that was rebuilt by Keller Performance Transmission that features a D3 transbrake. Dave selected a PTC torque converter to work with the 4L80E slushbox.

An Aeromotive Eliminator 20-gallon fuel cell with an integrated fuel pump keeps the hungry engine fed. All of the fuel lines were run through the chassis to give the engine bay an extremely clean look. All of the wiring was also tucked away as much as possible as well. Ed Hutchins from HiTech Tuning takes care of the Holley Dominator’s calibrations that run the engine.

The star of the show under the hood of The Virus is the turbo system. A pair of 67mm Turbonetics snails generate all the boost. A pair of 50mm JGS wastegates and TiALblowoff valves keep the boost in check. A custom set of stainless steel headers were made to send all the engine’s exhaust through the turbos. Dave added a 3-inch exhaust system with a pair of Borla mufflers to keep The Virus nice and quiet, within reason.

It’s hard to imagine just how rough this Chevy Bel Air was when Dave yanked it out of that field 14 years ago. The team at Bay City Classics really worked some magic on the car to get it in show-winning shape. Santos Colon made sure the car was straight as an arrow before Derek Frazier started spraying the Ford Magnetic Metallic paint on the body. RayceWerx powder coated all of the trim and the wheels a sleek shade of Satin Black to add some contrast to the color scheme.

Inside The Virus, you’ll find even more attention to detail. All of the interior panels were bead rolled and painted Ford Magnetic Metallic to match the body. Kevin Shonkwiler and Ken Simmons hydro-dipped all the raised areas of the body panels so they’d have a carbon fiber look. For gauges, Dave added a Dakota Digital VHX Dash. The entertainment system features a Kenwood stereo system with an integrated backup camera. Vintage Air A/C and NuRelic power windows make sure Dave and his wife Laura are comfortable as they cruise down the road in The Virus. Since the build was finished in 2020, the couple have put an impressive 5,900 miles on the Bel Air Chevy.

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Dave worked with a lot of friends on this build and he appreciates all of their assistance. Without all of their contributions, The Virus would not be as lethal as it is.

“There’s a long list of people that I need to thank for everything they did on The Virus. Mike Balf and Cody Carlson of MBRC for all chassis and additional fabrication. Santos Colon and Derek Frazier from Bay City Classics for the body and paintwork. Kenny Simmons and Kevin Shonkwiler for the interior paint and hydro dipping. Rayce Riggs at RayceWorx for the great powder coating work. Richard Migette at Midgette Motorsports for the killer engine he built. Ed Hutchins Jr at Hytech Tuning and Kenny Keller at Keller Performance Transmissions for all of their help. I also need to thank my great friends Charlie Colbourn and Pete Dorman for all the support and use of their shops in the assembly and maintenance of The Virus,” Dave says.

Dave Linn didn’t want to build just another Pro Street car that barely stood out in a crowd. The Virus most certainly isn’t your typical Pro Street car thanks to its ominous looks and turbocharged engine package. Dave’s Chevy Bel Air is one wicked ride that shows why Pro Street builds will never go out of style.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. Brian enjoys anything loud, fast, and fun.
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