Joe Barry’s 3000-hp ’56 Chevy stretches the definition of a street car
In drag racing, there exists a line in the sand between what defines a “street” car and what defines a true “race” car. It stems from a great argument that street racers were somehow tougher than track racers. The theory? Track cars could not race on the street due to being more unreliable and only made to run round-by-round, compared street racers, which were maybe playing with less power but still could drive home in the same car after racing.
As this rivalry grew, events like Hot Rod‘s Pump Gas drags and, later, Drag Week, sought to define a street car as something that was required to be driven in daily traffic and other stressful situations for otherwise dedicated drag cars. High compression ratios meant that starters and charging systems had to be on point in order to repetitively churn a motor over, the cooling system had to scale up with the demands of traffic heat-soaking even the largest of radiators, and the drivelines themselves had to evolve away from the full-throttle-focused packages of the past and start to consider livability in all weather conditions.
Rising to the top of this debate are machines like Joe Barry’s Creamsicle, a twin-turbo, 598-cubic-inch big-block-powered 1956 Chevy that manages to hustle the quarter-mile in the 6s at over 200 mph. Not bad for an all-steel car that still weighs 3800 pounds, even with a Jerry Bickle tube chassis underneath. This car is one of the nicest cars to run in this world of duality, looking fresh out of a Sunday car show but sharing public roads with Camrys and crossovers.
Get to know Joe and Creamsicle on this episode of Hoonigan Autofocus with photographer Larry Chen, as they crawl all over the ’56 to talk about what all goes into a 3000-hp street car. You could daily-drive this beast if you needed to. We all love hyper-focused race cars, but introducing them into the most mundane situations on the road is a twisted sort of fun.