Pro Modified To Street/Strip: This ’37 Chevy Raises One Question

There are huge numbers of Pro Street-style cars that have transitioned from drag racing to the street, but Ken and Karla Biesboer’s 1937 Chevy coupe is a derivative from an actual NHRA Pro Mod of high pedigree. But, “Hey man, is this thing street legal?”

Biesboer campaigned an 8.5-second ’48 Anglia at the dragstrip with the same stout 540 big-block Chevy that is now in this street/strip coupe. “That Anglia drag car got hairy at times,” Biesboer explained, “So I decided with the coupe, I wanted to have more car than motor rather than more motor than car.

This coupe was once a Pro Modified car built and campaigned by NHRA competitor Danny Rowe. This attention-grabber may not only give off an outlandish appearance, but a wealth of reworking that offers both genuine street-worthiness as well as dragstrip time-slips. Biesboer is exceptionally gratified when an onlooker appreciates the small fabrication points that make the car “streetable” in durability but yet remain hidden to so many.

“I am constantly asked the very same question, whether it’s at a local car show or possibly a street-legal class at the dragstrip,” Biesboer says.

“Is this thing really a street car?”

“My answer is always the same: it is, and that’s why it is now on my license plate.”

Most noticeable on the exterior is the extended wheelbase nose. Biesboer selected a unique set of headlights from a motorcycle catalog that matched the body lines. The grille is a one-off custom fabricated piece, as are the stainless steel headers and mufflers that fit within the fender area to maintain the Pro Modified-style header exit appearance.

Superior Glassworks originally created the fiberglass body, plus the sleek Danny Rowe-designed hood and front fender combination. A set of custom stainless headers were fabricated by Rocky Troxel from US 12 Speed and Custom. These headers take advantage of the teardrop fender area behind the front tires to house the custom mufflers that give it some street legality.

Weld Racing Alumastar 15×3-inch spindle-mount front wheels mate to Hoosier Racing Tire frontrunners, while 16×16 inch rear Alumastar wheels and Hoosier Quick Time Pro 35×22.50×16 rear tires fill the wheel wells that once rolled with big Pro Mod drag slicks.

An all-aluminum 540 cubic-inch big-block Chevy uses Mahle 10:1 compression pump gas pistons, an Eagle Specialty Products 4340 crankshaft, and Eagle H-beam rods inside of a World Products Merlin III block. Dart Machinery PRO1 24-degree 325cc heads work around a complete Jesel valvetrain system. The setup is topped with a 1050cfm Holley Performance Dominator carburetor combined with a Dart single plane intake manifold.

A Jerry Bickel Race Cars chassis has been updated for street durability by US12 Speed and Custom. Strange Engineering strut front suspension is steered by a Stiletto rack and pinion unit. A Chrysler master cylinder controls Strange brakes on each corner.

A Bickel 9-inch chrome-moly fabricated housing is filled with a complete Mark Williams Enterprises setup, including an aluminum third member, a 4.86:1 gear set, 40-spline spool, and axles. A Bickel four-link and wishbone rear suspension ride on Strange Engineering coilover shocks.

A competition-built Powerglide transmission with a pro transbrake and 4500-stall converter is put together by Joe Gouger Racing. With a conservative engine/drivetrain tune-up for the street, the coupe still pushes the 9-second zone at his local dragstrips.

The interior is still all business, with an all-black anodized aluminum interior, Kirkey seats, safety harnesses, and plenty of buttons and switches for the transbrake and line-lock. It also still retains a fire suppression system.

“I originally built the car with an original-style front doghouse, but I slightly bumped a car in front of me leaving an event, which damaged the fiberglass,” Biesboer described. “It wasn’t a bad crash or anything like that, but it broke the fiberglass. I decided for the money, I wanted to put the stretched front end on it. That required extensive chassis work to stretch the wheelbase, along with cutting and altering the doghouse to fit this body.”

All of the doghouse modifications resulted in the hood line coming too close to the carburetor inlet. Biesboer decided to have US 12’s body shop add a teardrop-style cowl scoop. Ken is very satisfied with the improved overall appearance of the scoop added to the front of the coupe. Brett Miller at US 12 Speed and Custom applied the custom black with blue pearl paint.

What stands out about Biesboer’s ’37 is the Pro Modified flavor that is retained with such subtleties as the taillights that are recessed into the body and wing that conceal its street cred. And yes, the license plate answers the street-legal question asked by so many onlookers.

“A custom-fabricated laid-back radiator appears similar to its Pro Modified days and does very well on the street,” Biesboer adds. “Though we set it up with much larger cooling fans, we have traveled an easy 25-30 miles while keeping it under 200-degrees on the temperature gauge. I’m not afraid to drive it to car cruises, shows, local burger stands, or even to a track. I’m just a little paranoid of railroad tracks (laughs).”

Biesboer finishes, “I was expecting to manhandle the coupe at the track similar to my previous Anglia gasser that used this very engine, but this coupe is very easy to drive and it goes right down Broadway every pass.”

About the author

Todd Silvey

Todd has been a hardcore drag racing journalist since 1987. He is constantly on both sides of the guardwall from racing photography and editorship to drag racing cars of every shape and class.
Read My Articles

Hardcore Chevys in your Inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Chevy Hardcore, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Chevy Hardcore NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Chevy Hardcore - The #1 Performance Bowtie Online Magazine

We'll send you the most interesting Chevy Hardcore articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

Chevy Hardcore - The #1 Performance Bowtie Online Magazine

Chevy Hardcore NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Chevy Hardcore - The #1 Performance Bowtie Online Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Hot Rods & Muscle Cars

Drag Racing

Engine Tech

Chevy Hardcore - The #1 Performance Bowtie Online Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • Drag Racing
  • Engine Tech

Chevy Hardcore - The #1 Performance Bowtie Online Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Chevy Hardcore - The #1 Performance Bowtie Online Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading