Engine Builder Stories – Andrew Starr, Starr Performance & Consulting
I was friends with a girl named Diana in high school and in our mid-20s we decided to test the dating waters, you know for better or for worse. One evening on a date, I let her drive my ’56 Chevy. At the time, it was a stock suspension car with a tunnel-rammed small block Chevy, Ford 9-inch with 5:14s and a Jerico 4-speed that went 11.90s.
Diana was no rookie when it came to stick-shifts. Many years prior, I watched in awe as she expertly backed her dad’s crew cab, 3-speed, F-350 long bed into their skinny driveway that was shrouded with bushes on one side and house on the other using just the mirrors. I should have known then.
She eagerly accepted the offer to drive the ’56 and it didn’t take long for her to sort out the vertigate shifter. Only a select few had ever driven my car and I wanted a little excitement in the passenger seat, so I told her to stop driving like a wimp and began goading her to drive it like she meant it.
It wasn’t too long before she took the bait and we left a light in a hurry. She buried the throttle and in an instance the engine bounced off the 8,000 rpm chip. She ripped 2nd and bounced it off the chip again and rode out 3rd. By now, I was out of my mind and pretty pissed.
We slowed and I immediately gave her crap for bouncing the limiter frantically telling her she was supposed to shift at 7,600 rpm. She turned to me and coolly said, “You never told me that and all I knew is that it stopped pulling, so I grabbed another gear!”
Well, she was right and had driven the car masterfully. Yes, she was the one, and 27 years later she still drives the ’56 like a pro.