Berto Cruz's 1955 Chevy
(from Volume 29, Issue 356)

story by owner Berto Cruz, photos by Michael B. Kelly


My name is Berto Cruz, and at it was at the age of 13 that I began to have an interest in cars and speed. In fact I used to hitch a ride to Old Township Dragway in New Jersey to go check out all of the action that I was craving. After that, at the age of 15, I bought my first car and began altering the motor for drag racing. While in high school I started working a part time job, and at the age of 17 while already active in racing I also fell in love with who would become my wife. But by then it was too late....I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and that was build cars. So that is exactly what I did, and built drag race cars for more than 40 years, mostly for the Pro Mod and Top Sportsman categories. Many of the cars stayed in the USA, but others have gone over to various countries including Aruba, Curacao, Italy, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Along the way I also built my own Pro Mod 1968 Firebird.

Now 50 years later I am retired, but I’m still doing the car thing with my 1969 Chevy Nova, my son’s 1967 Camaro, and of course my red 1955 Chevy Bel Air which is pictured here. I bought the ‘55 in 2021 from my buddy and brother, Butch. At that time I bought the car it had a 350 cubic inch motor, which I took out and installed a freshly redone 6.0 liter Chevy LS with some internal changes to now put out 500 horsepower thru a 700R4 automatic with overdrive. Other changes I made since buying the car were new front steering components (tubular A-arms and springs), and Wilwood brakes front and rear. The red exterior is now accented by a new set of US Mags wrapped with Nitto tires (245 / 45 ZR20 front, 295 / 40 ZR20 rear).

The matching red custom interior is done up in all leather, and utilizes power bucket seats and a custom center console that is home to the touch screen Pioneer sound system controls. The dash has billet accent inserts, which compliment the custom steering wheel and other brightwork throughout the cabin. Keeping everything cool is a Vintage Air unit, which as we move into the summertime months in Florida will certainly be getting its share of use.

I was always involved in the automotive industry, and now I am enjoying retirement while cruising in my 1955 Chevy Bel Air. I’d like to give thanks to General Upholstery, RJ Body Shop, Pullas Paint and Design, Berlynn’s Racecraft, and Post Date for whom I built the only four Funny Trucks certified by NHRA in the world. I’ll look forward to seeing everyone at the shows and cruise-ins. CN