In August of 2001, we gave you readers a chance for stardom. We asked you to take some pictures of your hottest ride, stuff them in an envelope with a short description, and mail everything off to CHP, and we’d pick the winning car for a feature. We received hundreds of submissions that made for some really animated lunchtime discussions. When the french fries settled, the winner was a gorgeous red ’55 Chevy owned by Karl Rubenstein from Lake Havasu, Arizona. As Karl says, “When Jeff Smith called and said that I won, I couldn’t believe it—I was speechless.” But Karl soon collected himself and delivered his red-hot ’55 to our studio for a photo shoot. The ’55 is even more impressive in person.

Karl’s project began in 1998 when he got word of an original six-cylinder ’55 for sale. After a trip to Los Angeles and some careful negotiation, he loaded up his new prize and headed back to Arizona. Once back, he immediately started his hot-tamale mission.

First, he pulled the body apart and media blasted everything. Then he went to work upgrading the chassis. At the rear he wanted plenty of tire, so Karl had the leaf springs moved inboard and the wheelwell tubs enlarged. To upgrade the front suspension, he selected a set of Heidt’s tubular A-arms connected to 2-inch dropped spindles. Since this ’55 is designed for driving, Karl also installed a Mullins 605 power-steering box. But before everything went together, the frame got the full powdercoat treatment in gloss black.

Karl also wanted something big to motivate this ’55, so he contacted Blosdale Motor Sports in Lake Havasu. The crew custom-built a thumpin’ 461ci Rat motor complete with an Engle hydraulic cam with 0.560-/0.580-inch lift. For cylinder heads, a pair of Brodix-2 aluminum castings got the nod. Since this setup makes lots of torque, Karl installed a Turbo 400 with a 2,800-stall converter.

The straight-as-glass Viper Red body is to the credit of New Beginnings in Lake Havasu. Inside, Karl retained the stock seats but contracted Howard’s Fabrication to stitch up yards of perforated gray leather material. Karl says he’s always loved ’55 Chevys and had hoped to one day see his car in Chevy High Performance .

So Karl, what’s next?