|onty Berney was there back in the early ‘90s when the “fastest street car” scene was really gathering steam at places like Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, and Oklahoma City, where his all steel, street legal, licensed, insured and nitrous-assisted “Big Bertha” 1955 Chevy was one of the most popular cars going and always posed a threat to win. “It was the fastest thing around until they let the Pro Mod/Pro Street cars in,” the Danville, CA-based land developer and custom home builder recalls.
With business and family demands growing, Berney sold Big Bertha in 1994. He says it’s now owned by collector Keith Roberts in Florida, who also owns Tony Christian’s 1957 Chevy Pro Streeter, Scott Long’s ’55, and Marc Dantoni’s short-lived ’57 effort from the same era. “So it’s in good hands now.” A year later Berney also sold the ‘55 Chevy Pro Mod built by Jerry Bickel for him in 1993 and completely stepped away from drag racing for more than eight years.
“Then I kind of got a bit of an itch under my saddle and decided I wanted to do another one,” he says. “I’m not getting any younger, so I thought I’d better do it now.”
|Berney, 55, actually bought his current racecar, another ’55 Shoebox, in 1998 with the intention of turning it into a hot street machine. He says it came sans engine and transmission, but the body was solid so it offered good potential. But then he found another 1955 Chevy 210 Sedan and it got the nod for the street transformation and now carries a bored-out 327 small-block backed up by a Richmond six-speed and nine-inch Ford rearend. With 425 horsepower on tap, Baer disc brakes on all four corners provide the "whoa!" factor, but the real clincher is the street car sports an identical white-over-blue paint scheme to Berney’s racecar.