Exhilarating Driving Experience: The LS3 V8 Troy Indy Special
When discussions about the purity of the driving experience occur, most enthusiasts will refer back to the vehicles of their youth. Today’s millennials are currently trying to find and preserve the late-gen analog cars of the '90s and early 2000s, the American baby boomers wanted the muscle cars of the '60s and early '70s, while others remember the British invasion of brands like MG, Austin Healy, and Triumph. While all of these certainly offer a level of mechanical engagement that makes many of today’s cars feel disconnected, each generation ultimately added elements of convenience, safety, and performance that increased the gap between man and machine.
Trace that nostalgia back to the beginning, and you’re bound to arrive at the open-wheel roadster. This style of sports car can generally be tied to the advent of the Indy 500 in 1911. These lightweight single-seater, open-wheel cars offered little in the way of functionality beyond racing, and would ultimately set the standard for the pinnacle of what it meant to be a racecar in the automotive world. After World War II, automotive design was changed by the introduction of unibody vehicle construction, and open-wheel cars were mostly confined to the racetrack outside of a few boutique manufacturers and talented independent builders.
The 1959 Troy Roadster is one of those projects. Designed and built by Midwest automotive legend Wally Troy, the Troy Roadster pulled inspiration from mid-century European sports cars and was crafted onto a custom tubular chassis with a mix of contemporary domestic running gear. The car was eventually sold, and changed hands a few times until catching the eye of Robert Kendall, the founder of 7fifteen Motorworks. So impressed by the design and philosophy of the Troy Roadster, Robert set out to revive the spirit of the car as a modern interpretation of the open-wheel sportster experience.
The Troy Indy Special is honestly a work of both art and engineering. The original car was 3D scanned, and a modern chassis suitable for LS3 power was designed within the car’s original dimensions by Joe Scarbo of Scarbo Performance. The 7fifteen Motorworks crew then worked with Dick Kitzmiller of Scarab Motorsports to develop an initial prototype using a hand-built aluminum body by Luc DeLey of Marcel’s Custom Metal. Now well into their production run, it’s safe to say 7fifteen was able to meet that goal of a modern recreation of the original car.
Art and Engineering
Design wise, the sheet metal is nearly a perfect match for the original car’s aesthetics. 7fifteen had the Troy Roadster 3D-scanned to ensure that the exterior could be as close as possible. The main difference in the looks of the modern Troy Indy Special is the Indy-inspired tail that gives the new car its name.
Modern V8 Power
Housed within the welded tube-frame chassis is a 525 horsepower GM LS3 from Pace Performance. The aluminum-block engine features 10.7:1 compression and cross-bolted main bearing caps. Mated to a six-speed T56 transmission, the 2200lb roadster is unsurprisingly fast, but retains all of the same reliability of the popular powertrain.
The LS3 was not a drop-in affair. 7fifteen recounts that they “had to build our own air intake (filter to throttle body). We were working in a really tight space, and the LS3 is very particular in regards to the placement of the mass airflow sensor to the throttle body. We started with a C6 Corvette air intake, and reverse engineered our own piece in aluminum.” This type of high quality attention to detail when problem-solving is evident all over the vehicle. Solutions were not built out of compromise, but rather were incorporated into the design of the vehicle.
Keeping It All Under Control
Keeping that much power usable is made possible by the custom inboard coilover suspension system designed by Scarbo Performance. The Special uses a mix of custom pieces with QA1 double adjustable dampers front and rear with Eibach springs. Corvette C5 hub assemblies and a Cadillac CTS-V differential distributes power to the rear wheels.
After trying several options, the team at 7fifteen ultimately landed on Nitto’s NT555 G2 ultra high performance summer tire as the OEM rubber for the Indy Special. They contend that, “The Nitto NT555 G2 provides great traction on the road with positive feedback for the driver that allows you to trust the car’s handling abilities.
The NT555 G2 provided a more performance-oriented tread design than other options we tried in this size.” Seeing the NT555 G2 on an open-wheel car highlights the large tapered tread blocks and twin center ribs that work to increase grip and stabilize the chassis on both the street and track.
Pure Driving Experience
Working together, the sum of the Troy Indy Special’s parts present a unique intersection of heritage, exclusivity, and performance. Starting at around $175,000, the Special is for an enthusiast who craves the nostalgic driving experience that only an open wheel car can provide, while still maintaining the performance, comfort and reliability of new equipment in a classic vehicle. 7fifteen is planning to build just 33 examples of the Troy Indy Special, so this experience will be reserved for those that truly desire the absolute best of the open wheel ethos.
Looking forward, 7fifteen is working on a scaled-down, more vintage inspired version of the Troy Indy Special that will appeal to those that prefer an experience closer to the original Roadster. Additionally, they dropped some hints that an entirely new vehicle was currently in the design phase that pulls inspiration from an ultra-rare classic General Motors vehicle. If their work with the Indy Special is any indication, we can’t wait to see what they come up with.
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