Old guys-that'd be me and Jerry Crews-like old cars. They really dig new ones, too (like Crews' 1,000hp Lingenfelter 7.0L twin-turbo C6), but because they come from a time when cars maintained an exclusive identity distinguishable from one another, these guys are ingrained with the original idea. They are enamored of that idea. They lived for it then, and they live for it now. To say that they've been rebuffed by the trend to entertain a copycat Chevelle, Camaro, or Nova would be an understatement.
Most modern large sedans are about the size of an old Chevelle, and while the world labors on the obvious, the old guys honor an epoch over- flowing with Jurassic Age cars featuring vast engine bays, voluminous interiors, and a trunk the size of the Grand Canyon (a Mob button man's favorite: you could load three stiffs in there lengthwise). Could it be that the experienced guys are as dim as a Tyrannosaurus rex? Perhaps it's just that their roots run deep.
A kernel of an idea unfolded many years ago with Jerry, as a young man. He and his "Mad Medic" '56 210 (a tank he ran in D/Gas) saw a fair amount of the country back in those days, towing car and trailer. His street car was a '66 Caprice, and he was a GM employee, starting in the mail room and eventually working up to southeast region show manager. Jerry's independence was vital, and it meant a lot more to him than the brown-nosing it required to advance within the system. Since then, he's taken the entre-preneurial stance he always knew he would.
Central Florida has produced many savvy racers-Bo Laws, Crews, gasser guru Ollie Olsen, and Junior Stock ace Jimmy Waibel among them. Jerry's father was a physician, and Bo was his friend and his patient. So when Bo was coming up, Jerry hung out with his contemporaries. This hot car business wasn't something he took lightly-he made ample time to learn from others, and shared his ideas with them as well.
That's how Jerry and John Lingenfelter became famous friends. Jerry supplied John with crankshafts, while John supplied Jerry with fun, conversation, and friendship. When John passed away Jerry mourned, and so he wanted something of John's as a memento, a spiritual reminder. He knew John had a ZL1 block tucked away for a street engine of his own, and he bought it. The idea was to do a down-and-dirty thrash on the Biscayne, puff the motor up to a 540, and drive it into the '06 Hot Rod Power Tour. Unfortunately, that never happened.
He called Rad Rides by Troy of Manteno, Illinois, for the do-over, which inevitably became a detail-oriented thrash that ended with the Biscayne's pieces strewn all over the countryside. Collectively they scrutinized the body, and after a little frame and rocker panel work, deemed it sound. Eventually, they removed the factory graffiti, chromed the grille, re-chromed and smoothed the bumpers (Sherm's Plating), eliminated the windshield wipers, and stretched the wheelwells a tad to better frame the big BFGs. No other changes were made. The Hurricayne would be known more for the efficiency of its mechanical concessions than its masculine looks. Rad Ride's Warren Lewis, Ryan Kircher, and Rich Milton prepped the body and put on the Glasurit metallic medium gray, hereafter dubbed Train Smoke, and Bob Thrash laid out and applied the Hurricayne's theme with a custom logo and graphic support.
At the front of the car, Rad Rides saw many ways to excise unnecessary weight, and drastically improve the car's handling characteristics and road disposition. At the same time, they plumbed the B-body with a Concept One rack steering system.
"The coilover application is unique," says Jack Trepanier. "We adapted Detroit Speed '68 Camaro tubular upper control arms to the Hurricayne, and modified the original lower arms to support the coilover arrangement. That dog lost a lot of fat in the process." Trashing the pig iron, embracing the lighter mass of the aluminum cylinder block, and a few minor tweaks have enabled a favorable 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution. And when the wriggling black snake beneath straightens up, you're suddenly seriously overdriving the headlights. This big ol' Biscayne can easily make you scream.
What else removes this car from the norm? When's the last time you saw a stick shift and a big-block together? Maybe it was when the owner told you that he thought his eyes and brain were still about 18. "When I look in the mirror now," says Jerry, "I think I see someone in my house trying to rob it." When he's in the Hurricayne, the 18-year-old in him wants to rob it of traction. The bottom line is what Jerry considers control-with a stick, you have it; with an automatic, you may find yourself going sideways when you don't mean to. As a cruise missile, the Hurricayne finds parity in the Tremec's 2.87, 1.89, 1.28, 1.00, and 0.64:1 gear spread. In high ratio, the 3.42s become an actual long-legged 2.20:1.
There are several sides to Jerry, of course, and certainly there's one able to put aside his sanguine tendencies and revel in the relative calm of a high-zoot interior smothered in Baked Bean leather. There's order here, and in this order there's also the illusion of control. Jerry went to Griffin Interiors of Bend, Oregon, for this strikingly different approach. Those Barcalounger-like seats are custom-built, and wear appliqus of smooth and perforated hides to match the redone door panels and dashboard face, and hidden Painless Wiring underwrites custom Classic Instruments. Jerry admits listening to the Rockford Fosgate 10-speaker 2,000-watt integrated audio and navigation system "when he has time," but he says that stuff is really there to complete the car. Hearing his motor ring is what really makes him happy.
So what the Hurricayne boils down to is a device to relieve stress and get into the zone, but it could very well be any viciously fast car. When clueless yuppies in Porsches or Lamborghinis challenge the old guy, he unceremoniously and nonchalantly wastes them in his 850hp twin-turbo Corvette. It's sort of like, "Hey, you opened the door. Now you gotta deal with what's inside."
And now you better hide your head, because the Hurricayne's ready to hit.
The Baked Bean leather looks good enough to eat, and the eight-point 'cage is stuck so clo
Most are of the opinion that a big-block is the only motor for a Biscayne. Jerry concurs.