If you're going to build a wagon, there is no better year than a '65 Chevelle-and a rare two-door one at that. We wish owner Poncho Mateo was better at penmanship, 'cause then we might have more to talk about, but it does appear that Ponch is on the right track with his equipment selection. He picked a beautiful setting next to a barn near Maple Grove, Pennsylvania-which everybody knows is home to one of the best drag racing facilities on the East Coast. Laying frame in the weeds gratis an Air Ride Technologies suspension. A fuel-injected small-block and an overdrive trans also hint at this wagon's capability as a thrifty highway cruiser. Ponch also sent us some tantalizing photos of his buddy's '87 Grand National at an indoor car show in Baltimore, but the photos were so blurry they were unpublishable. Oh well, maybe next year.

1965 CHEVELLE WAGON
Car Owner: Poncho Mateo; West Deptford, NJ
Photographer: Poncho Mateo
Camera: Kodak Z740
Photo location: barn side in Maple Grove, PA
Engine: 350ci small-block Chevy
Cylinder heads: Dart
Camshaft: Crane
Intake: Edelbrock
Carb/induction: fuel injection
Transmission: 700-R4
Rearend model & gearing: GM 10-bolt
Suspension/brakes: Air Ride adjustable
  air spring suspension, slotted brake rotors
Body & paint: custom two-tone
Peak hp: 360 hp
Built by: owner and wife
Years owned: 5 years
Cost to build: $50,000

Finalist
Darrell Harrod is the photographer, builder, and co-owner of this '69 Chevelle. He shares the pink slip with his real car-gal wife, Tanya. They built the car together in their home garage. Their simple clean-up restoration project turned into a huge body-off rebuild. For several months, the body hung on the rotisserie being cleaned up and refinished. The frame got a good scrub-down and powdercoat. They reassembled the pieces with brand-new parts and hardware. The front end got tubular upper and lower control arms from BMR, fitted with Energy Suspension bushings and QA1 coilovers. Darrell didn't leave one part untouched. The factory brakes were replaced with Wilwood's 13-inch rotors-six-piston calipers in the front, with new stainless steel brake lines. He plopped in the original 396-inch big-block rebuilt with Dart Pro 1 heads, PBM camshaft, Weiand intake, Mallory ignition box, MSD Pro-Billet distributor, and a 750 Mighty Demon. Needless to say, this 396 was more potent than what the factory supplied. They upgraded the fuel and cooling system accordingly with an Alumitech radiator and dual Flex-a-lite electric fans.

1969 CHEVELLE
Car owner: Darrell Harrod; Wake Forest, NC
Photographer: Darrel & Tanya Harrod
Camera: Nikon D60SLR
Photo location: Home Depot, Wake Forest, NC
Engine: 396ci big-block Chevy
Cylinder heads: Dart Pro 1
Camshaft: PBM Eliminator hydraulic
Intake: Weiand Xcelerator
Carb/induction: 750 Mighty Demon
Ignition: Mallory ignition control box
Transmission: Muncie M-21 four-speed
Rearend model & gearing: GM 12-bolt, Eaton posi,
  3.31 gears
Suspension/brakes: Hotchkis springs,
  BMR control arms, Energy bushings,
  KMA sway bars, Wilwood 13- and 12-inch rotors,
  six- and four-piston calipers
Body & paint: DuPont primer, sealer,
  Jet Black base/clear
Wheels: 17-inch Budnik X-series Mirage
Tires: Nitto 255/50 and 275/50
Built by: owner
Years of ownership: 10 years
Total invested: $38,000