Finalist
'55 Chevy
Bill Collier • Eustis, FL
This '55 is actually an old gasser that was raced by two brothers and their cousin back in the '60s with a hot 265 ci, a 10 percent setback, and massive 72-inch ladder bars that practically butted up to the rear of the engine. Bill Collier bought it in '68 after graduating high school, but all he got was a roller with old tires. It took until 1973 while he was a student at the University of South Florida for Bill to get it on the road using a bunch of speed parts from Don Garlits' speed shop in Tampa. Matter of fact, the old Garlits tach is still in the car. Most of the years he's driven it, the '55 had a Muncie four-speed and Lakewood 40-pound flywheel, but in 2005 Collier had two back operations and couldn't shift anymore. Nowadays, a quick-shifting 700-R4 takes care of the gears for him.

BY THE NUMBERS
Photographer: Bill Collier; Eustis, FL
Camera: Nikon D-90
Engine: '68 302ci with Duntov 30-30 cam, Holley intake, and 750 double-pumper carb
Trans: 700-R4
Rearend: 12-bolt from a '68 Camaro with 4.88 gears and posi
Suspension: unidentified Ford straight axle with leaf springs, front; leaf springs with 72-inch ladder bars, rear
Brakes: '54 Chevy drums, front; '68 Camaro drums, rear
Wheels: vintage aluminum slot mags
Custom touches: We love the radiused rear wheelwells à la Two-Lane Blacktop and the era-correct hoodscoop.

'64 Cobra replica
John Mackay • Sequim, WA
This is the second Cobra replica that John Mackay has assembled, but he wasn't fond of the quality of the first. He's made a few extra reinforcements under the doors and in the hood and trunk areas to his current Factory Five Racing kit, but says it's been satisfactory in every way. You do get what you pay for with kit cars, and we've always been fond of Factory Five's work ourselves. Originally, John dropped a 454 (blasphemy!) in the Cobra, but found it to be too heavy on the nose. Last winter, he pulled it out and dropped in an LS3, and shaved a solid 200 pounds off the frontend while gaining the reliability of stock GM EFI.

BY THE NUMBERS
Photographer: John Mackay; Sequim, WA
Camera: Kodak Z981 and Z712
Engine: LS3
Trans: Tremec TKO 600 with 0.82 Fifth gear
Rearend: 8.8 Ford with 3.55 gears and limited-slip diff
Suspension: Factory Five Racing coilovers
Brakes: Ford Racing Cobra R kit and dual-diaphragm booster
Wheels: 17x9 Ford Racing Cobra R
Great quote: "My favorite use for this car is to drive the 330 scenic miles around the Olympic National Park in one day."

Finalist
'76 Nova
Chris and Garrett Lott • Minneapolis, KS
It's rare and unusual to see any fourth-gen Novas (or really any late X-body) in this nice of a condition, but we say that's changing; these cars are great drivers that offer a lot of performance potential in an affordable package. Chris Lott spotted this one for sale on a farm and picked it up for $1,000 as a project for his son, Garrett. Unfortunately, they soon discovered the joys of having an "off-year" car; few parts are available. Chris had to fab new inner wheelwells and reuse almost 90 percent of the original parts. After lots of dent removal and block-sanding to get the body straight, a friend sprayed the GM Flame Red basecoat/clearcoat in his barn in a room he had set aside for painting farm implements. The project came together just in time to have Garrett cruise to the prom to the sound of dual Flowmasters.

BY THE NUMBERS
Photographer: Eldon Clark; Minneapolis, KS
Camera: Nikon D3S
Engine: stock 305 ci
Trans: stock TH350
Rearend: original 10-bolt
Suspension: factory stock front and rear
Brakes: factory power disc and drums
Wheels: original six-slot Rallies
Great quote: "What a ton of work this turned out to be, but it was worth it as I caught myself tearing up when my son pulled out of the driveway wearing his tuxedo, driving his newly restored Flame Red '76 Nova."

Finalist
'65 Comet
Sam Mullins Jr. • Fall Branch, TN
Sam Mullins Jr. drove a '65 Comet around after returning from Vietnam, so when he and his wife, Connie, decided to restore a car, it was at the top of his list. The first Comet turned out to be a rusty mess, but while looking for parts, Sam ran across an ideal candidate in California and set off to pick it up. Along the way an accident resulted in major damage to his truck, but undeterred, Sam rented a U-Haul and continued on his way to get the Comet. Now with a parts car and solid car, the resto really began in earnest with Sam handling the bodywork and mechanical parts. Though Connie and Sam made and tied each of the hundreds of buttons in the custom interior themselves, to finish the big job an upholstery shop had to be set up in their basement. Sam picked up their upholstery guy every morning and brought him to the car. Now that's dedication!

BY THE NUMBERS
Photographer: Connie Mullins; Fall Branch, TN
Camera: Polaroid i733
Engine: 289ci with COMP Cams roller conversion, Edelbrock intake, and Holley 600
Trans: four-speed Top Loader
Rearend: 8-inch Ford with 3.55 gears
Suspension: stock front with Unisteer rack-and-pinion, stock rear
Brakes: stainless steel disc brakes front and rear
Wheels: Keystone Klassics
Great quote: "At one point I was ready to have the basement blessed or exorcised to rid this car of bad karma!"