Millions of cars have changed hands on eBay Motors, but few were destined for the fate that awaited Kiet Pham's 1972 Chevy Chevelle. Kiet's Chevelle went from an oversold eBay monstrosity, to a SEMA showstopper in less than a year, but the journey began at a nail salon of all places.
The Chevelle underwent major...
The Chevelle underwent major surgery, with most of the skin being replaced. The front fenders were opened 1.5 inches and the rear quarters by 2.5 inches. Redstone Restorations then laid down a finish of BASF's Candy Black Cherry over Indigo Blue.
Anna Aram is a customer at Kiet's Elegant Nail Salon in Bend, Oregon, and a chance conversation during a visit revealed a common bond between Kiet, and Anna's husband, Gordon. Kiet told Anna he had just purchased the Chevelle and Anna mentioned that her husband built and restored cars for a living. Kiet was interested in Gordon's take on his purchase, and the two soon met. Although the Chevelle was listed as a "show winner," it had a myriad of issues and Gordon was less than impressed with the quality of the Chevelle. "It had more waves in it than Lake Erie," Gordon says. "The only original things left on the car today are the roof and the floor. That's how bad it was."
Kiet didn't have big aspirations for the Chevelle, but hired Gordon to do some basic restoration work. About that time, Gordon received a call from an old friend, Roger Rosebush of Be Cool, asking if there were any projects in his shop they could use for SEMA. Initially, Gordon said he didn't have anything of SEMA caliber, but then a light went on in his head and he asked Rosebush if he had any interest in Kiet's Chevelle. Be Cool had a history of building Camaros, so a slight departure within the GM family was intriguing to Rosebush.
Gordon approached Kiet and simply asked, "Do you want to build a SEMA show car?" Kiet responded by asking, "What is SEMA?" After an Internet-assisted explanation was given and Gordon explained how manufacturers like to build special projects that showcase new products, Kiet was sold on the idea and the Be Cool Bomber was born. Even though SEMA was still the better part of a year away, Gordon knew time was of the essence, and any good build starts with a good rendering.
ProCharger wanted to go big...
ProCharger wanted to go big on the Chevelle, so they sent one of their intercooled F-1R units, capable of pushing the LS1 well north of 1,000 hp on 18 pounds of boost. Of course, a Be Cool radiator keeps the temperatures in check.
Be Cool then called upon artist Jason Hulst for a rendering. With Be Cool's blessing, Gordon described his vision of creating a SEMA-worthy Chevelle, capable of competing in the Motor Trend One Lap of America and OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, but he didn't want something that looked like a widebody kit had been bolted on. Two days later, Hulst had a concept drawn that with a few minor changes, hit the nail on the head.
Kiet saw the concept, and although he thought Gordon had lost his mind, he was still on board. The rendering was then forwarded to Don Johnson (the PR agent for Be Cool), so he could show Rosebush. All were impressed with the design, but there was some doubt as to whether it could be completed in time for SEMA. Gordon knew this was his shot at the big time, and he promised the car would make it to Vegas in time.
As Gordon dismantled the car, he could've blasted the stock frame, found and fixed any soft spots, and upgraded a few components, but he'd still be working with technology based in the 1970s. That was a compromise that would've cost him a lot of time and Kiet a lot of money, so he decided they'd both be better off with a new chassis. "I wanted a chassis that was proven, and when I mean proven, I mean something that has wins attached to it," Gordon says. "I didn't want a Camaro chassis that was adapted for a Chevelle, because these are very big, heavy cars." Gordon turned to Schwartz Performance and their A-body chassis, which Jeff Schwartz developed under his own '65 Pontiac "Temptress," which had picked up autocross wins and threw down blistering lap times at tracks all around the country.