Car mags are usually packed to the gills with high-dollar rides made from unobtainium, and it can be frustrating if you’re trying to wrench together your own project on a thin dime. Heck, even if you’ve got better-than-average resources from your great job, some of the high-end machines in mags can really demolish your ego. We’re regular guys like you, not captains of industry, tycoons, or pro athletes, so we wondered, what do other regular guys like us build, and how do they do it with resources other than cubic dollars?
…we put the word out that we wanted your home projects for a special issue. Anybody with a camera and a street machine could ...
Of course, we could throw that question out on the Internet or email a survey for some impersonal database, but what fun is that for you? It’s better to make it an event—a contest! Back in our June issue, we put the word out that we wanted your home projects for a special issue. Anybody with a camera and a street machine could participate—just fill out a spec sheet, write a cover letter, and send it in with the best photos you could take. We even gave you insider advice on how to take killer photos of even the most beat-up jalopy. To give the contest some extra kick, we dialed the gearheads at Nitto Tire for a grand prize, and they kicked in for a set of four Nittos in any style or size they make. It’s amazing how a good set of meats can motivate a guy to climb off the couch on a Saturday afternoon!
When the contest deadline passed, we picked out the best 26 cars, settling on that number to fit in allowable space while keeping the write-ups from being postage-stamp size. Still, most everybody who followed the directions got in. (If you left out a photo CD, didn’t write a cover letter, or ignored our plea for color prints, you got left out. And sorry, no farm tractors or trucks this year.) If you sent in an entry and nailed our request and it’s still not in here, don’t fret, we’ll probably use it in our Hometown Hot Rodding column later this year. If you don’t see the kind of muscle you like, all we can say is that you had the chance to send us anything you want, and you’ll have that chance again next year.
PHR Photo Contest Winner
1964 Ford Mustang
Owner: Terry Lee; Indianapolis, IN
Photographer: Ryan Fultz/Nikon D90
Having your car on the cover is pretty cool, but it pales in comparison to being the guy who shot it!
You’ve got to hand it to a guy who sticks with something until it results in the big payoff. That’s the kind of guy amateur photographer Ryan Fultz is. This marks the fifth year that Ryan has entered the PHR Photo Contest, and we are pleased to say he is our winner this year. Prior years have seen Ryan place in the Runner-Up and Top 20 category, with his amateur work always placing in the top tier. In those five years, we’ve seen Ryan’s photography improve, in fact, he proactively sought our advice when no one else has.
Ryan’s own automotive tastes gravitate to his Pro Touring–style ’68 Malibu, which is equipped modestly, yet effectively. As our contest rules require, Ryan was not able to send more photos of his Chevelle, which he’d submitted in prior years. Instead, he sought out the beautifully restored ’64 Mustang of his friend, Terry Lee. Ryan chose Lee’s Mustang because Lee restored it completely at home—right down to the motor, interior, bodywork, and paint. Ryan says: “To me, that is very rare and cool that someone has the skills to be that good in all facets. The most work that a lot of today’s car owners do is writing the check when it’s done!” Ryan also points out that Lee also has a gold ’67 Camaro that he restored too.
As a meticulous restoration, Lee’s 260ci V-8 automatic car is worth significantly more than the $8K he has invested (including the car). Lee says it’s all stock, right down to the drum brakes, original rebuilt generator, and driveline. The only concession to modernization is a set of BFGoodrich radial T/As.
As for Ryan’s photographic effort, we were so impressed that we asked him to photograph our main cover image, as well as the opening image for this feature. We’ve never had a reader/amateur photographer shoot a cover image before, and we’re hoping that readers support it enough that we can do it again next year. Having your car on the cover is pretty cool, but it pales in comparison to being the guy who shot it!
Ditto on the Nitto
Last year, Nitto graciously sponsored our photo contest, donating a set of tires to the photographer with the best muscle car image. This year, Nitto repeated that grand prize, and our winning shooter, Ryan Fultz of Noblesville, Indiana, grabbed top honors with images of Terry Lee’s ’64 Mustang. As such, Ryan will be able to choose any sized set of Nitto tires—which we’re guessing will go on his badass ’68 Chevelle. After seeing him run the Goodguys Autocross in Indy (it was his very first time!), we’re guessing he’ll be ordering a set of NT05s, but who knows, maybe the NT555s will get the nod. Then again, some gummy NT01s would be just the trick for the road course …
1958 RAI Scarab
Owner: Brandon Ryder; Cary, IL
Photographer: Laura McClure/Nikon D300
As the son of a European count and heir to the Woolworth fortune, Lance Reventlow spent most of his time racing exotic European sports cars. That is until he toured the Lister-Jaguar factory in England and was struck with a realization; the Euro manufacturers always kept the most advanced cars for their teams. He determined that if he ever wanted be on equal footing, America needed its own sleekly sculpted sports car. In 1957 Reventlow set up Reventlow Automobiles in Venice, California, with talented mechanic Warren Olsen handling construction. By 1958, Reventlow and noted driver Chuck Daigh were nearly untouchable on track in stroked small-block Chevy-powered roadsters he dubbed “Scarabs.”
Of course, what you see here isn’t a vintage Scarab; those three cars trade in the millions. Instead, this is the limited-run rebirth of Reventlow’s own Mk1 Scarab by Scarab Motorsports. That’s why this beast houses a Schwartz Performance built 540hp LS2, improved suspension and brakes, and will see track time in the capable hands of vintage Corvette racer Brandon Ryder. Road & Track magazine called the Mk1 Scarab “America’s Finest Sports Car,” but we’d be willing to bet Ryder’s modern Scarab is even more fun to drive. Photographer Laura McClure thanks her friend, J Laree Domiquez, for posing in the shot.
1983 Hurst/Olds Cutlass
Owner: Michael Elmendorf; Alexander, AR Photographer: owner/Canon Rebel XTi EOS 400D
When the last Oldsmobile rolled off the assembly line on April 29, 2004, Michael Elmendorf got a knot in his stomach. Ever since he has a small child, he’d been attracted to Oldsmobiles, especially anything with the Hurst/Olds label. With Olds deep-sixed, Michael feared that the value of his idols would rocket skyward to where he would never be able to afford one. Thus began his Internet search for just the right car. In May of 2010, Michael unearthed this gem: an ’83 Hurst/Olds Cutlass. At just $8,850 (and just one of 3,001 produced), the mint G-body was a bargain, and the value could only go up from there.
Currently, Michael’s Hurst/Olds is completely stock, its 180hp 307ci Olds V-8 motor pushing the black beauty to a leisurely 10.77-second e.t. in the eighth-mile. A big fan of the Pro Touring movement, Michael has serious plans to up the performance in the handling, horsepower, and braking departments. At the front of his to-do list is swapping in a 6.0L LQ4 LS motor modded to the tune of 600 hp. Also on the list are ZO6 brakes, a Moser 9-inch rear, AFX spindles, SPC control arms, and 18-inch Forgelines.
1973 AMC Javelin/AMX
Owner: D.L. Beach; New Brighton, MN
Photographer: Mara Oakvik/Canon 50D
When he graduated high school in 1972, D.L. Beach had pinched his pennies and was ready to purchase his first new car. The problem, he laments, is that he’d missed out on the heyday of muscle on the showroom floor, and his 1973 model year choices were much slimmer. He almost went with an SD455 Trans Am, but a close friend was an American Motors executive so he sat down to fill out an order for an awesome Javelin AMX: 401 Go Pac, auto, console, Twin-Grip diff with 3.15 gears, E60-15 Goodyear Polyglas tires with Rally wheels, A/C, heavy-duty suspension, handling package with disc brakes, heavy-duty cooling, AM/FM Multiplex radio, light group, and visibility group. Must have been a good pairing; D.L. still owns the well-optioned AMC to this day. It is a bit faster now, thanks to ported ’71 AMC heads, shorty headers, Cam-Motion cam, and an Edelbrock 880-cfm carb and Air-Gap intake. The heavy-duty suspension works even better now with higher rate coils and leaves, and sway bars from AMX Industries. “It’s hard for me to believe I’ve owned this car for nearly 40 years,” D.L. says. “Every time I’m in that seat I become an 18-year-old boy again. What a ride it’s been.”
1972 Chevy Chevelle
Owner: Jason Vendetto; Lake Ronkonkoma, NY
Photographer: owner/Canon Rebel XTi
The ’64-72 midsize GM A-body is arguably the height of the muscle car genre. Millions were made back in the day and they were a ubiquitous sight on city streets and highways across America; virtually every family had one in some form. So significant was the GM A-body that it’s generally acknowledged that the curtain closed on the muscle car era simultaneous to the end of its production, and the ’72 Chevelle was perhaps the most well known of the vintage.
At the ripe ol’ age of 22, Jason Vendetto bought his 402ci big-block ’72 Chevelle for $7,000. That was back in 1999, and as Jason succinctly put it: “Boy, there aren’t too many deals like this out there anymore!” Other than putting on new front and rear bumpers, a polished aluminum front spoiler, and a Holley 650-cfm carb, the Chevelle is just as Jason bought it 12 years ago. The minimal mods give Jason’s Chevelle a clean day-two look that is sought after today. Living out on Long Island, there are no drag race or road race venues for Jason to flog his prized possession at, but that only makes him want to even more. “Long Island has no dragstrip—the one we had closed down years ago. Somebody out there help us!”
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Owner: Joe Stubitsch; Plainfield, IL
Photographer: Stuart Baxter/Canon 50D
They don’t get nearly as much attention as the ’69-70 versions, but the later Mach 1 Mustangs are still cool cars in our book. That goes double if they happen to be a cool ’70s shade like Joe Stubitsch’s Grabber Lime ’71. Only 1,933 Machs were ever sprayed that color, so they’re always eye-catching at a show. Under that long hood, Joe went with a 351 Cleveland with Procomp 3V heads and intake, and a COMP Cams Big Mutha Thumpr cam. Not only does it sound beastly, but it throws 380 hp to the wheels through an AOD trans with a 2,800-stall converter. So far we’ve only seen one Mustang of this generation that has undergone a pro build (and you’ll see it in PHR soon), but it could be the start of something new as people continue to look for ways to be different.
1994 Ford Mustang Cobra
Owner: Ken Kaczor; Durhamville, NY
Photographer: Bruce Galler/Pentax K100 DSLR
The year 1994 was a good news/bad news one for Ford gearheads—gone was the classic boxy Fox-body styling that defined the late-model Mustang, and in its place was the swoopy import-influenced SN95 shape. The 5.0-liter’s power also took a dive from 225 hp to 205 hp, although most casual observers weren’t aware of that fact due to Ford’s practice of fudging the numbers back then. All wasn’t bad, however, as the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT) made a limited number of 5,009 Cobras featuring the wildly popular GT-40 intake and cylinder heads, for a much-improved 240 hp.
As big a step up as the Cobra’s GT-40 goodies are, Long Island’s Ken Kaczor decided his ’94 Cobra needed more. A lot more. In the 14 years he’s owned the car, Ken has gradually boosted the Cobra’s power with a variety of induction combos, but now it lays down a healthy 620 hp to the wheels, thanks to a ProCharger D-1SC blower, AFR heads, an UltraDyne hydraulic roller cam, and a 347ci stroker kit from Probe. Ken says the dragstrip in Englishtown, New Jersey, awaits, and he will attack it in mind-bending fury with help from an Art Morrison four-link back-half conversion, a built C4 three-speed auto, an eight-point ’cage, and 33x18.5 Hoosier slicks!
1962 Mercury Monterey
Owner: Frank Mares; Riverside, CA
Photographer: owner/Olympus E-500
PHR’s Photo Contest is the perfect fit for Frank Mares; he’s been playing with cars and cameras since he was 14 when he got his first of each—a ’61 Triumph Spitfire and 35mm Argus. A lot of cars have come and gone in the years since (cameras too, we imagine), and the latest in the long line is this sweet ’62 Monterey. It was severely neglected, but solid when Frank horse-traded his way into the driver seat. The paint and interior where in good shape, but all the vital systems such as cooling and braking were in need of a full rebuild. Now that it’s back on the road, the Merc draws plenty of attention and comments, mostly from people admiring the good looks and wondering why they’ve never seen one before. We’d definitely call it a cool off-the-radar cruiser, perfect for Slo Touring. Speaking of that, EFI, overdrive, and a rack-and-pinion conversion are on the list of mods to come. When not wrenching or snapping shots, Frank’s a writer as well; you can read more about the Merc’s resto on his blog at AmberLightGarage.com.
1967 Pontiac GTO
Owner: Steve Carlson; Kennewick, WA
Photographer: owner/Nikon D5000
While Pontiac might now be a distant memory, in all likelihood we have that GM division to thank for the entire muscle car revolution—and a way of life that powers our performance hobby to this day. It began as a blip on the radar in 1963 when more than half of Tempests and LeMans were mysteriously ordered with the optional 326ci V-8—talk about a pent-up demand for performance! It then turned into a full-blown storm when Pontiac’s John Delorean and Jim Wangers took the trend public with a larger 389ci engine for the first “official” muscle car, the ’64 GTO. By 1967, all of Detroit was in the performance fray, and no brand was more prominent than Pontiac with its Wide Track ad slogan and a beefed-up midsize GTO.
Fed up with new car dealerships and warranty issues, in February of 1992, Steve Carlson and his wife, Anita, decided to go old school with their next daily driver. The couple found a highly optioned numbers-matching ’67 GTO needing serious reconditioning, and bought it for $1,500. Four years and $20K later, Steve and Anita finally got the restoration on the road—albeit not as a daily driver. Mods are limited to the mild side, with a Pypes exhaust system, pocket-ported stock heads, and a Ram Air intake pan.
1961 Ford Galaxie Starliner
Owner: Zach Straits; Staunton, VA
Photographer: owner/Sony DSC-H55 Cybershot
We love Starliners—and so do Zach and Brenda Straits. They first saw this ’61 in a barn 15 years ago, but the owner just wouldn’t part with it. They hunted for another five years before a friend called with a tip on a Starliner his cousin was selling. Low and behold, it was the same ’61! The body had plenty of dings and dents, but very little rust. It took eight years of parts collecting and hard work in their garage, but the finished Starliner has a factory fresh look. The Straits did add a few custom touches of their own, like a mild ’60s-style custom interior and a 200-mph speedo. Underhood, the 390 FE was treated to Edelbrock aluminum heads, a COMP cam, and a rare original aluminum three-deuce intake. Those stock wheels aren’t what they appear either; they’re wide steelies to hold 255/70R15s up front and 275/60R15s in the rear. To date, the Starliner has racked up more awards and show accolades than we have space to print here, but two of the most notable are the 2009 Timberland Pro Home Built Heaven Award at Goodguys Columbus, and the 2009 Detroit Speed Builders Award at the Goodguys Southeastern Nats in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can see restoration galleries of the Straits’ Starliner at www.StarlinerConnection.com.
Owner: Bruce Bourgoin; Washington, UT
Photographer: owner/Canon EOS XTi
All it takes is a bone-dry timberline and an errant lightning strike to set off a raging inferno, and that’s exactly what happened in 1955 when Chevrolet introduced its new overhead-valve small-block V-8 and set it between the fenders of a voluptuous body with a Ferrari-inspired grille. The ’55 Chevy was the lightning strike that single-handedly set off the conflagration of Detroit performance, and it seems as though there is no end to the possible iterations that gearheads come up with.
Bruce Bourgoin is one of those who was spellbound by the Tri-Five’s siren song. Maybe it was the movie Two-Lane Blacktop and its starring ’55 Chevy that Bruce saw in 1974 when at the age of 18 he bought his first Tri-Five—a ’56 model. Regrettably, that first one went by the wayside, and by the time Bruce married and started a family, it was a faint memory. Then in 1995, Bruce made a pilgrimage to the Pomona, California, swap meet, and bought the non-running ’55 you see here. It’s been through many changes since then (with Bruce doing most of the work himself), and now it has been fully modernized with C4 front and rear suspension, a breathed on LS1, and a T56 six-speed trans.
1998 Chevy Camaro
Owner: Travis Kirgan; Indianola, IA
Photographer: owner/Kodak Easy Share C180
Today we take sporty-looking, economical coupes for granted, but when the Mustang came out in 1964 as a stylish alternative built off the Falcon platform for the young (and young at heart), it was an unmitigated success. So wildly popular was the Mustang, that dealers would quip that “hotcakes were selling like Mustangs.” Thus a new genre was born, and the competitors in the ponycar segment—namely the Camaro—sprang up quickly.
While the main thrust of today’s Camaro enthusiast is toward the fire-breathing V-8 variants and conversions, let us not forget the ponycar’s original mission statement: to provide sporty, yet economical daily transportation. Travis Kirgan is one if its proponents. His ’98 Camaro has retained the stock Buick-derived, fuel-efficient 3800 Series V-6, to which he’s added a heaping helping of nitrous to even the score with its V-8 counterparts. A 5-inch cowl hood, 1.5-inch lowering springs, 16-inch Epic ARE wheels, and a home-brewed front splitter complete the look.
1993 Ford Mustang GT
Owner: Jay Albright; Orefield, PA
Photographer: owner/Canon Rebel XTi
Mustang guys are split into two distinct camps: early and late model. While each group has a polite respect for the other, the loyalty can be tenuous. But why? We blame it on the nadir years of 1974 to 1978, when gearheads walked away from the Blue Oval by the hundreds of thousands; the Mustang II might as well be the great continental divide of Ford performance. Nevertheless, early Mustang proponents would do themselves a favor to look in their rearview mirror, as the Fox-body Mustang—built from 1979 to 1993—has long since surpassed all its earlier siblings in terms of affordability, availability, and the sheer number of speed parts available for it.
Joe Albright is actually a student of both schools, however, the reality of his financial situation necessarily puts him in the late-model Fox-body camp. His quest for budget performance led to the purchase of this ’93 GT in 2007. The solid car with nice paint and a fresh interior was ripe for the mods that followed. World Products heads, an X303 cam, Harland Sharp rockers, a Trick Flow upper and lower intake, 32-pound injectors, a 70mm throttle body, and MAC exhaust got the nod under the hood, while an SN95 spindle/brake conversion and a UPR K-member with coilovers help on the suspension side of things.
1971 Chevy Chevelle
Owner: Garry Johnson; Round Rock, TX
Photographer: owner/Canon EOS Rebel
It’s inevitable that whenever we take the measure of our worldwide readership—such as in our annual readers’ rides issue—Texas always seems to come out on top. And while other states such as Illinois, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Florida are hot rodding strongholds, it’s Texas that always issues the smackdown. As the only state in which “he needed killin’ ” is used as a valid defense in a murder trial, it comes as no surprise that Texas muscle cars have the same no-nonsense attitude.
While you’re in Texas, just make sure you drive deferentially around Garry Johnson’s ’71 Chevelle, or it might just lock onto you like a pit bull on a mailman’s leg. Garry’s 12:1 compression solid-roller 454 is locked and loaded with aluminum heads, an Edelbrock Air-Gap intake, Demon 750 carb, and a Monster Turbo 400 with a 3,500-stall converter. No e.t.’s yet, but Garry says it’s worth a conservative 600 hp. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
1970 Chevy Nova
Owner: John Mastalerz; Niles, IL
Photographer: John Dallianis/Canon 30D
This Nova was once a used and abused race car sitting in the corner of a chassis shop with an unsure fate. That’s how John Mastalerz found it 21 years ago. It was basically solid, but had some heinous add-on flares and butchered quarter-panels to fit more tire in the rear. John saw it with big tires still, but under stock sheetmetal. N.O.S. quarters were spliced in immediately after he got it home and a shortened 9-inch was hung from a custom four-link to make room for Hoosier Quicktime tires. To keep the Nova’s quarter-mile soul, a GMPP 502ci big-block topped with a Dyers 8-71 blower takes up all the real estate and then some between the fenders, and makes an easy 650 hp with only 6 pounds of boost. Behind it is a built TH400 with a 3,000-stall converter. John says he’s never had it on a legit dragstrip, but test passes on an undisclosed empty country road indicate it could throw up some impressively low digits.
1963 Chevy Impala
Owner: David Brownell: Tucson, AZ
Photographer: owner/Nikon D300
There’s no better way to teach kids than to capture their interest and passion, that’s why David Brownell picked up this ’63 Impala as a project to teach his son, Ryan, practical skills like mechanics, welding, and more. The original idea was a simple stock resto, but it appears we ruined Ryan; reading PHR he discovered stock isn’t cool, but hot rodding is! That stretched out the time frame of the build, but it also resulted in one slick Impala, possessing a hot 406ci small-block with an Edelbrock intake and Crane hydraulic roller cam, 700-R4 trans, and custom leather-wrapped interior with custom full-length console, Auto Meter gauges in a custom housing, and six-way power seats. The great stance comes via custom coils with 2-inch drop spindles in the front. One of our favorite touches is the side-exit exhaust that dumps out through notches cut in the rockers. Best of all though, just as planned, the Impala was almost completely built in the garage by David and Ryan, with plenty of lessons learned along the way.
1957 Chevy 150 Sedan
Owner: John Meyers; Orland Park, IL
Photographer: owner/Olympus FE-310
From the first time he saw a ’57 Chevy in one of his dad’s car magazines when he was about 12 years old, John Meyers has been infatuated with the finned Chevy. When he saw PHR’s own Project X in Hollywood Knights, that really sent him over the edge and he vowed to have one. It took another 12 years before the right ad for a fairly rare ’57 150 sedan appeared. When the 98,000-mile Chevy arrived on a truck at 8 p.m. one night, John was a little nervous, but the driver assured him: “You got a really nice one here!” On his buddy’s lift the next day, John confirmed the car not only had a perfect body, but was better in every way than he expected. His buddy was unimpressed though. “Just wait until it’s done,” John said. It took two years of hard work, but now the TPI 350 and 700-R4–equipped ’57 is literally a traffic stopper. While sitting at a stop light one day, a teenage girl jumped out of a van in the next lane, ran to the front of the ’57 and started snapping photos. Luckily the same doubting buddy was in the passenger seat. Blown away, he asked, “Does that happen a lot?” Of course, John responded, “All the time!”
1965 Olds 442
Owner: Steve Proffitt; Lane, KS
Photographer: Donna Profitt/Kodak C703
Steve Proffitt’s first ’65 442 was his ride back in 1967. When he returned from Vietnam in 1970, he decided to trade for a new Plymouth Duster. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but Steve soon regretted the swap. Unfortunately, family priorities kept another Olds out of the garage until 1995 when Steve and his son discovered the perfect candidate in a barn in Colorado. Once the black widows were brushed away, the 442 went into the family garage where it stayed for five years while Steve and his son went through every system, repaired the body, and dropped in a new 400ci Olds full of Mondello Performance goodies and an Edelbrock intake converted to EFI. In the past 11 years since its completion, the Olds has been to many Goodguys and NSRA shows, and out to Reno for Hot August Nights. It was during one of those trips that the Proffitt family stopped off at the Bonneville Salt Flats to snap some photos. Great location guys; it’s hard to shoot a bad photo at Bonneville! The 442 may be on the road, but Steve says he tries to add something new every year. Next up will be a baffled gas tank to keep fuel near the pickup during cornering.
1966 Chevy II
Owner: Timothy Dean; Baton Rouge, LA
Photographer: owner/Canon EOS Rebel XS
When Chevrolet introduced the Chevy II compact in 1962, it was among the first real attempts by Detroit to create an economical and fuel-efficient alternative to the bulky, highly styled mainstream cars of the era. The idea clearly resonated with Americans, and has since become a cornerstone of the global automotive market. Unlike today’s compacts, however, the Chevy II employed the front-engine, rear-drive layout so important for performance. Naturally, the lightweight Chevy II was quickly co-opted by hot rodders for their own intentions, the ’66-67 Sport Roof versions being the sexiest and most sought after of the breed.
Timothy Dean’s story is the Chevy II’s history in a microcosm. His ’66 belonged to his grandmother, who bought it new as an economical six-cylinder family car. It had a hard life in New England, enduring snow, road salt, and the insult of continuous outdoor storage. When Timothy bought it from her in 1988, it was a rusted basket case. Not mechanically inclined, Timothy gradually learned about his Chevy II as he restored it. As a father of four, his mods are 100 percent home brewed—body, paint, wiring, engine, chassis, and suspension. A 355ci small-block now resides underhood, and Timothy has recently taken up drag racing—posting a best quarter-mile e.t. of 13.10 at 103.4 mph.
1955 Chevy 210
Owner: Ray Verna; San Mateo, CA
Photographer: owner/Nikon D80
Always a fan of the ’55 Chevy, Ray Verna decided he needed to finally get his hands on one now that he is retired and has time to play. The ideal ’55 210 post showed up at the Pleasanton, California, Goodguys show, and he snatched it up. The red and black paint was perfect, but Ray wanted more muscle, so he and his buddies yanked the driveline in favor of a 383ci small-block with a Tremec five-speed, backed by a Currie 9-inch. “I didn’t know where to stop,” Ray says. “It was snowballing.” Next up came the chassis with 2-inch drop spindles, cut springs, a Flaming River rack-and-pinion, and a four-link rear with QA1 coilovers. It must be a blast to drive now since Ray says the dual-Edelbrock—carb’d 383 reminds him of the ’66 426 Hemi Plymouth he had back in high school. His favorite touches are the smooth front bumper and the Corvette grille. We have to agree with you there Ray; it’s a great look on a ’55.
1968 Chevy Camaro
Owner: Steven R. Williams; Concord, NC
Photographer: owner/Sony DSC-5750
A Camaro wasn’t on Steven Williams’ mind when he ran across this one; he already had his time occupied restoring and hot rodding his first car, a ’55 Chevy two-door hardtop. But the body was just too straight and the price was right. You know the feeling; we’ve all been there. The paint was near perfect, and the Camaro ran well, so Steven didn’t have much in the way of speed parts planned at first. Of course, that all changed in a hurry the day his son outran him in his ’66 Mustang. How dare he! To put him in his place, the Camaro went into the garage and rolled out infused with a new Trick Flow–headed 383 small-block topped by a Weiand 6-71 blower, a Richmond quick-change rearend with 3.42 gears, and a Tremec five-speed. “He can’t outrun me now!” Steven told us, while grinning ear-to-ear. All those parts made the Camaro much more fun to drive as well; to date it’s been on several Hot Rod magazine Power Tours and competed at the ECTA’s Maxton Mile top-speed event.
1965 Chevy Chevelle SS
Owner: Chris Verbeke; Geneseo, IL
Photographer: owner/Nikon L16
Never mind the fact that when Chris Verbeke first laid eyes on this ’65 Chevelle SS it had purple flames and lots of rust. The apple of his eye had a spellbinding 350 small-block with a Dyers 6-71 blower and bug catcher protruding through the hood—and boy did it make the sweetest sounds.
Being a journeyman printer, Chris was pretty darned good with tools. This Chevelle SS might throw him some curves, but having previously cut his teeth on a ’55 Chevy half-ton truck resto, this Chevelle wasn’t going to put up much of a fight. Using nights and weekends, Chris spent time in his garage fixing the body, getting rid of the flames, and painting it Electric Yellow.
Mechanically, the SS has a Turbo 400 with a 3,500-stall converter, a 12-bolt rear with 4:10 gears, stock suspension, and a four-wheel disc brake conversion from The Right Stuff. Chris estimates the power from the 350 (which sports a COMP cam, stock iron heads, and twin Holley 600s) to be right at 500 hp.
1969 Chevy Corvette
Owner: Joe Jaffoni; New York, NY
Photographer: Nicole Jaffoni/Canon Rebel
After reading Joe Jaffoni’s lengthy letter, we can only describe him as a Corvette addict. (Are there any other kind?) Joe discovered his Corvette fetish at the impressionable age of 9, and made it his goal to own the American icon at his earliest convenience. Initially a midyear fanatic, Joe first owned a numbers-matching ’63 convertible with a 327/340hp solid-lifter small-block. Like many Corvette enthusiasts, he was a stickler for factory correctness, with the result being a car he felt was too nice to drive on the hellhole roads of New York City.
Joe’s next ride was a ’67 427/390 big-block coupe in Elkhart Blue. Not wanting to repeat the same errors, Joe decided that a 502/502 big-block crate motor would allow him to properly thrash the car. More upgrades eventually led to his introduction to drag racing at Lebanon Valley Dragway. But then Joe’s addiction turned to C3s, and an infatuation with Tuxedo Black ’69s. The result is the big-block stunner you see here. The 427 has been upgraded with a COMP cam, Edelbrock Performer intake, a massaged Quadrajet, HEI ignition, and big exhaust, the result being a best e.t. of 13.20 in the quarter-mile.
1970 Olds Cutlass Convertible
Owner: Dave Webster; Longwood, FL
Photographer: Art Higgins/Nikon D300
Both Art Higgins and Dave Webster are attorneys by trade, but also car guys outside the courtroom. Art is actually an accomplished restoration specialist with almost 30 years of experience and 27 full builds under his belt. He even runs Law Dawg Restorations in Orlando, Florida. While Dave’s Cutlass was a cool cruiser when he bought it, the stone-stock driveline with its tired 350 struggled to pull off a one-wheel peel. Not that lawyers do that kind of thing, but a built 455 with Edlebrock heads sure sounded like a much better way to go. While in Art’s shop, they decided to go all out and strip it down to steel for fresh custom paint, new BMR Stage 3 suspension, and a Keisler TKO 600 five-speed. Behind the slick 18- and 20-inch Bonspeed Big Block wheels are C5 Vette discs. Referring to the 455’s 450 hp and 540 lb-ft of torque, Art says: “A motor this strong is intoxicating. You can leave it in Third with no problem.” Of course, Art and Dave always obey all traffic laws, but if either one of them ever gets a bit carried away in the Olds, at least they know a good lawyer.
1965 Ford Mustang Fastback
Owner: Bob Bell; Scottsdale, AZ
Photographer: Allyson Bell/Sony A330
“Remote control cars, go-karts, die-cast cars, car posters, car magazines, car races, car shows, and car washes; we did not watch football or basketball at my house, but we played with and admired all things car related,” Allyson Bell says. We figure that’s why as soon as she and her brother were able to drive, they each had a Mustang. Allyson’s brother took a special interest in working on the cars and was constantly out in the garage with their dad learning and helping. Eventually that led to a full-scale project with this ’65 Mustang fastback. For two years they test-fit parts and picked out the components that would create their dream car: a 572hp Smeding 427, 14-inch Baer 6P brakes with Hydratech Hydroboost, RRS and Global West Suspension, Currie 9-inch, Boze wheels, and loads of custom body mods. We’d say the great-looking Mustang is a great reward, but we know better. It’s really that bonding time that brings families together that’s the prize—and a story we never get tired of hearing. Hey Allyson, tell your dad that it’s time to build a father-daughter Mustang project now!
1968 Chevy Chevelle
Owner: Tony Arnold; Kenockee, MI
Photographer: owner/Kodak Easy Share
When the second-generation Chevelle came out in 1968, it was on a shorter 112-inch wheelbase with a 1-inch-wider track. Combined with a dramatically resculpted body with tapered fenders and a rounded body, the ’68 Chevelle had the equivalent of blonde bombshell looks. And to prove that the ’68 Chevelle SS was more than just another pretty face, Chevy endowed it with a brace of 396ci big-block powerplants in 325-, 350-, and 375hp equipment levels.
That might’ve been well enough back in 1968, but Tony Arnold has witnessed the march of performance over the decades, and he’s done a great job of keeping his Chevelle SS396 in step with the times. The 396 has given way to a fortified 454 with ported iron heads, a Crane bumpstick and roller rockers, Edelbrock Performer 2.0 intake, and an 800-cfm Edelbrock carb. That power gets funneled to an M22 Muncie four-speed and a 12-bolt with 3.73 Richmond gears. Stopping is improved with GM D52 disc brakes and ceramic pads, while cornering is hastened with Hotchkis control arms, KYB shocks, and Edelbrock sway bars. Tony’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie Arnold, gets credit for making it look even better!