1972 Olds Cutlass
Jason Thompson, Mount Joliet, TN

Car guys understand this; when you've owned a car long enough and had enough adventures with it, it basically becomes part of your family. When Jason first went to look at this '72 Cutlass 22 years ago, he had no idea it would be with him this long; he just knew he wanted a big-block-powered muscle car. The Cutlass was in pretty rough shape with a multicolored front clip due to an accident. Still, for $550, the deal was hard to pass and Jason brought it home. He slowly started working on it while driving it to school, and when Jason went active duty in the Air Force after high school, the Olds went with him to his base. Jason and his wife even drove away from their wedding in the Olds. By 2000, the Olds was getting pretty tired and Jason decided to tear it apart, repaint it Autumn Orange, and perform a minor restoration in his garage to get it back to "nice driver" condition. The engine received Edelbrock heads and intake, and the rearend got a new set of 3.73s. That was good enough to get the e.t.'s down into the 12.40s. It looks like the Olds appreciated the love; the first time Jason took his new son for a ride, the odometer rolled over to all zeros, as if it was letting him know that it was time for the family to start over with the next generation of hot rodders. Where Jason differs from other car guys, however, is that this pristine restomod is driven hard. Every year, we see him beating on his Olds at the autocross with reckless abandon. The Olds might not be optimized for cornering, but Jason is clearly enjoying it and having his way with it!

By The Numbers
Engine: 455ci Olds with Edelbrock heads and .496 lift, 230 duration Crane cam, Edelbrock intake, and Rochester carb
Transmission: Turbo 400 three-speed automatic with Koan 2,800-stall converter
Rearend: B-O-P 8.2-inch 10-bolt with 3.73 gears
Suspension: stock
Brakes: stock
Steering: stock steering
Wheels & Tires: stock 14-inch steelies and dog-dish hubcaps with 205/70R14 Remington tires

1966 Chevy Nova
Shane Davenport, Milton, TN

Chevy II's have always been Shane Davenport's favorite classic, but when he went to the Hot Rod Reunion in 2003 with his '68 Camaro, he had no idea that he'd be driving one home. When he found the '66 for sale at the swap meet, he was blown away by how original and well kept the 47K-mile car was inside and out. The owner wanted $7,500 for it-a fair price for a car that was perfectly original. Shane talked with the owner for a while, chewed on the options, and then found himself offering up his '68 Camaro as a straight trade. The owner of the Chevy II checked out the Camaro, and keys were swapped; Shane arrived in a Camaro and went home with the Chevy II he'd always wanted. Later, Shane attended the first Goodguys in Nashville and got his first introduction to autocross. He'd never seen one before, but once he saw how much fun other guys were having, he started planning for upgrades on the Chevy II. CPP's frontend parts went in right away to cure the Chevy II's geometry ills, and Shane ran the next autocross on the puny 14-inch tires and loved it. Next up was a Heidts four-link rear suspension. The biggest difference, however, came from the five-speed swap and wide 16-inch steelies with good rubber. Now Shane says the Chevy II is "Fun as hell to drive! I don't give it any slack when I'm out there either. That little six is just screamin'!"

By The Numbers
Engine: 230ci inline six with four-barrel carb and cast-iron header, modified Offenhauser four-barrel intake
Transmission: T5 five-speed manual
Rearend: S10 truck rearend
Suspension: CPP upper and lower control arms up front, Heidts four-link in the rear
Brakes: stock front discs, '95 Camaro rear disc brakes
Steering: stock manual steering
Wheels & Tires: 16x7 and 16x8 Wheelsmith wide smoothies with factory dog-dish hubcaps, 225/50R16 and 255/50R16 BFGoodrich G-Force Sport

1972 Chevy Nova
Dan Ballard,Cincinnati, OH

Dan Ballard has to be the poster boy for affordable, seriously driven muscle cars: "Is it affordable? Yes. Is it expensive? Yes. But it's not a contradiction if you slowly upgrade it little by little. It's affordable, and it's fun," says an enthusiastic Dan about his survivor patina '72 Nova. A relative newcomer to the autocrossing game, Dan first got interested in 2009 when he scoped out the Run to the Hills event in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. "I figured it's only a five-hour drive, and I had vacationed there before, so let's go see what it's about," Dan told PHR. After taking a few rides with Brian Finch, Dan was hooked. He made immediate plans to turn his drag-oriented '94 S-10 into an autocross machine, but scuttled it when he realized Goodguys didn't allow late-model trucks. Another attempt at doing a '73 Nova ended up in a stillborn effort, but at least it netted him a profit-enough to snatch up a mint 62K-mile '72 Nova with original paint, no dents, and no rust. As a body and paint guy, Dan knew that the $11K price tag would pay off quickly-he was running it three months later after upgrading with DSE control arms, C5 brakes, and a RideTech AirBar rear suspension. That was in May 2011-he's since fortified the Nova with DSE coilovers, T56 manual transmission, RideTech sway bars, and a quick-ratio gearbox. Dan now has the car blown apart for more upgrades, including RideTech TrueTurn kit, TigerCage, Anvil dash, Racepak gauge cluster, DSE minitubs, rear-mount battery, Rick's tank, and old-school 372ci small-block based on a Dart block. And the paint? It will always retain its factory-original coat, Dan says!

By The Numbers
Engine: 355ci small-block Chevy, Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake, Holley 750-cfm, early cast-iron 302DZ heads, hydraulic roller cam conversion, MSD ignition, 13/4-inch long-tube headers
Transmission: T56 six-speed manual from LT1 Camaro, SPEC Stage-III Plus clutch
Rearend: factory 10-bolt with Auburn posi and 3.90 gears
Suspension: DSE upper and lower control arms, DSE double-adjustable coilovers, RideTech sway bars, RideTech AirBar four-link (rear) with DSE double-adjustable coilovers
Brakes: C5 Corvette front (13-inch rotors); fourth-gen F-body rear
Steering: 12:1 quick-ratio box
Wheels & Tires: ARE Track Star (17x7 and 17x9.5); Kumho MX5 (225/45R17 and 275/40R17)

1970 Dodge Challenger
Elana Scherr, North Hills, CA

Most people pull their boats with pickup trucks, but at least one guy out there was using a '70 Challenger, as Elana Scherr discovered when she went to look at a one-owner '70 project car. Originally a 318 small-block, the E-body got a 440 big-block swapped between the fenders, just one of many operations Elana and her boyfriend undertook when they began the full restoration. Elana still sees the original owner on occasion and he fully approves of the swap since he always wished it was a big-block anyway. It's hard to improve on the original looks of a '70 Challenger, so other than the 440, pretty much the only other modern component on the car is a full Hotchkis TVS system. Everything else, from the paint to the interior, was redone or replaced to turn the Challenger into a comfortable and fun driver. There are some people who say they drive their cars regularly, but Elana really does. It took about a year to get it on the road, but for the past five years it's been her only transportation, gas prices be damned. "It just makes me happy every time I get in and turn the key," Elana told us. "It's like dating the best looking person in the world. Every time you look at them you think, Oh my God, I get to date them!"

By The Numbers
Engine: 440ci with 915 heads, '70 Road Runner "purple" cam, 10:1 pistons, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, Holley 750 carb
Transmission: 727 TorqueFlite with TCI converter
Rearend: 83/4 rear with 3.91 gears
Suspension: Hotchkis TVS system (front and rear) with tubular control arms, adjustable strut rods, 11/4-inch front sway bar, adjustable 13/16-inch rear sway bar, Hotchkis leaf springs and subframe connectors
Brakes: Dodge Diplomat disc brakes up front, stock drums rear
Steering: Hotchkis
Wheels & Tires: stock wheels with 235/60R15 BFGoodrich Radial T/As

1949 Nash Super 600
Ronald Carbone, Flower Mound, TX

Ronald Carbone's friends say he needs a shirt that says "different" across the front. His latest project, a '49 Nash Super 600, exemplifies that nicely. Previously, Ronald was driving a chopped and highly customized '49 Ford F-1 that gathered lots of awards at various shows, but when he started having back problems, Ronald began looking for a four-door car that would fit his 6-foot 2-inch frame more comfortably. When the Nash turned up during the search, Ronald took his wife and daughter with him to check it out. His wife's first words when she saw the 600 were: "You are going to paint it a different color, right?" Ronald said he wasn't sure. His daughter piped up and said: "But daddy it looks like a lima bean." And that name has stuck with the Nash ever since. Originally, Ronald wanted the Bean to just be a cruiser and built it to be such, but once he got out on a Goodguys autocross track "simply to test" his new Fatman Fabrication front suspension and custom trailing arm rear, memories of his days autocrossing Corvettes came roaring back and he was hooked again. Ronald firmly believes autocross is terrific training for drivers to handle emergency situations. Plus, "It's the only time you get to drive your car like a crazy person," Ronald added with a laugh.

By The Numbers
Engine: 350ci small-block Chevy, Edelbrock carb and intake
Transmission: Turbo 350 three-speed automatic
Rearend: '86 Camaro rearend with 4.11 gears
Suspension: Fatman Fabrication Mustang II front suspension with tubular control arms, custom traction bar rear suspension
Brakes: 11-inch front discs, drum rear
Steering: power rack-and-pinion
Wheels & Tires: 14- and 15-inch GM steel wheels with 175/70R14 and 225/60R15 Firestones

1972 Chevy Camaro
Mary Pozzi, Salinas, CA

"Everybody had a first-gen Camaro but I wanted a second-gen," Mary Pozzi says. "I graduated high school in 1973 and my girlfriend had one. We used to go all over the place in it." So when Mary picked up her '72 from an Auto Trader ad for $5,200 in 2002, the die was already cast. Mary and her husband, Dave Pozzi, had been active in autocrossing and road racing for many years through the '70s and '80s, but got sidetracked when Mary took up horses. Once the '72 made its appearance, however, the focus began to change. Then one day in 2005 while driving home from a wonderful day at the Willow Springs road course, Mary and Dave decided to give up horses, and she'd devote all her spare time to autocrossing and road racing the Camaro. Mary noticed how the hobby was growing by leaps, with more events, more autocross and track days, and vendors getting involved actively with their customers. All that added up to a lot of fun with her newfound circle of friends, and she would be in on the ground floor. Over the years, her Camaro has evolved from a simple 383 crate motor with chassis bolt-ons, to a high-tech stroker LS2 with all the best suspension parts from Hotchkis and RideTech. Mary and her Camaro were even involved with beta-testing RideTech's triple-adjustable coilover shocks. Currently, Mary is one of the most feared competitors on the Pro Touring autocross and road course circuit. Her helpful and friendly disposition is contrasted by her aggressive driving style that usually finds her on the podium at any given event.

By The Numbers
Engine: 402 ci LS2 with AFR 215 heads, FAST intake manifold, Lunati rotating assembly, COMP Cams hydraulic roller, Edelbrock stainless headers
Transmission: T56 Magnum six-speed manual, Centerforce clutch
Rearend: Currie Ford 9-inch, 3.89 gears, Truetrac differential
Suspension: modified Hotchkis control arms and sway bar (front), RideTech triple-adjustable coilovers, Hotchkis three-link rear suspension with RideTech triple-adjustable coilovers
Brakes: Baer 6P pistons with 13-inch rotors (front), Baer SS4 calipers with 12-inch rotors (rear)
Steering: 12.7:1 AGR steering box
Wheels & Tires: Forgeline GA3 (18x9.5 and 18x11), Falken Azenis (275/35R18 and 315/30R18)