1969 Camaro
Detroit Speed & Engineering

There are a lot of black first-gen Camaros that have been in film and television over the decades, but for a certain generation there is one that always comes to mind: The one that lived under a cover in John Cusack's driveway for most of the 1985 movie Better Off Dead. When the cover is finally yanked and a pristine black '67 Camaro is revealed, it was the inspiration for a whole new generation of would-be gearheads. That image stuck with a lot of kids—one of which was Angelo Vespi. He knew right then that one day he was going to have one.

Years later when he finally had a '69 Camaro ready to build, he hoped to send it to Detroit Speed & Engineering. Unfortunately, at the time DSE was backlogged with demand and the wait time for a project like Angelo's was roughly two years. Instead, Angelo decided to buy all of the parts from DSE, but work with a local shop to get the car built. Two years into the project, however, progress was inexcusable slow. As luck would have it, right about that time DSE had some openings, so Angelo had the Camaro shipped to them right away. But, that's when the real bad news started rolling in. Turns out that the Camaro was extremely rough with lots of rust and body damage masked by really bad metalwork. It was way too much to fix, so the body was sold to a racer and a different shell was procured.

Since he had to wait so long, Angelo decided to go all-out; he and DSE collaborated with artists Carter Hickman and Eric Brockmeyer to create what they hope will be a serious contender for the 2013 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year award. We're digging the handbuilt hood, lower valence, cowl, tucked bumpers, and functional quarter-panel gills. After that, Angelo plans to attend a driving school to better learn how to wring it out on the autocross track.

By The Numbers

1969 Camaro

Engine: 427ci LS, 800hp Mast Motorsports X-block with Mast Black Label TVS 2300 supercharger
Trans: Tremec TKO600 five-speed connected to a Dynotech driveshaft
Rearend: 12-bolt with 3.90 gears
Suspension: DSE hydroformed subframe with tubular control arms and DSE/JRi coilovers up front; DSE Deep Tubs and QuadraLink with DSE/JRi coilovers in the rear
Brakes: Baer 6P 6-piston calipers on 14-inch rotors front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 18x9.5 & 19x12 wheels with 275/35R18 & 345/30R18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires
Contact: Detroit Speed & Engineering; 704-662-3272; www.DetroitSpeed.com

1957 Chrysler Saratoga
Hot Rod Chassis & Cycle

There aren't many people who would ponder a pre-'64 Mopar when choosing a car for a high-end Pro Touring hot rod, but for Steve Southwell, those flamboyant '50s Mopars are the Mopars. It all started back when he was 14 and had a paper route. Of all the cars sitting in driveways, it was always the Mopars of that Virgil Exner "Forward Look" era that got him excited.

Initially for this project Southwell wanted a '50s Chrysler 300, but the market on those is fairly pricey even for project cars. "I really wanted to do a great big '50s boat," Southwell says, "but as a restomod underneath."

While on his search, he ran across two Mopars up for sale as a package: a '57 New Yorker and a '57 Saratoga. The owner had planned to combine the two cars into one good restoration, but both cars ended up being far too rough. That wasn't a problem for Southwell, since prodigious cutting and custom parts were part of his plan. That's good, because after dipping the cars there wasn't much left of either of them. The New Yorker was far worse, so the Saratoga got the nod for the build.

While the Saratoga is eventually going to benefit from a custom unibody chassis and performance suspension designed and built by Hot Rod Chassis & Cycle (HRC&C), the style of the Saratoga will stay very traditional, since Southwell loves attending shows that only allow pre-'64 hot rods and customs. Just like traditional customizers, HRC&C plans to incorporate a lot of Chrysler elements from different models such as pivoting seats from a '60 Adventurer, some cross-ram induction pieces, and an original push-button shifter connected to a modern trans.

By The Numbers

1957 Chrysler Saratoga
Engine: 383ci Chrysler Sonoramic Commando with EFI on original cross-ram intake
Trans: Bowler Performance 4L60E with custom adapter plate
Rearend: HRC&C 9-inch housing with Moser axles, 3.50 gears
Suspension: HRC&C custom unibody chassis with HRC&C-designed coilover front suspension and four-link rear. RideTech triple-adjustable coilovers all around
Brakes: 14- and 12-inch Raybestos
Wheels & Tires: custom 19x9.5 & 19x12, designed to look like '58 Imperial wheels with 275/35R19 & 345/30R19 Nitto Invo tires
Contact: Hot Rod Chassis & Cycle; 630-458-0808; www.HotRodChassisAndCycle.com

1966 Chevy II Nova
Nostalgic Auto Body

The hot rod and muscle car hobby is a hard one to resist, especially if you find yourself immersed in it and hanging out with some of the big names in the industry and their test cars. Businessman Dave Rybacki ventured into the restoration market with his last company, and quickly got absorbed in the world of modernized and Pro Touring muscle cars at Goodguys shows around the country. He quickly made friends with the owners of some of the big shops and parts manufacturers, and got to ride along in some of their test cars on the autocross course. That's all it took to fully convert him. It was time for him to build a car of his own.

Though he previously had an off-road Jeep, Dave had never owned a muscle car of any type before. The car that really struck him was Detroit Speed & Engineering's Chevy II test car, so he decided to seek one out one for himself. The search eventually led him to a barn in Southern Illinois and a rickety '66 Nova with no floors and shoddily tacked together conduit holding it together. From there it went straight to Nostalgic Auto Body in Island Lake, Illinois, where fabricator Joe Miller is doing all of the metalwork on the car, and will also probably end up painting the car as well. Currently, the Chevy II is at Schwartz Performance getting its new chassis installed, as well as a custom exhaust and a rollcage.

By The Numbers

1966 Chevy II Nova

Engine: 675hp Schwartz LS7 with ARP bolts, COMP Cams custom grind cam, Patriot dual valvesprings with titanium retainers, ported stock heads, stock dry-sump oiling
Trans: Tremec T56 six-speed
Rearend: Moser full-floating 9-inch housing with nodular third member, Wavetrac diff, 3.73 gears, 31-spline axles
Suspension: Schwartz Chassis with RideTech triple-adjustable coilovers
Brakes: Baer 6R 6-piston calipers and 14-inch, rotors front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 18x10 & 18x12 HRE C93 wheels with titanium hardware
Contact: Nostalgic Auto Body; 847-487-8883