1969 Pontiac Firebird
Ray Pepe Rocky Point, NY
Sometimes it seems like a project just wants to fight you the whole way, as Ray Pepe can attest. His 1969 Firebird has slowly tested his patience as one component after another let go. When he first got it, he drove it around for about a year before the pinion broke and destroyed the posi. Ray swapped in a 10-bolt from a 1969 Camaro and upgraded the springs, shocks, and bushings while he was at it. Shortly thereafter the trans started slipping, so he pulled it and had it rebuilt with a higher stall converter. Well, about 50 miles after reinstalling it the 400ci mill developed a rod knock.
Rather than rebuild, Ray dropped in a 1970 400 from a GTO. Finally in good running shape, Ray entered the Firebird into a couple car shows. On the way back from one of those shows, Ray accepted a challenge issued by a Mercury for an impromptu race, which resulted in the 400 throwing a rod. Frustrated, Ray parked the Firebird for about a year, but eventually decided to do a full-on resto. So far he has it stripped down to a roller now to tackle all the rust issues and strip it for a fresh coat of Hugger Orange paint.
BY THE NUMBERS
Engine: 400ci Pontiac with No. 16 casting heads, Edelbrock 600-cfm carb
Trans: Turbo 400 three-speed automatic with 3,500-stall converter
Rearend: posi 10-bolt with 3.08 gears
Suspension: stock, front and rear
Brakes: stock drums, front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 15x7 American Racing with 225/70 and 275/60 Cooper Cobra
Future plans: Ray is debating building another Pontiac engine, or just swapping over to a small-block Chevy.
1959 Edsel Ranger
John Behneman; Orange, CA
This 1959 Edsel came to John Behneman via a trade for his 1959 El Camino. The Elky needed a lot more work and money than the Edsel, so considering that John works 50-plus hours a week, attends school in the evening, and has home and family responsibilities, he came out way ahead with the clean and driveable Edsel. Money is supertight right now, but John developed a reasonable plan that would allow him to keep moving forward. So far he has swapped on the baby moon wheels and used Mothers paint restoration system to bring the old paint up to par. Next, he replaced a few leaky gaskets, and did some underhood painting and cleanup. For 2013, he plans to update the master cylinder to a Wilwood unit, swap on Granada drop spindles and disc brakes, block the rear springs for a 2-inch drop, and update the wheels. Work is great, but for fun John also plans a lot more car shows and more daily driving.
BY THE NUMBERS
Engine: Ranger 292ci MEL Y-block
Trans: Mile-o-matic two-speed automatic
Brakes: stock drums front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 15x7 baby moons with 205/75 tires
Future plans: Leftover parts from past projects will be sold off to continue to finance the Edsel build without taking away from the family budget too much.
1989 Chevy Blazer
Daniel Davenport; Crested Butte, CO
We rarely step outside our 1955-80-ish range of cars here at PHR, or many things of the truck persuasion, but we do make exceptions for special ones that have an attitude and persona we can appreciate. For this 1989 S-10 Blazer, it's really all about what's hiding underhood. V-8 swaps for these are not uncommon, but twin-turbo small-block swaps most definitely are! Starting with a strong aftermarket block, Daniel Davenport filled it with an Eagle rotating assembly and custom Diamond forged pistons. That was capped off with ported Pro 1 heads from Dart and orchestrated by a custom COMP cam that was based on one of their XFI grinds. That's cool, but it's the Banks Sidewinder twin turbos that will turn heads and snap necks. Sadly, the Blazer sits in the garage roughly seven months out of the year due to snowfall in Crested Butte, but during those days when the roads are clear, the Blazer roams the streets striking fear into the hopped-up diesel trucks that dominate the area.
BY THE NUMBERS
Engine: 406ci small-block Chevy with ported Dart Pro 1 230cc heads, custom COMP Cams roller cam, ACCEL Gen 7 EFI, Banks twin-turbo system
Trans: TCI TH400 with TCI converter and Denny's Driveshaft
Rearend: Currie 9-inch with 3.90 gears
Suspension: stock with 2-inch drop springs in front, stock with CalTracs bars in the rear
Brakes: Buick Grand National calipers and rotors up front, Currie disc conversion in the rear
Wheels & Tires: 15-inch five-spoke for now
Future Plans: Davenport plans to upgrade the generic five-spoke wheels.
1997 Saturn SC
Robert House; Valrico, FL
Robert House always said that if he were going to build something big, it would definitely be in the dare-to-be-different mindset. Enter the Saturn SC. Robert had owned a few as daily drivers and developed a fondness for them, especially the first generation. But what he envisioned was a subtle little coupe that appeared stock, but packed LS power and a chassis made for autocross. Beginning with a clean 1997 SC, Robert gutted everything between the rocker panels and dropped it atop a custom chassis with a four-linked 9-inch rear that he designed and commissioned Auto Fab to build. The body is staying stock, but the drivetrain is an LS1 and T56 slid about 12 inches back for better weight distribution. That, of course, required a new firewall and the seats to be relocated rearward too. Almost all of this is happening in Robert's garage with only the electrical work to be farmed out. In the end, he wants the ultimate sleeper, but admits that the SpinTech oval-tube side pipes and the bark they emit will be a giveaway.
BY THE NUMBERS
Engine: stock 1997 LS1
Trans: Tremec T56 six-speed manual
Rearend: 9-inch Ford with 3.90 gears
Suspension: custom chassis designed by House, fabbed by Auto Weld. Mustang II front, equal-length four-bar in the rear
Brakes: 11-inch discs in the front, Wilwood discs with four-piston calipers in the rear
Wheels & Tires: 17x8.5 and 18x9.5 Corvette wheels with 225/40 and 275/40 Sumitomo tires
Future plans: Making a lot of guys scratch their heads when an oddly loud Saturn shows them taillights.