1972 Chevy Monte Carlo
Melanie Rasmussen Cedar Falls, IA
When John Rasmussen purchased this 1972 Monte from the second owner four years ago in Texas, it was looking pretty weathered, had no interior, and the engine had been pulled. His original plan was to whip it back into driveable shape quickly and to be an easy project for his youngest daughter, Melanie. Well, things got out of hand kinda quickly when it was determined that it needed new quarters, trunk floor, floorpans, and window channel and cowl vent rust repairs. So much for quick and easy.

Since then, the plan has blossomed into a full custom build that will feature a serious 11-speaker sound system, all trim shaved, and mirrors replaced with backup cameras. So far John has dropped in original swivel buckets from a 1973 Monte and plans for a custom digital dash and molded-in center console. It's still her car, so Melanie has been helping all the way through and will take care of sewing up new covers for the seats and door panels. Little touches throughout the interior will hint toward the Monte's custom tag: LANSHRK.

Engine: 383ci small-block Chevy with Edelbrock top end including Performer RPM heads, Air-Gap intake, 750-cfm carb, and cam
Trans: TH400 with 2,200-stall converter
Rearend: narrowed 9-inch with 3.70 gears
Suspension: tubular control arms with cut factory springs up front, PST adjustable rear control arms with poly bushings in the rear
Brakes: 11-inch discs up front, 11-inch drums in the rear
Wheels & Tires: 15x8 and 15x10 Weld Racing Double Nuckle with 235R60 and 275R50 BFGoodrich Radial T/A
Future plans: The Monte will be two shades of black: 1970 Monte Carlo Black Cherry and a custom color called Black Cherry Pearl.

1964 Buick Riviera
John Rasmussen Cedar Falls, IA
Back in 1980, John Rasmussen's uncle Dave traded a Honda motorcycle for this 1964 Riviera. The guy almost crashed the bike, so he sold it back to Dave for $600; he then resold it again for $900. So essentially Uncle Dave got a free Riviera plus $300. Not bad horse trading.

John's first experience working on a car was replacing the wood inlays on the center console for his uncle and that launched his interest in getting his hands dirty. For the next few years it attended quite a few car shows until the block cracked in 1985. The Riviera then spent the next 22 years getting towed from Iowa to California, then to Texas—sitting outside in primer all the time.

In 2007 Rasmussen finally convinced uncle Dave to sell him the Riviera, which was pretty weathered by then. The interior was cooked, the trunk was rusted out, and a colony of fire ants lived in the frame supports.

So far Rasmussen has disassembled the Riviera, blasted everything clean, and epoxy primed it. He built his own rotisserie and lift system to hang the body in his two-car garage, so the Riv will be better than he remembers it when it's finished.

Engine: small-block Chevy or LS swap
Trans: undecided
Rearend: factory Buick with 3.25 gears
Suspension: stock with cut springs front and rear
Brakes: factory discs and drums
Wheels & Tires: 1950s Cadillac wheels
Future plans: The Riv will be mostly stock looking with minor custom touches, but roughly 3 inches lower.

1972 Chevy Nova
Karl Abram Waynesville, OH
Sometimes it's not just about finding the right model of car to build, it's about finding the right one of those cars to build. This '72 Nova is Karl Abrams' fifth Nova, but this one has been with him for the last 30 years and, as a result, is by far the one he loves the most. Karl says he has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but always clung to the Nova and his dream of restoring it to be the muscle car of his dreams. As a Lexus/Acura Master Technician, Karl chose to build the big-block 396 himself. He has also smoothed the firewall, shaved the door handles, and installed new front fenders and inner wheelwells. Karl tells us: "Many times throughout the day I look at my Nova and dream of driving her again, and I know someday I will! I've always been an old-school hot rodder and this car is what it's all about—real American kickass muscle cars!"

Engine: 396ci big-block Chevy with square-port heads and COMP Cams 305H cam
Trans: Muncie M22 four-speed manual
Rearend: original 10-bolt
Suspension: stock front with drop springs and tubular control arms, stock rear
Brakes: factory discs and drums

1969 Chevy Impala
Paul Mangelsdorf LA Grangeville, NY
Paul Mangelsdorf grew up being interested in anything that moved under its own power. His biggest influence was his maternal grandfather, a 1950s hot rodder who still owns and drives a 1930 Model A he bought when he was 22. Ironically, it's the only classic car that his gramps never hot-rodded, as part of a promise to the original owner. As such, Paul was originally more interested in showroom stock restorations and even helped judge events. We're proud to say PHR helped bring him over to the hot rod side.

His dad gave him the 2010 Readers' Projects issue, and Paul says he was "bit by the bug beyond all recognition," and that issue is the most well-worn print material he owns. After that the project search began in earnest and eventually led Paul and his dad to a junkyard in Connecticut where a 1969 Impala convertible awaited. After negotiation, the Imp came back to New York with them. The first goal is to get the Impy driveable over the summer, but more importantly, completed for his senior prom and graduation in 2014. The biggest goal, though, is to have a lifelong, fun project for him and his father to enjoy.

Engine: stock 327 small-block Chevy
Trans: original Turbo 350 three-speed automatic
Rearend: stock
Suspension: stock
Brakes: stock discs and drums
Wheels & Tires: stocks steelies and hubcaps
Future plans: The look Paul wants is "a tuxedo with a pistol in the waistband"—powerful, but classy.