After restoring his Chevelle for the second time, Keith hit the show circuit, bagging some awards here and there. As a performance guy at heart, however, the need for speed never went away. In 2001, he ordered a 383 stroker small-block massaged to 410 hp. "Now that the car had lots of go, it was time to get some serious whoa. After talking with Rick Elam at Baer Brakes, I decided to go with their two-piston front kit with 13-inch rotors,” Keith explains. "The brakes required upgrading to larger 17-inch wheels, which were matched up with some Nitto NT555 tires. The car now had some serious stopping power, and I soon got the itch to enter some SCCA Solo 2 autocross events. I got hooked, but I knew the car had to handle better to be competitive. After some research, I upgraded the suspension with Global West control arms, Hotchkis springs, and Edelbrock shocks. It made the Chevelle handle really well, but for me autocrossing is nowhere near as fun with an automatic trans, so it was time for a Tremec TKO five-speed manual conversion. It really gave the car a whole new personality.”

By the time 2007 rolled along, the 383 started showing signs of wear. Beck Racing Engines freshened it up, and in the process they also ported the Dart heads and installed a larger 232/240-at-.050 hydraulic roller cam. That bumped output to a very respectable 490 hp. In the years since then, Keith has continually beaten the snot out of his Chevelle on the autocross, and he recently got hooked up with a complete MSD Atomic EFI system as part of a Cartech Books tech story. As Keith celebrates 40 years of Chevelle ownership in 2014, he can take pride in how he's built the car of his dreams with his own two hands through decades upon decades of continual upgrades. "It has always been my goal to have a Chevelle that can carve corners, shred the tires on command, stop well, and get 18 mpg all while being very reliable and well mannered on the street. Since this car is constantly evolving I've nicknamed it ‘Evo SS,'” Keith quips. "I've always been into the Pro Touring thing even before it was called Pro Touring. Drag racing never did it for me, and I had a lot more fun driving up the mountain roads of Angeles Crest Highway as fast as possible. I loved watching the Trans-Am cars race at Riverside Raceway as a kid, so I've always wanted to build a muscle car that can do everything.”

Make no mistake, there's nothing wrong with variety. It's just that taking on multiple project cars when you barely have the means to finish one project car is a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, Keith is man who'd rather appreciate what he has instead of drooling over what he can't. "I've had the opportunity to buy some nice cars over the years, but I can hop in my car and enjoy it every bit as much as a $175,000 car,” Keith reasons. "In the past 40 years, my Chevelle and I have been through a lot. We've been to a lot of places, and done a lot of cool things together. It's part of me and who I am. When people ask me how long I've had my car, and I tell them 40 years, the looks I get are priceless!”

By the Numbers

1964 Chevelle Malibu SS
Keith Kanak, 56 • Mesa, AZ


Type: Chevy 383ci Gen I small-block
Block: factory iron bored to 4.030 inches
Oiling: Melling pump, custom pan
Rotating assembly: Scat cast-steel 3.750-inch crankshaft, GM powdered metal rods, KB 10.0:1 hypereutectic pistons
Cylinder heads: ported Dart Iron Eagle 180cc castings
Camshaft: Bullet 232/240-at-.050 hydraulic roller
Valvetrain: Cloyes double-roller timing set, COMP Cams Pro Magnum 1.6:1 roller rocker arms
Induction: Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake manifold; MSD Atomic EFI system, throttle body, and injectors
Ignition: MSD billet distributor and 6AL ignition box
Exhaust: Doug's 1.75-inch headers, dual 2.5-inch Flowmaster mufflers
Output: 490 hp at 6,000 rpm, 480 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm
Built by: Beck Racing Engines (Phoenix, AZ)


Transmission: Tremec TKO600 five-speed manual, McLeod 11-inch clutch, Hurst shifter
Rear axle: GM 12-bolt rearend with 3.73:1 gears and limited-slip differential


Front suspension: Global West G-Plus upper and lower control arms, Edelbrock shocks, Hotchkis springs and 1.375-inch sway bar
Rear suspension: Global West G-Plus upper and lower control arms, Edelbrock shocks, and Hotchkis springs
Brakes: Baer 13-inch rotors and two-piston calipers, front; Baer 12-inch rotors and single-piston calipers, rear

Wheels & Tires

Wheels: 17x8 Boyd Smoothie II, front and rear
Tires: 245/45R17 Nitto NT555, front and rear