Some guys are completely satisfied to restore a muscle car to factory spec. The enjoyment of working on a classic car has its rewards, whether it’s from tinkering in the garage, browsing swap meets and message boards, or cruising on the weekend to the car show. Some go beyond that noble cause, seasoning their pride and joy with modest improvements to suit their individual taste. There is a deep and abiding satisfaction to repairing and maintaining these pieces of history, but for an even smaller minority, that just isn’t enough. These guys have a drive that pushes them and their machines into territory that isn’t always well trod mechanically or aesthetically. They are hot rodders—trendsetters—and their road isn’t usually an easy one. Some of them, as you will see, have worked years and even decades to bring their dream to life.
We asked you to tell us about your project, and you responded with an exciting assortment of muscle cars in various stages of progress. They range from old-school Pro Streeters and high-speed highway machines to hard-core street/strip weapons and cutting-edge Pro Touring rides. Some reflect the inventiveness of a limited budget, while others are fettered only by the imagination of the owner. All of them will be great cars when they are finished. But are the owners of these machines ever really “finished”? Not by a long shot. That’s why they are hot rodders in the first place.
Jeff Stott, Independence, OH
Some projects take longer than others to complete—Jeff Stott’s ’73 Buick has taken 32 years to get this far, and he’s still not done. By his own admission, he has “over 300 hours in the car.” By our figuring, that’s around 10 hours per year. Ever the optimist, Jeff writes that he plans to have it on the road by 2014. Shortly after purchasing the Buick from its original owner (his grandfather) in 1980, he set the goal of turning it into a Pro Street machine. In the time since then, Jeff has worked as a technician at several GM dealerships, and has been in the perfect position to cherry pick many cool NOS parts along the way, including weatherstripping, belt moldings, quarter glass trim, and rear quarter-panels.
Jeff notes that after ordering a custom rear ladder bar clip from Art Morrison, he realized that the largest fuel cell he could fit between the framerails was 9 gallons, so he widened the frame behind the rear wheels back to stock. This allowed him to order a “T” shaped fuel cell from Fuel Safe, giving him a 19-gallon capacity—and he can use his factory rear bumper mounts again. Jeff is doing all the work himself, and plans eventually call for a fuel-injected 455 Buick of some kind.
Engine: Buick 455 with FAST fuel injection— possibly a 494 or 532 (not built yet)
Trans: Turbo 400 with Gear Vendors Overdrive
Rearend: Ford 9-inch Super Car housing, Strange centersection, 4.11 gears, Lenco billet locker, Strange 35-spline axles
Chassis: Art Morrison 8-point ’cage with rear seat retention option
Suspension: Detroit Speed tubular upper and lower control arms (front), QA1 coilovers, Art Morrison double-adjustable ladder bars, AME coilovers
Brakes: stock front rotors with Wilwood dual-piston calipers, Wilwood 12-inch rotors with Dynalite four-piston calipers (rear)
Wheels & Tires: Center Line Competition Series (15x15), Hoosier Pro-Street Radials (31x18.5), front combo TBD
1972 Chevy Chevelle Malibu
Daniel Sauget, Millstadt, IL
After Daniel Sauget watched too many car restoration shows and got fired up about building something, he saw this ’72 Chevelle on the side of the road for sale that he just had to bring home. The teardown on the Chevelle began right away with help from Daniel’s son, Randy, and daughter, Brittany. Unfortunately that revealed the trunk was completely rusted out as were the rear wheel openings and the corner of the package tray. Well, at least that certainly made the cutting for the Chassisworks backhalf and Competition Engineering rollbar much easier! Rather than send it to a fabricator, Daniel jumped in and just learned metalworking as he went. Motivated by daydreams of summer cruising, Daniel’s future plans are to complete the bodywork, paint, and interior with a Painless Performance wiring harness, Procar Hi-back bucket seats, RJS five-point harnesses, Classic Thunder Road SS dash panel with Auto Meter Sport Comp gauges, and a Flaming River steering column.
Engine: 540 Dart Big M block, Wiseco pistons, Lunati (cam, roller rockers, lifters), Dart aluminum heads, Rattler damper, Moroso oil pump and pan, Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake, Holley 4150 carb, Barry Grant fuel pump and filter, PerTronix Flame-Thrower distributor and coil, Doug’s headers
Trans: Tremec TKO600 five-speed
Rearend: Winters quick-change with 4.86 gears
Suspension: Global West upper and lower A-arms with coilovers, Chris Alston Chassisworks backhalf and four-link with QA1 coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 15x7 and 15x15 Center Line Auto Drags with 225/70R15 Cooper Cobras up front, 31x18R5LT Mickey Thompson Sportsman SRs in the rear
Dave VanderKolk, Fennville, MI
As a family man living in a home with a wife and three daughters, Dave VanderKolk can certainly be forgiven for escaping his estrogen-filled environment whenever possible. That escape plan calls for a beeline straight for the world of hot rodding. Dave’s hot rodding world not only has a very bitchin ’70 Camaro (which he’s owned for 22 years), but the friendship of fellow car nut, Mark Plaggemars. These two partners in crime have been slowly revitalizing Dave’s Rally Sport during the weekends over the past few years; you may remember Mark from our June ’10 readers’ projects issue. That was Ford freak Mark on our cover with his ’69 Mustang—and now it’s Dave’s turn for the money shot!
Like Mark, Dave wants a well-rounded Pro Touring car that can do everything well, and that has looks that go way beyond the plane-Jane restomod. There’s a lot of custom bodywork, including fabricated fuel filler and flush firewall, and the big prize: a homebrewed triangulated four-link rear with Panhard bar. Dave says every panel on the car has been modified, and the work is far from finished.
Engine: 355ci small-block Chevy with EFI
Trans: Magnum T56 six-speed manual
Rearend: custom narrowed Ford 9-inch, nodular case with 4.11 gears
Suspension: CPP drop spindles and tubular A-arms and QA1 coilovers (front), custom-built four-link rear suspension with adjustable Panhard (rear)
Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes TBD (front), CPP 13-inch discs (rear)
Wheels & Tires: New Gen wheels (18x9, front; 18x12, rear) with Nitto tires (255/45R18, front; 315/40R18, rear)
Other: smoothed firewall, working cowl induction, custom cowl hood, custom fuel filler, exhaust tips through valence, electric exhaust cutouts
1956 Buick Special Riviera
Mike Bradley, West Jordan, UT
Mike Bradley wanted a project that was different and unique from the typical car show attendee’s—but what should it be? He had no idea, so Mike spent time looking around and researching to figure out what was perfect for him. When he found this ’56 Buick Special in the McBride Motors wrecking yard, he knew the search was over. Surprisingly, it even ran, but the more work Mike did, the more obvious it became that a full teardown was needed. Mike stripped it down to the frame and built a rotisserie to mount the body on for the bodywork. So far, Mike’s been wrenching on the Buick for eight years doing all the work himself. He’s doing a pretty good job too; he entered the Buick into a car show for the first time in Manti, Utah, in August 2011 and won First Place in the Unfinished Class. Spurred by that victory, Mike’s next plans are paint by a friend at Top Notch Body Shop, and full restoration of the chrome by Ogden Advanced Chrome. Most of all he’s looking forward to the Buick being: “A great treasure to share with my grandkids.”
Engine: 322ci nailhead, bored to .060 over with 10:1 pistons, ported stock heads, blueprinted and balanced rotating assembly, PerTronix ignition, Carter 4-barrel carb, and 2½-inch dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers
Trans: Dynaflow two-speed auto
Rearend: stock Buick sealed torque tube with 3.20 gears
Suspension: front springs are stock; the rear is an inch higher to give it a nice rake
Brakes: ’56 Buick power drum
Wheels: currently stock ’56 Buick steelies and hubcaps, but that may change soon
Larry Belcher, Yorktown, IN
Longtime reader Larry Belcher has been a follower of PHR’s Project Laguna for years, and in that time he’s made many great suggestions and provided many hard-to-find parts for our ride, so when we finally got to see Larry’s ride, we were excited. Larry’s ’76 Laguna S-3, however, isn’t your typical hot rod—it’s not hosed down with a wallet full of mail-order parts or sporting a high-end paintjob. It’s also different in the fact that everything Larry has done to it has been to improve its life as a daily driver. There’s no earthquake motor, no gluey suspension, no freight train brakes, or steamroller tires. It’s all practical DIY stuff. A few of Larry’s tricks include ’85 IROC bucket seats, ’95 S-10 front console, ’95 Buick Roadmaster power seat tracks, ’76 Cutlass tilt steering column, Monte Carlo rear window defogger, retrofit Twilight Sentinel headlights, and enough used stereo gear to fill a swap meet.
The list goes on. In fact, we’re hard pressed to find any original parts on Larry’s Laguna—this S-3 is literally a Frankenstein’s monster of parts from GM cars of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. When it comes to interchanging parts on ’73-77 GM intermediates, Larry is the undisputed king!
Engine: 350ci small-block Chevy, Performer intake, Summit cam, Hedman Hedders, homebuilt engine/firewall brace
Trans: ’87 Corvette 700-R4 overdrive automatic, TCI shift kit, Oregon Performance Transmissions lock-up converter
Rearend: 8.5-inch 10-bolt from ’73 GTO (“no C-clips!”), 3.23 Posi
Suspension: stock, ’76 El Camino front sway bar, ’88 Caprice “cop car” rear sway bar, ’76 Malibu six-cylinder front springs, ’74 LeMans rear springs, Air Lift bags
Brakes: stock front, ’95 Impala SS rear, ’79 Trans Am master cylinder
Steering: ’88 Monte Carlo SS fast-ratio box
Wheels & Tires: 17x9.5 Ronal Firehawk wheels, 255/55R17 (front), 265/60R17 (rear)
Jason Vendetto, Lake Ronkonkoma, NY
Cars just aren’t built like they used to be, at least that’s what Jason Vendetto grew up hearing from his father about the muscle car era. So naturally when he turned 16, Jason had muscle on his mind and picked up a ’69 Camaro. One wasn’t enough to occupy him though—plus for $975 it’s hard to turn down a ’71 Chevelle. As soon as he saw it he had a vision of big tires and Pro Street attitude. That doesn’t mean it’ll become a fairgrounds car though; Jason fully intends to drive the Chevelle to and from work regularly and make the occasional dragstrip pass. For now he’s just been getting it respectably aggressive looking, but plans in the near future call for a 620hp ZZ572 crate engine from Chevrolet Performance backed by a TH400 and a 12-bolt rearend. When it comes time to tub the rear for the big tires he wants, Jason says he’ll make sure there’s enough room left for a modified rear seat so his 2-year-old daughter can still come for rides with him. After all he has to start getting her hooked young since the Chevelle will be hers one day.
Engine: stock 307ci small-block Chevy, Cherry Bomb glasspacks, cutouts
Trans: GM Turbo 350 three-speed automatic
Suspension: stock PST Polygraphite bushings, 1⅛-inch front sway bar
Brakes: rebuilt stock drums
Wheels & Tires: Cragar S/S (14x6, front; 14x8, rear); BFG 215/75R14
Ryan Fultz, Brookston, IN
A 15-year-old Ryan Fultz was riding with his dad in 1991 when he spotted the ’68 Chevelle languishing in a yard with a “for sale” sign on it. Eight hundred dollars later, it was his. In the ensuing years it was used as Ryan’s daily driver, then repainted, and subsequently upgraded a little at a time. Ryan has done most of the work on the car over the years, including much of the bodywork, rebuilding the original 327—then building a new 383. The Chevelle is no longer used as daily transportation, but Ryan does get out and pound on it every week, including regular autocross outings at places like Goodguys.
If Ryan’s project looks familiar, it’s because he’s taken part in the annual PHR Photo Contest several times. In fact, Ryan won it outright last year, netting him a free set of Nitto Invo tires. That windfall prompted a whole new round of mods consisting mostly of suspension upgrades from DSE. When that’s done, an LS powerplant of some kind will take the place of the tired 383. Just goes to show, even finished projects are never finished.
Engine: 383ci small-block Chevy, AFR 195cc heads, Holley 830-cfm carb, Dynomax headers, Flowmaster exhaust
Trans: Tremec TKO five-speed
Rearend: Strange S-60, narrowed 2 inches
Suspension: Hotchkis lowering springs and upper A-arms, DSE sway bar (front); DSE upper and lower Swivel Link control arms, DSE sway bar (rear)
Brakes: Baer 13-inch front; Baer 12-inch rear, Hydroboost
Wheels & Tires: Boze Lateral-G wheels, 18x9 (front), 18x10 (rear); Nitto Invo tires, 275/35R18 (front), 295/35R18 (rear)
For what he has invested into this ’66 Chevelle in time and money, Jed King says he could probably buy two nicer ones. That’s fine by him though; he’s a hot rodder who loves to wrench, so bringing the Chevelle slowly back to life has been his favorite pursuit over the past six years, ever since it came off the road. It’s good that he has that level of dedication, because the Chevelle needed pretty much every single panel replaced except the roof, driver’s door, and decklid. So far he’s handled nearly every single part of the project on his own (with the occasional help and support of his wife, of course) other than the bodywork. Jed is typically a big-block kind of guy, so this Chevelle is his first foray into small-block territory, but with 523 hp and 528 lb-ft of torque on tap he doesn’t think he’ll be underwhelmed by the performance. The main goal for the Chevelle is to have a good time cruising, but he says he’ll have to hide a big grin if he “accidentally” runs too quick of an e.t. at the strip and is asked to park it.
Engine: 383ci stoker with 4340 Lunati crank, 4340 Scat roads, 10.6:1 Mahle forged pistons, AFR Eliminator 195 heads, custom ground hydraulic roller cam, COMP Cams Pro Mag 1.5 rockers, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, Professional Products Powerjection EFI, full MSD ignition system with distributor
Trans: TCI Super Street Fighter TH350, Derale cooler, Hurst Quarter Stick shifter and line lock
Rearend: 10-bolt with Summit Racing girdle, alloy axles, 3.73 gears, and Lock-Rite locker diff
Suspension: Hotchkis 1-inch lowering springs and antiroll bars front and rear, CPP 2-inch drop spindles
Brakes: SSBC disc conversion up front, stock drums in the rear, CPP master cylinder with Summit Racing booster
Wheels & Tires: ’68 Corvette Rallys with BFGoodrich Radial T/As for the street, Summit Racing Legend 5s with Mickey Thompson E/T Street for the track
Patrick Tubrick, Omaha, NE
NASCAR-themed Lagunas are close to our heart at PHR, but we can’t take credit for influencing Patrick Tubrick—that was all his father’s doing. This ’75 Laguna clone is, in fact, a ’77 Malibu Classic that Patrick bought six years ago as a package that also contained the parts needed to convert it to a Laguna. The goal all along was to do a NASCAR racer clone: “Riding in my dad’s car and attending local car shows influenced my decisions. Lagunas seem to be few and far between around here, and I like the rich racing heritage of these little-known A-bodies. I wanted something just a bit different than the Camaros, Mustangs, and pre-’73 Chevelles and typical drag setups,” Patrick writes.
Most of the work was done by Patrick, including the bodywork, cutting and radiusing the wheelwells, removing the factory inner fenders and fabricating new ones, bending up a race-inspired dash, forming scratch-built headlight covers, and installing new quarter-panels with the aid of helpful PHR articles. Only the rollcage and engine machine work were farmed out.
Engine: ’86 vintage Mark IV 454ci big-block Chevy, ’71 oval-port cast-iron heads, COMP hydraulic roller valvetrain, 750-cfm Street Demon carb, MSD ignition, ACCEL coil, aluminum dual-plane intake
Trans: GM Turbo 350 three-speed automatic
Rearend: stock 8.5-inch 10-bolt with 2.56 gears and 28-spline axles
Suspension: 2-inch lowering springs, 2-inch drop spindles, everything else stock
Brakes: stock discs up front, stock drums in rear
Wheels & Tires: street setup is 275/60R15 BFG on steel Bassett 15x8s; race setup is Goodyear 27.5x12 on steel Bassett 15x10s
He couldn’t afford a Corvette in the late ’50s when they were new, so Larry Hatch had to just look and dream until the right opportunity came along to purchase a Silver Blue ’58 hardtop in 1976. When the Army shipped James off to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, the Corvette came along, and he and his wife had a great time enjoying the local Corvette club events. It also followed Larry to the Presidio in San Francisco in 1979, and then Fort Lewis, Washington, in 1982. In 1983, Larry took the Vette’s body off the frame and went to work restoring, re-plumbing, and installing a nicely built 283 backed by a Muncie four-speed. The body, however, stayed separate from the frame for the next 32 years until Larry retired. He spent the time gathering all the NOS parts he needed, and after Customs Northwest in Olympia, Washington, perfects the body and sprays the Mercedes-Benz 799 Diamond White paint, it’ll soon be ready to rejoin the frame and undergo final assembly. “The moral of the story,” Larry says, “is to never give up and live long enough to complete the project.”
Engine: 283ci small-block built by HAT Racing Enterprises in San Rafael, CA, balanced, bored .040 over, with high-compression pistons, forged crank, Crane cam, and 1.94 heads with hydraulic lifters. Original ’58 dual four-barrel manifold and carbs will be installed.
Trans: Muncie close-ratio four-speed coupled to a stock flywheel and McLeod 11-inch pressure plate
Rearend: stock 3.70 gears
Suspension: rebuilt original
Randy T. Hines, Port Arthur, TX
The pictures of Randy Hines’ ’70 Chevelle just don’t do it justice. Twenty-two years ago, Randy was outgunned, outspent, and outnumbered when he bought his A-body as a shell for $500. Since then, he’s put in a ton of sweat equity, slowly remaking it into a dual-purpose street/strip dream car. Randy mentions that he got a lot of tips from PHR’s own Street Sweeper ’68 Chevelle—we’re guessing we can take credit for the big-block with the Air-Gap intake, COMP cam, Demon carb and custom evac system then!
The big blue bruiser runs deep 11s on motor and dips 10s on happy gas and is very reliable and consistent, writes Randy. He regularly runs the local grudge and index matches, and has even been on Pinks: All Out. The Chevelle has also run NMCA True Street, a grueling test combining a lengthy street cruise with quarter-mile action. Over the years, Randy’s had three paintjobs and three engines—the most recent big-block combo arriving six years ago. Next up, says Randy: ignition, carb, and exhaust!
Engine: 468ci big-block Chevy, ZL1 aluminum heads, .588-lift COMP cam, Edelbrock Air-Gap intake, 780-cfm Demon carb
Trans: GM Turbo 400 automatic three-speed, 3,500-rpm Hughes converter
Rearend: GM 12-bolt rear with Richmond 3.73 gears, Moser axles, and Detroit Locker
Suspension: stock with 90/10 drag shocks, Southside rear control arms, Moroso drag springs
Wheels & Tires: Mickey Thompson 28x10.5 slicks
Growing up in a family full of AMC fans, it was just a matter of time before Michael found his own. The first couple of attempts to find a project fell through, and one ’73 Hornet turned out to be held together by undercoating, but when he ran across this ’73 Javelin that had been sitting abandoned at a mechanic’s garage for over 25 years he knew he’d finally found his AMC. The catch was it was 200 miles away with no wheels and didn’t run. After a good friend helped him get it home, Michael went to work on the 360 and in short order he had it running again. Video or it didn’t happen, right? See it here: www.YouTube.com/AMC310. Since then, Michael has been slowly working his way through the whole car with the help of his AMC-loving dad and grandpa. Right now they’re converting to disc brakes, installing new suspension bushings, and going through the cooling and fuel systems in the hopes of having the Javelin road worthy in time for the Mopar/AMC day in Woodburn, Oregon, this summer.
Engine: 360ci four-barrel
Suspension: stock with new bushings
Wheels & Tires: 16x8 Ford P-71 Police Interceptor wheels
Duncan Stoops, Henderson, NV
The motto of a famous luxury watchmaker states that you don’t own one of their timepieces, you merely take care of it for the next generation. Such is the case with Duncan Stoop’s ’67 Barracuda. His folks bought it used in 1970, and he remembers it fondly, writing that he recalls riding on family vacations with his sisters, sleeping with the back seat folded down. “I can remember seeing the blinkers flash from inside the trunk on those trips.” When his parents split, the car stayed with his mom, until Duncan got it when he went to college. Then Duncan sold it to dad in 1986, which was followed by the Barracuda doing a stint with his sister in the Air Force. It then went back to dad again when it got a fresh Sox & Martin paintjob before giving it back to Duncan in 1997.
In 2003, Duncan began blowing the car apart one more time to give it the treatment you see here. Although it’s “done,” we have to ask the age-old question: Is it really done? Duncan says larger wheels and tires, a stroker kit, a new posi unit, trick gauges, and new torsion bars are all in the planning stages. And “no,” you can’t buy it. Duncan plans to keep it in the family!
Engine: ’70-vintage 340ci LA small-block Chrysler, bored .030-over, Holley 750-cfm carb, Mallory coil, Summit ignition box, TTI headers, Flowmaster Super 44s
Trans: four-speed automatic 4L60E conversion kit
Rearend: 8¾-inch Chrysler rearend with 3.23 gears
Suspension: Firm Feel steering box, homebuilt subframe connectors, tubular upper control arms, urethane bushings, 1.125-inch front sway bar, stock rear suspension (dropped 1 inch with front hangers reversed)
Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes front and rear
Wheels & Tires: Torq-Thrust 16x7 with 225/50R16 (front) and 255/50R16 (rear)
Color: ’05 Dodge Magnum gunmetal gray
Lionel Roy, Blind River, Ontario, Canada
Lionel Roy grew up surrounded by his dad’s Mustangs, but his favorite of the bunch was a red ’65 coupe with a 289. He only remembers it vaguely, but he’s always known that he would have one like it someday. Eventually he zeroed in on exactly the right one; 30 hours of driving later he had his ’65 coupe rolling shell and an ’88 Mustang GT parts car. Having never built a car before, Lionel was a little bit lost to say the least. Lionel says, “with the wisdom and guidance of PHR and Internet forums, I am finally within spitting distance of my goal.” So far he has dropped in the 5.0 engine and T5 trans from the ’88, installed a full American Autowire harness and four-wheel discs from SSBC, and swapped EFI for a Holley carb. Luckily all the suspension was replaced and most of the bodywork done by the previous owner. Future plans include a dark gray metallic paint with blue stripes, a more aggressive cam, subframe connectors, and a high-end Pro Touring–style suspension. (The paint and stripes, in fact, were completed just in time for our cover shoot.) “Taking on this big of a project has been an amazing learning experience for me,” Lionel stated, “and the beginning of a lifelong hobby.”
Engine: stock 5.0 from an ’88 Mustang GT, Edelbrock RPM Intake, Holley 600-cfm carb
Suspension: rebuilt stock
Brakes: SSBC four-wheel discs
Wheels: 15x7 American Racing
Mike Toupin, Fall River, MA
Being a Mopar man requires something special—call it an obsessive trait. And if your Mopar of choice happens to be something outside the normal cookie-cutter B- or E-Body restoration, or heaven forbid—you want something that handles, you better be extra obsessive. Mike Toupin is that kind of guy. A mechanical designer by trade, at least he’s well equipped to handle building a ’63 Dodge Dart—of which there are almost zero aftermarket parts. Ironically, he’s probably one of the few hot rodders in this issue who actually does things the old-fashioned way—designing, building, and installing parts on his own.
We’ve seen Mike’s Dart before—twice in fact. He’s answered the call for reader project photos in the past, and each time he’s made serious progress on his Gen III Hemi-equipped ’63 Dart. Mike’s primary battle cry—to quote Chip Foose—is to “take the ugly out of it!” Consider it mission accomplished! All he lacks is the final assembly, which he plans to have done before you read this.
Engine: ’05 vintage 5.7L Gen III Hemi, stock internals, Jeep SRT8 exhaust manifolds, SPAL fans, Northern radiator
Trans: Dodge 545RFE five-speed automatic trans with Trans-Go shift kit
Rearend: Currie 9-inch Ford, Detroit Truetrac posi, 312-spline axles
Suspension: RMS AlterKtion front suspension, QA1 coilovers, Flaming River rack, 1.125-inch diameter front sway bar, Mopar rear leaf springs, KYB rear shocks, Hellwig 0.750-inch diameter rear sway bar
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston Dynalite calipers with 12-inch rotors (all four corners)
Wheels & Tires: Billet Specialties Apex G wheels (17x7, front; 18x10, rear), BFG tires (205/50R17, front; 285/40R18, rear)
As owner of Jesse’s Auto Body in Dewey, Oklahoma, Jesse Matlock is on a mission to show that big talent exists in small towns. He’s a Mopar man who still has his first car (a Satellite). He’s owned and restored quite a few ’70-71 ’Cudas and Challengers, but this time he wanted to do something a little different. What started as just dropping in a 6.1L Hemi and adding nice wheels quickly took off when Jesse enlisted the expert custom help of Dr. Patrick Hagerman at Scotlea Hot Rods in Nowata, Oklahoma. The plan is to rework and modify every inch of the body, from the one-piece, all-steel, removable front end, to the 4-inch extended rockers, full bellypan, molded-in rear bumper, and smoothed rear pan. His car will be all-new and all-Mopar inside and out. “I know some in the Mopar community are going to hate me for ‘destroying’ a ’71 ’Cuda,” Jesse writes, “But it was pretty rusted out, and I’ve done the restoration thing—everyone has. In fact, I sold my ’70 Hemi ’Cuda to fund this project. To turn a true ’71 ’Cuda into a total custom machine is usually out of the question, so that’s what makes this car different.”
Engine: ’08 6.1L Hemi fitted with a Kenne Bell supercharger
Trans: ’08 Charger SRT8 five-speed automatic, stock shifter and console; two-piece driveshaft, front half is stock Charger, rear half is custom
Rearend: narrowed and braced 8¾ with Moser axles, 3.70 posi
Suspension: custom 2x4 frame designed by Scotlea Hot Rods; triangulated four-link with Air-Ride ShockWaves (rear); Art Morrison crossmember and tubular control arms with Air-Ride ShockWaves, and antiroll bar (front)
Brakes: ’08 Charger SRT8 14-inch discs with four-piston Brembo calipers
Wheels & Tires: 18x7 and 20x15 Foose Nitrous II with 26x8 and 29x18 (rear), Mickey Thompson rubber
Michael Peltakian, San Dimas, CA
Owning your own professional repair garage—MVP AutoTech, in the case of Michael Peltakian—is both a blessing and a curse. When you work on the cars of others all day long (and sometimes into the evening and weekend), it’s hard to find the time and the desire to work on your own stuff. Like the Greek mythological figure Tantalus, who stood in water but could never drink it, Michael works constantly in eyesight of his ’70 Chevelle, but only gets precious few hours to work on it each week.
Michael purchased the Cortez Silver Chevelle eight years ago as an opportunistic buy while at the Las Vegas Super Chevy Show. We say opportunistic, because Michael has always been on the lookout for a twin to his ’70 Camaro race car. Thanks to help from friend Martin Charles—as well as his two daughters (one being PHR’s very own Laura Peltakian)—Michael is in the final assembly stages of his restomod Chevelle.
Engine: 502ci Chevrolet Performance big-block crate motor, March pulley system
Trans: GM Hydramatic 700-R4 four-speed automatic overdrive
Rearend: GM 12-bolt with Posi and 3.73 gears
Brakes: four-wheel disc brakes
Wheels & Tires: Billet Specialties wheels (20x8, front; 20x9.5, rear), Toyo tires (245/35R20, front; 275/40R20, rear)
Believe it or not, Monte Fuego, as it’s known, was near ready for the junkyard after decades of hard use when Chip Foose and the Overhaulin’ crew got their hands on it in 2004 and turned it into one the nicest Montes on the planet. Unfortunately, some people just don’t appreciate nice things that they didn’t have to work for; rather than receiving proper care, the owner continued to treat the Monte like a cheap rental car with no maintenance for 25K miles. When Mike Brush found it on Craigslist in 2010 it had body damage on every panel, the custom bumpers were dented and cracked, the custom interior was filthy, and the supercharged ZZ4 had three broken pistons and a bunch of collapsed rings. Mike couldn’t bear to see the Monte fallen from grace like that and brought it home for one more chance. Despite Overhaulin’, the neglect has meant Mike had to tear everything down and start from scratch to get the Monte back into respectable condition. So far the body is straight again, the interior is fresh, and the rebuilt drivetrain is set to drop in. With some luck, Mike should be cruising in Monte Fuego this summer.
Engine: 355ci small-block with forged Chevrolet Performance crank, Eagle H-beam rods, 8.3:1 JE pistons, Chevrolet Performance cam and valvetrain, Vortech V-1 supercharger
Trans: California Performance 200-R4
Rearend: Diff Works 12-bolt with 3.55 gears
Suspension: Hotchkis upper control arms, chocks, antiroll bar, tall spindle conversion, Baer bumpsteer kit up front, Hotchkis antiroll bar and shocks in the rear
Brakes: 14-inch Baer discs front and rear with Baer master cylinder and proportioning valve
Wheels & Tires: 17x9 and 17x11 Foose with 235/45 and 255/45 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A
Pete Krehbiel, Chicago, IL
Not since Alan Johnson built the g-Force ’71 ’Cuda in 2005 have we seen such an ambitious Mopar project come together. Pete Krehbiel’s ’68 Charger (the one on this month’s cover) is a virtual dream team of components being assembled in one of the sexiest bodies ever conceived, and if Pete has his way, it’s going live out its life equally on the street and on the racetrack. Tripower Automotive in Libertyville, Illinois, is using a Schwartz Performance chassis with an 8-inch engine setback and framerails widened by 8 inches to create the supercar performance. The wheelbase has also been stretched 4 inches. The setback all-aluminum 426 Hemi, which will be built by Indy, will channel power through a six-speed Tremec and into a Heidts IRS.
Pete is no stranger to the autocross or road racetrack. His previous rides have taught him what’s important: light weight, high-grip, good brakes, better tires, and lots of patience. And as for the ’71 Cuda grille? Pete loved the classic Charger body, but could do without the hideaway headlights. This project gave him the chance to try something we’ve always wanted to see, and it looks hella cool! Look for a feature on this when it’s finished.
Engine: 426ci aluminum Hemi by Indy Cylinder Heads, Hillborn injection, roller cam
Rearend: Ford 9-inch, Heidts IRS
Suspension: Schwartz Performance chassis, spindles, and control arms, QA1 coilovers, Heidts IRS
Brakes: Baer four-wheel disc brakes, 6-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors
Wheels & Tires: Foose Fishtail 19-inch wheels, Michelin tires (305/30R19, front; 345/30R19, rear)
Eric Hokenson, St. Paul, MN
Five years ago, Eric Hokenson bought an orange ’63 Bel Air with gaudy yellow flames puking out of the front fenders. His initial intentions were to do a couple of quick modifications, flip the car, and make a few bucks to fund some other vehicle builds. After dropping in a supercharged 5.3 LS with a 4L60E, something strange happened: he discovered he really enjoyed driving the car. The interior, frame, suspension, and driveline were priority, with paint and body coming later. The problem: Eric is a custom painter and the gaudy, shoddy paint wasn’t a good calling card, so he got this idea to let people sign their names and make comments and suggestions on what the car should look like with a permanent marker. The idea slightly backfired though: thousands of signatures later, it’s now fairly famous as that “sweet car with all the signatures on it.” He still hasn’t gotten to the paint, but the ’63 now has a custom twin-turbo system, and a bigger, beefier 4L80E transmission. With the help of his apprentice, Bobby Willard, Eric has a new goal: build the world’s coolest cars in a hometown-hot-rodder style. If you want to see more of the build, check out www.ErodzCustoms.com
Engine: stock 5.3-liter with ported 241 heads, custom Intake manifold, ’02 Z06 cam, ported throttle body, twin Precision 58mm ported turbos with Turbo Smart 40mm wastegates and Turbo Smart 38mm blow-off valve
Trans: performance-built 4L80E
Rearend: Mosier Fab9 rearend with 3:55 gears
Suspension: custom RideTech air suspension, splined interchangeable antiroll bars, custom rack-and-pinion
Brakes: 13-inch crossdrilled and slotted rotors and custom calipers up front, 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors and custom calipers in the rear
Wheels & Tires: 18x8 and 18x9 Foose wheels