It's all about being different. Every car crafter you meet will tell youthat he built his car to be different. But when you're talking to a guywith a red '69 Camaro with a carbureted small-block and an automatic,how different is that? If you're going to be different, then gobig--make a splash.
Over the past few months, we've been collecting some examples of carsthat are actually well beyond "dare to be different." We're talkingabout real street freaks. These are cars that when you see them for thefirst time, they stop you in mid-step. These are cars that make youhonestly say, "Naw, there's no way he drives that on the street." Take alook at what we discovered out there cruising the boulevard.
If you're old enough to remember, or you love those nostalgic drag carsfrom the '60s, then you'll instantly recognize Dave Dennis' '37 FiatTopolino as his contemporary version of those gasser classics. At firstglance, it would appear there's no way this Trimble, Missouri, machineis a true street driver. Sure, it's got license plates, but our initialinvestigation revealed a mechanical fuel injected small-block, whatappeared to be open headers, a tilt-body, and a 4-gallon Moon fueltank--hardly the kind of equipment for a highway star. But then westarted quizzing Dave and quickly discovered his Fiat was a street carfrom the very beginning. "I wanted that '60s gasser look, but I alwaysintended this car to be streetable." To begin with, the headers havemotorcycle baffles in those straight lengths of pipe ahead of thecollector, and there's a second hidden fuel tank in the rear of the Fiatwith an electric fuel pump that he uses both to prime the engine forstartup and to transfer fuel from the rear tank to the front. "I can get70 to 80 miles on the front tank, and then after transferring the fuelfrom the rear to the front, I know its time to start looking for a gasstation."
It doesn't take much horsepower to run 10's at 1,700 pounds. Dave's 327runs a Hilborn mech
Dave climbs into the interior through the top even though the body flipsup like a Funny Ca
The small-block is an iron-block 327 with 11:1 compression, a "big"camshaft, and... OFI. "Yeah, you know electronic fuel injection is EFI,so I have old fuel injection--OFI." Hilborns are not renowned for theirstreet manners, but Dave has managed to tune his for decent idle andpart-throttle without giving up much at the top end. The 1,700-poundfiberglass-bodied Fiat has run a best of 10.72 at 125 mph, and Dave's inthere bangin' gears with a G-Force semi-clutchless four-speed with asingle-disc Ram clutch that makes this Fiat flat-out entertaining. "Youlift just enough to disengage the gears and then just pull thehandle--it'll bark the tires! It's a ride because when I shift it, thecar bounces and jockeys around and its kinda' scary. But that's whatmakes it fun! Generally, people only go on one ride with me."
Out back, Dave's feisty Fiat sports a custom-built 9-inch housing with4.56 gears and a single, ultra-long wheelie bar that appears to be anecessary evil. Undercover Chassis did the frame work and fabbed therearend. Dave works for Toyota as a field training rep, which is aboutas far removed from a street freaky Fiat as you can get. And that's theway Dave likes it.
John's racer-turned-cruiser is completely street legal. He puts plentyof street miles on t
Contender for the Boulevard Cup
John Cottrell has always had a penchant for banging gears and turningcorners. Before he turned this '99 Monte Carlo NASCAR Busch car into astreet freak, he owned a carbon-fiber-bodied third-gen Camaro. But thatcar was too difficult to climb in and out of, so he sold it and beganthe conversion on this ex-Ronnie Hopkins Engineering Monte Carlo.
That's an ASA-style LS1 built by brother Myron Cottrell. The LS1 sportsported heads, an AS
This car actually attempted to qualify at Daytona for the Busch seriesin 1999 and ran 187 mph. John traded it for some engineering work he didfor the team and began the conversion to the street. John's brotherMyron Cottrell, who owns TPI Specialties, built the ASA-spec LS1 enginewith ported heads, a TPIS cam and throttle-body, and a complete dry-sumpsystem that makes an honest 539 hp on the engine dyno. Backing that upis a Tex Racing face-tooth race T-101A clutchless four-speedtransmission and a Tex Racing complete floater 9-inch with 3.70 gearsand a soft-touch Detroit Locker. According to John, "The trans is amixture of parts from the Jeff Gordon car and Jimmy Johnson's."
Don't expect Cadillac comfort from a Busch car. Those are Auto Metergauges and a removable
John lives in Minneapolis, where as long as you don't drive throughpeople's front yards like Darrell Waltrip, the cops don't hassle you. SoJohn has really never had any problems with the law, even though theregistration lists the car as a '75 Monza. John loves driving the MonteCarlo. "It actually drives like a Cadillac. The engine is a dream, italways starts and runs smooth--it's by far the best part of the car.Plus, this car has a trunk. I can put my tools, the side windows, and acooler in there even with the 22-gallon fuel cell."
John even went so far as to dig up a set of Goodyear Racing Eagle27.5x12-15 grooved tires that NASCAR experimented with to see if thesebig stock cars could road race in the rain. This would be a perfect carfor Car Craft's entry next year in the Hotchkis Media Shootout. HeyJohn, can we borrow your car next May?
Vega in Name Only
OK, for you closet road racers out there, over-rev your imagination fora second and imagine buying a Cosworth-powered SCCA GT-3full-tube-chassis road racer and sticking license plates on it. First,wipe that little bit of drool off your chin. Then forget the Cosworthand stuff an aluminum 540ci Rat motor between the framerails. Simplyput, that's exactly what Campbell Auto Restoration's Mark Schwartz didwith this '74 Vega.
It's a '74 Vega roof hatch and nose, but that's where the similaritiesend. Mark Schwartz's
The cockpit is currently limited to just the driver, but Schwartz willsoon have a passenge
A street car with an SCCA GT-3 full tube chassis is wild enough, butthen Mark stuffed in a
The alloy Rat sports a dry-sump oiling system and complete Kinslercross-ram electronic fuel injection system controlled by ACCEL Gen VIIsoftware--it makes so much power, they can't get a decent number on thechassis dyno because it keeps spinning the tires! Power spins into aG-Force, dog-ring four-speed through a Tilton multidisc clutch assemblyand then is directed to a complete 9-inch rear that's located with athree-link and a Watt's link. When he takes it to the track, the Vegaruns on Goodyear slicks, but on the street, this brain-drainer sports aset of mild-mannered BFGoodrich 15-inch-diameter radial T/A tires.
Currently, the interior allows only one seat, but the Campbell crew hasalready moved the fuel cell to the rear of the car and will soon modifythe sheetmetal to fit a copilot seat. Now all Mark needs is a littlesign to place on the windshield that says "Thrill Rides-- 3 Laps for$1." We've got first dibs.
This is not your typical V-8 Corvair, especially because the engine's inthe front. Mike di
The G-Spot Corvair
This story is classic Car Craft fare. Mike Meyers is a Corvair fan, butnot to the exclusion of other makes and models. Mike bought this '69Corvair mainly for its engine but then discovered he couldn't even givethe body away. One day he was debating whether to cut it up when an ideabegan to form. He measured the wheelbase and track width of an '85 MonteCarlo G-body chassis he had sitting at his shop and discovered that theCorvair body could fit.
That's just a simple '88 Corvette 350 with aluminum heads and Tuned PortInjection (TPI). M
Ultimately, by hacking the entire floor out of the Corvair and trimmingthe front and rear frame horns off the Monte chassis, Mike had a decentfit. "When I saw that a TPI manifold would clear the stock hood, that'swhen I knew I had to build this car." This was no cakewalk, since Mikehad to fabricate a new firewall and floorpan, but now a complete '88Vette TPI motor is in place along with a narrowed 12-bolt and anautomatic trans.
Mike says the Corvair only weighs 3,000 pounds and is a blast to drive.He's even taken it to the dragstrip, knocking down a respectable 13.30.Look closely and you'll see the simple nitrous system that kicks thee.t. down to 12.60s. So beware the Corvair.
Rather than run two separate distributors, Mathon decided to build onelarge distributor ca
All you gotta do to build a V-16 is weld two small-blocks together. Howtough is that?
We ran across this rascal at the Cruise for a Cure car show a whileback. It's a basic T-bucket with a run-of-the-mill small-blockChevy-based V-16. Mathon Engineering in New Jersey is responsible forthis effort, welding two small-block 350 blocks together while alsomaking a custom intake manifold to accommodate the dual four-barrelcarbs. This mild 700ci monster makes 550 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Ifyou want to see this beast in person, you can catch it at the PetersenAutomotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.