Chevy made 1,668 two-door wagons in 1965. This is not one of them.
It's loud. The neighbor stuck her head over the fence and called out, "Let's hear it, then." Mike Moore shrugged and grinned, "The neighbors are used to me." He tipped the throttle a couple of times to oblige and reached to an overhead console like an airline pilot flipping switches. The Flowmasters roared for a moment, then the small-block settled into a nervous idle as a crowd of regulars gathered. It was Saturday afternoon and we were heading from his neighborhood in Torrance, California, to Hot Rod Performance in Gardena to meet the rest of the guys from Mike's set. They're going to laugh when they read this, as they do when you miss a shift at the dragstrip and they're all there to see it. Or when Mike's Powerglide was new and he couldn't find Reverse. They're waiting for that mistake like good friends always do.
On the way, we were belted to fiberglass passenger seats and hanging on to the rollbar where the back seat used to be. "That thing had a mind of its own," Mike explained later. "It would open and close on the track so I had to take it out." We could have used it when Mike opened it up and left a ribbon of stripes between the right two lanes. The Wagon runs 10.30s on the motor at 131 mph. If you don't know what that's like, try a backflip off a high-dive with your eyes closed. After the front end jumps up, that sensation lasts until the throttle is lifted.
Mike's adrenaline progression is surfing, skating, hot rods, race cars, and rocket ships, to use his words. So this car started as the ultimate surf cruiser. "When the big skate thing was going on in the late '70s, I worked at [Dewey] Weber surfboards and hung out at the shop. I grew up in that environment. Back then, we would hear about an empty pool and we'd go. The Z-boys were there and the other skaters. There were skate parks but the pools were illegal and had no rules so it was fun. When I saw that movie Dogtown and Z-Boys it was a huge flashback. You take a little part of the culture when you come from the beach, that's who you are and where you're from. Hanging out at the shop with this car is no different."
Slowly, the '65 turned from fast street car to race car. Mike is hooked. "At first you're just a casual user. I tell myself that I don't have to do this, I can quit anytime."
Then Mike's brother opened a race-engine shop and applied peer pressure. "I lost the first motor then dropped in a crate that stayed in there for almost a month before I sold it and built a 383. I went 12.85 at 105 and that's when it [racing] started." The 425ci Chevy that currently powers the car is more race than street, but it is seen once in a while cruising the area at night. "This car is just a progression of heads and camshafts, then after that came bigger motors. It's the natural progression of my insanity."
Mike will be running in the PCSA series with his buddies from Hot Rod Performance this spring. If you see him, stop by and say hello, maybe he'll let you see his vintage skateboard deck. END
What: '65 Chevy Chevelle wagon
Owner: Mike Moore, whose garage holds skate, surf, and go-fast relics.
Hometown: Torrance, California, and surrounding burbs were the spawning pools of the skate, surf, and street racer movements in the '50, '60s and '70s. Mike was there.
Techs: The key engine guys are Mark Millhollin at Hot Rod Performance and Rudy
Resch. They did the math and Mike bolted it up.
Engine: Mike found a seasoned Bow-Tie iron block that accepted a 4.18 bore, a 3.875-inch Cola crank, and 6-inch Oliver rods for 425 ci.
Heads: The Edelbrock 18-degree Chapman CNC heads make serious power off the shelf, but at the expense of a custom valvetrain including Isky 0.050-inch-offset roller lifters.
Headers: Oops, the standard headers won't fit the 18-degree heads either. A custom set of 21⁄2s were created by Doug Hornburg in Redondo Beach.
Intake: Again, 18-degree stuff means a special intake manifold to match the raised intake ports, but you can buy cast manifolds, and this one's a Brodix.
Carburetion: Mike's running an 1,150 Dominator from The Carb Shop. Even with 15.0:1 compression and a huge Racer's Mystery cam, it didn't bog or sputter.
Ignition: There is a Shogun generator instead of an alternator to run the MSD 6AL and electric water pump, but Mike says he's had no problems on the street using an Optima battery. But this isn't a commuter car or anything.
Transmission: It had a TH400 but the steep First gear would sometimes shock the tires loose off the transbrake. He's hoping his new Powerglide will allow 6-grand 'brake launches and less airtime.
Suspension: A wheels-up 60-foot of 1.35-1.37 on 9-inch tires is the norm with a good track. Mike runs Koni 90/10 adjustables with tubular upper control arms and small-block Chevelle springs in front, and stock station wagon springs in the back with inflatable airbags inside them. Hotchkis boxed arms hold up a Ford 9-inch and 4.56:1 gears.
Body: The paint is original teal with a 99-Cent-Store refresh. Mike keeps finding beach sand in the back where the bench used to be. And one time a grinder tried to eat the rocker panel. That explains the black stripe of paint on the driver side. He can't explain the black headlight bezels though.
Performance: On race day it weighs 3,390 pounds and his best e.t. is 10.30 at 131, no nitrous.