We flinched a little when the guy came right out and stated that he spent $15,000 on a '67 Chevelle roller he found on the Internet. We felt a little better about it when we discovered the car already had a complete 'cage and tubular frontend and it was only a drivetrain and paint job away from being completed. We also felt good that the guy is determined to drive the car everywhere despite the parachute and monkey-bar interior. Does it need that parachute? On the street?
We were hanging out in front of Famous Dave's BBQ Shack in St. Paul talking with Brad Johnson, the guy responsible for getting the car from a hollowed-out shell to low low 10s at 145 mph. "It will need that 'chute when it goes over 150 mph, and I kind of like the parachute," he said. "But really, this car is about getting it done and seeing it drive rather than having it go to the junkyard."
Brad has built more than 20 cars and feels that at this point, building them himself is the only way to get them to be simple, fast, and just the way he likes them. After owning five '55 Chevys built mostly for cruising, Brad changed the direction of this build after his brother-in-law started racing in 2001. "I wanted to go racing, but I also wanted to be comfortable," he said. "The Chevelle seemed like it could do both."
When we say he built it, we mean he supervised most of the building process and personally performed the fun stuff, like ordering parts and stabbing the engine. He's old enough to know when to farm out the dirty work. The shop that worked on the body and paint allowed him to come over with the Shafiroff crate engine and install it before the car was sent to Bob Fuller at C&F Race Cars in Ramsey, Minnesota. There, the car was finished with a complete fuel system, the chassis was tied to the new engine, and the headers were built.
Brad took the car to the strip and ran a 10.08 at 144 mph in street trim through the mufflers and on the bottle. He then proceeded to drive the wheels off the car to local car shows and even on trips to the city for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. In 2004, the car showed up at the Car Craft Summer Nationals in St. Paul, where it gathered some awards and local praise. We found him in 2006, looked around for the trailer, and found none, which to us is always a good sign. He later explained that he never hangs around the car; instead, he is always looking for ideas for his next big build.