What's the deal with guys like Kevin Stokesberry?His car looks great, it hauls ass, and as if that's not enough, he actually drives it. We can't ever seem to capture all three of these attributes with our own rides, but Kevin most certainly has. He found his '71 Chevelle SS in a car shopper back in 1997 and wound up trading a 10-second '70 Nova for the blue A-body and dragged it down to L.A. from Sacramento on a trailer.
The Chevelle was in pretty good shape when Kevin took delivery, but it was set up for cruising. It was lowered, sported a fuel-injected small-block, and turned 14s. He drove it like that for a full year before he grew tired of the average performance. So, he pulled the small-block and installed a big-block-a fat Rat in the form of a GM Performance Parts 502/502 crate motor. Friend and neighbor Ron Silva contributed help and inspiration to build the Chevelle into a clean, fast, and driveable car. Kevin had a local body shop iron the wrinkles and reshoot it in the same shade of blue. In this form, the car turned an impressive 11.91. But Kevin missed the dragstrip prowess of his Nova and felt compelled to do something about it. He tweaked the suspension, stabbed in a solid-roller cam, and bolted a 9.5-inch converter between the trans and the motor, which promptly knocked nearly a full second off of his previous best time for a 10.98 at 121 mph. Kevin recently added a NOS Cheater unit to the big blue bomber, and although he's yet to test it at the track, he fully expects the car to dip into the 9s on the 250-horse shot of spray. We think that's a safe bet.
Kevin's Chevelle proves it's fully possible to build a car that not only sports the muscular, square-shouldered good looks of a genuine musclecar, but also hauls the mail and can be driven nearly anywhere on pump gas. We should try that ourselves more often.
Car Craft Q&ACar Craft: Your Chevelle is show-car clean and fast as hell, and you actually drive it regularly. Was this the plan from the start?
Kevin Stokesberry: Not originally. I wanted to make a show car out of it, a driveable show car. For 11 years I messed around with my '70 Nova and was basically fed up with the unreliability of a race car, so I really wanted a driver. Then my neighbor Ron Silva and my good friend Jerry Brost provided the inspiration to make the car fast. Ron has a beautiful street-driven 9-second Mopar, and the two of them were able to get me interested in going fast again. But I demanded reliability, hence the big radiator, mechanical fan, streetable gears, and the big-inch, low-compression motor.
CC: How much of the work on this car did you do yourself?KS: Most of the work was done by Jerry, Ron, and myself. The Turbo 400 was built by Pro Trans, and the paint and body work were farmed out, but the rest was performed by me and my friends. Ron and I welded the rollbar and did all of the fabrication in my garage.
CC: What's next?KS: Well, I might tub it. I just think a tubbed car looks awesome, but I'll never sell it. I also want to build a full-race '67 Nova in grey primer with one 'glass bucket. A car where no cleaning is required!
The DetailsCar: '71 Chevy Chevelle
Engine: GMPP 502/502 crate motor
Heads: GMPP aluminum oval-port, 2.25/1.88-inch intake/exhaust valves
Induction: Weiand Team G aluminum single-plane intake, 950-cfm HP series Holley carb
Power adder: NOS Cheater 250-horse system
Camshaft: Comp Cams solid roller, 254/260 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.662/0.668-inch lift
Power: 645 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 620 lb-ft at 3,800 rpm
Transmission: Pro Trans Turbo 400, reverse-pattern manual valvebody, Dynamic 3,800-stall converter