Remember the late '70s? The groups Boston and Rush were big on the radio, the original Saturday Night Live and The Blues Brothers had us laughing, yet almost everything out of Detroit was like a bad dream. We were busy wrenching on projects in the garage, while a few of our friends out on the fringe were building Pro Street machines, which took the nation by storm and made much better noise than all the disco records combined.
Pro Street faded; the cars were seen by many as impractical poseurs that didn't run well and never lost a street race only because they had never been in one. We doubt disco will make a big comeback, but Pro Street seems to be gaining adherents again. We're seeing cars with huffers jutting through the hoods, fat tires out back, and slightly deranged drivers smiling as their cars idle into town.
We caught up with Jeff Hensley at a cruise almost 60 miles from his home. Hensley, who is employed by a trucking company in Greenville, Tennessee, admits he doesn't even own a trailer and filled his 20-gallon gas tank to make the trip. The car in question began life in 1968 as a factory-built Formula S Barracuda, but in the ensuing years, it has received a few "modifications."
"I've known about this car for a long time," he says. "It was put together back in the '70s, and the guy who built it, Larry Cutshaw, had really wanted a street car. I liked it because even though it looks pretty serious, I can drive it around. All it needs is gas."
When building the car, Cutshaw had employed the trademark mods that Car Craft was known for back then. The rear suspension was replaced by a semi-sprung Dana 60 with minitubs and wheelie bars. A worked A727 TorqueFlite automatic with a reverse Cheetah valvebody also ended up under the floor.
Of course, to be a Pro Street contender, the motor had to be aggressive. To that end, a 440 block was built using Arias 7.0:1 pistons for street gas, a custom-spec B&M camshaft went into the middle, and the whole thing was topped off with a BDS 6-71 street supercharger. Using a pair of customized 650 mechanical-secondary Holleys and a Speedway Customs scoop as a starting point, air and fuel enter the rotors, are compressed, then sent down the ports of a pair of worked iron heads. When the pistons are done with the mix, the charge emerges into the atmosphere via a set of fenderwell-type Hooker Super Competition headers and 3-inch pipes combined with Flowmasters. An MSD 6A ignition box and distributor light it off with Mallory wires and Champion plugs. The rumble is distinctive but not obnoxious, which helps Jeff keep a low profile in the ride. Oh, and if that isn't enough, there's always a shot of nitrous waiting to come from the bottle in the trunk.
The driveline was complete when Jeff bought the car from Larry in 1998. What was needed was a redo on the interior and detailing. That job fell to Mike Roller of Roller's Rods in Greenville, who added a set of seats from another project. The interior also features a full set of Auto Meter gauges with shift lights for easy night use, a Hurst Quarter Stick shifter, a Grant steering wheel, and a six-point 'cage.
On the outside, the car is not as brazen as some of its former Pro Street compatriots. Jeff told us Larry Travis painted the car a special color that looks like a deep burgundy. Thanks to modern technology, the paint shop was able to use a computer scan to match the hue for touch-up work. There are some graphic accents on the sides, but nothing too flashy. Weld wheels are on all four corners, shod in Mickey Thompson rubber with big 31x18.5s in the rear. The brakes use a combination of factory discs and drums upgraded from the original layout.