Big Steve Smith is just cruisin'. He's done with drywall and construction work for the week, and now it's time for some fun. The Biscayne is laid back, just idling down the boulevard not far from his Marengo, Illinois, home. The fullsize Chevy looks just like a refugee from a '60s television new-car ad. All the scene needs is a Dinah Shore Chevrolet theme song soundtrack as the Biscayne glides along on tall-sidewall blackwall tires with dog-dish hubcap steel wheels.
But something's amiss. Big Steve could pass for anybody's dad, but there's an underlying vibe that wafts out of every door seam. The ghetto-rap brat kids in the passing Honda don't get it, but a savvy street urchin driving an abused 5.0L Mustang picks up the scent. He can tell somethin's up. The Biscayne rumbles a bit more than a bone-stock 283, and those back tires look ego-size and soft, like they are intended to harvest some awesome torque. Steve pulls into the Burger King for a soda, and while he's distracted, our street urchin makes a quick pass by the interior. He sees nothing that would point to hidden quickness. There's no rollbar, no tach, no gauges; hell it doesn't even have bucket seats or a console. Now Five Liter Guy is twitchin', his every sense tells him this is no poseur, but there's little visual evidence of serious power. With the tires at rest, he sees they are 295-wide Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials. Those are gumball tires, hardly the type of rollers you'd put on a grandma car. As our boy rounds the tail end of the car, he sees it: a small decal in the middle of the back window that says FastTimes Motorworks, and the impact drives home. He's heard of those guys from Morton Grove, and he knows that name means horsepower. His suspicions are confirmed.
Big Steve comes back outside, and they exchange glances.
"This looks fast," Five-Oh guy offers."Yeah, it might be," Steve returns."Mind if I look under the hood?"Steve ponders the request and lets the guy squirm for a minute while he decides. "Sure, why not. It's Tuesday."
The expansive Rat motor valve covers are immediately apparent, yet the motor appears docile and small in the expansive engine compartment. The young guest knows better than to ask too many questions, yet his curiosity remains. There's a line plumbed to the valve cover that leads to what looks like a vacuum pump. There's also a switch plumbed to the linkage-a wide-open-throttle switch. And then his eye catches the nitrous plate under the carburetor.
"We're experimenting," Steve says."How big's the motor?" Ford guy asks."It could be a 540 or could be a 396. Depends on who's askin'.""I'm just a disinterested third party," Mustang guy says."In that case, it's a 548 with a Turbo 400 and a 3.73 gear. "How much does it weigh?" Mustang guy asks, now casually.
"Too much to be fast," Steve says as he closes the hood. He nods to Mustang guy and slips behind the wheel. The Rat fires instantaneously, and Steve slides the shifter into gear. With a touch of the throttle, the front suspension lifts perceptively, again reinforcing its quarter-mile character. Big Steve eases on the throttle and motors away. No need for an exhibition. Steve is years beyond that.
The previous scene never occurred. We made the whole thing up. But similar encounters have no doubt transpired and will probably continue to occur around this sleeper Biscayne. The truth is, this low-10-second sleeper has used its portly 4,300 pounds to plant the rear tires to embarrass more than one unsuspecting wannabe hero.