Steve's buddy Nick Scavo is more than just the fast shoe in this particular case, since it's Nick's entire drivetrain that is settled nicely between the Biscayne's framerails. The 548, Turbo 400, and beefed 12-bolt all used to reside in Nick's black '66 Impala that terrorized Fastest Street Car racing back in the early days of the movement. While the Impala was admittedly heavy, Nick knew how to make the barge work. The classic line at the time was, "It's like trying to launch a building off the starting line." With Big Steve's Biscayne, not much has changed.
"This is also the exact same engine that we took on the Hot Rod Power Tour(tm) back in 1997," Nick says, "when we drove from L.A. to Detroit." In the early Fastest Street Car racing days in Memphis, the Chicago Gang consisted of FastTimes Motorworks owners Jeff D'Agostino and Chuck Samuel, along with Nick Scavo, Big Steve Smith, and friends like Eric VanBerkum, among several others who helped crew on whatever needed fixing.
Big Steve's Biscayne is a tribute, in a small way, to those fun days. This is not a class-legal car-it's not even close to being legal. You're probably wondering how these guys get through tech. Nick doesn't exactly tell the tech guys the whole story. "When we go to the dragstrip," Nick admits "we usually only get one pass and then they invite us to go home." Running 10s, the Biscayne needs a minimum of a rollbar, a full harness setup, a reverse lockout shifter, a driveshaft loop, and a dozen or so other things that it doesn't have. But since the barge doesn't look like it would run 10s, sometimes they get away with the deception. Either way, the boys just like to go fast. Big Steve is a man of few words, and not surprisingly, his Biscayne is a reflection of its owner-subtle and unpretentious, but powerful.
What: '66 Chevrolet Biscayne
Owner: Big Steve Smith
Hometown: Marengo, Illinois, which is north of Chicago, not far from Lake Michigan.
Engine: This is Nick Scavo's 548ci Rat from his Impala, freshened by FastTimes. They started with an Elgin steel crank and forged rods, JE 9:1 pistons so the motor will run on pump gas, and added a Melling oil pump.
Heads: Nick tries to fool the unsuspecting by painting the GMPP aluminum heads orange. But no matter what color they are, the rectangle ports have seen some educated port work by Chuck Samuel, though the smallish 2.19/1.88-inch valves remain, controlled by a set of Comp Cams valvesprings and retainers.
Camshaft: Nick doesn't mind spilling the details on his Comp Cams 245/255 degrees at 0.050 hydraulic roller that pumps the lift up to 0.600 inch lift. That's right, this is a hydraulic roller cam, and Nick makes it work despite all the flak we hear about heavy lifters.
Induction: Edelbrock directs the air and fuel mixture to the ports from a basic Holley 850. Nick also likes the simplicity of the NOS plate with a 250-shot of squeeze. There's a K&N filter on top to keep the bugs out of the engine, and it all runs on 93-octane pump gas. Nick rates the power at 680 hp at 7,200 and 510 lb-ft of torque at 5,800, and that's before they hit the 250-shot of nitrous. A clue that this is a big-inch Rat is the vacuum pump and fitting assembly routed to the valve cover. That big arm swings a long stroke, and the vacuum pump helps keep windage down.
Transmission: That's a stock valvebody in the Turbo 400 trans with only a few minor tricks. The converter is an 11-inch PTC that is very streetable with only a 2,500-rpm stall speed because the big Rat makes so much torque, a higher stall is unnecessary-especially when Nick pushes the nitrous button.