Bob Phelps keeps his toy shop barely a stone's throw from bucolic Devil's Lake in the Irish Hills of southern Michigan. He has been flogging cars for a while now. He won the A/Sports class trophy run at the '62 NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indy driving a '62 Corvette. Another 40 years later at the '01 Nats, his supercharged AA/A '63 Corvette took Competition Eliminator. Bob likes trick street machines, too. He currently keeps around 50 of them handy at all times, split between his two shops--one in Michigan and the other in Florida. He's mainly into Chevrolets but will allow his head to be turned by a Willys gasser or a sharp '49 Merc.
A. An original big-block car from Texas, Bob's '71 SS sports a stock 454 paired with a modified 700-R4 overdrive automatic for easy cruising. Brake and suspension upgrades further modernize the convertible's road package.
B. Bob's Michigan shop is actually more of a complex, with the building shown here serving as his build shop, while a separate building next door is used as the garage/showroom for a few dozen cars. The other side of the shop (not shown) features three more lifts and a paint booth. And Bob has a similar facility in Florida.
c. Bob has become a big believer in Chevrolet Gen III/Gen IV power. All his new builds incorporate LS-series powerplants, and he is gradually phasing in the new-age engines as he renovates his current cars.
D. The rest of this '41 Willys coupe was out having a set of headers fabricated. When completed, this car will become the third '60s-style Willys gasser in Bob's ensemble. The motor is a 526ci Donovan with Big Chief heads and an 8-71 blower. Yipes.
E. Construction is proceeding nicely on the latest addition to the fleet, this '65 Chevelle convertible built by Jim Clark, lead mechanic/fabricator at Bob's Michigan shop. A 6.0L LS engine with L92 heads and an LS3 intake provides the power; the transmission is a 4L60E. An Art Morrison front stub carries C6 Corvette suspension.
F. Originally built as a 327-powered rod, the Bel Air now runs a 418ci LS stroker motor coupled with a beefed-up 4L60E trans. Underneath the trad-look sheetmetal is a Paul Newman chassis with C4 Corvette front suspension and a 9-inch Ford out back.