Roman's shop is a classic Midwest pole barn measuring 32x48 feet, which gives him enough r
Roman Rzasa / Oakland County, MI
The first time we read through Roman's email, it became very clear that he's a big-block Chevy guy. Most of the cars in this photo are Rat powered. They're not monster motors, they're not mega-Rats, but they're nonetheless cool. Plus, they get driven as much as the ever-changing Michigan weather will allow. Roman does make the annual pilgrimage to Detroit for the Woodward cruise that goes on all week. It should also come as no surprise that Roman is a retired GM chassis design group engineer, after putting in 30 years with The General. No doubt Roman spent a good portion of those 30 years saving up to build his shop to house all his toys. He says he's also fortunate to have several "good friends who know more than I do and are always willing to help make life great." What could be better than that?
A. It's ironic that a guy who worked in the state where all these cars were built is forced to shop on eBay and look outside his hometown to find surviving members of the species. Roman purchased this '75 Monte Carlo in 2004, and it is powered by the last-year 454 and Turbo 400 trans that numbers-match the build. "Even though the 8.15:1 compression and 215hp numbers are pretty anemic, I tried helping it with Hedman Elite headers, dual exhaust, and a 3.42:1 posi to replace the 2.73:1 open rearend," Roman says.
B. Roman scores points for the fabricator in all of us with a Mig welder, a drill press, and a properly cluttered workbench that says he's a man who turns his own wrenches.
C. The '70 Chevelle is a bit more powerful than its '75 Monte cousin, powered instead by a numbers-matching LS6, an M22 rock crusher four-speed, and a 4.10:1 posi 12-bolt. Roman has owned this rocket for almost 25 years, and it was repainted in early-'70s livery complete with lace in the stripes by his friend Jim Hitchcock of LaPeer, Michigan. This is Roman's favorite, no doubt because it has the beans to all but rip the lace right off those stripes.
D. Unlike most of us, it appears that Roman is also entirely too organized-each of these cardboard boxes is marked with its exact contents. How are you supposed to lose stuff if you insist on organizing everything? Where's the fun in that?
E. The '57 has taken up residence on the hoist since it blew a head gasket. It's also the lone Mouse in a garage full of Rats. Roman was on his way to a friend's house in June 2009 when he drove past a muscle car and classic car consignment lot and the '57 "was sitting out front, gleaming in the sun and I just had to stop and get a closer look." It followed him home two days later. "I'm trying to decide whether to fix the 283 or replace it with a 350." We'll help, Roman-go for the inches.
F. Keeping him firmly entrenched in Rat country, Roman's '67 Impala SS is no slouch-it has a GM Performance Parts ZZ502 between its flanks along with a 700-R4 overdrive automatic and a 4.10 rear gear with Positraction. Like any good car crafter, he couldn't leave these rides alone for too long. Roman currently has the B-body interior yanked in favor of sportier buckets from a Chevy SSR, and he's having the rear seat upholstered to match. Nice.