When Rich Roberts began building cars, musclecars were the rage, gas was 25 cents a gallon, and you could put together the vehicle of your dreams at a dealership showroom. As gas grew more expensive and musclecars scarce, Roberts continued fabricating, forming Promax Corporation, a Clinton, Tennessee-based source for some of the nation's hottest Pro Mod cars and chassis.
Despite the success of his company in the motorsports world, there was this idea burning in the back of Rich's mind, something younger car enthusiasts often encounter when they build model cars prior to starting on the real thing. What if he could standardize the chassis underneath the most popular musclecars, in the same way street rods and model cars are often built? In this manner, Roberts could concentrate on creating bodies that would rest on the same basic chassis, and this standardization could lend itself to interchangeable drivelines and lower costs in comparison to working with a stock "steel" car.
Thus, Vennom Cars was born, and the world of high-dollar musclecars may never be the same. True, these are fiberglass replicas of Chevrolet, Ford, and Plymouth vehicles, but since Rich doesn't really care to pay exorbitant licensing fees just for the privilege of calling them what you and every other enthusiast recognize them to be, he simply prefers to call them Vennom Cars. Fair enough, but how do they measure up?
Frame jigs and surface plates remind you that this is where Roberts hones his craft, and for him there is no margin for error. For a man who has devised this ingenious plan that brings together replicas of a '69 Camaro, '66 Chevy II, '71 Mustang Mach 1, and the soon-to-appear Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda as brothers under the skin, Roberts is obsessive when it comes to capturing the essence of each vehicle. Some may feel it's enough to clone the stock car; Roberts' mission is to improve upon it, just as street rodders have done with the basic form cast by Henry Ford a hundred years ago.
What's his secret to success? It's not as simple as lowering the car to get the right stance, as Rich has retained 411/42 inches of clearance at its lowest point for driveability. How many trailer queens at the Street Machine Nationals can say that? And what about its 17-inch-deep wheelwells? Or how about the 311/42-inch-diameter exhaust pipes, front to back?
No, it's scaling the body to the chassis, and every other aspect of the vehicle to get it right.
Maybe you're familiar with Muscle Machines, those die-casts that took the market by storm a couple of years ago. If not for the fact that Roberts had been building the first of his Vennoms prior to the inception of the 1:18- and 1:64-scale models, he could be accused of copying their radical designs, and rightfully so. To see the Vennom Chevy II up close, you'd swear it was inspired by the Steve Metz-directed, Rohan Day-penned miniatures.
Of course, the next logical question is, "How much?" Roberts says he will sell you a roller, ready to accept your powertrain combination, for $80,000. You can also purchase the cars in various stages of assembly. While eighty grand is a big hit, consider that all the nasty rust work and fabrication inherent in dealing with a 30-year-old car is already done, and outside of hooking up the engine and trans, bolting on your favorite set of wheels and tires, and then blowing it apart to paint or plate it-you're done. You get the benefit of updated technology in regards to sealing and weatherstripping, terrific fit and finish, and a look that is downright evil, wicked, and nasty. Roberts will even have an upholstery kit available by the time you read this, so the question becomes: Do you want to think about building a car this cool, or would you prefer driving it now?
Div. of Promax Corp