Of all the builds that we’ve seen over the years, this dual-fuel 1966 Chevelle is definitely a one-of-a-kind. As great looking as this car is, it’s not the looks — as good as they are — that make it a standout. But rather, this is the first classic hot rod that we’ve come across that employs a unique dual-fuel system. The car was built by Swag Custom Rides out of New Britain, Connecticut, and the story behind those who built the Chevelle is as meaningful as the car itself. For more information on the car, the shop, and how you could end up actually owning this gorgeous ride, we talked to John Muratori of Swag Custom Rides.
Something unique, over the top, and something that could compete in SEMA battle of the Builders – John
“We were commissioned by Cardone Industries to build a sweepstakes vehicle. They wanted something unique, over-the-top, and something that could compete in SEMA’s Battle of the Builders,” John explained. “During the next seven months, people that purchase a Cardone product from their local auto parts store could have their name put in a sweepstakes and possibly end up owning this gorgeous Chevelle. That’s going to go all the way to June, and then a name is going to be pulled and Cardone is going to fly them to Hot August Nights in Nevada. They’re putting it on the stage, the person is flown in, and that’s when we’re going to hand them the keys. That person is also getting $15,000 cash.”
If that’s not a good deal, we don’t know what is. Check out the Cardone website for more information on how to win this amazing car. There is also a video below that has more information on the vehicle and the sweepstakes.
Building A Green Musclecar
When Cardone commissioned Swag to build this muscle car, they wanted something that would promote being green, and to that end, this car was designed to run off of ethanol fuel. “Usually those things don’t go together,” John said. In this case however, they are made for each other. Ethanol is difficult to find in some places, so they came up with a concept for doing a dual-fuel system. The crew at Swag took a 383 cubic-inch stroker, took the heads off and ported them to work with the rush of the fuel, and then partnered with FiTech to develop a new throttle body system that the computer can switch on the fly from burning ethanol to regular gasoline.
This build fits the bill that Cardone was looking for—it's over-the-top and it's really well done.
“The driver can just flip a switch, and the computer initiates the change,” John detailed. “It flushes whatever is in the system and burns it through, then it just moves on to running ethanol or gas. It’s the only Chevelle that we know of that is a dual-fuel based musclecar.”
The rest of the drivetrain was designed with the winner in mind. It’s well built, but also extremely simple. That was the plan, so that the sweepstakes winner will be able to easily repair and maintain it on their own. It features a Tremec five-speed transmission and a 3.43-geared 12-bolt rearend. It also sits on the stock chassis, stock frame, and QA1′s all the way around. The 3.43 gearing works really well with the super-low first gear of the Tremec and makes it a really good cruiser.
It uses a single fuel pump that is modulated based on the fuel that it’s running.
The build is obviously more than just green-powered, it’s a show-stopping muscle machine. Inside and out, it’s custom and all the way. The wheels are a one-off design made by Chris Coddington at Hot Rods By Boyd from a rendering that the folks at Swag sent them. In fact, the manufacturer liked the design so much that these one-offs are going into production and will be available after SEMA.
…the only thing left on the vehicle was the roof. – John
The body is a stock shell, just the way GM made it, but the project started with a car that was a disaster.
“It’s got new quarters, new trunk, new floors, new doors, and new fenders,” John said. “Looking back, it seems like the only thing left on the vehicle was the roof.”
They did a lot of work getting all of the gaps to line up as nicely as possible. John cited the fact that even the new cars back in the ‘60s didn’t concern themselves as much with gaps, so it was a challenge to get everything this tight to make such a nice show car.
The instrument cluster is a Dakota Digital HDX system. “It’s a beautiful cluster, clear, high definition, it’s just really nice.”
The paint is a color called Grigio Scuro, and John found that by looking into the era of the ‘60s. He found that Ferrari used this odd color of gray in ’67 and ’69, and they did not use it again until 2015.
“This color changes from chalk to dark like I’ve never seen before — it’s like 50 shades of gray,” John said with a chuckle. “It’s the hottest color right now for Ferrari. We thought it was a perfect match for this vehicle and that’s what we used. At night it’s black and in the light it’s a chalk-based gray. We just used a normal brick red for the chevron stripes and just flowed that into the interior.”
The interior itself is all custom, and you’ll be just as surprised as us when you hear where the seats are form.
“We had a 1980 Subaru out behind of the shop that we took the seats out of, and they just really matched this vehicle,” he explained. “We took the backseat and shaved it down, and CZ upholstery came in and did all the upholstery on it. It is one comfortable car.”
It’s all real leather upholstery, and has a nicely padded dash section. The rest of the dash uses a Bentley paint that imitates the look and feel of suede.
The Swag Team; Building Cars And Building Lives
“We built this Chevelle in three-months. We are the only non-profit restoration shop in the country,” John explained. “I have a team of fabricators and technicians, but we also take a group of young kids that have had a rough go of it, get them off the streets, and give them purpose.” John teaches the kids all of the skills involved in restoring the cars, and they get to see something amazing like this from start to finish.
“We marry them to a build, and the personal transformation of seeing a car restored from rust to restoration really provides us a platform to let them know how unique they are,” he continued. “They learn they can build things they never thought they could build and do things they never thought they could do.”
“We’re reaching the next generation,” John said. At Swag, they have a whole curriculum called “fuel.” It’s comparable to life principals that marries every stage of a building and restoration to those principals. For example, in the module that is about electrical, they teach the kids how a battery has a negative and a positive. Life also has negatives and positives. The key to the negative is finding a good ground. Vehicles also have a built-in anger management system in the fuse section. The whole program is about learning how to live your life, be successful, and how to be an entrepreneur.
We just love every aspect of this build—the look, the drivetrain, and the power of the story behind those that built it.
In the end, the car is amazing and the process of building it really helped change the lives of some troubled youths. All around, this is an awesome project. Where else do you get to build a car while also working to build the lives of these kids? For John, it’s all about the change in their lives, and really, this car exemplifies that. They built it in three months, and even now that it’s done, it’s going to change someone else’s life for the better. Check out Swag Rides and the program John and the team has put together,