In many households, “his” and “hers” is often a reference to bathroom vanities, or perhaps bathrobes or coffee cups or any other number of wearables and trinkets that couples have. But for Matt and Karri Anne Beebe, it’s on a larger scale.
Karri Anne, dubbed the fastest woman on drag radials, has been competing on the dragstrip in her home state of Michigan, and around the country for more than a decade. A self-admitted tomboy, she married into the car and racing craze, as husband, Matt Beebe, and his brother into racing. In 2006, Matt put her behind the wheel of the family Chevelle to get her feet wet, and she’s been stomping the loud-pedal ever since, accruing two track championships—one in Limited Street and one in Drag Radial—at the Milan Dragway along the way. And while the familiar green, nitrous-fed ’68 Chevelle is their car, Karri Anne will slyly tell you this is her car.
Matt, ever the gearhead, has turned the wrenches for and stood behind his wife through the years, supporting her racing endeavors, satiating his passion for racing from outside of the cockpit. But the desire to do a little driving himself was still there, and so five years ago, he and Karri Anne devised a plan to construct a virtual mirror-image machine to the four-second, radial-tire Chevelle … albeit a tamer, road-going version. A his and hers.
After procuring a car, the Beebes toiled away at the build as time and finances allowed. With the help of close friends—whom Matt insists this project never would have been possible without—they restored Matt’s new ’68 from the ground-up in their garage. The result is not only spectacular in all facets, but bears striking resemblances to Karri Anne’s machine.
“We bought the car in pieces, without an engine or transmission, and we’ve been slowly working on it. It’s been in the last year that we really started making some progress; once we got paint on it we really stated moving along,” Matt says.
“The goal was to paint it the same color, put the same wing on it, and a parachute, but make it streetable—so it wouldn’t have a cage in it but would have a full interior, air conditioning, cruise control, a digital touch screen, and everything,” he adds.
Matt, Karri Anne, and company did a full rotisserie rebuild of the car, removing the body from the frame, sandblasting and beginning anew—a lengthy process that ultimately paid dividends with a ride that looks as good as the day it rolled off the assembly line. The Beebe’s built a custom console for the car, reupholstered the interior, and added bucket seats and a fresh, new rear seat. In addition to the other creature comforts, including the aforementioned Vintage Air air conditioning, it also sports a complete digital touch-screen sound system and Holley digital 7-inch touch screen interface in the dash.
For power, Matt acquired a bone-stock LS7 mill and swapped out the camshaft to boost its output without going too crazy. It’s topped with a Holley tunnel ram intake and two Holley Dominator throttle bodies on top, to mimic the look of the 632-inch race motor. It’s backed up with a 4L80E transmission. The overdrive transmission and a lock-up converter were procured from Animal Transmissions in Florida. Out back, the power is transferred to a Moser 9-inch rear end housing with Moser axles and a 4.11 gear. The wheels are Champions—dual deadlocks in the rear—while Strange disc brakes in the rear and stock, GM disc brakes up front bring it to a stop. A 2.5-inch stainless exhaust system routs the exhaust gases out through the rear of the car.
The Beebes sourced some unbranded, all-new stock suspension components to return it to like-new condition, adding tubular control arms front and rear.
From the outside, looking at it from the side, other than the bullhorn exhaust on the racecar, they look nearly identical.
“The car is primarily a cruiser. I’m a racer at heart, so there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll make some passes in it to see what it will go—if you do the math, it makes 650 horsepower, so in a perfect world, it may go 10.80, but I’d be happy with eleven-anything,” Matt says.
The Beebes completed the car within the last three weeks and debuted it publicly at last weekend’s Detroit Autorama. Prior to Autorama, Matt notes he’d only had limited time to enjoy the fruits of his labor, running down the road to fill up the tank and drop into the alignment shop. Fortunately, nice spring-like weather afforded him the opportunity to drive the car home from Detroit and soak in his car.
“From the outside, looking at it from the side, other than the bullhorn exhaust on the racecar, they look nearly identical. This car turned out exactly the way I had envisioned when I started the whole project. This is exactly what I saw it becoming, when other people—not necessarily car people—would see it on the rotisserie, in complete pieces and ask if we were really going to be able to put this thing back together. I thought it would take me two to three years at the most to do, so there were times I began doubting myself. As many know a racecar is a pretty big expense, so to juggle racing and trying to put something like this together, it forced the project to take a little longer. But it’s exactly what I envisioned.
“These cars are both our cars, but this is more of my thing. She’s not a huge fan of going to car shows and just sitting there and doing absolutely nothing. She wants to race, but I miss the car cruise stuff.”