Project Thumper: A Work Of Mid-Sized, Pro-Touring Art


The art of building a pro-tour car is one that involves taking a clean, solid-bodied muscle car fresh from the “horsepower wars,” making it as comfy as a brand new Cadillac, all while maintaining an original look and feel. It also includes updating the drivetrain in a way that maintains the original integrity by improving upon its internals, and making what was already a classic recipe for performance run in a way that is relative to the times. It’s for sure a sleeper in the sense that it’s turn-key.


However, Russ Wolden’s “Project Thumper” ’66 Chevelle is definitely not the “rust-O-project” from the dragstrips and road courses of yore. Actually Wolden, hailing out of Amboy, Washington, built the pro-tour car with the intention behind it being to create a 671-blown monster that can perform as well through turns as it does on the straights. As is the case with most pro tour builds, the ’66 “Thumper” Chevelle uses the most optimum of everything.

Start with the mill, a blown, 359-cube small block with dual, 1150 Dominators that puts-out 740bhp. The stout small block chases a TH400 trans with a 3,000-RPM stall, and the trans is backed by a Gear Vendors overdrive. The blown mill featured in “Project Thumper” was originally in a Monte Carlo, a motor that helped Wolden and the Monte to achieve 10-second passes in the quarter-mile while it was still in it.

It's obvious Wolden wasn't taking any chances with his 'Velle. It's been through an extensive makeover; right down to the bare metal. Photo:

The black ‘Velle also features a Ford, 9-inch rear with a Currie Track 9 housing, an iron N case with a Detroit locker and 3.50:1 final gears. The front suspension features arms and spindles from Detroit Speed, while the “Thumper” Chevelle’s rear setup consists of hypercoils with Currectrac arms and an HR bar with Budzter adjusters. Power steering is provided via a KRC pump and Jeep Grand Cherokee steering box.

A delicate balance of handling and flat-out acceleration, Russ Wolden’s “Project Thumper” Chevelle is the epitome of modern, pro-tour hot rodding!

About the author

Salvatore Alaimo

After graduating from California State University, Northridge, California, Sal Alaimo Jr. has continued with his passion of the automotive industry. Alaimo's been an auto enthusiast since his early years, and grew up learning about cars from his father, Sal Alaimo Sr. If its got a set of fat rear tires and 8-cylinders, Alaimo Jr. is all for it. Today, Alaimo Jr. brings with him a pool of enthusiasm and pride as a contributing freelance writer for Chevy Hardcore.
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