2019 Chevy Hardcore Feature Car Of The Year — You Choose The Winner

It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is officially in the books. You know what that means — the Internet is overflowing with more top-10 lists than Chevrolet made ’69 COPO Camaros. However, most of those lists revolve around things like the best dressed or even the best places to buy a hot dog. Heck, I even saw one list touting the best coffee.

Unfortunately, those compilations don’t list anything important to car guys like us. What’s more, those lists are telling you what the author thinks are the best. We didn’t want you guys feeling left out, so we decided to put together a list of our own revolving around important stuff – like Chevrolet hot rods.

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Maybe this ’67 Chevelle should be crowned as the best of the best…

When it comes down to it, we can justify the choices on our list by saying that every car Chevy Hardcore featured throughout the year is worthy, but we could only choose twelve to comprise the list. Keep in mind; a great feature car doesn’t have to be a perfect restoration or an over-the-top restomod. It should, however, have a great story.

There were no hard-and-fast rules that guided our choices. The selections made were purely opinion-based, but that doesn’t mean we want to have all the fun and cram our opinions down your gullet. To make this list complete, we need some help from you guys.

Although we have chosen the twelve cars on the list, we didn’t choose the one that should top the list. That’s where you guys come in. We want your help to decide which car to crown as the 2019 Chevy Hardcore Feature Car Of The Year. To do that, comment below, check out our Facebook page, or drop us an email at [email protected], to let us know who you feel should be pronounced as King.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the nominees for you to choose:

Tasteful Tri-Five

Our first inclusion on the list is Arnaldo San Martin and his ’57 Chevy. Arnaldo found the 210 sedan at the Sumter County Fairgrounds Auto Auction and Swap Meet back in February of 2002.

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After Arnaldo scored the black Chevy, he brought it home for what became a long-term upgrade project occupying the next 16 years. Like most personal projects, it is still an ongoing concern.

Under the hood is a time-honored ZZ4 350ci Chevrolet crate engine that produces a healthy 355 horsepower at 5,400rpm. Arnaldo chose to equip his fresh crate engine with a GM HOT Hydraulic-Roller Cam Kit upgrade. That change helps push the output into the 400-horsepower range. Further power upgrades include a FAST EZ EFI system mounted to a polished Edelbrock Performer intake.

As of the original article, the ’57 had tallied just a tad over 40,000 miles, so it gets out and about in the Florida sunshine.

Day Two A-Body

When we found this ’67 Chevelle prominently parked at the 2019 Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals, there was no denying its good looks. When Joe Williams of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, first saw this car many years ago, he knew it was something he wanted to own.

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“Roughly 20 years ago, I saw this car driving through my neighborhood,” says Joe. “It wasn’t quite finished. After I got to know the owner, Bill Wesley, I told him if he ever wanted to sell it, I would like to buy it.”

Under the hood is a mid-level 396ci engine (L34) with a cast-iron manifold topped with a 4160 Holley carburetor. An open-element air cleaner replaces the standard enclosed unit that was installed on the 325hp engines.

Behind the big block, we find a Turbo 400 that handles the rat’s power with ease. Finishing the drivetrain is a 12-bolt with 3.31 gears and a Posi unit. If this doesn’t make for a fun driving combination, we’re not sure what does.

Joe gets in as much seat time as possible, going to car shows and cruise nights, which can be tough in the Northeast part of the country.

The Retired Work Truck

According to John Gessner of Mooresville, North Carolina, This C10 truck spent its working days laboring with a landscape firm in nearby Gastonia, North Carolina. When he found this ’69 model, it was a well-used and somewhat abused work truck.

The original frame is boxed to help deliver a lower stance with the help of VSM custom rear framerails and powdercoated Classic Performance Products (CPP) suspension arms on the front. A power rack-and-pinion steering setup points the truck down the road, while Wilwood 14-inch discs (front) and 12-inch discs (rear) handle the stopping chores.

The powerplant is a custom-built LS1 engine, backed by a 4L60E automatic transmission. The Inglese EFI incorporates the latest technology, while aluminum stacks lend visual panache, maintaining the appearance of a Weber carburetor system.

Body modifications include a bed floor raised 3 inches, and the firewall was smoothed and reshaped to make room for the truck’s three computers and accompanying wiring that manages the engine, transmission, and fuel injection system. The driver’s floor has also received a metal massage to create some additional legroom and driving comfort while racking-up miles on lengthy road trips.

Classical Attitude

When Will Piacenti teamed with Zip Simons of Street Metal Concepts (SMC) to find and build a car, they didn’t just want any old beat-up classic. They wanted a car in great condition that could be turned into something over-the-top while staying true to its classy roots.

Upgrades to this ’56 Bel Air include a CPP Hydroboost disc-brake kit to replace the car’s stock drums and additional frame cross-bracing as well as tubular A-arms. A pair of Heidts drop spindles lower the front of the vehicle a couple of inches for a more aggressive look.

The stock steering was replaced with a rack-and-pinion unit, and a tilt column from Flaming River was added. The rear suspension was replaced with a Helix triangulated four-link while both the front and rear suspension has QA1 adjustable coilovers installed. The rearend was further modified with an Eaton posi differential and 3.73 gears. Moser axles round out the tire-rotating assembly.

Under the hood is a 4.8-liter LS engine featuring a 9.5:1 compression ratio with a Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) Stage I camshaft.

Home-Built Drop Top

When we first met Kenda Kulp at the 2019 Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals, she told us, “before I got the car, a friend of my husband’s found it on Craigslist. He purchased it with plans to restore it. Let’s just say the Flintstones could have been the previous owners.”

A seasoned 350 engine block was over-bored .030-inch and then fitted with a cast, GM crankshaft that is slinging GM connecting rods and SpeedPro hypereutectic pistons in the cylinders. A COMP Cams hydraulic-roller with .477/.480-inch lift and 224/230-degrees duration at .050-inch lift is the brains behind valve movement. Finally, the Liberty Performance Components aluminum heads with 2.02- and 1.60-inch valves support the Weiand intake and FAST EFI.

Behind the reliable small block is a 700R4 overdrive that George rebuilt. The automatic gear selector sends the supplied cruising power to a 12-bolt rearend filled with a 3.31 ring-and-pinion and Moser axles. Kenda’s not one to spend a lot of time on the racetrack, so an “open” differential transfers driveshaft movement to axle-turning movement.

Hauling Turbo Goodness

Our first of two race cars isn’t actually a car, but it is our second truck to make our list. Allen Austin’s ’68 C10 was all original when he found it, right down to the factory light-blue paint. The C10 had some rust bubbling up on the rockers, so Allen decided to perform a full tear down

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The LS is enhanced with parts from Callies, K-1 TechnologiesWiseco, Brian Tooley Racing (BTR), Trick Flow, and Forced Inductions. Behind that is a Turbo 400 and a GM 12-bolt rearend with a set of Moser Engineering 35-spline axles, spool, and 4.10 gears.

This is a racer, so you might be asking what a full-size truck of this caliber runs? How about 4.99 seconds at 138 mph in the 1/8-mile, with an incredible 1.19-second 60-foot time. While this time is fast for nearly any street car, it’s insane to think of a full-size street truck being capable of these numbers with a small cubic-inch LS.

A Cut Above

When Butch Poe commissioned Street Metal Concepts to build his dream Chevy, he decided to stick with a good thing and make changes where changes brought the most benefit to the build. The process pulled a little bit from each of the three previously mentioned categories, spicing-up the entire build with a sprinkling of creativity that caught our eye at the recent National Street Rod Association’s Southeast Nationals in Tampa, Florida.

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The Dart block was bored, while a SCAT crankshaft helps the CP-Carillo pistons and Oliver 5.7-inch connecting rods build 427 cubic inches of small-block power. A Bullet Racing Cams solid-roller camshaft, Brodix heads and COMP Cams’ roller rockers support a Brodix intake and BLP Racing Products 940cfm carburetor. Behind the small block is an American Powertrain T56 transmission and a Mark Williams differential with a 4.56 gearset and 31-spline axles.

Butch’s motivation wasn’t to haul home trophies or ribbons. Instead, he wanted to get out there with his car and share experiences with like-minded enthusiasts. He explains, “I used to own stuff and not drive it, but not anymore! For me, the best part is to get out there and talk to others in the hobby.”

The Road Warrior

Robert Scolo found this 1970 RS in Long Island’s Newsday classifieds. It was a real deal 1970 Camaro RS, with a not-stock 327-cube motor and a floor-shifted three-speed Saginaw transmission. It was rust-free, running and driving, so he snagged it for a grand.

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The engine is a pump-gas guzzling 415ci Motown, all-aluminum small-block V8 with AFR 235 aluminum heads, a Dart aluminum intake, and a Holley four-barrel carburetor. Top- and bottom-end internals include a forged Callies Dragon Slayer 4340 crankshaft with H-beam connecting rods, JE pistons, Chromoly pushrods, and JESEL Pro Shaft rocker arms and titanium retainers.

Down below, a Stef’s Performance aluminum road race oil pan holds the necessary lubrication. Wielding all that power is a Richmond Gear Super Street five-speed transmission and an Eaton Truetrac with 3.42 gears. The rearend is a 9-inch with Moser 31-spline axles.

It’s no surprise Robert enjoys going to shows and roasting the rear meats every chance he gets.

Show Worthy

At one time, Joe and Vicki Sheehan planned to rebuild this Chevelle back to a factory-appearing look. But, partway through the process, a change in direction was realized. In fact, it was a complete departure to the other end of the spectrum from the original idea.

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“At first, I was going to restore the car to original specs,” says Joe.” I took the body off of the frame and started repairing the sheetmetal. However, halfway through the work, I decided to go another way. I realized I like custom cars better than restored, so we changed direction.”

The 454 big-block was taken to Lingenfelter Performance where the stock crankshaft was mated to a set of Manley connecting rods and pistons. In the middle of the mill is a COMP Cams hydraulic roller with .680-inch lift and 288/296 degrees of duration at .050-inch. Finally, a set of Dart heads, an Edelbrock intake, and a Quick Fuel Technologies carburetor complete the powerhouse.

Although the final iteration of the Chevelle is a sharp departure from the initial idea, you have to give Joe credit for following through with the project. It takes a lot of work to create a car like this, and we’re confident the couple will continue to make many new memories to rival the first 25 years of the duo’s ownership.

Shoebox Terror

In 2015, Brian Hennessy found this Nova as a bare roller in Ohio. He knew it was exactly what he wanted. He decided to pull the trigger and kick off a new and exciting project.

“My dad was on vacation, and I sent him out with a pocket full of cash and an address to get the car — sight unseen. When he got there and took a look at the car, he called and informed me it was in pretty rough shape overall. I told him that was fine, and the car was what I wanted for this build. He paid the man and brought the car home for me,” Brian explains.

Propelling this small rocket is a Fulton Competition Race Engines mill filled with parts from Gibtech and GRP. Dart Big Chief heads, a custom Fulton intake manifold featuring a Fulton-plumbed nitrous system, and a pair of CFM carburetors bring, air, fuel, and nitrous into the engine. The task of sending the nitrous-fed power to the rear tires is handled by a JCR-built Turboglide and Cameron’s Torque Converter Services converter.

Brian set out to build a car that fit an idea he had in mind and found a way to make it happen. His Nova is one of those rare race cars that can pick up a win at the car show on its way to picking up a win at the track.

The Masterpiece

When we met Rick Kramer at the 2019 NSRA Southeast Nats in Tampa, Florida, he stated, “the car-bug first bit after I totaled my parents ’59 Chevy in 1963.” After that, a steady progression of youthful exuberance saw a string of ’55 and ’57 Chevys, a ’66 Buick Grand Sport, and a ’70 Plymouth Barracuda drive through the Kramer stable. “Of all the cars that came and went, the ’55 stood out,” Rick recalls. “Maybe because it was the first, I’m not sure. But, I knew I wanted another one someday.”

“The car was purchased 15 years ago in Plattsburgh, New York after a stock restoration had been completed. The stock running gear was yanked, and the Tri-Five was treated to a more modern C4 Corvette upgrade by replacing both the front and rear suspension. Rick then added rack-and-pinion steering and a Dana rearend with a posi differential turned by Yukon 3.54 teeth.

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Sending power through the 210’s veins is a motivated Holley 670 Street-Eliminator-fed 327ci L79 powerplant bored .030-inch over and heated up with a COMP cam and roller rockers.

According to Rick, the car is in its third version of itself since he purchased it. “A stock restoration by the previous owner gave me a solid start to its ever-changing condition,” says Rick.

When asked what the car means to him, Rick says it brings back a lot of great memories of growing up and family road trips. “We were always going somewhere back then.” As for his favorite road trip? “That’s easy,” says Rick, “The first trip with my wife.”

Creating Perfection

Zack Jones of Montesano, Washington, might not have been around when the Camaro was first introduced, but for him, it doesn’t diminish his affection for Chevrolet’s pony car. “I have what I call a 68 1/2 Camaro,” Zack states. “I say that because of all the custom work my father and I have done to it during the ten-year build.”

Motivating the custom Camaro is a near-stock late-model LS6. The mill benefits from a COMP Cams hydraulic roller with .581/.588-inch lift and 224/230 degrees of duration at .050-inch lift. Behind that is T56 TREMEC sourced from a late-model GTO. Finishing the drivetrain is an 8.5-inch 10-bolt posi-filled rear with 3.42 gears to ensure long-distance drives are comfortable.

By blending the best of multiple first-gen components with a few modifications of his own, Zack has definitely built a hot rod that not only looks classic, but also has just enough modernized bits to make sure it never gets mistaken as “just another Camaro.”

There you have them, our choices vying for the title of 2019 Chevy Hardcore Feature Car Of The Year. Now, all we need is for you to tell us which one should be crowned as the best of the best. Please comment below, check out our Facebook page, or just drop us an email at [email protected], to let us know who you feel should be pronounced as our winner. Voting will be closed on January 18, 2019.

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
Read My Articles

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