It’s official, 2017 is over and gone. Whether you’re happy about that, or not, we’ve made it to another new year. You know what that means – the Internet is once again filled with more top-10 lists than Chevrolet made ZL1 Camaros. Most of those lists revolve around things like the best dressed or even the best shoes. Heck, I even saw one list touting the best coffee. But, not many of those compilations actually list anything important – you know, like car stuff. We didn’t want to have you guys feeling left out, so we decided that we should also put together a list of our own about important stuff – like cars.
Last year, I initially thought that assembling this list seemed like a good idea, and the hard part would be choosing the twelve cars that should make our list – I was correct. Yes, you heard correctly, I said twelve. If you know me, you also know that I have to be just a little different. Also, how many Top-10 lists does the world really need? That’s why I decided on the number twelve. Besides that, there are twelve months in the year, so…
I realize that some of you will probably question one or two of my choices, and there will be no escaping a certain level of wrath because I didn’t include someone. And that is okay. If we all liked the same thing, the hobby would get uninteresting really quick. But when it comes down to it, I can justify my choices by saying that every car we have featured throughout the year is worthy, but we could only choose twelve. Keep in mind, a great feature car doesn’t have be a perfect restoration or an over-the-top restomod. It should however, have a great story.
Finally, there were no hard and fast rules that guided my choices. The selections made were purely opinion-based, but that doesn’t mean I want to have all the fun myself. I need some help you guys.
Even though I have chosen the twelve cars that I feel should be on the list, I didn’t choose the one that should top the list. That’s where you guys come in. I want to crown one of these 12 feature cars as the Chevy Hardcore 2017 Feature Car of the Year. So, comment below, check out our Facebook page, or just drop us an email at [email protected], because we are asking readers and followers to choose one of the twelve from the list that they feel we should crown as king.
So, without further ado, here, in no particular order, are the nominees for you to choose from:
The story of Duane Mueske’s ’68 Bel Air actually starts out as a story about two black Bel Airs. Way back in 1968, two farm boys went together and purchased two identical cars, both having the same engine, transmission, and color scheme. The owner of Duane’s car then set about swapping out the rear gears for a set of 4.88s to help this full-sized B-body get off the line.
Duane knew about both cars since they were new, and when he was a Junior in high school, he knew enough about them to realize the significance of these two large-by-huge haulers. He knew Dick Chelmos, who eventually purchased this car from one of the farm boys. It took a while, but Duane kept working on Mr. Chelmos until he sold him the used car in 1971. Duane traded a ’62 wagon and $850 for the car back in the spring of ’71. The car has a storied history, and you can check it out in the original article.
One recollection has Duane working in a tire recapping plant where he took rubber off of the casings of old tires in preparation for retreading. During this time, he took the opportunity to make himself a set of slicks for his car. He still has that set that he made for the car back in the day!
When we first met Norm Brown, he began with, “We were driving our steel 1937 coupe to the Goodguys Rod and Custom show in Bowling Green, Kentucky, when we were involved in an accident. Fortunately, we were not hurt. The same could not be said for the car, as it was totaled.”
The accident occurred in 2009, and Norm found this Nova the same year, at the Daytona Turkey Rod run, held during the Thanksgiving weekend each year. “It was in really nice condition, and it had a 396ci big-block under the hood.” As soon as the car was back at the Brown residence, Norm started to make some drivetrain upgrades like an LS engine and a Tremec transmission.
The crash that took his previous ride could have ended the Brown’s enthusiasm for classic cars, but the story of perseverance and the look of this resto-modded Nova is just cause for it making our 2017 list.
Robert Nace of Newville, Pennsylvania, built this Cranberry Red runner to be exactly the way he wants it. There’s a perfectly good reason for that too. Rather than finding a near-perfect example and changing or modifying it to bring it more into his view of what the car should be, Robert began with a base that required a lot more work, but allowed him to make it perfect, from the ground up.
He located the car about seventeen years ago, sitting outside of Clark’s Auto Body in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It was the remnant of someone else’s project that had gone stagnant. The car had been whiling away the years underneath an impromptu cover that just barely kept it safe from the elements. It was missing its engine and transmission, as well as the complete front end. And while its rear quarter-panels were still mostly there, they needed replacing.
We caught up with Robert at the 2017 Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but we’re pretty sure that with the Chevelle’s big-block, it would be a lot tougher to catch up with him on the road, unless he wanted you to.
The Road Warrior
This truck was found more than thirty years ago, by Russell Griffin of Dover, Florida. It had been stored in a garage in their neighborhood for quite a few years by an elderly gentleman. “The truck was all original with only 48,000 miles on it,” Russell explains. Everything was intact, right down to its 235ci straight-six engine and three-on-the-tree transmission. “There was virtually no rust, and even the wood in the bed was mint.”
Being in such a pristine state, he decided to enjoy the truck just as it was found. After all, it had survived so many years of life as a utilitarian means of “git ‘er done”, that a little bit of street driving around sunny Florida wouldn’t do it much harm.
After a couple of years enjoying the hauler as the General intended, he felt it was time to rebuild the truck. Russell disassembled the truck down to the frame and completely rebuilt it. He repainted the engine, he installed dual carburetors on the straight-six for a little more “oomph!” The only other add-ons were some “chrome goodies” that were added for a little bling. He also upgraded the wood in the bed with oak boards.
Eventually, he felt the little utilitarian truck’s six-cylinder, three-on-the-tree, and 3.90 rear gears weren’t quite up to the task of keeping up on the highway. The truck underwent a lot more changes, but you’ll have to check out the original article to learn all the details.
Second Gen, Second Chance
We all know of a car that has become part of the landscape in our hometown. Heck, it even becomes a reference or landmark. Jon Sacco of Chicora, Pennsylvania, eye-balled a car in the weeds for a while, and one day, he finally stopped by to ask about it. That car was this 1970 Z28 Camaro.
There was rust, missing parts, and damage done by decades of Mother Nature’s harsh hands. “Fortunately, the floorboards and frame rails were good,” he explained. “Unfortunately, it had fiberglass fender flares that had been molded on in the ‘70s, and the quarter-panels were gone.”
Under the hood is 383 cubic-inch engine putting out an impressive 425-horsepower and 460 lb./ft. of torque. Jon wanted a ’73 when he was in school, but he could never afford one back when I was a kid. You could say that getting this car is like fulfilling a dream and getting something that he couldn’t when he was younger.
There may have been a time when a second-generation Camaro was out of the question for Jon, now it’s just out in the garage waiting for him to get behind the wheel.
The Family Racer
This ’68 Yenko-built Camaro was purchased new by George and Carol Edwards way back in June of 1968. The couple was fortunate enough to find the new car sitting on the car lot of Roy Stauffer Chevrolet in Scranton, Pennsylvania. According to George, “They had two Yenkos sitting on the lot that year.” As happened more often than some would like to realize, this now highly-collectable Camaro was actually purchased as a high-performance daily driver. Let that sink in. The status that a Yenko Camaro carries with it today makes that statement sound a little absurd – again, a daily driver Yenko Camaro. Back then, it was just “another” new car.
George continued, “A month after I bought the car, my wife and I drove it on our honeymoon to Niagara Falls. The trip took us through Canada, and on to Seaside Heights, New Jersey. We even ended up at Cecil County Drag Strip in Maryland during the trip and made a couple of passes on the strip.” George finished by saying, “My wife and I raced the car for another two years, while we continued to use it as our daily driver.” That last statement and the fact they retained ownership all these years makes it a serious contender for the crown.
When it comes to this Biscayne, Lyle Lindquist made several upgrades that carry it far from its fleet-anticipated roots. Items like four-wheel power disc-brakes, a factory tachometer, and even an air-ride suspension that gives the car that “just right” stance for any occasion.
Rather than running the oft-equipped straight six that so many base-model Biscaynes received, Lyle’s updated ride now features a Chevrolet Performance ZZ502 big-block with a TCI-equipped Stage-III Turbo 400 transmission.
Lyle’s plans for the car? Simply put a few more miles on it, enjoying the undemonstrative car for what it is, for as long as he can. The car continues to serve the purpose quite well, albeit with a little more spring in its step than it had from the factory.
Jesse Halfacre told us he has always been into old cars, “My dad was always fixing them and working on them, and I obtained this car when I was 15-years-old. Dad was an upholstery guy by trade, but he worked on everything when it came to cars. He actually found this car in a field in 1997, and bought it for $2,000. Before he even got it out of the field, he gave it a tune-up, put new gas in it, and then drove it home. He drove it around town for about six months, then gave me the option of owning this one or a ‘68 Chevelle that he had. The ‘68 had the engine and chassis already rebuilt, but I like the body style of the ‘66 better, so that is why I chose the it.”
Jesse didn’t have a driver’s license yet, so he had plenty of time to work on the car. That included paint and body work – twice, and rebuilding the engine – also twice. It was definitely a learning experience for the teenager.
Jesse and his car have been through a lot together. He’s given it multiple paint jobs, multiple engine rebuilds, multiple events of trial and error, but they were all good memories!
Tom Demrovsky’s ’67 Chevelle is a true show winner. In fact, it was the 2016 Goodguys Muscle Machine of the Year. The end goal of his vision was to create a modern interpretation of an American classic. “I fell in love with the rear design of the ’67 Chevelle years ago. I thought what they did with the taillights and the how the car looked from the rear doors back make it one of the most beautifully designed cars ever,” he stated.
With a lot of help from Roadster Shop, the car turned out phenomenally. “I gave them fairly liberal guard rails, but there was guidance,” Tom told us. “My guidance was that people should not be able to tell that it was “redone”, especially when it came to the interior. I dislike aftermarket looking seats and dashes, so I was particularly picky about aftermarket add-ons to the body and the interior. I wanted those areas to look as stock as possible.”
This is one car on our list that probably doesn’t need an introduction. Jeff Lutz purchased the car, which he referred to as “all beat up,” from a seller in Tennessee for $4,200. After picking it up and taking it back to his shop, Lutz Race Cars in Callery, Pennsylvania, he and his son began to dismantle it on Christmas day. “We started by removing all of the floor pans, removing all of the glass and getting rid of all of the heavy stuff,” said Lutz. “Then, we cleaned it all up and mounted it to the chassis table and started making frame rails and setting it up.”
A 540 cubic-inch big-block Chevy engine, which Lutz built in collaboration with Mark Vinson of Vinson Race Engines, is topped with Pro-Filer heads, an intake by Pro-Filer and Boninfante Friction, and Lutz relies on a Big Stuff 3 engine management system for tuning.
The car, which is fit and trim at just 2,640 pounds, is made “street-friendly” with headlights and turn signals. Jeff could even enjoy a soda while pounding pavement if he chose to, as this one has cup holders.
Bill Weston of Lakeland, Florida, is a true car guy in every sense of the word. He has been rebuilding discarded and unwanted cars since the late ‘70s, and isn’t making any plans to stop any time soon. Although he has been rebuilding cars of all makes, you could also say that he is a true fan of the Camaro, as he currently has in his stable: a 2002 Z/28 and a 2002 SS parked next to this great looking ’73 Chevrolet Camaro LT.
Bill found the car while at the 2012 Spring car show and swap meet in Daytona, Florida. He was actually a participant at the show, and had a vehicle in the car corral that he was trying to unload. Luckily, his weekend went as planned, and he was able to work a deal and trade the car he had with the previous owner of this Camaro. According to Bill, “It looked okay. It was Atomic Orange, the doors had a few dents, but it ran okay.”
One Fast Showman
Before Jef Ferns’ Senior year of high school, he had mowed every yard, painted every house, and done just about every odd job he could to earn some cash to buy his dream car. With the $1,800 he had saved, Jef was able to purchase his new ride.
“The Camaro came with absolutely no bells and whistles, unless you count the badly spray-painted florescent orange traction bars and rearend cover. The car was a Dark Forest Green, so those highlights stood out like a sore thumb,” Jef says about his pride and joy. Under the hood was a 307 cubic-inch small-block backed by a four-speed transmission and GM 10-bolt rearend — your standard parts — but it was all he needed at the time.
This Camaro is the culmination of 34 years of ownership, love, and hard work. Jef’s dream car has brought him through tough times in his personal life and brought him vast amounts of joy, and now, with this newest incarnation, Jef will show the world that Pro Street is far from dead, and his twin turbo Camaro is more than a pretty face — it’s a single-digit work of art.
There you have it, our twelve feature cars that are in contention for the Chevy Hardcore 2017 Feature Car of the Year. Now that you see the choices available, we really need to hear from you. You can let us know which car should be crowned king by either emailing us at [email protected], by commenting below, or reaching out to us on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you. We will close the voting on February 2, 2018.