Well, here we are at the beginning of another year. Let’s just forget about last year and how messed up it was. Instead, let’s focus on cars. Each year, it’s easy to find top-10 lists that encompass useless things like the best dressed or even the best shoes. Unfortunately, not many actually list anything important – you know, like car stuff. To remedy that issue each year, I put together a top-10 list of my own that showcases some of the coolest Chevyhardcore.com feature cars that were published.
Although I have chosen the ten cars that I feel should be on the list, I didn’t choose the one that should top the list. That is where you guys come in. I want to crown one feature car as the ChevyHardcore.com 2021 Feature Car of the Year, and I need you guys and gals to comment below, comment on the Chevyhardcore.com Facebook page, or just drop me an email at [email protected] I need you to choose one of the ten from the list that you feel should be crowned as king.
Bob And Carrie Frampton’s ’61 Corvette
Bob first began telling me about his car by saying it was in very poor condition when he found it. It was drivable, but barely. “It had a small block and a four-speed in it, but no parts of the drivetrain were original to the car,” he says. The Corvette was painted white, and unbeknownst at the time, that coating of shiny stuff hid a lot of body damage.
“The toughest part of building this car was teaching myself to work with fiberglass and bonding adhesive,” Bob states.
This C1 Corvette has been a labor of love and a test of Bob’s patience, but the end result shows it was definitely worth the work. The couple has even picked up several awards with their gorgeous C1 Corvette since its completion. As a testament to finding that perfect project, each year they return to Corvettes at Carlisle where their custom C1 is brought full circle — back where it all started.
Bob chose to slide an LS3 under the hood of his C1 Corvette. Chevrolet Performance makes this easy by offering a 430-horsepower version that comes in a crate. While early Corvettes are known for having four-speed transmissions, behind the engine in this C1 Corvette is a Tremec five-speed with a row-your-own Hurst shifter.
Dean Toso’s ’65 El Camino
Dean purchased the El Camino in 2002 as a stalled project the owner had lost interest in completing. The Elco had already been transformed into a four-door cruiser when Dean took ownership. Back then, it was in black primer with a set of aftermarket IROC wheels.
The car was drivable, but there was still a ton of work that needed to be finished. The previous owner started the project by blending the front half of a wagon — at the middle of the rear doors — to half of an El Camino, at the A-pillars.
The El Camino was completed in 2009 and garnered a lot of attention at various car shows. In fact, it was christened as ChevyHardcore.com’s Editor’s Pick at the 2021 Greater Ontario Convention Center’s Route 66 Crusin’ Reunion show in Ontario, California in 2021.
Greg Porter’s Soulshaker ’66 Chevelle Gasser
Although nearly impossible to do in this day and age, Greg, initially found this ’66 Chevelle languishing in a salvage yard. Like many enthusiasts, he immediately had a plan he was ready to execute. “When I was younger, I remember seeing a car at the track named Soulshaker,” Greg says. “This was in the ’70s, and even though that car was a ’69 Camaro, I wanted to build my own Soulshaker, so I named it after that car.”
Since the car was found in a salvage yard, you can probably imagine what condition the metal was in when Greg got the car to his shop. It definitely needed a lot of bodywork. As you can see, the car turned out great.
Working with Gene Fulton, a big aluminum block was bored, filled with good parts, and then built to displace 707 cubic inches. Greg was reluctant to give us many details about the mill, but suffice to say, the 8-71 BDS blower poking up to the sky helps feed an animal. Sending all that horsepower to the fabricated 9-inch rear with 5.13 gears is an ATI-built Powerglide.
Many childhood memories are attributed to the hot rods we ultimately build. For Greg, it’s a combination of memories that came together to create this asphalt-buckling ’66 Chevelle.
Jim Seprish’s ’79 Camaro
“It was during the late-’90s when I first learned about this Camaro,” says Jim. Apparently, it was forgotten, sitting behind a body shop. “When I found the car, it was in really poor condition,” Jim mentions. “I had to replace the floor from the firewall to the rear bumper. Aftermarket panels were not available at the time, so I had to find rust-free donor parts.”
Jim spent several years getting the car’s sheetmetal ready for paint. When it was finally ready to be covered, he sprayed a new mix of GM’s Camel Metallic to make it all look factory fresh.
Jim chose to fill the engine bay with a 496 cubic-inch tire-melting monster. The rotating assembly features an Eagle crankshaft and rods that build the streetable 10.5:1 compression ratio with forged SRP pistons. A hydraulic-roller cam with .589/.601-inch lift and 228/234 degrees of duration allow the Canfield aluminum heads to breathe the fuel and air from the Edelbrock RPM intake and 950 cfm ProForm carburetor.
Jon Henson’s ’65 Nova
Jon acquired his shoebox Nova in 2020, and although he hasn’t owned it for very long, his relationship with the little hot rod goes back more than a few years. Jon made a connection with the Nova back in 2009, when his best friend, Shannon Gauthier, purchased the car. In January of 2020, Shannon had another project taking all his time and attention, so Jon ponied up to keep it safe and in the family. Just like any other car guy who had just bought his dream car, Jon had a few ideas of what was in store for the little Nova.
Although equipped with a small-block 350, 200R4 transmission, and the original 10-bolt rearend, Jon wasting no time upgrading, He dropped a BluePrint Engines 6.0-liter LSX with LS3 rectangular-port heads and a bevy of high-performance parts between the fenders. I wouldn’t know how, but in case you missed it, this modern small block benefits from a little forced air via a Magnuson TVS2300 Supercharger equipped with Eaton twin four-lobe rotors.
Jon’s goal for building his Nova was to create a very capable car that could hold its own on the track and still be comfortable to drive on the street. With its perfect blend of classic styling, exceptionally well laid out TMI Products interior, and gobs of go-fast parts, there is no denying this Nova is a blast to drive.
Curt Gosman’s ’65 Biscayne
Curt Gosman says he found the car in 2010 while doing an internet search to find something to build. “When I found it, it was sitting in a pole barn in Iowa and had a small block under the hood with a Powerglide behind it,” says Curt.
He went on to explain how the car had very little rust when the rebuild began. In fact, after a five-year process, it still retains all the factory panels, including the floors and trunk.
The big Biscayne relies on 427 cubic inches of motivation. Jerry Hautly of H3 Automotive and Performance Inc. says the camshaft and valvetrain from COMP Cams, is from the Big Mutha Thumper line of bumpsticks. That means it’s a hydraulic-roller-lifter unit with .575/.554-inch lift and 243/247 degrees of duration at .050-inch lift. Keith Black hypereutectic pistons help create the squeeze under the Edelbrock heads, and an Edelbrock RPM intake supports the Inglese fuel injection that is controlled by a FAST brain box. Backing up the engine is a highly strengthened 700R4 transmission and a 12-bolt rear with 3.73 gears and the requisite positraction differential.
Curt has built a hot rod cruiser that not only looks great, but also possesses enough muscle to satiate any power junky’s needs. What can be better than having the more-than-comfortable ride of a “big” car and the power of a big block? Nothing if you ask me.
Joe Whitaker’s ’57 Chevy “Glamour Gasser”
Over the course of many years, Joe has purchased, built, and sold quite a few ’57 Chevys. Unfortunately, none of them could satisfy the desire to have a car like a red ’57 Chevy gasser he remembers from his youth. “That car was more like a ‘Glamour Gasser’,” Joe says. “I call it that because it was a really nice car and was built strictly for shows and short drives – not the race track.”
In 2018, Joe sold an unrestored 1956 Chevy 150 to a local guy and found himself without a Tri-Five to drive around town. He did have a rusty ’57 hardtop sitting in the corner of the shop and the wheels in his head started spinning, thinking about that gasser from his childhood memories. “I decided it was time,” he quips.
Under the machine-gun-adorned hood is a true testament to vintage hot rodding, a 1957 283ci V8 bored to 292 inches and rebuilt by the late Bo Laws. The camshaft is a COMP Cams Big Mother Thumper hydraulic flat-tappet piece and other internals feature high-compression pistons and 300 horsepower 327 heads benefitting from roller-tipped rockers. Carbs are twin Endura-Sine Edelbrock AVS2’s on a vintage Offenhauser intake. Headers are ceramic coated tubes by Patriot Exhaust.
Kraig Garcia’s ’69 Chevelle
“Seasoned” enthusiasts, will surely have a song pop into their head when I say, “you can’t always get what want.” For Kraig Garcia, that meant he ended up with this ’69 Chevelle instead of a third-gen Nova.
When he bought it, the A-body was covered in a coat of primer. He was a young enthusiast at the time and this Chevelle helped him learn about painting cars. He then covered this one himself while he was in high school. He drove it for the next several years, and then, like happens all too often, life got in the way.
“About six years ago was “D” day,” he says with a chuckle. “I started a complete restoration. Every nut and bolt was turned. I’ve been in the collision/refinishing industry for more than 25 years, and I did all the work myself — other than the engine and transmission rebuilding.”
Under the hood is a 396 big-block that has been decked out in L78 livery featuring an 11.5:1 compression ratio, solid-lifter camshaft, and a 750 cfm Quick Fuel carburetor. Behind that are a Muncie M21 four-speed and a 12-bolt, posi-filled rear with 4.10 gears.
Mark Sagrantz’s ’69 Camaro
Mark initially told me that he found out about this car when a friend relayed the information about it. “I have pretty much been a Camaro addict all my life, and the ’69 Camaro is my favorite,” he says. “A friend of mine told me about it, and when I first saw it, it was sitting in a small garage. It definitely needed work, but luckily, I felt it was in decent shape.” However, “decent shape” can mean different things to different people.
Power comes via 598 cubic inches of Scott Shafiroff-built madness. The Dart block is fitted with a Manley crankshaft slinging Manley connecting rods and pistons. The squeeze under the Brodix cylinder heads comes in at 11.0:1. Spinning between the pistons is a COMP Cams hydraulic roller, and perched atop the cylinder heads are a Merlin intake and a 950cfm Quick Fuel Technologies carburetor. Controlling gear changes is done manually, via a six-speed Tranzilla gearbox by Rockland Standard Gear. Rounding out the drivetrain is a 9-inch rear filled with Moser Engineering goodness and 4.10 gears.
Mark has proven that he is not one to follow a traditional path, and we’re glad, as his Camaro is a true work of art that can stand out in a sea of early Camaros.
Dalton Carter’s C10
Dalton started his email about his truck by saying, “my grandfather and I just completed this frame-off restoration in his small shop. I originally bought the truck in 2018 to be my winter rig here in the pacific northwest. The C10 has spent most of its life in So Cal and was a black plate truck when I bought it. It had just migrated to Oregon when it was put up for sale.”
Dalton told me it was a nice truck when he purchased it, and still had the original paint. From the factory, it was a Custom trim level long box and even had a rebuilt 350 mated to the original granny gear four-speed, a brand-new power steering setup, lowered suspension, and a recovered seat.
During the build, Dalton decided to give the old granny four-speed the boot and replaced it with an M21 four-speed that was taken out of a Chevelle. Dalton’s hauler is a cool cruiser and the story behind how he and his grandfather built it makes it that much more deserving to make the list.
There you have it, our ten feature cars that are in contention for the ChevyHardcore.com 2021 Feature Car of the Year. Now that you see the choices, I really need to hear from you. You can let me know which car should be crowned king by either emailing me at [email protected], by commenting below, or reaching out to me via our Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you. Voting will be closed on January 26, 2022.