Back in the 80’s muscle cars were relatively cheap and plentiful. If you had a couple grand in your pocket you could find a hard charging street machine without too much trouble. In those days you could find a decent Super Bee, Camaro, Torino or Nova in the local newspaper or even just sitting on the side of the road with a “For Sale” sign in the window. Tim Jakus, one of my buddies back in high school, always seemed to have a couple of cool Chevy’s to cruise around in. His first car was a 1969 Camaro 350 convertible that was all decked out with a 350, side pipes, cowl hood, and Z/28 stripes (it was a real looker). It was found sitting on Chevy dealers used car lot and bought for less than $4,000.
His other car had a little more teeth and was often found prowling around the streets looking for a little stoplight-to-stoplight racing action. The gray 1968 Chevy II /Nova was brought back from Utah in 1985 and came complete with a 1966 vintage 360 hp 396 rat motor. Purchase price for this ride was only $2,000 (how would you like to go back in time to make this deal). This car was owned by someone in the Air Force and it was geared for the open salt flats of Utah with 2.53 gears. Needless to say this thing had a great top end. The next mill was a angry 461 BBC that propelled the leaf spring car into the 9’s. Then things got serious and a 540 found its way between the frame rails quickly followed by a full tilt 632 ci BBC that natually aspirated made nearly 1200 horsepower !!!
One day while cruising around he spotted a Z/28 Camaro (with a Rally Sport front end) parked at “Wild Bill’s” used car lot. Under closer inspection it turned out that the 1972 “Z” had long since lost the 350 LT1 but received a 396 big block in it’s place !!! This was no stocker 396 but was a 12.5-1, solid lifter, hooker header equipped street racer complete with a 4.11 rear end and Borg Warner Super T10 manual transmission. The price for a ticket to ride was…you guessed it $2,000. This was one rare piece since only 2,575 Z/28’s were produced in 1972 (how many that were also RS equipped is unknown).
Since Tim lived at home he did not think his parents would appreciate having another Bowtie parked in the driveway so he stored it all summer at the local grocery store parking lot (can you imagine how long that Z/28 would last sitting around unattended today). We would drive over the pick up the Camaro on weekends, fill it up with race gas, and head out to Hwy 100 (one of the local hot spots). One night while cruising “The Highway” the green 67’ Buick GS of Dave Senderhauf pulled up to the Camaro and they wanted to race. We knew this Buick had sucked the doors off many hard charging street cars but thought that he had finally met his match with the “Z”.
We made the turn around and both cars slowed to about 10 mph and the Buick nailed the loud pedal first. Tim opened all four barrels of the Holley and grabbed for second gear as that Buick’s cheater slicks grabbed the pavement and jumped a car length on the Camaro as it put on a tire spinning freak show into third gear. The 396 was screaming past 7,000 rpm in third as the radial tires finally got traction and he rowed the Super T10 into fourth gear. He was making up ground quickly now but it was too late to come around that Buick. The race was over and we were “educated” on the value of traction. Shortly therafter we started running M&H soft compound tires and then changed over to Mickey Thompson drag slicks. Traction was no longer an issue…
A couple of years ago the 68’ Nova was finally sold and a state of the art 1969 Chevelle became Tim’s new ride. Metz Performance built the car , Authentic Auto (Cudahy Wisconsin) did the paint job and Mike Duke from Indianapolis provides the power to make this door slammer run in the mid 7’s at over 180 mph.
Many things have changed over the past 25 years. Technological advances in engine design, and displacement, have allowed real world horsepower output levels in excess of 1,000 horsepower to become almost commonplace. Collectors have scooped up many of the rare cars and placed them in storage as “investments” (what a shame). Those days of cheap muscle cars are over but the thrill of driving them will always be timeless. If you are lucky enough to own one be sure that you get out there and drive it !!!
Pat Spangenberg (owner of Rod & Competition Specialties) is known for the cool street rods that his shop builds. There is a new kind of “street rod” that they started playing with a few years ago when a certain puke green 1966 Impala was added to his corral of cars.
Take a 4,000 Impala with stock suspension and 10” tires, add 540 cubic inched of BBC (that makes 961 HP) and toss a fogger on the top (with the “big boy” 400 HP jets in place) and you have a recipe for 8.77 time slips !!! The legendary green beast is the test mule and gets plenty of street miles in between the 100 drag strip passes over the past couple of years. She aint pretty but she sure is fast !!!
The “white car” is a true work of art. This 22,000 mile original was put together about 10 years ago and started out as a genuine L72 (425HP 427) with a bench seat/4 speed stick and some steep gears when it left the General’s assemble line. Every detail has been attended to and it is now one of the nicest B-body cars in the country. A very healthy 615 BBC now resides where the old 427 used to be many years ago. Still maintain the stock suspension this baby is a handful when you hit the single stage fogger.
“Top Gun” just about says it all. Having watched this street racing legend over the years Pat set his sights on owning this bad boy and when he had the chance jumped on it. Now this was back in the late 90’s and he had a street/strip car that was capable of running deep in the 10’s.
Kelly Landry was the original owner of the Nova and had every conceivable combination between the fender wells (including a blown BBC) that he ran with a 5 speed. This car was often seen cruising around the Milwaukee area (sometimes as late as 2am in the morning…I wonder what he was out doing at that time of the night?). Oh, the good old days….
The “First Car” happened to be a Camaro that was a original “MO” code 1968 Z/28 !!! Yep, hiding behind those groovy side pipes and spoked wire wheels was a real collectible muscle car. Dig those shackels man….
Pat’s Dad had a bunch of cool cars back in the day. This late sixties/early seventies street rod was the one that a heavy hitter on the streets of Milwaukee. Powered by a bullet proof 327 that could spin to big RPM….this baby was light weight and could clean the clocks of many of the street bruisers of the day.
Contact information: Rod and Competition Specialties #262-781-9044
Brian Hansen- Owner of 10″ Wide Racing (“Motor Head” from the start)
I was born in 1966 and showed an interest in hot cars at an early age (it probably has something to do with our family car being a Dodge Super Bee with the “Drag Pack” option.
This picture was taken in 1970, standing next to our new 1969 Dodge Super Bee, with my mom and sister Kim.The Super Bee coupes quarter mile time was in the low fourteens at over 100 MPH (and was tested at the local “proving grounds” near our house).
Nice “Family Car” complete with roof rack and trailer hitch !!!
Our other daily driver, a 1965 Mustang with a 6 cylinder and “three on the floor”. Not a muscle car at the time but would be nice to have now and put a nitrous assisted big block Ford in it.
Early Car Interests
It was not long before I started talking about the kind of car I would like when I got my drivers license. I was always talking about a V8 that I could hop up (of course)
My interest in hot cars was “nurtured” by Art Lutzke, the automotive teacher at Waukesha North High School. He was an avid hot rod enthusiast himself and a great mechanic. During my high school years there was a 1968 HEMI Road Runner that lived in our auto shop (and we got to help work on it during class). Pretty cool stuff…
I did ask my parents to save the 1969 Dodge Super Bee so that it could be my first car when I got my license. Needless to say, they did not think that was the kind of car a 16 year old should have for a first car. They were probably right…
Brian’s first “Hot Rod
Shopping for this car was quite an experience. I wanted a V8 and my parents said whatever I bought had to have nothing larger than a 6 banger.
Well, I ended up “reluctantly” choosing a sort of “clapped out” 1968 Chevelle with a 6 cylinder engine and a 3-speed stick shift. The motor sounded sort of sick and smoked a lot. This did not bother me because I already had “other ideas” on what I was going to do with the car.
It was not long before the modifications began. I found a heavy duty 6 cylinder truck block and began working with a local engine builder to make a 6 banger that would scream. This replacement engine featured a huge solid lifter cam, ported & polished cylinder “head” with larger small-block Chevy intake & exhaust valves and two carburetors.
The engine also featured split headers with dual exhausts that sounded pretty wild. The end result was a “fire breathing” six banger that once beat a 1968 Olds with a 455 CI V8 in a street race. They could not believe that they were beat by a six cylinder!
The 3 speed on the floor was quickly changed to a Muncie M21 4 speed (complete with Urst shift) out of a 1966 GTO. I had to scrape up the $75 for the complete package but I thought it would be worth it to have the 4 speed (those were the days).
My Second Car – The “Cuda”
The Cuda’ had a stock 340 Magnum and an 727 automatic transmission. I was the third owner and the purchase price was $1,000 in 1987. I spent a little over $4,000 to restore the car to original. The car was gorgeous !!!
The Cuda was drag raced in the Muscle Car Nationals at Great Lakes Dragaway in 1988.
“The Blue Nova” 10 Second Street Racer
In 1989, I bought a 1968 Chevy II Nova that already had a 427 CI big block V8, a modified Turbo 400 automatic transmission and a 9” Ford rear end with traction bars.
The car had a roll cage and a 5 point racing harness (it had everything that a good “street car” needed). My friends Bob Hood & Tim Jakus thought I was nuts for wanting a 10 second street car.
The car was driven to the track and ran low 12 second ¼ mile runs through the full exhausts as it was bought (3700 pounds). But that was only the beginning. I added a nitrous oxide system during the spring of 1990 and got the car in the tens (through a full 3” exhaust including tails pipes).
Then the fun really began. I had to go faster. A set of Merlin BBC cylinder heads, a bigger Lunati cam and a 250 nitrous plate system was installed in the same old short block.
In this configuration, the car ran 10.47 second quarter at 123 MPH through full exhausts. The trap speed was limited by lifter pump up at 6,400 RPM and 7,200 RPM was needed to get to the end of the track.
Then the quest for more speed continued — One of my friends Bob Hood sold me “take off” parts from his car. A big lift solid lifter cam was installed. The car ran the quarter mile in 11.70 @ 114 MPH on horsepower (no nitrous). For a few months, he went to their “test-n-tune” highway and tried out more modifications that included a Nitrous Works 325 HP NOS system. Now the car was a “real animal”! I was ready to go to the home track, Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, WI and make a pass before winter set in.
I knew that the car could 60 ft. mark in the 1.40’s and thought that it could maybe I could get the car in the 9.90s. I put in a 325 pills in the Nitrous Works plate and staged the car at the starting line. The lights came down, matted the throttle and simultaneously pressed the “magic button”. The car stood up and planted the Mickey Thompson 11.5*29.5’s on the sticky starting line and I was off!
I watched the tach hit 7,200 RPM and clicked the shifter into second and heard a loud bang and the car immediately unloaded the suspension. The engine was still running so I pretty sure that it was a tranny, convertor or rear end. It turned out that the trusty Turbo Action 9″ race convertor had given up the ghost from too much action !!!
Then, I got married , sold the car and the money was used towards the down payment for a house. I know the current owner of the Nova (Brian Chelf), who lives in Iowa. It currently has a SBC with a F1 Procharger and still sports the leaf springs suspension with Cal-Trac bars….it has found a good home.
Current ride 1967 Impala 396
It was not long before I got the itch for another car. I found the pictured 1967 Chevy Impala 396 Sport Coupe advertised for sale in one of the local papers and located near our house.
The elderly gentleman, who owned the car, was the original owner! He was a retired policeman from the Chicago area. The car had been kept in a climate-controlled garage since it was new!
Genuine original one owner 74k mile big block 1967 Impala as we bought it in 2000. Not very fast but very cool.The Impala has all of the toys (power windows, seats and even Comfortron air conditioning) and they all still work – quite rare for a 1967 car. The interior is bright red vinyl and in perfect condition, and amazingly, still smells like new! The big block 396 runs nice but is not this is not race car at 4400 pounds!!!
The next car…
Someday I would like to build another fast street car. Hanging around guys like Pat Spangenburg and Kevin Ribbens who have “big cars” that are capable of running in the 8’s has “influenced” me and I think I’d build a Impala, Biscayne or Caprice. Nick Scavo’s 1965 Impala (now owned by Joe Penze) was also a big influence in my facination with making 2 tons of fun run in the 8’s.