The hope for a numbers-matching drivetrain went all to hell too. The engine Jim got was from a '67 Corvette or B-body Chevy, a hydraulic-lifter 385hp 427. The bogus motor also had an appendage; a Turbo 400 hung off the end of it. Jim kept the block but lost the transvestite transmission. The collective reaction from those close to him was less than heartening. He may as well have tugged a manure wagon home.

"My family, friends, and neighbors could not believe I'd bought it. They couldn't see the potential at all. I stripped the car to a shell and had it sandblasted, then had it painted by my friend Randy at the Body Palace [pole dancing verboten] in Huntington Beach. After it was painted, it took four years and a lot of sleepless night to finish. It took so long because my three boys [Ryan, Scott, and Jason] play a lot of sports."

So our man Jim stays true to what's really important. Doesn't forsake his family. Busts his hump for the cause. Car comes out lookin' pin-neat fresh. And he'll never regret the relatively small amount of money he spent ($23,000 total). And what's his car worth now, built mostly with elbow grease instead of unnecessarily shoveling his hard-earned bucks into a black hole? The payoff is a crisp, straight ride that's scored in the top 15 at the Southern California Chevelle Camino Club two years running. Best part is that his family unit and his credit rating are still intact.