Steve Rindos doesn't want to rip asphalt. He doesn't want to go preen at car shows. He didn't build his car to be king of the street, either. All he wants to do is drive it...every day. He's too young to have done this back in the day, but he's doing something now that all the old dogs can identify with. He drives his hot rod, his primary source of transportation, and that means its performance has to be reliable and repeatable and provide the utmost in aural and visceral entertainment-come bright sky or dark clouds.
"I hear so many people at cars shows and cruise-ins say they only drive their cars on weekends or maybe once a month because they are worried about getting hit. My thinking is that if they take their cars out once in a while and if they get in an accident, they really never got to enjoy it because it just sat in the garage. That's why I drive mine and enjoy it every day."
The bullet in Steve's car is a 496-incher that was originally meant for another engine bay. The car was waiting to be pardoned from paint prison. Ultimately, the job sucked. Steve took the schlub to court, got his money back, and wound up selling the car instead. Then he scored a Nova, got it right down to where it would take paint, and then (just like a car guy) he averted his attention to yet another limbo soul he discovered on Recycler.com. The ad read "1970 Chevrolet Chevelle, no motor or trans, ex. condition, $5,000."
"I thought the price was high for a roller so I called the owner, who told me he forgot to put in the ad that it was a Super Sport. The guy's wife and her ex-husband had owned it since 1990. After the divorce, she got the car but with no drivetrain. It had sat in her garage for 10 years, collecting dust and dings in the paint job they had commissioned. It was in Simi Valley, California, about 4 miles from my house."
He gushed at the find and forked over the full 5 Gs. Since the paint was so close, he color-sanded and buffed it out and was very happy with the results you see here. He upgraded everything and dropped in the 496 and the Turbo 400. He finished the project in January 2007 and laid 500 miles on the drivetrain, and when nothing leaked or stopped working, he headed up the hill for Los Angeles County Raceway. The Chevelle cranked off a 12.28 at 110. Were the laps done at sea level, the car would have run 11.88 at 113. Though Steve's drag race prep is minimal, with 28-inch-tall M/T ET slicks the car posts 1.7-second short times without wheelhop. Fontana's California Speedway beckons, Stevie.
Steve did all the work himself, except the transmission rebop, and still dropped another $16,200 on the deal. "The money sure adds up fast," he quips. Although he carried the bulk of the burden, Steve thanks friend Tom Huard for his considerable help with the engine build.
We like what Steve has done and we laud him for running his car every day. He upholds the hot rod credo: Build it and drive the wheels off it. How many of us can say that about our own trash?