Pat Spangenberg builds hot rods, old ones and "new" ones quite unalike at his Rods & Competition Specialties dominion in Butler, Wisconsin. Spangenberg's a renaissance rodder, a crafter who knows how to do it all, from metal finishing to tube frames, to engines that blurt 1,500-2,000 horsepower or more. When we talked to him about his Biscayne here, he was thrashing on his '31 Ford coupe for a car show that was happening two weeks hence. It sports a decidedly different combo: a blown 331ci old-style Hemi backed by a Lenco planetary gear transmission.
He hangs with a group of like-minded and brutally frank pioneers who like nothing more than going flat out to hell in a straight line. Yes, street car drag racing absolute. These lads wheel streetable 8- and 7-second rides that bellow with big-blocks swilling hefty draughts of juice. The 10.5-inch tire is their avatar and their seal.
Pat the administrator has a great sense of humor swimming with whimsy and conviviality. No story too obscene, no societal faction beneath skewering. He's just a good guy like most of us. We became acquainted with this lovable miscreant via a story for another magazine. It dealt with his holy-hell Impala-the epitome of stealth.
A flat, mottled, sun-baked hood, a coterie of digs and gashes on its experienced body, paint from other cars, fence posts, and springs worming their way out of the driver's side of the old bench seat, now covered with an image of a pretty, innocent face.
All rudeness immediately intensifies when he cranks the freakin' thing up. You'd better hope you laid your coin on his flabby tank (4,420 pounds with him in it) that twists tarmac at The Grove with an 8.77 at 156. Though his pristine '66 Biscayne here seems the polar opposite of Pat's tattered, hunkering Imp, the purpose of both is exactly the same: run real hard and suckers beware.
Says Spangenberg: "This is the one and only white car as far as I'm concerned, the baddest 1966 Biscayne on the planet. It's the only car in my shop that gets pampered, polished, and wiped down with Ferris Bueller's dad's diapers. Who cares about that Ferrari!
"I saw this car years ago at a Super Chevy show and it paralyzed me. It was perfect in every way, 22,000 original, red gut, 10-inch tires, 615 nitrous-huffing cubes, lions, tigers, and bears, oh my," chortled Spangenberg. "The interior is so nice, Paul Tadin [who owns a 9-inch tire '67 Chevelle that runs 8.40s] almost didn't want to go for ride ... but I twisted his arm ... and what a ride it was!"
Pat bought the white car about four years ago from a friend who said that it should be in his garage next to the scabby green Impala and he hasn't had time to do much with it since. "I've never raced it but I did have the certification tag updated just in case," he winked.
There's more than just a Biscayne going here. We have a white '66, too, not nearly as powerful as Pat's but that doesn't matter. The first time we saw Billy Izykowski's 427-powered B/S '66 Biscayne burning rubber in the late '60s at Englishtown, it drilled a hole in our brains. Biggest engine you could get in the Puritan post car, an unpretentious sled devoid of shine or ambition. To kooks like us, the chrome-less Biscayne was gorgeous and thumbed its nose at the hot-shot SS and went about its business like a ninja.
Apparently, this car was ordered without radio or heater. Pat's not sure if it originally carried an L72, but there was a big hole in the floor for a four-speed shifter. He's pretty certain it had been painted black. As an afterword, Pat said, "I don't have a ton of info on the white car because I didn't build it. Hope you have enough to work with. If not, call me. I'll fake it."
Motor And Gears
Pat's never had the engine apart and since he didn't spec it out or build it, he's pretty much going by hearsay. Regardless, one's first impression of the big-block is goose bumps, hoses and lines streaming from it like a Medusa. A Dart Big M iron block captures a forged crankshaft, Oliver connecting rods, JE 12.5:1 pistons surrounded by Hellfire rings, a Comp Cams solid roller with "just the right lift and duration," pushrods and valvesprings, CNC-ported Dart Big M cylinder heads and corresponding intake manifold. Jesel supplied the belt-driven timing equipment as well as the 1.7:1 shaft rocker assemblies. Oiling is the province of an aluminum 7-quart sump. The Carb Shop prepped the 1150 Dominator, sandwiching an NOS fogger system (400 hp) as well as a plate disseminator (250 hp). Got your twin chain-guns ready? Exhaust exits through a 21/4-to-23/8-inch stepped primaries swedged into 31/2-inch collectors. The remainder of the truncated system passes through cranky Flowmaster two-chamber 40 mufflers. Somebody estimates the power to be 1,150 at 6,800 rpm. Torque is processed by a worked Turbo 400 transmission equipped with a 10-inch, 4,400-stall converter and aided by a fluid cooler. A custom-built 31/2-inch steel driveshaft delivers the round-house punch to a 12-bolt holding 4.11:1 gears and Strange Engineering 35-spline axles sprouting from a mighty, indestructible spool.
Red and original. A 22,000-mile miracle infused with a modern "spaghetti benders" wiring system, relays, and widgets in place of the 40-year-old brown string. There are three Auto Meter gauges in the house, one for water temp and another for oil pressure. A big rev-counter fastened to the A-pillar awaits 7,000 rpm. According to Pat, the stock horn button activates the transbrake; crackling melodies emanate from the Flow 40's (that's music); HVAC is largely dependent on an open window that Pat lowers by hand. This Biscayne has the proper delete shields for heater (firewall) and radio (no antenna, chrome-plastic plate in dash). Except for the Cheetah shifter, all else is original. Note that rollcage stringer automatically deletes the passenger's armrest-but Tadin was so stunned on the "test run" that he never missed it. No tilt or adjustable anything, no stuff that doesn't need to be there, pure, on-the-ground '60s iron.
Rails & Cage
Whoever built the rollcage tucked it high in the car as to minimize its visual impact and foster the stealth aura, and did it to stiffen the chassis against the forces of mass torque and bending as well as putting safety at the forefront. Chassis preparation for a minimum of 1,000 lb-ft of grunt seems painfully inadequate, but in lieu of the Biscayne's straight-ahead demeanor, they seem to be quite enough. AVO adjustable shock absorbers are at both ends of the car tempering wheel movement in league with Moroso Trick front springs between stock A-arms in front and the stock coils at the rear end. Upper control arms (for correct pinion angle) are adjustable in the rear but the front of the car does quite well with nearly all the factory pieces still in place and firmed by a high-durometer bushing here and there. The steering and spindles are stock.
Wheels & Brakes
As you can clearly see, Spangenberg's not a fan of Pro Touring or G-Machines or anything else that deals with vehicle dynamics other than those that successfully transfer weight to the rear wheels. Monocoque Racing wheels (15x4, 15x9) carry Moroso Drag Special 7.60x15 fronts and M/T 29.5x10.5 Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks. The brakes are minimal but tenacious and offer less minimal unsprung weight: Strange Engineering 11.25-inch rotors are captured by double-puck calipers, augmenting the energy-burning attributes of the mandated parachute.
Looking like it came fresh off the Chevy store floor in October 1965, the workingman's friend and cheapskate's delight slightly assumes sinister. Could it be that big bump on the trunk and those back tires without any tread? Somewhere along the way, someone blocked the car and laid the Icebox White on the straighter-than-thou body panels. Chrome plating on the bumpers is original.