Mark and Rich Mutert have this quirky habit of doing things themselves, not laying off the process to outsiders. It's not that they haven't the resources to hand a project to several unrelated people and wait for the results. They take matters into their hands and chart the progress in real time, so there is no dealing with how slow (paint jail, for instance) the current vendor might be. They also have full-time jobs that interfere with project progress, sucking valuable time from the schedule. As it was, 24 moons waxed and waned over this Moscow Mills, Missouri, trick pony before the job was completed to their satisfaction.
Mark advised: "There's no outside labor in this Chevelle. Rich and I build cars part-time, mostly for ourselves." While the 30-something brothers handled the mechanical aspects, worked the body, and applied the two-tone paint, their parents own and operate Mutert's Auto Upholstery, hence adding the final aspect to the perfect car-building storm.
"As a fan of Smokey Yunick, I wanted the car to have a look similar to Smokey's infamous '66 Chevelle. Not a re-creation or a detailed tribute in any way, just an overall look, with a few things similar to Smokey's car," Mark opined. Carrying the facsimile further, the brothers did up the engine block and transmission in Smokey's favorite shade of custom-blended gold on the rocker covers and the custom cowl cold-air intake system. Like Yunick's magic cars, the Mutert's '66 captures a passel of subtle, nearly invisible cues and modifications.
To encourage and excite, Mark had stylist/illustrator Jason Rushforth lay out some visual adrenaline prior to the beginning of the build. While nowhere near the exorbitant modifications exhibited on Yunick's car (one that featured a smooth bellypan, an aluminum cylinder block, roof lip, re-formed and re-angled front bumper, etc.), the Mutert's ministrations brought the Chevelle to its naked best on a rotisserie. The inside of the big-block puffed up to 498 ci. The transmission is a modern six-speed. Everywhere they could, the brothers instilled the Chevelle with cues from the Smokey original as well as a portfolio of their own understated markings. As an aside, the Smokey car was to get wheelman Curtis Turner back in the driver's seat. Turner was as golden as Petty. Promoters of the era sold lots of tickets on Turner's good name.
"The [accessory drive] pulley system was an important decision for me," Mark confided. "I didn't want a modern looking serpentine system and I didn't want the bulky old system, either. For the alternator, I used a factory-style mount, but attached the alternator on the backside of the bracket for a cleaner look. For the KRC [NASCAR-style power steering] pump, I made a mount to locate it as low as possible. For the A/C compressor, I started with an Alan Grove bracket that mounts off the mechanical fuel pump boss, and then I modified it to clear the frame, block, and anti-sway bar. It's a tight fit but it really helps keep the engine bay clean. To finish off the vintage look, I used tower clamps on all the hoses."
Luckily for Mark, the best painter in the area is brother Rich. Even though all the panels are original, Rich put many hours to get the gaps standardized and to make the metal absolutely straight. The body got a layer of clear and was sanded. Rich followed up with another layer of clear followed by the final cut-and-buff to remove any ripples. The underside of the body, the front fenders and the wheelhouses are all in basecoat/clear black. The engine, engine bay, the top of the front fenders, and the dash were done in a coat of flat clear.
All the work, save for the interior, was completed in Rich's home shop in Foristell. You could say there's lots of smoke, yes, but not a mirror to be seen.