Chris Kephart is no stranger to adversity or to good-natured heckling from his racing peers. We suspect that Chris hasn’t ever been a pack runner and that he’d rather maintain his civility and individuality regardless of the consequences. He’s a risk taker, something sorely missing from our modern world and blurred by issues and pabulum. So how could we not ask the question, the reason for this altogether unconventional pearl?
Chris: “Why this car? How many land yachts do you see going 200 mph?” The most popular Left Coast racing factions are WCHR and PSCA. Chris runs Outlaw 10.5 in both houses. His barge was the first Vortech-equipped vehicle to surpass 200 mph in the quarter-mile.
This car was bought in Iowa by a friend. Actually, the guy bought five ’62 Chevys in all manner of body configuration and running condition. Chris’ beauty was easy to distinguish from the others. It was skeletal—a shell, a roof, and a few extraneous pieces held it upright.
“I like doing things that people say cannot be done,” Chris says. “I build my own chassis, do my own fabrication, and am a slave to paint and body. I’m using a power-adder that has not been thoroughly proven yet and surround it all in a flying brick. It’s the world’s quickest and fastest Vortech-blown drag racer [7.03 at 202.83]. That’s why I built this car.”
We like it because cars that are as obtuse and angular as the 3,200-pound Imp aren’t supposed to beat the air that fast. We like it because Chris did the deeds in his garage and driveway. Although some might find it a tad naughty, Chris did all body modifications and applied the paint in his driveway under that warm California sun. These rituals have been practiced since the first souped-up engine belched hot exhaust. Hot rodding began in the driveway right next to the house, a method proven and recounted about a billion times since the era began.
Chris finished the Impala in 2007. It was a two-year birthing process. If we didn’t know better, we’d say that the forces of gravity are evident. The Imp rides down low, seemingly sucked to the tarmac. The Impala’s chassis exhibits no monkey motion. In the rush and the cacophony of the exercise, Chris smiles easily, thinking of nothing save for his next blast in the big, bad strawberry. The Imp holds no secrets.
Editor Henry: “No joke. His Impala is amazing to watch. I also love that he built the entire car at home, literally.” Chris’ bad-boy B-body runs in a field predominated by sheetmetal and silhouettes of much later model cars. This simple fact establishes Chris as a real four-jumps-ahead-of-you racer. This pressurized rosy red Imp is something that will not soon shrivel from memory.
Chris Kephart built his tube frame to 25.2 specifications. He fabbed a four-link rear suspension using bits from Applied Racing Technology’s (ART) considerable collection. He selected an ART FAB9 chromoly housing replete with 3.70:1 gears, 40-spline axles, and a spool to turn them. Wheel movement is controlled by AFCO double-adjustable coilover dampers mounted advantageously in a near-vertical posture. Alston supplied the frontend components. Chris inserted Santhuff coilovers between the minimal, lightweight tubular control arms. A rack-and-pinion steering system directs Alston drag race spindles, and the webbing of the rollcage forms an all-inclusive safety net that would do a Funny Car proud. Chris tried to remove all unnecessary fat and included the use of Lexan, carbon fiber, and fiberglass renditions to hit his 3,200-pound target. Chris is a testa dura, a hard head, still at a sizable weight disadvantage (2,800 legal) but he’d rather buck the odds in something that no one else has than run in the pack.