When older hot rodders (that would be me and Mark Webster) first got into it, there was no such thing as an “intermediate” sedan or hardtop. Everything was Harley Earl Large. The litany then was B-body, the top-of-the-line Impala hardtop; middle man Bel Air, all with a B-pillar but less exterior trim than the Impala; and the blue-collar Biscayne, every one of them a post car from the edge. The best part? You could order the cheapest, minimal body (read: no chrome) with the biggest engine, a 427 that blew 425 hp.
We don’t know the time frame of Mark’s involvement with his ’65 Bel Air and ’65 Biscayne, but both of them were powered by big-blocks of record. Then, somewhere along the line, he skewed like a bottle rocket and fell for a clean simplicity of a ’67 Chevelle, but not the hardtop that everyone would expect. He put it to them with a 300 DeLuxe sedan spurred by a bumptious 496 that runs 11.30s at a buck-twenty-three (on 275 drag radials).
Mark found his current experiment at yenko.com. He’s the third owner of a 300 originally powered by a V-8. It was a California car (off the Fremont line), therefore it was wholesome in body. When he found it, the 300 was a roller and inclined toward the dragstrip side of things. He began the build but then turned serious and thought that he’d rather see the frame in one place and the body in another. But the rehab didn’t get totally out of hand. He determined that the paint and the interior that had been completed in 1988 were still “nice”, thus saving bushels of shekels and lots of down time.
Mark has always bedded down with function, form being the daydream, and as the restoration shop manager at Performance Restorations in Mundelein, Illinois, he was privy to everything he needed to complete the job all under one roof. With this accommodation, he was able to turn the key on his fairly rare Chevelle just 10 months after he loosened the first bolt. Mark further cut costs by wrangling the chassis work on his own time. Then he tricked his buddy Mark Marzigliano into doing all the wiring and when Mr. M was done, Mark brought him on full time at Performance Restorations.
There are no plans to thread the DeLuxe through a maze of orange cones or swing it wide on a road course. No, what we have here is a driver as plain and simple as the Chevelle’s silhouette, but it’s a well-rounded package imbued with all the things a casual pilot needs to maintain comfort, thwart fatigue, and loosen jowls. Mark bombs it out on Power Tour and when the weather’s shining bright the rest of the year, he twists the tires (check out the Line-Loc on that spindly column shifter), throttles the bejesus out of that Rat, and bathes in Flowmaster gutturality.
Mark and Performance Restorations put the final touches on the 300 a little more than two years ago and now there’s more than 12,000 miles on the clock, including two PT runs. So what’s our protagonist going to do next? You might have guessed it because you know that first-time yearning never really goes completely away. It settles in the psyche like a malarial bug in the immune system. “Yeah, yeah, I bought another B-body. A black ’66 Impala fitted with a humped 572 and a clutch for the six-speed transmission.”
Coil Racing Engines (CRE) in nearby McHenry, Illinois, proceeded with a ’72 454 cylinder block and upped displacement to 496 ci via an 0.060-inch overbore and 0.250-inch greater stroke. CRE cemented the bottom end with an Eagle crank and connecting rods and thermal-coated 10.25:1 Mahle pistons surrounded by Perfect Circle rings. The oiling system is predicated on a Milodon sump, pump, and pickup. ARP fasteners are stationed throughout. The camshaft is an Erson (no specs offered) but cohabits with COMP pushrods. For the top end, the Dart heads were gasket-matched and their bowls blended and anointed with TRW valves, COMP springs, rocker arms, guides, and pushrods. Induction begins with the Accel Pro Ram intake manifold and throttle body and the system is animated by a Big Stuff controller as configured by ASSC in Lake Villa, Illinois. Zap zaps from an MSD ignition system. Spent stuff is extracted by 13/4-inch primary-pipe Hedman headers and sucked through a 3-inch system and those chortling Flowmasters. As installed in the Chevelle, this engine proofed 610 hp at 6,200 rpm and 525 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm, guaranteeing great low-speed throttle response and an exhilarating top end honk. And with all this world-beating at hand, efficiency is not out of the realm, either. The Turbo 400 transmission pushes through a Stage Right Transmission Boss Hog converter set with a 2,500-stall speed. Its capabilities are extended via a Gear Vendors overdrive offering a 0.82:1 final. A transmission cooler is situated within the Be Cool radiator core. Grunt ropes down a VRN Welding & Fabrication 3-inch diameter chrome-moly driveshaft to a 12-bolt that’s been treated with a 3.73:1 gears and a spool. On the Power Tour sojourns, Mark netted a solid 15 mpg. Not bad for a fat motor and 3,750-pound curb weight.
Wheels & Brakes
Clean, crisp, dusky Rocket Booster wheels are a fine complement in sizes 18x8 and 18x9.5, featuring 245/45 and 295/45 Firestone rollers. The binders—Mark really has no regard for anything more than front disc brakes—are 13-inch Wilwoods. He sourced the rear brakes from Speedway Motors. Its circle track kit makes putting 11x2.25-inch Ford drums on the 12-bolt axle ends an easy proposition.
That Marina Blue ensemble looks pretty much the same as it did in 1988 when it was laid down. Mark put SS gauges in the dash, along with a factory blinker tach (turn signal arrow in the same bezel). Controls for the Vintage Air system (using the original plate and slide levers) and AM/FM/CD and iPod system are close at hand, and Mark puts his hands on the stock Comfort-Grip steering wheel. Rather than mess up the floor, he retained the original column shifter. “The motor makes so much torque you can do a burnout in Third gear if necessary.” And that’s exactly what shooter Robert McGaffin saw through his viewfinder.
Paint & Body
More Marina Blue (GM code FF) persuasion here, a still-shiny hangover from California, circa 1988. The body is pristine. The hood has a 2-inch cowl and was finished and repainted by the Performance crew.
Time-honored changes with basic equipment are all that Mark needed to prepare the chassis for his kind of ripping and tearing. There’s no hydro-formed anything anywhere on the ’rails, only rudimentary bolt-on components. Mark fixed the front suspension with Global West control arms, QA1 coilovers, and Hotchkis 13/8-inch antisway bar. In the back, a brace of QA1 shocks, Edelbrock upper and lower links, a 1-inch diameter Hotchkis sway bar, and that icon of ’60s drag racing, an airbag inside the right rear spring.