Pro Street? Rain? Yes. And unpaved roads, too. None of it jibes with the norm. Rather than mindlessly repeat the hackneyed Pro Street standard, a young woman from Virginia embraced a vision and built her ride according to her own standards. It didn't exactly happen overnight, either; it took her more than 12 years. She figured every angle in several variations so there's much more to this vehicle than is readily apparent, but we'll let the willowy, 30-ish Katherine Nicole Lindsey tell you in her own words.
How do you get a huffer-topped...
How do you get a huffer-topped small-block to sit so low in the hole? Simple doin's. You put a tube frame under it, channel the body, and move the firewall 6 inches to the rear. Myres Automotive (Barryville, VA) built the nasty 383.
"My original thought was to build something different and build it really well to expose some of my inborn abilities, then show it to GM in hopes of getting a scholarship to engineering school, then go to work for GM. I started in 1988. I drew up the plans, bought the wheels and tires and some tubing and started welding it together. Due to a family move, finances, and no garage workspace, I mothballed it for seven years until the garage space and finances came together to continue the dream.
"I built this truck in my head first. I have a gift for seeing right through an object in my mind--sort of an exploded view of things, from wheel to wheel and all the connecting parts in between. This allowed me to see the whole thing finished even as I worked on it. It also gave me insight into how all the connected components work with one another, and how to stuff so much into a small space.
If you build the suspension...
If you build the suspension the right way, maintain a low center of gravity and superior weight distribution, and ensure that all the geometry is copacetic, you don't need no stinkin' stabilizer bars. Katherine built custom control arms for the Koni coilovers and 500-lb/in springs.
"I starting with the body, wheel, and tire dimensions, and designed and built the chassis so it would all fit together nicely. This truck had to be reliable, comfortable, safe, able to drive in the rain and on gravel roads, stop well, turn corners well, and run quiet. It had to have air conditioning, afford total outward vision, be strong enough to carry a motorcycle, handle rough roads, and have nothing protruding from the hood or hanging below the body line so it would be speed-bump friendly. It had to be different to reflect my own style and talent, but it also had to be fast, with overdrive, a large fuel capacity, an NHRA-spec rollcage, low-profile wide front tires, huge rear tires, a low center of gravity, and a smooth and stable ride at high speeds.
"I built this truck to drive in every weather condition except snow. I didn't want to put huge amounts of money and time into the thing and not use it. It was built to drive, have fun with, and to go places on its own tires. So yes, I'll drive it to Texas, and then I'll take it to a road race and throw it around some corners and surprise the hell out of small-minded people. Then I'll drive it to the Wal-Mart and pick up some cosmetics. I feel best when I'm putting miles on it."
The slick custom PPG purple...
The slick custom PPG purple metallic paint subtly flip-flops when you least expect it. When he finished with the main body, Jimmy Campbell laid down the cool-vibe Harlequin tribal flames.
Every part she used and change she made is a functional addition. Though it was originally a GMC, Katherine customized the grille with a Bow-Tie emblem, cutting out only what was necessary, and keeping the strength and the light weight of the plastic, which led to more airflow through the larger opening to service the radiator. Twin 12-inch electric fans and a custom aluminum shroud ensure cool running on the most miserable of days. If that front bumper fits snug to the fender metal, it's because she removed an inch-and-half from the center of it. To maximize front/rear weight distribution--and increase cruising range--she installed twin 10-gallon fuel cells behind the rear tires and positioned a large battery (and aluminum tray) between the tanks. Not all that difficult when you build with the attitude that anything is possible.
To cheat the wind a little,...
To cheat the wind a little, the flip-and-pull door handles were sacked in favor of these simple, clean, and effective custom beauties.
As to this ballast installation, Katherine says, "Because I have the cells at the rear of the bed, I didn't want to pull the filler hose over the bedside and risk spilling gas all over as I aimed for the opening in the fuel cell. I wanted comfort and ease with this. One day at the pump, a motorcycle pulled in, and as soon as I saw the cap on top of the tank, a light went on in my head. Two weeks later I'd incorporated it into my design. I also wanted to fill from the driver side, again for ease and comfort. Of course, the one-side fill feeds both tanks. Cool huh?"
The key to it all is apparent...
The key to it all is apparent here. All that's left of the original S-10 is the skin. The undercarriage was formed from mild-steel tubing and the floor was raised 2 inches.
Katherine's S-10 is most likely the best-handling Pro Streeter ever built. Pro Street and handling are terms rarely associated with one another, so what gives here? "I wanted wide tires in the front. I wanted to be able to make a U-turn without having to back up five times to get going again, and I wanted the front and rear track dimensions to be the same. No one made anything that fit my specs. They all said it couldn't be ¼ inch off the ends of Art Morrison upper control arms and installed them with rubber bushings--the comfort, reliable, safe thing again. Heim joints are great on the racetrack but not on the road.
Katherine is tall and long-legged....
Katherine is tall and long-legged. She fits perfectly inside with Honda del Sol seats and tilt-column steering out of an '85 Camaro. Leesburg Upholsterer finished the buckets, headliner, and door panels.
The length of the rack-and-pinion has been changed so that the joints pivot in the correct arc to avoid bumpsteer. So yeah, I didn't want to make it all, but I didn't want to change my requirements for the front tires or steering performance. But it works really well. Just ask the guys at Summit Point [road course].
A Moto Guzzi cycle filler...
A Moto Guzzi cycle filler cap leads to twin fuel cells mounted at the rear of the bed.
"I also used a four-link drag-style suspension--but with a twist. The rod ends are Art Morrison stainless steel, but they have urethane bushings. Because I like to go around corners fast and I needed the axlehousing to pivot from the top, I'm using a Panhard bar fitted with the same bushings. The twist? The brackets for the four-link have lots of holes for adjustment to aid in >> traction at the dragstrip. I added two holes for the upper bars on the chassis to allow all four bars to be parallel with one another. This, in turn, allows the axlehousing to pivot in any direction based on road surface and not bind up the rod ends.
A bug's-eye view reveals clear...
A bug's-eye view reveals clear thinking. One of Katherine's bogies was a clean view underneath, with nothing hanging lower than the body line.
"I cut ½ inch off the bottom of the oil pan because I wanted the drivetrain as low as possible in the chassis (better CG, roll center, cornering), because I had to fit the supercharger under the stock hood, and because it's possible and I can weld. Making and raising the floor 2 inches also helped in building the headers, exhaust system, and the transmission crossmember so they all fit my nothing-lower-than-the-body requirements. See how it all works together? "Rollcage tubes into the roof--I haven't seen it done like this before, but it's the only way I wanted to do it, and it fit NHRA's 'cage requirements better.
Centerline Pro Stock rims...
Centerline Pro Stock rims are 15 inches wide and carry M/T Sportsman 33x21-15 whoppers that are nearly 17 inches across. The modified 12-bolt was narrowed to 32 ½ inches. Note how well all of it fits beneath the tin.
Where the tubing passes through the roof, I had to have a way to close it from the elements and to allow for body flex, that's why the rubber seals. You can't do that effectively if the tubes pass through glass and I didn't want a plexiglass rear window."
Now we're on the Hot Rod Power Tour and in the pits at Red River Raceway deep in Louisiana. We've just returned from the photo shoot. Katherine is sitting in the truck chatting me up and I'm in another car listening with glee to its nasty rumble. Just before we part ways, she flattens the loud pedal. The motor howls as good as any pro-built race engine and she's off in a thunderous rush. In the rearview all I can see is her license plate. It reads GRLSCAN2.
Additional photos by Ro McGonegal and Jim Rathbun