This is what happens when you blend a ’70 SS 454 Chevelle with a heavy dose of NASCAR influence. Mike Face has been a hot rodder for over 35 years, and the list of cars he’s owned is impressive. He’s always liked the ’70 Chevelle body style and also swims deeply in the NASCAR and circle track waters. When you wrap all that together, you get this outstanding big-block Chevelle.

Mike owns a body shop in San Bernardino, California. If you were expecting a slammed cruiser with a few minor chassis tweaks and fat tires, this may come as a Pro Touring shocker. Mike decided from the start that this bad-boy Chevelle needed a pro-built tube chassis to really stand out in a crowd. That’s because he is more than just a body and paint guy. Part of his automotive experience included a partnership with Frank Steiner in creating the Mechanix Wear Speed Truck Challenge that sanctioned a spec-truck circle track series racing S-10, Ranger, Dakota, and Toyota Tacoma body styles powered by 330hp GM Performance Parts Vortec 350ci engines. Mike’s heavy circle track influence is one reason for the many oval and road racing–style components you’ll see on his Chevelle.

Once he had stripped the body, he headed directly into bending the jungle gym full-tube chassis. All Chevelles came equipped with perimeter frames, but Mike decided that a much more aggressive, full rectangular tubing frame would create the foundation he needed for his maximum corner-turning effort. Of course, this meant that the entire floor had to come out so he could add a 1-¾-inch, 0.090-inch-wall, rollcage assembly in the interior as well as bars forward and aft.

The front suspension starts with tubular upper and lower control arms and Coleman spindles that tie into a Woodward manual rack-and-pinion steering assembly dampened through coilover shocks and springs. The entire front and rear ride height can also be adjusted with the coilover springs. As for brakes, Mike added monster Wilwood discs front and rear assisted by a Wilwood master cylinder and pedal assembly.

The rear suspension is a compact three-link NASCAR-style design employing a slick adjustable Panhard bar accessible from inside the trunk. By turning the hex shaft inside the trunk, Mike can quickly tune the rear suspension to compensate for different track conditions. This is a common ritual on a NASCAR Winston Cup racer, but it’s rare to see this in a street car.

All of these slick chassis mods are used to create as much traction as possible. But ultimately, traction comes down to the four patches of rubber that meet the pavement. Mike chose to stuff monster Jongbloed wheels under each corner with 17x11 fronts and 275/40ZR17 Goodyear GS-Cs, while out back 17x12s support massive 315/35ZR17 GS-Cs.

All of this amazing chassis and suspension work is aimed at harnessing the power of a thumper 502ci Rat motor that dyno-tested at over 680 hp and almost 690 lb-ft of torque. Jim Van Gordon Racing assembled the Rat starting with an iron Bow-Tie block with a 4-inch GM steel crank, JE pistons, 9.7:1 compression, and a serious mechanical roller cam that Van Gordon prefers to keep under wraps. In keeping with the corner-turning theme, Mike added a complete dry-sump lubrication system that included placing the oil tank behind the driver seat for weight consideration. A Dart single-plane intake supports a 1,000-cfm Holley HP–series carburetor that’s topped off with a slick carbon-fiber cold-air inlet and valve covers from K&N.

Transferring all this power to the rear tires is the responsibility of a complete Tilton multi-disc clutch assembly that is hooked to a modified Richmond four-speed. Mike also has a Richmond six-speed transmission that will soon find its way into the car. Ed Moore Drivelines built the custom driveshaft that ties directly to the full-floater Speedway Engineering 9-inch sporting 3.40 Richmond gears.

The mechanical side of this monster is so impressive that it’s easy to overlook its visual side. But because Mike is also a paint and body guy, there’s plenty to discuss here as well. The biggest task was carefully fitting the body shell over the new tube chassis. While he was at it, He also shaved the driprails and added a Harwood front fiberglass bumper as well as a hinged rear spoiler. Original Parts Group helped with many of the necessary body-trim items. Finally, Mike covered the whole massive Chevelle body in Flex Products’ ChromaFlair Color Shift Burnt Fire paint that changes hue in varying light conditions.

What Mike has here is a Rat-powered ’70 Chevelle NASCAR racer for the street. He completed his car just in time for the Hot Rod Power Tour this year and plans to put a few road and race miles on this rascal. That will include both road-course and circle track time, but he especially wants to put the pedal down at the Pony Express top-speed race in Nevada. When he does, we want to go for a ride. Stuff an almost 700hp Rat in anything with a full-tube chassis and then yank it through corners and you have a monster sensation. Think of Mike’s Chevelle as a full-bodied Sprint car on asphalt and you get the idea. Yeehaw!

Face’s Auto Body
San Bernardino
CA  92410