Several months ago, Henry wrote about the passing of one of our very good friends, 100 percent hot rodder Terry Stevens. As Henry wrote, he was going to keep Terry's passing to himself, as was I; however, the events of the past weeks have lead me to write this.
I met Terry by phone back in the late '80s when I was working for Jim McFarland at McFarland Inc. We were like the UL laboratory of the aftermarket and had no affiliation with any aftermarket company. This is how Terry's and my paths crossed. He called me weekly for help with his early-'80s shortbed Chevy 1/2-ton truck in which he'd installed a ZZ3 engine that he loved to race.
His next project was a unique choice. Henry wrote about the '78 Caprice Terry built for the Car Craft Real Street eliminator. I worked with Terry specing out this Caprice, and he lovingly referred to it as a Caprice SS! This car was originally owned by his lovely wife Sue's mother. Terry had a vision and built this car from the ground up. It was equipped with a 406 small-block with AFR heads, a Comp hydraulic roller, a B&M TH700-R4, Hotchkis suspension, Bonspeed wheels ... I think you get the picture. He was so proud to complete the Real Street competition.
Terry and I collaborated on all his projects and we became very close friends. The first time we met in person was at the 2000 Autolite Nationals, when he had a layover in Sacramento. He was a United Airlines pilot at the time and he and his co-pilot came over to see me race. As luck would have it, he and his co-pilot joined us in the winner's circle that afternoon. In 2002, Terry and Sue came to California and vacationed with my family at Disneyland, and they stayed on for the NHRA points meet at Pomona. About a month after this race, Terry dropped a bomb on me by saying "I've put Daniel in my will and he will get the Caprice someday!" Well, this didn't mean much except that it was a very nice gesture from a very close friend. This really changed its meaning when we all heard Terry was fighting for his life with cancer. I was back visiting Terry and Sue for their 40th wedding anniversary party and he brought me through the milk barn of their old dairy farm, and there sat the Caprice. It hadn't been driven for many years, and he reminded me that it would be on its way soon. I did everything I could to convince him that Daniel would never get it.
Fast-forward to a couple of months ago. A transporter dropped off the Caprice to its new home. Without a race car for the 8th Annual Bracket Nationals in Las Vegas, my wife, Lisa, said I should race Terry's Caprice. After several weeks of thrashing to get everything ready, we were off to Vegas. On the opening day I won the Sportsman class going six rounds in the mighty Caprice SS. The spirit of Terry and Sue's mom rode with me every round and I was very proud to get a win in Terry's car. I know there were smiles from heaven over Vegas.
I'm In Trouble Now!
Q: My brother has a '71 Chevelle, a decent daily driver, but I'm not sure if it's a true SS. What makes this car an SS, or how do we tell? Any info would be great. Thanks!
A: The purists are going to either hate me or love me with this answer. There is nothing in the VIN or body tag that designates a Chevelle/Malibu as a Super Sport. For '71 the SS option is a collection of Regular Production Options placed on either a 2-door sport coupe, 4-door sport sedan, or 2-door convertible. These cars could have been SS-350s, SS-454s, or Heavy Chevy options. This collection of RPOs could include from SS Hood and Deck Lid Strip code D88, Special Performance front and rear suspension code F41, SS-454 code Z15.