Purchasing an already completed hot rod is both exciting and nerve-racking. Just ask Ed Vannoy of Jefferson, North Carolina.
When he stumbled upon this car, its look got him excited, but he was concerned whether it could be a fun and dependable driver. To add to the drama, even before taking a short drive in it, he had pretty much decided to buy it. On the short drive home, Vannoy found he wasn't thrilled with the car's road manners, so he called Kyle Tucker, owner of Detroit Speed & Engineering (DSE) in Brighton, Michigan, for help. Vannoy needed DSE to take the show-pretty Chevy II to the land of cross-country road warrior.
Not surprising to anyone who's had a car in the shop for upgrades, the list of Vannoy-requested changes grew once the car was torn apart. DSE is well-known for their skilled mini-tub work, custom dashboards, and some neat bolt-on components, and Vannoy couldn't avoid having these and a few more upgrades thrown at his Deuce.
The biggest structural and visual change was to the rear wheelwells. They were mini-tubbed and widened 2 inches to accept 285/40ZR17 BFGoodrich G-Force T/As on Budnik's new Fatlips 17x10 Famosa Dish wheels (to complement the front-running 245/45ZR17 BFG G-Forces on 17x8 Budnik Famosa Fatlips operating with rolled fender well lips for increased tire-turning clearance). All the fun is brought to a halt by Baer brakes all around, utilizing 12-inch rotors with the zinc wash to prevent rusting.
At the same time, DSE's Paul Morgan fabricated a custom dashboard and console from sheetmetal and loaded it with carbon fiber Auto Meter gauges, Phipps A/C ducts, a DSE headlight switch, and Sony CD stereo. Behind the dash sits a Vintage Air Gen II Compact unit, the motor for the DSE delay wiper system (which provides late-model intermittent wiper control), and an American Autowire electrical harness. An ididit steering column steers with the help of a DSE remote-reservoir pump, pushing fluid through a DSE rack to add power-assist and eliminate bump steer in the front suspension.
For added comfort, many rolls of Dynamat sound deadener were applied to the floor, and new Year One rubber was installed on all the window and door seal areas. The final upgrades to the interior were the additions of a custom carpet kit by All-American Auto and Juliano's seat belts.
DSE kept the ZZ3 GM Crate Engine and the clutch system on the Muncie four-speed manual transmission that came with the "II" when he'd bought it. But, they added a Street & Performance accessory drive to the engine and converted the clutch from mechanical to hydraulic by installing a Centerforce dual friction clutch and flywheel (with a Tilton hydraulic) throwout bearing and actuating it with an AP master cylinder tucked under the dashboard.
The front suspension had already been upgraded to a FatMan Fabrications 3rd-Gen Camaro MacPherson strut system, which was left alone except for the steering upgrades. The forward leaf spring mounts for the rear suspension were relocated 2 inches inward on each side to accommodate the mini-tubbing.
DSE offset shackles were used in the rear to get the Eaton multi-leaf springs sitting right. They hold a DTS-narrowed 12-bolt rearend with Ford housing ends, Moser axles, Eaton carbon clutch limited-slip unit, aluminum rear cover with support bolts, and a 3.08 gear for open-road cruising (and as a match to those relatively short tires).
The engine breathes through a DSE-crafted Borla 3-inch stainless exhaust with XR-1 mufflers, and cools through a polished Be Cool radiator blown through with Spal electric fans. All the fluids run through Goodridge braided steel and InLine Tube stainless hard lines, and juice is provided by an Optima battery safely held in "The Clamp" DSE battery mount, located in the trunk.
Vannoy reports the car is everything he wanted. "I always liked the way the car looked, now I love the way it drives. DSE obviously knows what needs to be done to get a hot rod to drive like a late-model. Now that he's proved to himself a great-looking car can be a great driver, Vannoy's plans are to put some serious miles on his pretty Chevy II.