Go to any car show across the country and you'll hear car guys refer to this passion we all share as a "sport." Well, folks, sports have rules, and the last time I checked, car guys build cars the way they want to, not the way some rule book tells them to. That's the beauty of it all. Everybody has different ideas, as well as different levels of expertise. Not surprisingly, guys who specialize in bodywork and paint often build the nicest cars. In this case, Roy Pigford, a body shop owner from Pasadena, Texas, used his expertise and creativity to raise the bar in building a subtle, yet stunning 1966 Chevy II. Along the way, Roy received help from Joe Pigford, John Nelson, and Jerry Herndon.
Purchased in August of 1994, the little two-door sedan served his son, Roy Wayne, as high school transportation and saw 35,000 miles of teenage driving enjoyment. Then, the car sat idle for a few years before dad decided to totally revamp the Econo-box-turned-title-contender. The result is nothing short of spectacular. It's one of those cars that you can walk up to and know something's been changed - but you don't know just what it was. Those subtle, virtually undetectable changes are what some gearheads refer to as "perfection."
Unlike most Chevy IIs, this one now rides on a full chassis, custom fabricated (by Roy) from 2 x 4-inch rectangular tubing. Not one to leave things be, the wheelbase is one-inch shorter than stock, and all four corners feature Corvette independent suspension. Since ride height immediately induces onlookers to say, "Wow," Roy put a 6-inch kick in the front frame rails, and an 8-inch kick in the rear to heighten that all-important attitude. Those tricks, coupled with Air Ride Technologies' Shockwave system (front and rear) make this one low hombre. That's not where the modifications stop, though.
Up front, suspension components from a 1987 Corvette were narrowed eight-inches. Choosing his parts carefully, Roy used a steering box from Chassisworks, a column from ididit, 13-inch Baer brakes, with a pedal assembly and master cylinder from Tilton. Though we have yet to mention it, the workmanship throughout this car is more similar to that of an award-winning street rod, as opposed to an award-winning musclecar. That said, stainless steel tubing sends brake fluid to all four wheels, and the undercarriage is finished and detailed just like what shows on top. World class, to say the least! The aforementioned '87 Corvette spindles support a pair of 18 x 7 Billet Specialties "Chicayne" wheels and BFGoodrich rubber.
At the trailing end of our deserving feature subject, a 1988 Corvette donated its independently suspended third member, which features custom axle shafts shortened four inches on each side, a 3.45:1 final drive ratio, and a one-off back cover machined by "Lil" John Buttera. You might say this car's impressive appearance bears the likeness of a wolf in sheep's clothing. Another pair of Baer 13-inch rotors and four-piston calipers quickly decelerate the car, and we're about to tell you why it tends to accelerate even more quickly. But first, Billet Specialties Chicayne wheels measure 20 x 10 in the rear, shod with BFGoodrich 295/45R20 treads.
Now, you might be thinking, "Okay, what's really so special about this Chevy II?" Well, it's all about the details, and this particular "Deuce" recently became a contender for the ultra prestigious Ridler Great 8 award at this year's Detroit Autorama, and also garnered "Best Street Machine," and the C.A.S.I. Cup (Championship Auto Shows Inc.). The heartbeat of this proud Chevy comes from Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE), in the form of a massaged 1996 LT1, displacing 383 cubic inches. A Scat crank and Scat H-beam connecting rods rotate SRP flat-top pistons in the cylinder bores, while the entire valvetrain is from Comp Cams. A DuraSpark ignition explodes the fuel charge that's injected through a Holley 58mm throttle body. Outside, the block has been totally deburred just as smooth as butter, as is the water pump and every other miscellaneous accessory that's not plated or polished. Likewise, the LT1 cylinder heads are smooth on the outside and LPE ported and polished their innards. Once again, noting similarities to today's high-profile street rods, a custom air intake housing was fabricated and fitted with a K&N conical filter.
Roy ordered a set of stainless headers from Street & Performance, figuring 1 3/4-inch primary tubes would handle evacuation of the exhaust gases in short order, and yes, they do. Those are mated to polished, custom-bent stainless pipes (2 1/2-inch diameter) and mufflers from Stainless Specialties. Once again, Roy paid careful attention to all the details. Surprisingly, he chose a T-56 6-speed transmission, coupled to a McLeod clutch on the front end and a shortened '96 Camaro driveshaft at the tail housing. Just like the cylinder block and its accessories, Roy ground the stock bellhousing smooth as glass and laid on a "flat as glass" colorcoat of "Johnny Rocket Maroon" from PPG.
If you've read this far, it's obvious that Roy Pigford's workmanship has captivated your attention, much like it has ours. Now, we'd like to tell you about the tricks of Roy's trade . . . namely, the bodywork. For all intents and purposes, please allow us to refer to this car as a "late model," because when speaking of metal-mastering body mods, most vehicles that become sliced and diced decidedly fall into the "early model" category.
These days, about the only time you see a late-model car sporting a chopped top, it's usually a misplaced modification that doesn't blend with the car's overall build theme, and the impact falls way short of fitting in with things. We're sure you've all seen an episode (or two) of "Chopped Tops Gone Bad," right? Well, what you see here is the proverbial flip side of that fictitious reality TV show! Roy (and friends) not only whacked two inches from the roofline of this creation, in doing so, the massive amount of work involved was not in vain, as it blends and also adds to the vehicle's overall wow factor.
Next, to further enhance the appearance, the body was channeled four inches. As we mentioned in paragraph two, admirers can scratch their heads all day long, but it's likely they wouldn't recognize the fact that the front wheel openings were moved forward two inches. Likewise, the rear wheel openings were relocated three inches forward. Don't forget, folks, this puppy is real steel, so no modifications were considered easy, by any stretch of the imagination.
To complement the much-massaged body, both bumpers were narrowed slightly, all bumper bolt holes were welded flat shut, and the mirror plating was done by Sherm's. Roy hand crafted the stainless steel grille, while "regular" stuff like shaved handles, the filled gas door, and custom aluminum wheel tubs were also being handled at Roy's Body Shop. The metalwork didn't stop with the exterior, either, as Roy hand crafted a wrap-around dash that's truly one of a kind. Once he was satisfied with the panel alignment, fit and finish, and tedious block sanding, Roy camped out in his spray booth, coating every surface in the tasteful combination of "Johnny Rocket" Maroon and Ferrari Silver. Topping things off are the airbrushed side trim, logos, and pinstriping by Rodney Hutcherson of Total Kaos Designs (Pasadena, Tx.). Can you say "stunning?" Sure, we knew you could.
All throughout the build stage, Roy Pigford felt strongly that this car would stand tall among every notable Pro-Built car in recent memory, bar none. With that in mind, his gem was hauled from Texas all the way to Bloomington, California, where Gabe Lopez (Gabe's Custom Interiors) and his capable crew would hand craft a leather interior, complete with a maroon leather headliner that would set this piece off in fine fashion. Accenting the workmanship by Gabe's, Auto Meter Carbon Fiber gauges occupy the "nerve center" located in the middle of the custom dash, along with a Panasonic sound system, and the Vintage Air climate control panel. Kicker amps help blast the tunes, driving both bass and treble through four Kicker speakers in the doors and four more in the rear panels.
Roy even shortened his Cobra seats and fabricated custom harness bezels before sending them to Gabe's, and once again used Billet Specialties as his supplier for the rearview mirror and steering wheel. All electrical functions were wired by Bob Mayes, and each piece of glass was installed by Jim Zeiger. The finished product has decidedly raised the bar for creating custom-built, later-model vehicles. And in doing so, Roy Pigford can stand proudly among today's most respected car builders. Don't Mess With Texas!