Ever wonder why you don't see many tan cars in the desert (in this instance, Phoenix)? Maybe it's because there are millions of acres of tan for as far as the eye can see and then there's lots more after that. OK, there's the occasional jacketed mountain range to break up the boredom, but what sticks in the mind is tan, like sand tan, suntan, cop-car tan, you get the idea.
Ever wonder why people drive something painted heat-sink black in the same type of moonscape lunacy? Maybe they do it for the stark contrast or maybe because no one else in their right mind would even contemplate such madness, or maybe because some people simply gravitate to the extreme.
Mike Watts seems to embrace the latter qualities to the fullest and Chris Fesler Productions, a high-end hot rod craft shop is right there to help a guy out. We featured one of Fesler's smooth, subtle creations on the cover of the January '10 issue. In light of most of his understated and impeccably detailed mind-benders, it's a good idea to have a duffel bag or two swimming with C-notes.
Where else would a guy with mind like a steel trap and a top-line Benz, BMW, and Range Rover take his new project? You realize that maybe the power wasn't in most European six- and eight-cylinder cars like it's always been here, but those sedans could out-corner, out-brake, and out-move anything we had. Think a little more and you realize that these buggers were the precursors of the recent Pro Touring ethic and its youngest offshoots, the gymkhana and the road course.
Previously, Fesler did a '55 Chevy for Mike on an Art Morrison frame with all the Pro Touring touches. Mike's also husbanding a '57 Chevy, so it's not difficult to see that he loves cars, collects cars, and most of all loves to drive them, but he's been spoiled rotten by those imports, so anything about American iron had better exhibit the same high levels of comfort, ergonomics, power, handling, and braking.
As is usual for one of these scenarios, the '70 SS plan began as "a basic daily driver with just some mild work." Uh-huh. Fesler: "We got the car in a raw stage with all the parts ready to go. There were parts that did not really fit the build [quality] we were after so most of the stuff was sold and we started fresh.
"Mike really liked some of the cars that we'd done and having seen them he decided to go further on this car and have something that no one else out there did. He wanted the car to have an appearance like something that most people wouldn't do.
"We took the bumpers, tucked them in and cleaned them up and did a special finish on them. Every piece of metal was done this way. We copper-plated it and worked that to perfection. Then we nickel-plated the bumpers and the parts and brushed them and, to seal them and keep them clean, we chromed over that for the look you have here. He wanted all the features of modern-day cars and wanted it to look as factory as we could get it but as a full-on custom.
"The interior is like the Mercedes with all leather and suede from a Mercedes supplier and Bentley carpet throughout. This car is so quiet you can roll the windows up and talk on your bluetooth phone, like driving in a new car. Mike likes the Chevelle so much he drives it to work," raved Fesler.
Yeah, with that Vintage Air cranked up BIG.