Body shop owner Sam Bergman has been into cars since he was a lad in high school. He owned a 1973 Camaro that he worked on in auto shop class, and continues to work in his own auto shop to this day. The business that he took over from his father-in-law in Denver, Colorado, is called Perry and Terry Auto Body. This business' space doubled as an area for Sam and his good pal Matt Farwell to build the rod that Sam had always dreamed of.
"I took over the project when it was partway finished," said Sam. "A friend of a friend named Scott Reed had the body and parts lying around, as well as a rolling Roadster Shop chassis, and decided mid-project he wanted to build a Nomad instead. So, I offered him a trade."
The bounty exchanged for what at the time was a work in progress: a completed '66 Nova and a Harley Fat Boy. Bergman may have increased his life expectancy by getting rid of the Hog, but he also increased the hours he would be spending on the car's completion.
"The exhaust must have taken 40 man hours," said Bergman of the serpentine route that he and his buddy Matt Falwell wound the three-inch dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. But just as the muffler's cacophony is the end of the internal combustion process, so did that step took place more toward the end of this story. Before Bergman and his copilot could even think of the motor and it's ancillaries, they had to get the body in shape.
"The previous build was sort of an amateur restoration," said Bergman. "You could see through the paint and it was tiger-striped."
Not wanting the Chevy to look like one of Siegfried and Roy's little maniacal pets, Bergman tore the car apart and put it back together, making sure the panels fit perfectly before applying the coats of Sikkens custom black.
"We basically built the car twice," he said.
After getting the body straight and as black as the blackest night in Hell, Bergman and Falwell rebuilt and powdercoated the chassis. Along the way, they custom fit fuel lines and bent the cross-brace, a step necessary to fit the aforementioned exhaust.
"The hardest part of this project had to be building everything to clear," said Bergman. "Getting the motor in between the firewall and the radiator support, the mini-tub in the rear end, the integration of the pulley system, and reworking the Hooker Headers all required a lot of effort."
But fastidious effort is what makes for such a fine finished product, and the toil that this team put in shows on the surface and in every nook and cranny, including the shaved gas door lid and the amalgam of chrome Danchuk parts.
If the body is the black case, then the engine is the diamond in it. But before the motor went in, its silky-smooth black package, someone had to put the 496 short-block together. That task fell to Matt Farwell, a mechanical designer at Lockheed Martin. It includes (but is not limited to) Dart aluminum heads, JE Pistons, and an Eagle 4340 crank. A custom-ground solid roller cam from Comp Cams aids with horsepower production from the inside, while external accoutrements include an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold and a Holley 4150 series 850 cfm carb. Go with the flow brother, and at the end of the day you will get to be on the angry end of 732 hp and 643 lb-ft of torque. Enough grunt to move the black beauty's booty front and back and side-to-side with a style that is just plain belligerent.
The last few steps to the build include the items that transfer all this power and lay it down. The former is done with 4L80E tranny, and the latter is done with Heidts suspension and Mickey Thompson tires measuring 26x10x15 and 29x15x15 front and rear, respectively. The rims this rubber wraps are Billet Specialties measuring 15x7 fore and 15x13 aft.
Getting these rollers off the line is done hardcore drag style with a 3,500 stall converter with a lockup clutch. Once the machine scoots down the 1320 to the tune of 11 seconds or so, something has to put a stop to that triple digit speed, and that's taken care of with a Wilwood master cylinder and Baer calipers at all four corners.
Of course while you're going through these exercises in acceleration and deceleration, you're surrounded by upholstery and door panels by Autoweave and Chrysler mini van front seats. Cool air streams through Billet Specialties vents in the Billet dash courtesy of Vintage air.
"If I had to do one thing different I'd probably put buckets in the rear instead of the stock seat," said Bergman, "just to be daring and different."
When you split Obsidian, it shatters in curved segments. This allowed for it to become one of the original cutting tools. Sam Bergman and Matt Farwell have put their respective talents together to create one of the more unusual Tri-Fives in Colorado or in the world for that matter. The crown formed in the hood and the addition of candy red to the black give the appearance of one of the more rare forms of our rock of the hour, red obsidian.