"Do I hear eighty thousand? Eighty thousand, once. Ninety thousand, ninety five thousand … Do I hear one hundred thousand?" The excitement in the air was palatable as Tony Quinones sat upright in his chair at his very first Barrett-Jackson auction. To his right, sitting one chair over, was a man bidding over $100,000 for a red '57 rolling across the stage.
"The excitement and intensity is unlike anything else," said Tony. " I was hooked. I wanted to participate." And while buying such high dollar toys wasn't in the cards, building and selling a hot rod at Barrett was something Tony just couldn't miss out on for even one day longer. "I decided on that day I was going to build my pro-touring '64 Chevelle and get the auction experience."
Interestingly, Tony, the owner of Wicked Image Inc., a custom motorcycle component manufacturer, didn't set out to build the '64 when he first acquired it. Instead he used the car as a baby hauler for his newborn son. "I had built a pro street chopper. I rode it for a while and used it as the Wicked Image display bike for a couple of years. With the newborn son, I had a car seat everywhere I was going and rode the bike less and less."
Eventually, a trade ofer came across Tony's desk, and he found himself the new owner of a completely stock, all-original, '64 Chevelle. "This was a nice driver. It didn't really need anything. I strapped the car seat in and Junior and I would go cruising on the weekends."
And cruise they did, until Tony set foot in the auction and got hooked on the idea of building a car for the big sale.
"New technology in an old car is what excites me. But I still have an appreciation for the classic styling and the heritage of the muscle car. Nineteen-sixty-four was the first year of the Chevelle, but it had the least amount of muscle of all the Chevelles. The first thing that had to go was the 283."
Enter the 364 cube LS2 you'll now find under the hood, which Tony selected because it was both high-tech and low maintenance. "The LS2 is an incredible powerplant. It has great horsepower and incredible reliability."
Inside and out, Tony lef almost everything in the LS2 factory fresh, although he did build a set of Wicked Image stainless steel longtube headers for the engine, along with a custom Wicked Image cold air-intake system.
Almost all of the electronic late-model wiring and controls are still intact, but you'd be hard pressed to tell just by glancing in the engine bay.
"Any car that is driven needs to be maintained. That's why I mounted all of the electronics on the firewall, and built the shroud to cover it. It has a great show appearance, but you can get to the important parts quick and easy when they need service.
"It was important to me to maintain the integrity and styling of the car. This was a very well optioned, well-preserved vehicle. I like the feel of an old seat and a steering wheel that is too big."
And so, inside, you'll find Tony's Chevelle looks a lot like a stock one, although Johnny Reza and Bryan Barfnecht did make several small changes to make this '64 unique. The stock gauges, for example, remain in place but were re-wired and reconfigured to work with the LS2 ECU. The brake and gas pedals were custom machined in-house, as was the back lit 4L60E overdrive transmission gear selector. There is even a custom seven-speaker Kicker system tucked into the cabin, with a fabricated trunk section and custom SS speaker grills. The seats are still sporting the stock upholstery, a nod to the quality and preservation of this '64, and Tony still drives the Chevelle with the "old car feel" steering wheel in place.
Driving down the road, however, there is nothing "old car" about the ride quality. With a freshly powdercoated frame to work of, Tony upgraded the Chevelle with a set of QA1 coilovers, 2-inch drop spindles, and C4 Corvette steering system. "It's a delicate and tedious process assembling a car," says Tony, who didn't stop at any component to just simply bolt it on. The 18-inch wheels are from Boss and roll over a set of C5 Corvette brakes for maximum stopping power. But even the center caps were custom made by Wicked Image to match the persona of the Chevelle. "My favorite piece on this car is the wheel center caps. I wanted to copy the center of the original hubcap. I restyled it slightly but very close. I think it is something the purists will appreciate."
"A lot of thought and time goes into each custom made part. Many times the special pieces are overlooked because they blend in so well. The longer you look, the more special features you find." Well, go ahead and look! We'll wait.
"This is a very special car for me. It's not my first and won't be my last, but it marks a significant milestone in my career as a designer and a builder."
For Tony, the big payof wasn't just finishing the car, which took over two years to complete, but seeing his baby roll across the auction block at Barrett-Jackson and capture the same attention, and build the same excitement, as all of the cars that had inspired him to build such a beautiful Chevelle. Going once, going twice, Sold! Price at B-J Palm Beach? Commissions included: $31,900.