We could tell Mike Cuthbertson is the type of guy who's never satisfied. Most people would take one look at his car when we shot it a couple months ago and probably say, "wow that's a nice, complete hotrod, I wouldn't touch it," but not Mike. In his eyes, there were still a whole slew of upgrades he had in store for his four-year-old project. So many, that by the time we were ready to write the article, the car was changed, stem to stern. Luckily we were able to catch him one cold December evening to check out his latest version of his 1967 Chevelle, which we'd say is about twice as cool as when we first spotted it last summer.
"It looked great externally," Mike said, "but even after I had it painted, it lacked the performance parts I wanted to really make it complete." Cuthbertson, who had never wrenched on anything before purchasing the Chevelle four years ago, was able to thrash on his car through the fall of 2013 and finish it just in time for the SEMA show in Las Vegas, where the car could be seen in TMI Products' booth. The first thing he changed was the transmission. He had an automatic in it earlier this year, but with autocrossing in mind, Mike went for a Tremec TKO 600 by Hurst Driveline Solutions. Next, Cuthbertson set his sights on the humdrum black vinyl interior. Mike teamed up with the interior experts at TMI Products in Corona, California, and they put together a modern-yet-classy cockpit that featured TMI's Sport XR seats, which have bolstering and a style perfect for a hard-handling muscle car. The suspension was another major thing he changed; instead of stock steel control arms and shocks, he opted for Viking Performance's double-adjustable shocks, control arms, and coilover conversion. UNI Performance supplied the anti-sway bars front and rear, and he even added a larger Flowmaster exhaust system and wider tires in anticipation of the cone carving he plans on doing with the car in 2014. The electrical system was also upgraded with an Optima Yellow Top battery and a Clayton Machine Works shifter from Code 510 was also bolted into place.
What we really like about this car is the Charcoal ceramic coating on the bumpers and trim that gives this car very distinct, cool look. Also, his choice of color is unique; there's a blue tint that can only be appreciated in person. The stance, sound, and feel of this muscle car are exactly what we like to see, too. And as a fully functional driver, Mike takes it out on the streets of SoCal as much as possible. Scott Davies, Mark Rapp, Keith Black, Code 510 and his son Chris were all key players in building this top-notch hot rod, and Cuthbertson was quick to thank all of them.
Currently a conventional, but highly detailed carbureted small-block sits under the hood for now, but we have a feeling an LS will find its way there soon enough. And as for more current upgrades, Mike plans on putting a modern stereo system in the dash so he can blast the right tunes while rolling in his Thunder Blue Brute. You can bet his ride will keep evolving from here, because as we all know, these machines are never really finished.
Engine & Drivetrain
A 355ci small-block resides under the hood, which was built by Mark Rapp of Rapp Racing in Huntington Beach, California. TRW pistons smash against Air Flow Research's 195cc heads to provide 10.1:1 compression, a Comp Cams hydraulic roller with 0.510 lift and 230-degrees of duration at 0.050 means his engine isn't too noisy and very streetable. A Holley 750-cfm Double Pumper carb sits atop a powdercoated Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold and the whole combo is fired using MSD ignition. Milodon products handle the engine oiling, while the spent fumes are sent through Doug Thorley Shorty headers and a Flowmaster exhaust. A McLeod Racing dual disc clutch mates a Hurst-prepped TKO trans and a Tilton hydraulic clutch master sits on the stock firewall. A GM 10-bolt rearend with 3.73 gears and an Auburn Posi unit make up the rest of the drivetrain.
Chassis & Suspension
The Chevelle's wire brushed and fully cleaned chassis sits on SSBC's 2-inch drop spindles, Viking Performance suspension that includes shocks and tubular upper and lower control arms, and is held steady via UMI Performance anti-sway bars. A quick ratio steering box from Classic Performance Products was also chosen to help the driving experience, while UMI's four link suspension system helps keep the tires planted to the pavement.
Wheels & Brakes
Up front of the are Hancook's Ventus tires that measure 245/40R18 in front and 285/30R20 in the rear. To run such large meats, Cuthbertson opted for Budnik alloy wheels that measure 18x8 in front and 20x10 out back. The brakes featured on all four corners of this ride are large 13-inch discs from SSBC.
Interior & Exterior
Mark Hunter at Hunter Paint and Body sprayed the Chevelle in a Mini Cooper color, Thunder Blue, while Code 510 in Moreno Valley, California, handled the Charcoal-colored ceramic-coated trim. Other bodywork performed includes shaved drip rails and meticulously straightened panels. Inside the car is a combination of suede and vinyl in grey and black, which was installed by TMI Products in Corona, California. The seats are a pair of Sport XR buckets, while Mike's pal and fellow Chevelle owner made the Auto Meter-stuffed gauge panel, Scott Davies. A Vintage Air air conditioning system is also tucked inside the car.