We never know where the choices in life are going to lead us. Fame, fortune, ruin, damnation, giving up bacon, inventing a new type of deep-fried food—choices can lead us just about anywhere.
Rob Kibbe had been stuck in a cube working for a software company, the doldrums of each ho-hum day a monotonous beat to his life. But in 2009, he began to break the shackles of that uninspiring existence, starting a podcast called "The Musclecar Place" that he eventually turned into a full-time job two years later. While liberated and enjoying his new trade, Rob still had a dream to do some racing, even though he had three kids under the age of five and no real racing experience.
What he did have was a '64 Chevelle that his parents bought new and one listener to his podcast who wanted to make his second dream a reality.
Jeff Allison was an airline pilot and had been restoring cars on the side for over 20 years. He had dreams too, of taking his restoration hobby to the next level by opening his own shop. After listening to Rob's podcast, Jeff sent an email that ended with this:
"…you also recently reminded everyone to follow your desire to get the Chevelle up to snuff for the autocross racing you want to get more involved with. All of these things made me decide that it is time to start the business I have wanted for more than 25 years. Like you, I am going to start out of my home and grow as needed.
"I have had a shop for myself (and a few friends) for many years. I have built custom cars and trucks, as well as a few restorations. This has been my hobby for more than 30 years, and I love planning, building, and driving each vehicle. But mostly, I love the building." It got better from there.
"I would like to help you build your dream car. I am offering my shop and services to you at no cost. You provide the car and the parts, I will provide the labor and tools. That probably seems like a crazy idea, but this is my favorite part of the hobby. I obviously can't guarantee a time frame for completion, but I am also not making this offer lightly. I would enjoy the opportunity to discuss this with you. If you are interested, please contact me at … "
Rob was taken aback at the amazing offer, but skeptical at first, since essentially he was being handed a winning lottery ticket. After flying from Iowa to New Mexico to meet Jeff and see his work, Rob realized this was legit. He discussed with Jeff what the Chevelle would need (full quarters, trunk, floors, rockers, etc.), and unfazed, Jeff agreed to take on the project.
After three and a half years, the '64 was finished. The car's original color scheme of white exterior, red interior was kept, but with a few modern touches.
Rob's parents bought the '64 just after they were married. While in high school, Rob helped his dad "restore" the Chevelle as best they could in their home garage. He even took his future wife to prom in the car, and they drove away from their wedding in it as well. It was just as much a member of the family as his kids.
Over the course of the restoration, Rob and his friend Aaron would drive from Iowa to New Mexico and back to help work on the car, and ferry parts to Jeff's shop. One of the more memorable moments from that was an encounter with a herd of free range cattle late at night in southern Colorado. A shop in Orlando offered to lend their services in fixing the Chevelle's body, so more adventures ensued in ferrying the car from New Mexico to Florida, involving his dad (Dallas), and his son (also named Dallas).
After three and a half years, the '64 was finished. The car's original color scheme of white exterior, red interior was kept, but with a few modern touches. Inside, a roll cage without door bars was added, along with G-Force front harness belts and Recaro Specialist S seats to keep driver and passenger secure when barreling around an autocross course. The need for cage and harnesses was necessary, thanks to the sharp handling Detroit Speed Kit 3 suspension system installed front and rear. Fourteen-inch Wilwood brakes front and rear help keep the Chevelle under control. For extra stiffness, Jeff fully boxed the frame, and also replaced all of the external frame body mounts.
To fit a 295 tire in the back without changing any of the factory suspension mounting points, Jeff got creative and modified the frame to accept the minitub kit and wide tires. Inside the BFG g-Force rubber are Forgeline Rebel wheels (a hint of "Dukes of Hazzard), 18x8.5 front, 18x10.5 rear.
Burning the rubber off those rear meats is an '08 GMC L92 converted to LS3 specs, with a Comp cam and valvetrain, FAST intake with LS3 throttle body, FAST billet fuel rails, Canton low profile oil pan, custom wiring harness, and a Vintage Air LS Front Runner system. Behind that is a Tremec T56 six-speed and LS7 spec clutch. The rear is a 9-inch unit with 3.89 gears and a Truetrac.
The final memory from the build for Rob was seeing his finished Chevelle on display at the '13 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Rob gives enormous credit to Jeff Allison (Allison Customs), Zip Simmons and Don Endonino of Street Metal Concepts in Longwood, Florida, Danny Giustino, owner of Muscle Express in Jupiter, Florida, his good friend Aaron Tjaden, and Kirk Hansen, marketing manager for National Parts Depot.
"NPD was the first sponsor of my podcast network," says Rob "and it donated a ton of parts and support to the project. Kirk personally handled every tech question, sourced every part, introduced me to the right players at other companies, and even took care of finding parts NPD didn't carry. He took phone calls and texts in the middle of the night, and even personally housed my son and I on our return trip from Florida."
And there is the true underpinning and fabric of our hobby, how a diverse group of people can come together and help one person build their car.