One of the coolest parts of being on the road is the ability to stop and check out dedicated hot rod shops to catch a glimpse behind closed doors and see firsthand what they have in the works. On a recent loop through the picturesque backroads of Pennsylvania, we made it a point to stop by East Coast Muscle Cars (ECMC), located in the quaint little town of Craley, Pennsylvania.
Owned and operated by Lonny Gordon, ECMC has firmly established itself as one of the premier muscle car restoration and custom shops on the East Coast. Specializing in everything from concours-level restorations to masterfully fabricated Pro Touring and Pro Street cars, the dedicated five-person team brings over 75 years of combined experience to the table as they take on every project that rolls through the doors. Housed in a very unique 14,000-square-foot facility that features a full metal fabrication shop, 10-bay body shop, 3-bay mechanical area, as well as a state-of-the-art paint booth, separate wet-sand and buff room, and a 6-bay clean assembly room.
Walking through the shop gave us a firsthand look at many of the current builds underway that will surely gain plenty of attention when they hit the streets. Well-known for their innovation in engineering, design, and style, the shop continues to raise the bar with both their restoration and custom side of the house. One car to watch for is a rumored 6-second street-driven 1970 Chevelle currently in the works that will have plenty of venom on tap thanks to a stack-injected 565ci big-block Chevy mill. It’s easy to see why their cars have garnered numerous magazine covers and features over the years, and it’s wicked-cool to see them being built firsthand.
You can check them out at ecmusclecars.com.
This 1971 big-block Camaro was in for the full-treatment, including being mini-tubbed with rear suspension and a smooth firewall being installed. Team member Dan Wolf was busy MIG-welding the firewall in when we arrived.
On any given day, you’ll find a number of first-gen Camaros undergoing transformation at the shop. From left to right are a 1969 RS with a custom chromoly tube chassis, LS power, and six-speed; a ’69 on an Art Morrison chassis with a 427ci big-block; and a ’69 with a custom tube chassis with a 604ci Merlin and Lenco trans.
Underneath the 1960 Impala you’ll find a full Roadster Shop chassis accented by massive Wilwood brakes, one-off Billet Specialties wheels, and Chevy big-block power.
This ’55 Chevy was in for a full redo and features a 2-inch chop and Art Morrison chassis complemented by mini-tubs, frenched headlights, and flush-mount taillights. Power comes from a 350ci Chevy mill linked to a 700-R4 trans.
There were a good amount of cars in the assembly room, including this numbers-matching Butternut Yellow ’68 Z/28 with black interior. It’s in for a full concours restoration. The car is being redone using 99-percent original and N.O.S. parts.
To give you an idea of the dedication to detail the shop has become known for, take an in-depth look at this image where everything from the engine to the suspension, frame, and firewall are as close to perfect as you’ll ever see.
You will always see East Coast Muscle Cars shop owner Lonny Gordon hard at work in the shop regardless if it’s in the body and fabrication area or in final assembly room. Here he was installing the carb the aforementioned ’68 Z/28 restoration.
Gordon’s personal project is this beautiful ’69 Pro Touring convertible packed with all the right goods, including a custom sheetmetal rearend housing, mini-tubs, and custom-blended ginger ale vibe.
The front subframe was molded to perfection and filled with an LS7 block linked to a six-speed manual trans. The car will feature Kinsler fuel injection as well as a Mercedes Benz cloth top.
This close-up lets you appreciate all the hours that went into getting the front subframe ready for its custom coating. Detroit Speed Inc. tubular A-arms will work great with big brakes from Wilwood Engineering.
In another side of the assembly room were a pristine pair: a 1958 Corvette packed with an EFI-fed 383 riding on Budnik wheels and a 1969 Camaro in a decadent custom deep blue with a 540ci mill and vibrant red leather interior.
Underhood, the ’69 featured a speed shop full of go-fast goodies, including a 540ci big-block that dynoed at 659 hp breathing deep through a Holley carb perched on an Edelbrock intake. Again, it’s the attention to detail that ECMC is known for that makes this car a knockout.
If this 1970 pro-engineered Chevelle doesn’t leave you breathless, there’s no hope for you. The car is all business and will be packed with a 565ci big-block featuring a Kinsler stack fuel injection protruding through the hood linked to a Turbo 400 trans.
The nasty stance is as close to the ground as you’d want to be and features extended rear quarters, double bead-lock rear wheels, and Mickey Thompson rubber.
The body is completely removable from the chassis with rear carbon-fiber wheeltubs. You know the wheelie bars will get a workout once the car hits the street and track.
One look inside lets you know what the car is all about. The one-off custom, handbuilt tube chassis by Precision Chassis brings plenty of strength to the mix and will be able to take on all the torque and horsepower the driveline combination can dish out. We can hardly wait to see this car completed.