When Marc and Wendy Koenigsberger sent their car out to be tuned, it turned into an out-of-town trip that didn’t quite go as planned. What was expected to be an overnight stay turned into five nights on the road – and a feature article in Super Chevy magazine!
“Paul Bunyard – who helped build the car – and his wife took the car to get it tuned in Southaven, Mississippi, on a Wednesday for what was supposed to be a quick trip,” Marc began. “The guy was very, very meticulous and some 30 hours later, it was Friday afternoon before it was done. The car wasn’t completely finished, but instead of just going home, everyone decided, ‘what the heck! We were going to Super Chevy Memphis!’”
To get a good parking spot, they entered the fresh 1966 Chevelle in the car show and went on to enjoy the event. That last minute decision, however, led to more than a few fans having the pleasure of seeing this car up close and a pretty memorable weekend for the car’s owners, as the car earned an Editor’s Choice award.
Marc and Paul’s talents were spent on what arguably remains one of Chevrolet’s most beautiful muscle cars: the 1966 Chevelle. Unlike its boxy 1964-’65 siblings, cars from the 1966 model year were much more sensual in their appearance, thanks to long, smooth lines and a faint coke-bottle shape. They were still unmistakably Chevelles, but the change in body style was something akin to a duckling that had suddenly blossomed into a young grownup. The buying public certainly agreed, as nearly 440,000 were produced for domestic sale and export. Also, nearly three out of every four cars made were V-8s.
With a great example of the bloodline like this, Marc could have gone with a classic restoration, a street/strip road warrior, or a refined restomod. As the owner of Ridgeland Auto World in Ridgeland, Mississippi, he had the experience to go in any direction, but the latter approach won out. The result is a rather sophisticated and updated thoroughbred.
“I’ve just loved muscle cars my whole life, and I built this convertible for my wife,” Marc said. “We have six other cars that are all stick shifts, but she’s refused to learn to drive them. So this one was built with her in mind, hence the front tag reads SHEVELE.”
The undercar mods on the Chevelle consist of QA1 tubular control arms on the front suspension with adjustable coilovers and an antiroll bar. Pulling in the reins is done with a set of massive Z06 14-inch front rotors and matching six-piston calipers that are actuated by a Wilwood master cylinder assembly. An adjustable Wilwood proportioning valve helps provide balanced braking. Out back, a Moser 12-bolt Positraction rear with 3.73 gears works with additional QA1 suspension pieces and Z06 brakes.
Of course, a pretty face doesn’t mean a lot if the car can’t perform, so plans were to go with a strong, yet streetable supercharged engine combination. Chevrolet’s LSX376-B15, a boost-ready crate engine, was just the ticket. With a cast-iron block featuring a forged crank and cross-bolted main caps along with a forged rod and piston assembly, the short block is capable of supporting up to 15 psi of boost, which is close to the limit of what can be safely handled with pump gas. High-flow, rectangular-port LSX-LS3 six-bolt aluminum heads with 1.7 ratio rocker arms and 2.16 intake and 1.55 exhaust valves provide plenty of breathing capability.
Since the LSX376-B15 doesn’t come with an intake manifold and boost was a necessary ingredient in this recipe, Magnuson’s MagnaCharger blower was selected. Using the latest TVS technology from Eaton, the four-lobe, high-helix rotors provide big airflow volume, while the liquid-to-air intercooler keeps the inlet air charge temperatures within reason to help avoid engine-killing detonation. Ancillary products include a 2007 Trailblazer ECU with an aftermarket wiring harness and an Aeromotive in-tank pump. RPM Transmissions in Anderson, Indiana, put together the 4L70E automatic that backs up the engine. When it was all said and done, the combination produced nearly 600 rear-wheel horsepower on a chassis dyno.
Brute horsepower aside, this was built to be a ladies car, so particular care and attention to detail were spent on creature comforts and appearance. The meticulously crafted gray leather interior by M&M Hot Rod Interiors in Holly Pond, Alabama, includes one-off door panels, custom bucket seats, and tilt steering with a Billet Specialties wheel. Dakota Digital VHX gauges, Vintage Air A/C, and Painless Wiring keyless door locks and ignition are some of the other goodies. Express Audio in Pearl, Mississippi, installed the Alpine head unit with JL Audio front/rear speakers and a butt-kicking 12-inch subwoofer.
Tim Ross of Ross Restorations in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, shot the car with a basecoat/clearcoat Emerald Turquoise paintjob, after which Paul Bunyard installed a power convertible top. Mike Crawford did some additional enhancements, which included a smoothed firewall and removal of all badging. Advance Plating chromed the bezels and trim while Fesler HID headlamps and LED taillights provided some additional bling. Oversized Rushforth Rated-X 10-spoke rims wrapped in Michelins up front and General Tires on the rear provide an additional stylish, yet aggressive look.
As many readers know, custom-built cars are rarely ever totally done, nor do they come without their own share of surprises and headaches. Yet, four years into this project, Marc and Wendy have a looker – accidental or not – in this 1966 Chevelle that most people would love to be seen in!