Flowing just over 440 miles from Mississippi and down through Louisiana is the Pearl River, which contains more than a few bogs and swamps. While a fair number of different creatures inhabit these areas, there are others – some imaginary and some real – you may not want to meet.
Ken Clark’s 1967 Chevy II wagon might well be one of the latter. Long, low, and mean, the look of this car is amazing. The airbrushed flaking chrome, streaks of rust, and realistic-looking body rot all give this racer the unmistakable look of a swamp thing.
It’s pretty certain that no one at Chevrolet ever thought a Chevy II – especially a wagon – would ever come to look this way. With a straightforward, no-nonsense design, the Chevy II was basically just an econobox intended to keep people from the Ford Falcon. When the redesigned second-gen debuted in 1966, two wagons were available: the Chevy II 100 (model 11300) and the Chevy II Nova (model 11400), both of which were four-door wagons with front and rear seats. With 76.2 cubic feet of cargo space, the wagon was both taller and longer than the coupes and sedans. Engine choices for the wagons were the 230ci I-6 with a 1-bbl carb rated at 140 hp or the optional 327ci V-8 with a 4-bbl, which came in either 275 hp or 350 hp versions. A manual three-speed came as standard equipment. Optional transmission choices included a four-speed for the 327 or a Powerglide for either the 230 or 327.
Of course, none of that mattered to Ken Clark. His collection of five Chevy II show cars were more than fulfilling and the envy of many, but he was missing one thing: a kick-ass race car that would give him a six pack of Chevy IIs for both show and go. With their former collaboration on a low 9-second 1959 Chevy Apache pickup (featured in Super Chevy), Tag’s Hot Rod Shop in Brandon, Mississippi, was the natural choice when it came time to choose the builder. With father Bob and sons Ryan and Chris Taggart hooking up with Clark Racing, the options were attractive in more ways than just one.
When the guys at Tag’s got the car, it had been in car purgatory for about 10 years as it went from shop to shop waiting for a restoration. Not long after, they got yet another wagon that Clark had traded a Nash for. With two cars and some imagination, the fun began.
The first order of business was a 4-inch chop that changed the looked of the car completely. A laid back windshield, dropped body, and VFN fiberglass body components made for a two-door coupe transformed this former grocery getter into something resembling more of a Chevy II wagon cruise missile. Rear tubs big enough to encompass 34.5x17-inch drag slicks rise out from the rear fenders.
With the basic body ready to go, fertile minds and steady hands were set loose to make this car look like no other. Jamie Berry of Berry’s Collision & Custom Paint applied the green, patina-laced paint while Robby Grant painted the grille and applied the subtle graphics.
Tag’s added an extra touch by painting the valve covers and motor plate to resemble carbon fiber.
With the body off the car, the rolling chassis was completed by Tag’s, utilizing an Alston chassis kit with a Strange Engineering strut front end, Competition Engineering four-link, and a competition rollcage that was expertly fabricated by Lorain Kilpatrick. Double-adjustable shocks mounted fore and aft work with Wilwood 13-inch rotor, four-piston caliper disc brakes to suspend and stop the car.
Chris Taggart built the 632 short-block with a 4.60 bore and a Lunati 4.75 stroker crank that reciprocates the 15:1 gas-ported JE pistons. A Moroso windowed oil pan soothes the bottom end with plenty of racing oil. The valvetrain within the Pat Musi 14-degree Olds aluminum heads is actuated by a custom-ground roller camshaft from Bullet Cams in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Making up the top end of the engine is a hand-fabricated sheetmetal intake, which sports customized 4500 Dominators from Gary and Victor Williams of Williams’ carburetors. MagnaFuel provided the electric pump and regulators. Extra juice, in the form of nitrous, is provided by two 250-horsepower fogger kits from Induction Solutions. Lighting the fuel mixture is an MSD 7AL with custom Tag headers helping scavenge the exhaust ports. Airborn Express did the ceramic coating while 4.5-inch diameter race mufflers help this beast emit a scary growl.
With an estimated 1,200 horsepower and 1,100 lb-ft of torque, choosing the right drivetrain is important. BTE Racing of Holly Springs, Mississippi, provided a Powerglide with a 6,000-stall converter that spins a Strange Engineering driveshaft and 9-inch rear with 4.10 gearing. Steve Evans helped assemble the tranny while Ryan Taggart oversaw the rearend assembly.
Some might think that Godzilla rising from the depths of the sea is a scary tale, but the lowdown on this Chevy is that you don’t to mess with what comes out of the swamp!