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Oscar Gonzalez’s 875hp 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle

Full Bore

Stephen Kim Jul 27, 2016
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It doesn’t take long to figure out that Oscar Gonzalez is a man that means business. If his 875hp 1966 Chevelle isn’t enough of a hint, the nitrous fill station at his house certainly blows his cover. That’s like an Olympic swimmer with his own grass farm or a rapper with his own Cristal factory. Interestingly enough, he never touches the juice—at least not anymore—for his own personal use. That’s right, his Chevelle roasts the quarter-mile to the tune of 9.86 at 136 mph on motor only, baby, thanks to a wicked Reher-Morrison 427 small-block. There’s far more to this Chevelle than blistering performance, however, because Oscar’s a full-bore kind of guy.

Ignorance usually doesn’t pay, but that definitely wasn’t the case when Oscar bought his Chevelle over 25 years ago as a freshman in high school. He plopped down $500 for what appeared to be an extremely rough Malibu with rotted out quarter-panels, a bashed-in roof, no interior or fenders, and a blown up engine and trans. “The car had no front or rear windshields, so I towed it home with an extra set of bumpers sticking out of the windows,” he recollects. Although his new ride was a quintessential beater, it turned out to be one heck of a bargain, unbeknownst to both Oscar and the seller. “I looked up the serial numbers and it turned out to be an original SS396 big-block car. I couldn’t believe it and triple-checked all the codes and asked dozens of people just to make sure. I have no idea why, but someone had removed the SS badges and hood, and tried to clone it into a Malibu. When I told the person I bought it from that it was an original SS, he begged me to sell it back to him.”


Initially, Oscar’s plan was to simply get the car in good enough condition to stomp the local IROC and Mustang population. That meant giving the purists the finger by opting for small-block power, and spraying the bejeezus out of it. “I was making minimum wage at the time bagging groceries so I was forced to go the cheap route and build the car up one paycheck at a time,” he explains. “All my friends were building small-blocks, so I bought a bunch of second-hand parts from them and built a cheap 350. Once I started experimenting with nitrous, I got greedy and was blowing things up left and right. I’ve had a dozen different 350s in the car over the years, and the fastest the car ran with them was 10.90 in the quarter. I was the only one in my neck of the woods running nitrous at the time, so lots of people wanted me to install kits on their cars. I got so much business out of it that I had to get a fill station put in at my house.”

Eventually, Oscar got a gig working as a tech at a local dealership, which gave him the means to build his Chevelle the way he always dreamt of building it. “I like drag racing, but I also like car shows, so I wanted to tear the car apart and restore it from bumper to bumper. Everyone told me that you can’t have a show car and a race car all in one package, so I told them ‘B.S. just watch me,’” he quips. With 9-second e.t.’s on his agenda, Oscar felt that a stroker motor was the way to go this time around. The original plan was to assemble it himself, but the frustrations of dealing with several incompetent shops changed all that. “I went through three different shops that did me wrong and kept my money, so I decided to get a 427 crate engine from Reher-Morrison. I had to park the car, sell a bunch of parts and save up for a year and a half, but it was well worth it.”


Claiming that any engine produces over 2 hp per cube—for 875 total—is sure to raise a few skeptical eyebrows, but this is one beastly mill replete with hard-core race hardware. Unlike most 427 Mouse combinations that utilize a 4.125-inch bore and 4.000-inch stroke, this Reher-Morrison brute features a larger 4.185-inch bore and a shorter 3.875-inch stroke to reduce friction, improve cylinder head breathing, and elevate shift points to an astounding 8,000 rpm. Up top are heavily massaged Dart 15-degree heads with enormous 277cc intake ports that flow in excess of 420 cfm, matched with an Edelbrock Super Victor intake and a 1,050-cfm Dominator carb. The specs are impressive, indeed, but it’s all in a day’s work for Reher-Morrison, who has seven NHRA Pro Stock championships under its belt.

Backing up the heroic small-block is a TCI Auto TH400 trans and converter, and a 4.33:1-geared 12-bolt rearend. Granted that the best pass to date of 9.86 at 136 mph (1.31-second 60-foot) is plenty respectable, the combo is nowhere near reaching its full potential just yet. “This engine makes peak power at 7,500 rpm, but right now I’m crossing through the traps at 6,200. Once I get some 4.88s installed and wind it out to 8,000 rpm, I’m sure it will run low-9s,” Oscar says. Of course, running 15.5:1 compression on the street isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t seem to phase Oscar one bit. “The only drawback of running this much compression is having to fill it up with C16, but I didn’t build this car to save gas money. Driving it on cruise night can get a little expensive, but this engine idles smoothly at 1,200 rpm, never overheats, and gets me wherever I need to go. For all that, expensive gas is a small price to pay.”


Although hp and blazing e.t.’s make for a compelling story, the Chevelle’s paint, body, interior, and overall fit and finish are equally as impressive. From every angle, it’s evident that Oscar’s dedicated just as much effort into the car’s aesthetics as he has to its performance. From its immaculate bodywork to its smoothed-out firewall, to its custom instrument cluster and door panels, the Chevelle routinely wows judges and racks up trophies on the show circuit. “I didn’t want to have to choose between show and go. I wanted both,” he explains. “Wayne Hoffman here in San Antonio did a great job on the bodywork. Unfortunately, he recently passed away, so I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due. He’d be very proud to see his work featured here.”

Truth be told, even Oscar is surprised at how nicely the car turned out. “I never thought I’d run 9s on motor, which is why I’ve never sprayed this combo,” he admits. “I’m tempted to install a plate system somewhere down the line and get the car into the 8s.”

Like we said, this guy’s full bore.


Tech Check
Owner: Oscar Gonzalez, San Antonio, Texas
Vehicle: 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Type: Chevrolet small-block
Displacement: 427 ci
Compression Ratio: 15.5:1
Bore: 4.185 inches
Stroke: 3.875 inches
Cylinder Heads: Dart 15-degree 277cc castings with Manley 2.25/1.625-inch titanium valves ported to flow 420-plus cfm
Rotating Assembly: Reher-Morrison forged crank and pistons; Manley 6.00-inch billet rods
Valvetrain: Isky lifters, Jesel shaft-mount rockers and beltdrive; Manley springs, retainers, and locks
Camshaft: Custom Reher-Morrison solid roller (specs classified)
Intake: Ported Edelbrock Super Victor single-plane manifold, Reher-Morrison-tuned 1,050 Dominator carb and twin one-inch spacers
Ignition: MSD crank trigger, coil, 7AL box, and plug wires
Exhaust: Wheels of Steel custom 2-inch headers, 3.5-inch merge collectors, custom X-pipe, Flowmaster mufflers
Fuel System: MagnaFuel pump and regulators
Output: 875 hp at 7,500 rpm, 670 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm
Transmission: TCI Auto TH400 with trans brake, Dedenbear bellhousing, Reactor flexplate, manual valvebody
Torque Converter: TCI Auto 5,500-stall
Rear Axle: GM 12-bolt rearend; Mark Williams 35-spline axles, spool, and 4.33:1 gears
Steering: Flaming River rack
Front Suspension: Global West tubular control arms, Moroso springs, Koni double-adjustable shocks
Rear Suspension: Wheels of Steel control arms, Moroso springs, Koni double-adjustable shocks, custom sway bar
Brakes: Aerospace Engineering front and rear discs
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Holeshot Holestar 15x3.5 front, 15x12 rear
Street tires: Moroso 28x7.10x15 front, Mickey Thompson 315/60-15 ET Street Radials rear
Track tires: Mickey Thompson 30x10.5x15 ET Drag slicks
Seats: RCI
Carpet: GM black
Shifter: Biondo Outlaw
Safety: Custom 12-point rollcage certified to 8.50, Simpson five-point harnesses
Paint: GM Marine Blue
Hood: Glasstek 4-inch cowl induction

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