The shelf life for newly built cars is notoriously short. Trends evolve so rapidly that a car deemed cutting edge upon its completion can lose its novelty in a matter of months. Once it hits its first anniversary, a hot car usually has about as much star power as a talent show runner-up.
There are exceptions, however. We thought Perry Williams misunderstood us when we asked him when he finished his '70. "Well, I got it in 1982 and it took about two years to build," he answered. "No, no, no," we replied. "When did you finish it this time? You know, painted like this and all." A sort of awkward silence fell over us as he pondered what part of his answer we didn't understand. "Well, I guess that would've been 1985." he clarified. "At least that's when it got painted."
The Z car that caught our eye earlier in the day suddenly had our undivided attention. This was a car that looked as if it had slept through the past 25 years. It hadn't, though; it lived life exclusively in quarter-mile increments. And it was fast, too: 10.90 at 136 mph with a 350 and a stock four-speed. In fact, it wasn't 'til 2000 when Williams said he wanted a little bit more out of it than straight-line performance.
"I was going pretty good but I broke my back in 2004," he observed. He spent the following year in the hospital. "At one point Janice, my wife, told me to just let someone else finish it. I'm good friends with Craig Wick over at Wicked Fabrications. He does amazing work so I gave it to him."
Aftermarket subframe kits for second-gen applications are commonplace nowadays but they weren't when Wick made the one for this car. He built it from 2x4 tubing and a Heidts Hot Rod Shop crossmember. Only instead of bolting it in as stock, Wick extended its side rails through the floor to the car's rear framerails and welded everything in place. He then capitalized on the new structure by crafting a six-point 'cage with swing-out door bars.
Wick finished the front suspension with Heidts tubular control arms and spindles. He retained the rear suspension design but employed Hotchkis leafs and fabricated rocker-style traction bars to control wrap. A Watts link controls the suspension's roll center. He finished both ends of the car with adjustable QA1 dampers—coilover design in the front—14-inch Wilwood rotors and six-pot calipers, and Hotchkis antiroll bars.
It was great at quarter-mile sprints, but the old engine's peaky delivery would've fallen short on the road. Not the new one Gus Foster built though. His shop, Foster Machine Service, prepped a four-bolt block, which he filled with a 3.75-inch-stroke SCAT crank, Carrillo connecting rods, CP/Carillo Bullet-series pistons, and Dart heads.
A comparatively radical Crane HR-296 roller-tappet cam hangs this engine's intake valves open for nearly 300 degrees of crank duration. A typical engine with that much cam timing may require as much as 10.5:1 static compression ratio to generate sufficient cylinder pressure, but dished pistons set this one at 8.5:1.
It's because it has another way to increase cylinder pressure: a D-1SC Procharger. The extra volume of air it jams down this engine's gullet to increase its compression ratio to respectable performance levels also increases its effective displacement. In fact, at 12 psi boost that blower nearly doubles the engine's size and compression ratio. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the engine shot the car down the track at 11-flat its first and only time out. Williams maintains that the car has yet more potential, but he won't find out until he changes the 'cage to meet the rules or the rules change to meet his 'cage.
Foster finished the engine with a Quick Fuel Technology carburetor, an ignition prepped by Dick Jones (Phoenix Auto, Ballard, Washington), and headers fabricated by Craig Wick. Wick also built the 3-inch-diameter pipes behind them. Chambered SDT-series Edelbrock mufflers keep the car legally quiet, but just barely.
The stock four-speed may have handled the torque, but its ratios would limit the car's full potential. A Richmond six-speed overdrive, on the other hand, covers every base. It sports a Hurst shifter and feeds a Drivelines Northwest shaft. That, in turn, spins a 3.73:1 gear on a limited-slip carrier in a Currie Enterprises 9-Plus housing. In light of the engine, 35-spline Currie axles don't sound so extreme after all. American Racing Torq-Thrust II wheels (18x8 front and 18x10 rear) and Nitto NT555 hides (ZR-series 245/45-18 front and 295/45-18 rear) got bolted to the four corners.
The Bahama Blue coat Steve Christenson applied to the car looks more like 2 ½ years old, not 2 ½ decades. The body wears every bit of its gingerbread—it really did start life as a Z28, by the way.
For the years Williams dragged the car it had only front seats. Now it has Corbeau Sport Seats and a stock rear bench that Tim Norman at Classical Gas in Renton–Covington, Washington, trimmed to match.
Stereotomy in Issaquah, Washington, installed the audio system. It consists of a Kenwood Excelon KDC-X792 head unit, Alpine PDX amplifiers, and component drivers. Stereotomy also fabricated the various panels and housings, including trunk panels and subwoofer enclosures in the quarters. Wick rewired the car.
He also replaced the gauges with Auto Meter Pro-Comp Ultra-Lite dials and fabricated the insert that houses them. The car came with a tilt column, which now sports a 14-inch-diameter Grant Collectors Edition steering wheel.
Don't let this car's near flawless appearances fool you; it gets driven harder than ever, and thanks to its more dynamic personality, it gets driven longer distances. He keeps fast company, too—we won't go into details but he has stories about caravanning to Los Angeles with Art and Craig Morrison.
Though awakened twice so far, chances are slim that this Z will get the chance to catch any Zs in the near future.