Back in the day, there was quite a business going on down in the Southern states for moonshiners running untaxed liquor around. Liquor running, a pastime that dates back to the days of Prohibition, was still alive and well in the South back in the late '60s and early '70s because there were still dry counties (and even states). A quick picture of this type of vehicle can be painted by watching the popular TV series, The Dukes of Hazzard, with the Duke brothers slinging moonshine around Georgia in the back of their '69 Charger.
What's also interesting is that there happened to be some Bow Tie machinery running around the Southern back roads, kicking up trails of dust in front of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, just like the Hazzard boys did on TV. One such specimen surfaced a few years ago in Florida at the Zephyr Hills swap meet, specifically in the form of a '67 Chevelle SS 396 that Russell Kompinski and his wife, Sherrie, spotted in the car corral.
"We had always wanted a Chevelle, and the car seemed to just pop out at us," Russell recalls. "I looked at it for three days, and finally made him an offer." Kompinski didn't disclose what that amount was, but after the car got back to his Fort Myers home, whatever that price was would turn out to be a very fair one.
After the car was taken apart piece by piece to be refurbished, the Kompinskis found a legitimate whiskey and gin runner handbook, something that described all the "shady" activities that the car was involved in back in the late '60s. It turned out that the 350-horse 396 car had made quite a name for itself, running liquor through Georgia and Tennessee. The car's original home was in Georgia, but its exact whereabouts from there on out were sketchy at best. All these factors made the story of the car that much more appealing, and gave the Kompinski family another reason to bring this car back to its historical appearance.
Russell, who builds cars just like this for a living, brought the SS back to his shop and immediately started reconditioning it. After all the pieces were disassembled, Russell took the body over to his brother's shop, Kompinski Auto Body in Cape Coral, Florida.
Russell himself did the under-the-hood work. He went a little different with the powerplant decision, opting to drop in a '69 396ci/350hp motor, bored out to 402, courtesy of Russell's friends at Lamont's Machine Shop in Fort Myers. Up top, the mill has stock '69 open chamber heads, a stock intake manifold, and a Carter 600-cfm carburetor. The 402 is mated up to a '67 Turbo 400 tranny. The stock rearend was retained, although Kompinski added Posi-traction, which the original '67 that he picked up didn't have. The rear also packs a 3.08 gear. With all the stock powertrain pieces, the car, according to Kompinski, makes around 350 hp at 4500 rpm-certainly enough power, in the car's present guise, to keep the fuzz at bay while running from state to state with a batch of adult beverages.
The suspension has been totally reconstructed, with Russell replacing every single bearing, ball joint, and bushing at both the front and rear of the car. Russell even retained the original power drum brake setup. The car rolls on stock 14x6 wheels, with period-correct red line rubber, 215/70/14 all around.
The interior was also kept in OE-appearing condition, with Kompinski sourcing parts from National Parts Depot-all in the lovely gold vinyl that looks just as it probably did on some midnight run through Georgia. The car still retains an original column shifter, and has a custom hand-painted wood grain steering wheel that really adds an awesome accent to the interior.
The Chevelle, when Russell picked it up, was painted black. In his effort to keep with the amazing history of the car, he went back to the original two-tone Granada Gold and Capri Cream paint scheme, which quite frankly looks just fine. Looking at this car, you can almost see the dust kicking up through the backwoods of the South.
After eight months on the build, the Kompinskis took the car out to a show, and won a First Place trophy, one of the many this car is sure to take home with the small display Russell has put together for it.
"My wife and I loved Chevelles," Russell said. "And when we found this car, I knew it was going to be a really cool thing to work on."
All that combined with the rich (albeit shady) history of this car really makes it shine above the rest.