Most of the time a man's family is just a meddling obstruction in the way of a dream car. In John Dwyer's case, they wrote the ticket.
When you have a dream car, you don't expect to have it purchased by your wife and son. But if you wake up and there's a '66 Chevelle in your driveway, you're not exactly going to complain. While most guys get a tie or a grill set for their birthday, John Dwyer got a baby blue hot rod. While John took delivery of the unexpected gift, it was up to Doug Jenkins to make sure that this clunker turned into a baby blue barn door buster.
Jenkins is obviously a talented builder, one who makes two claims: that his shop does more volume from request to turn key than anyone in the U.S., and that the '66 Chevelle pictured will pull .83 on a skidpad. As you can see from the pictures taken within immediate proximity of the Denver Convention Center, this rig is likely to corner well beyond its vintage.
The Fat Man tubular control arms are just one aspect of this car's reworked suspension that helps it move more "modernly." "We added one inch to the top control arms to achieve a perfect alignment angle," said Jenkins. The rest of the front suspension consists of Hotchkis springs and sway bars and Bilstein shocks. The rear chassis is from Chassisworks, a custom aluminum adjustable four-link coil over suspension.
While these upgrades vastly improve cornering capability, it is doubtful that a Chevy this heavy would get off the skidpad with such a low figure. As it turns out, .83 is a claim from Hotchkis. Go figure. It would be interesting to see official test results in braking and acceleration for this completely reworked resto-mod. Those 13-inch Wilwood calipers along with their six-piston calipers up front must nearly halve the stopping distance over stock.
The motor is no slouch in the performance department, either. To say that the GM Performance 572 Chevy big-block is a firebreather would be an understatement. And the 620 ponies and 650 lb-ft of torque that it produces make one thankful for those massive stoppers.
Apart from the paint, the wheel and tire fitment has to be the most appealing aspect of this Chevelle. The Billet Specialties measure 18x8 up front wrapped by 275/35ZR Michelen Pilot PS2s, while the rear wells stuff a set of 20x12 rims wrapped with 335/30ZRs. Of course, the car had to be mini-tubbed to achieve this. But the icing on the cake has to be that tasty blue painted on the spokes to match the vehicle. We originally found this Chevelle at a Goodguy's car show in Loveland, Colorado, and it was this aspect of the overall appearance that caught our eye. Of course, the actual paint job isn't so bad either.
The color is a factory original and has been applied in a manner that is nothing less than completely fastidious. First, the body was media-blasted, then primed with polyester, then block-sanded, then primed, then block-sanded to 400 grit, then painted with Spies Heckler paint, then cleared, sanded to 1000 grit, then cleared again, then sanded again and polished. Jenkins is quick to point out that he feels blocking is the key element to a perfect paint job.
"I think a perfect paint job is a noble achievement, said Jenkins. "It stops people in their tracks and they never know why. It's genuine and honest."
While John Dwyer is the owner of this pristine Chevelle and a car guy in his own right, Jenkins may be one of the most hardcore "petrol heads" we've ever come across, having owned five cars before he could even drive, and 15 before he left high school, with his tires smoking and his finger in the air, no doubt.
His company, Doug Jenkins Hot Rods, was started years later and has been pumping out custom cars like clockwork ever since. It was around a year ago that he hooked up with John and they got this project off the ground thanks to a childhood inspiration. See, one thing we didn't mention before is that when John was a lad of around 10, he had to survive in a pretty rough neighborhood until his mom remarried and moved to a more decent area. It was a big moment when he got to a decent place and a new Marina Blue '66 Chevelle SS sat gleaming in the neighbor's driveway. This was the life. And the Chevelle became the car of his dreams. He had three square meals a day and nobody looking to break his face.
You could say that the ribbon became a symbol of hope and prosperity for him. This gift from his family surely remains a beacon of hope to this day, even if it has been rebadged with the proper numbers for the massive motor.