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1968 Chevy Chevelle - Bull Run Dream (WEB EXCLUSIVE)

Ted Barfett Had Prodigy Customs Build Him This LS-Powered Brute To Take On The Bull Run Rally.

Patrick Hill Oct 21, 2009
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In the fall of 1967, Chevrolet lifted the curtain on an all new Chevelle and Malibu. From the ground up the car was redesigned. The old 115-inch wheelbase and suspension were gone in favor a shorter 113-inch wheelbase and updated suspension. This was combined with a new fastback body style and new interior. Buyers went crazy, to the tune of 464,669 total units sold.

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Ted Barfett grew up hearing stories of the muscle cars his dad owned before he was born. Ted and his dad would go to cruise-ins and shows together, where at a young age Ted's romance with the '68 Chevelle blossomed into love. Someday, Ted knew he would own the coolest '68 Chevelle on the road.

By 2007 Ted was the beverage manager for the entire fleet of the largest cruise line in the world. Being at sea for 40 weeks a year gave him plenty of time to think about the details of his dream Chevelle. Eventually, Ted went looking for a '68, finding a car in the Miami area that looked too good to be true for $20K, and after getting the car home, he found out the hard way looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to old cars. After taking the car to a "reputable" shop to be gone through and fixed, Ted got his Chevelle back and was totally unsatisfied with the results. Ted wanted serious performance from his dream Chevelle, and with the Pro Touring craze getting his attention, the current state of affairs with the car didn't cut the mustard.

After joining the forum and becoming online friends with Mike Musto of Bull Run TV fame, Ted got the idea to have his Chevelle built to compete in the real Bull Run rally, where competitors compete to have the lowest drive times on segments traversing the country, with stops along the way at various tracks for some bonus high-octane automotive action.

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Knowing the rally was dominated by mostly exotic cars, Ted knew he had to find the right builder to get the '68 into fighting trim. Wanting a shop in Florida to do the work, Ted chose Prodigy Customs out of Orlando after seeing its resume and long list of quality builds and accomplishments. Frank Serafine and his crew took possession of the car and started what would end up being a major reworking of the Chevelle.

Frank was suspicious of what was lurking underneath some flaws in the car's paint, and soon enough the body was being chemical dipped to reveal lots of Bondo and fiberglass patching large rust holes. The rotten panels were removed and replaced with new sheetmetal so the body could be prepped for a basecoat/topcoat combo from PPG's Vibrance line that resulted in a lustrous burgundy color, set off with semi-flat black accent areas on the sides and top of the car. Topped off with four coats of clear, the '68 definitely had the looks to turn heads.

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On the performance side, Frank knew what Ted wanted the car to do, so the mechanical decisions were going to be critical. First up, the stock suspension was totally replaced with Air Ride Technologies equipment to handle the rigorous driving conditions and varying road qualities the car would see on the Bull Run rally.

The Chevelle was also the debut car for Air Ride's new remote reservoir "Titanium Shockwave" system, remote reservoir, nitrogen filled shocks with internal ride height sensors for a completely programmable ride height setting at the push of a button. A Detroit Speed 600 12.7 ratio steering box was added for precise control, and Wilwood 13-inch rotors with six pistons calipers up front and 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers in the rear handle stopping duties. Rolling stock consists of Forgeline Wheels' SP3 units with BFGoodrich KDW TA2 tires.

To give the brakes all the workout they could handle, a 415 CID LS3-derived Wegner NASCAR-spec engine was built, making 600 hp (tuned by Mike Norris at Norris Motorsports in Winter Garden, Florida). The engine is stuffed full of NASCAR technology adapted to street use. Sending that power to the Moser-built 12-bolt with 3.55 gears and Tru-Track differential is a 4L80E transmission with Twist Machine paddle shifter and 10-inch, 3,000 stall converter. Keeping everything cool is a Prodigy Customs aluminum radiator with dual 16-inch fans pulling 4,700 cfm of air, so even on the hottest days the Chevelle will never pop its top. A Rick's Hot Rods stainless steel gas tank and Walbro fuel pump keep the engine fed with all the fuel it wants.

On the inside, Ted loved the stock interior on the Chevelle, and his only stipulation was, "Do anything you want as long as you keep my horseshoe shifter." The stock interior was left essentially intact, but reworked to accept one of Air Ride's new bolt-in stainless steel Tiger Cages for safety, a Covans dash stuffed with Auto Meter Sport Comp II gauges with Twist Machine billet bezels, and an ididit steering column so Ted could get his 6-foot 5-inch frame in and out of the Chevelle easily. A MOMO Jet steering wheel controls where the '68 goes.

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When Ted saw his now totally revamped Chevelle the day before the Bull Run rally started, he was blown away. Inside and out, the car met all of his expectations for his dream '68 Chevelle, and while other competitors ribbed Ted about muscle cars never finishing the rally, Ted knew this car would break that ignominious tradition.

Through seven days of grueling driving and tests, the Chevelle held up strong with only minor issues that were easily fixed along the way. The rally started with 125 cars of various types, but Ted's was one of only 24 that made it to the finish in Austin, Texas. Few awards are given at the rally, but summing up how spectacular this Chevelle is was the special merit award given to Ted and his copilot James for "bringing a bad ass car and making it to the end ... "

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