There's an adrenaline rush any car guy gets driving something that's always on the edge of control. From horsepower to handling, being behind the wheel of something that always gets the heart pumping and sweat of excitement dripping is something that every enthusiast loves. When Tim Bowe started out this project, he knew he wanted enough horsepower to roast the tires in every gear, and push the car to its limits. He also craved modern handling and brakes to keep the car relatively in control. Tim had always loved the looks of the '66-67 Chevelles, and knew that's what he wanted as the foundation for his project.
After a couple of years, the right one came along on eBay, and Tim travelled to Altoona, Pennsylvania, to pick up the starting point of his build. The car he found was a 24,000-original mile base-model Chevelle coupe. Born a 283 2-bbl/Powerglide car (Tim got the original engine and trans when he purchased the car), the seller had bought the '66 from its first owner, and done what Tim later found out was a really poor conversion job into an SS clone with a 454 for power.
The car had sat under a tarp for a long time, and rusted from the top down, and when it was eventually soda blasted for bodywork, the true state of affairs and pounds of Bondo came to light. Ultimately, almost all of the sheetmetal was replaced; pretty much the only original pieces left were the roof, some miscellaneous sections, the taillight areas, and the trunk lock. For an added special touch, hidden door handles were added.
With close to 1,000 horses in store for the A-body, the stock frame and rolling assembly was ditched in favor of a custom square tube chassis with narrowed rear section. Up front, it has Colman stock car-style spindles with Gardner Specialty upper and lower control arms with AFCO adjustable coilover shocks. Out back, the car has a Winters 9-inch-style rear with 3.55 gears and a Detroit Locker unit connected to a fully adjustable, triangulated four-link suspension with tubular control arms and AFCO coilovers.
Steering is a Sweet Manufacturing rack-and-pinion system. Once everything was set up, the chassis and all associated parts were powdercoated by Renu Powdercoating. Handling stopping duties are Wilwood brakes, with 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front, and 14-inch rotors with four-piston calipers in the rear.
With the chassis complete and the body back to rust-free condition, Tim turned his attention towards the powerplant. Even though a big-block would've been great, a twin-turbo small-block offers much less weight and with better economy, it just made more sense. S&K Speed was given the nod to build the boosted mouse motor, starting with a Dart Little M block stuffed with forged internals and 8:1 pistons. A set of AFR 210cc aluminum heads topped off the engine, with a custom ground turbo grind solid roller cam along with Jesel rockers keeping the valvetrain under control. A pair of Gale Banks 62mm high-flow turbos feed the mouse with the compressed fuel/air mixture it loves, and twin Aeromotive A1000 fuel pumps keep the go-go juice flowing even under heavy boost. Banks headers, Kooks mufflers and Gardner Specialty Auto 3-inch stainless exhaust pipe handle hydrocarbon disposal.
An AFCO aluminum radiator keeps things cool, and a custom-built twin intercooler system drops the inlet air temp after compression through the turbos. Lighting the fire is an MSD 6AL ignition. To make the car more controllable on the street, Tim rigged up a special boost controller inside the car to control the turbos, so for normal driving the engine runs with a max of 8-12 psi boost, but when Tim hit's the switch, the boost goes up to 18 psi, providing for tire roasting through all gears and making the car close to a manned missile on the street.
With everything buttoned up, it was time to see what the twin turbo animal would do, so Tim drove to the local chassis dyno and had the car strapped down. The first run was done with the boost set at low level, and the Chevelle cranked out 668 ponies at the wheels. For the next run, Tim flipped the switch and let the turbos spool up for about 18 psi of boost. This registered an earth moving 831 horses at the rear wheels on the dyno, which was enough to tell everyone this '66 A-body was an animal, and put a proud smile on its owner's face.
On the street, Tim admits the car can be a handful, but enjoys every second of it, with a case of perma-grin every time he gets behind the wheel. More than a few would-be street racers have rolled up next to the Chevelle looking for action, including a few new Corvettes, only to be sent packing by the car's twin-turbo small-block.
Another colorful tale Tim has is when he downshifted the car from fourth to third at 50 mph and broke the tires loose, then on the upshift back to fourth broke them loose again at over 100 mph.