When Rick Lujan first purchased this '67 Chevelle it had nowhere near the radiant red hue it possesses in the pictures you see before you.
"When I got it in Florida three years ago, the car was black and very stock looking," said Lujan. "I thought, what should I do with it, keep it stock or modify the car?"
There's nothing wrong with a clean stock Chevelle, but to many in the congregation, it's sort of like looking at a stripper in a pantsuit. "Since it wasn't a numbers-matching car, I decided to go the restomod route and look into a motor swap," Rick recalled.
Geddes Racing stepped up with a few options such as a 427, a 454 or a 496. A 496? Rick hadn't thought about this option before. In this case, we're not talking about the 8.1-liter big-block used in trucks and U-Hauls. Still, Rick's Red Sled has the same displacement as your getaway truck after all those midnight moves in college. Only this Chevelle is about two tons lighter and hauls butt, not cheap furniture.
When Lujan's mechanic, Angelo Geddes, told him that he could squeeze 600 or 700 hp from pump gas from the big stroker, his response was, "No way!" But Angelo convinced him, "Yes way!" While he went about the arduous task of creating a rather awesome naturally-aspirated Rat on steroids, Lujan and his crew got to work on the body. In case we didn't mention it, Lujan runs a body shop in Colorado Springs called Black and White Auto Body and by the look of the svelte Chevelle's lines, he knows what he's doing.
"I wondered what color to paint it at first," said Lujan. "I thought about silver or green but it came down to Redline Red Hot Hues from DuPont. We took the car apart and painted the interior and the firewall and everything so you couldn't tell what the previous color was."
The previous color of the hood was actually white. It's a fiberglass unit with a cowl needed to clear the bigger motor. Actually, a stock hood could clear the big-block if it wasn't for the high-rise single-plane intake manifold and one-inch phenolic spacer.
"This keeps the intake cooler and adds more plenum volume," said Geddes. "We did some testing with this and it added significant power." Geddes has built this displacement motor many times before. "It's a popular application because you can use a stock block and an aftermarket stroker kit," Geddes said. "I've put it in boats, trucks, you name it."
One of the determining factors in the motor reaching its stratospheric power levels is the cylinder head and camshaft. In this case, the CNC'd BMF 330 cylinder heads and 254/260 custom ground cam aren't the most extreme set up available. If it's making 722hp on the dyno now, you can only imagine it with the more aggressive cylinder head/cam combo. One advantage to the cam is that it's totally civil.
Once Lujan and crew got the motor in, they knew it was time for a set of stoppers. "At first I had some plain Jane discs up front and stock drums out back," said Lujan. "Wrestling that thing down from 100mph or so was pretty sketchy so we decided to upgrade in that department."
Of all the modern equipment on this resto-mod, the 13-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotors with two-piston calipers among the most important. They're the sleek cue that under the classic exterior brews something sinister and mechanically maniacal. Baer is a name synonymous with stopping power and in this case they do just that, be it bringing the car down from triple digit speeds or halting Super Chevy contributors dead in their tracks. Which is how we found Rick's rod at a Goodguys show in Loveland, Colorado, last summer.
"It's great to build these big, powerful cars, but if you're not able to stop them it's useless," said Lujan.
The suspension also needed to be upgraded to handle the big ponies so they installed a complete Air Ride Technologies Strong-Arm suspension. "The entire system with A-arms and big roll bars bolted right up," said Lujan. He added that this is a great setup for aggressive driving and (of course) he can slam it at the shows-the best of both worlds.
With the motor installed Lujan and his crew got to work spraying the exterior. Of course, somewhere along the line they managed to put in an interior that remains true to the Chevelle's roots. The interior is just slightly overshadowed by a naturally-aspirated motor that makes over 700hp.
"I think that it takes a lot more planning to make a powerful NA motor," said Geddes of the truculent engine. "You got your parts and you got Mother Nature and the rest you go to sort of figure out yourself. I know there are guys with turbos and superchargers making big power, but I'd have to say this is the most powerful street driven NA motor in Colorado Springs."