Generally, first cars are rolling piles that teach us to appreciate our initial opportunity at having a set of wheels. Today, we'd think of a '70 Chevy Chevelle Malibu in any condition as a great first car, but go back before the late-'80s stock market crash that re-ignited the muscle car market, you'd find many a popular A-body thought of as "just an old car."
For $300, Brian Berger's dad picked up a green, bench seat, column shifted Malibu for his son's first vehicle. With a friend's help, Brian tore it apart, swapped buckets for the bench seat, installed an energetic Mouse, then resprayed it burgundy with silver stripes.
After a few years, Brian got the itch to go racing, so the Malibu was torn apart for a track-worthy revamping. The interior was ripped out for a roll cage installation, and the small-block yanked in favor of a Rat with plenty of quarter-mile power. Halfway through the conversion, work and life took priority, and the '70 was put into storage for what ended up being a nine year hibernation. During that time, Brian got married, and also became friends with Steve Norris at R&S Automotive. Steve knew about the Malibu through a mutual friend, and encouraged Brian to dust off the car and finish it.
With Steve's help, the Malibu was on a trailer headed for R&S, where even Brian's father pitched in to help bring his son's old high school hot rod back to life. The car was gutted, and everything gone through for refreshening and modernization. John's Cages in Fort Lauderdale used a Bowtie block and built up a 604-inch Rat stuffed with Wiseco pistons, Crane hydraulic roller cam, Crower rods, and topped off with Dart heads and ARP head studs. Induction is managed by an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake ported by Wilson Manifolds and Holley 1,150 cfm Dominator carb.
For a little extra push, a Nitrous Pro-Flow single stage system set up to deliver anything from a 175- to 350-horse shot of nitrous was installed. An MSD 6AL ignition lights off the mixture, while a Griffin radiator keeps the big-block cool.
Gary's Transmission in Fort Lauderdale used a JW Powerglide case to build up a slushbox capable of transferring the Rat's power back to the Chassis Engineering-built Moser 9-inch rear with Detroit Locker internals. Chassis Engineering also back-halved the Chevelle to handle all the horsepower without twisting the body like a pretzel.
Inside, Recarro buckets hold driver and passenger in place when the throttle's hammered, and Steve Norris took care of fixing up the rest of the interior around the roll cage. The body was still in really good shape, so it was stripped, prepped, and covered in 2008 Chevy Red by Rick Costanza at Rick's Rods.
We'd bet Brian never thought his old Malibu would turn into a asphalt destroying monster like this when his dad tossed him the keys so many years ago!