While moving up the ranks in NASA, Brent earned a pro competition racing license in Super Unlimited Touring, the organization's fastest class. Over the years, he has owned and raced 13 different Chevelles. When a buddy who was hard-pressed for cash put his original SS396 four-speed car up for sale, he couldn't pass up the opportunity. "I've always liked this car because it's a real SS, and has unique factory options like the hoodscoops and stripes, so I had to buy it. GM never officially built an SS427 Chevelle, since the 427 was only available as a COPO or a dealer-installed option, so I thought it would be fun to build a tribute to a car that never really existed," he explains. Although he aspired to build a car that could do everything well, he didn't want to emulate the look of the typical Pro Touring street machine. "My goal was to build something that retained the essence of a '60s muscle car while performing well in every arena. I didn't want any modern high-tech gadgets, gizmos, gauges, racing seats, billet wheels, or custom exterior mods. I'm not a fan of bling."
A body man by trade, Brent felt it was worth it to pay a premium to start with a nice car up front. The Chevelle's body was in outstanding shape with no rust damage at all, but the vinyl top had to go. After welding up all the molding holes left behind from peeling off the top, the Chevelle was sprayed in period-correct Bright Blue metallic paint, and the stock emblems were replaced with "SS427" badges off of a '68 Impala. As with the body, not much had to be tweaked underhood, as the car already had a potent 565ci big-block. The combination uses a Dart Big M block, an Eagle crank and rods, and JE 10.2:1 pistons. Up top, a Pro Systems 1,000-cfm 4150 carb feeds an Edelbrock Air-Gap intake manifold, and massive CNC-ported Dart 335cc heads. "The car's former owner was a drag racer, so the motor was already pretty potent," Brent says. "The cam was a bit much for a street car, so I replaced it with an Erson 238/246-at-.050 hydraulic roller. Even with a smaller cam, the motor still made 601 rear-wheel horsepower on the chassis dyno. That number jumps to 804 hp on nitrous. The motor fires right up in the cold, and is so docile at idle that you'd never know that it makes so much power. Matched with the Tremec five-speed, it really drives great on the street and at the track."
With the motor and body sorted out, Brent went to work on the suspension. Armed with the expertise of having road raced A-bodies for over 10 years, the chassis tweaks were anything but typical. Brent selected a set of Global West control arms out back for their rugged construction and spherical joints, and set the pinion angle at negative 3 degrees for maximum forward bite. Likewise, the Hotchkis rear sway bar has been modified with custom Heim-jointed endlinks, and now attaches to the frame instead of the lower control arms. Brent says this arrangement reduces freeplay and increases the bar's effective stiffness. To prevent the rearend from unloading too much under hard cornering, Brent attached custom travel limiters made from 1/4-inch steel cable between the rearend and the frame. QA1 coilovers control body motions, and since the stock shock mounts were never designed to handle heavy spring loads, they have been reinforced with .100-inch chrome-moly steel plates and gussets.