'66 Chevelle - The Bruiser

It took a whole village to build John Martell's Pro Street '66 Chevelle.

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John Martell, a landscaper from Phoenix, just finished the latest on his "Chevelles I have owned" list. This bruiser of a '66 is added to a list that includes a '64, '65, and a '72. With owning that many A-bodies, you tend to make each one a bit better than the last. That is exactly the case with this '66. Over the three-year buildup, John combined his past experiences, knowledge, money, and help from friends and family to get it finished.

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The Bruiser's story starts with John searching on Craigslist when he ran across a listing for a Pro Street '66 Chevelle basket case. After contacting the owner, John plopped down some money and took the unfinished project off the guy's hands. It took a trailer and three pickup beds full of parts and pieces to get it home. Even though the car was in a million pieces, all those pieces were ready to go, the sheetmetal was painted, the tube frame was ready, and there was even a 283 all set for action.

Like a kid on Christmas morning, John wasted no time starting to assemble what he called "the ultimate puzzle." The only issue John had with the whole deal was the engine: He thought a car that looked like this should have a big-block under the hood.

Unfortunately, while deep into the build, Kathy, John's wife, had some health issues. That slowed the progress, but didn't stop it. John and his kids used the car as a mental getaway for the hard times. Kathy's health improved and construction was put back on full blast. John and his team of family and friends finished assembling all the stuff John got with the car.

The Competition Chassis was built up to a roller using a Mustang II front with tubular arms, with Alden coilovers and 4-piston Aerospace brakes. Out back, a custom ladder bar set up was used to hang the fabricated 9-inch that has 4.56 gears and a spool. Another set of Alden coilovers and Aerospace brakes were also fitted out back. To complete the rolling chassis, a set of Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels, 15x5.5 up front and 15x15 in the rear, was wrapped in P165/80R15 Kumho and big sticky Hoosier QTP 33x22.5-15 tires.

The interior is pretty sparse with just a slew of Auto Meter gauges, an Auto Rod Controls 8000 switch panel, some race buckets, a B&M shifter surrounded by aluminum panels and roll cage bars.

With the chassis and interior out of the way, John focused back on the powerplant. He ditched the 283 and had Mike Scott assemble something more fitting. The heart of John's Bruiser is now a 598 Merlin big-block. The fat rat is stuffed full of performance goodies like an Eagle crank, JE pistons (10.5:1), and a Comp Cams .748in/.714ex lift, 276in./284ex. duration cam with +0.300 diameter lifters. The short-block is finished on the bottom with a Moroso oil pump and Milodon 8-quart oil pan, while the top is capped with Brodix BB2 xtra aluminum heads, Dart intake manifold, Demon 1350cfm 4500 style carb, and a K&N air cleaner. REF Custom step headers evacuate the spent gasses, an MSD 6AL crank trigger ignition system provides the spark, Polished Moroso valve covers add some shine, and a Ron Davis aluminum radiator with a dual fan set up keeps it all cool. The engine is backed by a Hughes TH400 transmission with 5,200 stall converter and a reverse valve body.

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