There's an old saying that the straightest way to his heart is through her curves—and in very many ways, that is quite true. While one may first take that to mean the effeminate gender, this is also certainly the case with Gary Ingram's heavily-modded '68 Chevelle. Because with every closer look, the subtle power of intimate changes and detail becomes an automotive seduction that high heels and make-up can never match.
"It's pretty entertaining when you see people come up to the car to look at it, and then come back to stare at it some more," Gary recounted about his experiences at car shows. "People will ask how you did this and why you did that. One fellow said he found over 60 changes to this car when compared to a stock Chevelle. I told him that I didn't really know, but it he may very well have been right."
Gary found the Chevelle in a local ad, but after discovering that a once-repaired framerail had been broken again from the abuse of drag racing, he decided that it wasn't good for anything more than just parts. As a result, the car sat outside in automobile purgatory for a number of years before an opportunity for redemption eventually arose.
With the thought of building a convertible Camaro, Gary visited Corey & Gary Hunter at the up-and-coming Six Deuces Speed Shop in Milford, Delaware, and decided that they would be the ones to do the work for him. Unfortunately, the F-body wound up being too far gone, so attention shifted back to the Chevelle that had sat forlorn for so long back in the woods.
"We wanted a Pro Street look with something that was dependable and drivable," Gary said, "but things quickly evolved as we thought of more and more things to do. It eventually worked out that we went way overboard, but it became the Chevelle that I've always wanted."
The low slung, mean and lean look of Gary's A-body was accomplished by using fabricated square tubing in place of the stock frame. The engine was set back in the chassis to improve the front/rear weight ratio and overall handling characteristics. Some thought had been given to actually road racing the car when they started building it, but the end results turned out so well that they didn't want to put it on the track. A Fat Man front A-arm suspension was mounted with QA1 front coilovers and a Thunderbird rack-and-pinion steering unit. Out back, an Art Morrison back-half suspension kit was used, along with a 9-inch rear, 4.11 gearing and 31-spline axles. Wilwood disc brakes, Boyd Coddington wheels and Nitto 555R drag radials are used on all four corners to complete the rolling assembly.
While the car retains the classic lines that unmistakably identify it as a '68-69 Chevelle, the subtle facelift draws much interest from inquiring minds. Along with the revised grille and taillights, sharp eyes pick up on the new custom bumpers and hand formed lower valances front and rear. A '70 Dodge Charger-style pop-up filler cap on the driver's-side rear quarter with Mopar side marker side marker lights add some more custom touches to this car.
With the engine location being pushed backward, this Chevelle is now a two-seater. An entirely new firewall, dashboard, and console had to be fabricated. A full assortment of color-coordinated gauges from Classic Instruments were used to fill out the dash, which had been finished in gun metal gray. Strader's Auto Upholstery in Milford hacked the Dodge Intrepid seats, turning them into low-rise buckets, then covered the entire interior in anthracite gray leather from the headliner on down. Underneath the steering wheel, a Wilwood competition pedal assembly with an integrated balance bar adds to the performance look.
Motivation for this power-hungry Chevelle comes from a fuel-injected Ram Jet 502 from Chevy Performance. With a four-bolt main cast iron block, aluminum oval port heads and a billet aluminum throttle body on the Ram Jet intake, this puppy produces 502 hp with 565 lb-ft of neck straining torque. While eye-catching in its own right, the smooth custom-made firewall, inner fenders and radiator shroud make the engine really stand out. Even greater detail was given to the custom hood popper and hinges that support this steel cowl induction hood assembly. Behind that is a Tremec TKO five-speed with a hydraulic clutch assembly and Quicktime bell housing.
"Some people like the taillights, others look inside and pick up on the race pedals and still others spend a lot of time looking at how we did the hood," Gary said. "We've done well showing it at Super Chevy Shows and at other events, but I just like showing it and being in the car." We'd say that this seduction is complete.