Jed Perkins, a gas fitter from Millstadt, Illinois, worked hard all his life so he could have all the things a gearhead could ever want. He a nice home out in the country, a great spouse who supports his automotive obsession, a massive man cave stuffed full of awesome vehicles, and the biggest friggin' swing set we have ever seen.
Having owned multiple types of muscle cars from Camaros to even a Hemi-powered Mopar, Jed decided to look for a Chevelle in the '68-'69 vintage. Being from a rust-belt area, he looked to the Internet for a rust-free car. Jed spotted just what he wanted in the way of a clean, black '68 Chevelle drag car. It looked good and was priced reasonably, so Jed took a leap of faith and bought the car just from the pictures and it wasn't until Jed got the car home and gave it a closer inspection did he realize there was a little smoke and mirrors going on. There were definite signs the Chevelle was in a major accident, and once it was media blasted did Jed fully understand how serious the damage was.
From what he could tell, the car must have slid sideways and smacked into a tree or telephone pole right at the front of the passenger-side rear quarter. It was repaired, but in a very odd sort of way. You see, the car was sectioned back together but along a diagonal line from side to side instead of full panels like it should have been. Also, the new roof skin just sat on top of the old skin in certain places, the seams smoothed over with loads of body filler. Instead of sitting back and crying over spilled milk, Jed sucked it up and decided to take on the task of building the car to his standards.
As we stated before, Jed had the body media blasted, but not before he tore the entire car down to bare bones. The sheetmetal surgery started shortly after he got the body back, Jed making quick work of getting the shell back to a blockable state. He then put the body on the chassis and shipped the unit off to Mike Larabell of Larabell Race Cars in Eureka, Missouri. Mike took on the job of reworking the factory frame, adding a new back half that seamlessly flows into the stock 'rails. This allowed Mike to hang a new rear suspension system he created from scratch. Larabell used chromoly tubing and made up new 37-inch ladder bars with a wishbone upper link. A few crossmembers were added as well to hold the Alden coilovers in the proper position. A set of wide 15x12 Weld Alumastars with Mickey Thompson 315 drag radials were strapped on for daily use, with a full set of slicks at the ready for serious track duty.
Mike moved forward and reconfigured the front crossmember to add clearance for the new Canton oil pan that was to come. A set of Global West tubular control arms combined with a set of Moroso Trick-Springs and Koni shocks round out the front suspension. To compliment the rear rims, Jed picked up a set of 15-inch Bogart Force-5 rims and wrapped them with another set of Mickey Thompson 28x7.5 tires. To make sure the car will actually stop, a complete Wilwood brake system was employed with 11-inch rotors and four-piston calipers set at each corner.
On top of the frame Mike also cut, bent, and welded up a 12-point cage certified to 8.50, with a funny car-style window net and removable parachute set up. With all the tubes in place, Mike finished up by creating an entirely new floor and wheeltubs for the car out of 24-gauge steel. He even added bead rolled details that flow with the bars and other items on the car. Not only is the floor steel and full of style, it's also raised up in the car, allowing for more exhaust clearance, but not so high the seat position becomes an issue. While this was just a paragraph worth of information, it did take some time fabricating.
During the car's stay at Larabell's, Jed decided to build up a new powertrain for the Juggernaut. For the mill, Jed started with a clean 1975 454, which he had punched out to 496 by MBJ Machine. The freshly machined block was outfitted with a stock steel crank, TRW 12:1 pistons, Comp solid roller cam (714 lift, 304 intake duration, 312 exhaust duration on a 108 centerline), Brodix BB-2 heads, Brodix HV2001 intake, and Holley 1050cfm carb, all assembled by Jed and long time friend Jeff Smith.
Other accessories needed to breath life into (and keep healthy) the Rat include an AFCO aluminum radiator, MagnaFuel Pro Star 500 fuel pump, Jones Racing front pulley system with 100amp alternator, Canton oil pan, MSD 7AL crank trigger ignition system, and Hooker 2-1/8 inch super comp headers. All this stuff allows the engine to crank out 635 hp at 6,600 rpm, and 548 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. This powerplant is backed by a Dedenbear Powerglide, 4,500 stall converter, 9-inch rear end with 35-spline axles and 4:57:1 gear set strapped to a spool. Oh, and we almost forgot: Mike also fabricated the rearend housing.
When Larabell finished his work, Jed brought the car back to his man cave to finish off the rough bodywork, and get the car sprayed. The shell was shipped off to Tony Chadeayne at West View Auto Body, where the blocking commenced. The typical hammer, fill, sand, prime scenario went on for a while to get the car way too straight for just a drag car. Jason Sprengle handled the task of covering up all that straightness. He expertly laid down the Crystal Claret PPG paint, and even came up with the silver and charcoal detail graphics. The silver used on the graphic is the same silver you'll find in the interior, and on some of the suspension components.
Jed was now getting down to the nitty-gritty, and just needed to stuff his engine and trans in, wire it up, and finish off the interior. The cabin is mostly comprised of roll bar, but was still given the same attention the rest of the car received. Fresh black carpet was laid down before the Kirkey seats and RCI belts went in. A new set of door panels and dashpad were installed, along with a Covan's dash insert filled with Dakota Digital and Auto Meter gauges. But the crown jewel inside the car is the killer center console that Jed made from, get this...conduit and a road sign! The console holds the Turbo Action Cheetah shifter and Auto Meter Tach. Another cool little deal Jed did was installing the shift light in the cigarette lighter position.
We here at Super Chevy are very impressed with how nice Jed's Chevelle came out, especially with how dang fast it is. Just out of curiosity we asked Jed two questions. One was, if you could do something different what would it have been? Jed answered "I would go look at a car before I purchase it so I didn't have to start with a totaled car."
Our second question, can you take us for a ride to a place where you can do a big smoky burnout for us? Jed answered with a simple "Yes," and told us to get in. When we said the car will knock your eyeballs to the back or your head, we weren't lying, as it happened to us. The G forces when Jed puts the hammer down are just great, and put a smile on our faces like we were kids who just got a big piece of candy (best e.t. so far is a 10.596 at 127.53 with a 1.53 60-feet). If you would like to see the burn out video we shot of the A-Body, check out superchevy.com. And if you happen to be in the St. Louis area, keep an eye out for Jed's Juggernaut.