Getting everything together to make a classic restomod can be a frustrating drain of time, effort and money. Researching the right parts, finding the right look and then locating the right people to get it all together can be a daunting task--and it can still turn out not quite right. Jeff Grant went through all that, but finally wove together the right combination for this Tri-Five Chevy. "My dad bought this car for me back in 1986 when I was just a kid. Actually, he traded a VW bus for it," Jeff recalled with a smile. "It had a worn out 283 in it with a Muncie four-speed, that was soon replaced by a warmed-over 327, which wasn't bad for a 16-year-old to drive! It eventually went through a couple of engines and more than a few sets of tires before it finally wound up resting in my parent's garage."
After years of sitting dormant, Jeff had the benefit of learning from his own as well as a few other people's mistakes. So, when he got serious about what he wanted to do with the car, he had already given plenty of thought about what he should do with it. Even so, he eventually realized that there may not be a second chance to do things again, so what started as a relatively small resto job eventually grew exponentially to ensure he ended up with what he had always wanted. "In 2005, I brought it home and started with just a few upgrades for here and there, but it ended up becoming a full-fledged frame-off restoration," Jeff said. "Getting the sheetmetal work done was the hardest part. Metal men are find to find--and even tougher to get them going."
Even so, that afforded him some time to carefully research what would bring him the best bang for his investment in time and money. Making a modern road car with classic sheet metal seemed like the most rewarding way to go. Grant went with an Art Morrison Tri-5 frame kit that gave the chassis and suspension a solid basis to vastly improve the geometry for modern handling, ride and braking characteristics. Bret Hamilton Enterprises in rural Powhatan, Virginia, did the installation, which included a Heidts adjustable coilover front suspension (which lowered the front end a full 3-inches).
A leaf spring pocket kit was used to help bring the back end down another 2 inches to provide an aggressive looking stance. A 9-inch rear with a fabricated housing holds 4.11:1 gearing, Strange axles and a carbon fiber driveshaft provides a near bullet-proof drivetrain. Peeking out from the Boyd Coddington Rumbler 17-inch rims is a set of Wilwood four wheel disc brakes with 12-inch rotors, which gives the car an unbeatable modern look.
With all the attention given to the undercar side of things, Jeff looked to an expert for the bodywork and found that in New Visions Auto Body & Paint in Richmond, Virginia. Subtle modifications included relocating the fuel filler neck so it resides behind the driver's side taillight, some tweaks to the hood ornament and aftermarket headlamps. Danchuk provided a one-piece smoothie front bumper and grille while Advanced Plating & Power Coating did the remainder of the chrome work. Helping to make the car really stand out from the crowd are the carefully selected hues of Velocity Yellow and Silver Star from the PPG Vibrance Collection, which was expertly applied by Steven Lloyd.
Inside the car, creature comforts are elevated thanks to the snazzy look of a Ciadella interior. The luxurious look of silver Ultra Leather is nicely accented by Nomad trim, a later Impala wheel, Classic Instruments Bel Era gauges and a competition shifter. While looking good can create a lot of satisfaction, nothing really generates a smile quicker than what's underhood. Instead of brute power or a lot of bling, Jeff went for a modern package that combines form with function for a pleasing all around package that delivers.
"The engine is a 2006 model LS2 which came out of a GTO, along with the T56 six-speed manual transmission," Jeff said when talking about motivation for the car. "It was dyno tuned by Frost Performance in Richmond to produce 384 hp at the rear wheels with 376 lb-ft of torque. It still gets 20-plug mpg and can cruise at 75 mph at just 1,800 rpm. Looking back, this was one of the best choices we made. It's so easy to drive, it's not funny." Silver threads and golden needles may not mend a broken heart, but the look that carries over to this Tri-Five Chevy can make a lot of bad memories fade away.