Hot Rod Magazine
Hot Rod Magazine
There are always incredible cars to be found at Hot Rod Ranch. The shop located in Lompoc, California is owned by the Muro brothers who have been building and restoring hot rods since 2005. If you are a fan of Roadkill, then you are probably familiar with Hot Rod Ranch and all the amazing projects that they work on. The newest addition to the ranch is a 1961 Chevrolet Corvette that Gil had picked up just last week. After seeing a photo of the black C1 on his Instagram page, I called up Gil to get the full story on the car and find out what his plans are for the upcoming build.
“The Corvette belonged to a good friend of ours named Dave Miller, who bought it about 25 years ago. My brothers and I always loved the car, but Dave never really did anything with it. He would move the car from one storage unit to the next,” Gill explains. “I have been bugging him for years that if he ever decided to sell the car, he’d give us first shot.” It was only one year ago that Dave began to consider the idea, and just last week the two managed to work out a specific deal.
Dave had built a fuel injected L-88 427 engine for the Corvette years ago that he dreamt of putting into the car. As part of the deal, Gil agreed that he would run the specially built big block in the Corvette for a few months and then eventually drop in one of his own motors.
“My first job out of high school, I worked for Alan Johnson Performance Engineering. That’s where I got really hooked into drag racing,” Gil says. “I worked there as a machinist and rebuilt my 1971 454 LS6 engine that has been in my family since 1973. I eventually plan on putting that motor into the Corvette, along with a Muncie 4-speed transmission.”
Currently, the car sits as a roller. Gil says that the C1 was built in Santa Barbara sometime in the 70s and then partially into the 80s. “The car was never actually raced as far as I know. Built, put aside, and never finished.” The American Racing 5-spoke magnesium wheels on Hoosier tires really allow you to see the performance potential of this near 60-year-old car. The red hood was given to Dave when he initially bought the car, but Gil says he wants to run something different.
The Corvette has late 70s/early 80s Mustang II front suspension that will be replaced with a straight axle set up. “I’ve always liked the C1 body style, especially as an early drag car/gasser. I posted one I really liked (on Instagram) before we bought the black car and I think it has the perfect look. I want to put it back to how I feel it would have been built in the 60s,” Gil explains.
He hopes to have the Corvette running by the end of next year. For more updates on the build and to see what other cool projects are going on over at Hot Rod Ranch, follow Gill on Instagram @hotrodranch and his brothers, Jamie @hotrodranch_jamie and Randy @randyhrr .
Badass. The first word that came to mind when I stumbled across this amazing pro-street build while scrolling through Facebook. Builder, Houston Kilby, is a hot rodding and racing enthusiast from Johnson City, Tennessee. He has been working on his 1966 Pontiac GTO known as the "FULL METAL GOAT" for three years now and has been involved in racing his whole life. He first began drag racing at only 9 years old in a junior dragster and eventually moved on to building his own hot rods.
What makes this pro-street even more amazing is the fact that it is a true garage build. From welding the chassis, to stretching the wheel wells and installing the tubs, Kilby has invested countless weekends toward completing the project and his dedication to building the car on his own is something to be commended.
"This build from front to back has been a learning experience. I worked alongside Blaine Kilby, one of the best chassis builders, and learned how to bend chrome moly tubing and Tig weld. Blaine showed me the ropes so I could then apply everything I learned to my own project," Kilby explains. "The hardest part of the build by far was learning how to Tig weld the chassis. It took six months of practice before I was good enough to weld up my own chassis."
Under the hood of this beast, you'll find a massive 698 cubic inch F3-136 procharged Big Chief engine. "I decided to go with the best procharger engine builder in the country, so I spoke to Steve Morris and his team 3 years ago when I began the FULL METAL GOAT project. They helped me work out a plan with the motor I already have to piece it together." The Big Chief engine is coupled to a TH400 transmission with Gear Vendors overdrive. Kilby wanted a car that was flexible for all street-car style racing events and also intends on driving the GTO on the road.
"The car does get some negative attention in the Pontiac world because of the type of motor that's in it. With a set of Pontiac Big Chief cylinder heads on top of a Merlin IV block it creates a lot of controversy amongst Pontiac purists," he explains. "On the positive side, the car gets a lot love from most of the car groups I am part of on Facebook. People have been really supportive and I cannot thank them enough."
The pro-street Pontiac won't be quite ready to hit the streets for at least another year, as the car is still waiting on a number of parts. In the mean time, you can stay up to date with Kilby's progress on the FULL METAL GOAT by subscribing to his Youtube channel. His videos detail how he assembled certain components and he provides valuable tips and tricks for anyone building a pro-street car of their own. "You cannot buy cool, you have to build it!" Kilby says. Spoken like a true hot-rodder.
You're probably thinking, what the fuck.
What looks to be a 1932 Ford 3 window coupe is actually not even a Ford at all. This amazing build by @mad_32lsx is strictly Chevy powered.
The project first began one year ago, with a 32 Ford fibreglass body and a Corvette C4 chassis and frame. The frame was then narrowed and extended 10 inches to match the dimensions of the body. "The most difficult part of the project has been modifying the frame and welding the roll cage together," he says.
The build features an assortment of customized components fabricated by @mad_32lsx himself, including aluminum seats, a 50-litre fuel cell, and newly built headers. As well, minor suspension modifications have been made that add to the look of the car.
"I dropped the leaf spring ends under the control arm and put a bolt through it to adjust the ride height. The car sits about 3 inches lower now," he explains.
The 2200lbs hot rod will be powered by a 650 horsepower LS7. The stock cylinder heads have been hand-ported and milled 0.030 inches for a bump in compression ratio, and a Lingenfelter GT21 camshaft (243/259 112 LSA) was selected for the application.
"I still need to finish the headers, install the wiring harness, fuel lines, and radiator. Then I just have to lower the body back into the chassis and it is pretty much done. I expect to have it running before summer," he says.
A project like this is definitely worthy of respect, whether you are a Ford or Chevy fan. The car was entirely built by him and his father in their garage, and he says he fully intends on taking it to the racetrack upon completion.
Follow @mad_32lsx on Instagram to watch as the build progresses.
A couple months back I reached out to Dave Schroeder, winner of last year's Hot Rod Drag Week, and asked if I could stop by to take some photos of his 1966 Corvette C2. The car is powered by an 872ci Reher Morrison engine and is hooked up with 4 stages of nitrous. It ran an average of 6.8 seconds over the course of Drag Week, taking first place in the Unlimited Class as well as first place overall. When I initially emailed him, I really wasn't sure if he would agree to it. But after meeting Dave, I can say he is definitely one of the coolest and nicest car guys you'll ever meet. He had a ton of interesting stories to share from being on the road and even spoke about the upcoming race season.
For 2018, there are not many changes being made to the car. He says that the Corvette is being rewired after experiencing issues last year with the coil pack. He also explains the rear differential is being replaced by a custom one made by Scribner Welding and Distributing. Apart from those alterations, Schroeder says he intends to focus on tuning the car for this year's Drag Week event in September.
You can find last year's coverage of Drag Week on Youtube and watch all 5 passes he made in the Corvette.
I had the chance to ask Cody Crawford a few questions about the internet phenomenon we call the Rotsun. Crawford was the original owner of the 1971 Datsun 240z before Roadkill got ahold of it. "Originally the car was going to be for my friend's wife. It was part of a two car deal that we found on Craigslist. This was the worst of the two cars," he explains.
"When we tried to pick up the other car, the seller flaked out and disappeared, so we only took home the Datsun. My friend is a big Datsun fan and he always wanted a 240z. We worked on it for a few months and then had to move out of the house where the car was stored and didn't have anywhere to keep it, so it was parted out. The guys at Roadkill bought it for $500. I don't recall what we paid for it," Crawford says.
A couple of months ago, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to tour Hot Rod Magazine's garage and see the car in person. It is amazing to think how far the Rotsun has come (and how many motors it's gone through) since joining the Roadkill fleet.
What's your name and where are you from?
Casey Stolberg. I grew up in California but moved to Arizona for college and ended up staying here.
What originally got you into Pontiac?
My dad got me into cars as a teenager with his 1972 Camaro Z28 that I learned how to drive in, but when I went off to ASU I met some of the guys involved with the Pontiac Heaven group in Phoenix and started learning more about Pontiacs. Their history is very interesting and as an engineering student I had a lot of love for the design of the Pontiac V8. Plus everyone and their mom at a car show has a Camaro or Chevelle or Mustang, and I like cars that are a little less common. If I wasn't a Pontiac guy I'd probably be into MOPARs, they have a similar successful racing history.
Which Pontiac cars have you owned?
My first car I ever bought with my own money was a 1963 Pontiac LeMans with a 326 up front and the TempesTorque 2-speed automatic transaxle and IRS in the back. I had no clue that the car was set up that way until it was in my parents' driveway and I got underneath it. Learning on and about the Pontiac Y-Bodies and the 60s period of Pontiac racing and engineering made me an even more hardcore Pontiac guy. I daily drove that car when I was 18 and 19 over the course of the summer between my Freshman and sophomore year at ASU. The car was all original when I got it, and I was still figuring cars out at the time.
One night I was driving home on the 101 in Phoenix when the throttle linkage broke off (because it was rusty and 50 years old) and ended up blowing the transaxle on the freeway at 120mph. After that I parked it for a few years. In the mean time I had a 72 firebird formula that I wrenched on for a short bit, but was a pretty lost cause. Then I purchased a 72 Luxury LeMans 4 door 350 car that had just about every option out there for $400 and had that for about a month. I ripped the motor and trans out and sold the shell for $500. I sold the transmission but I kept the 350 Pontiac and bored and stroked it out to just under 422" (can't do that with an SBC). Little ram air IV Cam and #16 heads ground down, it's a neato little motor. I planned on putting that into my 63 after I finished the solid rear axle swap. But I still needed a car so I picked up a 1970 C20 and drove that as a daily while working on the 63.
Then a few years later I got into a really bad car accident with a guy hopped out of his mind on painkillers and it wrecked my truck. A Chevy truck that I was getting ready to put a Pontiac 350 into just to piss off the Chevy guys. Then two years of lawsuit and medical issues relating to a fractured L5 among some other issue and I wasn't wrenching on my car anymore. I did have it shipped off to a Fabrication shop in San Diego to have a 9" installed, but before I went any further I wanted to get it titled. Turns out when I bought it in California I was given a temporary title since the car didn't have one. I tried to go through the process of obtaining a title for it but it turns out the car was stolen back in the late 70s and was somehow still in the system. I couldn't contact the original owner (my money is that he's dead by now), so Communist California made me surrender the car. I got to take my 9" back out, but I lost a lot of money on the suspension and back half Fabrication. Oh well, you win some you loose some.
Right now I'm trying to find the right Pontiac to pick up and drop a drivetrain into (I have a Kauffman 500" MR1 roller motor I got a good deal on, but there went the budget for the car right?). So between work and going back to school and life, I haven't really had the time or money lately to get another car, but I have my eyes on a few hopefuls right now.
What is your favorite car produced by Pontiac?
My favorite Pontiac is a three way tie. I'll always have a soft spot for the 63 LeMans/Tempest because it was my first car and they're so unique. But the other reason I love them is they were Pontiac's last big hoorah in the Super Duty racing program like the 1963 Catalina, my other favorite. Both cars were very successful in racing and both have a very Pontiac look to them. And when was the last time you saw either at a car show? Probably as often as you've seen a 1973 LeMans GTO, the last car in the tie. Few know that Pontiac only produced the GTO model from 1966-1971. 64-5 and 72-3 were LeMans sub-model options, and the 74 was the Ventura sub-model option. The mid-70s GM colonnades are such uncommon cars and they never get any love. A Colonnade GTO? Myself, I've only ever seen one in person, and I love it. Very unique. Total dog, but what wasn't at the time?
What is your favorite era during Pontiac's history?
As far as the Pontiac era goes I overlap. Knudsen started the Pontiac Performance image, but John Delorean saw it through and kept it up after GM killed the factory racing program. The 60s were the most angsty rebellious time in Pontiac history and that's what I love about them.
What is your favorite engine developed by Pontiac?
My favorite mass production Pontiac engine from the factory would be the 421 Super Duty. I mean it cost almost as much as the cars you were putting them in, even when you ordered the car engine delete, since you were going to stick the super duty down in it! That, and the fact that it defined the brightest parts of Pontiac racing. Pike's Peak 1962, Daytona 1963, NASCAR and NHRA/AHRA etc all through the early 60s. But my favorite Pontiac motor never got released. The aluminum 427" Fuel injected DOHC Hemi in 1971 that was meant to be the second generation Pontiac V8. It made the cover of Hot Rod Magazine, but it was another project that GM shut down. Think the LT or LS to the Small Block Chevy.
Tell us more about your current projects.
I don't have anything recent since I haven't had anything neat since 2015, just motors. I have a few Pontiac 350s because you can get them for like $30, but they're nothing special. Just wrapped up in a storage unit. I have a 421 stroker that was originally the 350 out of the 72 LeMans. That was going to be the cheapo motor for my 63.
I found a great deal on this 500 cubic inch motor and bought it from a guy parting out his 60 Ventura show car. I couldn't pass up the deal. The 500 block is iron, but the heads are aluminum. It made 600hp and 650lbft on the dyno with an Edelbrock Performer intake, a quadrajet carb, and an HEI distributor.
It had a lot left in it, especially with the new ported Kauffman Northwind intake on it (similar to a Victor), and the Fast EZ EFI 2.0 system that includes the ignition. It also has a roller cam in it for 455s, so it is actually a little bit small for how big that engine is. It can go bigger too, since it is basically a 455 stroke with a huge bore. The neat thing about Pontiacs is that they have massive strokes. The 500 is an afternarket block but uses a factory length forged 455 type crank.
Pontiac has always been a major influence for Hot Wheels designer, Brendon Vetuskey. The enthusiast has owned multiple Firebirds across the 4 generations, beginning with the purchase of a 1984 Trans Am at the age of 17. “I have been a Pontiac fan ever since,” he says; and currently, he owns this 1967 Pontiac Firebird that has undergone a complete transformation from its original factory look.
The Firebird first began life as a Verdoro Green 326 HO car. From there, Vetuskey tore the ‘bird apart only to find that the rust situation was even worse than anticipated. “I had it acid dipped to remove the rust, only it was so thick, the acid dip could not remove it. It took a few years before it stopped rapidly rusting,” he explains.
Vetuskey’s Firebird is powered by a 383 stroker LS1 engine and produces over 550 horsepower, and he had the transmission tunnel raised to fit the T-56 Magnum. The car has also had major suspension upgrades to improve its drivability with Detroit Speed front suspension and coil over shocks and 1969 Z/28 steering arms. The rear suspension features a Detroit Speed Quadralink with coil over shocks and panhard bar. He included a 1.25 inch solid sway bar in the front with custom end links and mounts, and a Detroit Speed sway bar in the rear.
“I'm very happy with the driving performance of the car. It's a fuel injected LS, so it starts and drives great. The T-56 magnum gives me great acceleration and decent fuel economy too. The car is very stable at speed thanks to the Detroit Speed suspension all around, and the Toyo R888 tires are very grippy,” Vetuskey told us. “Of course, I can induce oversteer but otherwise it's great. I've taken it to the track a few times and have had the car up over 130mph,” he says.
Over the five and half year build process, Vetuskey has made a number of custom modifications in order to complete the car. “Custom built 6-point style roll cage, subframe connectors and hoop supports were all designed to integrate better into the car,” he begins. “The engine was recessed 3 inches back for better weight distribution and to maintain use of the factory 6-quart oil pan and windage tray. The firewall had to be notched back to accommodate,” he says.
The Firebird consists of subtle alterations in order to support Vetuskey’s vision for the overall look of the car. Flared rear quarter panels help accommodate the 1969 Trans Am spoiler, and the use of BMW E30 HID projector headlights give the front end a modern touch. As well, both the front and rear wheel openings were enlarged to fit the US Mags forged alloy Bandit rims. The hand built scoops in the quarter panels provide a more functional use and help assist with rear brake ducting.
It is quite easy to see how much thought was put into this build through little details and personal design, like the custom honeycomb grille that was made to pay homage to the second generation styling that made the Firebird such an icon. Vetuskey even had the aluminum block painted Pontiac Blue as tribute to the now-inoperative brand.
When asked why he decided to go with the bare metal look instead of painting the car, he responds, “Technically, the car is painted. It's just painted with a clear paint [KBS coatings Diamond Clear]. I was four years into the build and was to a point that I wanted to drive the car. I didn't want it to sit at a paint shop for a year, and having gone through that process on a previous car I knew it would take a while. I figured I'd put a temporary coating on it now to keep the rust off, and I'd go back and paint it later. Well, it turned out to be quite popular at local shows, and I quickly came to the realization that I didn't have to detail the car every time I drove it. I didn't have to worry about chips or scratches, or where I parked it. It took a lot of the stress of owning an older car out of the way.”
He says the goal of this project was to build a reliable daily driver, with a vintage look and modern performance, that could also handle days at the track – and this Firebird definitely checks all the boxes.