When you see this Chevelle, think of that evil jack-in-the-box snapping out of its hidey hole, razor teeth sparkling as it rips your head off resultant. Meantime, the nasty thing is back in his box before anyone can say boo. Hah! Welcome to Memphis!
For most of its hot rod life, Kevin “Umgowah” Thompson’s ’65 Malibu has been the epitome of stealth. Had the stuff goin’ for it: steel wheels; dog dish ‘caps, and that flesh-colored original GM Sandlewood “paint” that’s enough to upset a turkey vulture’s stomach. It was quick and powerful but carried “stealth weight” that it did not need. In spite of its heft and traction deficit, the thing cranked off low 9.40s at 145 “on the edge the whole way,” opined KT. As such, the ‘Bu had hit the performance nail strip and would ascend no higher.
As its old self, the engine was 580-inch, high-comp, Milodon Rat. Race gas was mandatory. For better or worse, the Hot Rod Pump Gas Drags changed all that. KT was accepted for the second event. He had a few months to make a drastic conversion centered on a new motor combo and the shameless shedding of fat. Naturally, this all went against KT’s oath: keep it as stock-looking as possible, and never ever cut the car. To fit anything larger than a 9.00x29 slick (the biggest tire that would fit in the factory wheel house) he had to crumple up his credo and mini-tub the Malibu.
Traumatized by the thought of the impending chainsaw massacre, KT looked north to Atoka, fetching body/tech experts Todd McCutchen and Benny Smith (collectively AKA “Machine”). Machine did the cutting and the fitting while KT sourced a fabbed 4130 9-inch housing, narrowed it 4 inches per side, and gave it a back brace. Todd and Benny were there three nights a week for a month running the Sawzall, measuring, and making templates for the new flooring and sheetmetal.
As for positioning the housing, “I designed the brackets that would use the stock geometry suspension pick-up point, moving the lower ones inboard 4 inches. I emailed my drawings to O.H. Hendricks (sheet metal contractors) and they cut the design patterns with a laser from 4130 plates. The stock coil spring mount was eliminated for lack of room, so I used coil/overs instead. New Dick Miller upper and lower control arms employ Heim ends and the lowers have a new diagonal brace that attaches to the axle housing to eliminate any lateral swing.”
Since it was a project car, it wouldn’t have been right unless KT finished his new 598 the night before the PGD. Because he likes to street drive this pocket of fire when the mood strikes, he could no longer abide the price of race gas to do it. The idea was to run only pump gas. He made the required PGD highway drive, but bringing an untried combination, he wisely used the event as a test-and-tune. On 315/60R-15 M/T ET Streets, the Malibu went 9.49 at 145. The intake manifold is already plumbed with a dry fogger nitrous system so that two stages can be enabled by only one set of nozzles. At this writing, the evil juice jack-in-the-box has yet to pop bloody.
Kevin was also anxious to lessen weight at the front of the car. To that end, he assembled TRZ tubular upper and lower control arms, rack steering, and Strange double-adjustable coil/over shock absorbers. With him in it, the ready-to-rock Malibu weighs 3,430 pounds. With all the changes, plus the double hit of juice, KT expects high-eight-second capability at will. None of this will affect street running. It’s a god-awful rush, though, folks. One second you’re here; the next you’re way down the road, shot through, feeling the Malibu’s effervescence in every fiber of your tired old body.