Joseph Sil­han buys back his 1966 Chevy II for a sec­ond time

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT & PHO­TOS: Richard Prince

Joseph Sil­han buys back his 1966 Chevy II for a sec­ond time

When GM ini­tially con­ceived of the Chevy II in re­sponse to Ford’s Fal­con, they aimed right for the mid­dle of the bell curve in or­der to ap­peal to as many buy­ers as pos­si­ble. The Chevy II was in­tro­duced in 1962 and it was im­me­di­ately clear that they hit the bull’s-eye, cre­at­ing a car that did ev­ery­thing rea­son­ably well but noth­ing ex­cep­tional. In a few short years, how­ever, de­sign­ers and engi­neers would trans­form the or­di­nary into some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary, be­gin­ning with the in­tro­duc­tion of V-8 en­gines in 1964 and then a sub­stan­tial sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion restyling for the ’66 model.

The sharper-edged body­work in­tro­duced for the ’66 model year was im­me­di­ately pop­u­lar and helps make the sec­ond-gen Chevy II a fa­vorite to this day, es­pe­cially with Pro Street en­thu­si­asts. The styling was cer­tainly a prime mo­ti­va­tor for Joe Sil­han, who bought our fea­ture car on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, and swears he’ll never part with it again.

This par­tic­u­lar Chevy II was built by Stephen Agnello, who hap­pens to be a restau­ra­teur by trade, but who clearly knows his way around a MIG welder and spray gun. Agnello bought the car as a roller from an In­ter­net web­site and, work­ing in his base­ment shop, im­me­di­ately stripped it down to a bare shell. He then sand­blasted ev­ery inch of the body and re­placed most of the car’s sheet­metal, in­clud­ing the quar­ters and floors. Af­ter fab­ri­cat­ing huge tubs and a cus­tom trans­mis­sion tun­nel and adding a rollcage, he did all of the fin­ish body­work, and then sprayed it with a cus­tom-mixed PPG twostage urethane.

Mo­tive power comes from a Cen­tral Val­ley Ma­chine Shop 548ci big-block, built up us­ing a Dart block and heads. The cam and val­ve­train are a Comp Cams setup. An 8-71 su­per­charger from The Blower Shop is con­fig­ured to de­liver a very mod­est 4 psi of boost for com­fort­able street driv­ing. The en­gine’s power goes through a JW Per­for­mance Turbo 400 equipped with a trans brake. CV Ma­chine built a cus­tom drive­shaft that ini­tially chan­neled the en­gine’s power to a 4.56:1-geared spool, which was good for the track but “too crazy” for street driv­ing. To make the car more user friendly, a Yukon Gear posi rear with 3.73:1 gears re­placed the spool. Strange axles cut down by Moser spin the big Mickey Thomp­sons.

To both help the car hook up and im­prove over­all han­dling and ride qual­ity, a Hei­dts sub­frame/cross­mem­ber pack­age was in­stalled up front and a TCI Engi­neer­ing four-link setup to the rear. The new fron­tend’s Mus­tang II rack-and-pin­ion was cou­pled with a cir­cle track power steer­ing pump and re­mote reser­voir sourced from Behrent’s Per­for­mance Ware­house.

As with the ex­te­rior, the car’s in­te­rior is low-key, with an em­pha­sis on func­tion­al­ity. The fab­ri­cated sheet­metal dash holds a full ar­ray of Au­toMeter gauges. R.J.S. Rac­ing Equip­ment seats pro­vide just the right bal­ance of sup­port and com­fort. OEM-type car­pet and ba­sic door panel trim give the inside a more fin­ished feel with­out adding a lot of ex­tra weight.

Af­ter a solid year of work, Agnello en­joyed his Chevy II on the street and at the track, where it clicked off 10.0-sec­ond quar­ters at 137 mph all day with­out break­ing a sweat. He was al­ways care­ful to not dip be­low 10

sec­onds be­cause he didn’t want to have to in­stall a cer­ti­fied ’cage.

In 2013, Agnello sold the car to Joe Lup­pino, who fell in love when he saw it at a car show in Bear Moun­tain, New York. Like Agnello, Lup­pino en­joyed driv­ing the Chevy II very much, but his own­er­ship was cut short af­ter only five months when he and his wife went their sep­a­rate ways. That’s when it went—the first time—to Joe Sil­han, who also fell in love the mo­ment he saw it.

A year af­ter Sil­han bought the car, Lup­pino called to ask if he’d con­sider sell­ing it and the tim­ing was right so

it went back to Lup­pino. Over the fol­low­ing year he made a num­ber of changes, start­ing with the in­stal­la­tion of Wil­wood front calipers in place of the Mus­tang II calipers that were part of the Hei­dts sub­frame kit. He also in­stalled Bil­let Spe­cial­ties wheels, a Har­wood In­dus­tries cowl-in­duc­tion hood, a trans­mis­sion cooler, and elec­tric fans.

Just when he had the car fully di­aled in, look­ing and per­form­ing ex­actly as he wanted, Lup­pino got a call from his old pal Sil­han, ask­ing—you guessed it—if the car was for sale? Co­in­ci­den­tally, Lup­pino had just lost his job, so he re­luc­tantly agreed to sell, but with the prom­ise that when Sil­han was ready to part with it he’d call him first.

“If I ever want to sell it, I’ll call

Joe,” Sil­han tells us. “But re­al­is­ti­cally speak­ing, I don’t see that hap­pen­ing be­cause this car is so nice. I would ac­tu­ally call it per­fect. It’s a great driver that my son Francis and I en­joy very much, so I don’t an­tic­i­pate sell­ing it again!” CHP

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