MOT­LEY CRUE’ZER

Rich Simp­kins’ hopped-up Chev­elle 300 Deluxe packs a nasty big-block punch

Chevy High Performance - - Con­tents - TEXT & PHO­TOS: Chuck Vranas ✜

Rich Simp­kins’ hopped-up Chev­elle 300 Deluxe packs a nasty big-block punch

with be­ing his big­gest in­flu­ence in teach­ing him all the skills.

His re­ward came in the form of a

’70 Nova, which his par­ents sur­prised him with at the age of 15. It was the per­fect base to start with and he wasted lit­tle time be­fore cus­tomiz­ing it. A ’70 Chev­elle and ’68 Ca­maro soon fol­lowed with each get­ting en­gine swaps and end­less mod­i­fi­ca­tions as he worked on them nights and week­ends. In 1987, ev­ery­thing changed when he and his dad trav­eled to Vir­ginia to check out a ’68 Chev­elle 300 Deluxe his un­cle Calvin had for sale. The car had a weath­ered old paint scheme, but rais­ing the hood re­vealed a vi­cious 327ci mill pack­ing all the right goods. A deal was made and Rich wheeled the car for well over a decade, which in­cluded en­gine swaps and end­less mod­i­fi­ca­tions. With any car that goes the dis­tance, plenty of great mem­o­ries are built right along with the car. For Rich, those in­cluded awe­some times with his wife, Ann, and chil­dren at­tend­ing plenty of car shows un­til he fi­nally made the de­ci­sion for a full makeover.

It was time to in­ject just the right amount of stance, at­ti­tude, and power into what would be­come the Mot­ley Crue’zer. For the right base, he con­tacted Tom Brush Chas­sis of For­est Hill, Mary­land, who got started by fab­ri­cat­ing a 1 1/2-inch chro­moly tube chas­sis and rollcage. To han­dle plenty of abuse out back, a FAB9 rear from Chris Al­ston’s Chas­sis­works packs an Ea­ton True­trac with 4.30:1 gears spin­ning Strange Engi­neer­ing axles. It’s sus­pended in place by a cus­tom four-link along with a wish­bone and Jegs dou­ble-ad­justable coilover shocks. Up front, a pair of alu­minum Strange Engi­neer­ing GT struts link to power rack-and-pin­ion steer­ing.

For am­ple brak­ing power, a CPP Hy­draS­top hy­draulic brake as­sist sys­tem pushes fluid through stain­less

lines to Strange Engi­neer­ing 11-inch discs with four-pis­ton calipers up front and Wil­wood 11-inch discs with four-pis­ton calipers out back. Link­ing it all to the street is a set of Bil­let Spe­cial­ties Win Lite 15-inch wheels wear­ing Hoosier rub­ber.

When it came to mak­ing a state­ment, Rich called his dad’s three “C’s” of power into play: cu­bic inches, cam, and car­bu­re­tion. Want­ing plenty of big-block power he con­tacted Jensen’s En­gine Tech­nolo­gies in Nescopeck, Penn­syl­va­nia, for their Street 555ci

V-8 pack­age known as the Mad Man. Start­ing with a World Prod­ucts Mer­lin III iron block, it was mas­saged to per­fec­tion and filled with a Cal­lies Comp­star crank linked to Man­ley H-beam rods capped with SRP forged alu­minum slugs with a heavy beat from a Comp Cams CB Spe­cial roller stick. A pair of Brodix BP RR BB-3 XTRA O alu­minum heads makes mas­sive power, es­pe­cially when topped by a Sonny’s in­take wear­ing a cus­tom Hol­ley/

APD 1,150-cfm carb. It sparks to life through a Mal­lory HyFire ig­ni­tion and dumps spent gasses out cus­tom 2-inch stain­less head­ers to a 4-inch stain­less oval ex­haust by Tom Brush. Power moves to a TH400 by ATI Per­for­mance along with a Gear Ven­dors over­drive unit. Linked to a cus­tom drive­shaft by Perry Hall Power Equip­ment, the com­bi­na­tion is good for an earth­shak­ing 869 hp at 6,300 rpm.

Tak­ing on the job of breath­ing life back into a body that had seen plenty of abuse over the decades was Dave Vrankin of For­est Hill. He stripped it down to bare metal and be­gan the trans­for­ma­tion through fi­nal assem­bly. Dave started by re­plac­ing the quar­ter-pan­els, fol­lowed by build­ing new floors and re­pair­ing rust dam­age to the doors, fend­ers, and wind­shield sur­round. Tom Brush then crafted the rear wheel­tubs and pan­els for the trunk. Dave then fol­lowed by

stretch­ing the rear wheel open­ings 2 inches and adding tucked fiber­glass bumpers, the front one get­ting an in­te­grated air dam. The fi­nal up­date was a US Body Source ’68 SS ’glass hood mod­i­fied by Frank Morowski to raise the cen­ter con­tours. Dave metal-fin­ished the body and then laid down a coat­ing of Ax­alta Arc­tic White vibe to bring it all to life. Fi­nal de­tails in­cluded all trim items be­ing painted in matte gray along with the sig­na­ture graph­ics be­ing ap­plied by A+ Auto Styling.

In­side, it’s all busi­ness start­ing with a cus­tom dash in­sert by Frank hous­ing Au­toMeter Phan­tom di­als to mon­i­tor the vi­tals while a Bil­let Spe­cial­ties wheel carves the course and shifts move through a Hurst Quar­ter Stick. Mike Bald­win wired the beast while Vin­tage Air makes sure the cabin temps stay in check. For com­fort, Brad Wurzbacher and the team at Lucky 7 Rod Shop nailed the look with a set of cus­tom buck­ets, side pan­els, and con­sole wrapped in a com­bi­na­tion of black and gray Ul­traleather ac­cented by black loop car­pet.

The Chev­elle is truly wicked and Rich wanted to thank good friend Chuck Grea­son who brought this tal­ented team of builders to­gether on the Crue’zer. CHP

Grow­ing up, Rich’s ear­li­est mem­o­ries re­volve around the fam­ily’s’66 Chev­elle and his dad, Harold, work­ing on it in the garage. Since his dad was an auto me­chanic by trade there was al­ways plenty go­ing on when it came to mod­i­fy­ing and main­tain­ing the daily driver.Rich’s au­to­mo­tive path started early on, gain­ing a ba­sic me­chan­i­cal un­der­stand­ing as he ea­gerly watched each trans­for­ma­tion take place. There’s noth­ing more mem­o­rable than your first en­gine pull, which hap­pened right on the front lawn while the neigh­bors watched. Be­fore long, Rich was work­ing right along­side his dad, and he cred­its him

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