Someone Left a Show Out in the Rain
But Top-Shelf Muscle Cars Were Cozy and Dry Inside the Solid Lifter Showroom
Longtimers will tell you that the weather at the Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals (until recently the GM Nationals) is a total crapshoot. On this weekend in June it’s either pouring rain, hot and sticky, or all of the above.
The 2018 edition was a rain year, with dark clouds and showers hanging around until the sun finally emerged on Sunday. The weather made for a sparsely attended show field on Friday and Saturday, but in Building Y the Solid Lifter Showroom played to a packed house in terms of both cars and attendees.
For 10 years now, Brian Henderson and Joe Swezey of the Super Car Workshop have put together the SLS as an invitation-only gathering of GM’s hottest performance models. Sure, they use the SLS to show off some of their latest restorations (and the work of the craftsmen at Super Car Restorations, which does much of their paint). But not every car in the SLS has been painstakingly restored by the guys from Latrobe. Original cars, day-two cars, cars in progress—they all make the SLS scene. They just have to be interesting examples of GM’s hottest models.
This year the room was pretty much evenly divided between Camaros on one side and Chevelles on the other, with a lone Chevy II splitting the difference. Here are highlights of the SLS, as well as a few brave souls who left their cars out in the rain. “Rain or shine,” the promoters promise, the next Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals takes place June 21-23, 2019, at the Carlisle Fairgrounds in central Pennsylvania. For info on this and all the other Carlisle shows, visit carlisleevents.com. —Ed.
“The Solid Lifter Showroom played to a packed house”
“A 19-year-old got into so much trouble behind the wheel he had to sell it”
n Inside Building Y, where the SLS takes place, you’d never know it was raining outside except forthe sounds of heavy drops hitting the tin roof. Henderson and Swezey used to have a picturesque old building—much like a real showroom—for theirSLS display. Carlisle sold that property, so SLS moved here. The smaller space forces the guys to be more selective with their invitations, but thequality of the cars is simply outstanding.
n To hear Greg Whitney tell it, “They only made Chevelles one year: 1966. The rest are just a blur.” His car is a blur on the strip now, a competitor in FAST and the Super Car Shootout. But when he bought it in 2011 it was a well-used Chevelle with “tired paint and a grimy 396 with a ’glide. But the bones were there.” The new motor (830 hp on the dyno, 770 through the exhaust) retains the 396’s stroke but has a big bore so it’s “turning 7,500 rpm at the finish line,” says Whitney. Behind the motor is a TH400 and 4.56 gears with a spool in the rearend. How does he get 10.71-second passes on those skinny G70-14s? “Leave like a pussycat, come on like a lion.”
n Chick Renn’s 1968 Z/28 has lived most of its life in pieces. A previous owner tore it down for restoration in 1979. Renn bought it in boxes in 1983 and didn’t begin the restoration until 2010. Fortunately it was “all there,” he says, “even the cowl plenum.” East Coast Muscle Cars did the bodywork and paint, and Renn assembled the car with the help of friend Skip Lecates. Renn documented much of the research he’s done over the years on his car and other Camaros; his informative thread on Team Camaro (camaros.net) has more than 435,000 views.
n Jim Ross bought this Misty Turquoise 1970 Chevelle SS when it was just 2 years old and drove the car for “just one winter” before going drag racing in it. He cut out the rear fenders for slicks and added headers, a Quick Fuel carb on an Edelbrock intake, and a Hurst shifter. After breaking the original four-speed he replaced it with an automatic. Years later Ross decided to restore his Chevelle, and Henderson and Swezey stepped in. Despite the car’s dragstrip time the engine is its born-with L34, and much of the car remains original.
n Rick Thayer’s Tripoli Turquoise 1968 Chevy II was also up in the air in the middle of the SLS to show off its underside details. Painted by Super Car Restoration and restored by Super Car Workshop, Thayer’s Chevy II is not your run-of-the-mill grocery getter. Under the hood is a 325-horse L79 V-8 backed by a M21 four-speed. This is another car we will feature in a future issue.