Some­one Left a Show Out in the Rain

But Top-Shelf Mus­cle Cars Were Cozy and Dry In­side the Solid Lifter Show­room

Muscle Car Review - - Muscle - By Drew Hardin

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 —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 ( 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.

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