Mike Gaunt Sr. Shakes it With a Rad­i­cal ’37 Chevy

Street Rodder - - Street Shaker -

When you grow up in a hot rod fam­ily, find­ing your per­for­mance path is as easy as walk­ing into the garage. For Mike Gaunt Sr. of By­ron Cen­ter, Michi­gan, and brothers Mark and Jeff, the week­end rit­ual started as soon as they could walk by be­ing of­fi­cially des­ig­nated as the trou­ble-light hold­ers when their dad, Frank, was el­bows-deep work­ing on his candy blue ’37 Chevy coupe. Be­ing sur­rounded by cool cars lured them deep into the high-per­for­mance web, even­tu­ally learn­ing to turn wrenches and help out on an end­less stream of projects.

There’s noth­ing like liv­ing at the house where all the rac­ers and rod­ders would meet to wrench, bench race, and talk about the lat­est neat bits be­ing show­cased at the lo­cal speed shop. As the years passed Mike took on a num­ber of projects as well as fre­quent­ing U.S.

131 Drag­way and Ber­lin Race­way on Satur­day nights with the fam­ily to see all the hottest cars

run. The heavy scent of burnt rub­ber and nitro was the ic­ing on the cake, lead­ing him to build­ing a Pro-Street ’69 Chev­elle and ’75 Pro-Street Vega for starters by the time he was in his early twen­ties. Work­ing as a ma­chin­ist spe­cial­iz­ing in rac­ing en­gines it was a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to pack his own cars with plenty of wicked power.

Mike al­ways dreamed of own­ing a 1937 Chevy coupe like his dad’s with the added ca­pa­bil­i­ties of be­ing a se­ri­ous street and drag car. One day, as fate would have it, his dad called to tell him about a lo­cal coupe project avail­able for $500. Tat­tered, rusty, and with a tree hav­ing fallen on it, the car was close to be­ing scrapped. Some­how the old coupe called out to Mike for a fi­nal chance. The body lit­er­ally sep­a­rated from the frame when it was lifted to bring it home but he per­se­vered.

To cre­ate a per­fect base to start with

Mike fab­ri­cated a cus­tom mild steel tube chas­sis in­clud­ing all cross­mem­bers. To chan­nel the power out back a Ford 9-inch rear was packed with 4.11 gears spin­ning Moser En­gi­neer­ing 35-spline axles and sus­pended in place with a cus­tom four-link, di­ag­o­nal link, an­tiroll bar, and QA1 coilover shocks. Up front an owner-de­signed IFS meets ’80 GM spin­dles, an­tiroll bar, and QA1 coilover shocks with steer­ing mov­ing through a Flam­ing River Mus­tang II rack-and-pin­ion. For plenty of stop­ping power a Wil­wood En­gi­neer­ing dual master pumps fluid through stain­less lines to Al­ls­tar Per­for­mance 11-inch discs and calipers mounted at each cor­ner. Link­ing it all to the street is a set of 15-inch Weld Pro Star wheels sized 15x13.5 front and 15x14 rear all wrapped in Mickey Thomp­son Sportsman SR rub­ber.

When you make a liv­ing build­ing high-horse­power V-8s it’s time to pack the ’rails with plenty of power. Mike built a nasty 496ci big-block Chevy and filled it with all the right goods, start­ing with an Ea­gle crank linked to match­ing H-beam rods wear­ing JE forged alu­minum pis­tons with a healthy bump from a COMP Cams stick. Up top plenty of power starts with a set of Dart Iron Ea­gle heads deftly matched to a BDS 6-71 huf­fer perched on a match­ing in­take suck­ing air and fuel through a pair of Hol­ley 750-cfm carbs. An MSD ig­ni­tion lights the fire while spent gases move through Speed­way Mo­tors fend­er­well head­ers to a cus­tom 4-inch steel ex­haust. To move the goods a cus­tom-built GM TH400 trans pushes the power rear­ward through a steel drive­shaft. It’s all good for 849 hp at 6,500 rpm on the dyno.

To bring the bat­tered body back to life Mike em­barked on a jour­ney not for the faint of heart. He re­worked the orig­i­nal steel shell to bring it back to life and then con­tacted Su­pe­rior Glass Works for a fresh grille, fend­ers, and run­ning boards. He then set the gaps, mas­saged ev­ery­thing to per­fec­tion, and laid down a dra­matic coat­ing of Ax­alta Emer­ald Green Pearl to give it the per­fect vibe. In­side it’s all busi­ness with a cus­tom dash packed with Au­toMe­ter di­als to mon­i­tor the vitals while steer­ing moves through a clas­sic three-spoke steer­ing wheel from Sum­mit Rac­ing linked to a cus­tom col­umn while shifts fly through a shifter from B&M. A set of Kirkey Rac­ing seats and Simp­son Rac­ing five-point har­nesses keep it safe, com­bined with a 10-point rollcage to com­plete the pack­age. This is one wild Street Shaker that makes an im­pres­sion wher­ever it goes, and we dig it.

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