There is something to be said for a car that gets driven and driven hard. Trailer queen cars tend to lose their novelty when the owner only gets to pilot them from the ramps of the trailer to the garage. Air Ride Technologies out of Jasper, Indiana, has always been conscious of building cars that will turn heads wherever they go, but will still absorb the hardest thrashing that can be thrown at them. If you have been to any Goodguys Rod and Custom Association event across the country, you have undoubtedly seen their Auto Cross track and the various machines wearing their suspension trickery that get stuffed into corners with the tachometer banging off the redline. Company owner Bret Voelkel has always built cars that provoke the drool factor, but also hit the asphalt with rear rubber smoking and the horses running wild.
The 1966 Chevy Chevelle displayed across these pages is proof of the company’s notorious need for speed with suspension adjustment on the fly. For superb performance and handling, the car was set-up with Air Ride Technologies Strong Arm tubular upper and lower control arms with Cool Ride air springs teamed with double adjustable Shockwaves.
In the rear a Chassis Works Fab 9-inch rearend filled with Moser custom axles and 3.70:1 gear ratio is supported by Cool Ride air springs and Strong Arm control arms. Vari Shock double adjustable shocks cushion the ride when the ART crew is blasting the back roads at 100 plus. Air Ride Technologies Muscle Bar sway bars keep the car flat through the corners, while Fat Man Fabrications spindles help with the initial nosedive qualities. An Air Ride Technologies Ride Pro e2 compressor control system manages airflow, while Baer 13-inch rotors and four-piston brake calipers take the power band down a notch. Capping off the wild updated underpinnings is a set of 17 x 9.5-inch CCW wheels wrapped with P225/45ZR17 front and P275/40ZR17 rear BF Goodrich G-Force T/A tires.
Sending all of the performance suspension trickery into action mode is a 430-HP, 383-ci, small-block Chevy built by Jasper Engines. The mill features Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads, a Weiand aluminum intake manifold topped by a Holley 770 Street Avenger carburetor tuned by Willy’s Carburetors. Lighting the rumbling fire is a MSD billet distributor, wires and 6AL ignition. Vocalizing the horsepower harmonies are Hooker 1.75-inch diameter headers dumping octane cocktails into a Flowmaster 2.5-inch exhaust system. Transferring these asphalt-blistering ponies to the road is a 700 R-4 transmission built by Bowler Transmissions delivering gear commands to a stout 10-bolt filled with Moser axles and 4.11 cogs. The gearbox holds a 2,400 stall converter and is fit with a lock up control module. An Afco aluminum radiator and Spal electric fan keeps the ponies in chill mode, while a Vintage Air A/c system with front runner serpentine drive system maintains comfortable cabin temperatures.
For the exterior of the car, the stealth approach was taken with the factory metal landscape left intact and blanketed with Marina Blue. This keeps the car in mild mode until the 430-HP mill and performance underpinnings spring into action.
Between the doors lies a blend of original and performance styling. Cerullo GT seats covered in black ultra leather provide road race inspiration, while keeping shoulders pinned for full throttle blasts. At the helm is a Flaming River Industries tilt steering column linked to a 12.7:1 steering box all commanded with a Flaming River Cascade steering wheel. A B&M Pro Stick shifter handles gear commands when pilots get the itch to drop a gear and mash the skinny pedal.
The Air Ride Technologies ’66 Chevelle is a perfect blend of restored and all-out, corner-carving machine. Whether its leading edge sheet metal is diving into a corner on the road course, blasting down the highway at speed, or rolling low on the fairgrounds at an event, the car pulls off a variety of performance goals all in one shot. ART employees Tony Bicknell and Brad Coomer recently drove the car from Jasper to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah, which is just a shade less than 1,700 miles. Now that’s proven road worthy, high-performance muscle.