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INSTANT AWESOME

Words by Stephen K. Anderson
Photography by Scott Killeen

 

It seems that everyone with a talent for building something is finding a career in television these days. Channels that were once dedicated to the preservation of rainforests and historic perspective have turned their attention to various forms of reality shows centered on street rods, choppers and wicked creations that defy description.

Within the confines of the serpentine belts and the detailed valve covers is an Edelbrock Fuel Injected RPM E-Tec engine producing 440 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque.

Once strapped into these supportive Corba seats, the leather-wrapped Budnik wheel falls right in hand. Surrounding components are from Original Parts Group.

The latest of these programs to enter the fray is airing on The Learning Channel, and it goes by the name of "Overhaulin." Unique in its approach, it doesn't get any more real than this highly condensed one-hour program that will watch a vehicle go from it's most basic form to a show-stopping automotive expression, all in the span of one week. Yes, you read it right. In just seven days, several of the top builders in the nation come together for the better part of 24/7 to do the impossible.

Created by Bud Brutsman, the same innovative producer who brought us "Rides," this show sets a new standard on the "reality television" front. This is the real deal, not some contrived mix of emotional interplay, flying sparks and smoking tires, which seems to be the hook for some programming these days. Any show has its place -- after all, TV is entertainment, but don't expect it to provide an authentic look at what really goes into creating a modern-day hot rod or the more serious side of this hobby. Most are just entertainment.

This time around, Brutsman and his crew have teamed with TLC on its most industrious effort to date, a show that follows along as unlimited talent is poured over a variety of vehicles around the clock. And if you're thnking that days or weeks of preparation and prefabricationled up to this one-week thrash, think again. Outside of the logistics of planning, the schedule for the production crew, and the flights to bring in the various talents, everything came together with the unbelievable tight timeling of 168 hours!

Impossible? Well, it may seem so--until you follow along through a good portion of the transformation of this vehicle(and several others that we'll be covering in other Buckaroo Publications.) Several Bucaroo staff members, including photographer Scott Killeen, feature editor Will Smith and yours truly, captured these images 'roung the clock as these cars took shape. And even when we're following along (and in some cases, helping out), it's still hard to believe. Processes that often take builders years to accomplish fly together under impossibly tight deadlines. While you may think this kind of exhaustive effort would have people at each other's throats, mostly everyone remains cool, showing true professionalism and teamwork even as the sun rises on another day. Sure, there are moments of frustation as problems arise, but by and large, everything runs smoothly.

To actually see--and most importantly, understand--how this amazing process takes place, you'll need to check out "Overhaulin" for yourself. Then again, to get more of an inside look at the broad strokes of this instant buildup, we've taken a step-by-step look at the various procedures that led to the creation of a car like this beautiful '71 Chevelle. It's here you'll see how so many individuals can work side by side, under the car and over it, and still manage to maintain sanity, hour after hour, day after day.

If you have yet to see the show, we won't spoil the basic setup, other than to say that that the car's owner, Jeff Miller, was let to believe his very basic, green on green '71 Chevelle was being used for a detailing demonstration with Jim Hollaway at Mother's Wax. Little did he know that just one week later it would be transformed into a vehicle beyond his wildest dreams by some of the finest craftsmen in Southern California, including a guy named Chip Foose. As many of us have seen in these magazines and on sows like "Rides," Foose's ability to transfer his concepts form paper to completion is unsurpassed. With the help of Foose Design crew members like Pete Morrell, Karl Jonasson, Andy Wallin and Bryan Fuller,he did it again here.

As you can see, this Chevelle is fantastic. If you were to hear the sound of the engine, there would be no question as to its performance potential. After all, there's an Edlebrock Fuel Injected Performer RPM E-Tec crate engine producing 440 hp in that pristine engine compartment. Best of all, its 425 lb-ft of torque is produced on pump gas, which adds to the real-world appeal of this affordable engine. Delivered by Camee Edelbrock herself and installed by Ford's Kevin Byrd--with help from Edlebrock staffers Curt Hooker and Dan Dragoo--everything about the engine installation went smoothly, especially considering the tight time constraints. The exhaust system combines components from Doug's Headers and Original Parts Group (OPG), and it tells of the power within. An impressive array of visual improvements make the most of this powerful package, including the air cleaner and valve covers that have been coated in a cinnamon and champagne paint combination that reflects exterior hues within the black confines of the engine compartment. Add in the serpentine belt system from Vintage Air (the same company that supplied the A/C system) and this engine is definitely well equipped.

Thanks to the broad array of components from Original Parts Group, the dash, console, door panels, carpeting and headliner look better than new.

With this power matted to a stout GM Turbo 350 automatic, this car is every bit the performer that Miller has always wanted--and then some. You see, Miller is a gearhead from the get-go, and while he's well paid as a staff member at OPG in Huntington Beach, California, making changes like these would have taken him a very long time. Thankfully, the show's producers secretly chose him to receive an "Overhaulin," and as it turned out, he was a great candidate for this honor. His employers had a great deal to do with this car's modifications. All of the original interior trim, except for the Cobra Sidewinder bucket seats, came from OPG. This includes the SS dash panel and gauge package, as well as the console and the shifter, replacing the original on the column. The same goes for the external lenses for the parking lights, the grille and even the cowl-induction hood. The last piece to be installed was the Budnik steering wheel--leather-wrapped, of course. But don't think that work stopped even at this point, as there was still a lot left to do.

The chassis features OPG components as well, along with a hearty suspension system rushed over by John Hotchkis himself, including the heavy-duty springs, shocks and various brushings. Also included is a J&S Gear 12-bolt rearend fitted with positraction, which is definitely a necessity when the power of that Edelbrock engine is unleashed. At either end, you'll find Baer PBR disc breaks with giant drilled and vented rotors keepinog the unique Budnik rims and BFGoodrich rubber in check. It's there that 20x10 rears are wrapped in 295/40-20 BFGoodrich Comp T/A's, while smaller 19x8s and 255/40-19 fronts make the most of larger Baer calipers and a pair of giant 13-inch rotors. Were it not for the special efforts of Todd Gartshore and his team at Baer, this car would have been breakless, considering the normal delivery time.

As we soon discovered, the "Overhaulin" projects are works in progress, and as one aspect of the car is taking shape underneath, other processes are being updated, the crew at Lanzini's Body and paint were handling body modifications. To give some idea as to the commitment put forth here, owners Mitch and Tara lanzini were even in on the effort--and the shimmering results show it. Changes included removing of the door handles, rocker panels, molding and drip rails, as well as the side marker lights and the emblems. Another unique touch is the reversal of the trunk latch and lock, now concealed beneath the folding license plate. Once all of the body modifications were completed, Chris Quinn laid down the cinnamonpaint, which features flamed champagne Rally stripes. As soon as the paint dried, the windshield was replaced along with the weatherstripping front to back.

And if you think the "Overhaulin" producers were standing around watching all of this take place, know that Brutsman and others spent as much time working on the car as did any member of the team that brought this concept together. As you can see, this car made it to completion and in the time planned. While we aren't going to tell you the ending, there's no question that "Overhaulin" has changed the face of reality television.

Since this car's completion, several others have been built within the same ridiculous time schedule and they too have been finished with the same level of craftsmanship and style seen here. Look for those projects as they show up in TRUCK BUILDERS,SUPER ROD and other Buckaroo Communications magazines in the months to come, as we continue to follow the latest trend in an American tradition.