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As the man behind AmericanMuscleHD, an Instagram page which measures its followers in the millions, Garrett Reed of Atlanta, Georgia, has his finger on the pulse of modern hot rodding. But although his fascination with all things automotive started at an early age, he didn’t have a chance to dive into a project of his own until he got his hands on a 2011 Chevy Silverado during his college days.
“I ended up breaking the cardinal rule of not modding your daily driver,” he says with a laugh. “I had wrenched on some of my dad’s projects previously, but it was the first vehicle that I had really built up like that.” Packing supercharged LS power, an air bag suspension, and a set of 24-inch wheels, the truck found its way into the 2016 SEMA show when Reed was just 21 years old.
During college Reed also worked at a classic car dealership, a dream job which provided him with access to some of the most desirable muscle cars around. It inspired him to start searching for one for himself, but with the finances of a college student, his options were pretty limited. “I feel like we always want the unattainable,” he says. “I would have loved to have gone with a 60s or 70s muscle car, but I just didn’t have the means to go that route. So I started wondering, ‘Well, what’s the next best thing? What’s on the rise, in terms of popularity, that I can afford?’”
Reed attended LS Fest 2017 not long after, where he met some of the folks from Holley Performance and Detroit Speed. Still unsure of what platform to focus on, he asked if they had any suggestions. “The guys from Detroit Speed told me that they were working on some stuff for the third generation Camaros as well as the GM G-Body cars, so that kind of sent me down a path of considering those two platforms, specifically.” After determining that the Camaro wasn’t really his style, Reed set his sights on 80s G-Body coupes like the Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix, and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
“I started putting the feelers out for a G-Body,” he recalls. “And a buddy of mine, who lived in Las Vegas at the time, hit me up one day to tell me that he’d found an ’84 Monte Carlo SS out there.”
Although it was a little rough around the edges, it was a complete running and driving car for a price that Reed could afford. At some point in the past, a previous owner had also swapped out the anemic 305ci small-block for a livelier 350-cube mill with throttle body injection, and that only sweetened the deal. “I took it home, did a burnout with it, and then we immediately started yanking everything out of it.”
He spent the first half of 2018 assembling the game plan for the build and reaching out to potential sponsors for support. Instead of focusing on building the car around a specific performance metric or racing discipline, Reed’s goal was to build a solid street machine that would showcase the best of what’s now available for these often-overlooked performance cars.
The Monte was getting around under its own power by the end of the year thanks to a Whipple-supercharged LSX376 crate engine from Chevrolet Performance, a combination which is good for about 650 horsepower at the rear wheels on a conservative tune. “The crate engine didn’t come with an ECU, so we had a lot of options,” he points out. “But we knew that Holley was about to come out with the Dominator system, so I ended up being one of the first people to get one. It has never let me down – even when I discovered that rain had been running down the firewall and dripping directly onto the connectors.”
Backed by a 4L80E transmission and a Currie 9-inch rear end, the project was far enough along in 2019 that he decided to take the Chevy out to Concord, North Carolina to embark on the Hot Rod Power Tour. Reed and his friends got there early to hang out and prep for the event, and everything was going great – until it suddenly wasn’t.
“We arrived the day before the event, and we had no issues with the car at all,” he says. “We go to the first day of the show, then park the car back at the hotel at the end of the day. The next morning, I woke up, looked out the window, and I didn’t see my car. I said to my buddy, ‘I’m pretty sure that’s where I parked the car.’ And then it hit me.”
Reed’s car, along with several others, had been stolen out of the hotel parking lot the night before. After contacting the authorities, the team hunkered down and hoped for good news. Hours went by with no updates, and eventually Reed gave up hope that he’d ever see his car again. “At that point I was basically just pissed, so we packed up our stuff and went back home. And the final dagger in the heart was that our rental car was a Prius!”
He soon got the word out to the online car community, and although there was an incredible outpouring of support, his Monte Carlo remained missing in action. Days turned into weeks, and Reed rightfully assumed that the Chevy was long gone. “About a month went by, and that’s an eternity for a situation like this,” he says. “But then I got a message saying that they’d found the car.”
When the Monte Carlo was stolen from a North Carolina hotel parking lot during the 2019 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour, there was little hope that the car would be recovered intact. But five weeks later, that's exactly what happened. A couple of kids had found the car in a field just a short drive from the hotel with minimal damage. When a friend went to the impound lot to inspect the car, they were surprised to find that the car was still in running condition. Reed was reunited with the Monte at LS Fest X later that year.
The police had discovered the Monte Carlo not far from where it’d been stolen. While Reed was stoked that the car had been found, he figured that there wasn’t going to be much left of it, so he asked a friend in a town near the recovery site if he could go down to the tow yard and check it out.
“When they got there, the people at the tow yard said, ‘Man – the engine sounds great in that thing!’ And we were like, ‘Wait a minute – the motor is still in it?’ It was all there.”
Reed then reached out to his friends at Detroit Speed, who picked up the car just ahead of LS Fest East 2019 and transported it out to Bowling Green, Kentucky, so he could be reunited with the Monte Carlo at the show. “At that point it’d been about three and a half months since I’d seen the car,” he notes. “And I immediately did a massive burnout when I got behind the wheel. If anyone was going to blow up that motor, I wanted it to be me.”
These days the Monte Carlo is rolling on modernized coil-over suspension thanks to Detroit Speed, who outfitted the car with their Speed Kit 2 system up front and a Speed Kit 3 system in the rear. Wilwood brakes provide the stopping power, while American Racing wheels give the car a more contemporary look.
The car spent most of 2020 out in California getting a custom-designed interior by Sac Speed Shop and the folks at Car Audio Engineers, a setup which also includes TMI racing seats, a Holley EFI 12.3-inch Pro Dash, and a trio of subwoofers where the back seat used to be. Reed tells us that the project was officially completed last year, but as any hot-rodder knows, these projects are never truly done.
“There’s a few things that need to be fixed to really get it where I want it to be, and that’s going to be the focus for early 2023,” he says. “It’s going to get a fresh transmission, a new serpentine setup to deal with a belt slip issue that I’ve been having, and a few other things to freshen it up a bit. I want it to be in tip-top shape because I’m planning to do a lot more with it next year – I’d like to do more local shows, I want to race it on This Versus That with Hoonigan, and I want to bring it back out for the LS Fest events. I’d like to head up to Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise, too. But I’ve also got a K5 Blazer build that I’m working on now and that’s keeping me pretty busy, so making it all happen is just a matter of timing. And money.”