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From Stock to Wild

By: Charles 04/15/2020

This car started its life as a four door sedan and lived that way for 26 years while only accumulating 36,000. My father and I started with a car that was almost far too nice to rip apart, but we did anyway. It started by taking off just about all the body leaving only the front two doors and half of the original roof of the car. Years before this point, my father had shown me a magazine with a truck or in reality what was really a newer style El Camino that someone had built from a new body kit that had been created. I told him I wanted it right then and there. What I saw was something so different that it remained in my head for the next few years until I was turning 16 years old. We had joked about building that kit but could never find a nice enough donor car up here in New York. Salt has its way with vehicles up here, but luck would have it we happened to stumble upon the right car in a near pristine shape. We each agreed that we wanted to still take on the project as I had the money saved up. We bought that car and ordered the kit. That's where the luck seemingly would end and set the tone for the rest of the build. The kit came in but couldn't be delivered directly to us. So we drove 30 minutes away to pick it up from the shipping companies dock. The shipping bill more than doubled for no reason even though we had a signed agreed upon quote from the shipping company from the manufacturer. The crate the body came in was all broken apart, the body was damaged from the shipping and from what we could see was not all that great to begin with. I wish I had heard the choice words my father said in the main office of that large national trucking company. We ended up un-crating the whole body on their dock and deciding what to do. Take on this project which we could see would be an uphill battle the whole way by the looks of the bodywork needed or stick the shipping company with the bill and sending it back to where it came from. Well we picked the project and over the next 4 years we changed and made that kit more unique and our own. We changed

-The tonneau cover flips open sideways to avoid the terrible hinge design it came with

-Fitting apparently the largest headlights we could find that was similar to the shape and curve of the front end from a 02-05 Dodge Ram to avoid mount lights behind a cut out hole

-Cutting out the original grill and extending the front end out to fit a 05-07 Dodge Magnum grill

-Mounting real C5 Corvette taillights instead of sticking the original lights behind the holes you cut out

-Adding other body lines that better fit the car

-Building a custom frame around the engine bay for structural integrity and support

-Deciding on going all out and putting a lambo door kit on the car

-Adding front and rear bumpers that just were absent from the kit after the originals were taken away

-My father built a completely custom top dash board with a matching hood scoop

-staggered 18x8 inch wheels in the front and 20x10 inch wheels in the back running an SUV tire to have some rubber on it

-1 inch lowering springs all around

-Dakota Digital aftermarket dash

The list of changes goes on and on. My father and I always joked that every extra winter it sat unfinished, we decided there was something else we wanted to add. That really did delay the project even more. Finally in spring of 2012 we finished a lot of the modifications and all the bodywork filling, sanding, and prepping involved and it was ready for paint. After we picked out the body color and the stripe color, we were told the guy finished painting the dash and to come take a look at it. Well the colors were not what I had picked out. They looked completely different and I was devastated but, the guy who painted it knew what he was doing because the colors looked awesome. He said the colors were mixed to the correct spec but I know he looked at it and went nope, more gray and more flake. It was a good call and the car came out looking great. By June 2012 the car was all back together and I ran the car with the stock 305 and drive-train and took the car to college with me. Not a few months after the car was finished, Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012 and almost left the car underwater while I was at college. By the time I got to it, water was three inches up the wheels and plenty of other people had lost their cars already. Five minutes later and the parking spot where the car was, the water was two feet deep. I ran the car with the original motor and drive-train for years until the water pump and alternator finally failed. Then the mechanical's started to change

-350 small block with accessory billet pulley drive kit

-Raptor 700r4 built transmission

-Ford 9in rear end

-Changed to a 383 stroker with the billet drive kit

The car is still a project to this day and I doubt it will ever really be done. It has turned heads everywhere it has gone and its hard to get away from a stoplight without someone yelling "what is that thing". That project turned out to be everything I could of asked for and more. It was challenging and stressful like any project but left many lasting memories for me and my father. This project became his pride and joy as well, but he did it all for me.

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