By Rob Fortier
What do you get when you mix road racing, SoCal canyon roads, and a childhood muscle car slash hot rod influence? In this case: Westlake Village’s Mike Cavanah’s curve-carving ’66 Chevelle.
“My father exposed me to muscle cars as a child” Mike remembers. “He owned a ’64 split-window Vette, ’68 and ’71 Vettes, a ’57 Chevy, and a couple of Model A Ford roadsters. I learned to drive in the ’68 on Stunt Road in Malibu; loved driving the Santa Monica mountain canyons as a teen and young adult.”
Cavanah still lives in the same area—and still carves the same canyon roads, behind the wheel of both European (Porsche 911s) and American muscle (’09 Challenger). The latter re-unleashed the muscle car bug, leading Mike to track down and acquire a ’69 Camaro off eBay. “When the car arrived” he recalls, “I didn’t like the way it drove.” A friend subsequently pointed him in the direction of Jason Pecikonis at Timeless Kustoms in Camarillo, and following some serious talks, the decision was made to step back a few years in time—1966 to be exact—and do a Chevelle instead.
Through a search on Craigslist, the appropriate project base roller was located back in 2010, and over the course of the following three years, the not-so-mild transformation ensued.
In order to provide not only the canyon killer handling Mike sought, but to achieve competitive results in various sanctioned autocross events (including USCA), Jason and crew at Timeless retrofitted the Chevelle chassis with Art Morrison/C6 front suspension, triangulated four-link, beefy sway bars front and rear, and RideTech springs. To bring the wide Boze Mesh 19-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport radials to a suitable halt, 15-inch carbon Brembo discs were utilized, while an Art Morrison quick-ratio power rack helps keep things “on track.”
Then there’s the drivetrain: 416 cubic inches of LS3 goodness via Scoggin-Dickey put out a reported 698 hp at 5,500 rpm with a boastful 650 lb-ft a few revs up the tach. With LS9 injection, full complement of COMP Cams valvetrain components, Lingenfelter 30 percent overdrive pulleys, and custom long-tube headers (by Timeless), the V-8 feeds its 9.2:1 compression through a T-56 six-speed to a 3.73-geared rearend. A nice mixture of custom-shaped tinwork and Corvette shrouding artistically blend the LS into the Chevelle’s spacious engine bay.
Timeless’ adept handiwork flows well beyond the underhood confines, as you may well have already noticed. The Chevelle, wearing Grand Sport stripes on the passenger side only, features shaved handles and driprails, reshaped body lines, and custom hood vents beneath a flawlessly prepped, applied, and finished PPG white paint job offset by the aforementioned gunmetal gray Boze wheels and custom chin spoiler. The one-sided red racing stripes, among other things, lead the onlookers’ eyes within the car, where Agoura’s Eric Thorsen redid the cockpit in luxurious leather, including stock-bolstered Kirkey bucket seats and custom side paneling. The dash, reworked by Timeless, now houses instrumentation from Auto Meter, while a Focal-Alpine sound system and custom rollcage were also integrated.
And, as previously mentioned, Cavanah’s Chevelle was built to perform: “I debuted the car at USCA Laguna Seca in March 2014, followed by autocross in Pomona and Del Mar. But my dream is to get an invite to OUSCI in Pahrump after this year’s SEMA Show.” But Mike’s ’66 is also a family cruiser, as well, and with six kids, it’s rare that any of his weekend drives are spent behind the wheel “solo!”
Texas-based Scoggin-Dickey supplied owner Cavanah and builder Pecikonis with a 4-inch bored and stroked (416ci) LS3 long-block (complete with Manley crank and H-beam rods, Wiseco 9.2:1 pistons, and COMP valvetrain) which Timeless Kustoms top-ended with later LS9 components, custom-fabbed tube headers, and Corvette-influenced external dress shrouded by handformed tinwork in the engine bay. Linking the Currie 9-inch posi to V-8 is a Tremec T-56 six-speed gearbox equipped with a dual-disc hydraulic clutch and B&M shifter.
The Chevelle’s stock chassis was retained, however, it’s been completely updated with Art Morrison Enterprises C6-based front suspension and quick-ratio rack-and-pinion, aftermarket coil springs and three-way adjustable shocks, triangulated four-link, and 15-inch, carbon-rotor’d Brembo binders.
Save for the smooth removal of door handles and driprails, a little body line reshaping, and integrating hood vents, the Chevelle’s shell is “mostly” stock. Timeless’ painstaking bodywork is topped by an equally meticulous PPG white paint job. Red passenger-side front fender racing stripes go well with the gunmetal gray accenting of the Boze wheels and aftermarket front spoiler, as well as the chrome bumpers for that matter.
After Timeless Kustoms reworked the Chevelle’s dash and installed an appropriate rollcage, among other chores, Eric Thorsen dressed the interior up vividly in red leather, covering everything from stock-esque looking Kirkey bucket seats to the custom door panels. Vintage Air A/C, Alpine-based Focal sound system, and Auto Meter instrumentation provide necessary amenities.
Wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 285/35- and 325/30-series performance radial rubber, 19-inches of wide Boze Mesh clench the normal wheel-size diameter of the 15-inch Brembo carbon rotors and accompanying calipers nestled snug inside.