Meet Gretchen, a hot rod with a 1931 Ford body, a 1952 Diamond-Reo tractor engine and a frame made from old light poles. It’s not a combination that many people would think of, but that’s the point. Gretchen represents what hot rodding should be about: reasonable priced cars that are cool because of the ingenuity of their builders. These are the cars that can be enjoyed and shared because their merit doesn’t come from sheer expense and perfection. I especially liked how the owner talks about being able to take the Gretchen to car shows and let kids climb all over it. In our world of the ever-growing skills gap, working with your hands is taboo and more and more chop classes are being cut from school budgets. We need cars like this to to expose the next generation to crazy gasoline engines that make more than 1600 foot-pounds of torque. It’s an uphill battle to inspire the engineers and fabricators of the future.
Mike Musto and Big Muscle are back on the DRIVE YouTube channel for another season. Here they are with an interesting 1965 Chevrolet Crown Corvair built by Chuck Rust in his garage. The Corvair’s original rear mounted inline-6 has been swapped out for a mid-mounted 310 horsepower, 283 cubic inch V8 which now where the rear seats used to be. This isn’t a traditional muscle car in that it doesn’t make huge power for straight line drag racing and that’s not a bad thing. Chuck’s goal was to make a car with balanced handling and a responsive, high revving engine. I think the car is awesome because it challenges the traditional shortcomings of muscle cars and it proves that you can build whatever you can imagine on a reasonable budget. Frustrated that Chevrolet won’t build a mid-engine Corvette outside of a Daytona Prototype? No problem, you can probably build a car like this for cheaper than a new Corvette. A mid-engine architecture creates the best weight distribution for road racing cars, but is a hard sell for mass-produced consumer cars. That’s why you can’t buy a new one that’s not some impractical, high price exotic. Chuck doesn’t care about all that. He knows how a V8 powered mid engine car handles because he drives the crap out of the one he built everyday.
To wrap up season 2 of Big Muscle, Mike Musto shows us his two personal cars, a 1969 Dodge Daytona clone and a 1968 Dodge Charger. Musto’s back story is interesting in that he was born in New York and was a successful financial analyst whose office was a block away from the World Trade Center when 9/11 happened. The tragedy made him re-evaluate his life and a few years later he decided to quit his job to pursue what made him happy. The thing that made him happy was muscle cars. He built these two cars in a way where they were awesome but very practical so they could be driven and enjoyed without worry. Check out the video to see how they came about:
Big Muscle checks out the new daily driver of Craig Morrison of Art Morrison Enterprises, a 1950 Chevrolet 3100 series pickup truck. Craig bought the truck off the side of the road because it reminded him of the 1949 GMC that his grandfather used to drive him around in on the family farm. The chassis was replaced by a new Art Morrison GT Sport series complete bolt-in unit with a GM Performance Parts 353 converted to EFI. Art Morrison makes some of the best engineered chassis available evident by the fact that this truck can now handle better than a Corvette. The coolest part about the truck is that it performs well yet it’s not so nice that it can’t be driven everyday rain or shine.
This is one of the more interesting episodes of Big Muscle simply because they chose to expand their definition of “muscle car” with this 1964 Cadillac Deville. The car comes from an era where Cadillac was sparing no expense to make the most prestigious and luxurious cars. The fact that all of the intricate stainless steel brightwork is present in this Deville’s stock interior makes it all that much cooler. The owner, Ron Dean, decided to take this luxury cruiser and paint flames on the side and drop a 600 horsepower blown Chevy big-block V8 under the hood. It’s one of those cars where if you have to ask about what the purpose of it is, you’ve missed the point. It’s awesome simply because it exists. It’s a combination of a lot of great things that can be enjoyed together but normally aren’t.