While walking around the Rod Run To The End Of The World show in Ocean Park, Washington, we found this really cool ’66 Chevelle, and we absolutely love what Russ Wolden has built. Russ is from Amboy, Washington, and if this build seems familiae, that’s because back in January of 2012 when the car was still in the early stages of the project, we did a story on it: Project Thumper: A Work Of Mid-Sized, Pro-Touring Art.
The build has come a long way since our initial look at the car. When we left off with Russ five-years ago, the car was in pieces and the plans were basically just a laundry list of parts. Today, it’s a true street-fighting Chevelle that was built to cruise.
“It’s never trailered,” Russ told us as we started talking to him about his Chevelle. “I drive it everywhere.” He’s had the car since 2011, and it took five-years to build. That means it’s only been on the road a little more than a year.
There’s a lot to be said about this car. At first glance, it’s obviously blown with dual carburetors and the stance tells you right off that it’s not sitting on stock suspension. But, you might miss that this is powered by a small-block. The valve covers on the car are extremely rare, and almost give this small-block Chevy the look of a big-block. “I saw a set of those valve covers at a show when I was 10-years-old, and fell in love,” he explained. “When I was building this car, I spent years looking for them.”
The engine is a 357 cubic-inch small-block with a 671 supercharger and dual Holley 1150 cfm Dominators. That’s followed up with a Turbo 400 with a Gear Vendors overdrive and a Currie 9-inch rearend with a 3.50 geared Detroit locker.
“I like stuff that works,” Russ told us as he detailed all of the effort he went through to get this car just right. It has four mufflers, one set to run the exhaust through for just the right hot rod sound, and another set to keep things quiet for easy conversations while cruising. One of the cool things about this car is that it was build to be both badass, and practical.
The braking system is just as impressive as the driving system in that it uses Z51 Corvette brakes all the way around. There is also a Detroit Speed suspension front-to-back, with double-adjustable Strange shocks all the way around. Pushing the fluid creating all that stopping power is a Wilwood master cylinder.
The interior features a Rocky Mountain aluminum dash. Although the company went out of business long ago, Russ was able to track down the co-owner of the company from back in the day and have him make the dash for his car.
When Russ bought the car, he was actively searching for a ’66 Chevelle, and he knew exactly what he wanted. “I was specifically looking for a ’66 Super Sport,” he explained. “I had one in high school. Every paycheck went straight to the shop back then.”
For Russ, building this car is like going back and experiencing his high school car all over again. Granted, his high school car wasn’t nearly as tough. That’s part of what it means to build a tribute car to one that you loved back in high school. You get to use money you didn’t have, skills you didn’t have, and technology you didn’t have at the time, to build a car cooler than you could have ever imagined.
We love Russ’s Chevelle, and think he did a badass job of getting this thing put together. It’s the exact formula for what we’re looking for in our Home-Built Heroes segment. If you think your car has what it takes to be part of this series. Shoot us an email with some pictures and details about the build, and we’ll consider it for our library of badass hot rods.