Though he is a car guy, his talent and occupational skills are above us, meaning he is a retired chopper pilot for the Los Angeles County Fire Dept. and he currently operates his own consulting business “Helicopters Consultant LLC.” Lee has logged over 15,500 hours of flight time and one tour in Vietnam, so with that said he has the skills in his profession that puts him at the top of his game.
Lee has owned and built quite a few nice cars, but never a street rod, he was inspired after taking a ride in a Zipper Car’s demo Lakester with a powerful small block Chevy. It got him thinking about designing a lightweight roadster of his own, with a powerful engine and great handling capabilities.
Having owned cars like a Renault R5 Turbo, an NSX, a Pantera, and also a couple Corvettes and Porsche’s, he knew that the car he was building had to handle as well as it looked.
While knowing he wanted to keep the car light and agile, he set a goal of about 1,400 lbs. for a curb weight. If he was going to meet this goal, a regular V8 was out of the question, he knew the engine had to be lightweight, but capable of making at least 350 horsepower.
He researched a few four-cylinder engines, but non would do, so he came up with the idea of using one of Chevrolet’s inline 3.7 liter 5 cylinder engines. It was light, parts were plentiful, and it had all the capabilities he was looking for.
After acquiring a 3.7 for his new project, Lee sent the cylinder head out to be ported and flowed, the four valve design came back to him flowing over 315 CFM @ .500″ on the intake side. The new engine was plenty for this new project and Lee likes the look, as it reminds him of the old Offy 4 cylinder engines of many years ago.
Take a look at the progress Lee has made of this one of a kind build, and you can see he seems to be on track of staying true to form and function with that vintage look we all like. From the old style GT-40 Wheels, the Wilwood Brakes, modern Heidt’s suspension, and the Winters quick change rear all blend well together so that nothing seems out of place. We will keep you updated as Lee’s new ride is completed.