MetalWorks’ Transformed TriFive

There was once a young man, we’ll call him Pete who grew up late 1950s and 60s, and like many young men of his era, cars were a very large and influential part of his life. A childhood buddy of Pete’s purchased a 1955 Chevy when he was a junior in high school and the pair spent countless hours together under the hood of the trifive.

Looking back now Pete recalls tearing down various components and modifying or rebuilding them, then taking the 55 for test drives to evaluate the results of their efforts. Pete loved the time spent wrenching on the Chevy and he learned a lot, but for him it was more about the camaraderie between friends, and the “under hood talk.” This was the pre-internet era so automotive knowledge was gained by browsing issues of small pages hot rod magazines, and helpful tips from older guys willing to hand out advice. The reward for all their hard work was cruising the local A&W root beer stand on friday nights, and even a little bit of street racing for good measure.

Flash forward a few decades into Pete’s retirement years and he finds himself at the perfect phase of his life to build his dream car. Now there are a lot of cool cars out there, but Pete has the fondest memories of his time around his buddies 55, so he knows that is the car for him. Being conscious of how his old friend that owed the 55 Chevy in high school might feel, Pete contacted his lifelong buddy and asked him what he thought about Pete doing a 55, and his response was “man, go for it!

The next big step was locating a shop to turn Pete’s dream into a reality, so Pete began an intense search for the perfect shop. Two variables were key in Pete’s search; a shop that had a strong pedigree for building high end TriFive Chevys as well as a shop that performed the bulk of the build “in house” instead of farming out multiple steps of the build to other specialty shops. Through his searching Pete came across MetalWorks in Eugene, Oregon and could clearly see in the shop’s build galleries that they handle their restorations internally—even the acid dipping process.
Pete was very interested in the having MetalWork’s tackle his dream 55 build, but the deal wasn’t sealed until he had a long conversation with Jon, the owner of MetalWorks. Pete expressed that he didn’t have a 55 Chevy yet, just the desire to build one, and inquired if MetalWorks would be willing to locate him a car…and the answer was “sure.”

MetalWorks located 3 potential staring points for the build with various prices. It was stated that there was no point in buying a more expensive car to simply throw away parts that were not going to get used, but to focus on a project car that matched the build. A project was chosen, and the crew at MetalWorks got busy transforming it to Pete’s vision.

The 55 chosen for the starting point was a forgotten relic of the Pro-Steet era of the early 1990s. The rolling chassis was sold, and the body sent off for acid dipping. The necessary metal work was performed in addition to custom features such as 2.5” mini tubs, shaved gas door, and smoothed dash, just to name a few on an extensive list. The body was sat on a multi-link IRS Art Morrison chassis and all its sheet metal, glass, and drive train mocked up for proper fit and function before being sent to the body shop. Once in the shop the body was massaged to perfection, then, shot in coats of grey and black.

Paint was followed by wet sanding and buffing until the body looked like marble. The chassis was painted and fully assembled as a roller with engine and transmission set into place. The body was mated to the chassis and the rest of the assembly was performed along with wiring and upholstery.

The combo of the 55’s new GM Performance 430hp LS3 topped with MSD fuel injection and the Art Morrison chassis deliver an amazing level of comfort, performance, and reliability. Pete can jump in the Chevy and enjoy years of cruising without the plaguing issues often associated with carbureted engines and today’s modern gasoline. The chassis delivers a level of comfort and smooth handling that will not leave Pete feeling fatigued even after long hours behind the wheel. The 55 truly performs on both looks and performance—it is the definition of ProTouring in a classic car, and we hope Pete collects many memories in it feeling like the luckiest body in high school.


Geoffrey Landis’ FAMILY JEWEL restoration by MetalWorks

I love hearing stories of vehicles that have been with a family for decades. The tales of multiple generations enjoying road trips and vacations, along with thousands of miles of cruising are golden. The story of the beautiful 1938 Oldsmobile you see gracing these pages is just such a tale.

Way back in 1938 Grover Stanton and his two sisters Ruby and Garnet traveled to Lansing, Michigan to take delivery of their brand new 1938 Oldsmobile Model F-38 4 door Touring Sedan. The sedan was driven cross country with Ruby doing all the driving while Grover rode shot gun, and Garnet handled all the navigation duties seated in between them. The 38 was enjoyed for decades, and then inherited by their cousin Willetta Pense of Scio, Oregon. Willetta immediately signed the Olds over to her son Bruce. Bruce enjoyed the sedan during the early 1960s until it quick working one day…as a result, it was parked.
The idle sedan sat outside for a short time, but was then moved inside the family’s barn where it would reside for several more decades. Barn storage can often preserve a vehicle very well, but in the case of this barn the 38 Olds was subjected to high water levels from the nearby Crab Tree Creek whose waters ran around and underneath it. Besides the wet conditions the Olds played host to squirrels, rats, mice, and hoards of yellow jackets, hornets, and spiders.

Flash forward to 2012 when family member Geoffrey Landis became the newes care taker of the family heirloom. Geoffrey wanted to see the 38 returned to its former glory, and got busy disassembling it. It took nearly a year to carefully take the Olds apart and bag all the components. Once Geoffrey took the sedan to the point where he no longer had the tools and expertise to finish the restoration, he turned to MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration to complete the build.

The team at MetalWorks sat down and discussed a direction for the restoration, and Geoffrey’s plans for the car once restored. Well the time for the Olds sitting idle was over, Geoffrey wanted to drive it. So with keeping an overall stock external appearance, the 38 was treated to many modern upgrades to assure trouble free enjoyment. The long list of upgrades includes a 430hp GM Performance LS3 engine, suspension by HEIDTS, and 4 wheel disc brakes by Wilwood. The restoration process was a long battle, but the 38 turned out gorgeous, and is a perfect blend of classic and modern.

To see the sedan’s full restoration, check
out its build gallery of MetalWorks’ website:
http://metalworksclassics.com/portfolio-page/1938-oldsmobile/

MetalWorks built 65 Lincoln Continental

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Lincoln Continentals have always been popular cars due to their long sexy lines, luxurious ride and amenities, and don’t forget about those amazing looking suicide doors.

At MetalWorks we had the privilege of building a heavily customized 65 Continental for a customer, and the owner of this Lincoln took note of the build on our website. After watching the process unfold online  and on social media,  this owner knew he had to get his 65 shipped our way for some upgrades.

When this Lincoln arrived it was a nice survivor car, but Continentals are big cars with big, heavy, gasoline hungry engines—and this one was looking for improved performance. The owner not only wanted more ponies under the hood to push the 5000lb Lincoln down the road, but reliability, and a little increase in miles per gallon wouldn’t be so bad either. After research and some phone meetings it was decided the right treatment for the 65 was a brand new GM Performance LSA engine—the same as you would find in a Cadillac CTS-V. The LSA platform is a supercharged 6.2 L putting out 556 horsepower and comes mated to a 4L85E transmission.

Now the LSA didn’t just drop between the rails of the Lincoln, but the necessary mods were not as radical as one might think. The modifications however were more in-depth than we can discuss in this quick article — but you can check out the full build in great detail on our website. Besides the LSA engine conversion and all the components required (EFI fuel tank, modified drive shaft, radiator swap,  etc) the  Lincoln also received a Currie rear end, lowered suspension components, custom interior upgrades, and even a set of wide white walls.

In the end we never touched the 65’s external appearance beside the new lowered stance and shoes, so the Lincoln retains a mostly stock appearance. Stock appearing that is until the owner decides he needs to mash the throttle—the results of which could lead to a very short life for those shiny new white walls. He had a 64 Lincoln back in high school in the late 1970s that he daily drove into the ground. He states that once the expense of keeping the Lincoln on the road became too great, he had to let it go. His current plans are to turn loose of his Mercedes and drive his newly transformed 65 daily. Sounds like a “reliable”  trip down memory lane.

See the 65 Lincoln’s full build at: http://metalworksclassics.com/portfolio-page/1965-lincoln-lsa-conversion/

 

2016 Meltdown Drags

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The seventh annual Meltdown Drags packed the pits and stands at the historic Byron Dragway in Byron, Illinois. Over 500 nostalgic drag cars representing 42 States battled it out in front of a crowd that broke an attendance record held at the track since 1964.

In order to compete at the event, drag cars must be 1966 or older in vintage, and “era correct” in appearance…and these racers are here to do just that…RACE!  It so incredible to see these car, many of which are still untouched survivors from back in the day, battling it out, and still with an obvious desire to WIN!!

Racing action started at noon and ran through the evening hours with some great night time drags under the lights.  If you needed a break from half track burnouts and wheel stands there was also a car show that hosted over 600 vehicles, a swap meet, and a fun and very tasteful pin-up contest.

Some of the racing legends on hand this year included Jack Merkel, Jr Grove, and Barb Hamilton, all of which had their original Willys coupes on hand to drool over.  Mark your calendars for the 8th Meltdown, it is truly one of the coolest nostalgia racing events out there.

67 Chevelle Convertible Muscle Car Upgrade by MetalWorks

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Take a good look at this 67 Chevelle. Pretty nice huh?

One would assume this beauty would be leaving a restoration shop, not arriving at one—but this is exactly how the 67 appeared when it arrived at MetalWorks Classics in Eugene, Oregon for a radical transformation. You may be a bit confused, as was I when the sharp looking Chevelle arrived, but after a conversion with owner Jerry and the crew at Metalworks I got a good understanding of what lay ahead for the convertible, and why.

My first question was “what” would be getting changed on the Chevelle as it was obviously not in dire need of anything cosmetically, and its small block purred like a kitten when it drove into the shop. The answer was a laundry list of dream components including a brand new LS drive line. Now, the next question was “why tear into an already beautiful, and nice performing car?” For this answer we need to dig a bit into Jerry’s past and thought process.

Jerry has always had a passion for classic cars, and designing. In fact in high school he completely went through a 65 mustang along with his father, even designing and building his own custom console for it. The thought of another classic had always been on Jerry’s bucket list. After 25 years of dreaming about it, the timing was right, so Jerry began putting out feelers for the right car. In fact Jerry spent the next 2 years shopping for the perfect car, and actually purchased one at one point. Jerry thought another 65 mustang would be very cool and nostalgic, and located one at a classic car dealer, but the day the mustang was set to be shipped his way a salvaged title came into the equation, so Jerry decided to pass.

About this time Jerry had began to talk with Matt Powell at MetalWorks, and was also introduced to shop owner Jon Mannila. After a number of discussions Jerry was sold on the idea of a chevelle due to a number of reasons, but a full frame was the biggest factor. Jerry recalled test driving the 65 mustang, and even though it was very cool, and even smelled like his high school car the uni-body design was now less appealing, and the overall comfort and driveability of the chevelle felt like the right direction for his ultimate goal. Another 4 months were spent with everyone keeping an eye out for the right car until the beauty you see before you came into Jerry’s life.

Once the Chevelle was in Jerry’s garage Matt encouraged him to get out and drive it to find out what he really liked about it, and what he felt could be improved, or altered. Jerry spent the next 6 months enjoying the convertible, and received tons of compliments on it everywhere he went. Jerry contemplated how he could keep that feeling, but make the Chevelle even better regarding everything from not needing to run premium gas, to gauges that worked properly and accurately, to being reliable enough that his wife or kids could take it for long trips without a second thought of its dependability. In the end Jerry brought spreadsheets of information to MetalWorks and collaborated with Matt and Jon to arrive at a plan that would bring the chevelle to the next level.  Jerry has always loved the design aspect of things, and enjoyed the fact he was able to work side by side with the crew at MetalWorks to arrive at a plan of action, and enjoyed contributing and learning from the build as it unfolded. Jerry stated “if MetalWorks was a drop your car off, and pick it up when it’s done without any involvement, I would not have chose them for the build.”

Once at MetalWorks the Chevelle went from a sweet street car to a cutting edge Pro-Touring dream. The process included installing a full front and rear HEIDTs suspensions, a 430hp LS3 engine upgraded to MSD Atomic LS fuel injection backed by a 4L65E automatic transmission, Wilwood 12.19” brakes, Budnik V2 wheels, Vintage Air, and Dakota Digital gauges. The Chevelle also received a new OEM styled interior, but stitched in leather. The carpet and convertible top were also replaced in complimenting tones. The dash was converted from wood grain to grey, and additional grey treatments were done to the grille and taillights surrounds instead of the factory black.

In the end Jerry’s Chevelle does not look radically different, but it is in nearly every way when compared to a stock Chevelle. The performance of the 67 however, is absolutely a RADICAL transformation and the results are a car anyone is Jerry’s family can drive anywhere without concern. The relationship between MetalWorks skilled crew and Jerry’s vision of the Chevelle worked out perfectly, and produced one slick Chevy. Keep your eyes peeled for the 67 if you find yourself cruising in the Willamette Valley, it will be the one that stands out in a subtle manner from the masses.

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Ron Braxling’s LAS Powered ’72 Chevy Truck

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Most of us have a classic car that we have dreamed of owning, but due to circumstances the opportunity has never presented itself.

With luck and time many dreams can become reality if we are patient enough—such was the case with Ron Braxling, and his dream of owning a 1972 Chevy Cheyenne 20 Super truck.

Ron had always been drawn to ’72 Chevy trucks. There was just something about the body style and trim packages of the Cheyenne 20 Supers; but with a busy life raising a family, and running a business, Ron put aside his dream truck until the timing was finally right.

Like many modern car shoppers Ron began hunting online for a truck, and a shop to restore a potential project. A truck was located first, a very nice example of a ’72 Cheyenne in fact. Ron continued his search for a shop to build the truck into his vision, and came across MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration in Eugene, Oregon. Ron and owner Jon hit it off right away, and shared a common vision for a truck build, except for one problem—Ron had purchased too nice of a truck… ha ha.

Now, you might be wondering how that is possible, but the reasoning was that Ron had some pretty cool upgrades in mind for his dream build, and it would be a shame to alter the original truck he had purchased. Ironically Jon had just purchased an extremely nice, but ultra plane Jane ’72 2WD C10 truck, and in the end it was concluded that it would be best to leave Ron’s initial truck purchase unaltered and instead build the C10.

The team at MetalWorks got busy and within a day the C10 was blown apart and sent off to MetalWorks acid dipping facility. What came back from dipping was a perfect ground zero starting point as the C10’s body was solid, and straight.
As I mentioned Ron had some cool upgrades in mind for his dream truck and the crown jewel came in the form of a 556 hp supercharged LSA engine backed by a 4L85E trans. MetalWorks spent the next 9 months transforming the 2WD C10 into a custom version of a 4WD Cheyenne 20 Super. The only external mods are a 6” lift with custom wheels and tires.

Inside the 72 we find an OEM styled leather interior, Dakota Digital gauges, power sliding rear window, and a host of well hidden stereo components.

As amazing as the ’72 appears externally, what is hiding under the hood is what always creates wide eyed stares of disbelief whenever Ron lifts the hood—like the opening of a gold filled treasure chest.

In the end Ron got his dream truck. One well worth the wait until the timing was right in his life. So what does one do with a gorgeous 4×4 truck packing 556 hp? The possibilities are endless, some would say hit the local mud hole, while others cringe at the thought of the truck even seeing rain. Only Ron truly knows the truck’s future, but if you spot this beauty rolling down the highways and byways of the Pacific Northwest, feel free to give Ron a thumbs up. He’ll be the guy behind the wheel with a smile on his face.

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Jon Mannila’s 1972 Stepside Chevy

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Imagine if you could travel back in time to 1972 and order a brand new truck assembled exactly how you wanted!

For Jon Mannila of Eugene, Oregon that perfect combo would have been a black, big block, 4×4, Cheyenne Super 10 with a red houndstooth interior. Well, they haven’t invented a time machine yet, and Chevrolet never built such a combo. So Jon figured he was just going to have to build it himself.

A bare bones, original paint, one owner, step side ‘72 was traded in at Romania Chevrolet in Eugene in 1996 that Jon caught wind of. The well cared for truck had a severe motor knock after it was taken out by the owner’s grandson for a joy ride, so it was traded in for a new truck. Once in Jon’s possession he immediately began working on it, but as soon as his good friend Tony laid eyes on the unmolested truck, he was in love. So Jon agreed to sell it to him. Tony continued to make steady progress on the truck until Jon decided to part ways with his wicked ‘55 Chevy post car. As much as Tony loved the ‘72 truck project, he also had a deep affection for Jon’s 55, and it was a driver.  So another deal was struck between the friends, and Jon was once again the owner of the truck project.

At this point in Jon’s life his hobby of classic cars had grown into a successful business known as MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration, so he had the shop take over the truck’s restoration. Tony had come to work for Jon, so the pair were both able to be involved in the balance of the truck’s build. The goal was to make the truck look totally factory, so great strides were taken to achieve that vision. A 402 was utilized, but pushed forward to ensure factory mounting locations for the transfer case. The big block was fully dressed with stock A/C, shroud, powering steering, etc, and backed by a turbo 400 transmission adapted to the factory 205 transfer case with an Advanced Adaptors kit. The truck’s factory wooden bed was replaced with a steel floor from a ¾ ton long box, but in a fashion that appears factory. It was then Line-X coated.

Once the entire truck was mocked up, it was blown apart and its body work tackled. As you can see in the photos, this is one amazingly arrow straight paint job, and the red houndstooth interior looks unbelievable paired against the deep black.

The truck was completed and ran as good as it looked, for a short while. You have to remember this was the early 2000s and engine oil was going through a transition period and it didn’t take long for the big block’s non roller cam to go flat with the lack of zinc protecting it. So with an expensive lesson learned that builders around the nation faced, Jon pulled the 402 and swapped it for a 454 that was once again detailed to factory perfection. In the end the truck was everything Jon dreamed it would be, and other than the 6” lift and WELD wheels this ‘72 appears bone stock—as the only factory example of a big block, 4×4, Cheyenne Super, stepside to leave the factory in 1972—or is it? Ha ha, Jon will never tell.

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Jon Mannila’s 1969 Datsun 510

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Datsun 510s have had a long cult following—loyal enthusiasts who have loved these cars long before their recent upswing in the collector car market.

One such 510 loyalist is Tim Bridges, who makes his living as a body man and painter at MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration in Eugene, Oregon. Tim’s dedication and excitement towards 510s spread to Jon Mannila, owner and founder of MetalWorks. So it was not a big surprise when Jon decided he’d like to try his hand at building a 510 for the street.
Through an unfortunate divorce situation of a 510 fanatic, Jon was able to buy out a collection that consisted of a semi-driver 510 sedan, along with a parts car and a garage full of parts. Once all the pieces and parts were back at Jon’s place a plan was laid out of what they had, and what they still needed to perform the build that Jon had running around in his head.

Now here is where the build takes a bit of a turn from most traditional 510 builds. You see, Jon was not a hardcore 510 guy prior to this, so he did not have any real preconceptions as to how people tend to build them. Instead, Jon took the route that he knew, which is hot rods and muscle cars, resulting in the build you see before you. I can tell you now Jon’s version of a 510 has been embraced by as many people as it has been shunned, but hey, variety is the spice of life, and if we all built our cars the same—wouldn’t life get boring real quick? Let’s dig into some of the details of the 510’s transformation.
Jon maintained the same L18 that limped the Datsun onto the trailer the day he purchased the car, but had it completely freshened. A set of flattop pistons were dropped into place to up the compression, then an A87 peanut head that was sent off to Rebello so that they could work their machining magic on it. Other notable goodies utilized on the engine include: a D.A.M.B. cam, 45 Weber side draft carbs, an electric distributor, MSD ignition, and an AFCO racing radiator. Some shine appeal comes from chroming the header, and a polished valve cover. This finished package was estimated to put out around 200hp.

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With the engine dialed in, Jon focused on an equally impressive gear box. As luck would have it a NOS 280Z 5 speed gear box was located from a collector who had bought out a dealership. The pristine gearbox was paired up with Subaru STI limited slip differential, as well as STI CVs.

Now it was time to focus on the 510’s suspension, which naturally had to equal the driveline. Just of few of the mentionable components include:  Adjustable camber plates, T3 coil overs, KYB inserts and shocks, Suspension Technique sway bars, shortened Dodge D50 springs out back, MD Machine bump steer spacers, a steering box brace, and a Pnultimate slotted rear cross member. Aiding in the 510’s road performance is a set of Rota RB wheels wrapped in Yokohama 195/50/R15 tires.
The Datsun’s body was worked to perfection, and its trade mark rear vents removed before being shot with coats of red and creme BASF urethane base and clear. The paint was then wet sanded and buffed to a mirror finish.

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Moving inside the 510 we find full custom leather interior, including wrapped Pro Car seats. Billetspecialties components abound in the form of window and door cranks as well as the steering wheel. Vitals are monitored on Dakota Digital gauges, and a HURST shift knob keeps gear changes comfy. The interior is tied together by an integrate roll cage that eliminates the rear seat. A Painless brand wiring kit brings everything to life including the massive, but cleverly hidden Rockford Fosagate stereo system.

In the end Jon’s 510 became a mix of some traditional touches mixed with a heavy dose of hot rod and muscle car influence. Love it or hate it, you will not pass yourself driving down the road in this 510, and I believe that is always a good thing. The car world can certainly survive without another cookie cutter build. Keep an eye out for this hot little 510 tearing up the streets of the Willamette Valley.

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Meltdown Drags 2014

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“Where the guys who get it go”… that is the driving thought behind the Meltdown Drags.

The crew behind the Meltdown Drags goes all out to recreate a 1966 and earlier racing weekend at Byron Dragway, and in just their 5th year they have created what many consider the top vintage drag racing event in the world. The guys putting on this amazing event have an incredible vision of what they have created, and the world who also “gets it” is responding with open arms.

At the Meltdown event you will find no bracket racing, no breakouts, no trophies, no egos, just pure sixties match racing for fun and bragging rights. What you will find is a mind blowing gathering of authentic, REAL, vintage drag cars putting on one hell of a show…not just sitting around looking pretty… racing! This year’s event featured over 500 vintage drag cars along with some amazing era correct built nostalgia cars from both Coasts and 38 States in between. Spectators poured in from the US, Canada, the U.K., New Zealand, and the list goes on. Ed Iskenderian and Bones Balogh flew in from California, and several gasser race teams showed up in force to battle it out against each other including: The Nostalgia Gasser Racing Association, The Great Lakes Gassers, The Southeast Gassers, The Ohio Outlaw A/A gassers, and many more.

Unlike many events, no one was paid to appear, and there are no payouts, or prize money, and no profit for the MDA. All fees paid at the Meltdown go directly to support the track and keep it open for people to enjoy all year. One of the major goals of the Meltdown Drags is to relive and teach the past, so if you want to take in a drag racing event that will convince you that you have stepped back in time…get on down to 2015 Meltdown Drags on July 17th -19th at Byron Dragway in Byron, Illinois See you there! meltdowndrags.com

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Jon Maninila’s 1968 GTO

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Photos by John Jackson of NotStockPhotography

The beauty you see gracing these pages was built by MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration in Eugene, Oregon as their personal “shop car.” Not a bad shop vehicle huh? Before shop owner Jon Mannila and the talented crew at MetalWorks got their hands on the 68, it was an illegal daily driver… ha ha, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

The first recorded history of the GTO dates back to the early 80s when Rick, a customer of MetalWorks, purchased it for $2500. After about 3 years of ownership Rick had a blue velour interior installed in the Pontiac, as at the time blue velour was extremely cool, and it matched the GTO’s blue and white exterior. Rick’s wife became the primary driver of the 68 and would take their two children to visit Rick at the video arcade that he owned and operated (note video arcades were also very popular at the same time that blue velour was considered cool). The only problem with Rick’s wife driving herself and their children the 7 miles from Canyonville to Riddle, Oregon was that she has never gotten a driver’s license. Oh well, that’s what back roads are for.

The GTO was sold to a guy, then to another guy, until Rick lost contact with it. Then one day, Rick heard of a GTO for sale in the area, so he went and checked it out. Rick positively identified the 68 as being his old car by, you guessed it, the blue velour interior. As fate would have it with the GTO back in Rick’s posession, very little happened with it. After some time of collecting dust, Rick convinced Jon Manilla that he needed another GTO, as he knew Jon had one GTO already, and as we all know, cars are like potato chips—you can’t have just one. So a deal was struck and Jon became the owner of a 2nd GTO. Jon had just finished the restoration of his first GTO in a stock manner, and was discovering that stock was just not his style. So, with a blank canvas in front of him Jon decided to build his new 68 in more of a hot rod /pro-touring fashion with the thought that the GTO would become a promo piece for the shop. This new direction would also allow MetalWorks to build a car the way they wanted to build one, and to show people what is possible.

An Art Morrison chassis and a new GM Performance LS1 were ordered through MetalWorks’ own “in house” Speed Shop, but soon the build began to snowball as many builds tend to. The LS1 was used as a mock up engine, but a custom build LS3 by Wegner Motorsports had already been ordered running a stage 2 cam, and pushing nearly 600 hp. Then, before the LS3 was nestled inside the rails of the Morrison chassis it was topped with an MSD Atomic LS fuel injection system and coils. Initial thoughts of an automatic were replaced with a TREMEC 6 speed manual that is linked to a Ford 9” with a 4.10 Trutrac posi rear end hosting 31 spline axles. With all “go” the GTO needed some serious “whoa,” so 14” Wilwood vented rotors with 6 & 4 piston calipers were ordered. A couple wheel and tire combinations were scratched until Jon found the perfect combo in a set of Budnik “Platnium” series. Thoughts of autocross racing resulted in a Ridetech TIGER cage for an A-body being ordered, then, modifications were performed to work with the Art Morrison chassis. Ridetech 5 point harness seatbelts were also installed to keep driver and passenger secure in the corners.

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While the crew was hard at work on the chassis and drive line, the body was striped, then sent to MetalWorks acid dipping  facility. Once the body was at ground zero in bare metal the guys in the body shop got busy massaging the body to perfection, then they applied several coats of “MetalWorks Red” paint. The final step was to wet sand and buff the body to mirrored perfection.  Once the body was ready it was sat on the chassis, and the assembly process began.  The hidden headlights were converted from vacuum to electric to do anyway with any more “lazy eyed” driving.  The factory gauges were replaced with OEM styled Dakota Digital replacements, as well as an electronic climate controller from DD.  An Alpine head unit controls 2000 watts worth of stereo that are masterfully hidden throughout the GTO’s interior.  Speaking of interiors, sadly the blue velour was past its prime and had to be replaced with a custom OEM styled leather interior that was stitched together by Jon Lind Interiors.

When all the dust had settled the crew at MetalWorks had created one wild pro-touring GTO. A comment often heard by admirers is that they have never seen a GTO taken to this level.  Another common statement is that it is nice to see a less common GM model get the royal treatment, instead of yet another camaro.  The GTO is definitely not just for customers to admire from a distance at the shop.  If a customer is looking to have a high end pro-touring car built, or is curious about an LS conversion, Jon will take them out for a white knuckle rip in the 68, which tends to leave customers in a state of perma-grin and reaching for their wallets with still shaking hands.

Above and beyond being an excellent promotion and sales tool, the GTO is a point of pride for the talented crew at MetalWorks who built it.  If you spot this red hot 68 cruising the streets of the Pacific Northwest, don’t be afraid to flag them down as you will meet some of the most down to earth and talented builders in the industry…but if you’re looking to race, you may find yourself admiring the GTO’s freshly restored taillights!!!