Published: 30-May-2012 13:37
I like Chev trucks,” says Andy Brooking, “I’ve had three ’66s, a ’68, a ’78 and a few others; but then again, I like Ford trucks too,” he goes on to say. But do you think he owns either currently? “No” is the answer. “I like things, I buy them, then soon after I always tend to sell them on,” he says. Then again, as owner and operator of parts supply company American Customs and Classics (ACAC), he’s in a good position to be doing a few deals, so you can’t really blame him.
And while not showing a tendency to hoard any particular brand, he’d never really thought about buying a Mopar for himself before either. Sure, he’s bought them for customers, but that’s a different story.
It wasn’t until a customer had Andy bring in a bunch of bits for his Dodge Coronet that he realised just how much he liked the car’s angular lines, and how he could easily see himself in the driver’s seat.
After thinking about the Dodge for the next few days, he remembered a car he’d seen on his last buying trip to America, a ’67 Belvedere. Sure, it was a low spec one, but what it lacked in creature comforts was easily made up for by its lack of weight. With this in mind, he contacted the owner, who assured him the car was good, and a deal was done.
He gave himself a year to get it on the road, which included what he thought was going to be enough time to source, build and fit a 440 big block — after all, there’s no point in buying a lightweight car and then only powering it with a baby motor.
Finding a motor to base the build off wasn’t hard; it just required a trip to a hick town trailer park in Kingman, Arizona. But it was once the car and the engine arrived that Andy knew he was going to have a bit of a job on his hands, especially since he’d promised the car would be ready for a mate’s upcoming wedding.
The ‘rust-free’ description of the car must have referred to the car coming with free rust, rather than coming with no rust. This led to the mechanical side of the build being taken care of first, so that it would be drivable, or if not, pretty close, come his mate’s big day.
The 440 block was dropped off to Justin Rice at Rotorua Precision Motors (RPM), along with a bunch of parts, all imported directly by Andy himself of course, with strict instructions that time was of the essence.
Sticking to his word, Justin managed to bore the block slightly over, fit the new pistons, crack test the rods and dial in the COMP Cams flat tappet cam. In addition to all that, he fitted ‘Super Stealth’ series heads from 440source.com. With 80cc closed chambers and large stainless steel valves, the heads are a massive step up from the factory 440 items. With their high flow rates in mind, Andy chose to source a 750cfm Holley carb and to have it fuelled by a high volume mechanical pump. While sourcing parts, he also found JEGS headers with 3-inch collectors, which he fitted to a twin 3-inch system along with a couple of Flowmaster mufflers.
While the new set-up hasn’t been on the dyno, Andy is confident that it’s good for an easy 400hp. While not massive power, it’s more than enough to get the lightweight Belvedere up and moving without any trouble. To ensure the 727 TorqueFlite trans that came with the engine was up to scratch, he took it to world-famous-in-New Zealand trans builder Chuck ‘the Man’ Mann. New clutches, new bands, a stage 2 shift kit and plenty of knowledge went into the build, and Andy couldn’t be happier with how it came out.
With the engine side of things sorted, Andy made it to his mate’s big day, even if the body still looked tatty; although thanks to some last minute touch-ups, it was better than it could have been.
With the wedding out of the way, he could finally strip the car back and get the bodywork sorted. Craig Thompson from Mooney Brothers Panelbeating was responsible for the panel side of things, which included rust repairs to the roof rails and rear quarters. From there, the car went to Rob Adriaansz at Robs Auto Spray Ltd who proceeded to coat the car in a fresh layer of DuPont orange with silver pearl.
The finishing touch to the exterior was a set of factory-looking 15-inch Mopar steel wheels and Cooper tyres.
The overall package isn’t really what you’d call hugely modified, but more like a tweaked version of what the factory had to offer, and a style which harks back to the days when Belvederes were the kings of drag strips around America. It’s got plenty of power, looks good and most importantly, has that shape that Andy first fell in love with. Although, by the sounds of it, as with everything he owns… for the right price, he’d soon let it go… Some people just can’t help themselves.
For more photos and full specifications, visit the NZV8 website.
Words: Todd Wylie. Photos: Adam Croy.