LateralG SiniSSter Chevelle
Built for the autocross course
With a fresh redesign of the blooming A-body platform, the 1966 GM midsize models set the standard for styling and performance. I grew up studying my dad’s ’67 Buick GS along with ’66 and ’67 Chevelles down the street; the inset rear window and sweeping C-pillars have always captivated me. Joe Haniszewski’s father purchased a new ’66 Chevelle, and no doubt, the bulging quarter panels and slick taillights stuck with Joe well into adulthood. Years later, with a few classics and hot rods under his belt, the time felt right to show the world his version of the venerable 1966 Chevelle. Like many recent hot rod projects, Joe began by naming his; SiniSSter, playing off the Super Sport initials as well as setting the tone for the car’s aura.
Photos Courtesy of Lateral-G and Chris Ocean
Few words fit together as well as “big block Chevelle.” Sure, there are small blocks out there that can put a whoopin’ on most Rat motors, and the Gen III LS-based engines are in a league of their own, but when it comes to underhood appeal and brute force, you’ll play hell trying to match a big block Chevrolet. As this particular car came into Haniszewski’s life with a 283, it’s likely he considered maintaining a small block, at least for a few minutes until the devil on his shoulder pushed the angel off the ledge. Starting with a real-deal 396, JanCen Racing Engines cleaned up the cylinders until the cubic inch displacement measured 402, and then slid in a fresh cam from Comp Cams. Aluminum heads and intake from Edelbrock shave weight off the front of the car as well as let the big cylinders breathe deeply. What looks like a carburetor under that black air cleaner is actually an Atomic EFI throttle body from MSD. These new EFI systems are great; you get the traditional look of a carb with the, shall we say, odor-free operation of fuel injection. Flowmaster headers and exhaust make their way past a stout TH350 and Gear Vendors overdrive unit, then hike up over the 9” Ford housing filled with 3.55 gears.
With autocross on his mind, the stock suspension was set aside to make room for a complete handling package from UMI Performance. Tubular upper and lower control arms were spec’d to replace the stamped originals, both front and rear, while UMI’s own sway bars take up residence at each end. To give the car a stance worthy of its name, UMI dished out a pair of their 2” drop springs for the rear and some Viking coilovers up front. It’s great to see a pro-touring style car that retains the stock frame; with a bit of bracing, new moving parts with high quality bushings, the original skeleton can more than hold its own! Fourteen-inch Baer brakes with six-piston calipers serve as a backdrop for the huge 18x9 and 19x12 Forgeline DE30 wheels wrapped in Nitto rubber.
Now that SiniSSter had what it needed to walk the walk, it was time to talk the talk. New sheetmetal sourced from Dynacorn was installed, along with ABC Performance mini tubs. The drip rails and door locks were 86’d while custom badges were created at Myles Tool Company. The Ring Brothers were tapped for a set of billet hood hinges – works of art, really - and a pair of door handles. The handles, bumpers, badges and balance of exterior brightwork were ceramic coated in Titanium Silver.
Interior choices can change the demeanor of a car; aluminum-sheet door panels, bare Kirkey high backs and a ratchet shifter on a pedestal scream grudge-night street race. On the other hand, leather-wrapped, sculpted door panels and matching, bolstered bucket seats and a swoopy center console point the way to a pro-touring runner, which is the route Joe took in the ’66. The seats are actually out of a Mustang, though disguised with TMI Sport XR covers. A steering wheel from Billet Specialties helps point the way, and a VHX-66C-CVL instrument system with Black Alloy face styling takes up residence in the stock dash. Vintage Air supplied an air conditioning package, and the whole car has been strung with a Painless Performance wiring harness.
While this Chevelle bears little resemblance to the Keystone-equipped neighborhood Chevelles of my childhood, nor is it anything like the ’66 Joe’s father bought almost 50 years ago, it’s still definitely a classic muscle car. Its mean, it’s tough and expresses the driver inside. You got a problem with that?