Cost Too Much And Take Too Long To Build Your Dream Car? Do As Steve Peterson Did And Finish Someone Else’s.
There’s a commonly held belief in the collector-car world. It goes like this: You must build a car from scratch to get the ultimate satisfaction from it.
And, as commonly held beliefs go, it’s not entirely true.
Steve Peterson started out the way many of us did, with a hot high-school car. His was a 1970 ‘Cuda that he paid $1,500 for while still in junior high. He and his buddies did things like drag race (relax—legal drags at what was then Seattle International Raceway) and tune for better results at said events. “I remember installing headers on the car late one night,” he recalls. “I started the car up in the garage with the headers wide open—no mufflers. It woke up my younger brother and my mom. Well, let’s just say she was not amused!”
And like almost all of us, wistful memories drew him back in. He bought a 1970 Chevelle in 2004. “I worked on that car with a good buddy of mine, really setting out to build a restomod and to do most of the work ourselves,” he says. Though Steve describes the finished product as nice, he admits that it lacked in some ways. “I learned a lot about what I would do different on the next car.” So, after a decade, he sold the car to room and fund that next one.
“At this point in my life, climbing under and around a car to work on it was not going to be an option,” Steve admits. “I collaborated in design, scope, and parts selection with Chris. He executed the work and kept me up to speed on progress all the way.”
The car got a bunch more mods, none of them budget-breakers: mini-tubs for 18- and 19-inch wheels, a lightly updated interior with modern seats and gauges, a harness bar, and some simple graphics drawn up by designer Jason Rushforth. “You’re so far ahead if you can find a car that doesn’t need paint,” Chris points out. “From my perspective, metalwork is a scary part of any build,” Steve adds. “Body mods or bodywork in general gets really expensive (and adds time) to the project. I wanted to control that part of the budget and schedule. We did pretty well.”
“Chris wanted me to put 500 miles on the car so that I could return it to his shop for inspection, fluid changes, etc.,” Steve says. But instead of racking up those miles piecemeal as Chris probably intended, Steve drove to Leavenworth, a German-themed town on the yonder side of three scenic (and steep and twisty) passes if you do the trip right. And he did it solo.
“It was 105 degrees in eastern Washington that day,” he recalls. “I remember having the tunes cranked, windows rolled down with air in the hair, passing a tanker truck pulling at 85 mph up Blewett Pass with power to spare and the Camaro handling like it was on rails.”
“I knew we had accomplished what we set out to do,” he concludes. “[It’s a] time machine! [It’s] bitchin!”
So, if you ever meet Steve Peterson, ask him if you need to build a car from scratch to get the ultimate satisfaction. Of course, I think you already know the answer.
Article and Photos from: Super Chevy Chris Shelton