It’s a great time to be a car guy.
Cut a modest check to your local dealership and you can drive off the lot today in a brand new, 200 mile-per-hour behemoth, decked out with sumptuous leather, power everything, and a bumper-to-bumper warranty. So why on Earth would anyone invest all the time and garage space into building a muscle car from scratch?
For Chris Redman the answer is simple: “It’s gotta be B.M.A.” And everything about his incredible 1966 Chevelle is 100-percent certified B.M.A.
Big Man Approved—the foundation of Redman’s design philosophy—isn’t something you can buy at your friendly neighborhood car lot. To get the nod, his rides need the look and feel of old school Detroit muscle, the amenities of a modern luxury cruiser, and the track prowess of an exotic supercar. And all that street cred should fit Redman (all six-and-a-half feet of him) like a glove.
Two years ago, Redman’s Chevelle had none of those things.
“I bought it sight unseen for $200 from a guy in California, and had it shipped back to Michigan,” Redman said. “The car was nothing more than a shell—no engine or transmission, no interior, no glass. It was exactly what I needed—a blank canvas.”
At the end of its cross-country journey, Redman rolled the Chevelle into his garage and directly onto a rotisserie, where he began building it up to B.M.A.-spec.
“The goal was to make a modern interpretation of a classic, old school muscle car,” he said.
With the body removed, Redman boxed the frame for improved rigidity, and updated the A-body’s ancient suspension—an absolute must for what he had planned under the hood. The Chevelle now boasts tubular control arms up front, and a slick NASCAR-style truck arm setup in the rear that keeps the ride plush on the highway and planted at the track.
But that connection to the road is constantly put to the test by the tire-shredding small block up front.
“I wanted to do something I hadn’t done before,” Redman said. “For me, that meant a small block with fuel injection and a big blower.”
Built by Ohio Crankshaft, the 383 stroker goes full B.M.A. with forged internals, Trick-Flow R-Series 23° heads, and ACCEL DFI fuel injection, topped off with a beefy Weiand 250-Series supercharger.
That combination was good for a healthy 500 horsepower on the dyno, which might be plenty for some, but it fell short of Redman’s expectations.
“I felt that 600 horsepower would really be the sweet spot for this car, so we swapped out the cam, upgraded the lifters, and put a smaller pulley on the blower—that got us to 594, which is close enough for me,” he said.
Nailing down a look to suit the Chevelle’s Big Man Approved power and ride was no small task, so Redman turned to hot rod design artist Carter Hickman to ensure that the sheet metal matched the muscle car’s demeanor.
“I knew I wanted silver and pewter, plus something to break it up, but I didn’t know exactly what. Carter was able to work up a few different renderings to help me decide,” Redman said. “I actually had my final choice printed up on a banner that I hung in my garage. It helped me along whenever I needed some inspiration during the build.”
The final product is a totally B.M.A. color combo derived from surprisingly humble beginnings.
“The pewter comes from a Chevy Tahoe, and the silver is the same as a new Camaro,” Redman said. “The red stripe is actually a Chrysler color you could get on a minivan.”
And the reason he opted against painting the car some exotic uranium-infused, platinum-flake hue is a good one:
“The great thing about factory colors is if I get a rock chip, I can just run down to the parts store and grab some touchup paint,” he said.
The custom touches continue inside with Summit Sport seats wrapped in vibrant red and gray leather (mounted as far back as possible for true Big Man-levels of comfort), a custom console and dashboard loaded with Auto Meter American Muscle gauges, Electric Life power windows, a thumping Alpine stereo system, and ice-cold A/C from Vintage Air.
While this Chevelle is fully loaded, Redman didn’t always place such a high priority on comfort and convenience—that’s a lesson he learned on the open road.
“It’s made to drive,” Redman said. “Before this, I built a ’69 Camaro to take on the Hot Rod Power Tour. I didn’t put on any windshield wipers because I thought it ruined the look of the car, so of course it rained the entire 200-mile trip from Columbus to Detroit.”
And that levelheaded approach continues around back, where the trunk hides one of Redman’s greatest examples of B.M.A. ingenuity. Tucked neatly behind the 15-gallon fuel cell, you’ll find a custom American Autowire fuse panel, plus the starter solenoid, and several relays—all stuff you’d usually cram deep into some dark, inaccessible corner. His reasoning for this layout is equally straightforward:
“Get a big guy reaching up under the dash a few times, and they’ll start thinking ‘Maybe I can build a better mousetrap. Maybe there’s a better way to do this,’” he said. “That’s why everything was designed to be easy to get to. I turned every bolt on the car, and when something breaks, I’ve got a good idea who’s going to be fixing it.”
Now that the build is complete and fully B.M.A. certified, Redman hasn’t missed an opportunity to fully enjoy the car’s no-compromise combination of supercharged speed, first-class accommodations, and muscular good looks. With a pair of Power Tours in the books (complete with working windshield wipers) and more on the way, his fully customized Chevelle serves as a prime example of why true gearheads never settle for stock.
Redman sat down with us to discuss his awesome Chevelle. You can see that interview here:
Suspension: Tubular upper/lower control arms (front) and Centerdrive truck arm suspension (rear), custom-valved Bilstein shocks, and coil springs from Hot Rods to Hell; Hellwig 33mm front sway bar
Other Items: Fully boxed frame
Wheels and Tires: Formula 43 Rad 14 wheels (18″ x 8″ front, 18″ x 10″ rear), Michelin Pilot Sport tires(245/40R18 front, 275/35R18 rear)
Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite Big Brake Kit (12.19″ front/rear)
Engine and Transmission
Engine Type: Chevy 383
Cylinder Heads: Trick Flow 23° R-Series
Induction: Weiand 250-Series blower, ACCEL DFI fuel injection system
Reciprocating Assembly: Forged crankshaft and rods by Ohio Crankshaft, forged SRP pistons
Exhaust: Hooker Super Comp ceramic-coated headers, custom side-side exit exhaust with 2.5″ x 4″ oval tubing, SpinTech Oval Eliminator mufflers, authentic NASCAR exhaust tips
Transmission: Tremec TKO 600, custom pistol-grip shifter with line lock
Rear End: Dana 60 (3.73 ratio) built by DTS, Ionia, MI
Other Items: PRC custom radiator with twin SPAL electric fans, March Performance serpentine system
Ignition/Electrical: ACCEL DFI Dual Sync distributor,Super Coil ignition coil, and SuperStock ignition wires; Powermaster alternator and starter, American Autowire Highway 22 wiring harness and fuse panel mounted in trunk
Assembly By: Ohio Crankshaft
Modifications: Ring Brothers door handles, Sun Spec Billet Factory mirrors, Goodmark 2″ cowl hood
Paint: PPG Taupe Gray Metallic/Satin Ice Metallic two-tone, Blaze Red stripe
Paint By: Pro Am Collision & Mechanical, Grand Rapids, MI
Modifications: Summit Sport seats, custom dashboard and center console
Steering: ididit tilt steering column, Billet Specialties Boost steering wheel
Other Items: Auto Meter American Muscle gauges, Vintage Air air conditioning system, Lokar billet aluminum pedals, custom billet aluminum shifter and window switch surrounds
Upholstery By: Mike Zylman, Grand Rapids, MI
Photography By: Studio Martone
Special Thanks: My wife, Shelli, for granting me time and freedom to pursue my passion; Tom Adrian for the assistance, time, and wisdom to wire the car; Pro Am Collision for the outstanding paint and bodywork.