Steve Ahrenberg’s Killer ’66 Chevelle

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Some projects end up becoming totals pains in the ass, and during the beginning stages of its progress, this Chevelle proved to be one of the sharpest pains imaginable. We’ve all heard horror stories about car owners entrusting a shop with their vehicles, only to pull the car for one horrible reason or another. Steve Ahrenberg has been to shop hell and back (a couple times), and has found himself stuck with nothing more than a half-decent rolling chassis while being out a “stupid” amount of money as he put it so eloquently. Even with all the obstacles in his way, Steve managed to find a way to make it all work out—somehow. 

“I grew up in Phoenix (Thunderbird High class of ’79), and all throughout my junior and senior years I had a friend named Brett who had a ’66 Chevelle SS 396”, Steve says. “Man, that car was infectious. It got stuck under my skin, and I was never able to wash out the desire to own one. Fast-forward 35 years to when I finally decided to begin searching for my own. A customer of my industrial supply business had a “buildable” ’66 for sale, and knowing that the gene pool for these was drying up fast, I made the purchase sight-unseen.” 

Upon receiving the car, Steve ripped into it with no hesitation. He yanked the engine, transmission and interior, and delivered it to a so-called “hot rod shop”. Unfortunately, this place turned out to be the first pitfall he would encounter. “I showed up one afternoon and could tell right away it wasn’t going to work. The guy had removed a rear quarter panel with a nibbler, and was welding it back into place in the manner that even I knew wasn’t correct. I removed my car from his care, and went to a more ‘legit’ place, but after a stretch of time that appeared to be promising, I eventually had to pull the car from that shop as well.” 

At this point, Steve just about lost hope on his pipe dream to see his Frankenstein of a car through. It had been just over 3 years since he started with it, and dollar wise; he was sitting in a nice sized hole after dealing with the two shops, and having to purchase a donor car as per the advice of the second place. “I just planned on parking what I had left of the car in the garage indefinitely.”

This is where Steve’s wife and business partner talked him through this rough patch. They knew this was a bucket list thing for him, and that he would regret pulling the plug on the project after coming this far with it. “I had another friend who bought a Chevy II from a builder I had never heard of before—AJ Schwichtenberg of Good Fellows Classic Cars right here in Phoenix. It was after meeting him, all hope for my car was restored.” 

AJ took a liking to Steve, and agreed to take on the project. With all the BS he had dealt with in the past with this car, AJ figured Steve was due to catch a break. “Each of the two shops had done something different with the car. It wasn’t plumbed or wired, but they sure did rack up the charges on poor ‘ol Steve, that’s for sure”, AJ says. “I get much joy from building cars for good people, so I was pleased to be in a position to help out a fellow car lover in need.” 

The bodywork and fabrication phases evolved rather quickly, and Steve was having his boat motor builder, Larry Peto in Tucson, AZ build him a beast of a mill for his car. “I wanted gobs of power”, Steve admits. “Larry has regularly built me 1000-1100 supercharged boat engines in the past that have both performed and lasted. After a few conversations, he suggested a 427 Whipple-charged LS in the 850-900hp-range would be the way to go. As is always the case with Larry, the motor was finished on time with no drama.” 

Steve was now in the position where he could see progress unfolding, and before he knew it, he was sitting behind the wheel with the gas pedal mashed to the floor. AJ and the Good Fellows crew helped give the car its much-deserved second life, complete with many one-off features like the all-custom dash and roll cage, not to mention the amazing red paint job that Steve was so insistent on having. 

“The car had developed a very sinister and menacing appearance along the way, which wasn’t really done by design—it just sort of happened”, Steve says. “One day, it hit me. I blurted out ‘Red Wolf’. AJ asked what the heck I was talking about, and all I could answer that the car’s name had to be Red Wolf.” All piggies, beware. 

Specs

 

Owner: Steve Ahrenberg (Phoenix, AZ) 

Vehicle: 1966 Chevy Chevelle 

 

Engine

Assembly and Machine Work: 2006 Chevy LS 427

Crankshaft: Steel

Camshaft: Comp Cams

Rods: Steel 

Pistons: JE 

Cylinder Heads: GM aluminum 

Induction: Whipple 

Power Adders: Custom air cleaner, Whipple blower and belt drive system

Cooling System: PRC aluminum radiator

Exhaust: 3-inch Good Fellows exhaust system, Hooker headers, Spintech short mufflers 

Engine Dress-Up: Eddie Motorsport hood hinges, MSD ignition and wires

Built & Tuned By: Larry Engines, Phoenix, AZ  

 

Drivetrain

Transmission: TREMEC T56 

Rear Axle: Dual disc McCloud clutch and steel flywheel, Clayton Machine shifter, TAD driveshaft

 

Chassis

Frame: Modified stock with built-in frame by Good Fellows 

Front Suspension: QA1 coilovers, Ride Tech spindles and tubular control arms, anti-roll bar

Rear Suspension: Moser Ford 9-inch, custom 4-bar setup, QA1 coilovers  

Springs/Shocks: QA1  

Brakes: Baer 13-inch, 4-piston calipers, master cylinder

 

Wheels & Tires 

Wheels: 17x8 and 17x10 Weld beadlock wheels 

Tires: 225/50ZR17 and 325/45R17 M&H Drag Radial tires 

 

Interior

Seats: Procar seats with red and black vinyl upholstery, Sparco seatbelts

Gauges: Classic Industries

Steering: Flaming River steering column

Carpet:  None

Air Conditioning: Vintage Air 

Misc.: Clayton Machine pedal assembly, custom steel dash, Kicker Bluetooth receiver, amplifier, Infinity front and rear speakers, aluminum and steel door panels, chromoly rollcage

 

Exterior

Mods: GM steel cowl hood, stock GM grille, halide headlights and taillights, Billet Rides outer mirrors, front and rear bumpers cut to fit tight and re-chromed by Metro Plating, factory door handles, all gaps redone, mini tubs, full cage

Paint: PPG Kathy Red by Good Fellows

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