By: Bob McClurg
Reprint from Chevy Rumble Magazine, June 2006
Photography: Bob McClurg
Going From One End of the Island to the Other in Record Time
“Five Years ago, I bought this ’65 Chevelle SS for my wife, Nancy, as a driver,” says Gordon Fernandez, an electrical contractor in Kamuela, Hawaii. “Then one thing led to another, and now…well, just see for yourself!”
A quick visual inventory of Fernandez’s stunning ’65 SS reveals a number of custom and aftermarket items, such as a GlassTech cowl induction hood, PPG Candy Apple red pearl over a Mike Rogerson-applied basecoat and a set of 18- and 20-inch Intro wheels rolling on Falken radial rubber. All of these touches are nice to be sure, but there’s a heck of a lot more to this island cruiser than just looks!
“I owe a lot to Mike Rogerson and his Thunder Alley crew, consisting of Gary Ramos, Kamaha and Mahoe. Without these guys, this project would never gotten off the ground,” Fernandez says.
Of course, Gordon’s ultimate goal was to have the SS ready for the 2006 Cruise Paradise event, or the Big Island Cruise as the locals call it. It is a two-week progressive cruise held on
the Big Island of Hawaii in late June and into early July.
Starting with the Chevelle’s chassis, Rogerson and company added a set of Thunder Alley subframe connectors for the Chevelle unibody: Then they installed a 3.70:1 Strange Engineering-geared, Moser axel-equipped Fab 9 sheetmetal rear axle assembly, which is suspended by an Alston’s Chassisworks four-link setup and dampened by a set of Air Ride Technologies ShockWaves and airbags.
The front suspension on the Chevelle consists of Chris Alston’s chromed and polished unequal-length upper and lower control arms, along with a pair of Alston 2-inch dropped front spindles and Wilwood Engineering front disc brakes. Also along for the ride is a pair of Air Ride Technologies ShockWaves front
shocks and airbags. Steering comes in the form of a late-model Camaro rack-and-pinion system.
Powering this beast is a Nelson Racing 350cid small-block Chevrolet, stroked and punched out to 396 cid via an Eagle engine stoker kit. Included in the Eagle kit is a cross-drilled, micro-polished and shot-peened Eagle forged steel stroker crank, a set of ARP cap screw equipped Eagle forged steel
connecting rods and a set of 8.5:1-compression Childs 7 Albert-equipped Wiseco forged aluminum pistons. Other items include a Nelson Racing custom-ground roller cam and kit and a set of Manley-equipped (2.08-inch stainless steel intake and 1.90-inch stainless steel exhaust) Air Flow Research CNC-ported aluminum alloy heads, which are bolted up to a ’96 Corvette LT4 EFI intake equipped with a set of 40-lb./hr. electronic fuel
Of course, Fernandez’s large-displacement “mouse motor on steroids” is forced-fed via a pair of Turbonetics T6 Turbos that pump out 26 psi. This is accomplished via a Mitsubishi wastegate, Thunder Alley piping and a custom air-to-water intercooler.
Ignition duties are handled via an Electromotive TEC III electronic engine management system firing an MSD crank
trigger ignition, properly controlled by a Windows-based laptop system. Also part of this equation is a set of Denso Iridium spark plugs that are fired by a set of MSD 8mm spark plug wires.
Actual exhaust duties are handled by a set of 2-3/4-inch Thunder Alley/Jet Hot thermal-coated stainless steel headers, exiting the spent gasses through a pair of Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers. The transmission duties are handled by a Mike’s Transmissions-prepared GM Turbo 40 backed up by a Gear Vendors overdrive unit.
The preparation of the 41-year-old sheetmetal was also handled by Mike Rogerson and his Thunder Alley crew. The SS has been repainted candy red over a black base with red pearl highlights, and it really stands out in the Big Island sun.
Inside, the Chevelle features a Thunder Alley-installed full rollcage, Auto Meter instrumentation, a Hurst Pistol-Grip shifter and black and red custom upholstery by Thunder Alley’s Kamaka and Majoe.
Weighting in a 3,350 pounds, this Chevelle is probably one of the fastest Chevrolets on the island. Of course, for the kind of money (over $125,000) that Fernandez has invested in his Big Island twin-turbo terror, it ought to be! CR