The Street Machine Summer Nationals is where the rare cars go to hang out, so it is no surprise then that we’d stumble upon 1987 Buick GNX #153, which is owned by Lanny Lolling. The king of G-bodies is driven 1,000 miles per year, Lanny affirmed, who purchased it 11 years ago. Hearing this struck a chord with us, considering we are Street Muscle not “Garage Muscle” or “Car Show Muscle.” Lanny told us he actually swapped the turbo and wheels to keep the factory pieces intact while cruising the streets. He talked about one day handing the GNX down to his grandkids.
The Cummins swap has replaced the LS swap as the novelty engine of choice. If you want some wow factor, the inline 6-cylinder has that in spades with either the standard single turbo or even a compound turbo setup. These diesels sound as surly as your Aunt Edna while puffing black smoke and knocking down some impressive mileage. The Cummins shown here looked right at home in a patina Tempest entered in the SEMA Young Guns Competition.
Did Someone Say Patina
Just as flat paint jobs became fashionable, so did patina – bringing those of us with shallow pockets into the cool category by some stroke of luck. The “ratty” look has plenty of attitude, but is also practical. Rock chips, door dings, and road grime be damned. This Chevy II made lap after lap on the autocross course without a care in the world. After all, isn’t the point of owning a muscle car to drive it? That reminds me…
Stop Box Heaven
The Stop Box is one more totally approachable method of competition for your muscle car. It combines acceleration and deceleration to achieve the best time, and – aside from premature wear of the brake pads and tires – poses no real threat to hurting your car. We watched this C4 Corvette go round after round, shaving hundredths of a second off his time each run. According to Protouring expert Jeff Smith, who was helping to run the event, it is all about the launch. “Our rental car had the fourth best time yesterday. Too much power can hurt you. Fast cars can go 2.9, but a lot of guys were running 3.1 to 3.2 [including the C4 which went 3.17].” There were 39 cars at the Stop Box on Friday, often with just tiny fractions of a second separating them. Competition was stiff.
Defining a “Street Machine”
Speaking with Jeff Schwartz of Schwartz Performance, whose son Dale drives this highly modified ’65 Pontiac Tempest, it was apparent that even Lexan windows and a pin-on fiberglass nose do not constitute a race car to some people. Cruising around the show, with the soundtrack of lopey idles, the sweet smell of race gas was a frequent occurrence. This just goes to show how differently we all define a “street machine.”