When you hear someone use the words muscle car, you probably think of Chevrolet’s Chevelle, Impala, Nova, or even the Camaro — although doing so with the latter could cause a purist to scream “pony car” at the top of his or her lungs. But I digress, as the term muscle car has been loosely used by enthusiasts, and is defined as a small car with a big engine. If that’s the case, what are we supposed to call a “big” car that sports a “big” engine?
In the broadest of terms, many enthusiasts will consider any classic car with a V8, a muscle car. When that car is a big ’65 Biscayne with 427 cubic inches of tire-melting big block under the hood, I’ll concede to it being called a muscle car. But still, how can a Biscayne be called a muscle car in the traditional sense of the word? After all, it’s definitely not in the realm of a small car.
Introduced in 1958, as a full-size family transporter, the Biscayne was the least expensive model in the Chevrolet full-size car line-up. That is unless you count the 1958-only, bare-bones Chevrolet Delray, but I digress. The Biscayne was not adorned with an abundance of exterior brightwork or fancy interior trimmings, much like the slightly higher priced Chevrolet Bel Air or the top-of-the-line Chevrolet Impala carried. It was considered the everyman’s family car. In fact, the 1965 sales slogan stated “something new for everybody.”
Here’s a little fun fact for you: the Biscayne was actually named after Biscayne Bay, an area near Miami, Florida. This was done at a time when the trend at Chevrolet was to name its car models after coastal cities or beaches, such as the Bel Air, and later, the Malibu.
The muscle-bound Biscayne I am showcasing today might have been someone’s daily transportation at one time, but those days are long gone. “I found the car in 2010 while doing an internet search to find a car,” says owner, Curt Gosman, of Parrish, Florida. “When I found it, it was setting in a pole barn in Iowa and had a small block under the hood and a Powerglide behind it.”
Curt went on to explain that the car had very little rust when the rebuild began. In fact, after a five-year rebuild, it still retains all the factory panels, including the floors and trunk. Curt was fortunate in that the solid foundation only needed minimal rust repair before it was covered with a glossy slathering of eye-catching blue.
Taking a look at the interior appointments of the “big-boned” hot rod, one quickly learns that a stock-ish vibe with an updated twist was the game plan. The tan and brown vinyl seats are not what you might call eye-catching at first glance, and might have even seemed like a strange choice in color to some before the project was completed. However, the end result works exceptionally well. Small, subtle deviations from stock — like the addition of aftermarket gauges, chrome tilt-steering column and billet steering wheel — not only add to the look of the car, but also help it actually stand out in a crowd.
If we’re going to consider this a muscle car, it better have some muscle under the hood. In Curt’s eyes, when it came time to propel this large-by-huge hot rod, utilizing a small block backed by a Powerglide transmission was not going to suffice. For that reason, his Biscayne relies on something that helps carry the “big” theme. In fact, he relies on 427 cubic inches of bigness. Jerry Hautly of H3 Automotive and Performance Inc. says the camshaft and valvetrain from COMP Cams, is from the Big Mutha Thumper line of bumpsticks. That means it’s a hydraulic-roller-lifter unit with .575/.554-inch lift and 243/247 degrees of duration at .050-inch lift. Keith Black hypereutectic pistons help create the squeeze under the Edelbrock heads, and an Edelbrock RPM intake supports the Inglese fuel injection that is controlled by a FAST brain box. Backing up the engine is a highly strengthened 700R4 transmission and a 12-bolt rear with 3.73 gears and the requisite positraction differential.
When looking underneath, the stock frame is almost as the factory delivered the car in 1965. But there are a few upgrades. For starters, the stock control arms have recently been updated with tubular units from Ridetech, and the stock coil springs and shocks have been replaced by a set of Ridetech ShockWaves. In case you didn’t know, the ShockWave is an integrated air spring and shock absorber system that is designed to replace your car or truck’s metal springs and shocks. These pressure-adjustable air springs install in your vehicle just like a coilover.
Finally, all the horsepower delivered by the big block does need to be reined in on occasion. To accomplish that task, a set of Wilwood binders are mounted on all four corners behind those massively cool 18- and 20-inch Billet Specialties wheels.
While considering a ’65 Biscayne a muscle car might not be a foregone conclusion to many enthusiasts, Curt has definitely built a hot rod cruiser that not only looks great, but also possesses enough muscle to satiate any power junky’s needs. What can be better than having the more-than-comfortable ride of a “big” car and the power of a big block? Nothing if you ask me.