MENTAL AS ANYTHING

WITH A 1000HP, 600-CUBE BEHEMOTH UP FRONT, THIS FULL-SIZE CHEVY IS GOOD FOR 9.8-SECOND QUARTERS AT 140MPH

STORY CRAIG PARKER PHOTOS CHRIS THOROGOOD

IF 9.8-second quarters normally aspirated isn’t impressive enough from this hulking 2020kg (4450lb) streeter, there’s a 250hp NOS hit on standby to amp things up to 11!

“This car has been in the family 40 years, says owner Michael Vergis. “My uncle bought it originally, but after crashing it, he left sitting in our yard for years.

At the ripe age of 17, Michael decided he’d give the big ol’ Impala a new lease on life.

“I had no idea what I was getting into, he says. “As I started pulling stuff off, other parts started falling off. The more paint I stripped away, the more body filler and rust I found. Undeterred, he stuck at it. Consequently, what started as a three-month, $10k build, turned into four years and a whole lot more moolah. That was 27 years ago, and the Impala has been on the road ever since. Mind you, it’s had a couple of spray jobs, three gearboxes, three diffs and four engines along the way.

“It went 350 small-block, 400 small-block, 540 big-block and now the 600-cuber, says the power mad Victorian. “It’s a big car – it needs a lot of oomph!” Michael blames Eugene from Flowcraft Race Engines for the current donk.

“It was all his idea, says Michael. “The 540 made around 800hp and ran 10.3@132mph, but I let Eugene talk me into going even bigger. He told me about this engine he had in mind and I said, ‘Let’s build it.’”

AS I STARTED PULLING STUFF OFF, OTHER PARTS STARTED FALLING OFF. THE MORE PAINT I STRIPPED, THE MORE FILLER AND RUST I FOUND

“Both my dad and uncle had 65 Chevs,” says Michael. “Before rebuilt this car, they both used it as a parts car. I’ still got dad’ four-door; it’ sitting in the shed alongside a two-door coupe project”

Eugene is a little secretive about the exact specs, however, the main highlights include Dart Big M block, Brodix alloy heads, Callies crank, Callies H-beam rods, 11.5:1 CP pistons, roller camshaft, Super Victor intake and an APD carburettor.

“APD custom made the carb for this specific engine, explains Michael. “Eugene sent them all specs and they made it to suit. I think it’s something like 1150cfm.

Although Eugene plays his cards close to his chest, when Tommy and Ali from Dyno House pulled the string, the numbers did all the talking; 1000-plus hp (NA) along with better than 900lb-ft of earth-twisting torque!

“That’s all on straight BP Ultimate, says Michael. “I haven’t given the nitrous a run yet as I’m enjoying just driving it around too much. It’s a really good thing.

MICHAEL VERGIS 1965 CHEVROLET IMPALA

Paint: Glasurit Metallic Blue

ENGINE

Brand: 600ci BB Chev

Heads: Brodix alloy

Carby: Custom APD 1150cfm

Cam/lifters: Roller/Isky

Cam drive: Jesel belt drive

Conrods: H-beam Callies

Pistons: CP 11.5:1

Crank: Callies billet

Ignition: MSD Power Grid

Fuel system: MagnaFuel 500

Cooling: Race Radiators

Exhaust: 4.5in collectors, 3.5in system

Power: 1000hp+ NA

Nitrous: 250hp NOS Big Shot

DRIVELINE

Gearbox: TH400 transbrake, reverse-pattern

Converter: Ultimate 5000

Diff: Pro9 chrome-moly fabricated, Dutchman axles

Centre: Strange Ultra Case, 35-spline Truetrac

CHASSIS & BRAKES

Front Sus: Tubular arms, Viking coil-overs

Rear Sus: Beefed-up factory four-link with sway-bar

Brakes: VPC & Pro9 discs (f & r)

Master cylinder: Wilwood, twin VH44 boosters

INTERIOR

Seats: Factory bench

Belts (Street): Lap belts

Belts (Race): 5-point harness

Trim: Oxen White vinyl

Steering Wheel: Pearl grip

Instruments: Auto Meter Shifter: B&M MegaShifter

WHEELS & TYRES

Rims: Center Line; 15x6 (f), 15x10 (r)

Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 6.40x15 (f), 315/60-15 (r)

THANKS Eugene Ciappara (Flowcraft); Joe Papavero (BelAir Panels); Geoff (Street Tech Fabrications); Mikes Pipes; John Lang (Pro9); Michael & John Ricca (Race Parts Melbourne); Patto (Seabrook Auto Electrics); Matt (MDT Race Engines & Autos); Tommy & Ali (Dyno House); plus James Sacco, Robbo Scorp and Frank Toro. But most of all my wife Amanda and kids Alex, Ari, Ava and Connor for their time and patience and letting me do the thing I love

The big engine was only the start of things, as it now needed a bigger trans and a bigger diff. Matt from M.D.T Autos stepped up to the plate and screwed together the transbraked TH400 with reverse-pattern shift. While John Lang put together the Pro9 chrome-moly sheet-metal rear end.

Geoff from Street Tech Fabrications was called upon to look after a host of fabrication – including the suspension. The factory four-link rear has been beefed up with a chunky sway-bar, along with adjustable lower arms (to move the diff back ’n’ forth) and adjustable top arms to fine tune the pinion angle for wheels-up launches. Tubular arms were also used up front and there’s double-adjustable Viking coil-overs on all four corners.

Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pros get it off the line. And to stop the fat, grippy rubber from slipping on the 15x10 satin Center Lines, Max Dumesny Motorsport converted them to beadlocks. Hauling all 2020kg back to a stop are disc brakes front and rear, assisted by twin, boot-mounted VH44 boosters.

I HAVEN’T GIVEN THE NITROUS A RUN YET AS I’M ENJOYING JUST DRIVING IT AROUND TOO MUCH. IT’S A REALLY GOOD THING

Dumping 1000hp of spent gasses is no mean feat, but Mikes Pipes are all over it; their custom headers sport huge primaries dumping into 4.5-inch collectors, which in turn flood into a full 3.5-inch system. And yes, the exhaust note is even bigger than the pipe specs.

Inside is very circa 1965 – especially that gorgeous pearl grip steering wheel. The rest is wall-to-wall Oxen White vinyl. Not so factorylooking is the brace of AutoMeter gauges and full ’cage. Thanks to interlocking tube couplers, the whole ’cage pulls apart and can be removed from the car.

Patto at Seabrook Auto Electrics refreshed all the wiring, which now incorporates an MSD Power Grid, along with Alpine head unit and Kenwood 6x9 speakers on the rear tray.

“I don’t really listen to the stereo, says Michael, “I prefer to listen to what’s going on with the engine.

I LOVE RACING IT. ESPECIALLY WHEN I LINE UP NEXT TO SOMETHING LIKE A TORANA – THE CHEV’S SO BIG YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE IT!

The ’65 has been finished and racing for about 18 months in its current guise. Initially the 600-cube monster was topped with a Lexan scoop.

“When racing, air pressure started breaking them, says Michael. “Just two days before heading to Ballarat for Street Kings, Geoff (Street Tech) managed to fabricate one out of aluminium – we even put hold-down cables on it to stop it lifting.

MOUNT SMART

TO STOP the 600-cube brute twisting itself out of the frame, it’s held in place by solid-mounted engine plates front and back.

“Everybody told me not to go solid plates,” says Michael, “as it would make the car overly harsh and uncomfortable – but it’s actually better. The Impala uses a separate chassis so the urethane chassis-to-body mounts act as engine vibration dampers. Also, being such a big car, the chassis moves around a lot; the two engine plates tie it all together really well.”

The stout 9.8 was run at Calder with no giggle gas. The big Impala then proved its consistency by coming runner-up (out of 40 cars) to Matt Brame’s eight-second LH Torana at the recent King of the Street eighth-mile event (SM, Dec ’18).

“I’d like run it down the quarter again, says Michael. “It’s really fast for what it is, and I know there’s a lot more in it. Plus, I love racing it. Especially when I line up next to something like a Torana – the Chev’s so big you can’t even see it!

“But at the moment, being such a good, reliable all-rounder, I’m more enjoying the street driving and the occasional events at Ballarat.”

Sounds just fine to us Michael – see you on the blacktop!