(Words and photos by Doug Gregory) – Magazines and online blogs might have some of you believing street-driven nine-second cars are around every turn. Legitimate, streetable 9-second cars are not that plentiful. When you see a car that can drive around more than to and from a local cruise night AND throw down at the track it is something special. If it looks good that is a real prize. We first laid eyes on Joe Hall’s ’67 Chevelle many years ago at Mountain Park Dragway at one of their ‘Car Wars’ events. Checking it out then it looked to have all the stuff needed for street duty and witnessed it run sold 9s on spray multiple times. We saw it again on occasion, but never really got a chance to speak with the owner. Some years later we saw it at the Cynthiana Rod Run and were quite pleased to see it drove there. It wasn’t until last year’s Hotrod Hullabaloo in Lexington, KY that we managed to catch the owner and get more of the car’s story.
Roll back the calendar to 1988. Joe detailing cars at a Ford dealership in Lexington when someone traded the Chevelle in on a new Mustang. Joe picked it up for $900 and used it as a daily for years. At the time it was a 350/4sp combo with a ten-bolt rear and bench seat. The first race he ran in it the car went 13.30 and he was hooked. Joe’s late friend, Butch Reed, helped him build a 406ci and then traded the 4-speed for an auto. Hang on before you go all nutso over that. Remember….the 90s…? Most folks were running an auto in everything.
The current mill uses a ’74 Impala 400ci block with 13:1 compression. AFR heads handle the breathing while the Bowtie intake directs the flow and Stahl headers handle the exit chores. Backing that up is a TH400 sending the small-block’s grunt back to a full-spool 12-bolt spinning 4.10 gears. He runs a NOS nitrous system and no trickery. The suspension is run-of-the-mill, stock-location stuff and it works well. Mercedes Magma Red makes the car stand out and the Weld Rodlites are something a bit different for this kind of build. The car weighs a hefty 3,600lbs and on BFG 275 Drag Radials turns 10.80s on just ambient air pressure and deep nines on the jug. We’ve got a couple so-so videos on my YouTube page showing at least one motor pass and one on N2O.
Joe had briefly considered selling it, but their 29-year relationship represents a lot of time, effort, headache, heartache, and history. Here in 2017 he is hoping his teenage son can make his first passes down the track in the car. How cool would it be to have been 16 and get a chance to drive a real 9-second street car…?
The last three photos in this gallery are the car in 2013 at the Rod Run and the car 8 and 0 years ago at Mountain Park Dragway. It is nice to see someone hang on to such a car for so long and hope to see more of it in the future.