Quick, think of your favorite Chevy Biscayne.
If you own one, you probably thought of your own car. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you thought of Chicayne. It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 17 years since Glenn Grozich’s sensational 1962 Biscayne—built by Troy Trepanier and the Rad Rides crew—was making heads explode at its unforgettable unveiling at the 2002 SEMA Show. If it was unveiled today, Chicayne would still look ahead of its time.
Glenn, who happens to be the founder and president of Billet Specialties in La Grange, Illinois, owns a lot of great street rods and street machines, including several other Chevy Biscaynes. His most recent is this ink black 1964 Biscayne sedan, built by Lonny Gordon and the team at East Coast Muscle Cars (ECMC) in Craley, Pennsylvania.
If Chicayne’s design was ahead of its time, this Biscayne’s styling is intentionally of its time. With a few well-chosen updates, Glenn’s stunning Chevy retains 90 percent of its ’60s flavor. It’s the other 10 percent that would have made heads explode in 1964. One of the best examples of what we’re talking about is the wheel selection. Factory 14-inch steel wheels might be preferred by restorers or people who aren’t the president of a prominent wheel manufacturing company, but to our eyes those 18×8 and 20×9 Billet Specialties Bonneville wheels, rolling on low-profile Firestone Firehawks, are a fantastic match for the aggressive black Chevy. Bodywork and paint on the stock exterior was handled by Jack Keller and ECMC.
The traditional design of the Biscayne’s interior is in keeping with the (mostly) stock appearance of the exterior, but the light tan upholstery is a cool contrast to the 8-ball black paint on the outside sheetmetal. ECMC worked with Bux Customs on the upholstery. The stock seats were recovered in cloth and vinyl retaining the factory style. The fabric looks like rolls and pleats, but is actually smooth material; the pattern just makes it look that way. Dakota Digital 1963-1964 Chevy Impala VHX gauges replace the original gauges in the stock dash. Billet Specialties manufactures a few dozen steering wheel designs in various sizes, finishes, wrap colors, and horn buttons. Glenn selected the 15.5-inch Outlaw wheel, mounted on an ididit column. A Kenwood stereo with Kenwood and Custom Autosound speakers provide the cruising soundtrack.
The stock frame is about the only thing remaining of the factory chassis. QA1 coilovers in front and RideTech shocks in the rear smooth the ride. A Global West front Panhard bar and RideTech rear antiroll bar improves handling. The frontend features Global West dropped spindles and control arms plus a CPP steering box. The 35-spline Strange rear axles are turned by a Currie 9-bolt rear with 3.73:1 gears and a Posi. Braking is handled by big 14-inch discs from Wilwood with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.
Glenn is a fan of big-block power and has used Dart 540 engines in a few of his other hot rods. The tradition continues in this Biscayne. The 610hp Dart 540, machined by Jerry Janotu, is packed with an Eagle crank and rods and JRT pistons. Custom Billet Specialties valve covers top the Dart Pro 1 aluminum heads, and a Billet Specialties air cleaner crowns a Quick Fuel 950-cfm carburetor and Edelbrock intake. Dual SPAL electric fans draw cool air through a Ron Davis aluminum radiator. Exhaust exits through custom headers and pipes, corked with Flowmaster mufflers. Performabuilt Transmissions updated the 4L80 transmission.
Lonny Gordon and the rest of the builders at ECMC stayed true to Glenn’s vision of this Biscayne as “Saturday night cruiser,” something he could jump in and drive to the local cruise-in. As soon as it was built, Glenn took it on a 600-mile cruise—the first of many.