Building performance street machines takes on many forms. While we could have written a story on each of the 2001 Young Guns participants, the four selected best represented the different styles and levels of modifications. Rounding out the quadrant of cover cars is Kyle Huelsman of Chickasaw, Ohio, who came to Columbus, Ohio, with this '78 Plymouth Volare Super Coupe, 1 of only 474 built that year.
How I Built My Hot Rod As Told By Kyle Huelsman
My project began when I bought this car for $3,500 in September 2000. That November, I began seriously working on it. This was a family project, because I received help from my father and my grandfather. The first thing I did was pull out the engine and the trans. We also removed the seats and carpeting at this time. The car originally came with a red interior and air conditioning, which is pretty unique. The seats were reupholstered by C Creations in Celina, Ohio, and I ordered new preformed carpet from Auto Custom Carpets. The other major change to the interior was to swap out the 100-mph speedometer for one that reads to 120 mph.
To begin upgrading the driveline, the first thing I did was trade the open 2.71 axle assembly for an 811/44-inch 3.23 Sure Grip axle from a cop car; I also changed the brakes from 10 inches to bigger 11-inch drums at this time. I rebuilt another transmission using an '80s-era version with a high-stall, lock-up converter in place of the original trans. My grandpa, Robert Huelsman, and I then rebuilt the 360 ourselves, getting the block bored .030 and using the stock crank and rods with a set of cast, flat-top pistons. We took a set of the good 340 "J" heads, installed hardened exhaust seats and new valve guides, and they were mounted to the block along with the original intake and Thermoquad. Since this is a street car, we selected an early '70s-style grind cam, nothing radical, and used the stock exhaust manifolds as well. My dad, Tom, and I ripped the old exhaust out and put a true dual exhaust on the car without moving the gas tank; this exits in front of the rear wheels like the E-Body Trans Am cars did. These cars came with special 15x8 Super Coupe rims, and I'm using 235/R6015 tires. The car is painted Crimson Red Metallic.
We finished the whole thing up by April 2001, which was two weeks before my senior prom. I'm very proud of the car; on the last day of school, we took it out and did something that hadn't been done in years: a good, old healthy burnout! None of this would have been possible without my dad, my grandpa, and my friends.