Every car—big or small—has a story. Every car in my diecast collection falls into one of the following categories: cars I owned; cars I wish I owned; or, as in the case of the GTO I call “Evil Twin,” a car made out of leftovers from other projects. But this story really starts with, of all things, a full-size Chevy Nova. In 1972, I had a ’62 Nova “race car” project that wasn’t going the direction I had hoped. One day, while cruising by the local Ford dealer’s used-car lot, I noticed a really clean Cameo Ivory ’66 GTO sitting in the back row. It didn’t have a dent or scratch on it and had only 35K miles, but an aggressive test drive had resulted in a seriously spun rod bearing. Well, $600 and a log chain got it from that lot down to the Standard service station where I worked at the time. I pulled the 327 out of my Nova, swapped the dual-quad tunnel-ram race manifold for a more streetable Offenhauser single-quad hi-rise, and dropped it in place of the broken 389. It turned out to be one of the nicest, best-handling cars I have ever owned.
Forty-some years later, that GTO was long gone but certainly not forgotten. In my conscious decision to attempt to collect replicas of cars that meant something to me, I had picked up a Cameo Ivory ’66 GTO from Ertl, but upon receiving it, I was a bit disappointed with the detail and so was not motivated to make it into a replica of “my” ’66 GTO. In the meantime, Highway 61 had introduced its version of a ’66 GTO, which was much more detailed. The company eventually produced a white one, but it had a red interior (mine was black). I could fix that! I bought a second triple-black version and swapped interiors. I removed the Tri-Power 389 and scrounged a detailed small-block Chevy to replicate the 327. I added a set of dark-center mags to finish off the look. Meanwhile, the Ertl GTO had surrendered its interior for another project, so I had a body and chassis just lying there. So I thought, “Why not do a quick build and make a radical street racer?” That’s how the “Evil Twin” was born.
What was supposed to be a “quick build” soon turned into something else. If this were going to be a serious drag car, it would need to be tubbed. The stock plastic chassis was not going to lend itself to that, so I decided to build a set of frame rails from some 3/16-inch aluminum sheet. Front-suspension pieces came from a Highway 61 Camaro, but I didn’t like the loose spindles, so I made some new ones from 1/4-inch aluminum rod along with some disc brakes to fit the wheels from GMP. The rear suspension and diff were built from scratch—a fabricated Ford 9-inch with a 4-link and coil-over shocks—all from aluminum. As a serious street racer, it needed an all-aluminum interior, too. The floor, tunnel, dash, seats, pedals, steering wheel, and roll bars are all fabricated out of aluminum. I added some belts to finish off the interior. The engine of choice was a blown big-block Chevy from GMP. I added a Turbo-Hydramatic transmission and built my own distributor, rewired with the correct firing order. I didn’t want this to be a normal blower-through-the-hood build, so I had to remove the blower scoop. The injector under it didn’t look good, so I built a new set of injectors, complete with brass butterflies. I built a set of headers out of aluminum wire to fit with machined collectors mated to a rendition of a full-length 4-inch exhaust. I built an electric water pump and plumbed it into a handmade aluminum radiator.
For the exterior, the blower required a scoop, so I built one from aluminum plate. The front of the car just didn’t look sinister enough, so I modified the front bumper and added a machined-aluminum air dam. The Ertl body didn’t come with any side glass, and I decided if I were going to take the time to make side glass, it should be tinted. To be different, I cut up an old plastic whiskey bottle with a yellowish tint and made the side and back glass from it. With roughly 260 hours into this build, I didn’t want it to be plain white on the shelf, so I contacted a fellow customizer to help design and produce the graphics for the exterior to give it “the look.” With that, what started as leftover parts became a radical race car and a fun counterpart to my replica street GTO.
By Paul Gray