If it’s true that one’s basic nature eventually reveals itself no matter how well hidden, you need not look any further than Don Jackson’s ’50 Chevy as a perfect example. Initially, Don wanted a 1950 Chevrolet with a small-block V-8 for power and an updated suspension. Simple enough. There are many cars out there for sale to choose from and, if by chance he didn’t find one he liked, he could have one built by nearly any hot rod shop in the country. But when you start to modify and tweak the basic formula, you’re bound to get something else, and for Don that was a good thing.
Here’s what was shipped to...
Here’s what was shipped to Performance Vehicle Works in late 2008. Just 18 months later the car was winning awards and being studied as to how it was created.
Don, who lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (a town of 1,500 or so people), is friends with Gary Hostetler who, in turn, had some work done by Performance Vehicle Works (PVW) in Cornelius, North Carolina. The history of PVW is based in both racing and NASCAR, and owner Tim McKichan and general manager Ken Simonson spend most of their time with muscle cars, sports cars, or converting race cars for the street.
In an effort to help Don out, Hostetler suggested to Simonson he give Don a call to talk to him about his project. The two hit it off and Simonson says he was surprised how similar the two of them were in their likes and dislikes. Don decided he was going to ship the car to Simonson along with a set of ’10 Camaro wheels, a small-block motor, and a four-speed tranny, which he also wanted for the car. A few days later Don called back and asked about a new four-link rear suspension, to which Simonson told him if he was already going to do a front clip and then add a new rear suspension, why not just do a complete chassis and set the car up accordingly. Don agreed and, from that point on, the car started down a whole different path.
The exterior of the car demands...
The exterior of the car demands attention, but the engine compartment demands respect. You don’t see too many twin-turbo LS3s stuffed into a ’50 Chevy, and it’s backed to a Borg-Warner T56 six-speed transmission to boot! For driveability, the 376 was dialed in at 10 pounds of boost that yielded a conservative 600 rear-wheel horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque on the chassis dyno.
The new concept was to keep the car looking old but updating the underpinnings and powertrain to cutting-edge standards and, with Don being a fan of the Corvette, the two didn’t have to look far for inspiration. PVW built their own chassis for the project (with 2x4-inch main and center rails with 2x3-inch front and rear sections), setting the wheelbase up at 115 inches. The rear end uses a Ford 9-inch with Moser 31-spline axles and a 3.64:1 gear ratio, and PVW also fabbed a rear four-link suspension that fits within the trunk and back seat area using QA1 coilover shocks with Carrera springs. The front end uses smoothed-up Z06 upper and lower control arms and custom NASCAR-style upper control arm shafts. Corvette Z06 calipers and rotors were also used front and rear, with the rotors drilled to fit over the Camaro wheel studs. Brakes are controlled by a 90-degree underdash unit from Kugel Komponents and 3/16-inch stainless steel line throughout.