The modern era of street machining, it seems, has developed into three basic categories. One is full-tile OEM restoration, though in many respects the cost and perfection of such projects is often only reserved for the rarest examples. The second is Pro Touring, the process of taking classic Detroit iron and converting it into a 21st-century equivalent in terms of driveline, suspension, and comfort technology. The third is what so many of us grew up with and remain involved in--personal touches that make the car our own. Steve Carter has chosen category number three.
Carter, who operates a shop called Carter Kustoms in Brentwood, Tennessee, (www.carterkustom.com) owns the '65 Comet seen here. This was the second year the Comet was a threat on the dragstrip, and guys such as the late Dyno Don Nicholson, Eddie Schartman, and others raced into the history books in 427ci A/FX and 289ci B/FX models. On the street, the Comet was appreciated for its styling, but horsepower was not its strong suit. In fact, it was that crisp styling that drew Carter to this machine, and he then began the upgrades to make a serious street and track runner out of it.
Buying the car in rough but basically rust-free condition, the build started in 1993, and Steve spent four years on it. To some extent, the plan was to make it into a statement for his business, but it was going to be his weekend wheels as well--something that could be driven, thrashed on, and enjoyed. To that end, he began with the basics: changes to the chassis and suspension that would help take on whatever abuse he might eventually decide to give it.
Martz Chassis 2x3 channel pieces tied the car together with a road-race-style front frame, which also added the rack-and-pinion steering. A set of replacement front disc brakes off a Chevrolet went under the front end. The rear is assisted by a set of traction bars and NASCAR-style shocks, though the drums back there proved to be enough to help slow the car, which weighs only about 2,700 pounds sans driver. To keep with a vintage theme, American Racing wheels are on all four corners, though they're fully polished and 17 inches tall. The tires are Bridgestone Potenzas, P215/40R17 front and P245/40R17 in the rear.
After prepping for paint and removing the door handles for a smooth look, Steve shot the panels in a DuPont turquoise mix. This included coloring in the rear panel and taillight bezels for a custom stealth appearance. Against this hue were added subtle silver flames that really only become evident when giving the car a second look; it appears that the fire is literally stripping the car down to bare metal. The raw hardtop Comet design lends itself well to the semi-custom rod theme.