HOT ROD Week to Wicked: Transforming cars from mild to wild one week at a time

The “build a car in a week” notion is a familiar one made popular by TV shows like Overhaulin’. It’s a compelling formula, because who wouldn’t want to see their car completely transformed in a week’s time by an army of people? We all know, however, that there can sometimes be a lack of reality in this reality TV trope, and it’s much more difficult to put a car together than the shows let on.

Several years ago, we adapted the notion of a week-long build to challenge ourselves to see how drastically we could transform a relatively stock car in one week’s time using the vast resources of the automotive aftermarket, and the Week to Wicked program was born. By starting with the nicest car possible, it is completely realistic to think that you could roll it into the shop, blow it apart, give it a major makeover, and go cruising in it on the fifth day. That’s exactly what we did with this 1969 Chevelle. Welcome to HOT ROD’s Week to Wicked.

The Chevelle was found locally in Southern California. It was an old restoration that had been pampered throughout the years. The engine was original; it had a lot of miles and was pretty tired. Years ago, someone installed a TH700-R4 in place of the original three-speed automatic. Otherwise the car was stock with tiny disc brakes, drums in the rear, and highway gears in the open differential 10-bolt. In short, the car scored big in the looks department but was pretty boring to drive.

We partnered with Duralast to transform the Chevelle into a much more potent cruiser with more power, a modern fuel injection system, and a suspension and brake upgrade. All the work was performed over the course of five days in our Santa Ana Tech Center under the watchful eye of manager Jason Scudellari and Christian Arriero. We had some guest helpers from Wilwood, and Holley, and a raft of parts from Gandrud Chevrolet, Gearstar Performance, and QA1. The entire transformation was captured in a series of videos that you can watch on Here’s how it went down.

Gearstar Performance
Upon completion of the HOT ROD Power Tour®, we stuck around Ohio for a few more days, stopping in Akron to visit Gearstar Performance, a small company that has become a major player in performance aftermarket automatic transmissions. Owner Zach Farah described what makes his company’s products unique.

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