We first met Miyamoto during the Hoover, Alabama, stop on the 2018 edition of HOT ROD Power Tour, and kept in touch until we were able to find a secluded spot at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte. There we could take proper photos of the vehicle, surrounded by used tires and other spent race car parts.
During this time, Miyamoto told us his story, as well as that of the car. Both are impressive.
Miyamoto now lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but is originally from the Detroit area and comes from a family heavily involved in the automotive world. In fact, we met his brother, Ernie, on Woodward Avenue this year and took a look at his Chevrolet Performance-powered 1972 Super Beetle. Both brothers spent many of their formative years cruising the streets of the Motor City and the surrounding towns in Michigan.
“My brother, [who is] one year older, got a 67 Chevy II Nova and everyone was asking me what I’m going to drive next year when I get my license,” Miyamoto says. “I didn’t really even think about it until someone down the road had that beauty right there for sale.”
Miyamoto acquired his Chevelle completely stock in 1982. He eventually replaced the 402c.i. engine with a 454c.i. power plant bored 30-over and a TH400 transmission.
Then, the car sat idle.
Miyamoto was a career Marine working in explosive ordnance disposal who was stationed all over the world. He joined the Corps in 1982 and retired in 2016. His career took him from both coasts of the United States, to Okinawa, Japan, to Korea, to Iraq, and ultimately to his final post in Norfolk, Virginia.
In recent years, he decided it was time to update the Chevelle.
“About three and a half years ago we began to take the car and design a couple of modifications, which ended up to be a few modifications, and a few more modifications,” Miyamoto says.
The car features a completely custom undercarriage, custom exhaust and a gas tank fabricated by Ernie Miyamoto. The Chevelle also utilizes a nine-inch rear-end with 4:10 gears and the biggest Mickey Thompson tires available -- 33 inches on the rear.
The engine is the massive 9.4-liter Chevrolet Performance ZZ572/620 crate big block, backed up with a 4L80E transmission with all electronics removed to make it a full manual. The engine makes 621 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque.
“The 572 crate was chosen because I trust the name, and in my opinion, it doesn’t get any better than putting a Chevrolet Performance stamp on it,” Miyamoto says. It runs cool; it’s got gobs of torque. I’ve got 2,300 miles so far on the Power Tour and she’s running great.”
The car has approximately 40,000 miles total and around 3,600 on the 572 crate engine.
The engine also features powder coating on the valve covers and intake, and the stunning looks extend to the rest of the carl. It is painted a stunning autumn gold, an original GM color. The interior is stock with a functional back seat, despite the huge rear tires. How that was accomplished is a secret Miyamoto is keeping to himself for now.
The restoration and bodywork on the car was done by Robert Filger from Filger’s Custom Auto Body and Restoration in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Filger and his dad joined Miyamoto on this year’s Power Tour.
“The 572 crate was chosen because I trust the name, and in my opinion, it doesn’t get any better than putting a Chevrolet Performance stamp on it.”
“I do a lot of local shows because that’s kind of where all the good fellowship is, where the classic cars guys get to share stories and then solve each other’s problems,” Miyamoto says. “Everybody gets it that the local car shows are pretty fun to go to and they’re quick. I’ve gone to some bigger shows [also]. It’s great to show up early, get a great spot, sit back and see everybody rolling in.
“But probably one of the best shows I’ve been to is this Power Tour, man. It is amazing.”
Miyamoto plans on being back on the Power Tour next year, possibly with his brother, and is also itching to take the car down the drag strip and turn in some low elapsed times.
The Chevelle already turns heads wherever it goes.