Dan and Tim Strange Relied on a Lifetime of Family Hot Rodding Memories While Building This Standout ’65 Chevelle
There’s a good chance your hot rodding gene was passed down from your parents, an uncle, or maybe a neighbor. In the case of Tim Strange, who builds hot rods and customs for a living at his Tennessee-based shop, Strange Motion, the spark for igniting the fuel in his veins can be traced directly to his father, Dan. It only seems fitting that one day the two would build a car together…it just took a few decades for that to happen.
Back in the day, Dan built and cruised motorcycles, but when he and his wife, Betty, started a family, he figured it was best to build something that could haul their brood to shows. The solution was a succession of Tri-Five Chevy builds that everyone could fit in, imbruing a lasting impression on Tim. So much so that Tim went on to start his own shop and has been building award-winning cars and trucks ever since.
Over the years Tim and his wife Carrie have built a long list of cool customs and rods that have racked up national attention, with Tim even hosting gearhead television shows and serving as an emcee at events. There was always talk between Dan and Tim about building a car together and a few years ago they decided a father-son project was long overdue.
Dan suggested a Chevelle, which Tim was very familiar with as he built a ’64 while in high school; it’s the car that earned Tim him his first national awards. Tim knew of a ’65 Chevelle that his buddy Matt Lindbom had stashed in a barn since their high school days. The car had seen better days, which proceeded to get even worse when a tornado tore the barn apart scattering Chevelle parts across several corn fields never to be seen again. Undeterred, Tim dragged the remains from the farm down to his shop outside of Nashville to get busy.
Dan is an old school muscle car fan and prefers the big ’n skinny tire combo and stance of drag cars. He also digs a big block, carburetors, and 15-inch wheels. Oh, and there’s his penchant for Impala seats, too. Tim knew he had a few parameters to work within, but as a customizer, he had several tricks up his sleeve as well.
Tim lopped off the front end of the frame, replacing it with a narrowed Fat Man Fab crossmember, tubular control arms, and dropped spindles. He added a 5-inch Z to the mid-section of the frame to get the car lower, boxed the rails, and moved the rear rails in 5-inches. A triangulated four-link from Ridetech supports a polished Currie 9-inch rearend with a third member assembled by Tim’s pal Ian Johnson. Ridetech coil-overs and Wilwood brakes are covered by polished 15-inch American Rebel wheels.
Meanwhile, back on the Strange family farm in Illinois, Dan found a donor 454 and, in classic farm-like bargaining, he dug a bunch of fenceposts in trade for the block, which was soon machined out to achieve a 505c.i. displacement in conjunction with a stroker crank. Tim decided to smooth the block before fitting it with a vintage Weiand intake and big Holley carb, ARP hardware, MSD ignition, and finned valve covers. A Bowler 4L80E handles the power with a Hurst shifter and Speed Dawg shift knob for Dan to control. In true drag car style, the engine was set back 5-inches, so Tim formed a new firewall, inner fenders, and engine surround panels to finish things off.
The custom engine bay panels were covered by a custom hood with a fabricated steel scoop inspired by a Baldwin Motion ’70 Nova. The hood was also nosed and peaked, while the body was shaved of all emblems and the rocker panels were extended down an inch. Once Tim had everything block sanded smooth, he sprayed the Chevelle with a custom-mixed blue hue using Tamco products.
For the interior, a set of ’62 Impala seats was located and the Stranges built a custom rear seat to fit the new floor and tunnel mandated by the channeled body. Carrie stitched up the carpet and door panels while their friend Mike Rogula covered the seats with blue leather and ’59 Cadillac cloth inserts. Don’t’ be fooled by the radio delete plate, as there’s a full Kicker sound system to crank up if Dan ever tires of the Flowmaster exhaust note. There’s also a Vintage Air system for comfort and a set of Dakota Digital gauges that fill out the dash.
Living nine hours apart slowed progress on the Chevelle, but Tim and Dan’s calls to each other to hash out ideas, concepts, and parts were a terrific way to bridge the distance. These long calls and sporadic visits became even more important when Tim’s mother Betty passed away, as the project gave Dan something to occupy his mind and his hands while spending time with Tim and Carrie. Garage time can be very therapeutic, especially with family.
It may have taken five years of on-and-off planning and work, but Dan now has his own Strange Motion Chevelle. The car debuted at SEMA 2022 and Dan’s been having a blast taking it to different events while spending time with his son and friends.
Photos by John Jackson