Project Preview: Radical Rear-Drive 2006 Monte Carlo

RWD Conversion-Built Art Morrison Max G Chassis That Will be Driven by a Blown LSX Engine

By Barry Kluczyk   –   Photography by the Author

Nearly a decade ago, Sam Buscemi made waves with a turbocharged, 800-plus horsepower ’07 Monte Carlo SS—one of the short-lived and comparatively outrageous LS-powered front drivers produced by General Motors.

- Advertisement -

Buscemi’s car swapped the original, transversely mounted LS4 for a custom engine based on a Dart block, World Products heads, and a Comp Turbo 84/88mm CT5 turbocharger. It was a stunning combination, with most of the fabrication work handled by Utah-based Paul’s Automotive and 4×4.

002 monte carlo rwd conversion
Wheeltubs and a large fuel cell take up most of the Monte’s real estate.

But shoving more than 800 horses through the front wheels brought some obvious compromises.

“The car has 245s on the front, and the car is wayyyy too overpowered for the street or strip,” Buscemi says. “I had 10.5-inch drag radials on it for a while, but they weren’t enough—and then had 13.5-inch drag radials, which helped on the track but they stuck out 3 inches per side, which was ridiculous and illegal on the street.”

- Advertisement -

In short: Despite the capability of doing 80-mph burnouts on the highway, Buscemi nonetheless couldn’t get the full use or max power out of the car on the street, which was its primary use. Changing to a Camaro or Corvette would change that, but the silhouette of those seventh-gen Monte Carlos still tugged at the heartstrings.

003 monte carlo rwd conversion
Paul’s Automotive is handling all the fabrication work, including laying a new floor and trans tunnel in the cabin. Note the drifting-spec brake handle, too. This car is being built to drop some jaws.

The solution was to move the drive wheels to the rear axle where nature intended. So, Buscemi tracked down a suitable project car and again turned to Paul’s Automotive to handle the fabrication work, which is where we’ve caught up with it for this project sneak peek.

004 monte carlo rwd conversion
At the front, more fabrication is evident in the tubing wrapping around the inside of the nose required, which is required to mount the front fascia and other accessories.

The shop used a plasma cutter like a scalpel to slice out the floor of the unitized chassis, and the Monte Carlo’s sleek body was shoehorned over an Art Morrison Max G chassis. A certified cage was also welded to the new foundation, as Buscemi plans to send the reconfigured sport coupe down the dragstrip.

“It’s a good fit all around,” Matt Snell, of Paul’s Automotive, says about the new frame and the Monte Carlo’s body. “The Max G chassis was designed to support cars originally built on a unitized chassis.”

- Advertisement -
005 monte carlo rwd conversion
A TREMEC six-speed is shown mocked in place with a temporary crossover, while the exhaust system is fabricated.

Sure, there will be some trimming to come in the cowl and other areas, but Snell notes the engine is located spot-on in the new chassis. The only challenge with that, however, will be the installed height of the planned powerplant—a 454ci engine based on a tall-deck LSX block that will be force fed by a 4.5L Whipple blower.

“It will need a custom hood, for sure,” Snell says. “The hood line of the Monte Carlo is much too low.”

006 monte carlo rwd conversion
A Whipple-blown tall-deck LSX-based 454-inch powerplant will power the Monte Carlo, pushing perhaps 1,000 hp.

Backing the blown LSX engine will be a strengthened TREMEC six-speed manual, which will send torque to a 9-inch rear axle. The suspension elements will include C6 Corvette elements in front, along with coilovers and a triangulated four-link in the rear.

007 monte carlo rwd conversion
The interior is complemented with a full ’cage.

There is still plenty of work to go, but this is such a unique and promising project that we couldn’t help but share a preview of it. Buscemi and Snell are aiming for later in 2023 to have the car on the ground and spinning its rear wheels. We’re looking forward to going for a ride when it’s ready.

008 monte carlo rwd conversion
There are no off-the-shelf headers for this configuration, so Paul’s built them from scratch.
009 monte carlo rwd conversion
A dry-sump oiling system will live in the right-front corner of the engine compartment.
010 monte carlo rwd conversion
After separating the upper body shell from the unitized chassis, lower-body reinforcements were added to shore up the shell’s strength.
011 monte carlo rwd conversion
Here, the passenger-side header is mocked up to check its fit, but also notice how the cowl was notched to make room for the big, blown LSX engine.


Art Morrison Enterprises
(866) 808-4759

Paul’s Automotive and 4×4
(801) 225-7472

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

Search Our Site

More Chevy Performance


Dave & Connie Gagnon’s ’69 Camaro Terrorizes the Street...

Pro Longed

Steve Hofferber’s Pro Street 1970 Chevelle By Nick Licata   -  ...

Pushed to its Limits

We Push Vortech’s New Third-Generation Blower Kit for the...

23rd Annual NAPA Auto Parts Syracuse Nationals

Hopped-up Chevys Dominate the Weekend By Chuck Vranas   -  Photography...

Mr. K’s Amazing 1964 Chevy Nova SS

After 42 Years of Ownership, This Pro Street–Style Chevy...

Chevy Concepts – Custom Four-Door 1967 Impala

Artwork by Tavis Highlander   -   Instagram @tavishighlander   - Vehicle...
More Chevy Performance

Reducing the Wallow of a Wagon

Brake and Suspension Upgrades Make a Handier Handyman By Ryan...

Clutch Basics

The Fusible Friction Link Between Your Engine and the...

Blue Blood

Anthony Cacioppo’s 1971 Camaro is Almost Above the Law By...

Firing UP – Cultural Diversity

By Nick Licata Living in Orange County, California, I’m exposed...

Simple, Modern, Better

Why You Want a Serpentine System for Your Small-Block...

Lucky 7s

Tony Karamitsos’ Street/Strip 1969 Z/28 Camaro By Nick Licata   -  ...