Watch: The House of Muscle Tuning is Back

Six months ago, Mike Musto had a pretty good idea. “Let’s make a muscle car,” he said “and focus on drivability.”

It’s a quest that sounds great! Wouldn’t we all like to drive something that’s special and fun, but not too impractical?

The problem is that while we all want to do that, Power and Frugality are the two sirens with the best singing voices.

Their hits “Make a Little More Power” and “You Know the Generic Parts are Made in the Same Factory as the Namebrand Ones, Right?” have caused many an amateur mechanic fail in their goal of driving a classic every day.

But Musto started strong. The first and perhaps most brilliant thing he did was buy a ’72 Monte Carlo.

You see, people don’t really care about the ’72 Monte Carlo. And yes. I know that you—yes you, the person who’s face is twitching angrily and who’s fingers are getting ready to type out a strongly worded comment—care deeply about the ’72 and “actually there’s a really strong community,” but it’s not a ’70 Chevelle or whatever and this gen Monte Carlo doesn’t break records at Barrett-Jackson, so there aren’t many people who’ll get their nose out of joint if you modify it and just use it (angry commenter guy, notwithstanding). But it still looks good.

The second bright idea that Musto had was to hold off on modifying it. Musto told himself that he’d drive it every day for six to eight months to see what it needed and what it didn’t. Again, that sounds so simple, but so often we go barreling into a project like a bad doctor with all kinds of ideas on how to make a patient better without bothering to listen to it and figure out what it needs.

Finally, Musto had a production company, the backing of major advertisers, and a warm, arid climate free of the salt that keeps anything loved from being a daily driver for six months of the year up north. But those aren’t really all that applicable to us everyday folk.

So what were requirements? A car that starts everyday, whose A/C works whatever the conditions, and that doesn’t require him to carry tools with him wherever he goes.

And so, he bought himself a GM Performance SP383 crate engine, a stage 4 200r4 overdrive transmission, new rear end gears, EFI and a bunch of other odds and ends.

Episode one was a sort of blueprint for a build, episode two saw Musto install the engine, and the most recent episode, released last week, is about the exhaust system.

It’s a wonderfully restrained build and because of that it’s kind of an inspiring one. You don’t need the perfect car. You don’t to tear the whole car apart. And you don’t need a million dollars. If you’re thoughtful and patient, you can still make an interesting car that’s a hoot.