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Stefano Bimbi, proprietor of Nickey Chicago, tells the story best and includes a cool history lesson. “It was during the mellow '50s that the hot rodding expression, ‘there's no substitute for cubic inches’ came into vogue. In layman's terms, that meant simply the bigger the better, or the more cubic inches you had under the hood, the quicker and faster your car would be. Big displacement engines usually came in luxury cars, which were not exactly popular with the performance-minded youths of the day, so engine swapping came into its own. 

“In the 1960s, there emerged an engine swapping revolution combined with some very interesting marketing programs. Leading the revolution was Bill Thomas Race Cars in Anaheim, California. Bill Thomas was well known in Chevrolet racing circles for his Cheetah road racing cars, fuel-injected sports and drag racing Chevrolets, A/FX drag car kits and some rather exotic street racing machinery. At the time, he was one of only a handful of Chevrolet racing shops that was dialed into Chevrolet Engineering. It was people like Thomas who kept Chevrolet very visible in racing at a time when the factory claimed it was not involved in such projects.

“Enter Chevrolet’s all new '67 Camaro. It was only natural that Bill Thomas would be involved with the first big-block transplant. Thomas formed an alliance and collaboration with Chicago-based Nickey Chevrolet. They were the largest performance parts dealer in the world at the time [and] began installing the 427 cubic inch big-block into Camaros. These Camaros were offered to Nickey customers right off the showroom floor. You could call the shots and they'd build it to your specs! Little did Thomas or Nickey Chevrolet know that they had just ignited a supercar revolution.”

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