Project McLuvin: Our “Superbad” 1976 Chevy LUV Mikado

Every year at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, a contest is held. This competition has drawn as many as 30,000 spectators to the fair, and people can’t seem to get enough. Competitors from all over the United States and sometimes the world enter in hopes of taking home a trophy and $1,600. 

You’re probably wondering what kind of event would bring in a crowd that big with only a relatively small cash prize. With a lackluster payday, obviously, professional sports are out as athletes these days demand top dollar. If you guessed the Ugliest Dog Contest, then you got it right. Some of these dogs are absolutely hideous with mangy hair, bald spots, and tongues that seem to have a mind of their own. If you don’t believe us, google “Scamp the Tramp,” the contest winner back in 2019. This poor dog is repulsive, with a look that only an owner could love, kind of like our latest project.

Green With Envy? Probably Not…

If there was an ugly truck show, we think we could take home the grand prize with our latest purchase, a two-tone green 1976 Chevy Luv Mikado. And while we could paint it and make it pretty, we kind of like it… No, actually, we Luv it (see what I did there) and have no intentions of painting it or fixing it up. In fact, that was part of the deal when I showed it to my wife. She fell in love with this truck just the way it was, flaws and everything. So reluctantly I agreed to her terms, and we bought the two-tone green Luv and made it a project. While the paint on this mini truck isn’t for everyone, it’s certainly grown on me over the last couple of months. And as grandmother Caldwell used to say, “It’s not what’s on the outside that counts; it’s what’s on the inside, Brian.” Now to be fair, she probably wasn’t referring to LS-swapping a Luv truck — I know for a fact that wasn’t what she meant — but the saying fits this build. 

The Build

Our plans for the Luv are pretty simple. We will take the ugliest vehicle that I’ve ever owned, which is saying a lot, and build it without touching the exterior. However, everything else will be nice. The engine, engine bay, drivetrain, and interior will all get a make-over, but the dents and dings will remain. It will stay a street truck with air conditioning and creature comforts so we can terrorize the street now and then no matter the weather. 

The Name Game

Now, every project car or truck needs a good name. And after going back and forth with the internet, we have decided on McLovin from the movie Superbad for two reasons. First, Christopher Charles Mintz-Plasse plays Fogell in the film, also known as McLovin (watch it if you haven’t), who was a complete dork. But everyone loved his character, and that’s been the response to this truck from friends and family. Secondly, if you remove the “o” out of McLovin and replace it with a “u,” you get McLuvin, and we found that hysterical. So, McLuvin, it is…

The Engine

The engine will be a Gen III 5.3-liter LS block punched out to a 5.7 with a forged crank, aftermarket rods, and forged pistons. But it’s what’s on top of the block that will give McLuvin some serious attitude. A Gen V Whipple supercharger will be nestled between the aluminum heads and capable of cranking out over 1,000 horsepower. We know that we will have to cut a hole in the hood for the massive Whipple and have no regrets. Since we couldn’t match the green exactly with the truck’s color, we opted to go with Shocker Yellow with a silver base powder coat giving it a wide range of green hues.

Our Only Delima

We are currently figuring out the rest of the build and have a pretty good idea of what we want for suspension, rear axle, fuel system, etc. And we will get more into these topics as the build commences. However, we can’t decide if we want to go with a 6L80e automatic or keep it a standard with a T56. We’d love to get your input on the transmission, so let us know in the comments and stay tuned as we get busy on this unique build.

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About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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