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Karl Cozad Recollects His Life’s Journey with a 1954 Chevy Del Ray 210 and Spectre Performance

Dan Tallant created the air flow tube and inserted the engine's MAF sensor for Cozad’s ’54

Dan Tallant created the air flow tube and inserted the engine's MAF sensor for Cozad’s ’54

With enough time and care a lump of coal becomes a diamond, a field of grapes transforms into wine, and a 1954 Chevy Del Ray 210 converts into a rolling expression of recollections for a life lived well. Karl Cozad is approaching 70 and his interest for automobiles has been a joyous lifelong journey.

“My two brothers and I had this 'seed' implanted in us by our father, an aerospace engineer who ran a garage after WWII in a small town south of Kansas City, before he gave up and went back to the aircraft industry,” Cozad summons up. “Cars were always a just enjoyable hobby.”

The Del Ray 210 isn’t daily commuter but this year’s Hot Rod Power Tour 2014 will be its sixth long haul event of the season

The Del Ray 210 isn’t daily commuter but this year’s Hot Rod Power Tour 2014 will be its sixth long haul event of the season

Cozad joined the Navy and ultimately went into aviation as his father had. After obtaining his degree he flew as a bombardier/navigator in the A-6 Intruder, a twin jet-engine, mid-wing all-weather attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. Then, after retiring from the Navy, Cozad went to law school and worked another 30 years as a lawyer. “Cars were always an outside interest,” he recurs, “In retirement I can now enjoy this hobby full-time.”

When he was 16, Cozad’s dad helped him get a 1954 Chevy Del Ray 210, but then when he enlisted in the Navy, he had to sell the car, the one that Cozad and his wife started dating in.

In 2001, Cozad had the opportunity to buy a project car from his oldest brother – a 1954 Chevy Del Ray 210! “Being that it belonged to my brother I knew its history for the previous 14 years, so I thought that it would be the perfect car with which to finish my car hobby/career,” he chuckles. “This particular 'career' is not over until you are looking up at the grass!”

Cozad uses a short filter on the outside of his engine compartment, behind the grill

Cozad uses a short filter on the outside of his engine compartment, behind the grill

The car was completed in January 2005. “But are they ever really finished?” Cozad asks rhetorically. “I had it in the World of Wheels car show a few times. It had a crate 290 horsepower 350, a 700R transmission with a 1956 Chevy 3.55 rear end. It was a nice highway driver, but not a lot of pickup for a 3,400 pound car. But it was still way, way more than the 6-cylinder 235.”

The Chevy underwent its latest transformation in January of this year

The Chevy underwent its latest transformation in January of this year

In 2007, Cozad met the Spectre group on the Hot Rod Power Tour in Memphis, Tennessee. “Amir saw my '54 and heard that I was looking for a cold air intake, linked to my flow-through fresh air intakes, which had existed at the front of the engine compartment when the car was stock from the factory,” he said. “He offered to sponsor the car with a cold air intake system. After that Amir and Mike (Morrow) became friends of mine.”

In 2008, Cozad upgrade the ’54 once again, this time to a 383/350 putting out 400 horsepower at the flywheel. “It was only about 300 at the rear wheels according to a dynamometer test in Mobile, Alabama, in 2010,” adds Cozad. “The car was not a bad cruiser, and responded well to the throttle. I used an 800 cfm Edlebrock, but not fancy stuff like roller cams, etc. In each HRPT since 2008, I have linked up with Spectre Performance and shown, proudly, their products on my car.”

“This year, in January, I decided to upgrade the whole system. So, with the help of Dan Tallant, of Tallant's Hot Rod Shop in North Kansas City, Missouri, the car has received a complete upgrade. GM Performance LS-3 (480 hp.) and 4L70E transmission, delivered to a Ford 9" running at 3.00 limited slip/31 spline axles. With headers and fuel injection, it should run near 500 horsepower and be quite street-able. I have driven it around for about half a mile and it feels like it will be four times as responsive as before.”

The 1954 Chevy is not an everyday driver, but then, it is a lot more than a just a show car too, according to Cozad. “It is built to be driven to each event it goes to,” he affirms. “This year's Hot Rod Power Tour 2014 will be its sixth long haul event; and, oh yes, my girlfriend and I started dating in this same make and year car back in 1962. While this is a different car, I still have the same girlfriend. We will have been married 47 years this July.”

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